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 Post subject: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:45 pm 
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Hi, Kittens! So, I have this short story that I've been writing on and off for a few years in little bits, thought I'd start posting it here. I'll set you up with the first two parts, see if you like.


[center]The Ersatz Esther Goldman[/center]

Part 1
Rated: PG, I think.


My name is not Esther Goldman. I am not 5'6", my hair is not blonde, and I most definitely am not married.

Well, not exactly.

As I stood in front of the mirror in the dressmakers' shop, I considered how backwards my life has become.

When I'm on an assignment, I thought, doing jobs that 007 would find a bit risky, I get to be myself. But just let me take a few month's vacation, and suddenly I have to go into deep cover.

The ruddy-faced dressmaker looked up at me - I was standing wrong again. I shifted back to the uncomfortable position she needed me to hold with a mumbled 'sorry', and once again looked in the mirror.

The hair was horrible. It truly was. The dye hadn't worked well at all, and it just looked stupid. I frowned at my reflection. My ersatz 'husband', waiting patiently in a chair behind me and reading a fashion magazine, looked up and gave me a grin.

All good and well for him, I thought. I stuck my tongue out at him, and was rewarded with an 'accidental' pinprick from the dressmaker. I winced. In Paris, fashion is serious business.

"Nous en avons terminé pour l'instant," the woman said as she finally stood. "You can return in two days."

I helped the fussy little woman get the fabric off of me, and I stretched. I was sore in places I hadn't been previously aware of. Let me correct my earlier statement - in Paris, fashion is torture.

"Merci", Isaac (that's my husband (except he's not)) said, standing up. I imagine he was as tired of sitting as I was of standing. I let him bustle me out the door, arm-in-arm, out onto the streets of la ville de lumière.

"Was it worth it?" he asked, as we headed for our hotel, looking for all the world like young newlyweds.

"Oh, yes." I was trying to be lighthearted, but I think some of my nervousness probably leaked into my voice, because he gave me a look of concern. I smiled brightly. "It's not every day I get to visit my family, you know."

"How long has it been?"

"Oh," I replied, "about fifty years or so."

TBC

_________________
I'll be everything that I want to be,
I am confidence in insecurity.
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard,
I'll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear 'round the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:46 pm 
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[center]The Ersatz Esther Goldman[/center]

Part 2
Rated: PG, I think.

It's an 8-hour drive from Paris to Marseille. That's if you don't stop, of course, for eating or personal hygiene or any such thing.

We had so far stopped a total of three times, and we weren't even halfway there, by my estimation. Isaac's stomach seemed bottomless and ever-needy.

To be perfectly honest, with each hour that passed I became more and more happy that I was only pretending to be married to him. When this visit was over and we were home again, I could go back to seeing him only on a social and professional level.

Don't get me wrong; I love Isaac dearly. He's a marvelously creative and brilliant man, and his heart is firmly planted in the right place. It's just that he feels the need to make a joke about everything. And the way he eats!

I glanced over (having tried in vain to ignore him for ten minutes or so) to see him stuffing his face with Fritos (yes, you can get Fritos in France. In fact, they seem ridiculously popular), and attempting at the same time to 1)drive and 2)sing along with the French pop song on the radio. For the fifth time on this trip, I considered shrinking his stomach. At least there would be fewer crumbs flying about.

Men!

With absolutely no reluctance, I turned my attention once again to studying the skies through my window. Night had fallen perhaps an hour before, and despite the nearly-full moon hanging above, there were a fair amount of stars visible. I was glad of that. I continued searching the scope of the vast darkness...

I couldn't really, see it, of course. France is too far North to view Rigel Kentaurus, at any time of the year. But the old habit of scanning the skies for home is one I've never been able to shake.

Somewhere out there, someone was waiting for me. Waiting for me to return home again.

Of course, in another way, I was going home, now. I wasn't born in Marseille, but I did spend most of my childhood and young adulthood there. If you could call it a childhood. One time--

Isaac interrupted my sky-inspired reminiscence with a curse (delivered through a mouthfull of corn chips, of course) and a frantic scrambling and gesticulating at his lap (and the less said about that, the better). It took me a few seconds to realize that he'd spilled his coffee onto his lap.

Which left me, unfortunately, less than a second before we hit the tree.

TBC

_________________
I'll be everything that I want to be,
I am confidence in insecurity.
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard,
I'll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear 'round the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:05 pm 
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:-D

Thank you so much Sera *hugs

It intrigues me a lot. And well I won't deny the fact that I'm pleased to see the setting is France, it may not be much longer, we'll see, but it is still nice.

As I just told you, I like the remark about the stars. That's what I want to see when I4ll go to the USA, well I'm sure I won't have the same stars in southern California and New York City.

Anyway, thank you so much. You know how good it was for me tonight.

:kiss1

Friendly,

Julia.

