Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dangerous Lies

I'm stealing writing progress from a greedy and protesting working and home life, and be damned to them! I need to amend my word meters in the side bar because Danglies has turned from edits to rewrites and I'm back to the drawing board.

But this, I quite like. [warning - first draft!]

She shouldn't have come.

There were doves in the courtyard, snowy while and silent. They slept on ledges and in niches, on the roof above the pointed Arabian arches, even on the bowl of the broken fountain.

In Marianne's mind's eye, and in her Grandfather's photograph, the arches, the walls and the fountain were bright and blinding white. Nearly seventy years ago they would have been, but now the were grey and peeling, and here and there a dirty orange stain showed where some elaborately carved bracket had rusted into memory.

Marianne folded the map she held with careful fingers, and stowed it in her shoulder bag. For years she'd dreamed of visiting Morocco, the country her Grandfather had loved so much. When her Father's death had dealt her grief and opportunities with an indiscriminate hand, she'd taken those rare and precious opportunities in both hands, packed new clothes and a new courage, and booked her flight before she changed her mind.

Sighing, she stepped forward out of the shaded doorway into the courtyard proper, the rough render catching at the sleeve of her linen tunic. In that cherished photograph, the decorative tiles lay in neat order around the fountain, their decorous arrangement constrasting with the wild exuberance of their design. Now they were cracked, lifted, and scattered under foot, dust and debris half concelaing the gleam of red and blue.

She nudged one loose tile with the toe of her rope soled shoe, absently settling it back into its place by the fountain's weed-covered plinth.

Her movement startled the sleeping doves who rose in flustered and flapping disarray, swirling the dust with their feathers, and clapping away into the sunlight. With them gone, the space was dead and still, smelling of hot dust and bird. It was a forgotten space, abandoned.


It was a mistake, though, to think that the house had been left empty when her Grandfather left. The agents, eagerly anticipating an impulse buy from a gullible tourist, had told her the property had stood empty only for a year or two. "More like five," she muttered, running a wary hand down the pillar of one stately arch. And the rust stains and broken tiles told of a neglect much older than that.

It didn't mean anything. It didn't matter.

She had wanted to see her Grandfather's home, and now she had. He'd only been here for a couple of years, in any case.

It didn't matter.

She was a fool.

She shouldn't have come.

Tipping her head back, she closed her eyes and let the sun's heat brand her face. The doves had settled somewhere out of sight - their cooing floated down to her - and her mind conjured the soft sound of water playing in the fountain which had stood dry for so long.

In the photograph with the dancing fountain and the white, white walls, there had been a veiled woman in the shadows of the arches, and a slim black cat walking on the tiles, uplifted tail curling in a confident wave.

The cat's name, Grandfather had told her, was Bosphorus. But he had never once named the woman in the photograph, when Marianne sat on his knee as a child under the apple tree at home.

Bos was long gone. Her Grandfather had died years ago, before her Mother. And her Father...

"Damn." She flicked wildcat tears off her chin with fingers that shook. "Damn."

She shouldn't have --

"You shouldn't be here."

Marianne spun on one foot, half tripping on the loose tiles, steadying herself with one hand on the fountain edge. There was a man standing in the shadows of the doorway, and for a moment the contrast made him appear dark, as Arabic as any other native of Rabat.

Then he stepped forward, and the sun claimed him as her own.

Hmmm. There should be something else in there, something about a demonstration and a mob, and I have a sneaking suspicion it's too similar to a scene in a book I love, but I'll see. I can always edit it into submission.

Edits are my friend. Rewrites make my eyebrows sweat.


At 2:04 pm, Blogger Sela Carsen said...

That was amazing. This is your first scene, yes? It's brilliant. You've really parlayed the gift you have for narrative description into this piece.

Er, but what's a wildcat tear?

At 4:19 pm, Blogger Anna Lucia said...

Thanks, Sela! :-) I was going for 'wildcat' in the sudden and unexpected sense, like in "a wildcat strike"? But I know that's not the literal definition, so maybe that's one to question mark for editing, thanks!

At 6:36 pm, Blogger Melani Blazer said...

Anna, beautiful. Absoltely BEAUTIFUL. I've missed reading your descriptive wonder.


At 9:14 pm, Blogger Sadhbh said...

Hi Anna - that was a beautiful scene, I could almost feel myself back in Morocco, though I've never been to Rabat, only Agadir and other places nearby (and Casa airport).
Be careful if this is copied directly, white transformed itself into while - that won't show up on a spellcheck. There's also a "the" which is missing a y.
wildcat didn't shock me, but sudden stray tear? might work if it bothers others?
Oh to be back in Agadir (except at this time of night I'd be jumping up and down doing crazy signs - oh to be young again (this was about eleven years ago)

Looking forward to reading the rest in book form sometime soon


At 6:49 am, Blogger Lis said...

Beautiful! I loved it.
And that's your first draft? Man am I jealous :)

At 7:28 am, Blogger Anna Lucia said...

Thank you, thank you! *curtseys*

Lovely to see you, Mel, and thanks!

You've been to Morocco, Sadhbh? *looks rabid* You are so going to become my research buddy... ggg

Thanks for the typo heads ups. I'll catch those.

That's one of the reasons I write slow, Lis, I can't abide what I would call a 'messy' first draft. I can write spare, and fill in more, or correct word usages, but I can't do the 'write crap and edit later' thing unless really, really pushed.

I just find it so discouraging to see crud on the page! I'd rather pull out my toenails with pliers and a winch...

Thank you for your compliment!

At 12:56 am, Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Very atmospheric. Wistful.

Maybe add a bit - ehm, dove shit. It was the only thing I missed because it's everywhere the critters nest. :-)

At 11:56 am, Blogger Anna Lucia said...

That's so wierd, Gabriele - I had, er, guano in the first version, but deleted it. It seemed to.. jar, somehow. But it was in my mental picture, so I guess I need to find a place to put it back in. :-)

At 1:02 pm, Blogger Julie said...

I love it, darling. It's exactly the right mood and beautiful, too. Wonderful.

*wiggling excitedly*

At 7:47 pm, Blogger Sadhbh said...

Anna - what do you mean? I've lived a really boring life. Came to France, fell in love with a Frenchman for my troubles (he didn't think he loved me)
So I went back to Ireland, came back to France (he still didn't think he loved me), went to Morocco, came back, went to Spain, came back, went back to Morocco, then to Portugal and then to Tunisia (then he realised he loved me) we got married, I went back once to Tunisia, but it was easier to get a job near Toulouse - and besides I'm allergic to hot weather. So I've seen a lot of SW France and quite a lot of Ireland (he's a fan), and a little of those other places, but I'm basically your boring SAHM at the moment. DH has worked in Italy, Greece, Turkey but mostly in France. Jetsetters aren't us

But come and visit whenever you need to see Carcassonne (name comes from Lady Carcasse ringing bells during a siege)


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