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by starchaser


lack of capitalization is for aesthetic purposes only. do not leave a review saying that there needs to be capitalization. 

the background information on basia is unimportant. i added it so that readers would not think i'm coming up with random words.

i highly recommend listening to tchaikovsky’s “valse sentimentale” while reading this.


background information

- chaya voronin (formerly chaya soifer), who can give life to inanimate objects that she creates. these animated objects can function like the organisms they were modeled after. born 1928, went missing 1976

- basia pasternak, who could not drown nor be hurt by fire. similar to chaya, she also had strange, supernatural powers, and was kidnapped by the red army for the sole purpose of being a stronger soldier. she worked along with chaya during the battle of stalingrad.

- algirdas šimonis, who could look back in time though contact with an object, and if he manages to be able to from a strong bond with someone, he can send those clips of looking back in time to them. he was found by the heer and was given control of many documents. he was neighbors and his parents knew chaya’s parents before they were killed.

- palmiro schiacchitano, who did not have any powers, but had family who had powers, therefore making him a carrier.

- eve schiacchitano, who may or may not have powers. it is presumed that she does have a power, but it is currently unconfirmed.



if you asked me whether i’m used to silence, i wouldn’t know what to answer with. my world was once noise, and only noise. noise noise noise noise noise. my father’s singing. my mother’s fairy tales. my babbling. the viola. the creatures i made out of wood and clay. planes. bombs. gunfire. yelling. crying. the soldiers i made out of wood and clay. basia. loud things that are a part of me. then i joined the kgb and was told to document my experience in world war two and the other people i met who had powers, just like me. no gunfire in my office. no bombs, no singing, no basia. planes were unnoticed. i was quiet. just pens and paper and writing and sometimes i’ll use a typewriter and all i would hear was taptaptaptaptaptaptaptap. maybe if i got lucky i would allow myself to listen to music on the radio. old russian waltzes and tchaikovsky is what i would usually play. i was happy.

i was not fully content, however. there always seemed to be part in me yearning to go somewhere. it was taking me west. so i moved my desk to the other side of the room. i still wanted to go west. i moved my office to the west side of moscow. i still had something in me crying to go west. i packed my bags and moved to the border. i still needed to go west. i went to belarus. that wasn’t it. i stared into the mirror and stomped my feet and everything in me was screaming to go west. so i went to lithuania, despite hearing horrible things about it. my mind was calm and content. i was twenty-six years old.

i lived in lithuania for eleven years. i picked up a little bit of the language, but mostly i just hoped that people could understand my russian. some did, some didn’t. i met a guy in lithuania while celebrating the fifth anniversary of me moving. the day i met him, i thought i would marry him, as i was thirty-two and had never had an amicable connection with a guy before. he had brown hair and his name was algirdas šimonis. he ran a bakery. the smell of bread lured me in, and his warm smile made me stay. we ended up dating for a while. i told him about my power, and at some point, i made him an assistant out of clay一the first thing i had brought to life since i entered the kgb.

i remember that one conversation that sent bells off in my head. algirdas had just closed up shop, and we headed up to his apartment a floor above the bakery. i had my cup of tea and algirdas had his coffee. and then he pulled out documents that he claimed to have found in a dumpster.

“you look like her,” he said, pointing to a picture of a girl no older than two. “same eyes, same nose, same face shape.” i studied the picture a bit closer. “you two even have the same name. chaya.”

“that’s just a coincidence, then,” i snorted. i took algirdas’s hand and made him point out the birthplace. “i was not born in vilnius. and my family’s name is not soifer. that is a jewish surname and they’re hard to find now.” i reached for a chain around my neck and pulled out a cross. “i was raised orthodox.” a thought, just like all of the commandments to go west, seeped into my mind. kill him. i tried to push it aside.

“are you sure you weren’t given away or adopted? see, look. you both were born on the same day in the spring of 1928. you’re chaya soifer, not chaya voronin.”

“it says soifer died in 1930. i’m pretty sure i’m still alive.”

“that’s when you were given away.” algirdas stared into my eyes. kill him became louder.

“okay, so how do you know?” i snapped. algirdas grabbed my hand and held it in his. and then i saw it. a woman who looked similar to me, wrapping a child who looked like the girl in the photo. the woman and the child. my parents taking the child from the woman. 

“i touched the paper, and all of a sudden, i saw the child. i saw you!” algirdas said. “isn’t it fascinating how i can do that?!” i could only sigh, as the voice saying kill him was too distracting.

“you have a time power? just like how i have a bringing-stuff-to-life power?” i asked. how could i only be finding out about this now? i’ve dated this man for four years!

“yeah. i’ve kept it a secret for a while now.” algirdas looked around the room. “you won’t tell anyone, right?”

