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Monday, December 3, 2012

Alice in Wonder

Here is something I have never done before--provide a glimpse of the novel I am writing: just 2 pages of the rough draft, but (trembling) maybe sharing and getting your questions and feedback will help me to stay on track? 

     If you expected a poem today, accept my apologies.  I think the novel is a bit poetic, but it is prose.  You will not hurt my feelings if you do not read it or if you read it and do not comment.  
     This seems to be the beginning of Chapter One, but anyone who's written knows this is mere conjecture at this point.   
 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast: Copying/using any part of this text is prohibited.  

Alice in Wonder, Chapter One.

            The tall mask seemed to enter of its own accord along with a loud echoing gong that made spinal chords twitch throughout the audience.  The next sound came out of the stillness.  A small voice whispered, "Hi, my name is Alice," and the mask touched the floor to reveal a tall, stoop-backed middle-aged lady in a white sweater and pearls.  Her hair seemed permed and purplish, or rather, it was curly and white except for a streak of purple on one lock in the middle and left side.  She peered at us over the mask as the lights faded up from the sharp spot.
            "Hi," she repeated in a stronger voice, "I'm Alice, and this is my Grandmother." 
            She tripped forward, mask in one hand and the straps to a black leather tote clutched in the other.  She lifted the mask with difficulty to the top of a pole stage right, dropped the tote stage center and opened it to extract a beautiful round wood and tile box, which she held up for all to see. 
            "My grandmother made this box," she said, then took the tiled top off and rolled it across the floor, its design whirling into a wind sign.  As it wobbled flat, she took another mask--a tiny clay one--out of the box, held it up and announced, "And THIS is my Mother."  She carried her mother mask  to stage left and hung it on top of another pole that was waiting for it, then stood back and clapped her hands. 
            She almost trotted down to the edge of the stage to announce, arms wide, "As you can see, I come from a long line of image makers!  My own art is story telling, and I am here to tell you the story of Helen of Troy!"
            With that she pulled a wooden rocking chair from the shadows on the right, sat down and beamed at us.  "I read about her in books,"  she continued, as she got up to retrieve her black bag.  She sat and pulled book after book out of her bottomless bag, all the while talking delightedly.  "I love books, don't you? I could hold them and touch them all day long, rock them and sing to them, and then open them and let them sing to me!  Their pages are so smooth and inviting.  The print looks like ants dancing from a distance. See?"
            She held up two books, one in each hand, then stood and came down to the spectators, "Feel them, come on, feel them!  Can you imagine giving this touch up for a computer screen?  Not in my lifetime!
            "Does anyone write in a diary?"  Alice waited.    "You can tell me; I do too.  Ah, there you are!" she applauded when a few hands inched up.  She rushed back to her bag and brought another book forward to show. "Empty pages invite dreaming, and I love to fill them up with ink and words, don't you?"
            As she listened to the "Yesses" and "Nos" she retrieved the books she'd passed out to people in the front row, and then backed up wiggling into the rocking chair, piling the books beside her.  She heard some giggles in the crowd, and when she began telling her story, she seemed to be responding to them.
            "I read about Helen of Troy in books.  The  first one was by Homer, and then by Sophocles and by Euripides, and then later by several non-Greek writers. All agree that she was beautiful and that she was a prize for a young Trojan named Paris when he said Aphrodite was the most beautiful of three competitive Greek goddesses: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.  But that's all they agree on."
            She paused while a newcomer found a seat on the edge of the audience, then continued. 
            "Some of these ancient Greek authors say she ran off to Troy with Paris, glad to be away from her own husband, Menelaus.  Some say she wanted to go to Troy with Paris but that Zeus, head god, hid her in Egypt where she spent 10 years.  Others say Paris had to kidnap her because she resisted.  And finally, others say that it was the gods who kidnapped her and hid her in the sky. 
            "Helen--yes, Helen herself--told me that the last story is closer to the truth!  I met her years and years ago.  Truly, she is good looking in a way, but of course she's older than I am now.
            "Well, Helen had resisted all of them--men and Gods and Paris and Troy!  She said that she didn't even have time to think about things before she was way up there in the sky watching the years unfold around her.  She told me she never even saw Paris, that he had only sent her a note saying she was his!  Imagine how that must have felt!  You get a note from someone you haven't even heard of saying:
Baby I'm yours and you are mine.  The great goddess Aphrodite said so.  Come away with me to another world named Troy and we will be happy forever.  PS.  I love you. You don't know me, but I've seen your picture, and Baby, Baby, I'm yours, you're mine, wedding bells are going to chime.
Now wouldn't you laugh and tear up that note?  But Helen didn't.  Oh she wanted to, she wanted to be that practical, but her life had not been a bed of roses.  

 To be continued . . .

Posted at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads for "Open Link Monday.
 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast: Copying/using any part of this text is prohibited.