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Dreaming of You- 1. Aunt Iseult

by StellaThomas


It was Lia’s Aunt Iseult who bought her the pink cloak.

When she was little, Lia never really saw the attraction of the colour pink. Other little girls from neighbouring aristocratic families, the servants’ children and daughters of merchants in the village would all wear pink. They would pluck pink flowers from gardens to put in their hair. They used pink ribbons tying up their braids, their aprons, their shoes. Lia’s mother would try and encourage Lia to do the same, but she wasn’t convinced. She preferred purple and blue and dark colours like her mother wore. While other little girls traipsed after the travelling fairies, hoping for a glint of pixie dust abandoned on the road, Lia would take off her shoes and socks and go paddling. She would search for tadpoles, smearing her face and long brown hair with greenish mud, listening to the world around her.

Her mother's smooth laugh would ring out and Lady Dewmont would take her daughter in her arms. She would clean Lia up, kiss her head and say, “Oh, Lia, why can’t you be like other little girls?” But Lia could hear her beneath the words, knew her mother was really telling her that she loved her.

One day, she asked her mother what was so special about pink.

“Pink is the colour of new life. It’s the colour of blossom, and new babies’ skin, and the sun rising. People think white is the opposite of black, and black is death and sadness. But white is so sombre. White is the colour of ill skin, of bones. We wear black to mourn. But I think that little girls have a right to wear pink. You are new life, and some day, you will bring new life into this world. That deserves to be celebrated.”

“But you don’t wear pink.”

“I’m not new life anymore, am I?” she said, ruffling Lia’s hair and laughing, the sound running over Lia like silk. She inhaled her mother, the honeysuckle perfume off her black hair and the smell of soap on her weathered skin.

When her mother clutched her head and fell to the ground dead one day when Lia was ten, Lia was told to wear black for six weeks. She did so, watching her mother’s black-and-white body be lowered into the ground, new earth spilt onto the box.

Her name was whispered around the manor, “What are they going to do about Aurelia?” bandied between servants. “My lady never once used a nurse maid or a governess. It would be wrong to introduce one now.”

“They say the child can Hear. That's why she never let anybody go near her.”

She heard her name used by raised voices in her father’s office. Her father, usually so quiet and reserved, was angry all the time now. “I will not have that woman raising my daughter!”

“Sir, under the circumstances-“

“No, absolutely not!”

“Then who else?”

Sitting on the windowseat of her bedroom, looking out at the blossom trees shedding their petals in a pinkish snow, Lia heard her father lose the battle downstairs.

Aunt Iseult came to the door on foot, wearing boots and a straw hat, her black hair in a single long braid down to her hips.

It was pouring with rain that night. Lia hugged her knees and listened as Aunt Iseult and her father fought.

“Bertrand, believe me, I’d much rather not be here, but I am. My father believes that Lia needs a female influence in her life and I quite agree, and since my sister is gone…”

“I’m just afraid she’s going to get too much of a female influence from you.”

“Oh, as if you understand anything about women! Or love. That sort of thing can’t be influenced. Aurelia needs me in her life. What other option do you have?”

"I'll hire a woman."

"A woman who won't panic when she discovers that your daughter Hears everything in this house?"

Her father was struck dumb, and after a second of pacing, stormed out of the room. Lia could hear the door slam with her ordinary ears.

The next day, Aunt Iseult came into her bedroom, her hair still in one long braid. “Hello, Lia. I’m your Aunt Iseult. Your mother was my sister. But she was twelve years older than me. I’m only ten years older than you. Which makes you a bit like my sister, right? Look, we even have the same eyes.” She pointed at her own bright green eyes.

Lia nodded, curling up into a slightly tighter ball under the sheets. Her aunt was not wearing black, she was wearing a dress striped with peppermint and white. “The thing is, I don't have a little girl of my own of whom I could take care. So I was wondering, do you think I could help take care of you?” Aunt Iseult continued.

Lia nodded again. She really did think so, anything was better than the housekeeper who kept scolding Lia for not crying about her mother and boxing her about the ears whenever Lia was trying to listen.

“Good," Aunt Iseult said. "I promise we're going to be friends. What's the first thing I can do for you?" Her bright lips split into a smile and Lia saw all the possibilities of the world in front of her, a world where she didn't have to wear black and mourn, where she could do whatever she liked.

Lia opened her mouth very slightly. “Could you buy me a pink dress?”

Iseult’s frown only lasted a fraction of a second. Then her face smoothed, and Lia saw her mother's face hiding underneath Iseult's. “My dear, every pink thing you have ever wanted, I promise you will have."