_________________
Broken Dolls |The Stadium's Goddesses | Seeds Of Beauty

"Joie est mon caractère, C'est la faute à Voltaire; Misère est mon trousseau, C'est la faute à Rousseau." Gavroche. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (chap. XV)


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:50 pm 
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Great writing.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:51 pm 
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Julia: Any time, dear friend. Here, have some more. :)

SJ: Thanks! :)

[center]The Ersatz Esther Goldman[/center]

Part 3
Rated: PG, I think.

I was in a pink room. The light didn't seem to be coming from anywhere in particular, and everything seemed fuzzy at the edges, like vaseline on a camera lens.

I was trying to explain to my father why I'd never come to visit him while he was still alive. Unfortunately, he insisted on talking in ancient Hebrew, and, while I'm usually a fairly deft hand at Hebrew, I kept getting distracted by these terrible stomach cramps.

My father was dressed as a Rabbi, which was no surprise. It seemed a bit odd, though, that everyone else was. From the laughing huddle of women in the corner, to the white owl perched on a nearby post, rabbinical gear seemed to be the norm.

"Esther," the (fully bearded) owl called to me.

"That's not my name," I protested.

"Oh, yes it is," my father replied. "What, are you ashamed of your name, now?"

"It's not that, Daddy. It's just that--"

"Hadassah risked everything to save her people. This is something to shun?"

"No, Daddy, not at all. I'm proud of my name. I just don't--"

"Esther," the owl interrupted again, "Esther, wake up!"

I tried to reply, but the pain in my stomach was just too much. My head hurt, too, and I felt a little dizzy.

"Come on, snap out of it... wake up!"

Oh, dear. That was a dream, wasn't it? How horribly clichéd. I was being gently shaken, now.

I managed to open my eyes. For some reason I thought that the light would hurt my eyes, but of course it was nighttime. Isaac was staring down at me.

I've always thought that Isaac looks rather too much like a young combination of Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan. The result isn't particularly pleasing to my eyes, but who am I to judge? He has a good heart, does our Isaac. And he knows how to maintain cover, still calling me 'Esther' even though we were alone and...

Where were we again? Isaac was saying something, but I wasn't really noticing. I tried to recall what we had been doing. Driving, looking at the stars... some problem with spilled coffee...

It came back to me. We'd had a wreck. I was lying on my back, in the grass, with Isaac crouching over me. I realized that my stomach pain came from a lot of internal bruising there, and some less serious lacerations. No doubt I slammed into something sharp, or vice-versa. My throbbing head told me that my airbag had probably not deployed, either.

Isaac, for his part, looked unscathed. The lucky bastard. Still, I could only assume he'd pulled me out of the car himself, and for that he deserved a bit of luck.

He was still talking to me. "Do hush for a minute, Isaac," I muttered. "I'm trying to work."

I was, too. Under my hands, the wounds and internal damage was slowly healing. It was a warm, sort of bouyant feeling. I've never gotten used to it; it's far too odd.

"Oh," he replied, sitting up. He clearly didn't know whether to be relieved or irritated. Well, join the club, dear.

"I've dialed 999," he continued. "Someone should be here soon."

Sure enough, it wasn't more than a minute before I heard a siren from up the road. I stopped short of healing all the damage; something would be needed to explain the torn and bloodied blouse, after all.

"Help me up," I said to Isaac, rather more sharply than I should have. True, he had caused the crash, but it was only an accident, and he was my friend. I would have to apologise. Later.

As I watched the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles come closer, I somehow knew that the night was not going to get better from this point on.

How right I was.

TBC

_________________
I'll be everything that I want to be,
I am confidence in insecurity.
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard,
I'll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear 'round the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:58 pm 
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I like the narration,interesting story,great update.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:08 am 
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That was nice, so "Esther" has some power huh? :) And with what you told me yesterday, I am starting to wonder... Héhéhé.

I love it sweetie :)

_________________
Broken Dolls |The Stadium's Goddesses | Seeds Of Beauty

"Joie est mon caractère, C'est la faute à Voltaire; Misère est mon trousseau, C'est la faute à Rousseau." Gavroche. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (chap. XV)


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:24 pm 
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[center]The Ersatz Esther Goldman[/center]

Part 4
Rated: PG, I think.

I suppose I should have realized that they wouldn't let me refuse the ambulance. Happily, they let Isaac ride with me... his smiling reassurance was a good thing to fixate on.

I don't know how people can stand riding in ambulances... I suppose most of them are unconscious, or focused on their own pain, but still... it's cold, and noisy, and the lighting manages to be somehow both dim and harsh. And then there's the smell. I've never been good at describing smells, but... it wasn't hospital-smell, exactly... too much road-air, stale sweat, and air-freshener mixed in. Put together they made... something. Something highly unappetizing.

One of the medics was looking me over, checking for damages, and watching me like a hawk. He probably thought I had a concussion. Should have taken care of that head bruising.

By the time we arrived, I was feeling much worse than I had when I laid down on the stretcher. And then I got to wait in line.

Well, not precisely. I was brought up for checking in, still on my stretcher, and I got to wait while they checked me in. I was bereft of Isaac's steadying presence; I think he had to help with my information.

