Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dancing With a Morning Breeze

This is my contribution to the April Write Stuff Creative Carnival. The prompt was luck.

Some Thursday Thirteen participants may recognize the characters from my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld which I featured in TT #13. The following was a scene extracted from Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes. a story some 16,000 words long. I can't really call it an excerpt as I completely rewrote a 2000 word section in order to bring it in under the 1000 word limit, to excise stuff that made no sense without previous or future scenes, to add clarification when excising would do violence to this story and to emphasise the theme. I hope that what is left can stand alone, even if only like a brick of Swiss Cheese.

At the very least, it was an interesting exercise.


Dancing With a Morning Breeze
by Joy Renee

Faye paces under the jaundiced glow of the sodium vapor lamp. Wilma and Julia cast nervous glances her way from the bus stop bench, but neither ventures to reprove her. The three have waited in tense silence since calling the police. Faye goes to the gate to peer up the driveway that slithered into the cavernous dark, gravid with threats to small girls and from there to the road to peer into the black maw of the highway as though her anxious peering into the night might materialize Briana out of the fulvous shadows.

She clutched the foamy body of Dollbaby to her breast, breathing incoherent words that seemed to be both prayer and incantation. “Let her be alive. Let her be safe.” Her eyes groped among undulating shadows for the form of a small child agile with joy, swinging on the gate, dancing with the morning breeze.

The lights came like sudden ice freezing Faye in place to stare at the coils of light drawn on the dark, at the vaguely ambulance shaped nimbus, with time to think, Not the police, before it spawned a light bedizened apparition that came to her limbs all akimbo screeching, “My baby. My baby.”

Faye stood in feeble-fingered confusion as two arms snake out, encircle Dollbaby and pry her from her grasp.

“Dollbaby!” The voice scolded. “Where’s your sister?”

In a sudden flood of scalding light Faye witnessed a Medusa-headed pixie smothering Dollbaby in hugs and kisses. The light, held aloft by a gnarl-browed man who snugged a mini-cam between cheek and shoulder, enwombed Faye and the pixie, raising shadows like blisters on every surface.

A shadow tucked under an elbow of the tree-tall man detached itself, gliding with elfin grace into the circle of light.

“Jerrica Holms, KWMB.” The voice held the crisp musicality of wind-chimes nudged by a whimsical breeze.

“Faith Fairchild Gardner.”

“Troll and I,” she motioned toward the cameraman. “were supposed to interview Fancy and Cassie about the Rag Dolls.”

“The Rag Dolls?” Faye forced words past lips numb with bewilderment. Julia joined them in the circle of light.
“The Rag Dolls won a state high-school talent contest last week.”

“Yeah.” Fancy added. “Cassie and me, we were jamming in costume--you know, just waiting for Ms. Holms to show--when Breezy come up missing.”

“So.” Jerrica cut in. “We’ve been with Fancy all day. Troll heard over our scanner a car being dispatched here to ‘See the lady regarding missing child.’”

“I made the call.” Julia said. “But Faye may have seen, Briana is it?-- This morning, swinging on the gate as her bus pulled away.”

“Where was the doll?” Jerrica asked.

“Hanging on the gate where Briana put her.” Faye said.

Fancy returned Dollbaby to her perch atop the gate as Troll trained camera and spotlight on it.

There came a sound part chuckle, part sob. Faye turned, recognizing Mae Bea Morgan by her head full of riotous curls, who spoke through lips thin and motionless with the habit of holding a line of straight pins at the ready. “You might think that was the babe herself hanging there.”

A figure near twin to Fancy shivered and clutched her chest. Mae Bea reached an arm around the girl. “No sense borrowing trouble. Soon as Brick Travis gets here with Snoopy we’ll have Breezy back safe as pennies in a wishing well. Nothing bad can befall us Morgan girls. We lead charmed lives.”

Cassie ducked her head as Fancy too slung an arm over her friend’s shoulder. “Like the time Mae lost me in Freddy’s. She went to try on a swimsuit and when she came out, I was nowhere in sight. She ran up and down aisles in every department but grocery, still wearing that swimsuit, mind you.” A fit of giggles set her yarn pigtails aquiver.

“I was headed into grocery when I saw a clerk waving Babydoll over her head requesting a price check. I almost gave some poor ole Gramma a heart attack when I rushed over screaming, ‘My baby, my baby’ Ole Gramma took us to the toy department where she’d found Babydoll and there Fancy was curled up on the shelf, fast asleep between Orphan Annie and Mrs. Beasley. When Granny heard I’d made Babydoll myself she commissioned me to make another and that’s how Rag Doll Babies got started.”

“Yeah.” Fancy said, flipping Dollbaby off the gate and tumbling into her arms. “And where would we be without Rag Doll Babies?’

“The proverbial silver lining.” Faye smiled.

“Or plain dumb luck.” Julia scoffed. “But there’s much to be said for dumb luck. Some people do seem to have it in abundance. It’s enough to make you wonder if we‘re the game pieces of providence..”

“Must you subject us to your inane amphigories?” Wilma snapped.
“Oh, figgeries, chiggeries. You and your lame sniggeries.” Julia taunted.

“Girls!” Faye shamed them and to her amazement, they both hushed.

No one spoke and no one seemed about to. Fancy swayed, humming a mournful lullaby to Dollbaby. Faye recognized “Tears of a Clown.” and meeting her eyes saw irony and self-scorn blooming in them. These were no more the eyes of a child than were her own. Faye knew she was witnessing a cataclysmic event taking place in the soul of this girl who, having managed to conceive, bear, and raise a child to nearly five years of age while never relinquishing her own claims to childhood, was, with the threat of that child’s loss, laying claim to motherhood.

Faye was caught in a moment that seemed to stretch into infinity--a time-slip that held all possible outcomes within its grasp. Briana was out there somewhere and like Schrodinger’s cat she was both alive and dead, both harmed and unharmed. They would either find her or not. Both the grief of her loss and the joy of her recovery were caught in a dynamic dance in the hearts of those who loved her.

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