Match Queen | Chapter 1
By: D.L. Karabin
Great Aunt Kristina and Great Uncle George
came from different sides of my family.
Although they never met in real life,
they could have.
Both came to America around 1912.
This story is based on the history of the world
they lived in, but is also generously laced
by the artful hand of fiction.
—D. L. Karabin
Strašín, Czechoslovakia, 1911
Kristina had been looking forward to house-sitting for her sister Anna and husband Václav. Their country home was the grandest in the entire village and was adjacent to the large apple orchard they owned. The view from the guest room on the second floor was idyllic— heavenly— except on one moonlit night when Anna saw something that would change her life forever.
Václav was a prominent businessman in the wooden match industry that was burgeoning in Czechoslovakia. He owned the biggest factory in Bohemia and employed dozens of the locals. Several times a year he and Anna would travel to Prague for business. It was during those times, they would ask Kristina to live in their home and take care of things while they were away.
Kristina never refused, not even once.
In fact, instead of thinking of house-sitting as a job, she considered it a vacation, a getaway—a sojourn in the lap of luxury. Kristina was happy for her younger sister. She had married well. No jealousy, but perhaps a little regret that she herself hadn’t met the right man. Marriage wasn’t for everyone. Independence had its merits, too.
Kristina, 35, was a realist, sensible— the capable sister. Unbeknown to her or anyone then, she was on the cusp of creating her own notoriety. Soon she would stop being defined only by her kinship with Anna and Václav.
Kristina’s own star was beginning to rise.
She was a talented seamstress, albeit—an artist, whose fashion sense was admired by the women in the village. Often they would seek her advice or even commission her to make a garment for them. This foreshadowed when ready-to-wear apparel would replace bolts of fabric and women would go shopping instead of sewing.
Kristina was passionate about her work. It was always on her mind— the design, the fabric. In fact, one of her blouses was on her mind just before she fell asleep. It was also what woke her up from a sound sleep a few hours later.
“A touch of lace at the collar—that’s what Mrs. Novotny’s blouse needs!”
After that revelation she tried to fall back asleep but after a few minutes, threw back the down comforter and got out of bed in the dark. She fumbled around for slippers, grabbing her robe. It was 1:45 a.m.