ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

#WEPff entry--flash fiction for Utopian Dreams--Venice's Black Cape

Greetings of the season to you! Those of you who haven't shut down for the holiday season, thank you for coming by. Write...Edit...Publish (WEP) is happening this month when we post our responses to the prompt, Utopian Dreams.
I hope you will enjoy reading my response, a flash fiction set in Venice at the time of Carnevale. 

Image result for venetian carnival masks images

Venice’s Black Cape

 ‘Francoise, I’m going to Carnevale. Every year I dream of the parties, the dancing, the beauty of Venice, but you refuse to accompany me. This year I’m going. Alone.'

Ma chérie? Your home is here in Place Vendome. Is Paris not enough for you?’

‘Paris is a dream which I’ve achieved. Venice is a dream I’ve yet to attain. My Utopia. I’ve read so much about Carnevale. I must experience it for myself.’

Ma chérie, I beg you, stay.’

‘Pouf! I’m going.’

‘But Anouk, I must warn you. I went one time before I met you. The men…’ He took out a handkerchief and rubbed a spot from his Ferragamo loafers.

Anouk refused to let this man in his three-piece charcoal bespoke suit, his crisp white Dior shirt, and his Louis Vuitton tie, prevent her from reaching for her dreams. 


     Darkness floated over Venice like a black cape, its edges reflecting the glint of the moon. Anouk watched from her hotel balcony as gondolas floated as in a fantasy world, dipping above the water like slick black swans. The gondolier’s serenade drifted across the water, calling her. The vaporetti hummed as they navigated the icy waters of the Grand Canal, disembodied voices of the passengers bouncing atop the waves. The baroque palaces along the canal dazzled, grand residences of past glory, now inhabited by revelers. Anouk shivered. She was part of this night. Her dream was about to unfold. 

Image result for image gondolier on grand canal

     She dressed in her purple and silver satin gown. The fabric rustled deliciously as she flounced her skirts. Glancing into the Murano glass ornate mirror next to the door, she admired the way her long blonde hair curled past her shoulders, entwined with silver ribbons. Then, the pièce de résistance, the mask, decorated with ermine, gems and feathers to which she added a deep purple floppy hat trimmed in lace. Slipping her feet into black satin slippers, she spritzed herself with her favourite Borsalino perfume.  Opening her black lacquer fan, she swished it over her face, a face hot with excitement.

She was decadence itself. 

Anouk drifted outside into a frosty, starry world. She was ready to lose herself in Carnevale, where the power of the mask lured party goers into lurid rites of celebration. Tonight, no rules applied. 

Masked and costumed figures ran through the cobbled streets, tugging her into their band. They hurried alongside the Grand Canal, past candle-lit icing-cake palazzos dusted with snow before stepping over an arched bridge, heading deeper into mysterious caverns and back alleyways of the city. 

The happy band entered a baroque apartment, so opulent Anouk gasped. Lifelike black statues stood in homage around the pillars that edged the magnificent vestibule. The cold of the floating city melted away in the heated rooms as she danced with a succession of gloriously-dressed masked men who pressed her close to their bodies and plied her with wine from silver goblets. She was passed from caped stranger to caped stranger with a flourish and a kiss.

Back on the street, she slipped and slithered at the back of the long line, ignoring her damp dress that threatened to trip her up.

The line stopped to watch fireworks exploding above the Grand Canal. With each burst, light traced patterns across the inky sky. Then out of the foggy darkness came a man, a man who clasped her hand and drew it to his chest. While she stood uncertainly, the crowd ran off, leaving her alone with the masked stranger. He began to run, tugging her along in his wake.

Through passages and beneath arches they ran until they came upon a magnificent doorway which appeared burnished in gold. He brushed snow off their cloaks and shoes before he led her up a flight of stairs to a luxurious apartment. He hurried her through a warm sitting room where a log fire blazed. She longed to sit close to the fire and thaw her numb hands and feet. Instead, she was tugged into a huge bedroom dazzled by moonlight, its rich furnishings the colour of the Burgundy she’d been drinking all night. 

The stranger unfastened her buttons and her dress rustled to the floor. She would offer herself to the allure of Carnevale and her mysterious seducer. This was her dream. Her fantasy.