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178 Reviews


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Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:36 am
Paracosm wrote a review...



Hey Stella! You are off to an awesome start. When you are writing a serial, your beginning has to raise interesting questions, you've got that handled here. I will definitely be reading the next entry. Developing dedicated readers is largely based on those first three entries, so we'll see if you keep this going!

I love the way you use colors in this story. Black is death and mourning, white is bones and sickness, and pink is new life, sunrises, and beginnings. I can tell color is going to play an important role in your story.

I enjoy the characterization of Lia's mother, aunt, and Lia herself. I especially love how you used color as part of their characterization. Lia is pink, but not from the start. And Iseult is going to make her pink overtime, I suspect. Aunt Iseult is pink. Lia's mother isn't designated a color, but I suspect she is white.

I wish I knew more about her father. We know he is quiet and reserved, but when Iseult is brought up he is agitated. We aren't sure why, which is great, because that raises a question we want an answer to! We know he cares about his daughter. However, that's all we really get of him. You might flesh him out over later chapters, though. If that's the case, then he's fine for now, but you might want to take a look at him and see where he is as far as character development goes.

There's so much awesome stuff going on so far! This is a perfect beginning, and I look forward to reading more. I want to know what Lia can Hear, and I want to know why people who can are feared, and I like Aunt Iseult! Awesome job, and keep after it! (You already have, but you know what I mean.)




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Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:37 pm
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herbgirl wrote a review...



I love this "beginning"!
I like how you were descriptive. I liked how you explained the importance of pink in this story. I have a feeling it will be relevant.
The characters, I think, are great. I love Aunt Iseult. Great name, great personality.
I really didn't see anything wrong here. It was a great read. Can't wait to see more!
herby




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Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:54 am
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EloquentDragon wrote a review...



Hey Stella, ED here!

Normally I don't do romance... but since it's you I made an exception. ;)

colour pink.


This isn't part of the review, but just an interesting aside. After reading stuff from over there in the UK, and finally getting acclimated to the spelling changes, I get stuck in that mode and then try to type that in on Word when I write. Needless to say, Word doesn't like me very much xD

Now then:
Other little girls from neighbouring aristocratic families,


This sort of jarred me out of the middle of things here. You start out with a sort of "beautiful simplicity," and then suddenly we get a social commentary and "traipsing." Some might be impressed by the vocabulary, but I think the diction would be much stronger if you removed nuances like these altogether, or at least try and bury them stylistically. The authorial presence is breaking in here, and I find it intrusive.

She would clean Lia up,


Now, while I just suggested you cut back on "more educated" expressions, here I think might be a bit too simple. Or at least oddly phrased. Something just seemed to disrupt the flow, but I can't say what exactly.

She inhaled her mother,


I have heard this cliché, many, many times before. And it still sounds awkward to me. You might leave it in there, but I would challenge you to come up with a fresher expression.

When her mother clutched her head and fell to the ground dead one day when Lia was ten, Lia was told to wear black for six weeks.


Huh? At first I thought the mother was clutching Lia's head here, heh. I think that you're trying to go with understatement here for dramatic effect. (Which is great, I think) However, this probably should be clarified some.

“They say the child can Hear.


I'm surmising that this is where the "fantasy" element comes in, no? As such, maybe try and give it more distinction. Not only is only capitalizing "Hear" to do so basically ineffective, it's also grammatically incorrect. Try: "They say the child can 'hear," or even "They say the child can 'hear."

Her father, usually so quiet and reserved, was angry all the time now.


"Your prose, usually so vivid and image-filled, slips into "telling" here." I find this rather weak. Is there a different way of putting this whereby you can better show us how he's angry instead of stating it like this? Now I don’t mean, by any means, to kill that oblique distance that you’ve chosen for the mood of this piece. Just try and pick more evocative terms (and I mean that in a good way.)

Lia heard her father lose the battle downstairs.

Aunt Iseult came to the door on foot, wearing boots and a straw hat,


Uh… I get that you’re trying to be vague here. Still, I think this could do with a better (smoother) transition.

“I’m just afraid she’s going to get too much of a female influence from you.”

“Oh, as if you understand anything about women! Or love. That sort of thing can’t be influenced. Aurelia needs me in her life. What other option do you have?”


You know, I don’t know if the sarcasm portrayed here really fits the time setting you’ve chosen. It sounds much, much too modern. (I’m thinking it should be more Mary-Poppin-esque here, perhaps a bit condescending but still with a level of poise.)

who kept scolding Lia for not crying about her mother and boxing her about the ears whenever Lia was trying to listen.


