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Authors: Irina Shapiro

Full Circle

BOOK: Full Circle
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Full Circle


Irina Shapiro

© 2011 by Irina Shapiro

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for quotations in printed reviews, without permission in writing from the author.

All characters are fictional. Any resemblances to actual people (except those who are actual historical figures) are purely coincidental.

This novel is dedicated to my grandparents, Klara and Nathan and their war-time romance.

Chapter 1

March 2006

Rebecca slowly opened her eyes, but made no move to get up. She took a peek at the window. The pearly light of dawn was beginning to seep into the room and she could hear the steady drum of rain against the window pane. She snuggled deeper into the cocoon of her comforter and closed her eyes. The remnants of the dream were still swirling in her head. It was another dream about “her”. These dreams were not like any normal dreams she’d ever had. They were not fragmented and confused with bits of reality and fantasy mixed together to form a strange wonderland where anything could happen.

These dreams were vivid and detailed with a set timeline. Each dream picked up where the other one left off the night before. It was almost like watching a series where you got involved with the characters and waited for each new episode with anticipation. At first the dreams were entertaining, but now they were becoming vaguely alarming. “Who are you and why do I keep dreaming about you?” she asked the girl in her dreams.

The dreams began about a month ago after the “incident”, as Rebecca preferred to think of it. She had been coming home after a night out with the girls. They had gone to dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant in the Village. Angelo’s was a little place tucked away on a side street that very few people noticed, but it had great pasta and a homey, Mediterranean atmosphere where you could have a great meal on a shoestring budget. They knew the owner, Angelo, from being there so often and he usually gave them a round of cappuccinos and some cake on the house as a way of saying “Thanks” for all the customers they’d brought him. The old man was fond of saying that he was young at heart and he loved having young people about the place to prevent the place from looking like a geriatric facility.

After dinner they went to a bar on the Upper West Side to meet some other friends. “The Wicked Monk” was a noisy place known for a crowd of young professionals looking to socialize, get a drink, and occasionally hook-up. Rebecca always enjoyed going there. It was a great place to go with the girls since it drew a lot of attractive, professional guys looking to have a good time and not serious drinkers. She had planned to leave no later than 11pm, but she was having a great time and didn’t actually catch a cab until well after midnight. She settled into the back seat and prepared for the long ride home. The soft Indian music emanating from the cab’s radio lulled her and she closed her eyes enjoying the floating on a cloud of contentment. She wasn’t drunk, just pleasantly tipsy and relaxed. A night out with the girls always recharged her. It was an opportunity to have fun and totally be herself. You could be as silly or as raunchy as you liked without ever wondering what these people would think of her in the morning. They were no better and that was the best part.

Rebecca lived in an old pre-war building on Brighton 7
street. She had moved there six months prior after getting her first real job after college. The apartment was small, but cozy and she got a great deal on some furniture that her old college friend was getting rid of since she was moving in with her boyfriend who already had a fully furnished apartment. The building was populated mostly by Russian senior citizens who had a peculiar love of dishes made with cabbage. The hallway always seemed to smell of borsht or stuffed cabbage, but being half a block away from the beach more than made up for that, so did the view of the ocean from the bedroom window.

Becky loved to take long walks on the boardwalk strolling passed sidewalk cafes and grandmas pushing their children’s strollers out for their daily dose of the bracing sea air. There was something very peaceful about being close to the water and she frequently took off her shoes and walked right on the beach enjoying the swirl of cold water around her ankles. Living alone had been a little strange at first, but she was quickly getting used to the quiet and enjoying her own company, not that there was much time to enjoy it since she usually didn’t get home until close to 8pm.

Becky hated coming home late at night. During the day Brighton Beach Avenue was teeming with people. They were shopping, calling out greetings to each other and walking to and from the boardwalk, but at night it was a deserted, desolate place. The taxi dropped her off in front of her building on the quiet side street. She was annoyed to find the foyer light broken when she opened the front door. Apparently it wasn’t bad enough that the lock on the front door had been busted for two weeks now without being replaced; now it was also dark as a graveyard.

As she was debating whether it was safe to take the elevator so late at night she saw a stealthy movement out of the corner of her eye and felt a moment of terror before the blow knocked her unconscious. When she awoke a little while later her attacker was gone, as was her bag. Luckily her keys were still clutched in her hand and she was able to go up to her apartment and lock the door before collapsing on the floor of her darkened apartment shaking with fear and pain. Her head was throbbing where she had been struck, but her hand came away clean after she probed the spot. At least she wasn’t bleeding. She must have hit a step as she fell down based on the huge lump that was beginning to form at the back of her skull.

Rebecca turned on all the lights, got a bag of ice and picked up the phone. She hated to call her parents in the middle of the night with such terrible news, but she needed her mother’s comforting embrace and her father’s resolve to act immediately. She didn’t have the courage to deal with the police herself. She turned on the TV and lay down on the couch to wait for her parents. She was still shaking badly when her parents appeared in record time and promptly whisked her off to the emergency room despite all her protests that she was fine. Her father called the police and two young policemen met them at Coney Island Hospital. They asked her a few questions and then left her to be examined in peace while her father began to call the credit card companies to cancel her cards and then leave a message at the landlord’s office to berate him for not fixing the lock in the foyer and not changing the burned out light bulb. She heard her father threatening legal action as a kind Chinese intern, who looked like she was twelve, poked and prodded her head. She ordered an MRI and left her in the capable hands of a technician.