I kept my mind occupied during the wait (which seemed about six hours long) primarily by devising ways I could escape the building and thus the inconvenience of this situation. I'd come up with eleven really good ways by the time they wheeled me into a room & let me get onto an examination table.

Whereupon I waited some more.

At this point in my narrative, it becomes necessary to abbreviate things a bit, in order to avoid becoming more dull and repetitive than usual.

I waited, a nurse showed up, took my vitals, I waited some more, a doctor showed up, looked me over, pronounced me fit enough, the nurse bandaged me and gave me some medicine for pain, and directed me toward the checkout. Or whatever it's called; I don't go to hospitals often.

Emerging from this whole ordeal mostly unscathed, I felt oddly refreshed. I had no idea what time it was, or how I was going to get to Marseille, and my beautiful new frock was now a ruined piece of beautiful fabric in what remained of the car, but nevertheless I was alive and well, and things were going to be OK.

Then the police officer intercepted me.

_________________
I'll be everything that I want to be,
I am confidence in insecurity.
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard,
I'll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear 'round the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:36 pm 
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Lol. It was kinda funny the narrative when she said she was going to make it shorter. Lol.

I used to play in ambulances as a kid, a friend of my grandparents, who I have always considered as a relative, owned an amublance company (I don't know if you have those in the USA, there are the emergencies, and then there are the ambulance/taxi kind for people who need transportation from A to B but not or an emmergency).
Anyway, her grand son and I would play in the garage between the parked ambulances, or the guneys... But we had to be careful not to go to the aera where the sterelized guneys and covers and stuff were...

Anyway, it was funny. :)

I'm crazy I know.


Now I'm all curious about the police officer though. Lol.

:-D

_________________
Broken Dolls |The Stadium's Goddesses | Seeds Of Beauty

"Joie est mon caractère, C'est la faute à Voltaire; Misère est mon trousseau, C'est la faute à Rousseau." Gavroche. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (chap. XV)


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 1:53 pm 
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Yes. It's true. You are indeed crazy. ;) But have some more story anyway.


[center]The Ersatz Esther Goldman[/center]

Part 5
Rated: PG, I think.

So there I was, dirty and bruised, standing in the hospital, staring at the French policeman who had just jumped, rabbitlike, in front of me.

I say French, but of course he was a Union cop. If individual European nations have national police forces nowadays, they don't talk about them.

"Good evening, Madame Goldman," he said in lightly accented English. "If you'll just accompany me, please."

His voice left no option of refusal, and neither did the other two gendarmes who materialized on either side of me and lightly took my arms.

Of course, when I say 'materialized' here, I simply mean that they came upon me very swiftly and quietly. I feel it necessary to clarify this, as occasionally when I say 'materialized' I mean 'zapped in as a bloody great mass of component molecules and reformed.'

Well, not actually a bloody mass... that would be shockingly horrid. It's just a Britishism... you'll hear a fair amount of those from me, though of course, I am also not British.

Anyway, I've gone way off my point... the police officers led me away to a small recovery room that they had apparantly commandeered. It was indicated I should sit down, and I decided it was probably best that I did.

"Well, messieurs, how may I help you?"

"We have a few questions for you, if you don't mind. It will only take a little of your time."

I leaned back. "Of course, of course. As long as it doesn't run overlong. I'm completely knackered, as you can understand."

"Naturally, Madame. Just a little cooperation, and you will be free to go."

He was lying, I could see that much. This was definitely not routine. Which meant that my cover identity was somehow compromised.

Damn.

"Is this your first time in France?"

"Oh, no. I grew up in Marseille. I'm here to visit family, in fact." Always tell as much of the truth as you can. It makes it harder to trip yourself up later. Plus, you never know when they might be using some kind of truth scan.

"So you've been away from the country for some time?"

"Yes, it's been quite some time." It had, actually. Two or three years, at least.

"Do you visit the Union often?"

"Oh," I replied, "every once in awhile. You know, dear, I would probably be able to better help you out if you'd just come around to your point."

He paused for a moment, no expression on his face. Then, "Your name is not Esther Goldman."

"Don't be daft, of course it is. Says so right on my passport." That one wasn't quite true, of course.

I suppose I should explain about my name, given that I've been leaving you hanging on it since I started this narrative. I was born Yvette Esther Katarina Rafastio. Yvette for my mother, Esther by my father's wish, Katarina was the head of our household, and Rafastio is the family name. (Sound unnecessarily long and confusing? That's my family for you. You'll note I haven't visited in decades.) Goldman was Daddy's last name, but as he and Mother never married, I didn't get it. I've used various combinations and variations of those names over the years... vanity, I suppose. But in any case, I'm not exactly Esther Goldman... and I'm not exactly not Esther Goldman, either.

In any case, it made it fairly clear that the jig was up. I'd done enough legally questionable operations (under one name or another) in the Union to land me an indeterminate amount of time in a debriefing centre. So it was not likely that this not-too-polite gendarme was going to let me go.

