This article is part of the The Great Authors Series series.
Standing at the airport in Smolensk, Tatiana Berezhnoy tightly gripped the waxed paper until it collapsed into a fractal of glazed cardboard and coded strings of alphanumerics. She wanted to smell her mother's violets and her father's tea brewing one last time, but her nose sucked in only the long-chain molecules of the jet fuel circulating in the cool spring morning, as sharp and clarifying as acetone stripping paint from an old door, dissolving her memories of long summer days and bicycles bouncing on cobbled streets to the swirling exhaust that would suck her into the air and transport her to Virginia, USA. To become no longer Tatiana of Smolensk, but Anna of Williamsburg, to forget about ballet and poetry and become Anna Pendleton, who poured craft beers into ceramic cups and explained the special of venison and purple potatoes.
She saw herself as she might have been, at the opera house in Tianjin as part of the St. Petersburg ballet, as beautiful as Lubov Egorova, as Sujet or even Prima, dancing with pink ribbons at her waist, captivating the implausibly egalitarian audience of urban peasants who rode trains and buses for miles to come and see her become the swan. Flying by her toes and not in coach to Williamsburg, soaring in the hearts, soaring to the music, and not eating Lunchables in a break room with no window and a clock that clicked loudly to remind everyone to take short breaks, trying not to listen to Bryce who would not shut up about Game of Thrones.
Tatiana Berezhnoy tightly gripped the waxed paper and handed it to the clerk. He snapped the edge of it with his chrome ticket punch and directed her with a white-gloved finger to the gate for her flight. There was no point looking back again, no one was waiting behind her, not even Tatiana Berezhnoy. There was only Anna Pendleton waiting in seat F-24, ready to pour craft beers into ceramic cups and explain the special of venison and purple potatoes. Ready to provide a real tavern experience to visitors to Colonial Williamsburg.
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