Nicole brought the ostrich egg home from the antique store because it reminded her of her Grandmother Anna Nicolette Roman and her love of painting. Entering the front door, she placed the decorated egg, along with it's fine silver stand, upon the entryway table. While the egg was no Faberge, she still thought it worthy of admiration.
Though Grandmother had been formal and old fashioned, Nicole remembered her with fondness. Whenever she visited, good manners and propriety had been stressed to the children, ahead of fun and ease. Nicole didn't know much about her early life. Grandmother always changed the subject as soon as Nicky brought the topic up.
A few years ago, upon learning that he had terminal cancer, Nicky's aged father began sharing stories of his childhood with her. He told her of the numerous visits that his mother had received from adults with heavy accents. About his curiosity and her unwillingness to answer his questions. The whispered conversations he'd overheard about her heritage. About her hatred of Bolsheviks. These facts added to the mystery rather than solve it. He told Nicky of his growing suspicion as an adult, that his mother might have a secret identity. Only at the end. had grandmother whispered her real name to her son: Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. Could the slurred whispers of an old, sick senile woman be believed?
Unsure of what she thought of the implausible story, Nicole nevertheless found herself unable to resist the egg. Picking it up from the stand, she once more turned it over studying the tiny details. Here in the bright afternoon light she noticed a detail that had escaped her in the dim light of the store. On the bottom of the egg, in minuscule scratching it read; ANR, 1918.
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