…from a short story of 5,000 words called “The Severe Love of Sisters.”
When wayfaring Viktor Pasternak drove into the sleepy town of Burr Ridge, traversing the shadowy foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the hell spawn-infested interstate to ask for Katherine Spencer’s hand, she instantly knew he was meant for her.
Or at least, that was one of many fantasies Anya and Katia had regarding the happy circumstances of their birth. Piecing together evidence from a handful of photographs and the lingering scent of lilacs pressed in the pockets of old dresses, the girls reinvented to their liking a history their widowed father preferred not to revisit.
In reality, all anyone knew for sure was that in Katherine Spencer’s many years of living and working in Burr Ridge, the shotgun-wielding auburn beauty had proven unquestionably capable of running a ranch alone. Yet when Viktor hitchhiked into town and persuaded her to hire him the winter of 1980, no one expected he would also convince her to marry him by spring. Small town gossip had it that Viktor poisoned Katherine within three years of their hasty wedding in order to inherit the ranch, but Anya and Katia knew they themselves were proof of their parents’ genuine love.
Gossip was one reason why invitations to barbeques and birthday parties always got lost en route to the Pasternaks’ mailbox. Viktor’s outlandish upper arm tattoos — which he said were a reminder of his Russian Orthodox faith — was another, and the remoteness of their ranch was a third. In any case, fantasy was an inexpendable occupation in the sisters’ early years. When they had only each other, theirs was always an equitable utopia, an impartial fairy tale in which Prince Charmings came in identical pairs and there was never a single fairest of them all.