Saturday, January 30, 2010

Challenge 10: Mama's Smile

I remember when I thought mama was happy. She would smile and dance in circles around the ball room with my brother standing on her feet and I would laugh and clap. Papa would take over after a few songs, asking for a dance. He would take mama into his arms and kiss her cheek.

Do you think he loved her?

That would be sad. He always had a nice smile for her. He would tell her she is beautiful and she would sort of smile with that marble face and I would think ‘mama is not happy any more’.

The walls are listening to every word you say, so be careful when you visit. Mama isn’t happy any more. She paces the polished floors, scuffing them with her bare feet. Papa is gone too. Dead. That made me cry, a long time ago. Still makes me cry; when mama isn’t listening.

I remember when I liked Mama’s smile. When my brother showed her his painting, or when she tiptoed out of her bedroom in the middle of the night, down the cold floors, shivering in only a silk slip. The garden out the back of her palace, the one overlooking the golden falls. She would smile for him.

It’s not really that bad, is it? Dana said a lady can have as many special friends as she likes, as long as she is discrete. I asked if I could have a special friend, but she said, ‘absolutely not’. I asked my brother later, why not. He looked at me funny and then laughed. He said it was because I am crazy and no one would want to bed a crazy girl, even if she is pretty. I cried. Then later, I tried to kiss the gardener and he ran away. I cried some more, but mama didn’t care because she was busy. I went looking for her, trying to show her how sad I was. I found her in the hall with all the faces on the wall, staring down me.

Have you ever had a hundred wrinkly old stone women glaring at you at once? It is very scary. Especially when mama was yelling and papa was yelling and that other man was watching with a white face. He was saying, “Please’ a lot, but mama wasn’t listening. And then papa pulled out his sword and I thought he was going to kill the other man and to tell the truth, I was happy… and sad… because then mama would smile quite the same.

But he didn’t, did he?

I’ll never forget the way the metal of his blade went right through Papa’s own stomach and came out the back, like my morning knife in the cheese – except Dana will never let me hold a knife. She says it’s not safe.

Mama thinks she’s safe. She told me Papa killed himself because he was angry. She thinks I am a child and I will believe her, but I know magic and I am not a child. Mama told Papa to fall on his blade and that is what he did. He had no choice, did he?

Now Mama’s smile is wider, it has more teeth.

Wordcount: 537


  1. Not sure if this is right, lol. But hey, those of you who know my story will recognize the POV of course :P

  2. Last line was the best :P It actually took me until the gardener to figure out the PoV - for some reason she seems to get older during the course of the narration (i.e. even as she speaks), but I guess that's reflecting her unpredictability rather than a progression?

  3. Cool that you noticed actually - She is telling the story 'now' so she is actually about 24, but as she shifts from the memory of childhood (the younger voice) to her interpretation of events, she moves into a clearer, more adult voice. Very vaguely intentional... :P