This needs revision. As is it sounds like you made a mistake and meant to say “for continuing to cry about her mother,” even though I know you meant the opposite. Just maybe make things a bit more succinct here.

“My dear, every pink thing you have ever wanted, I promise you will have."


I allow myself one moment of feminine expression here: aaaaaaaw!

Overall---
Excellent as always, prose wise and all. It seemed a little rushed, a little short. Like you were writing this for a contest or something and haven’t had time for more serious revision.

That being said, this stands well on its own.

I thought it interesting how you really just brushed over the issue of grief. I know I would have personally gone for more detail. I know that’s your decision, but I think if you allowed Lia to wrestle with this some, it would add an element of depth that, as of now, seems to be lacking from this piece. It’s nice. But… well, a bit shallow, I thought. Emotions sort of play-act on the page, and while its nice that you chose to leave internal thoughts out here (no really, creative wise choice there) I do think you could add some more hints into Lia’s mind.
The second thing is that, while you do have your fantasy element in there, it doesn’t really… well, do anything. It’s just there. And it’s extra weight. It doesn’t seem to mesh quite right. There should be a reason… and a very good reason, for Lia to have this supernatural hearing ability. Otherwise it is (quite frankly) worthless. I’m not saying to go over the top, but do maybe try and give it a bigger role in the story.

Very fluid, simple and elegant. Keep writing!
~ED




StellaThomas says...


Hey ED!

You're right about being a bit rushed- I was trying to keep under 1k! All your comments are totally valid about clarification and thank you for pointing them out because I have issues.

I guess that- while I hate people who refute review points xD- the whole thing about her Hearing is going to become more prevalent as the story goes on- after the second chapter there's a timeskip to when she's seventeen, the second chapter goes more into explaining the ability itself. However I appreciate that that doesn't excuse the weaknesses in this first chapter, and as a serial I should be trying to keep attention from the very get-go. So am both agreeing and disagreeing with you!

Thank you so much for the review- it means a lot, it's sad being featured and in the green room at the same time! Let me know if I can return the favour :)

-Stella x





Agreeing and disagreeing? (How is that even possible, I wonder...)

But no, after I posted all this I saw the "part 2" and I was like, "oh, okay." So that makes a lot more sense now. I would still maybe set up the Hearing a bit more here, unless you have more than two chapters... in which case I wouldn't try and give the ability a bigger role until much later.

Yeah, sorry about that. I didn't realize that this had more to it. (And maybe that's a bad thing? Or maybe a good thing? *shrugs*)

Glad I could help.



StellaThomas says...


no no no you're so fine, I just love talking about my own writing too much! :P Thank you for everything :) x



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Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:38 pm
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LadySpark wrote a review...



Hi Stella m'dear! This excites me very much!

Other little girls from neighbouring aristocratic families, the servants’ children and daughters of merchants in the village would all wear pink, pluck pink flowers from gardens to put in their hair, pink ribbons tying up their braids, their aprons, their shoes.


This is a very long sentence!

Lia’s mother would try and encourage her to do the same, but Lia wasn’t convinced.


While other little girls traipsed after the travelling fairies, hoping for a glint of pixie dust abandoned on the road, Lia would take off her shoes and socks and go paddling, searching for tadpoles, smearing her face and long brown hair with greenish mud, listening to the world around her.


Another very long sentence!

Her mother would laugh her smooth laugh,

I would rephrase this, to where it doesn't have two 'laugh's so close together.

“Pink is the colour of new life. It’s the colour of blossom, and new babies’ skin, and the sun rising. People think white is the opposite of black, and black is death and sadness. But white is so sombre. White is the colour of ill skin, of bones. We wear black to mourn. But I think that little girls have a right to wear pink. You are new life, and some day, you will bring new life into this world. That deserves to be celebrated.”


I really really love this part <3

Lia was told to wear black for six weeks.

I also love this part. It's so... exact and cold, and 'proper' and yes <3

Iseult’s frown only lasted a fraction of a second. “My dear, I will buy you everything pink that you have ever wanted.

This feels weird to me? It's worded oddly. (I love this closing line though omg)


Okay so honestly, except for the stuff above, this little piece is perfect! I love it so much you have no idea <3333 It really didn't need a review, but I gave it one anyway because I liked it so much! I can't wait to read more! :0


Sparkles




StellaThomas says...


Thanks m'dear! I made those changes- I'm prone to big sentences like that, so thanks for catching them for me :)




Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.
— Groucho Marx