Monday, 29 October 2012

Chapter Two: The Trouble With Doorsteps

Up an over polished marble staircase, down a too bright, scantily dressed corridor. Through double oak doors with golden plaques, into a boardroom stuffed with grey suits and black neck-ties. She went with emerald green scarf sailing behind her - a misplaced beacon of colour in a monochromatic world.

"Abeline." A man of exceptional height and shoulder greeted her from the head of the long mahogany table that adorned the center of the room.

"Please, call me 'Gilda'."

A chortle escaped the younger members of the board, which was quickly stifled by a glance from their Official. Rarely had they received the request to call an author by pen-name.

"Alright..Gilda..would you please have a seat?"

"Why yes, I would - that is, if you were willing to give me one?"

Another laugh, far more boisterous then before; another look, this time taking form of a glare.

The man waved his hand to a high backed chair at the foot of the table, resisting the urge to take that very same hand and rake it through his thick dark hair.

"Oh - yes, thank-you, William." Abeline sat.

William Strides contemplated the woman, who was made to appear unusually small by the wooden frame and velvet back of the chair in which she sat, taking in her wide, nearly clear green eyes and twitching hands folded not so neatly upon a deep purple skirt, and decided for the millionth time that she looked - in her entire - unusual. Slightly more so then before, he thought, and sat.

"We've had quite some time to discuss what it is you request" he began.

"Two weeks, two hours and fifteen minutes." came the interruption. Abeline glanced at clock above Strides' head to confirm the time. It was indeed quarter after noon.

"Yes, as I said: quite some time. And I do believe we've come up with a decision - isn't that right, gentlemen?"  Nods came from both sides of the table.

"Well I presume you would have, or I wouldn't be here today - correct?"


"Go on, then, what is the verdict?"

"The answer is no."


"No. We simply cannot allow you to 'go abroad' with this novel."

"And why the heavens not!" Abeline shot up from the chair, nearly knocking it over.

"Good grief woman! Sit down!" This came from a man two seats to the right. He was thin, with a narrow chin and eyes that looked to be always frowning.

"And who might you be?"

"Jeremy Willright."

"Well, Jeremy, I will not sit down until I know the meaning of this barbaric imprisonment."

"Having you stay in Dremlock while you finish your writing is not imprisonment my dear Ab - er - Gilda." Strides broke in. "Now please, won't you have a seat?"

Abeline conceded, smoothing her skirts and pursing her lips.

"Now, tell me, why can I not go abroad with my writing? I find it quite helpful - I do turn in my writing some time before the agreed due-date, do I not?"

"Yes, but unfortunately there's no room to implement this into the contract - which has already been signed! You may have a history of turning in your novels sooner than expected, but how are we to know that this time won't be the opposite? We really are sorry, Gilda, but it's difficult for us to keep track of you and know that a deadline is being met when you don't even have a computer." he paused "Where would you be going, anyways?"

"Wherever the wind takes me."

"Than it's settled, you are to stay in town. Agreed, gentlemen?" Another round of nods, including a rather exuberant one from Willright. "Agreed, Gilda?"

"Oh, I suppose so.."  Willright snorted at her sigh; Abeline caught his eye and glared.

"Nice tie, did Mommy pick it out for you?"

"Nice jacket, let me guess - Salvation Army?"

"No, my Grandmother made it for me." And at that Abeline left the boardroom.

"Publishers" she muttered, bustling around the cluttered kitchen of her Old Victorian home. "Nasty coats, they are. I should've stayed free-lance."

Abeline cleared the table of yesterday's dishes, dropping them carelessly in the sink. She had removed her coat and flung it over a chair stacked with old thesauruses and writers references. Upon the coat sat her cat, a ten-year-old Blue Russian named Figaro who watched her every move and didn't seem to mind the newly acquired coffee stain on her favourite paisley blouse. Abeline extracted from the cupboard over the stove a half devoured jar of crunchy peanut butter and an Italian loaf covered in cheese. From the fridge she removed a carton of eggnog and poured herself a full glass from the collection on the counter. Taking the spreader from the chipped knife block, she made herself a sandwich and sat down in the plush armchair that took up an entire corner of the dinning room. On the nearby table sat a typewriter, one which she eyed with longing. She could almost hear the click of the keys, stamping ink lettering upon crisp new paper. Figaro leapt from the kitchen chair onto the table which was thrice his age and padded his delicate way to the typewriter. He nuzzled it with his chin, purring loudly, and gave it a paw and a swish of his tail before prancing to the floor, onto Abeline's feet. There he curled up - his favourite spot - and closed his eyes as she bit into her lunch.

The doorbell rang.

Figaro started, Abeline lowered her sandwich.

The doorbell rang again.

Figaro scooted down the hall to the front door, Abeline abandoned her food and glass. Heart pounding, she moved with the third ring down the hall after Figaro. A dark shadow took up the frosted glass of the entrance window. Abeline swallowed. She swung open the door.

"Hello, Sis!" the young man grinned and moved into the house. "Long time no see!"

"Billy!" Abeline gasped. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in school?"

"I..well..the dean is a little fed up with me right now.. They said I should go home."

"So you came here? Brilliant! Please, throw your things in the living room for now, I'll make you some lunch and a hot drink." Abeline closed the door quickly, locking it and sliding the deadbolt into place.

"Gees, Abs, you look like you've seen a ghost!"

"I nearly have, seeing you here!" She looked her little brother up and down, taking in his baggy clothes hanging from his lanky frame. Figaro twined himself around his legs, meowing loudly.

"Miss me, little buddy?" Billy gave him a scratch.

"Come, let's get away from the door.." Abeline led the way into the kitchen, Billy depositing his coat and bag on the sofa along the way.

"I don't understand why we even have those things." Abeline placed a mug of hot chocolate before her brother, who sat in the only kitchen chair that wasn't piled with papers or books.

"Have what, Abs?" He took one last bite from his sandwich and blew steam from the mug. He was used to his sister's odd spoken thoughts and had often humoured her growing up.

"Doors, Billy. Front doors.."

He laughed. "You're still shaken by the sight of me? Come of it, Abs, what's wrong with front doors?"

"Oh it's not really the door that's so wrong, it's the doorstep."


"You see, the trouble with doorsteps, Billy, is that you never know what you're going to find on them."

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant! Oh how I love this! I have a lot to live up to for next week (: