Sunday, November 04, 2007

Un Conte de Fée Moderne

*edited version Nov 6th, 2007*

Rose pulled on her gloves and zipped up her parka. She turned the engine off and sat there, trying to soak up the last vestiges of warmth, bracing herself for the cold outside. The silence in the car was deafening; it pressed upon her from all sides. Steeling herself, she pushed the package on the passenger's side further under the seat and jumped out of the car, shutting the door with a bang that was suffocated by the crush of branches and pine needles. She locked the car, which emitted a beep that, in the oppressive quiet of the forest sounded like a pitiful wail. Rose turned around slowly, taking stock of her surroundings and walked in the direction she hoped she remembered the house being in.

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She hadn't been to the house in years. Rose assumed that it had simply fallen into ruin after her grandmother’s death, not that it had been particularly glamorous to begin with. Moss and fallen needles carpeted the forest floor, dampening the sound of her feet, the occasional pinecone making her stumble briefly. Rose's well-padded figure didn't make climbing the slope easy and her laboured breath was visible as white as the snow on the branches overhead. She could barely see the sky through the press of the trees, but when she did catch a glimpse of it, she shuddered at its brooding grey. In the distance, a wolf howled, making Rose walk a little bit faster.

Through the trees she could see the lake. Memories of summers spent swimming its length came flooding back and she stopped for a minute to look at it. The dirty greenish-grey of its depths reflected the swirling clouds in the moody sky and Rose shivered because something about the anger in the water frightened her. It frightened her because she understood it.

Suddenly, she came upon a gravel path that she couldn't remember having been there before. Even, parallel grooves ran its length, left by fresh raking. Her face set in a frown that boded ill. She marched up the path, her boots scattering the little pieces of grey stone, destroying the ordered lines. The path circled a little island of Christmas roses and crocuses. Rose strode up to the freshly polished door with its gleaming knocker, set into the house still smelling of paint. It was the same house; she knew from the octagonal shape of the east wing, and the wide porch and her initials left scratched into the drainpipe that no longer hung slanted.

Rose slammed the knocker repeatedly against the door, leaving dents in its smooth surface. There was no answer. Her anger bubbled stronger and the edges of her vision dimmed. Blood rushed to her head and she reached for the handle and...the door opened. Rose fell against the man on the other side. Strong arms caught hold of her and steadied her against a chest that smelled of Old Spice and pine needles and freshly ground coffee. Her heart pounded with anger and fright and excitement. A little more time than reactionarily necessary passed before she raised her hands and pushed away from him. Hazel eyes gazed questioningly at her and a curved mouth asked her in for coffee. Rose stayed.

It turned out that her grandmother had only leased the land from the man's father, and as the lease had expired a few months ago, he moved up here to redo the place and escape from city life. He and Rose talked for hours and Rose stayed the night.

Rose woke early the next morning, dressed stealthily and walked back to the car for her things. When she came back, John wasn't awake yet, which made her job easier. She gently put a towel behind his head and kissed him until he sleepily opened his eyes. Rose slit his throat when he closed his eyes again and kissed her back. She wrapped him up and dragged him out to the lake. It was beginning to rain. There was a little dinghy beached close by and she threw the body onto it. She pushed it into the water and shoved it once, hard. She stood there as the rain got heavier and heavier, filling up the boat. She watched the boat float towards the middle of the lake, sinking a little bit more with each passing minute, gradually disappearing. She didn't leave until every trace of it had vanished.

Rose moved into the little house at the end of the gravel path in the woods by the lake. She lived there happily ever after.


Jamal said...

The title should read "Un Conte de fées moderne". C'est du masculin, c'est du viril évidemment! Fées c'est au pluriel - je suppose que c'est le même en anglais: on dirait "A Tale of Fairies" et pas "A Tale of Fairy", si on disait pas "A Fairytale".

Les règles de l'usage du majuscule dans les titres d'oeuvres sont chiantes. Mais je suis presque sûr qu'on n'écrit que le premier nom avec un majuscule.

OK, got that out of my system. I'll leave some real comments in a bit, or maybe print it out and bring it to the committee meeting.

Ankit said...

I really like the ending, both the twist and the lived happily ever after.
But what about the people that knew the guy living in the house. Wouldn't they come looking for him or something? Especially the father.
Also, you say "not that it had been particularly glamorous to begin with" and then go on to her surroundings. You might want to expand on why it wasn't glamorous.
And when you say the bang from shutting the door "was suffocated by the crush of branches and pine needles," where did the branches and pine needles come from and how did they get crushed? Also, do you mean that the crushing was louder than the shutting, just so I know if I read that properly?

I have some grammatical issues with it, too:

1. "she ... jumped out of the car, shut the door...."
Try "shutting" or "and shut"? It's not really a complete clause as it's written.
2. "occasional cone making her stumble"
Say pine cone. At first I didn't know what you meant by cone
3. "gravel path, that she couldn't remember"
No comma
4. "the man's father, and, as the lease had expired"
You don't need the second comma
5. "She stood there, as the rain got heavier"
You don't need the comma

Those last two are optional

Nami said...

Thanks guys. Jamal, you were right about it being masculin, but I'm going to leave it as singular because un conte de fée is specifically a fairy tale. And i meant it to be 'a modern fairy tale'. It isn't really a tale of fairies, since it involves no fairies whatsoever.

Also, I'd like to keep the majuscule throughout the title.

Give me the real comments, woman!

Ankit, I thought about explaining things like that too, but then I was like, you know what, it's a fairy tale, and I don't really need to.
That kind of also applies to the bit about being glamorous. Just because a fairy tale is characteristically concise and event-based rather than detail and background based. I wanted to stay reasonably true to the style.
About the crush - it's like there were so many branches pressed close together that they kind of dampened the sound. It's like if you have a carpeted room versus tiled floors.

1) You're right about that and I'll def. edit that. Good call.
2)Yeah, okay.
4)double ditto
5)triple ditto

Great feedback. Cheers!!!