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Dreaming of You- 2. The Pink Cloak

by StellaThomas


It started with pink dresses and hair ribbons, then progressed to her shoes, her petticoats. The canopies on her bed were changed to magenta, as was the upholstery on her armchair, her window seat. The only threads in her sewing box were shades of pink.

She used pink roses, peonies and carnations in the bouquets she brought her father every Monday morning. While he was still finishing breakfast, she would run out, pick them and arrange them in a crystal vase on the very corner of his dark oak desk. He would walk into the room every Monday morning, sigh and say, “Oh, Aurelia.” Then he would shut the door.

“Why is Papa never happy anymore?” she asked Aunt Iseult once. They were having a picnic underneath a lone chestnut tree on a hill. The hamper was behind them, their legs stretched out in front and their eyes were on the doll’s house sized manor below.

“He really loved your mother,” Aunt Iseult explained. “So now that she’s gone, he doesn’t like the world very much. He still loves you though.”

“I never hear him say so,” Lia said. She continued to stare straight ahead towards the manor, listening to the birds. She could never hear Aunt Iseult’s thoughts, except when her aunt was asleep. Her dreams were full of tears.

“Lia, I think we should talk about your Hearing.” Iseult gently tugged on her niece’s hands, turning Lia so they sat facing each other. They both crossed their legs under their skirts, their knees just touching. “What do you know about it?”

“I know Mama said it was a gift.”

“It is a gift. But some people are very jealous of gifts. You see, gifts only go to those with fairy blood. My grandmother, your great grandmother, was a fairy. So we have a little bit of fairy inside us. Some people hate fairies, and some people don’t mind fairies but hate people who have fairy blood. Your gift might make them very uneasy. Do you know what it is exactly that you Hear?”

Lia chewed the inside of her cheek for a second. “I can hear everything in the manor, or any space about as big as a manor. And I can hear people thinking. But usually only if their thoughts are very loud. Or if I’m listening very closely.”

“And some people don’t like the idea that somebody other than them can hear their thoughts. They might want to hurt you, or even kill you. Which is why you have to keep your Hearing a secret. Do you understand me?”

Lia nodded. “I’ll try.”

She kept that. She never pointed out when someone was lying because she could Hear the truth. She tried not to listen to people’s secret thoughts too much, in case they would discover that she knew the secret and be angry. Whenever there were other people in the room, she always talked out loud and listened carefully to what they were saying with their mouths and not their minds.

As Lia got better at secret keeping, so Aunt Iseult adjusted her education. She had a riding master, a drawing tutor, a lady to teach her the pianoforte. A schoolmistress came from the village two afternoons a week to teach her history and geography and mathematics. Aunt Iseult brought Lia down to the dressmaker with her so that she could be measured for new gowns in magenta and coral, with rosebuds sewn onto the hems. Aunt Iseult instructed her how to act at a tea party, how to use every knife and fork laid out at dinner- and how to keep quiet about her gift.

“Do you have a gift?” she asked once while Iseult was doing a complicated braid in her hair.

“I used to,” Aunt Iseult said. Lia couldn’t hear her sadness, but she could see it, around Iseult’s eyes and in the way her hands stayed at her task. “I gave it away.”

“Why?”

“Love.”

Aunt Iseult turned her face to the floor and said nothing more.

---

After a few years nearly everything Lia owned was pink, the carpet of her bedroom, her horse’s reins. A few things had to stay the colour they always were, her saddle, her stockings, her winter cloak. No matter how much she begged her father refused on these matters.

“You’ve made her brain soft,” Lia heard him say to Iseult one day.

“Better a soft brain than a hard heart,” Iseult replied.

“What a pity you have both,” he said.

Her seventeenth birthday was approaching. At seventeen, she would enter society. Aunt Iseult was confident Lia could pass as ungifted. She could be betrothed, married, bear children. Lia was not so sure, but she knew that her entire life had been geared towards this moment- the moment she became useful to her family.

There was a party, a whirlwind of colours and cousins, cutlery and curtseys and Lia didn’t remember names or titles. She was anxious and couldn’t block out the thoughts, strangers’ secrets she never wanted to know. The thoughts came thick and fast from the crowd and Lia had to go out into the crisp evening. There was fairy music in the woods, eerie and melancholy, painfully beautiful. She couldn’t hear fairy thoughts. Perhaps she could enter their society instead, a place where there was only music.

“Lia,” Iseult whispered from a different set of doors. She wasn’t allowed to go to the party at all. She was grinning. “Come here, I have a gift.”

In the cold, dark dining room, she handed Lia a parcel of tissue paper. It crinkled in Lia’s fingers as she unwound its contents. It was a winter cloak, feather soft and clean, folded up neatly, the colour of the dawn.


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328 Reviews


Points: 99
Reviews: 328

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Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:32 pm
LadySpark wrote a review...



Hi love! I've been meaning to review this since you posted, but alas life has gotten in the way and until now, I've been unable too. Anyway.

then progressed to her shoes, her petticoats.

Little wordy for my taste. Try "Then progressed to her shoes and petticoats."

The canopies on her bed were changed to magenta, as was the upholstery on her armchair, and her window seat.

Again, a little wordy. Maybe try something like "The colors of her canopy on her bed, the upholstery of her arm chair and window seat were changed to Magenta." or something to that effect.

