A/N: Hello, all!

It's been a while since this piece was thought of. I cannot apologize because life requires my attentions, but I can say that I appreciate all of the love and support of my writing. Please check out Hello LAlaland, my published novel at Amazon, Barns & Noble, and other retailers.

Enjoy!

xo

Q

—-

Her

Moscow, USSR

October 1988

It's been a long time since I've see the pure light of the sun, unobstructed by barred windows and frosted plexiglass. So long, in fact, that my eyes burn from the intensity of it and my skin instantly warms.

I am one of the lucky few who've managed to escape the death sentence of a forced labor camp, because somehow the man who calls me wife has decided this small mercy should be mine. He doesn't realize I'd be dead already—by my own hand—if it was not for the little girl I birthed. She is as much mine as she is his, though he and his government will never see it this way.

An announcement was made to those of us in this concrete fortress: The systematic release of political prisoners would begin this month.

I am a political prisoner; this is what Edward has told me during his bi-monthly visits. These are the times he attempts to convince me to swear allegiance to his Mother Russia. I refuse; I don't even speak to him when he is there in the cell with me.

This day is meant to be a pardon and extension of freedom, as though this government has not vacuumed away years of my life like cobwebs. This sunshine and chilly, fresh air, they say, should show me my place beside my glorious husband and the righteousness of his duty to the Soviet cause.

I've made a determination: I will be this supportive wife; I will cook his dinners; I will attend whatever political meetings are required; I will swear an oath of allegiance to his god and country. And as soon as he is comfortable in my devotion, I will cut his throat from ear to ear.

—-

"Mamochka?" her small, sweet voice calls questioningly to my sudden presence in the door of her home. Edward stands behind me with his hand at my back. It takes the will of a demigod to keep myself from shrinking away from him.

"That is correct, Tanya," Edward responds when words hang mute from my lips. "This is your Mamochka." His hand at my back presses lightly, urging me toward the beautiful, silvery-haired child. Her looks are striking, even at such a young age; she'll be breathtaking throughout her life, but will never understand the powers I feel within her unless I can get her out of this foreign world with me.

"Ta…" I start, the first syllable I've spoken in nearly a year. My voice is hoarse, cracking like dry pain. I swallow to moisten the desert in me. "Tanya," I begin again, "May Mommy give you a hug, sweet girl?"

The pause which follows feels eternal, but when her little legs break into a lightning-fast run, she is suddenly in my arms and the whole world is okay for a single, fleeting moment.

—-

A/N: Thanks for reading!