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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Marabella - First Chapter, part II

Here is part II of Marabella - Discovering Magics.       

     Having eaten, Marabella pleaded. “Please let me feed the scraps to Sam and Fetch.”
            “Henry, see to her would you. I’ve got to put Natan down.  He’s fallen asleep already.”  The baby’s bright red curls fell across his pale face as his head bobbed with sleep.  Nan lifted his chubby frame and wiped his face and hands as he struggled, half asleep. 
            “Marabella is perfectly able to handle the dogs, Nan.  I don’t see why…”
            The butcher’s wife cut him off with a look.  “I’m not worried about the dogs.  She handles them better than you, I know.  But I also know that girlcomma and she’ll be down the street before you can find your head.  Now go!”  She hefted the toddler to her shoulder and headed for the bedroom.  *a most excellent paragraph*
            The little girl had already disappeared out the door.  When Henry stepped outcomma he saw her *I feel like the POV changed here. We were in Marabella’s head. Now we have Henry’s perspective* standing on the top rung of the front fence as steadily as he stood on the stoop.  The dogs were lapping hungrily at the remains of the stew.  Henry smiled.  “I know that you won’t fall or anything but if Ma sees you on that fence, she’ll chew my ear off the rest of the night.”  Marabella giggled like a little girl should and jumped lightly to the ground.  She looked up at the big man suddenly serious.
            “Did you know my father?  Did he really die or is Momma just protecting me?”
            Henry was taken aback at the sudden maturity in the little girl’s face. *now that we’ve changed to Henry’s POV, it is important to stay there* Her eyes burned into his and he could not but tell the truth.  *suggestion: “...he could do nothing but tell the truth.” “I know how people talk but your mother really cared for your father.  He was killed same time as my brother and my boy on the ferry.”
            “But some say you can’t know who…” she spoke up. *cut this attribution. It isn’t needed and slows the dramatic moment. Also, regarding the use of ellipses: Use ... to imply hesitation or the voice dropping off. Use an em dash — for interruption. It sounds like Henry interrupted her*
            “Never you mind what some say” he assured her.  There’s no mistakin’ YOUR*better to italicize than to capitalize* father. You have those same green eyes.  You look like your mother but I’ve only seen those eyes once before.” 
            “You knew my father.”  The child moved closer to Henry and held him with her gaze.  “Tell me about him.”*into action now. I can forgive the earlier descriptions if this continues*
            “I really think this is something Mara should tell you first.” Henry began.  But he was no match for Marabella’s stare.*try showing this not telling her effect on him. Example: But her emerald eyes tore through his resolve like a cat hitting a cobweb. *Begin a new paragraph here*“I can tell you this.*I would add an attribute. Example: “I can tell you this,” he began slowly, “your father was Geremiah.  He was a woodsman and a damn fine hunter.  He was my friend and the best supplier of wild game I ever had.  He hunted the mountains, this valley, the next, and far beyond.  That is, until he met Mara.  Then he seemed to stay closer around these parts.”  Henry suddenly struggled for words.  “You should ask your Momma to tell you this story.  This just ain’t my story to tell.”  The dogs bristled and growled as some revelers ran past, breaking the spell. 
            “They‘re just boys passing by” Marabella soothed the beasts.
            Henry wiped his face with a ham-like hand.  “Well, let’s be off to bed with you now.”   He saw his chance to distract her from her seriousness*note: some might see this as ‘telling vs showing’ but here it is needed and desirable. Good job. I would cut the last three words though* “You’ll be wanting to get an early start at the festivities tomorrow and there’s lots to do. How's about I read you a story, maybe something from The Traveler’s Tales?
            “Oh yes,” Marabella clapped her hands and smiled brightly, a child once more. “The one about the Moonfire Ring! I like that one.”  Henry agreed and ushered the child inside.
            In the square, the raucous throngs crowded around the brightly painted wagons.  Revelers danced by torchlight to the lively music.  Among them moved Mara, her hair billowing down her back in dark ripples that shown in the light.  Despite the cruelty the years had wrought upon her, Mara still caught the attention of men.  She moved gracefully in and out of the crowd.  The curve of her cheek and the line of her neck were still true and beautiful.  Mara smiled brightly, her full lips rouged and perfectly formed.  Only a keen observer would notice that her smile never reached her eyes.  Most of her patrons thought it was her way of being coy, averting her eyes from them, glancing shyly through her dark lashes.  But in truth, she preferred not to look into a man’s eyes.  This was her way of maintaining the facade her profession required.  Many eyes looked admiringly at Mara this evening.  Festival filled the village with so many new faces.  *I’d start a new paragraph here*Mara tightened the red sash (the sign of her profession) around her tiny waist.  She positioned herself in the eye line of the well-dressed men loitering around the outdoor tables of the drinking house.  She kept her eyes on the musicians and the makeshift stage set up in front of the wagon caravan but she could feel the eyes*you are using the word ‘eye’ too much* upon her as she swayed and twirled to the music.  Mara was a good dancer, graceful and light on her feet.  She knew it would not be long before one of the men approached her.  She let the music wash over her and engaged her internal detachment. *ah, no. Find a different way to say this. It’s like missing a step in the dark. The words are modern vernacular and very out of place* *Begin a new paragraph here*“You dance well.”  Mara’s first customer had a deep voice.  His name was Pavitch.  His rough hands were those of a workingman but his fine clothes said money.  *a good way to say this and leave the rest of the scene up to the reader’s imagination. Good job*