Seven hours later Rebecca was finally released from the Emergency Room with the diagnosis of a mild concussion. She went back to her parents’ house in Marine Park and after a light breakfast of toast and tea fell deeply asleep in her old bedroom clutching her teddy bear. She slept most of the day and didn’t wake up until her mother came to gently touch her shoulder to see if she was all right. Her head still throbbed, but she was hungry and ready to rejoin the world. They did not talk about the mugging, just did their best to keep things normal. That evening a detective called her father to report that a teenager had been picked up trying to rob a 7 Eleven at gun point. He had Rebecca’s credit cards on him and confessed to mugging her when threatened with a more severe charge. It was a sort of closure. Rebecca did not consider herself a coward, but nonetheless, it was a couple of days before she felt safe enough to return to her own apartment on Brighton Beach.

The dreams began that night and after a month of dreaming about the same person and the intimate details of her life every night she was seriously beginning to wonder if the “mild” concussion was really as mild as the resident on duty in ER thought. She hadn’t told anyone about the dreams, but decided that today she would confide in her best friend Emma when they met for lunch.


As Rebecca left her building she felt her spirits rise. By the time she finally forced herself to rise from bed the rain had cleared up and a weak sunshine was chasing away the shadows in her room. She pulled on a fuzzy robe over her favorite Coldplay tee-shirt and walked to the window raising the blind. Puffy clouds in shades of rose and gold were peacefully floating over the tranquil surface of the ocean and she could see swollen buds on the branches of the nameless tree beneath her window. It was a beautiful April morning and spring was definitely in the air. Becky put the kettle on to boil, undressed and stepped into the shower.

Rebecca got on a Manhattan bound express and took a seat by the window. It felt good to be out. She had put on her favorite brown suede coat over a light sweater and jeans. Her new boots matched her coat as did the new suede hobo and wallet, which had been an absolute necessity, since her old ones had been stolen. She was oblivious to the appraising male looks she was getting as she looked out the window at the crowded streets of Brooklyn beneath the train. She was used to men looking at her. Rebecca had grown up with the knowledge that she was pretty. She had been a beautiful baby that grew into a stunning young woman. She had huge brown eyes fringed with thick eyelashes and a trim, curvy figure. Her most attractive feature, in her opinion, was her hair. She had long, glossy, brown curls half way down her back that had highlights of copper, cinnamon and gold. People always longed to run their fingers through that glorious mane and Rebecca secretly took great pride in it.

Becky had barely left her house since she got mugged. Most weekends Emma and Rachel came by with movies and take out and they just hung out at Rebecca’s apartment. They seemed to understand her mood and didn’t press her to go out. She needed to stay in a safe place and lick her wounds. She was loath to admit even to herself how shaken it had left her. It wasn’t the loss of her favorite bag or her money and credit cards. It was the loss of the security that she took so for granted. For the first time in her young life she truly understood that anything could happen at any time and she would have no control over it. Bad things happened to good people all the time. All you had to do was turn on the TV to see a never ending report of crimes perpetrated against the innocent, but now these things could also happen to her. It was a sobering thought.

Emma was sitting on a bench in Central Park overlooking the lake. It was their favorite meeting place. She was wearing torn jeans, a long colorful sweater with a short denim jacket over it and had a long scarf wrapped around her neck. Beat up boots completed the ensemble. Her long, untamed hair hid the earphones that seemed to be permanently attached to Emma’s head. She loved music and her life was accompanied by its own soundtrack. Emma always looked like a hippie, but the style suited her. She was such a free spirit that you couldn’t picture her wearing anything more formal.

Rebecca plopped next to her and handed Emma a cup of Starbucks skinny latte. Emma turned off her I-Pod and put it away gratefully accepting the cup. They sipped in silence for a moment gazing over the murky lake with its somnolent turtles and quaking ducks.

“What’s up, Becks? You seem very preoccupied. Are you still upset about what happened?” asked Emma without turning away from the lake.

“Not exactly. Something happened when I hit my head. All the tests came back normal, but I keep having these dreams night after night and they are always about the same person.”

“Who is it? Someone we know?”

“I have no idea who she is. She doesn’t even live in this century. Her name is Lily Stratton and she lives in war-time London. I dream about her every night in Technicolor and I don’t know why. It’s starting to get a little disturbing,” confessed Rebecca.

“She must be someone you read about or saw in a movie. Think back. You love all those war movies. Maybe it’s just some flick you saw a while ago and forgot all about,” suggested Emma.

“No. I’ve gone over every war movie I have ever seen and I don’t remember anyone with that name or that face.”

“Well, what do you know about her? What are the dreams about? Are they frightening or disturbing in any way?” Emma turned towards Becky assuming her Sigmund Freud pose. She loved playing at psychoanalysis and that’s exactly why Becky chose to confide in her. If anyone could help her talk it through, Emma was the one.

“Not really. She is about our age. I’d say twenty-two, twenty three. She has long coppery hair worn in the style of that time, mischievous blue eyes, and a pert little nose with a sprinkling of freckles and a cleft in her chin. She is short and slim. Not exactly beautiful, but really cute. She came to London from Cornwall where her family lives. Her father is a doctor and her mother used to play in a string quartet before she got married. She has a younger brother, Edward, who still lives with the parents. She came in the fall of 1938 to take a secretarial course and then the war broke out shortly after. Lily works as a secretary for some high ranking government official at the War Office. She shares a second floor flat in Bloomsbury with her best friend Alice, who went to school with her back home.

BOOK: Full Circle
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