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LoaMR: Ch. III: Claire 1 (Reworked)

by MailicedeNamedy


What has happened so far: Emma Malven tells her friend Claire about her experiences during the summer holidays when she travelled to her grandfather in Sehlingen. She met a young man named Léonard de Waarfay who claims to want to solve a murder that happened over 50 years ago. But Emma doesn't realise that Léonard has many secrets, and that the clear-up is just an excuse to be found by someone...?

In this chapter we take a look at Claire and what her life is like until Léonard shows up.

***

Claire shivered.

Emma had reached the end of the story. Early evening greeted Regenschloss, the sun said goodbye behind the slender mountains on the horizon.

Two young women were sitting on a bench. The city lay before them. With their eyes turned towards the valley, they could not see the entire town. The people were no longer tiny as ants, they grew to chicks. Smoke rose from a factory chimney and drifted through the blue sky like a painter's watery brushstroke. Everything in Regenschloss ran in an orderly fashion. As long as people went about their business, nothing could go wrong.

Emma had managed to say what she had wanted to say since her arrival in Regenschloss. Now she wanted to see Claire's expression. After all that had happened, this mysterious Léonard de Waarfay was coming to Regenschloss. Claire was by no means superstitious. However, the words of her aunt came to her mind, who claimed that there were people who always brought problems with them.

Is Léonard one of those?

Since the listener did not lose a word, the narrator felt compelled to breathe new life into the conversation.

"What would you have done in my place?" Emma wanted to know.

Claire continued to be silent. She was in the centre of her mind. She felt how she had been there, facing Léonard and witnessing being arrested with him in the mill. She planted the adventure in her memory too much.

"You've been through a lot," she replied coldly.

"I can understand that. If I were you, I'd be speechless too. “

"It's not that. I'm surprised how quickly you were able to make friends with this stranger. He´s wanted for murder. “

Emma said nothing.

"How does he want to come? And why? It's not just because of you, is it?"

"I don't know. It must have something to do with his search."

"With your great-grandfather's murderer?"

"There is more to it than this murder. It has more to do with himself than anyone else. And these nameless people," Emma concluded.

Claire sighed.

"You got yourself into something nice there."

"What do you mean?"

"What do you do when he shows up on your doorstep? Let him spend the night at your place? What will your mother say?"

Emma laughed. She imagined her mother raving about Léonard.

"I'm sure he'll find a place for himself. In the attic if need be, or in a corner in the textile factory. “

Claire suppressed a chuckle.

"Who knows. I can't wait to see if you get in trouble. “

"Don't pretend! I can see the gloating up to your ears."

"It's not gloating. It's anticipation," she objected, "What's in store for you?"

"Nothing at all, " Emma pouted, "Everything will be fine."

She did not believe her own words.

"Shall we go? I'm cold," Emma said.

"I´ve been for a while..." Claire murmured.

***

Claire Silberlilie was a lonely person.

It was probably because she did not dare to go forward but clung to the past. Lost in a forest, she preferred to get lost forever rather than march to the campfire with the others.

Claire lived with her aunt. Waltraud Silberlilie was the older sister of Benedikt, her father. Of three children, Claire was the youngest. Her sister Giselle, three years older, and her brother Bolderich, two years older, no longer lived with her. Giselle moved to Berschlandt after her marriage and Bolderich to a big city to find work. There had not been in Regenschloss for a long time.

Claire had always had a good relationship with her sister, she was the only one who understood and helped her in her seclusion. Her brother was just there. He did what he liked, forgetting everything around him. Since they both no longer lived in Regenschloss, Claire felt as if she had been alone since birth. Her memories were clouded, the beautiful moments faded. Her brain revealed to her the lonely moments, the bad and sad experiences that tormented Claire.

