Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Caroline, Part 4 (Fiction)

(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

       David looked down at the empty bar stools beside him. A little absurd for the girl to climb up.
       "I suppose it would be alright for you to stay a little while," David said. His voice betrayed tingling nerves. "You'd probably like to sit down."
       He gestured toward the deep chairs in the corner. She smiled and turned, flashing a blood-red ribbon trailing in her hair.
       "Shouldn't I call back to the wedding party?" David asked, trying one last time.
       "Has someone been married?" she asked.
       Well, that's settled at least, David thought. She's not from the wedding. Must be just another guest.
       They both sat. David slid his chair a bit farther away, although she was comfortable being close to him. Those bluest eyes pinned him again, and he tensed.
       "Do you come here very much?" she asked.
       How easily she picked up responsibility for the conversation.
       "No," he said. "My first time."
       "Yes, I didn't recognize you."
       David frowned. "Recognize me?" he asked. "Do you come here that often?"
       She smoothed her dark dress. Blue like the sky drifting to night.
       "My father comes often. Now that I'm old enough, he brings me with him."
       "Does he travel? Is he in business?"
       David knew he shouldn't be interrogating the child, but he couldn't feel protective when she was the one in control.
       "He's a writer. He loves it here," she said. "It inspires him."
       She leaned forward.
       "Really, I think it's only because his writer friends come to," she confided. "They talk an awful lot about art and philosophy and religion. They talk even more about the wine in their glasses. I've never seen any actual writing get done."
       David laughed. "So what do you do?"
       "Oh, I love to debate with them," she said. "I used to sit on my father's lap, but now I get my own chair. They think I'm entertaining."
       "You're kidding! You debate about art and philosophy and religion? Do you even know what philosophy is?"
       "Of course. I listen a lot," she said, undaunted. "I learned from them. Besides, they're so busy getting angry they don't realize when they've answered their own questions. I love it when I shock them."
       David chuckled. He had no doubt.
       "My name is Caroline, by the way."
       She smiled, and it was the most bewildering thing he had ever seen.
       "I'm David."
       "Glad to meet you David," she said, and they shook hands. A chilly formality. When they broke apart, they glanced at their hands for a few moments. David cleared his throat.
       Caroline recovered first.
       "So what do you think of this place?" she asked. "It being your first time and all."
       "Very impressed. There's something very...odd about it. It's one of the most striking places I've ever been in."
       "I know," she said, nodding. "I'll tell you a secret."
       The corner of his mouth tipped. "Yes?"
       "I often dream about this place."
       "You do? What about?" he asked. "Trips with your father?"
       "No. Not like that." Her eyes drifted toward the ceiling, and she breathed deeply. "More like this. Empty rooms in the evening. Roaming the halls. Quiet. Like it's just my own."
       Free of her attention, David adjusted himself more comfortably in the chair.
       "My father dreams about the gardens outside," she said. "Isn't that strange?"
       David thought for a moment. "Well, I suppose each person takes away something secret, something special for themselves."
       "Something special for themselves.... You sound like my father," she said.
       Her eyes dropped back down to him. David stared back, unwavering. When his conscience caught up to him, he would chastise himself for beginning to fall in love with a child.
       "I'm not a writer," David said.
       "Are you sure?"
       "Well, I have written a little. A long time ago. It was awful. Believe me, it was a good thing I stopped."
       "It's never a good thing to stop," she said.
       Caroline certainly had an uncanny knack for slamming the door on an argument. David pitied her father's friends.
       Caroline propped her elbow on the chair and rested her head on her palm. David uncrossed his legs and leaned back.
       "So where is your father?" he asked. "Were you alone very long before you came in here?"
       Her eyes tipped down, and for the first time, a gravity hardened in her face.
       He regretted his words.
       "I don't know how long I've been here," she said softly. "It mustn't have been more than a few minutes. But it seems...very long."
       Her words dragged slower and slower, until they stopped.
       "Caroline? Are you alright?"
       David edged forward. His heart was thumping.
       Those same breathtaking eyes registered something new.
       "Is something wrong?" he asked.
       He saw calm arise. Reassurance.
       "I thought I was dreaming just now. But I'm not."
       She wasn't making sense.
       "I'm glad I found you, David."
       "I am too," he whispered.
       "Can I show you something?"
       "My most favorite place. Come on!"
       Now excited, she slid from the chair and spun past him. Her dressed billowed and brushed him.
       Not nearly over his scare David hesitated.
       "Wait! Where are you going?"
       She had already hurried from the room into the parlor. He hauled himself out of the chair.
       "Caroline! Wait!"

On to Part 5
Back to Part 3


Shesawriter said...

Definitely a dream----with suspense too! I like. I like.

