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Charles heard the screaming over his iPod. He plucked out the ear-buds slowing his run to a trot, and listened to be sure he was not hallucinating. It was a woman! He moved quietly toward the hedging, and made a peek hole. There was a large open area where most people played but not today, it was over cast and muggy. It was a typical kind of day for July.
In the center of the park stood a woman, wearing a cream colored dress, accenting her strawberry blond hair. Her arms were across her, as if hugging herself, looking wildly for anyone. She cried, “Matka? Otec? Čo sa stalo?“ She spotted a family and ran as fast as she could with a limp. Her voice begging them to answer,“Ach, Bože, Kde je moja rodina? Kde to som? Mi niekto povedať!“
The mother clutched her daughter as she backed away. “I don’t understand.“ Her voice terrified.
The young woman fell to her knees weeping. She held up her palms her voice pleading, “Dieťa, môj brat? Bol som držala ho za ruku. Videli ste ho?“ she looked at them desperately for an answer.
Charles was trying to translate in his head, but all he understood, were; ‘Matka‘ [mother], and ‘Otec‘ [ father], and ‘Dieťa‘ [baby]. He was frustrated, because he wasn’t positive.
Suddenly a man appeared from behind the family with a baseball bat. He was ready to swing at the sobbing girl. He knew he had to move fast to keep her out of harm. He hated the stupid things people do when they are afraid.
“I don’t think that is necessary.” He said taking the bat and showing his badge, “take your family and go.”
“We don’t want—“
“I know.” He looked at the young woman still on her knees in a demure posture. He noticed her dress was splattered with blood, and she smelled like gunpowder. He knelt in front of her trying to look as non-threatening as possible. She looked at him with uncertainty, but not with fear.
“My name is Charles.”
He gave her a frown. “I’m sorry I don’t understand.“
She returned the frown as she began plucking at her fingernails. “Hovorítefrancúzsky?“ she shook her head clearing her throat, “Parlez-vousfrançais, Charles?“
“Oui, un peu, mais pas trèsbien, eh, mademoiselle?“ he managed to fumble the language he understood better than speaking it. She giggled at him which made him frown. “Do you understand me?“
“Yes“ she nodded.
“Nastya.” She shook her head muttering, “Maria…”
“Your name is Maria?”
“No.” she gave him an angry look. “Sister, I am,” she let out a breath. “I think said, Anastasia.“
Charles extended his hand toward her, but she did not take it.“It’s differnt,“ he stood slowly. “Did your parents name you for the princess of Russia? Or were you named for the mean sister from Cinderella?“
Suddenly she became animated.“Som veľká vojvodkyňa Anastasia Nikolajevna v Rusku!“ she covered her mouth then dropping her hand calmly she spoke in french. “Je suis la grande-duchesse Anastasia Nikolaïevna de Russie.“
He wasn’t sure if he understood her, “The Grand Duchess Anastasia? That’s impossible.“
“Non, il estvrai.“ she protested.
“It can’t be true, because 1918 she was assasinated with her family by the Bolshevik.“
“Oui, ils ont tiré sur nous [they shot at us, but the room filled with smoke. So they stopped shooting. Next thing I remember is I was here. Where is here, Charles]? Où est ici, Charles?“
He was at a loss for words. What was he supposed to say?