Aunt Waltraud was not a mother. Nor was she ever going to be one. It was like a hotel, a cold old hotel, where Claire existed. Waltraud took care of the food and that was it. The two siblings once took care of the laundry and made sure that everything in the house was clean. Waltraud had spent little time with her nieces and nephew. She was rarely at the table, she had enough to do with her restaurant, which she ran in the town centre.

Their father lived and worked abroad. His methods of getting his children on the right path were one-page letters with words that Claire saw as orders and carried out. He had left Regenschloss when she was a toddler. Since then, it was these letters that reminded her of her father. He rarely visited them, the last time three years ago.

Claire didn't know whether she should be happy. To her, her father was a stranger. They did not resemble each other at all, he was the strong, big man she was afraid of and did everything he commanded. He was the hand she wanted to grasp and which he did not show.

Now, for her eighteenth birthday, he was to come to Regenschloss for a few days. Giselle also wanted to be there. He had announced himself in his last letter. When she had read the lines, she was stunned. Claire had no idea what to expect.

***

In order to have at least a little contact with the outside world, Claire helped her aunt out in the restaurant by working in the kitchen. Claire had already resigned herself to starting her future as a cook. Too afraid of everything she didn't know, she clung to her aunt now, in these weeks and months before the upheaval from childhood.

Claire thought she was drowning, sinking, and suffocating in her moods. She was afraid of these moments, these nights when she thought she was alone. Her only friend, Emma, did not know the many hours where she lay there racking her brain for what to do. Claire was a very broken person inside. She had not managed to build a fatherly love; she had not managed to meet the first person in her life.

After the death of her mother, who died as a result of giving birth, Benedikt fell into a depression. He was placed on compulsory leave and had to undergo treatment. He was in a sanatorium for several months before spending a year in Regenschloss with his children before going back to work.

After this time, the house fell into a deep sleep, this big, dark house where Claire grew up. Life was hard, she tried to emulate her sister, who had quite different strengths from her. A lot had changed in that house. Loneliness was neither good nor bad for her. It was omnipresent.

***

That smell of cherry wood was everywhere as soon as Claire closed the front door behind her. She was too rarely worried about others. Emma's story had made her jump onto another branch. Léonard was actually coming. Was it anticipation she felt, or worry? She almost wished she could get into trouble. Immediately she killed that thought. Why did she want that?

It wasn't right to react like that. He was a strange man. Emma could also have been lying, Claire thought, maybe she just wanted to show off that she had experienced more than her?

She knew very well that Emma was not like that. Too rarely did she invent a lie. Unlike her, Emma didn't have to imagine any friends.

Claire stayed behind the door and closed her eyes. She immediately went to the bathroom after she realised what just had happened. Claire knew, that she was alone and started to mix every kind of soap they had into the hot water of the tube.

Auntie isn´t at home.

She slept during the morning to check on her restaurant and taste the sauces for the rest of the day. This explained her chubby appearance.

Claire was by no means chubby. She saw it whenever she put her clothes off and looks at the mirror. She detested her body.

She was too slender. An imperceptible chest, long limbs, young hands, and feet that she was convinced were too big complemented her almost hunched posture. She had the impression of being too small most of the time, almost like a bug, although in a straight posture she could even see over Emma by a few inches. She felt too big, like a giant, when standing next to her or Waltraud. She didn't want that.

The downy hairs on her arms shone in the sunshine like spider webs in the morning dew. There was a silvery sheen that wrapped around them like a cocoon. A white, untouched purity shone all over her skin. Secretly, aunt Waltraud envied her for it.

Claire pulled her hair to feel something. She had dark, platinum blonde hair. Sometimes it looked to her like a dirty metal that started to rust.

It´s ugly.

It reached her chest and was gently wavy. Her perfect face corresponded to an inexistent ideal of beauty. One could have done a lot with her if she had not been so shy of people. The fine, almost deathly pale skin transformed her into a drowned being. The narrow eyebrows and short eyelashes complemented the dark, sea-blue irises. Emma often had to be wary of their cold stares. She often used them to show her indifference and disinterest in front of other people, which was why Auntie didn't like her helping out customers in the restaurant.

