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The Fourth Wall~ Chapter III

by ChildOfNowhere


~Jaimé

*

I've been seeing my angel of death long before I ever wrote about him.

Silently as a shadow, he'd enter my dreams, without a word would he appear when there was no one around. Always, always would he come alone, and he would never be seen by anyone but myself. He was serious, and left that impression of a person who could do just anything, yet he never did hurt me - and I was never afraid.

He told me stories, long before I started writing my own, long before I was even old enough to tell what all the mysterious signs and symbols on paper meant. Stories of faraway lands and people I could barely imagine being real, and his voice brought to me the scents of worlds other than my own.

At the age of eight, I've told about him to my tutor, and not much after did my mother find the drawings in my notebooks. In there, his long coat always somewhat resembled a cloak, and trailed as if in the wind, and his face always seemed to be shadowed, only with his eyes light, resembling stars or little flames in the darkness. Sometimes, I'd have drawn the others too - a little blonde girl, a dark-eyed woman and a man with kong white beard - my friend had been telling me about. Sometimes, he was serious, but more often than not he was smiling - that little, impalpable smile which he wore on his face like a mask.

I never forgot that smile. I never forgot it, regardless of everything that have happened, just as I always carried the memories of his stories. Of the way he'd smile, listening to my secrets, and how he'd wipe away my tears when my parents wouldn't even know they were there.

I have called him the Master of Words - and it hasn't been until years later, that I realised how suitable that name was.

*

I sighed, leaving the station behind, lifting my gaze to look at the house. In my whole life, I couldn't recall seeing a mansion like that one; with its iron gates and sharp points of the fence seemingly just waiting for some angels to fall from the sky and get their wings and their hearts pierced through, it appeared to be so appropriate for a writer of horror novels that it almost seemed staged.

If this was a book, it would be such a cliché, I couldn't help thinking, taking the door knocker in my hand and sighing again before lifting and dropping it again.

Gripping the handle of my suitcase, as old and shabby as the house I was entering seemed to be, I licked my lips and tried my best to look presentable. Regardless of the house, and the fact he obviously didn't care of how the things around him looked, the owner of the house was the writer of half the novels I've taken with me as I left home, and it was next to impossible not to feel nervous.

What if he doesn't like me?

I shoved away the thought. I've replied to his advert, we've exchanged a couple of letters and I already got the job - so I didn't have to be so worried. Even if he didn't like my appearance, what matters would be the way I treat the child I was to take care of, and how much I can teach him.. I suppressed the urge to run my fingers through my hair, remembering I should keep it neat while it still agreed to stand as I put it.

What if I don't like him?

I cringed at the thought. I've seen men I didn't like before, but I never lived with one yet. And even so, one which wasn't even close to being my husband, yet I was to be almost like a mother to his son.. what if the boy doesn't like me?

"Miss Deveraux?"

I looked up, smiling automatically, meeting the eyes of an old man. He was just a bit shorter than myself, his hair mostly grey though showing traces of once being brown, his eyes watery blue. He was looking at me with his brow furrowed, mouth pressed into a serious, tight line under a nose resembling a potato. Nodding in reply to his question, I mentally kicked myself, curtsying a little, unsure of the customs they followed.

Thinking of people in the way I thought of my characters was never going to get me anywhere - I've been told that enough times, yet I couldn't help it, observing everyone I've met and almost imagining describing them on paper as I noticed their features. Sightly bigger nose and ears than it would be proportional, tidy appearance yet a visible tiny spot on the left on his lapel. Silver chain falling on the right of his chest, disappearing in a pocket of his waistcoat.

"Follow me," he said, and, with another sigh, I stepped inside.

*

A woman welcomed me - a woman in her fifties or so, with hair in a big bun on top of her head, whom I refused to observe in my usual way. She stood in the bottom of stairs, and I couldn't help but look up, to see the stairs parting in two directions, each new set of stairs ending with dark wooden door. The whole interior was lit only by outside light, sun coming through the numerous windows of different shapes and falling on dark carpets and heavy furniture.

"Ah, Miss Deveraux!" Her voice was warm, deeper than expected, and she sounded unexpectedly happy about me being there - as if we were some kind of old friends. "Welcome. It's a pleasure to finally see you in person."

For a second, I wanted to ask her to take me to the house's master, but then I noticed her dress, layered and made of dark plush which must've been at least as heavy as it was expensive, and I changed my mind.

"Are you Ms Fortescue?" I asked, and the woman nodded. "Mr Fortescue's.."

"Mother," she finished, taking my arm, leading me towards another door, softly knocking before opening them. "I will leave you alone now, and wait for you as you two finish your talking, to show you your room."

I didn't even have the time to nod before she turned and disappeared, closing the door behind me again.

Putting my suitcase down, my curiosity growing, I observed a massive desk across the room from me, covered in papers and quills, and a drawing in ink not yet dried, on top of a few pages filled with small letters.

"You are the governess, yes?"

I felt my lips curling into a smile, though his voice startled me. I turned to my left, my heart beating a bit faster than usually, finding a man glancing at me over a notebook he held in hand. Looking away from me, he closed the notebook and walked to the table, taking his seat and never offering me to sit down as well - not that there was another chair to sit into, though - and I took my time to observe him. He was fairly tall, or at least taller than me - which might have meant he was really of quite average height for a man his age - and he didn't look like he really cared for first impression at all. He was wearing a shirt and a waistcoat with a pocket watch on a chain, but didn't seem to have bothered to make himself particularly neat. I let my eyes slid from black curls to a few days old beard, just then realising I never answered his question.

