The Edge ~ a call from Kyoto

Silver dress Message from Charles to Céline Jeurève, dated February 10, 2048, from Kyoto

C: I am glad we could link up this weekend – and sorry again I had to rush out to Japan at such short notice. I did not expect Azymuth to send me here, rather than one their usual custodian hacks for such events. But the Pan-Pacific conference is a moving event, with the recent invitation to the BRICS Federation! I think they want me to do a touch of forecasting on what will come next between them and the Pacific Alliance around key people interviews. The word on the street is that Japan is keen on a “rapprochement”…

Have you heard from Monica? Her last call before I flew out here was a bit desperate, she said to be just fed up with the pressure on her from her present contract with the South-African Fashion Consortium: big money comes with tall expectations she said. Can you give her a call, or a swift mail, and reassure her? Of course she will be welcome week after next if she wants a break and a change from J’burg! She’s still in Milan for a few days.

Kisses & more ;-P

Transcript of video call between Charles and Céline (February 10, 2048, 10pm Tokyo time)

– Charles you’re a charmer… So you went to the Manga museum!…

– Yep a bit of relaxation before the interviews – by the way did you know that the likely commander of the Mars mission is rumoured to be Sandra N’gebî, of the SA Air Force?

– Saw her pic in today’s news, she’s the youngest Air Force general in the federation apparently. Doctorate from Pretoria Technology Institute, studied space navigation in Shanghai and Mumbai, flies her own reconstructed F 15, for fun!

– Have to rush my love – the conference press room is at the Gosho – got my pack yesterday…

– Take care Don Juan, my special – consider yourself well…

– Aw… now… my turn… nice lil’ number you wearing…

– Steady now!

Email from Monica to Céline Jeurève, dated February 10, 2048, from Milan

Taking five secs to write, week was hectic. I love the SA people but they are tough masters, or I should say Mistresses given that both my bosses are female! The SAFC is on the up and up – have great expansion plans through the BRICS and North America. Am missing you and Charles very much, want to have time again with you two. Am off to SA before back in London week later. I hope you loved the pics. I liked the silver dress, thought of you… ❤

PS is Azymuth the same mag that published Charles’ short story last year?

Message from Céline Jeurève to her husband Charles, dated February 10, 2048, marked “late before bed”

Got word from M. Yes she’s keen. Is she keen on “us”, “you”, or “me” – or all at the same time?! She’s lovely. You saw the movie of the catwalk, they went nuts… Reminded me of that moment in Glamorama when Chloe and Victor go on stage… ‘Xcept there is no Victor as far as I can see: do you know?

Btw she remembered your story in Azymuth! When are you back, feel already itchy…? Forensic sucks. Strange how a science can attain its apogee when its use is near rock bottom!

Saw another portrait of Sandra-F15-N to nite on the newsreel. She’s stunning, currently in Moscow. Another video from the Gosho tomorrow? Please… Surprise for you if we do…

Narrator’s historical note

The reference to the Pacific Alliance in Charles’ message is interesting. Following the World Peace Conferences in the early ’30s, after the disastrous decade that preceded, and in response to the formation of the BRICS Federation, the (other) Pacific nations attempted to develop a similar structure, with Japan, the Philippines and the Australia-New Zealand Confederation at its core. The result is still evolving, slowly, due in part to anxiety on the part of the North-American Union.  The invite to Charles to attend the Pan Pacific conference, from the Azymuth magazine (a spin-off from the European Federation’s Press Academy think-tank) may be due to his early articles and short stories on the “origins of the East Asian consensus”.

The Edge ~ An evening with friends

Diary writing Prologue

 I know the three of them well, as I crossed their lives at different times, before we met again, that February, in London. How I came to be in possession of those pages is, perhaps, the material for another story. Suffice to say: they trust me, all three, enough to share their most intimate feelings, hopes, and fears.

Above all else, I admire their honesty: what they write in those diaries is really how they see themselves and the others, how they relate to them, what their expectations and frustrations are. But what about me, you might ask. What is my real interest in all this, and why publishing their personal thoughts? Well, they are my friends, and I am a publisher, an entrepreneur if you wish. I admit also to being a crypto voyeur, with a sense of humour, perhaps an admirer of the other Marcel. When I read those pages I felt there was such a spectrum of human dignity, hope and disillusion in them, that I saw literature.

I only appear occasionally in their writing, which is about themselves, and for each one of them, about the other two. The small drama written therein is their drama, or their comedy, depending on how seriously you, the reader, take their words.

Their diaries appear to have been started at more or less the same time, perhaps prompted by the tremendous events of the year 2048, when the narrative begins.

I should add that I have concealed their real names. Just in case you thought you may recognise one of them…

Diary of Céline Jeurève, February 3, 2048

Our evening was full of delights. Charles was in extremely good mood, even by his own standards: I just admired his way with both of us, Monica and I, the perfect gentleman! Et quel charmeur! Monica, dear friend, was just glamour through and through, with this difference that friendship brings to her natural timidity. She was not on the catwalk, but with friends, and what friends! She was adorable, and Charles appreciated her conversation all evening, and so did I, and vice-versa.

We talked about the new fashion season, and Milan, and Paris. Monica’s enjoying her work, and I look forward to seeing her when she’s in Paris, in-between her permanent travels. She was keen to know what Charles and I were planning later in the year – of course we are equally busy, and we promised to keep her posted on our plans.

Then Mars came up, and the intentions of the BRICS Federation. Charles thinks that they will ensure a start of mission this year. After all, they have been working on the ships, around Space Station III, and recruiting and training hundreds of potential colonists on three continents, for the past four years. The Sino-Indian Space Corp. has a fleet of launchers already in Kazakhstan. The North American Union is contributing a strong team of scientists, and of course several rovers. The European Federation has mining experts and engineers lined up. Charles says that the first wave will be no less than two hundred people. We joked about me joining the medical team. Monica says she’d volunteer to be the local clothes designer there!

It is all deadly serious though. Colleagues at the faculty say that an entire surgical block is part of the payload. Someone said that a famous Chinese brain surgeon will be part of the team.

Dinner was just right, I am pleased to say, and Charles was happy with his handy work on the parfait, sweet husband! Monica had brought a bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet, apparently a present from “an admirer”, sublime. The three of us got suitably tipsy, and stayed awake just long enough for Monica’s taxi at two this morning.

Une soirée réussie. I am writing this before going to my eleven o’clock lecture on DNA testing. I must rush. Just one thing: during the evening I saw, at times, my friend’s eyes going a little misty as she was listening to Charles. Is Monica getting tender toward my husband?

Note to myself – Charles Jeurève, 1pm, February 3, 2048

Must send roses to C and M – now. They were perfect. What a couple they are.  And for whose pleasure? Mine! You’re a lucky fellow Monsieur Jeurève. Be good!

Letter to Mr & Mrs Jeurève, dated February 4, 2048, posted from Milan

Dear friends,

I cannot find words to thank you enough for a wonderful evening. As you know I am always nervous before embarking on a new show, and this was a perfect way for me to forget about my professional anxieties. Céline: I want to say that you were so beautiful, that black kimono suits you perfectly, I wish I could wear Asian chef-d’oeuvres like this with your grace, on you it looks magical, on me I’d look like a scarecrow!

Charles made me laugh, he’s such a good story teller, and has such a sense of humour. I write from my little cubicle in Milan, before makeup. It’s chaos here. But when I think of your place, near Vincennes, a haven of beauty and calm, I feel all relaxed again. I love you both, I will write again next week, after the show.

Bises to both,

Monica

#WritersWednesday: His Hero is Marcel

Time Line of the Universe
Time Line of the Universe Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team Source: Original version: File:CMB Timeline75.jpg

It goes for colours, type-faces, places, objects, smiles, books… The human spirit is attracted, inspired, by “things”, in a fashion that appears random to the observer (“tastes and colours…” goes the French saying). But it isn’t. There are reasons for everything, and randomness is often a metaphor for “we can’t explain this”.

Julian is attracted by – universes. Worlds, galaxies, star systems… Or should I write “multiverses”: the existence of multiple universes that rarely intersect, merely coexist, and, mostly, in ignorance of each other? He knows, has read about, that most physicists, mathematicians, philosophers, are generally skeptical about the concept. Generally, but sometimes not. And Julian is attracted by those writers who are less than skeptical, the party of the “cosmic inflation”, and its far away consequences. Julian believes in the Two Moons of Huraki Murakami: he too has seen them…

Sarah, who’s a far better mathematician than her husband, is willing to discuss strings theory and other quantum wonders, and let him indulge in his quest. He too is after the “Ultimate Nature of Reality” [*]. I do understand, and she does, that Julian seeks his inspiration from serious subjects: history, science, philosophy, the “thinking” authors of weird and wonderful stories.

So it goes for time: our Julian is obsessed by it. His hero is, of course, Marcel Proust, and he’s often written about Marcel, and written him into his stories, as himself or as his little prisoner. I am fascinated by this, as it links to his other obsessions, his writing style, and, finally, his love for both Sarah and Melissa, the two women in his life, the inspiration for his writing. There are reasons to believe that, for Julian, his friend Melissa is a reincarnation of the docile Prisoner, dear to Marcel, his Albertine…

But Sarah has another theory: Julian wishes to be Albertine, someone’s property, or, to be precise, his wife’s. So that Melissa maybe Julian, in the end, just in another “universe”. This intrigues me too, as often Melissa has told me she wished to be Julian, to live in his skin. Poor soul. What I keep to myself, for now, is that Melissa has also claimed to be Sarah, to “merge” with her.

Sarah, Albertine, Odette, Julian, Melissa, Swann? Julian is “à la recherche”, in this universe, or, as necessary, in another. Which writer is not?

[*] “Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality”, by Max Tegmark, was reviewed by Brian Rotman in The Guardian of February 1, 2014.

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words

Emptiness

Photo: by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Story inspired by Cheri’s picture, and an episode of Infinity Blade III.

Emptiness Cautiously they move along the vaulted corridor, to their left the late sunlight breaking through the high inaccessible windows, to their right the ancient wall, in front of them the increasing darkness. An icy air is blowing towards them from the depths, at times punctuated with powdery red-hot ashes.

Patterns on the grey granite of the floor remain unreadable, perhaps the guiding marks of some ceremony. They know so little about the deathless: here is their kingdom, and there is no doubt they will resent the intrusion, the violation of their domain.

A piercing shriek resonates through the arches: Isa and Siris stop, silent, frozen in the crouching position, swords drawn. There is now no other sound than their breathing, nothing moves other than, slowly, the slight mist coming out of their lungs.

The air is now colder, as they resume their march, and get closer to the obscurity…

Just as they reach the last arch, still lit by the declining rays of the sun, they see an opening on the wall, away from the light. The bricks disappear, replaced by older stones: fearless, they chose to walk in that direction.

“There is still some light,” says Isa, “it must be coming from somewhere…”

The floor is now uneven, and to the geometry of the bricked arches has succeeded the irregular surfaces of an ancient tunnel. They realise that the floor is gradually edging down, a slow gradient which means they are leaving the upper structure of the castle to enter the subterranean world of the deathless.

Isa’s foot hits a light object on the floor: it’s a bone. Soon they walk through layers of bones of all sizes and evidently human. “Here we come”, says Siris, as they reach a circular space, with multiple corridors branching out of it. In its centre is a small platform, anchored on a metallic pole which rises through the ceiling. “We’ll have to wait,” says Isa, “that’s a lift, I expect one of them to come down just there, and others to appear from those corners.”

Siris smiles. Swords in hand, they wait, back to back, the way of the Samurais.

As the first Titan appears, they kiss – and holding their blades low, they wait for the first blow. Soon they are surrounded. Soon the old stones are covered with the dark blood of the slain Titans. Again and again the monsters try to separate them, and fail. More Titans are disgorged from the corridors, but as the space is too narrow, only a handful of them at a time can face the couple.

So it comes that Isa and Siris are surrounded by the bodies of the Titans. Their only way out is the lift. They edge their way toward it: they are now standing on it, keeping the nearest monsters at bay. Obediently the small platform rises up: through a narrow opening of the high ceiling they reach a vertical column. It leads to the Worker’s room.  And there he is, flanked by Raidriar.

“Welcome to my humble dwelling”, he says with a snarl. Silently Isa and Siris take their positions: Isa will deal with Raidriar, and Siris with the Worker. If one of them fails, they will have to do the journey again through those empty corridors…

Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door

In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch shares his take on a classic bit of advice:

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. “

This week, we’re asking you to consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes. Leave your moccasins and bunny slippers at the door, and tell us a tale from a fully-immersed perspective that is not your own.

To say we know each other – in the modern and medieval sense, in the sense of belonging, of having all rights on one another – is a sweet understatement, for some years we have done just that: swap lives, you becoming me, and me you. Just a gift we have, you and me (and vice-versa.)

He and II cannot be sure of what you do when you are me (and when you tell the tale, I know that you use, as they say, poetic license…) but let’s say that being you is for me the source of infinite wonder.  For long, years before meeting you and becoming your alter ego, I have wondered what it would be like to be someone like you: not just attractive, but someone who draws attention to herself, wherever she is, whatever she does. Someone who sends men dreaming back to their youth, or shivering like teenagers.

This is opposed to me: the average, normal (if overweight), grey human being, at least in appearance (I dress better since we are you and me). For, as you well know, in my case you have to peel off more than the clothes to discover the truth. But you? This object of glamour, this irresistible sex appeal, how could one handle this, days after days (I will omit the nights for now)?

Well, when we gave it a go, the very first time, all those years back, I was nervous. I am not used, or at least I was not then, to the slim body, those breasts, the looks on me, as soon as I was out of the house and on the sidewalk. Then this way of walking… The female walk is already something to behold, in most cases. But in yours, this reaches another level. How I understood then the way you dress, those shoes, those perfect panties, the long skirts, the elegance and at the same time the practical view of all of it. And I also understood why you enjoy being with me, out there, your silent yet lethal bruiser. The discrete man escorting the angel of sex.

So I learned the walk. I learned to wear those delicate silken things. What a change to the T-shirts and shorts that normally equip your mate! I learned to make up, the way you do, this thin and sophisticated veil of style just saying: I can afford this stuff, but I don’t need to over do it!

But walking, wearing those wonderful soft woman’s things, that is the simplest part of it. Being you, borrowing, as it were, your look and almost your mind, while still being me, is still a challenge. I walk into this bar, where we are supposed to meet, that is you and me, a little later. I sit at the bar, immediately attracting the attention of a dozen males. I think – being me despite the look – what are those zombies after? After five minutes one of them takes his courage in his hands and comes closer for a chat. I tell him to get off my sunshine. He’s rather surprised. Then I, rather, you, come in. We kiss. Ahhh! Being you, kissing me. I admire the bulk of this discrete husband of mine. So calm. So kinda normal!

I drive, me being you, driving this racer of ours, your car in fact. I have changed my shoes for your flat sneakers, wear a pair of your provocative shorts. Can I ever be used to possessing those thighs? Your hand, that is my hand, wanders along one knee. O my gosh! This feeling of being wanted by me, I mean you… And yes, I admit, that is the best part of it: being you being made love by you, in fact me. Maybe another time?

I just know, having walked those streets as you, but knowing that I soon will be me again, I know how lucky this guy is, really.

#FiveSentenceFiction: Sparks

On the shoreAlone on the white beach, above my head the dark blue night sky, and the five moons, I walk, remembering your smile, the fullness of your lips.

It was so long ago, yet the sombre waves still lick the glistening pebbles, their song a melancholy poem to our lost love, o my darling, o my beautiful lover…

Here we walked, enlaced, your hand forever pressing mine, stopping near the edge of the sea – so far away.

On this beach, we stood, defying eternity and the immensity of space, as you told me your secret, and, in awe, I learned the truth about us:

That the fire would never die, and that, on this shore, I would walk forever, looking for you, my immortal love.

Jane, on Respect #writing

Tiny Stories As many writers before me, I have noticed how restless some of my characters can be, from time to time. Then, they seem to resent the narrow jacket of the story, they want more from life, or, maybe, they just want to assert themselves, as independent beings, as their own persons, freed for a while from the authority of their creator.

Take Jane, for instance, Julian’s young sister. She can be very critical of the way she’s being portrayed, how her personality is stifled by “the plot”. And, of course, who am I to judge? Like parents, authors can create, but their creation is not always in agreement with their parents’ vision and aspiration. There may be rumbles in the jungle of the little people.

So, I thought I would at least attempt to give them a forum, outside of my own imagination, a place where they can express themselves the way they want, as opposed to be dictated a “role”. Whether this can be successful, for them as well as for me, will be up to their ultimate judgement.

Today, it is Jane’s turn.

“Little people”, this says it all: this is the way Honoré sees us, his creations, not as beings worthy of his respect and care, but as puppets at his disposal to move around the checkerboard of his silly stories.

Take me, for example. I am supposed to be a glamorous fashion model. What a joke! My role in his novel is one of support to his main character, my brother, the illustrious Julian. I am supposed to admire my brother, worse, to worship him, perhaps even lust for him in secret. Of course H makes me also a sometime lover of the wife, gorgeous Sarah. I am really H’s “bonne à tout faire”, literally. About my feelings, about the person I want to become, I have become, he says nothing at all.

What I am really doing in life, and why I am doing it, his readers cannot have a clue. They hear that I jet set around the place, strut my stuff on catwalks, and generally be admired, when I am not bedded by a variety of vague characters such as Julian’s ghost girlfriend, Melissa. Readers don’t know who I am really, how could they? For H, I am part of the background, popping in when he is short of ideas for the next scene. 

Can you imagine how uncomfortable it is for me to be “owned”, as it were, by such a tyrant? H is someone who can do with me what he wants, apparently. He sends me to funny places on errands for Julian. He has me participating to threesomes with some aliens from another galaxy. What is a girl to do? But there is worse.

What he writes about me is bad enough, but you should see (read?) but he does not say. Those fantasies are not all healthy, and I wish he would take some distance from his subjects, once in a while, allow us some privacy. He can explore my mind at will, or at least, he gives himself that privilege. Suddenly I feel different, distorted, as if my inner self has been modified, tampered with. Of course I resist, I want to be myself, not someone else’s puppet. A girl has her dignity, private corners of her own mind, her own thoughts and dreams. H trampled on all this, like the proverbial thugs crushing the porcelain of the Winter Palace.

I am not really “glamorous”, but unsure of myself. To tell the truth I am still searching for the real Jane, the one inside. My brother is a younger version of you-know-who, just as brutish at times. Yes I used to have something of a tender feeling for him, isn’t this usual, towards an older handsome brother? But I have my own life, not linked to his. As for Sarah, she’s a good friend, nothing more. I am not of that sort. I love men, and they love me. Thinking about it it, may be that is what makes H not so confident about me. He can be of a jealous type, the sort that would deny a woman her freedom of mind: the sort who think they know best…

Do you think I am complaining too much? Do you think characters have to allow their genitor some rights to manipulate their lives? Of course, this is creative license, up to a point. But what I ask for is some respect, for me, as a person, through his words, in his attitude toward me, and toward the others. Respect in the way I am being cast, or placed in situations that, myself, given a choice, I would not tolerate. In one word: I am no toy of his, and I want him to know.

#FWF: Gratitude

Gratitude Long Summer evenings

In the City of our love, tree-lined streets

Girls on black bicycles,

No fear: notes on posts

Voluptuous lips

Silken Thighs  ~

Ecstasy without end:

Forever

Image: Chemise de Nuit, by Mina 1983

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: Characters that Haunt You

When you possess a creative brain, says Coady, everyday experiences are used as ingredients for the work you hope one day to make.

Haunting I know her names: I’ve have known her since a child, she’s always been there, not far, even if inaccessible.

Imagination, or muse, she’s influential, and, very, very pretty. The more inaccessible the prettier: it is well known…

So, I know, the day she goes, the day she disappears from my life, will be the day I die. She will go and find another host, another malleable soul.

Today I am not ready: I want to live longer, and write, and keep admiring her, the long legs, the heavy breasts, the smile of a young goddess, the lips of Aphrodite…

You will tell me I’m a fool: just write her off in your novel, and you will be free, it is that simple: write and free yourself.

Melissa, Joan, Nina, Elsa: how could I forget you, my heroines, the ones I worship, in the midst of darkness…

When I face my Maker, I will say: I have lived happy, under her gaze, blame me if You wish, she is the one for me.