[community profile] daily_prompt: #1, "Start Again"

Jul. 7th, 2013 09:41 pm
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Title: Start Again
Author: Wang Xi-feng
Challenge: [community profile] daily_prompt. Original.
Warnings: Warfare-related violence.
Summary: 1920. Anna finds her calling.

It takes a few weeks before Anna's eyesight fully returns, although no one can say what the damage might be; she complains that things blur, shift, that outlines are vague where before they were crisp. The head wound looked worse than it actually was, and won't leave a scar; the same cannot be said for the wound in her right side, which was deeper and had to be sewn up. Her leg is knitting together well. But the fingers...well, she's right-handed, and nothing can be done.

Of other, deeper wounds, her doctors say nothing.

The discharge papers come in the mail a few days after she can finally go home to heal, and Anna leaves them on the desk for a couple of days, the tears stinging her eyes. When she was a little girl, not so long ago, she dreamed of martial glory, and for a minute in all the bloody mess that is the Sékortsy border, she almost had it. She was almost there. "I should have known better than to fight against historical inevitability," she will say later, in her cousin's drawing room, with a rueful laugh. "Sékor is a throwback to the Middle Ages. They're rotten with outlaws. I shouldn't have expected any other outcome."

It isn't like Anna to brood for long, and nature takes its course; she's young and strong, and she will heal in time. By autumn, her leg still bothers her, but her sight is much better (not quite what it was before, but she'll take what she can get), and she shows her face around the Party hall a little more frequently than before the war. Her comrades are glad to see her back, and little by little, she's drawn back into the circles she frequented before the call-up. They scrap like siblings, put together delegations, and that fall, Anna writes her first position paper under the careful auspices of Comrade Verenov.

"I wish you'd take co-author's credit," Anna says after she's handed it over to Comrade Sherkovny, who works the Party press. "You basically co-wrote the thing."

Verenov shakes his head. "I did no such thing, Anja. I looked over it and made a couple of suggestions. Most of it was yours."

"I stood on the shoulders of giants, that's all. I'm not a good theoretician." Anna shrugs half-apologetically, as if to say, I've had other things to worry about. "Goldshtein's much better than I am. At everything."

"Give yourself more credit. If I had a pjastr for everything that wouldn't have happened without you in the past three months, I'd be a rich man."

Anna gives him a self-deprecating half-smile. "I'm a decent organizer. I'll give you that much. Comes from raising my brothers and sisters."

"You're far more than that, Anja. Listen, I've been meaning to ask you something."

"Shoot." Anna has stacked her books and is on her way out his door.

"What would it take to get you to work for the Party full-time?"

Very little, as it turns out. Anna starts at the beginning of Advent, when she shares an office with three other girls; she is in charge of chapter membership and collecting the dues, and she occasionally helps with other things as she's called upon. For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be a soldier, but there are other ways to fight.


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Wang Xi-feng

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