“right.” i whispered. i couldn’t believe it. i just discovered my own history. i sucked in a breath and hugged algirdas. i ended up staying the night, even though the only thing i could hear was kill him.

in the early morning, just as the sun was starting to rise, out of desperation, i carved a person out of wood and give it a knife, tucked the documents into my pocket, planted a kiss onto the still-sleeping algirdas, and said a silent apology. this secret—and the urge kill him—dies with him.

i’m not too good of an actress, but i do admit, i think the performance i gave when i got the funeral call was impressive. everyone believed i was shocked. however, when i said that i was upset and holding back tears, i wasn’t lying. for some time after, i lived alone in shame. i tried to forget i had powers. this wasn’t the first time i gave life to wooden or clay figures with the intention of harm. i desperately wanted it to be the last.

i had another urge. go south. i ignored it.

i moved to america when i was thirty-seven. somehow managed to get out of the soviet union. i felt like moving. i was bored and i needed something to do other than fall in love with bakers just to kill them later. i ended up moving to brooklyn and becoming a music teacher. i used to sing and play viola very well, and i decided to pick it up again. the job made me happy, and noise slowly eased back into my life. there was this other teacher, a social studies teacher, who worked alongside me. his name was palmiro schiacchitano. i married him when i was thirty-nine. i had our daughter a year later. i named her eve, after the first woman on earth, as my daughter was the first one to be born in america, a new world. she was always smiling and had olive skin, like her father. i was happy. not for myself, but for palmiro and for eve. in between classes, i’d find myself aimlessly plucking my viola. there was something wrong. i just wasn’t sure what.

i figured that it could be from the fact that i have not brought any wooden or clay items to life since algirdas died, almost nine years ago. despite being proud of hiding it, i wanted eve to experience the magic i could do. so i asked her what she wanted in a dog. eve told me she wanted a small, fluffy white dog with a pink tongue and a black nose. she wanted the dog to be friendly and constantly happy, so much so the dog would always look like it was smiling. when eve asked if that was what she was going to be getting her next week for her fifth birthday, i flat-out told her no. the night before her birthday, she didn’t expect a puppy with a bow around its neck to wake her up in the morning, but once again, life throws all kind of surprises at you. eve was cheering and screeching with joy, hugging the dog and thanking palmiro and i every second she could. i was going to return the clay and sculpting tools to the art teacher as soon as i could, but before i could do that, i was pulled into an office and politely told i could pack up my stuff and not return the next day. i made sure to snap the necks of the cellos before i made my way out.

i had a new urge. this one seemed frantic, and was in the back of my mind ever since eve turned two. getoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetout. i tried to ignore it.

one sunday night i couldn’t sleep, mostly due to my mind going getoutgetoutgetout, so i got out of bed, went downstairs, made myself some tea, and stared out the window. it’s not like i could see anything, but it gave me something to stare at as i was thinking. i think i loved palmiro but i definitely loved eve. they were my only family here. they were my only anything; but i was nothing but trouble一i had killed somebody before! what if palmiro found out what i could do? he would report me to authorities, and then eve would have to explain that her mother was stuck in a madhouse. a disturbing thought crossed me—i could leave. i could slip out on a night like this and neither palmiro nor eve would know until morning. they’d report me missing, and the police would go looking for me. little would they know i’d already be on a train, miles and miles away.

i thought over my plan a few more times, like tasting a soup and adding spices until you decided it was just right. the sun had only just touched the sky when i decided exactly what i was going to do. i had a week to say my goodbyes.

palmiro and eve suspected nothing. they thought i had just gotten a wave of motivation, while i was actually savoring my last days in the city. i took them out to our favorite restaurant, went on a stroll through my favorite park, and i got some new clothes from my favorite store. the store was closing, and since i was a frequent visitor and most likely one of their favorite customers, they let me pick out some stuff for free. it was a good way to end the week.

i stared at the clock. it was eight-o’-clock on sunday night. it was the night i was going to leave this life behind. eve had gone up to bed, and now palmiro and i were sitting across from each other at the kitchen table. i didn’t want to tell him. he’s been so stressed lately, and i’m pretty sure he wouldn’t do anything一our marriage was kind of falling apart lately. i also didn’t want him to know. he could try to make me stay. or he would send me to be locked up. i didn’t want either. we talked about little things, such as how we couldn’t wait for another dinner at our favorite restaurant, or how eve would like to walk around with park with me more. i just nod and smile. that is how to convince everyone that everything is bright and happy. the next time i check the clock, it’s eleven. palmiro goes off to bed, and i claim i need to clean something up. palmiro assures me that i can do it in the morning, but i tell him that it’s best i clean it up now, and that i’d meet him upstairs in a bit. he says goodnight and a “see you in the morning”. i want to laugh at him.

it’s eleven-thirty. i drag out the suitcase i prepared nights ago. i check my purse to make sure i have my money and a photo of eve. at last minute i stuff a photo of palmiro in there as well. he tried in his own interesting way. i make my way upstairs, into eve’s bedroom. our dog is laying next to her. i give eve a kiss on the forehead. i dig through my brain to try to find remorse. this girl will not have a mother to braid her hair, nor to tie in pretty ribbons or go dress shopping. this girl will not have someone to come to her dance recitals or mother-daughter tea times. this girl will go through her teenage years alone. would it really be right to put myself over her and leave? i stay there for a minute, trying to find some sort of sadness, some sort of reason to stay. to my horror, i find nothing. 

i slowly creep down the stairs. getoutgetoutgetout plays louder in my head. maybe i should create a chaya out of clay. maybe a copy of me would benefit this family, instead of the real me. i remember i don’t have any clay left, as it had all dried up. i take one last look at my apartment foyer before i open the door, step out, and drown in getoutgetoutgetout. it has silenced all of the noise in my life.

