(Inspired by this song.)
“You little wretch.”
The words left her mouth with a snarl and venom and a spatter of blood.
Who could best the Russian Empire? Who would dare dream it possible? Why, it was that nasty viper who until a short time ago was nothing more than a scurrying mouse. But she was so ambitious and so daring now, so loathsome. She had her eyes on something that belonged to Russia–wanted to stick her filthy fingers in Russia’s pie. Once she had the first bite she’d demand more, more, more, gobling it up until there was nothing left.
“Do you know what you’ve done? You’ve cursed yourself.” Russia’s chest heaved as she pushed the words out of her heavy lungs. “I will never forget this.”
Japan twisted the sword before pulling it from Russia’s stomach.
“I hope not.”
“Such a selfish brat,” Russia cooed harshly. Her wrist moved carefully, though there was no tenderness. This task required an artist’s touch; It was an act of passion, but not of love.
“Couldn’t have your way back then so you lashed out and hurt me…” Russia’s next movement was sharp and merciless. Japan screamed through a clenched jaw. “But this isn’t like last time, is it? I’m bigger and stronger, and the fire inside me burns so much hotter now.”
There we go. Just sever that nerve and–
The eyeball tumbled into Russia’s palm and she picked it up gingerly to hold between her thumb and index finger. The thought drifted through her mind, the thought of crushing it. No, no, she told herself, this was a prize meant to be cherished. She would cherish also her masterpiece–the hole she’d carved and the way blood ran down her enemy’s pretty face like paint.
“There,” Russia said, holding the trophy up for Japan–whose glare was only half as cold, half as ugly, half as contemptuous–to see. “Now we’re even.”
It looked so nice in the glass jar on the desk.
The eye became one of Russia’s closest companions, alongside vodka and the biting winter. It watched her bend the arc of history until the day it withered and died. Russia felt a very real absence that day, but the pain was numbed by the war, by conquest, by a hunger for victory.
She knew what she had to do.
“Darling, I’m back.”
“For my other eye?”
“No, for your heart.” A pause was followed by a smile. “Unless you want to give me something else.”
This was meant to be an overarching metaphor for Russia-Japan relations in the early 20th century, hinting at three major events. The first is the Russo-Japan War (1904-5), which started with Russia denying Japan parts of Manchuria and Korea and ended with Russia’s horrible defeat. Then there was an undeclared war between the two in 1939 just before the outbreak of WW2. I implore you to read this article, which suggests that Japan’s humiliating defeat at the USSR’s hands in ’39 influenced its decision to go to war years later with America instead of with the Soviets.
Anyway, as the story goes, the Soviet Union in August 1945 invades Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet state right above Korea, and together with Mongolia destroys Japan’s Kwantung Army. This allowed the Allied Forces to get an unconditional surrender from Japan; Germany had surrendered earlier that year so Japan had no allies, the United States had nuclear weapons, and the massive Soviet Union was pounding at its doors. The Japanese Empire was finished.
The pose I used in the featured image was created by http://choudusims.tumblr.com