The bright, pale pink lips and small mouth gave the tiny nose a beautiful if bizarre, doll-like undertone.

Claire was a puppet, or rather a marionette, controlled by everyone but herself. She felt strange in her body; if she touched her legs with her hands, she felt nothing. She pulled herself into a corner like a cat as soon as someone touched her and wanted to retreat into a cave. It was an emotion she could not describe as such. And yet she believed that those around her felt the same way. Secretly, she wished it.

Just before she got cold, she went into the water.

To the next part: Chapter III.2.


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Thu Sep 09, 2021 9:18 am
ForeverYoung299 wrote a review...



Hey Mailice! Forever here with a review!

This chapter actually makes Claire a more important character than I thought. It was quite good to see the whole thing from a new perspective. I somehow feel that I mistook the character of Claire in the previous chapter. I don't know if that is only me but I thought I should tell you and thus I did.

Now Emma is being a bit too optimistic, I think. She trusts Leonard. That is quite a good point and well, Leonard is not a bad person. We know that. However, you mentioned that Emma thinks she has grown up. I thought she has actually grown up a bit but now I think that is only her fantasy thought. If she had grown up, she should have realized that dangers can come from other sides too- perhaps from Leonard's enemy. Moreover, I don't think it was a very great step on her side to tell Claire that Leonard will come to Regenschloss. People can be out there to spy on them and from this discussion they can easily know about Leonard.

Talking about Claire, her past intrigues me a lot and I wonder if there can be any sort of relation between Claire and Leonard except through Emma. Claire has many relatives and maybe there is a relation between Leonard and one of his relatives. This part quite clearly describes how lonely Claire feels in midst of people. I assume that she is an introvert and as long as I know, extreme introverts have one or two people in life whom they consider their own. They can only reveal themselves to those specific people and in case of Claire, the person seems to be her sister. Soon she will be celebrating her eighteenth birthday( I kind of got it right about their age, I guess).Her sister and her father will be there. Then we can explore their personalities in a better manner. Her dad doesn't seem to be a great person.

I like how you proved the similarity between Claire and Martha. Both love books. It was a good way of justifying Emma's point of view. :D

Keep Writing!!

~Forever






I really enjoyed reading your theory! Thanks again! :D



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Sun Sep 05, 2021 10:50 am
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey Mailice!

RandomTalks here with a short review!

I really liked this chapter and the different voice it has brought into the story. I feel like this was the better introductory chapter for Claire than the one we got in chapter 2. This one gives us a real look into the character and helps us understand who she is as a person.

I will not go into the descriptions and settings, because unlike you who manages to make each scene as widely different from the other as possible, I am sure that 'I' will sound repetitive if I continue to sing about the brilliance of your descriptions in every review!

I feel that Claire is really different from the other characters we have met so far. She is similar to Emma in the sense that they both lead protected lives that's been written by everyone else other than them. However, while Emma is tired of this, I think Claire takes comfort in this routine and structure all the while longing for something different. She is wary of change, and yet she does not like her life the way it is. This contradiction really brings out her character and gives her a rather different personality than Emma or Martha.

I remember once Emma had pointed out that Martha and Claire were almost like the same person. I think I can understand why she thinks that, because to her both Claire and Martha represent the voice of reason. They are both quiet and sensible but I think that is where I personally would draw the line of their similarities. This is just her first chapter and I already think I know more about Claire than I do about Martha. I think this is because Claire has this depth about her, this contradiction of inner thoughts and feelings that makes her a more unique character that interest the readers unlike Martha, who despite her quiet intelligence and sense, feels more of a side character at times. Claire feels like she is her own character and I really like this point.

I also like the way she scrutinizes people and their intentions. She is more doubtful and careful about people than Martha and I think this is because she has never let anyone in. Marth is the only person she calls her friend and yet she is quick to wonder if she was lying about the whole Leonard thing. I think that part really brought out some aspect of her character. Martha warns Emma about Leonard whereas Claire simply points out her mistake in trusting Leonard so easily. I really like these differences you have brought out in all the characters.