"Governess, correct," I said, trying not to laugh. I've tried to imagine him before, as I read the words his hand wrote, but I've never imagined him like that. There was something almost charming in the way he didn't seem to care for inkstains on his fingers. Though you could as well look up at me, instead of staring at your papers while I'm talking. "I am Jaimé Deveraux, and--"

"I know who you are," he cut, looking up, seemingly just a bit more interested in me than he was in the door behind me. "Do you think you would be standing here if I didn't? I wouldn't give a job of looking after my son to any girl who walks by."

If it wasn't said in a manner which made me feel stupid - in other words, if it was directed at someone else and I was an observer - I would've laughed. Instead, I felt my cheeks blushing and looked down from his eyes.

"Of course, sir," I said. "I just saw it..proper, to introduce myself."

"Mm." I looked up again, finding him still observing, almost examining, me. "Welcome, then. You can start right away - my mother will show you your room, and you will find Victor in his. Dinner is in an hour, we will discuss the matter further then."

With that, I just knew the conversation was over; he turned attention to his papers again, a hint of a smile playing on his lips, and I bent to take my suitcase again.

"Leave that," he muttered, and this time I didn't turn to look at him. "Someone will take it to your room for you."

I stood up, and couldn't help but glance at him after all. "Thank you."

"An hour, miss Deveraux," came an answer, a moment before I closed the door behind me as I left him to his deeds.

***


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331 Reviews


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Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:07 am
Blackwood wrote a review...



Here is a review.

When I read this I get a feeling of frustration. Why? because I see the name Jamie at the top and I realize that I must sit through another excruciating introduction of a character.

In this section

I never forgot that smile. I never forgot it, regardless of everything that have happened, just as I always carried the memories of his stories. Of the way he'd smile, listening to my secrets, and how he'd wipe away my tears when my parents wouldn't even know they were there.

"regardless of everything that have happened" doesn't make ANY SENSE AT ALL YOU GOT IT WRONG. What you meant to write was "Regardless of everything that had happened."
Also the follow on, "just as I always carried the memories of his stories." does not flow well. You should simply end the sentence there. This bit could even be omitted but alternately rewritten.
I would rewrite this section as so:

I never forgot that smile, regardless of everything that had happened. Just as I always had carried the memories of his face, of his stories, I never forgot any of it. Of the way he'd smile, listen to my secrets. And how he'd wipe away my tears when my parents hadn't even noticed they were there.

also this bit
If it wasn't said in a manner which made me feel stupid - in other words, if it was directed at someone else and I was an observer - I would've laughed. Instead, I felt my cheeks blushing and looked down from his eyes.

This simply is. Im not sure how well it flows but it just is and will always be and it is and that is it.

Schadenfreude




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Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:52 pm
barefootrunner wrote a review...



Hi there! I'm back for another review :)

So my first big point is the tenses you use. You have the normal past, and then you use the present perfect (have done). Now, the present perfect can only be applied to present tense situations. All around it, you have the plain past tense. You therefore need to use the past perfect, which is applicable to past tense situations, like this one. So never "have done", always "had done".

My second point is that you have just gotten a couple of great plots and characters introduced, and now in your third chapter you do it again! In the other chapters, we were waiting for some plot advancement for the existing characters in the next chapter, but each time you cut it off and start afresh! While twice is okay, thrice is excessive, and you risk disinteresting your audience. Perhaps you could try going along with those two character sets, then introducing the third set later. Some novels introduce a third or fourth perspective halfway through the novel, and it really freshens it up when inserted there, so it works well.

Great character development and beautiful visuals! I'm getting to see everything in my mind, which tells me that you are using the "show-not-tell" technique to great effect! I like your style, though you have perhaps a little too little dialogue and too much introspection, but I think when you get further into the story and everything is set up, you can have more room for interaction.

Great job! I enjoy reading your work!

Keep the ink flowing :)

barefootrunner




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Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:46 pm
Caesar wrote a review...



But really though,

Blackwood does have a point. It's fine when a novel has a lot of characters, but that also makes things very hard to pull off. The Lain chapter was interesting. People would continue reading for him, but nope, another character. Personally I found the second chapter boring, but that's just me.

Okay then, there is another characters. Bravely, the readers forge on, but nope!

...there's another character. Okay then.


The point I'm trying to make is that if you do this constantly, the readers have to readjust their mindset constantly, and then they just stop caring about one or the other character, or perhaps ragequit (like Blackwood, for instance). As far as I can see, there isn't any remote connection between the characters, though I'm sure there will be. However, as an impatient reader, I'd like to see some form of connection now, not later. People put down a book if they have to wait until later, if the now isn't satisfying.


If this was a book, it would be such a cliché, I couldn't help thinking, taking the door knocker in my hand and sighing again before lifting and dropping it again.


oh and by the way, that doesn't make it any less cliche, it just makes it somewhat humorous. Still, I applaud your subtle leaning on the fourth wall... again.


Now, onto the chapter. I don't like how you abuse asterisks. You could just as easily start with what comes after, then mention what comes before. If you work it in, it seems more natural. It's already jarring enough, woman, there's no need to confuse me further. Here though, you have a second asterisk, and I think that's really really cheap. Describing her as she walked through the goddamn door wouldn't have been too hard, really. Come on.

At least you have more description in this chapter, I'll give you that. My main issue with it is that I do not see what relevance it has to what I've previously seen whatsoever, if not to introduce a new character, which you could have done from a previously seen character's POV.

Oh well. I'll wait and see.

As always, hope this helped
~Bro




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Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:58 am
Blackwood says...



No. Too long. Too many characters. Dude why can't you just stick to Lain. No review this time.




AriaAdams says...


Hahaha because Lain is only a spark in the flames, drop of water in the lake, a flower in the garden, a..eh.. So eloquent, ain't I? <.<




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