"Madame, do you know this woman?"

He was holding up a slightly blurred black & white of two people walking together on a crowded street. One of them I knew very well, indeed. Not going to get by on a half-truth with this one.

A shame, really. The eurocops aren't bad people, as a rule, and these three were only doing their jobs. Everything that I've... we've... done has been for the good of the world (in theory, anyway), but I'd had to violate numerous laws from time to time to get things done. I've never checked, but I imagine I'm thought of as some sort of mysterious superspy.

What a gorgeous thought.

But I've strayed again. Right then I was pondering what sort of jiggery-pokery I would have to do to get out of this mess. Meanwhile, my host was becoming at the same time impatient and smug at my hesitancy to respond.

I hated to do it (you can't imagine how much), but I was going to have to tamper with their minds.

But I didn't, because that was when the door opened, and she walked in.

She wasn't dressed as a cop, and I'm certain they hadn't met before. But she spoke to my would-be-captor in clipped, authoritative tones: "C'est assez. Vous pouvez aller maintenant." And they just stood up and left, nodding affirmation. And then it was just her. Those starry eyes, the timeless beauty. The woman I'd longed and feared to see for so many years.

Medea.

"Well," she said with a winsome little smile, "what a surprise."

TBC

_________________
I'll be everything that I want to be,
I am confidence in insecurity.
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard,
I'll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear 'round the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:08 pm 
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oh ending like that? you've just earned a second Hey!

Some answers, and more questions..; crappy crap :-D

Quote:
Well, not actually a bloody mass... that would be shockingly horrid. It's just a Britishism... you'll hear a fair amount of those from me, though of course, I am also not British.


Lol.

Nice sweetie.

Thanks for it! :-D

_________________
Broken Dolls |The Stadium's Goddesses | Seeds Of Beauty

"Joie est mon caractère, C'est la faute à Voltaire; Misère est mon trousseau, C'est la faute à Rousseau." Gavroche. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (chap. XV)


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:15 am 
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Great updates.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 1:12 pm 
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Glad it's being enjoyed. :)


[center]The Ersatz Esther Goldman[/center]

Part 6
Rated: PG, I think.


Medea.

She stood before me, in all her dazzling beauty. Three decades had not changed her at all. I had expected her to look the same; I hadn’t aged noticeably myself. But she could at least be wearing different clothes!

I looked closer, and saw that the clothes weren’t really the same… her trousers had a lot more pockets than they had in the eighties. The shirt was pretty much the same, though. Did she shop for them, I wondered, or make them herself? She could probably just make them appear from nothing if she wanted to. My years of living with her hadn’t really taught me much about how she did things.

While I was staring at her and mentally appraising her fashion, she stood and watched me, that mysterious smile on her face. If Medea was in the body of a withered hag, she would still be beautiful and sexy; she is quintessentially female, and she knows it. Was she trying to use her wiles on me?

I would have to be careful here. Medea, while certainly not evil, is powerful enough that she's quite used to ignoring conventional models of morality and ethics. She is also, though she hides it well, a complete nutter. To put it differently, she's an insane murderess who happens to like me. Lucky me.

“Thank you for your intervention,” I finally spoke, “but it really wasn’t necessary.” I stood, brushing nonexistent dust from my skirt. It’s a nervous habit I picked up somewhere.

“You’re wrong,” she said, in her accented voice. To my knowledge, she speaks at least 8 languages fluently, she probably mastered English long before Shakespeare, but she still has that Greek accent. “Those men were here simply to occupy you long enough for reinforcements to come. Against their combined strength, you cannot win.”

I pondered. That meant that whoever was after me (and I couldn’t believe it was just the Union, not anymore), they knew not only who I really was, but something of what I was, as well. Possibly--no, probably--they even knew something about who I work for. That left very few possibilities, none of them good.

“I have to get out of here fast, then,” I said, heading for the door.

She stopped me quite literally in my tracks, with a gesture. I knew better than to pit my strength against hers, so I just looked to her for explanation.

“You need not hurry,” she told me. “I am delaying them. They will not arrive soon. You and I have enough time to talk.”

With anyone else, I would have asked, “How can you possibly delay them?” With anyone else, it would have required explanation. But not Medea. I am sure that there are things she can’t do; there have to be. But I don’t know what they are.

“I should at least tell Isaac that I’m alright,” I tried.

She was amused. “Is he really that important?”

Well, I wasn’t going to let her get away with that, was I? “Of course he is! Every bloody person on this planet is important. And Isaac happens to be my friend, not to mention a damned fine asset to the… to my allies and I.” I actually stamped my foot, I’m embarrassed to say.

She laughed, and it was the same deep, dark mystery of joy that I remembered from long ago. “Wonderful, my protégé. You have turned out well. My time with you was not wasted.”

I sat back down at last. “Your time with me was... you... you taught me to murder.” There was old anguish and bitterness in my voice. They say nothing hurts like an old wound reopened.