I think you have portrayed her loneliness very brilliantly, by using the metaphor of 'hotel'. She has never known a home or family. Her own father is a stranger to her and I doubt she has a very open relationship with her siblings either. She is alone in every sense of the word, and I think this is where we can draw connections to her trust issues, her insecurity and her general wariness about people.

Overall, this was a really great introductory chapter. I look forward to reading the next parts!




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Wed Aug 25, 2021 2:25 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi Mailice! Lim here with a slightly rambly review. This chapter is a lot more introspective and monologue-esque compared to other chapters. I think it does give a nice change of pace. I like that Claire was introduced in a more ‘typical’ scene with Emma for this story and then we shift to a slightly different style hearing about her backstory and her inner thoughts.

Characters

"You've been through a lot," she replied coldly.


"It's not that. I'm surprised how quickly you were able to make friends with this stranger. He´s wanted for murder. “


I was surprised at first, hearing this from Claire. But I like that it contrasts her character with Emma’s and voices some of the thoughts I’ve been having about how Emma has been behaving so far.

"What do you do when he shows up on your doorstep? Let him spend the night at your place? What will your mother say?"


I like that Claire phrases these ‘what-if’ scenarios as questions – and asks so many of them too. She seems way more suspicious of Léonard than Martha or Emma, which gives me the impression that she’s a more down-to-earth character.

"It's not gloating. It's anticipation," she objected, "What's in store for you?"


I just love this line so much! It’s ominous and snappy and the pacing just seems to natural, with the speech tag inserted where it is.

I remember a line from a previous chapter where Emma said Martha and Claire were similar. Does that foreshadow anything, I wonder? I do see some differences in their characterisation, for instance Claire seems to be more brooding than Martha, and also insecure with that scene of her looking in the mirror. Perhaps Emma doesn’t know her friends as well as she thinks?

She almost wished she could get into trouble. Immediately she killed that thought. Why did she want that?


Ah, but perhaps Claire also does want to be more like Emma and Martha? The lines about “carrying out orders” and her home life make her seem more restricted than those two at the present, but maybe that will soon change.

Plot

Not too much happens in terms of plot here, but I think that’s a nice cooldown from the previous chapters. Claire’s father coming to Regenschloss is the only ‘event’ that’s mentioned. I wonder if he will play a role in the situation with Léonard?

Setting

Everything in Regenschloss ran in an orderly fashion. As long as people went about their business, nothing could go wrong.


I like the description of Regenschloss here. It does set a sort of picturesque mood, like a new start since the focal point left Sehlingen. I like how the description of smoke as painting-like emphasises that Regenschloss is “orderly”, as everything in a painting is by nature ‘placed’ there, usually with a plan.

Giselle moved to Berschlandt after her marriage and Bolderich to a big city to find work. There had not been in Regenschloss for a long time.


It’s also interesting that despite the scenic landscape, Regenschloss seems to have an unemployment problem. Whereas Emma seems to see Regenschloss as an idealised place of respite, Claire’s life doesn’t seem too happy here.

Style

Since the listener did not lose a word, the narrator felt compelled to breathe new life into the conversation.


I’m not very sure about using ‘lose’ here in this context? Maybe ‘say’ a word would be better?

It was probably because she did not dare to go forward but clung to the past. Lost in a forest, she preferred to get lost forever rather than march to the campfire with the others.


I thought it was interesting that the second half had no dialogue and seemed to take place mostly in Claire’s mind. I’m guessing an omniscient narrator wouldn’t use “probably” here, since they’d know Claire’s thoughts for certain, so this quote felt more like either Claire’s inner thoughts being bled into the description or a third person narrator who’s not omniscient. Either way, I liked the image of the forest and the campfire – it seemed fitting here.

