Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dust Fairies Take Two

OK, at the recommendation of a good friend I have completely gutted my story beginning. I was relying too much on tell and not enough on show. So here is the first 1015 words of the new version. Let me know what you think. Is it better? Worse? Should I give up and stick to music? (I don't know what to do with the formatting here. In the edit window it shows all the paragraph indentations but the preview window has some paragraphs indented and not others.)

Dust Fairies

Grandfather is dead. His solicitor found me hiding out in Scotland, researching Scottish ancestry for my next book, and generally trying to avoid the media hubbub stemming from Simone’s death.

We picked up the promised tickets at the airport in Glasgow and headed for Alderney. It wasn’t till we were settled in the hired car and headed out towards Grandfather’s manor that Jason finally began to spill the thoughts he’d been chewing on since I’d told them.

“Grandfather was rich?”

“I suppose you’d say so.”

“But he never did anything for us.”

“Perhaps not directly, but he did pay for my education.”

“But you haven’t seen him since you were little?”

“No.”

“Why?”

I took a deep breath. I’d never told them what I remembered of my early life. “There was trouble between Simone and him.”

“Why would he hold that against you, against us? He’s never even seen us.” He turned his face to the window and rode in silence several miles. “What’s wrong with us Mom? Dad, Simone, Grandfather; why don’t they want us?”

Justin grabbed Jason around the neck and rubbed his fist in his hair. “It’s your goofy looks. Folks take one look at you and run the other way.”

Jason grinned and punched his mirror twin in the shoulder as we passed between the gateposts and started up the tree lined drive.

The house appeared deserted. No one answered our ringing of the bell. Justin tried the knob and the door opened easily. The years seemed to melt away as I led the way across the hall, through a parlor turned library and into Grandfather’s study.

The room was even darker than I remembered. Medieval paintings and archaic weapons still graced the walls. There seemed to be even more shelves than I remembered and all were loaded with weapons and pieces of steel armor tucked between leather bound books. A fancy pipe stand atop his roll-top desk held seven pipes, some obviously well used and others decorative.

I sat down in the heavy arm chair and gave myself over to memories, borne on wings of pipe tobacco impregnated leather.

***

“When I grow up I’m going to be a knight.” Laramie stood in the chair, holding up Sir Teddy so he could also see the painting of Sir George slaying the dragon. “And you,” he looked straight at Larissa, “will be the princess.”

Grandfather leaned back in his desk chair as he tamped tobacco into his pipe and set match to it, drawing air until a thin wisp of smoke ascended like a prayer offered on some heathen alter.

Larissa stretched on tiptoe to reach the worn copy of Castles and Crests from its place on Grandfather’s bookshelf, between Sir Mallory’s Le Morte Darthur and a steel gauntlet. Hugging it to her chest she carried it to Grandfather and laid it in his lap.

Grandfather reached down to the little girl, lifting her up into his lap. Motioning to Laramie to come stand by the chair, he laid the pipe on a little stand on his desk and allowed the book to fall open to its accustomed place. His finger traced lovingly the lines of his family crest.

“This is your heritage, children. The outer shield of Azure was earned by Stanwick in 1056 for his part in putting down the Stoneyford rebellion. Azure is the color of strength and loyalty. The small griffins bespeak valor and vigilance. In 1181 Laird Stanwick of Stoneyford sent eight sons to the aid of Richard the Lionheart, valiant knights every one. This,” his finger lovingly traced the red scarf that crossed the shield, “knight’s scarf is gules to represent military strength. The sons of Laird Stanwick covered themselves in glory. Three gave up their lives in battle for their Duke.”

As Grandfather’s finger moved to the next element, Larissa took up the family history. “The seventh son of Laird Stanwick performed for Duke Richard a task of valor that was rewarded with the Lordship of Ald’ney,” she stumbled over the word, “and the inner green shield of hope, loyalty and love and with the flag of Ald’ney in the corner.”

“Vert, Princess, vert.” Grandfather took up the tale. “The crest of Alderney contains the lion of courage so this symbol was added to the center of the shield. This is your true heritage, little ones, remember it always.”

History lesson over, Grandfather closed the book and laid it on his desk. “Off to play now, Minikins.” Larissa slid from his lap and headed for the nursery, followed closely by her brother.

* * *

The vision was so real that I rose from the chair and turned to follow the children from the room. Only then did it hit me that a bookcase now stood where the door should be. I stepped back into the former sitting room to discover more bookcases where I remembered the primary door to the nursery. One could imagine the door had never been there, that my twin and I had never lived in this house, never spent happy hours together in our large playroom just off the study and parlor.

“Boys, help me move this bookcase.” I had to see if the door was really there. Was I ever really that little girl spouting off family history like Justin reciting baseball statistics?

Moving the heavy bookcase away from the wall had been about all that we could do, but behind it was the door, just as I remembered. The oddly shaped door knob was missing, leaving only a hole. The ornately carved trim I remembered around the door had been removed.

I took a deep breath and stepped towards the door. Silently it swung toward me. Startled, I stepped back, frightened by the momentary sense of a lingering presence, beckoning me to enter.

I turned to the boys, tempted to run, but they were already absorbed in Grandfather’s eclectic collection of antiques.

What ghosts waited beyond that door? Two tentative steps and I stood looking into the old playroom. Dust motes floated aimlessly on a stray sunbeam.

7 comments:

jennifer said...

I am coming back tomorrow to read when I have plenty of time. I just wanted to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. Jennifer

Marsha said...

I think you've shown quite well here. I like it.

jennifer said...

Oh Wamblings. What do I know? I like the beginning of the first story. I was drawn in much quicker and the story was more straight to the point. The imagery of the pipe smoke was clearer.
In this post, I like the converstion with her sons, the question posed from a child's heart 'why me? why am I unlovable?' I believe any kid that has been forsaken would feel vulnerable this way and you wrote it well. The exchange between brothers was touching. I did not realize on the first reading that she knew she had a twin. That changes how the story will flow. There is much commotion around here (this may have had an influence on my opinion). I will re-read again tomorrow. You really are a good writer. You come across confident in your story. Be true to how you see the story forming! It will make more sense to everyone if you write it for YOU. Jennifer

Wamblings said...

Marsha,

My friend at the other blog pulled a Reggie on me. *grins* I see what she is writing but I think it isn't my style. I don't know what I'm going to do with the story. I should be working on it today and instead I'm nursing a chocolate hangover. Gahhhhhh, you'd think I'd learn. One bite - OK, two bites - chancy, three bites - trouble.

Wamblings said...

Jen, I'm still really struggling to find my style. When it comes to poetry, I know my style. Succinct, almost terse. Prose is harder though. I guess I need to go back and try to strike a balance between the two beginnings. I like the scene with the boys in the car. I think they echo their mother's insecurities.

jennifer said...

Whew, hard to offer up advice about your work - it's like criticizing (sp) someones kid. Egg shell city! You didn't cuss me out so I am relieved! I am not sure about 'style' (I lack style in every area of my life!) I am talking 'voice'. You were more into the first one. Good luck honey. I envy your abilities! I'll read whatever you share and I will not be hurt if you add the post script "everyone but Jen, tell me what you think".... :) Have a relaxing weekend. Jennifer

Wamblings said...

Jen, *hugs* Silly! Yes, in a way it is my baby. But I can't be overly thin skinned about it. I am trying to learn *growls at "e" key which is sticking*, trying to grow in my craft. I also feel the first one more deeply but can't discount the recommendations of my editor friend. I know I don't know squat about the short story genera. Personally I prefer 1000 page epics.