She nodded, calmly, as though we were discussing crochet rather than killing in cold blood. “It was what you needed at the time, and no one could teach you better than I. But I also taught you to search for the truth, to own your power, and to control your own destiny. Lessons I am pleased to see you have retained.”

I just stared at her, still hostile. Part of me knew she was right. But the hurting part was speaking louder right then, I’m afraid.

“You’ve also done well at linguistics,” she continued when it became evident that I wasn’t going to say anything. “Your accent sounds quite natural.”

I almost said, ‘better than yours’. Almost. I’m not completely stupid, I suppose. Instead, I shrugged. “I lived in England a long time. Sometimes I even forget I’m not British.”

“Yes,” she said quietly. “I know. I’ve kept a close watch on you, you know.”

That rattled me. “Have you?” Of course she had. And I’d never even suspected. When I got back to Copernicus, there would be some long talks about security. That is, assuming I ever got back. A small part of me wondered angrily if I would ever get a real vacation.

“Oh, yes," she said, fixing me with her steady gaze. "I’ve watched you. You and your… allies, you call them? Very well, then; allies. I’ve seen what you do in the world, from your home in the Deep Reaches…”

She fell silent, staring at me. I waited for the hammer to drop.

“You have not yet disappointed me.”

I cocked my head a bit to one side, a practiced look of curiosity to hide my inner relief and elation. She wasn’t here to kill me, or geas me, or anything like that, after all! So why...

“I am, however, concerned…”

Uh-oh. Looked like I wasn’t out of the woods yet.

“…with the…” God help me, she actually looked embarrassed! “…company you’re keeping.” With a nod of her head, she indicated the picture left behind by the gendarmes.

My eyes grew wide. I drew up all of my power and stood up, putting challenge into every aspect of my attitude. She would not get away with this! “Rot you, Medea, I don’t care if you can squash me like a bug. You have no right to insult--“ was how far I got before she silenced me, power and all, as easily as I might snuff out a candle.

“I have no… objection, my student. You may choose whatever paramour suits you. I am only concerned." A touch of fire in her eyes. "I do not want to see you hurt!”

Alright, looking back I can see that that was really very sweet; an unexpected expression of affection from someone not very prone to them. But I wasn’t really thinking very straight right then. I was still in a snit, really.

“What are you,” I asked, “my mother?”

That was a very foolish thing to say. Medea stared at me a moment. If she was shocked, or angry, she didn’t show it. But she gave me plenty of time to realize what a terrible faux pas I had just committed.

“I have always,” she finally replied in an even voice, “regarded you as though you were my own child.”

That could have been a kindness, or a threat. Probably both. For those of you not following, the woman standing before me was indeed (as far as I’d ever been able to tell) the Medea from Greek legend… Euripides did a marvelous tragedy about her. Look it up some time. I’m not going to go into it here.

It was, I realized, long past time to drop my immature attitude. Taking a deep, steadying breath, I slowly approached her, not defiant this time. Smiling, I looked with affection on the woman who had done so much to shape my life. I really had missed her, after all. “Thank you, Medea. I love you, too.”

She smiled back. If there’d been a test, I’d passed it.

“Go,” she softly commanded. “Get your friend and leave. I will keep your pursuers occupied long enough to allow you to reach Marseilles. Your friend will be waiting for you.”

I hugged her impulsively. She didn’t seem to know how to deal with that, but I’m used to that sort of thing. Then I headed for the door.

Suddenly I remembered something and stopped. “Oh, bollocks… the car—“

“Your carriage is repaired and waiting for you, you’ll find. Your pretty dress, too.”

I didn’t even try to keep the amazement from my face this time. “Thank you.”

As I was going out the door, she called to me. “There is one small thing I disapprove of.”

I turned, my relief frozen. “What is that?”

“Your hair. It looks horrible!”

I laughed all the way to the car. What a wonderful night!

TBC

_________________
I'll be everything that I want to be,
I am confidence in insecurity.
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard,
I'll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear 'round the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 1:31 pm 
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32. Kisses and Gay Love
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Dear Sera,

This was delightful!

Quote:
To put it differently, she's an insane murderess who happens to like me. Lucky me.

And this is quite funny...

:)

Thanks for it. :)

_________________
Broken Dolls |The Stadium's Goddesses | Seeds Of Beauty

"Joie est mon caractère, C'est la faute à Voltaire; Misère est mon trousseau, C'est la faute à Rousseau." Gavroche. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (chap. XV)


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:08 pm 
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[center]The Ersatz Esther Goldman[/center]

Part 7
Rated: PG, I think.


The drive to Marseilles was long and tiresome, as expected. After the accident and subsequent drama, we were already a bit weary, but Isaac and I opted to increase our alertness and capacity for fatigue by our own means ('break out the metaphysical no-doz, honey,' were his actual words), and so pushed through the final four hours of the trip without stopping for the night. I think, frankly, that Isaac took as much refreshment from making unhelpful comments ('Tell me again why we didn't take the train?') as he did from my magick. I was too buoyed, however, by my encounter with Medea to let him get to me.