            The sun was barely up when Marabella popped her head out the bedroom door.  She regretted leaving the big soft bed but she was anxious to begin the day and get to Festival.  She closed the door quietly so as not to wake her sleeping baby brother and crept toward the kitchen.  A fresh fire was already crackling in the great-room hearth. A sure sign Henry is up she thought.  Easing her way into the kitchen, she stood silently watching Ma Nan *I’d use less ‘ing’ words. Example:” She eased into the kitchen, stopped, and watched Ma Nan...”bustle about preparing puffy meat pies for baking. The delicious smell of meat, onions, and peppers cooking made her mouth water. She could hear Henry outside at the well. She watched Nan move about the kitchen, her long light brown hair in a loose braid down her back.  Nan’s chubby fingers pressed out the dough then rolled it flat with the smooth round stone.  She trimmed the edges with a knife before spooning the meat mixture onto the dough circle and folded it over pressing it closed all around.  Then she painted the pastry with a brush. Completely engrossed watching the process, Marabella asked, “Why are you painting them?”  *try beginning your sentences with something other than ‘she’. It breaks the monotony. Yeah, I know, I used ‘she’ also, lol*
            Ma Nan yelped with surprise. “I didn’t hear you get up.  I’ve been so blasted busy this morning.  I swear I’m going to hang a bell around your neck.  You are the quietest child…sometimescomma” she added grinning.  Nan's round face was pink from her toil but her gray eyes danced with mirth when she looked at Marabella.
            “Why are you painting them?”  Marabella questioned again. 
            “Oh.” Nan smiled. *attribution isn’t needed* “It ain’t paint, little darlin’. It’s egg water. A little water, a little egg…it makes the edges stick and makes ‘em golden and crisp when they’re done.” 
            “Ah.”  Marabella nodded.  Just then Henry came through the door with two big buckets of water. 
            “Fill the pitcher and basin.” Nan ordered, turning back to her chore. 
            “And the rest goes on to warm, I know.” Henry interrupted glancing at Marabella with a wink.  “Ruth and Wesley just rounded the corner. They’ll be here momentarily.” He added.
            “They must rise in the middle of the night.” Nan fretted.  “They are always early.”
            “But never late.” Henry smiled as he filled the pitcher.  He picked up the buckets and headed for the great-room.
            “Don’t spill any of that.” Nan squawked.
            “Yes, my lady” Henry bowed and sailed from the room. 
Note: cut attributions whenever possible. It increases the pace.
            Nan’s cheeks flushed pink for a second and then she was back to business.  “Now you young miss”.  She turned her attention back to Marabella. *why did I strikethrough this phrase? Because what other young miss is there? Just Marabella* “Wash your face over here and go get dressed.”  Marabella obeyed, dipping her hands into the basin.  The shock of the cold water made her squirm.  She heard Wesley and his mother Ruth outside.  Drying her face and hands on a clean towel, Marabella turned to Ma Nan.
            “Mind you visit the privy, then get dressed. And try to drag a brush through that hair. I’ll be in to tend to Natan, first chance I get.”  Nan kept busy as she spoke. “Ruth and Wesley will be in here in a flash and I need to make some room for us to work.”  Ruth was the wife of Henry's brother Anton. She was a nervous woman with a harsh voice.  Belle *who is Belle? Marabella?* was one of the few who knew how truly kind Ruth could be. *telling* She had often sent milk and cheese to them with no expectation of payment and the message that she just “had too much”.  Marabella had heard Henry say that when Anton was alive, she laughed and smiled often and loved to sing, that his death had made her fearful and sad, and as everyone knew, overprotective of her son, Wesley. 
            Marabella struggled to pull the brush through her dark tangle of curls.  Ma Nan and Ruth were in the kitchen preparing meat pies and bundles of herbs to sell at Festival.  Henry had volunteered to give Natan his bath.  Wesley, Henry’s nephew watched silently from the corner for a few minutes then said, “Can I help?”
            Marabella looked out from behind her veil of snarls. “Yes please.”
            Wesley guided her to the footstool and sat behind her in Nan’s chair.  He began to gently brush her hair, separating the tangles with his fingers.
            Wesley was eleven years old, five and a half years older than Marabella.  But he was small and thin so he seemed younger than his years.  He rarely spoke.  In fact, some people of Helfin assumed he could not speak.  Many around the village also thought him an idiot due to his silence.  Marabella had heard gossips comment that the ferry accident had rattled his brain. She knew his brain was just fine, as she’d seen him read many of the books on Henry’s shelves. However, he did seem almost *either is or isn’t. Skip almost. It slows the narrative* unnaturally quiet.  He and his mother eked out a living growing herbs, raising goats, and selling soap, goat milk and cheese.  His mother Ruth was also an herbalist and tended the sick in much the same way as Ma Nan. 
            Marabella could feel the tension flowing out from Wesley as he sat behind her. “You’re good at this. Nan always pulls when she is in a fret like she was this morning.”  *new paragraph*She encouraged, wanting to fill the silence.  Wesley relaxed slightly. 
            “She gets in a hurry is all.”  Wesley’s voice was barely above a whisper. He continued brushing her hair in silence.  Finally Marabella sighed and blurted out, “Did you know my father, Geremiah? He was a hunter.” 

            Wesley stopped mid-stroke with the brush raised above her scalp.  “Well, yes I do remember him.  He helped my father save my life when the ferry broke free.  That was just after my fifth birthday, before you were born.” 

            “So tell me about it.”  Marabella was eager to hear anything she could about her father, even the story of how he had perished. 

Part III tomorrow. 

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