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12 Reviews

Points: 157
Reviews: 12

Sun May 26, 2019 11:17 am
Dilbert64 wrote a review...

This is a good story. I like the use of repetition at the beginning as chaya slowly moves further to to west, listening to the voices in her head tentatively, at first, but then giving in fully to them. It sets up her killing algirdas and running away from Palirmo and eve later on pretty well.

I think the story had a quite good overall flow, nothing felt rushed and the story didn't really drag in any places.

I liked chaya's character, and how she was clearly insane, and yet acted so sane. It was actually quite disturbing to see her acting in such irrational and horrible ways but keeping so calm, almost clinical throughout.

A problem in the story is the character introductions at the start. They just dump exposition on the reader rather than weaving the information we need to know about the characters into the story itself. It's not a very interesting or memorable way to introduce characters.

Another minor issue is some of the writing and dialogue feels a little off. For example the line is 'I have a bringing-stuff-to-life power?' chaya is going to kill a man soon so the tone should be anxious and serious. However saying 'bringing-stuff-to-life power' feels a lot more colloquial and kind of goes against the established tone.

Lastly, I think that the suggestion of listening to music throughout is actually a really good idea. It helps establish a tone for the story and appeals to the reader's sense of hearing. It's some pretty good out-of-the-box thinking.

Overall, very good, I liked a lot about the story, with only a few blemishes, in my opinion.

User avatar
155 Reviews

Points: 11208
Reviews: 155

Fri May 24, 2019 8:38 am
Toboldlygo wrote a review...

Hey there! Toboldlygo here for a review!

First of all, thank you for providing the detailed information at the beginning. I'm actually on the fence about doing that but I think in this case it works. My thinking is that, in general, you shouldn't have to do that, because your writing should introduce the characters and abilities, goals, dreams, scars, etc. However, in this case, I

"just pens and paper and writing and sometimes i’ll use a typewriter and all i would hear was taptaptaptaptaptaptaptap," you actually switch tenses. You go from future (I'll or I will) to past (I would hear). It makes the sentence harder to understand. My guess is that you meant either "i'd use a typewriter," or, "all I'll hear is," instead.

I also noticed a point where you should have had "an," instead of "a." It's this line here: "as i was thirty-two and had never had a amicable connection with a guy before."

I have some questions about the piece overall, as well. Why was Chaya so upset about finding out her true past? Why did she want to kill Algirdas? Was she afraid of people finding out that she was Jewish? That was never really clarified or explained, it was just something her mind or the voices in it said to do. I also am not fully aware of who Basia is. Your description talks about her, but she doesn't really appear in the story. Her name is mentioned but there's no real understanding of why it's mentioned, who she is, why she's important, etc.

I'm also curious, if Chaya was so worried about being reported to the police (how was Palmiro actually going to find out what she had done?) and never seeing Eve again, why did she leave, thus never seeing Eve again? This doesn't make logical sense to me.

My impression reading this piece is that Chaya is not a sane or stable individual and probably never was. Some of it is the aesthetic of having all lower-case letters, but mostly it seems to be because we don't really get to know her as a character or why she does what she does. We never understand why she goes west or south or to America, other than the voices tell her to. We don't really understand why she gets the urge to kill or leave the people she loves, other than that she is told to do so by the voices. I don't feel like I know Chaya as a character, and that makes her distanced and disconnected, which in turns make her actions look like insanity. If this is your intent, well done, but if not, it's something to think about.

Overall, this was well done. Will it be a chapter book or remain a short story?

Happy Writing!


starchaser says...

Hello! Thank you for reviewing my writing! I'll answer some of your questions.

Paragraph 1- You kind of cut off here, but I think that you were writing a compliment. Thank you.

P2- Fixed! Thank you for pointing that out.

P3- Fixed! It was originally "a friendly connection", but I didn't like it too much. I changed it and forgot to change it to "an".

P4.1- Chaya grew up believing that she was born into a barely-practicing Orthodox family. She did not like being lied to, and wasn't too happy finding out about her past from a stolen document.

P4.2- The voices amplified Chaya's own anger (however, this anger did not contain any murderous intentions).

P4.3- No, not really. Once again, the voices convinced her that this was an issue.

P4.4- After I edited it, it explains that issue. The reason added her background info is that I was afraid that someone would think that Basia is just a made-up word and not a name. Basia plays no real role in this story.

P5- Chaya did not want to leave Eve. However, she believed that if she was reported, Eve would live a life as "The Daughter of the Madwoman/Criminal". Chaya believed Eve would receive pity, not ridicule, if she was assumed dead.

P6. Yes, this is my intent. It's supposed to be a "side-effect" of her power. With every passing day and every creature she brings to life, she loses more of her sanity/stability and humanity.

P7. Thank you! This will remain a short story inside a bigger project.

I hope your questions were answered!

You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way.
— Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind