#FiveSentenceFiction: Trust

Interstices

I did not know the length of the labyrinth, only that it led to that gate, and the little platform, just wide enough for two feet, facing the immense sky, and a sheer vertical drop of several hundred meters high above the valley.

She had said to me, in another life it seemed, that she would lay the rope from the overhang, and that with my strong arms I could then reach the valley, right down the cliff, just taking the time not to exhaust my strength…

Now of course captivity had taken much of my energy away, the beatings, the hunger, the cold, still, I went for it, killed two guards in the silence of the night: this gave me just half an hour to reach the first gate, and run for my life through the labyrinth, using the little map she had given me, all those years back.

My lungs were burning as I heard the alarm resonating through the rocks and the thick doors: I thought my heart would explode, and now I could hear the roar of the mastiffs they had unleashed, a last lap to the gate in front of me…

The clear air took my remaining breath away: in front of me the abyss, I had to believe, had to hold on the edge and feel for the rope, behind me was death – I let myself slowly down, holding to the ledge – and the rope was there…

#FiveSentenceFiction: Horizon (the Navigators)

Cassiopeia“In space there is no horizon,” the captain declares, in her intelligent voice, as much to herself as to the duty crew.

You look at me, with the calm eyes of one who knows: soon the captain will read the instructions, and we will ready ourselves  for the long voyage, but only us two know how far we will travel.

Everyone is getting on with their tasks, without haste, as our fragile vessel continues her journey through the night.

… The alert bell rings: an elegant blue hologram floats in the air, and the captain calls the crew to attention.

“I have to communicate to you the new direction we are now to take: we are not turning back, we continue to Epsilon of Cassiopeia, which means over the time horizon, through hyperspace”: the crew falls on their knees, in prayer, you, my love, hold my face in both hands – over the horizon, for us, means eternity…

#FiveSentenceFiction: Pages

In memoriam: Pauline Réage

Histoire d'OI read the words, the sentences, slowly turn the pages: your novel.

Looking back, through the mist of time, I imagine you, at night, under the feeble light of post-war Europe, patiently moving your pen along the lines, writing for him, just for him.

The woman you invented, was she you, was she your sister, your doppelgänger?

He wanted to publish, you were not so sure, after all, you would be the object of scandal, but his will was stronger: how could you resist him?

The story has survived the winds of fashion, and she, your heroine, is still in our hearts.

 

Facing my Maker #amwriting #characters

I have not always be fair to him, and yet I depend on him more than I admit to myself… So, today, Julian holds the pen.

Es sind ja die kleinen Dinge, die beglückenFor us, creatures of a lower order, not free, not slaves, but prisoners all the same, facing our maker is the ultimate test.  This is your space, yours, that is the author’s, not mine. I don’t belong here, and I am not sure I belong in your writing either: I feel like a passenger, stranded in the wrong teleport, perhaps in a time wrap.

You have borrowed from my (real) life, as fiction always steals from someone’s realities, or dreams. You, writers, have always done this. D’Artagnan was really a captain of the royal Mousquetaires, the élite body guard of the King of France, before Alexandre Dumas (père) span his web of intrigues. And somewhere in 1913, the young Marcel considered his status in life, before Proust drowned him in Lost Time.

You have painted me as a selfish, idiotic hedonist, who depends on his women, but do not respect them. This hurt me deeply, for it is not the person I am. I may lack courage, and do rely on the people I care for for support and patience. Selfish, egotistic, I am not: only your pen made me that. But your readers, who cannot know me, only know that Julian from your words, those slippery sentences that are as many distortions of my life.

Sadly, you will not redeem yourself, authors rarely do.  Proust made a hopeless brat of Marcel, and sacrificed much of what that young man had to offer, in order to achieve fame and literary respect for himself. Little did it matter to him that, in so doing, he was destroying the idea itself of the introspective novel.  I give you this: you are no Proust, but all the same you don’t strive to be published!

Enough said about myself. What about your writing? Of the young Proust of Jean Santeuil, Pierre Bergounioux (In D’après Proust, NRF March 2013) writes: “Besides being too young, Proust stays on the surface, describes, as before him, thoughts, gestures, feelings known, uncontroversial, when everything has changed, everywhere.” I won’t accuse you of the same weakness, you try to be current, recognising the mess the world is in, all those missiles, the fear, the surveillance, the arbitrary disguised as the norm, the lies. I don’t disagree with you on any of this reality. However you must ask yourself: aren’t you at risk of losing your readers in the labyrinth of time, all this meandering of your characters, back and forth, not only across their memories, but also retracing steps they may never have followed?

I give you credit for not totally confounding Julian, the “real” human being, and your character. Beyond the story – or is it the stories? – is the person whose memories provide the live substance of what, otherwise, would be a confusing ghost tale. But you know the difference. So, I may dislike the Julian of the novel, but you never claim he is the only one.

#SundayMusing: Susan holds the pen

Continuing the never-ending dialogue with those elusive characters, it is my pleasure to hand over the pen to Susan, perhaps the most sinful creation of this writer’s delirious imagination.

Leonard Cohen's quoteI dislike your introduction: yes, I recognise that you have placed me in situations that many readers may find distasteful. But, pray, remember that yesterday’s taboos are today’s fads, and, perhaps even, tomorrow’s traditions. The ancient Greeks and Romans, for example, had habits in cooking, dressing, and, yes, loving, that were anathemas to the Victorians. Und so weiter, and so on…

Still, I rather like what you have written of me and Paul, although, he, has another opinion of you (this will have to wait until he gets the pen!) I enjoyed the beginning of the story, and revel in the new “Retour à Roissy“, which is, really, a new beginning. I felt inspired to write this, and intend to continue the adventures of Myriam and O.  I am fascinated by O, and a little infatuated with the woman who created her. If we try and place ourselves in her time and place, the grim France of the after-War, a time of bigotry and falsehoods, that she could write a story of such audacity, was a miracle.

As for my relationship with Mistress G, I make no secret that we are very good friends – and more. She too is a source of inspiration, and I have learnt a lot from her. I do mean to ask her to train my new pet, you know, the one Paul drilled enthusiastically not so long ago. Miss G and Helen, are, in a nutshell, what I aspire to become, in the fullness of time, with pet. Yes, I hear from your corner of the room, more question marks than I will bother to answer: I do not crave your intimacy. You are the writer, not, underlined, not, my lover.

By the way, you haven’t given pet a name. Shall we call her… Justine? I know, not very original for this genre, but, Justine appeals to me, and it will suit her too. Talking about names, I have to say you confused us, Paul and me, totally, with the tale of the multiple Melissa’s. How many versions are they? Which one is “real”, which one is ghostly?

As for your style, and sense of storyline, well, to be absolutely honest, I think you are far too complicated. But then, it’s up to your readers to judge! See you around…

#FiveSentenceFiction: Fenced

BushidoShe expected obstacles, ditches and walls, even hideous traps.

As she came closer she realised it would be worse: they’d hung their tortured victims on posts, making clear what fate awaited her.

How little did they know that she was well acquainted with evil, and against evil she had the ultimate weapon: her pure heart.

For the angels would come, in their shining armour, invincible, pitiless.

As she stormed the fortress, surrounded by legions, the Enemy begged for mercy: there was none.

On page turning #amwriting #amediting

LoveEvery writer reaches this point, I expect, sooner or later, when a decision has to be taken: continue the story, or close it, refine it, not just through careful editing, but perhaps rewriting too.

After forty odd thousand words the story has its own momentum, and the characters their own agenda. Once one reaches the 100k, changing direction is like navigating the proverbial tanker! What interests me is the dynamics between author-story-characters as the work progresses. In this case the story is anchored on the City, and the characters’s ballet is centred on the City. One could say that the City is one of the characters, not a mere backdrop for the story. The City influences the (other) characters, some more deeply than others. In short, there is the trio of people who make up the current narrative, the City (and its siblings) and the author. Who best controls the story? Who is best placed to decide the future?

There may be a conflict of interests. The characters want to continue with their lives, and don’t give a damn about polishing or refining, or, for that matter, publishing! Since the City is more real than the story, it sees itself, should I say herself? – as the arbitrator. The author, of course, wishes to see a finished product. But the author also depends on the characters for inspiration, and on the City for belief. The City hosts the story, and protects the author against the inevitable drift and diversions. In one sense the book can only come to life, be born, in the City.

There are many ways to close the story. Killing one or more characters is one way. Getting the plot(s) to an unexpected ending is another. Needless to say the former is not popular with characters. Nor is the latter, since it means the end of their hopes and perhaps lives, in another way, just as final as death. There the characters and the City have a common cause.

I expect the author will have to work at two levels, and one of them is to continue with the story! The other being the boring stuff made of editing, and taking out, and rewriting, and… Stuff that!

To conclude: I suspect the author to be too much involved, and enjoying herself, with her characters to attempt anything final

#DailyPrompt: List Lesson

Sometimes, when I’m stalled and stranded, fumbling for something to write about, I make a list…”

 

Listing...

 

Two or three things I know of her…

  1. Plus the things I imagine
  2. What she could do
  3. What I could do
  4. If (is there an “if”?)
  5. There is no “if”, so that all are possible
  6. Where is this leading us?
  7. To a list of very improbable happenings…
  8. Imagined present
  9. Dreamed of past
  10. Anxious future(s)
  11. Why an “s” after “future”?
  12. Lists can be confusing too…
  13. And what a lovely idea!