Summer NaNo: Excerpt (Leonie Hallward and the Secession of Greenwich Village)

Needless to say, I didn’t finish my Summer NaNo in June, due to the disruptions of preparing Erika and the Vampire for publication. The target was 50,000 words in thirty days; I managed about 16,500 words of Leonie Hallward and the Secession of Greenwich Village, and recently I’ve taken up the project again.

The framework is the thirty-day character questionnaire. Here’s an excerpt from Day 15: Your dreams, in great detail.

I dream now the map of the city. I dream the layers, years on years. On Fifth Avenue, the silence swallows me up; the carpets and the chandeliers conspire. Red velvet hangings, dark and heavy. I am lying in bed, falling asleep, and then I am in another place entirely, where the sea comes up to the terrace, sweeps over the marble balustrade. We sit at tea and it laps over our feet, light catching in the turquoise swells. The spray is thrown up, as lace and foam sift in a network on the uneasy surface. Waves look solid as glass but they constantly shift.

I dream a dark network of jewels, the lights of the city but reversed. I dream the lines of the city, old boundary lines and the place of trial where rebel slaves were burned alive. I dream that the stories are welling up in waves and lapping at my feet. Not yet drowning me. All the sea I never dreamed while at sea swells now around me, and the house, the great marble barge, begins to unmoor from shore and float away, bearing me and the rest of the party with it, unresisting. Unresisting because how can one resist the sea? King Canute had his try at that and it did not obey him.

The gulls circle above, flapping and crying out. I am dreaming the sea and half know it. The Inconnu stares down at me, a sneer marring his fresh faced features. No, it was for my uncle that he put on that angelic face, not for me. Like children who are little angels in front of the company, and then  pinch and bully the guest-children. Yes, that happened to me once or twice, and no, I did not care for it nor did I repeat it on my own ground.

I felt the temptation, though.

If one is cruel to people, how far might they retaliate when they have the chance? And it might fall on those innocent of the original crime.

Leonie is staying with the American millionaire who bought her uncle Basil’s best paintings. The Inconnu is the portrait of Dorian Gray, which her father has catalogued as Portrait d’un Inconnu (Portrait of an Unknown Man).

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