:-) Now I want to know what she's gonna show him.


anne said...

The whole child-taking-control thing is very well done.
The dialogue makes me wonder her age, which I guess is the point. When I first read Part 3, I thought she was something like 5 or 6, which seemed validated by the "A little absurd for the girl to climb up", but after reading their conversation, I'm not so sure...

LiVEwiRe said...

This is fantastic! I know where my mind is taking this, but I'm usually wrong, so I'll just have to wait (im)patiently for more. Quite the mysterious 'child'.

Anonymous said...

Tanya, only one more part. :) I will wrap it all up then.

Anne, it was only briefly mentioned in part 3, but David thinks the girl is 8 or 9. I greatly appreciate the comment re the child taking control. I was dreading this part, because I had accomplish a huge transition in a short space.

Livewire, I promise not to make you wait too long. =D Now I want to know if you're right (but don't tell me yet)!

Sarah said...

Ok, I'm hooked. Very suspenseful and that little girl just creeps me out. But then I'm assuming that she's supposed to... :)

beadinggalinMS said...

Great job! The next part done yet?? :) I can't wait to finish it.

Bernita said...

Mom here.
" of her attention, David took the opportunity to adjust himself..."
Bit redundant?
Perhaps "free of her attention, David adjusted himself...???"
And is "a realization struck her" redundant to "gravity hardened her face???"
Ping pong, not ping pong, pong??
This is very sweet, Jason.
Delicate, delicate.

I particularly like " those bluest eyes" and its transfer of a child's descriptive tendency to him.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, very cool that you're hooked! I was hoping this would be a fun story to read.

BeadinggalinMS, the last part isn't done, but I won't make you wait too long. Maybe I could be talked out of posting something in between this part and the last part.... ;)

Bernita, those are two great opportunities for tightening. I'm going to cut that redundancy.

Kelly Parra said...

This is going really well, Jason! Good dialogue and interaction. =D

mermaid said...

I like the exchange of roles between them. Her maturity brings out a childlike quality in him. I can't wait to see where this goes.

I'm almost guessing he knows her form somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, thanks. The interaction between David and Caroline here is the most important element of the story.

Mermaid, a very good way to state it--her maturity indeed has that effect on him.

anne frasier said...

jason, very nice. this has a mood similar to many of your photos. i love how you've somehow been able to capture that. there's a sweet, mysterious poignancy to it.

Kara Alison said...

Does she seem older than she is because she's caught in some sort of place where time has stopped? I love guessing at this!

Anonymous said...

Anne, a "sweet, mysterious poignancy...." Thank you!! I'm sure you know the feeling of accomplishment when something you're trying to capture comes across on the page.

Kara, you folks have great instincts! You're not way off. These suspense stories are a blast to post. Due to popular demand, I've decided to post the last piece tonight rather than have a brief intermission with something else as I usually do.

Jess Riley said...

Leaving us hanging, eh? Can't wait for the rest!

Anonymous said...

Jess, I do kind of get an unhealthy pleasure from it. =) The last part is up!

mysfit said...

i hope you don't mind - i said i'd show you a moment that i found choppy in this part:

Caroline certainly had an uncanny knack for slamming the door on an argument. David pitied her father's friends.
Caroline propped her elbow on the chair and rested her head on her palm. David uncrossed his legs and leaned back.
not sure the parrellel paragraphs work

and When they broke apart, they glanced at their hands for a few moments. had to read this twice to get the right image in my head

i guess just read over the lines between the dialogue to make sure they are doing what you want them to.

but on the whole, i'm probably just nit-picking - the use of "David" through this instead of "he" (though they are the only two characters here), reveals how aware of himself the girl is making him...

good stuff - again sorry for the long comment, sometimes, i just can't help myself...

Anonymous said...

i hope you don't mind - i said i'd show you a moment that i found choppy in this part

Mysfit, on the contrary, I welcome/want/beg for any comments or critiques you'd care to give. In my mind, the more precise the critique, the closer I am to getting it "right." Silence or "very nice" tend to mean: it's so far off I don't even know where to start.

The biggest draw back to posting fiction this way is that I don't get the benefit of having a piece of writing sit and clear out of my head so I can do a more objective read/revision later. I will definitely go back in a bit to see where I can smooth or eliminate those descriptions and actions.


mysfit said...

yeah, that is a draw back of posting fiction this way - on the other hand, the pieces tend to come out fresh and not over processed or over thought - and you surprise yourself more (or at least that's what i'm finding with the chaos journals) -

i guess revise if you'd like to have this a 'finished' piece or move on if you want to try something else - that's the other benefit of posting like this

whatever you do, this genre and style plays to your stregnths and still seems to give you some challenge and room for growth... that's good.