Sunday, July 18, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing?

Tina wasn't sure why Michel didn't want to use Skye. It had been his idea to begin with, but now he said to go back to using email. She didn't get it. Their online relationship was a business one that had blossomed into a cyberspace friendship during the last two years. A lot of corresponsdance had passed between them in that time, but still, the Internet was the Internet. All those little nuances and idiosnycracies that defined a person weren't so easily picked up in cyberspace. She wasn't for sure if she was 'reading' him right or not, but there did seem to be some tension in his voice in that final Skype ---BACK UP, she's about to read her firt email from him...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sleeping with a Frenchman

"You know, you're going to have to ditch those Zebra pajamas if you ever expect to sleep with that Frenchman," Carolina said, swooping down the stairs with her yoga mat in hand. She tossed it on the seashell-patterened chaise, ignored it rolling off as it knocked over the nut dish, scattering walnuts everywhere.
Tina knew the nuts would remain there, too, until she picked them up.
"I'm not expecting to sleep with Michel," she replied as she continued clicking away at her desk, shoulders hunched over as she concentrated on the image on her screen.
"Every woman dreams of sleeping with a Frenchman," her daughter insisted, her voice muffled as she stuck her head in the fridge searching for a hidden yogurt.
"Been there. Done that," Tina replied nonchalantly.
Carolina pulled the thin aluminum top off the yogurt and just stared at her mother, with an almost bored defiance.
Tina lifted her finger from the mouse and stop clicking long enough to turn toward Carolina.
"It was on the night train from Paris to Nice. I slept with a Frenchman. I did. And you know what? Frenchmen snore just like American men."
Tina turned back to her screen and peered into the lanquid eyes staring back at her.

What a beauty! It was a postcard dated 1906, featuring an actress, Mademoiselle Lanthelme. Oh, what sultry, sexy bedroom eyes. No wrinkles but this 104 year-old beauty did have some ink stains, worn corners and foxing spots. Tina's passion was restoring such images in Photoshop and selling them as digital scans online.
"Speaking of sleeping with Frenchmen, she had her share. She was a slut. Wiki says so. She used to host orgies. I found a New York Times article from 18--"
Finished with her yogurt and ready for her pool-side yoga routine, Carolina interrupted, her voice dressed in that annoyance, that almost perpetual annoyance she'd had since moving back home after the fiasco labeled as "being engaged to a Canuck.
"Mother, why do you fill your mind with all that trivial crap? Who cares about those old dead people?"
"I care. And my readers find it interesting. There's nothing like looking at the past to enlighten our future. And I like to believe that after I'm dead and gone, someone will take the time to pause and think about me a bit."
Touche, Tina thought to herself said as she got up to turn the mini-fan on high. Darn hot flashes.
"Don't you wanna know about the Frenchman?" she said to the slamming door.
That was her first trip to sleep on a night train. The couchette had bunkbeds for six. But there were only three of them in her compartment. Herself, a rotund Frenchman and the nicest lady from Antibes. He konked out immediately while she and the Antibes housewife chatted till almost midnight like a couple of pubescent teens at a slumber party. Some English, some French, some Franglais, too. All mingled with the rhythmic snore of the Frenchman. Tina managed a smile thinking back on the fond memory. Well, she had slept with a Frenchman ...
Back at her computer, she zoomed in, switched from the cloning tool to the healing brush. Click. Click. She made a swiping motion with her mouse and watched as all the pixels merged smoothly. The gradient shades in the image miraculously blended with a single stroke. If only she had a healing brush to use on her relationship with her only child. Could the trip to Paris bring back the mother-daughter bond she had treasured for over 25 years?

NOTE TO SELF: FEW more descriptive phrases to describe physical appearances of characters?

Mrs. Frankweiler I presume?"

"Let me get this straight," Carolina said, as she rubbed her palm across her forehead, as if doing so could sooth her brain and help it not panic at the mission in front of them. "What we're looking for is somewhere in this?"
She pointed to the mish-mash of shoeboxes stacked and spread out across the room. Some had lids askew and some didn't have lids at all. Some had postcards laying in small bundles atop an already bulging box and there were scores of single postcards scattered about on most every inch of available flat surface.
"Yes," her mother replied.
"Do you have the slightest idea how many postcards you have?"
"Well, yes," Tina said confidently. "Last count I did was 8,869. That was back before April, when I was preparing my taxes. You know dealing with the IRS, you wanna be precise and my Profit and Loss statement had to --"
"Mother," Carolina said as she whipped around. "Focus!"
Michel jumped in before Carolina's voice got any brusquer. "Well, this shouldn't be too difficult. Pas de problème. Pas de problème. It looks like the cards are filed and categorized."
Carolina looked at Michel and simultaneously cast her mother an evil eye. "But Michel, my mother doesn't file things alphabetically by subject the way normal people do." She started gesturing wildly with her long arms, each gesture an accent mark -- an accent grave of frustration. "Mom files things by association, by whatever pops into her mind first." Now Carolina's pitch was reaching as high as her flailing arms. "Mom files the way she thinks, the way her mind works."
The Frenchman looked at Tina. She blushed.
"Didn't you ever read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler when you were a kid?"
NOTE to self: ? on a deadline/timeline to increase the sense of urgency. The kids in Frankweiler's book had 1 hour to find what they needed. I need to weave such a deadline into my story for added suspense, but I'm not sure at this moment. I feel confident this point will unfold as I continue to write.