Twenty-five years ago, Dosea became on the brink of economic ruin after the dueling Houses began the war. Through shared seaports with Intagua Island, our entire state had succumbed to impoverishment in a matter of months. During those early years, aristocratic families segregated from the rest of society. We migrated to a mere seventy acres of land, which was enclosed inside a giant bubble encased with a chemical repellent to toxins. It is no secret that funding for this encampment was largely donated by the Great House counsel.
Your babusya reared me in the old ways, but soon those days died out. When I met your mother, she helped us become accustomed to the new ways. We became immersed in lavishly eccentric cultures. Together, the three of us established the soiree seasons in which matrimonial pairs were matched to ensure wealth would remain within the establishment. Over time, the Tribunal Counsel sanctioned our state for refusal to contribute well-abled men and women to serve in the armed forces to end the war. Lilya, you owe us a debt of gratitude for the easy and comfortable life we gave to you,” he said.
Shevchenko took another gulp, then curtsied.
“Forgive me, bat’ko, if you believe my actions to lack in character,” she replied.
“It is your lack thereof which keeps us concerned,” her grandmother snapped.
“What would you have me do? Mama, your cousin’s sister’s brother, is more than twice my age. We have nothing in common. When I told him, he refused to come to the cotillion. I am at a loss for how to please you. I beg you, have mercy,” Shevchenko pleaded.
The family congregated in a circle, leaving Shevchenko to the side. When they finished their discussion, her mother brought her into the center of the circle.
“Dochka, I have the perfect solution. Last week, I visited my cousin’s family. The nanny recently came to learn that she will inherit some of the late Baron Chernichenko’s fortune. I could send for her to have tea with us to get things in motion,” her mother mused out loud.
Shevchenko gasped. “Mama, that woman is seventy years old.”
“Seventy-nine, to be exact,” her grandmother interjected.
Shevchenko pushed past her sisters to break free from the circle. She made her way towards the top of the ballroom stairs.
“I have an idea of my own, which I will now share with you all. These unattractive marriage proposals are not the route I want to take for myself. I want something different, freedom. Freedom from the stifling lifestyle and this goddamn useless bubble, which is actually killing us all while we wallow in wealth.” She paused for a moment to catch her breath. “Yesterday, I enrolled myself in Calvary Academy!” Her family gasped in shock, but she continued. “There is an amazing linguistics program, which will benefit me. I could be of significant use in helping to end the war. That way, we don’t have to keep up this deadly ruse.”
Her father marched to the bottom of the stairs and raised his fist at her.
“Fool! Do you realize what you have done? If word got back to the associates of the Greater House that a Shevchenko would dare to go against them to stand with Calvary Academy, we would all be beheaded,” he barked.
Her sisters were so aggravated that they took off their shoes to throw at her.
“What an evil bitch you are Lilya,” they screamed.
Her grandmother and mother rushed up the stairs, prepared to lay hands on the girl. Shevchenko wept as she waited for her punishment, but her father called out to them.
“Enough! There is no need to waste precious energy on this one. She is of no use to us, at any rate.” He looked at his daughter with abhorrence. “Go to the Academy. I hope you make use of yourself over there. We no longer have any ties. Never return here, unless you can bring better fortune,” he said.
The memory went black, which left the Alpha squad in the dark to talk amongst each other.
“So, that was it? Her reasoning for enrollment was to avoid marriage to an old geezer and schoolmarm?” Yoshida cackled.
Savoi went to pinch him, but thought better since they had just witness Shevchenko’s grandmother use such brute.
“Her family is awful. I can’t imagine growing up surrounded by enemies. No wonder Lily is so rigid with the rest of us,” she replied.
Roudan chimed in. “This is a true testament of her character, indeed. When we are born, there are two paths. One can land you in the hands of a caring adult and others who choose to breathe positivity into your life. The other path is the opposite. The real kicker is regardless of if you are dealt the harshness of negativity or neglected altogether, the lack of positivity automatically equates to negative.”
Light came into the space they were in, and as the Alpha squad was being transported to another memory, Savoi said, “My goodness, Emmett. That was incredibly insightful of you.”
~The Waring Robins~