Even my good mood, however, had to wane as we turned off onto the roads leading to my family's estate. I was amused to find that the roads were in about the same condition as I had remembered them; the expansion of the city had stayed well away from my family's lands. Whoever they had doing warding duty was definitely on the ball.

I managed to guide my tired and grumpy chauffer down the right roads, thankful that the wards on them were still keyed to my blood. I suppose your family never does forget you, even if sometimes you'd really prefer that they did. As the outbuildings of the home I'd spent most of my formative years in loomed into view, I had to sit down hard on my desire to make Isaac turn the car around. Whoever said 'you can't go home again' was right. There was something repellent about the very idea, and what repelled me the most were the parts of me that still felt comfort at seeing those buildings.

Somehow through all this I managed to correctly direct Isaac to the proper driveway; however, even as he applied the handbrake my hopes of surprising my family were dashed. My uncle Audric stood at the side of the garage, his arm over the shoulder of Ginevra, one of my more interesting tutors. They showed no sign of surprise.

Forcing myself to relax and calm, I turned to Isaac. "You let me do the talking, right?"

If he noticed the strain in my voice, he didn't show it. "That's the plan." I love it when Isaac gets all business; he's so much easier to deal with.

The first thing I noticed upon stepping out was the smell. I don't know why it is that smells stick in the memory so well, but the scent of the night air there on the grounds inspired more reminiscence in me than anything else on that visit. For a few bittersweet moments, I was eighteen again.

Uncle's voice broke my reverie. "Welcome home, Yvette. We've missed you." His voice wasn't quite like I remembered it, which was more likely the effects of my own imperfect memory than of age or time. The frisson of hearing my given name used after so long was unexpectedly intense.

"Thank you, Uncle." If he was surprised by my brusqueness, he did not show it. Most likely he wasn't at all surprised. I hadn't been around for half a century, after all; I was unlikely to be home for a social visit. Those who stay with the family tend to stay for life; those who leave rarely return. It's an old family maxim, and almost universally true.

Isaac got out of the car, and under the intently watchful eyes of my uncle and teacher, we got our cases out of the boot. Ginevra led us toward the guest cottage, and as we passed Uncle said in passing, "Your mother will want to see you once you've freshened up."

I pondered that all the way to my bedroom (Isaac and I had seperate bedrooms, which I found a refreshing change). Family tradition said I would have to see the Matriarch first thing, before anyone else associated with me. And in my family, tradition was more important than life itself. So why...

The obvious answer came to me in my shower, and I nearly fell over.

After my shower, I checked on Isaac (sleeping peacefully, the lucky sod), and allowed an intensely curious acolyte to direct me to the Matriarch's coffee room.

"Hello, Mother," I said, masking my bewilderment with cheer. She was reclining on a divan at the back of the dimly-lit room. The atmosphere was heavy; every decoration and furnishing in the room, I think, was carefully included and placed to convey a relaxed, sensual authority.

Mother sat up languidly - I'm convinced she had carefully posed herself before my entrance - and silently indicated I should take a chair. Her intricate gold earrings caught the light as she moved, and I took notice of her clothing for the first time; regal, slightly understated colours, the cut was fine and obviously tailor-made. Suddenly my expensive new frock seemed a lot less impressive.

Mother has always been able to do that to me.

We sat like that for a minute, in silence, as she looked me over. For my part, I was trying to compose myself. Funny how the mind works. I've studied under the tutelage of a Greek myth, attended clandestine meetings with heads of state, had tea with at least one biblical figure, confronted ancient evils in their lairs (well, alright, so I never actually did that, but I did track one down and let others confront it...) and here I was, trying not to squirm under my mother's gaze. God help me, but I was quite unable to think straight.

Finally she broke the silence. Her voice was cold. "You've returned at last, I see. Well, I'll skip the polite inquiries of how long you intend to stay. It's clear your visit will be short. What do you want, Yvette?"

Mother had stopped calling me by my first name before I turned sixteen. The shock of hearing it from her lips helped me regain my composure, and I nodded. If blunt formality was the name of the game, I would play it.

"We will stay for a few days, if that is acceptable, Matriarch. But yes, I'm here for a purpose. The Tal'mahe'Ra have knowledge of a man who calls himself the Prophet of Numbers. He is in their custody. We want this man. I'm here to bargain for him."

Her gaze remained impassive. "And if we don't know of this man you speak of?"

I could play that game, too. I said nothing, just stared evenly back.

Mother nodded. "Of course, you understand that you're asking for something of very high value..."

The negotiations went on for some time, and I got quite swept away in the back and forth of the bargaining process. I even forgot where I was, for awhile. Finally, we reached a set of terms agreeable to all parties (I had a somewhat unfair advantage; I knew that if Mother turned down some of the information I was offering, her masters in the Tal'mahe'Ra would be furious, and she knew that I knew that).

"So," I said, leaning back with a (rather smug, it must be admitted) smile, "we're agreed, then?"

And then she surprised me.

"No," she said.