The description of Claire’s household as a “hotel” was really poignant, I thought. Just that one word conveys the impermanence and the lack of a sense of family or security. I did find it a bit hard to keep track of all the names introduced in that one paragraph, though.

That's all

Hopefully some of these comments are helpful to you. Keep writing! <3

Cheers,
-Lim






Thank you for your review, Lim! :D



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Tue Jun 22, 2021 1:44 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Ooh. This chapter was really great. I loved all the time you spent with Claire and how well you developed her character. The last section especially really helped drive it all home. I think you posit a very interesting and complex character with Claire, and I'm really curious to see what greater role she's going to play in the grand scheme of your story.

One thing I really enjoyed about this chapter is how good you are with variety. I think it's something you do in every section really well, but it was especially exemplary in this one. I love the way you contrast paragraph lengths, where you'll alternate between very short ones and very long ones. This really helps your writing voice a lot, and it makes it super unique and impressive. Again, I'm gonna reference the last part in this, because I think that's where it's most noticeable. It's very cinematic in a way; I love love love all of your stunning visuals. I think the line about how Claire was a puppet controlled by everyone but herself was especially striking, especially combined with the line before where it compared her face to that of a doll's.

One thing I wondered about was the effectiveness of making the previous chapter sections Emma telling the story. If I'm being honest, I had forgotten that whole bit of the story, which made it especially jarring to read this. I had to get oriented a little. I was curious as to why you formatted the story that way. I don't really see any explicit benefits for formatting it that way, and reading this section made me wonder if perhaps it might flow a bit better if you just told it in real time and then had Emma tell it to Claire but don't go as in depth, and merely state that she told her all the events. I think that might be a little clearer on the reader. However, it could also be the format I'm reading it in, too. I think that having it broken up like this might contribute to the feeling of disconnect as well, so maybe if I read it all as one it would be better.

Specifics

Early evening greeted Regenschloss, the sun said goodbye behind the slender mountains on the horizon.


As gorgeous and imagery-full this line is, it is technically a comma splice. I think this would be an easy fix if you just made "said" into "saying."

The downy hairs on her arms shone in the sunshine like spider webs in the morning dew. There was a silvery sheen that wrapped around them like a cocoon. A white, untouched purity shone all over her skin. Secretly, aunt Waltraud envied her for it.


I absolutely adore this paragraph. I could perfectly envision everything you said, and it was just absolutely impeccable.

Overall: really nice work! I think your character building for Claire was really amazing and will probably be quite important later on. It was a complete joy to read, and I really cannot wait to read the next part!! Until next time!




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Wed Jun 16, 2021 7:07 pm
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ArctiWolf wrote a review...



So overall your story was filled with emotion, and you conveyed your points well. All I found were some very minor grammar mistakes.

#1
"There had not been in Regenschloss for a long time."

Now maybe you did this on purpose but I think you would want to use 'They' instead of 'There'.

#2
"He rarely visited them, the last time three years ago."

The last part of the sentence feels a little broken, you can easily correct this by putting 'was' between 'time' and 'three'.

#3
That smell of cherry wood was everywhere as soon as Claire closed the front door behind her.

All I would do is change 'That' to 'The'.

#4
She saw it whenever she put her clothes off and looks at the mirror.

We all do it sometimes but this sentence is past tense so 'looks' should be changed to 'looked'. You could also reword the sentence for more clarity (She saw it whenever she took off her clothes and looked at the mirror.)

#5
Sometimes it looked to her like a dirty metal that started to rust.
If your referencing 'a dirty metal' as in a medallion then add 'had' after 'that'

Overall good piece, I enjoyed it thoroughly. These I only found because I was nitpicking. You have good unity overall and I think it conveys what you were trying to accomplish. A cold empty feeling of loneliness. So good job, and happy writing!






Thank you for your review, ArctiWolf and for pointing some mistakes out!




Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.
— Lemony Snicket