She used pink roses, peonies and carnations in the bouquets she brought her father every Monday morning. While he was still finishing breakfast, she would run out, pick them and arrange them in a crystal vase on the very corner of his dark oak desk. He would walk into the room and every Monday morning, sigh say, “Oh, Aurelia.” Then he would shut the door.

Aw <3

The hamper was behind them, their legs stretched out in front and their eyes were on the doll’s house sized manor below.


Her dreams were full of tears.

I pulled this line out because 1. D: and 2. It really shows that Lia is still a child in this scene. She's blunt and honest. The child-like innocence really spoke to me in this one line, in particular.

She kept that.

Kept what?

As Lia got better at secret keeping, so Aunt Iseult adjusted her education.


She had a riding master, a drawing tutor, and a lady to teach her the pianoforte.


A schoolmistress came from the village two afternoons a week to teach her history, and geography, and mathematics.


Aunt Iseult took Lia down to the dressmaker with her so that she could be measured for new gowns in magenta and coral, with rosebuds sewn onto the hems.


Aunt Iseult instructed her how to act at a tea party, how to use every knife and fork laid out at dinner- and how to keep quiet about her gift.

I thought it was established that she had learned how on her own?

After a few years nearly everything Lia owned was pink, from the carpet of her bedroom, her horse’s reins.


“What a pity you have both,” he said.

Burrnnnn.

It was a winter cloak, feather soft and clean, folded up neatly, the colour of the dawn.

I like how this whole time you've been talking about the color pink, you never pulled the color of dawn into it, so this was a breath of fresh air. I loved this ending.


Anyway, besides all these nitpicks, I'm loving the story you're creating. I wish you'd build on Inslet's character a bit more. Thus far, I haven't seen where she has a hard heart, and I'd really like to see that side of her in the future. And I hope you build on Lia's character more. Right now, all we really know about her is that she likes the color pink, but we don't know why. I also really liked when she wanted to go join the fairies. Perhaps a possible plot twist in the future?

Anyway, off to review the next one. Adios!

Sparkles




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Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:41 pm
EloquentDragon wrote a review...



No one has reviewed yet? Well in that case I will.

This section, I felt, was much weaker than your first one. Nitpicks below.

Spoiler! :
They were having a picnic underneath a lone chestnut tree on a hill. The hamper was behind them, their legs stretched out in front and their eyes were on the doll’s house sized manor below.


This is a bit awkwardly phrased, and the sentence runs-on. Try to clarify so that it's not distracting.

“He really loved your mother,” Aunt Iseult explained. “So now that she’s gone, he doesn’t like the world very much. He still loves you though.”

“I never hear him say so,” Lia said.


I would suggst trying to establish more sympathy for her father. What emotions could you use to portray that? There's also a lot of telling going on in this conversation. Like I said, emotion and imagery can free this from the dead space on the page.

“Lia, I think we should talk about your Hearing.”


This transition is too sudden. There should be something leading up to it, otherwise it seems rather, well... random.

“It is a gift... Do you know what it is exactly that you Hear?”


Aunt Isuelt has a very odd, clipped way of speaking. If this is her character, then nevermind. If not, try to restructure the phrasing so things flow more smoothly.

She kept that.


"secret" on the end there, I believe.

As Lia got better at secret keeping, so Aunt Iseult adjusted her education.


Two things here: 1. Try to avoid dead verbs. Such as "got, had, was," etc. It weakens the strength of the action.
"Became more skilled" might work better than "got better," or something more specific like that.
2. Aunt Iseult "adjusted her education?" According to what? Most people's educations are adjusted at some point anyway.

a lady to teach her the pianoforte.


I understand you're trying to be clever here, instead of just saying "she learned piano." However, as a pianist, I can tell you that "pianoforte" does not exist. There's pp, mp, p, f, mf and ff... but no pf. Maybe you meant "the piano and forte.

“What a pity you have both,” he said.


Sounds like he's referring to both his daughter and sister-in-law. Maybe try: "Pity that you have both." or "such" or... I don't know...


Overall, I realise that you're trying to stay under the 1k limit (or so I assume) however, this seems to be at the expense of good story-telling sense. There's a lot of telling going on, especially in regards to her Hearing. The sudden entrance of fairies, is well, sudden. Try to retain reader believability, everything needs to fit into an exact place.

Maybe part of the problem is that you have to much going on. Make a list of the scenes you have. Here is my suggestions: Cut everything except--
1. One scene with her mother. (Establish back-story and reader connection here)
2. Maybe one after her mother dies, when Iseult comes to stay. I would suggest underplaying this event though, and have her "simply there" one day.
3. One scene with Iseult. Be brutul and choosy here.
4. The party scene
Then for all the transitioning... go for even more vague and broad. You can't afford to waste time on unimportant details because...

This story is taking place when she's 17, if I'm not incorrect. Which means that everything up to that point is backstory. I'm sure you've heard the advice to never start something out with backstory ("Will was born in 1967 to parents who...") but since this is a short, I think you can get away with it. However, that being said, you need to eliminate anything and everything that detracts from the main story and slows things down. Why? Because then you free up word space. Then you can use the scenes that you do have to portray imagery and description.

That's my opinion, anyway. Sometimes it pays to be conscise. Although you do have a lot of characterization and set up. Maybe you should just try and downsize, instead of ruthlessly cutting all away except the bare bones.

Hope this could help
~ED





Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
— Mark Twain