I imagine my forehead wrinkled very unprettily as I said "I do beg your pardon?"

"No," she repeated, and stood. "I will agree to your terms only after our duel is settled."

Duel? Oh, no. "Mother, this isn't really the time to bring up old--"

"That will be all," she cut me off imperiously. "You are dismissed."

Saying no more, I left the room.

As I was being led back to my bedchamber, one thought kept racing through my mind:


What the Hell is she up to?

TBC

_________________
I'll be everything that I want to be,
I am confidence in insecurity.
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard,
I'll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear 'round the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:27 pm 
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Am I bad to think it was funny? Lol.

And a duel? What kind? :s

I don't know why, but I kept imaging Esther being Tara, and everytime I see her name I think "huh?" and then "oh! right!" I think I may have an obcession. Lol.

Yvette... one of my grandfather's sisters was an Yvette
never knew her though.



Quote:
The Tal'mahe'Ra have knowledge of a man who calls himself the Prophet of Numbers

Is he one of the 4? They were 4 right?

Thanks :-D

:kiss1 (those French and their kisses! ;-) )

_________________
Broken Dolls |The Stadium's Goddesses | Seeds Of Beauty

"Joie est mon caractère, C'est la faute à Voltaire; Misère est mon trousseau, C'est la faute à Rousseau." Gavroche. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (chap. XV)


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:20 am 
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Great updates.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:38 pm 
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SJ: Thanks. :)

Julia: What kind? You'll see. :) And no, he's not one of the 3. This probably won't come up in either story so I'll go ahead and say that he's the one who tells of the coming of the 3. :D

Anyway, on with the story!

[center]The Ersatz Esther Goldman[/center]


Part 8
Rated: PG-13, I think.


So there I was, lying on the bed in the very classy bedchamber my family had prepared for me, surrounded by all the dreaded, comfortable sights and smells and incidental house noises I'd grown up with. I was far from being the lost, alienated child I'd been when last I'd seen these walls--I'd done a lot of growing, lived a lot of life, made decisions that had changed me forever, and found a new family far better than the one I was born to.

Yet after just half an hour with my mother I felt as small and lost and alone as though I'd just stepped out for a few hours walk. I was staring up at the beams of the ceiling, not really seeing them, and tears were falling unnoticed down the sides of my face. I'd tried to fathom Mother's actions for a while, but had just ended up spiraling down into this unsettled melancholia.

I don't know how long I would have lain there if Isaac hadn't come calling. The sound of his footsteps outside, followed shortly by a knock I recognized, was like a much-needed wake up call. I sat up, drying my face, and with a voice that was much smaller than I'd expected I invited him in.

Good old Isaac. He didn't say a word, just came and sat next to me, waiting. After a minute or so, I sighed and leaned on him, my head on his shoulder. "I've a brother named Isaac, you know."

If the non sequitur confused him, he did not show it. "Yeah. You told me once, I think. Back when we met."

"He's probably still around here somewhere. Things don't change too much here, even in half a century."

"Long lives and all that." Isaac nodded in understanding.

"No, not just that," I replied, my mouth twitching into a bitter smile. "That plays a part, yes, but it misses an important factor. We may look like ordinary people, and sound like it, but we're not, really. We're inhuman, and our actions passions and motivations are likewise inhuman. We don't change things much because we don't want to. Family, and the search for lore and power, are as important to us as the basic desires for sex, food, challenge, and love are to you. Very few other things are at all important. It's a Machiavellian dream--no compassion, no connection, no joy. Only power and scheming. For the good of the family, of course."

"Doesn't sound much like you," he said, giving me the reassurance I'd been fishing for but hadn't had the courage to ask for directly. "You're compassionate, warm... I'd say you're very human. And as for love..." He trailed off just long enough for me to blush and look down. "It's no secret, you know. Just because you don't make it public doesn't mean the people around you don't see it." He grinned, obviously very pleased with himself.

"Yes, well," I said too quickly, "Occasionally it is determined that one of the family women mate with an outsider, in order to keep the line fresh or to assimilate a powerful bloodline. Usually a male of another family like ours is chosen, but sometimes there is an advantage seen in mating with a human mage. In such cases, the child is often... difficult. And that's me. The difficult child." I shrugged, a rueful smile all I could manage. There was no way to communicate the mix of fierce pride and quiet despair that comes from growing up as an automatic outsider within a close-knit family. I'd tried before, but it just isn't something you can understand unless you've experienced it.

"But that's not important," I said, rushing on before he could comment. "What's important is, something has changed around here. The old matriarch, Adelaide, is either dead or moved to replace someone that died elsewhere--a matriarch can't leave. My mother has taken up the position."

The stress I'd given the word 'mother' was not lost on Isaac. "And the prophet?"

"No deal. Not until I finish some old business."

Shortly before my acrimonious departure all those years ago, I had gotten into some very bad confrontations. During one of those, I challenged my mother to a duel. I really don't recall what I was trying to prove, or even gain... adolescent pride, I suppose. In any case, I'd left without ever having the duel, and hadn't much thought about it since.

Mother, apparently, had. But why was she bothering with it now? There are no standards of honour in my family, and if there were, my mother is the last person I'd expect to be a stickler for them. What was she doing?

Isaac had no better idea than I did, though we racked our brains about it for quite some time before we finally retired.

***


The next morning, I awoke to find my old tutor, Ginevra taking a bundle of clothing from my armoire. "Get up," she said shortly, and I automatically responded, as though I were a thirteen year old girl again.

How I hated them for that.

"I can dress myself, thank you," I snapped. "Ginevra, what is my mother doing with this challenge business? Doesn't she have better things to do?"

She just stared at me. There wasn't even enough emotion in her stare to call it 'cold'. She dropped the clothing on my bed, and left my room without a word. It was only then that I noticed the rapier and main gauche that lay upon the low dresser beside the door.

I stared for a long time, not quite believing. "This isn't right."

What the Hell was she thinking?

***


It was an hour later, and I was sitting with Isaac in a foyer near the main courtyard.

"They're almost always magical duels, Isaac! And what's more, I've never heard of Mother doing any sort of fencing at all! I'm the fencer. What can she be trying to accomplish?!

"Maybe she's going to use magic to stack the odds in her favour. Maybe picking a sword was her way of shaming you." He shrugged.

"No, that's stupid. She's no mage, just a hedge witch. A thaumaturge, like the rest of them. She can't possibly count on beating me that way."

I was being awful to him, snapping and being impatient. Feeling helpless was really getting to me. As was being there. As were a lot of things. I did apologise later, when he brought it up, but at that moment I was distracted. A girl I didn't recognise was just arriving to take me out into the courtyard.

***


Mother was waiting for me in the centre of the yard, sword and dagger readied. She looked rather better in her fencing costume than I did in mine, I noted with restrained bitterness.

"What is all this about, Mother?" I shouted, the rage in my voice fueled by fear and confusion.

"It is about what it has always been about, daughter. Life and death. Life and death and family. You may have forgotten these things, but I have not." And so saying, she attacked.

I backed away quickly, noting that many family members, old faces known to me, were watching avidly from the surrounding windows. "I withdraw my challenge!" I shouted, still trying to get out of this... whatever 'this' was.

It didn't work. She kept coming, her eyes burning with the fire of obsession. I'd seen her like this before, but that look had a very different feeling when seen behind a sharp steel blade coming toward my throat.

I fought back. I fought hard. And it took me less than a minute to realize that she was better than I was. Through whatever training or enchantments, she was better. I was probably going to lose this duel, and if the look in her eyes was something to go by, that meant death.

As I stumbled backwards to avoid a thrust--I was already bleeding from three shallow cuts on my arms and shoulder, and she was moving in for the kill--I thought about what I had to lose. About the things in my life still left unfinished, the things I still wanted to explore and discover, and one woman in particular who was waiting for me, somewhere in the southern sky.

I fought harder then, fought with a strength and speed I'd never had. It was as though the world slowed down and I was seeing things with a greater clarity because I'd realized I really had something worth fighting for.

It didn't matter. She beat my sword aside and stabbed me through the belly. Not a fatal wound, not for me, but I wasn't going to be able to stop her next stroke.

Then she pulled the sword (painfully!) from my body and made a grand gesture of pulling back for the finishing thrust--and I saw my chance. Rolling onto my side, I caught her sword in the guard of my dagger and sank my sword up into her ribcage.

She smiled as she died, and even as I pulled my blade out, even as I used my magicks to resuscitate her, I realized how blind and stupid I'd been. How well she'd manipulated me, and how damned foolishly stupid I'd been this whole time.

My own wounds distracting me with pain and dizziness, I listened frantically at her chest, hating her more than ever. As her heart started beating again, I thought ruefully back to my conversation of last night.

"The old matriarch, Adelaide, is either dead or moved to replace someone that died elsewhere--a matriarch can't leave. My mother has taken up the position."

My mother had died. There were dozens of family witnesses to that, probably several of whom had been monitoring our life signs somehow. And I was there with her, her daughter and her killer. And that meant...

Her eyes opened. Her smile, though weak, was victorious. And why not? She'd finally beaten me, finally found the one way she could trap me here forever.

"Matriarch," she said.

I screamed.

TBC

_________________
I'll be everything that I want to be,
I am confidence in insecurity.
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard,
I'll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear 'round the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:02 pm 
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Wow... Ok so when you explained the thing about matriarch, I actually thought that it was a possibility. But for once, I hate to be right. Lol. Just this once though ;-)

Thank you.

I so get how "Esther" is feeling...!

*hugs

Julia

_________________
Broken Dolls |The Stadium's Goddesses | Seeds Of Beauty

"Joie est mon caractère, C'est la faute à Voltaire; Misère est mon trousseau, C'est la faute à Rousseau." Gavroche. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (chap. XV)


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 Post subject: Re: The Ersatz Esther Goldman
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:25 am 
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Great writing.


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