They fell naked onto the bed, bodies now warmed, hungry, fired with the lust that decadence brings. They surrendered themselves to the madness of the night. The mouth that plundered hers, tasted like the wine that had flowed all night, enhanced by sea and smoke.

Then he tensed. 

Footsteps.

Slipping and sliding on the stairs. 

The occasional curse word, ‘Merda. Merda.’

‘My Contessa comes,’ he said. ‘Go. Presto! Presto!

He gathered her clothes from the carpet, thrust them into her arms and pushed her onto the balcony. Shivering with cold and shock, she huddled, uncertain. The lapping of the water against the pylons were slaps to her freezing face. The fog’s tendrils reached up and whirled around her misery. Fool! Fool! Is this the dream you imagined?

The Contessa’s Borsalino fragrance hung, trapped, in the freezing air. My perfume. Is that why he chose me?

‘Ah, Contessa, come, I’ve been waiting. I’m desolated we lost each other in the frenzy of the chase.’

‘I, too, my count.’

Is this a game they play on this one night of the year when there were no rules?

Tears running down her frozen cheeks, Anouk struggled down the dark stairs, gripping the ornate balustrade. She hid in the darkest corner of the carpeted foyer and dressed herself with agonising slowness. Her frozen hands fumbled with the intricate clasps and zips. What a joy it'd been to fasten them earlier tonight. Now, her joy had become terror and abandonment.

Wrenching the heavy carved door open, her ruined slippers stepped into the bewildering night.

Stepped into a nightmare. 

She was lost in Venice's black cape.



WORDS: 984
FCA
If you'd like to read more entries for the WEP challenge, click on the names on the list at the top of my sidebar with DL (Direct Link) next to their name or go to the WEP website.

Thanks for coming by.
Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!

Denise 


37 comments:

  1. Dreams fulfilled are not safe places are they? One hopes that if she tells the story Francoise doesn't say 'I told you so'. What happens in Venice stays in Venice.

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    1. For sure, Sue. I somehow don't think Francoise would be too surprise at what's transpired, since he's been there, done that.
      Thank you for coming by and being the first to read! Hope you're doing well.

      Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

      Denise :-)

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  2. From the heat of lust
    into freezing pain
    to cheat on her love
    is a crying shame

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  3. Oops, that's not quite the happy ending :O

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    1. LOL! Tempted to say serve her right.

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  4. This seems one of the more true accounts of when you run into the arms of a stranger. Never know who that person really is. Sad when you end up an easy lay. But lesson learned and hopefully she's more grateful for what she has. This was a lovely story Denise. The descriptions and word choice held me through out. I was lost in your story cape. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Hi Sheena-kay. I'm glad you got lost in Venice along with Anouk. Was a fun write, for sure, and so glad when other writers say they liked something.

      Merry Christmas and a fabulous writerly New Year to you! Thanks for taking part in our challenge this year!

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  5. Hi Denise - a dream, a desire, a need to experience la Carnevale ... the story could develop - she could go back and find her stranger ... and then who knows where the story will lead.

    Everywhere I look now I see talk about 'Utopia' - from Thomas More's time to today ... but life just won't allow me to write it up ...

    Have a happy warm Christmas and New Year .. enjoy and a very happy 2017 - cheers Hilary

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    1. Yes, Hilary, thanks for seeing the possibilities in this story. I think I could expand it no problem, in many directions. Yes, I get you on Utopia. There are those fighting for their utopian dreams as we speak and creating havoc in this poor world of ours.

      Be safe, Hilary. And many blessings on your kind soul for the holiday season and into 2017. May we see some miracles happen.

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  6. So sad and yet in the end she was very brave to embrace her dream. As in life our dreams are fleeting. Escaping with our desires hidden inside. Well written. I enjoyed your story.
    Nancy

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    1. I think many women may be afraid to embrace dreams such as this, but at least she put herself out there, literally. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  7. Be careful what you wish for! But then again, sometimes a gal has to have what she wants, even if it turns out to be an Utopian dream...Anouk was lucky she got away lightly...I can think of fates far worse than a bit of chill weather and being pushed out :)...at any rate she's learned her lesson and goes back to Paris with a keener appreciation for her blessings hopefully.

    Your descriptions and setting details were spellbinding as usual.

    Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and the very best for 2017!

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    1. Well, will she find her way back to the hotel? Or will another stranger grab her? Could go many ways.

      Nila, Merry Christmas and a fabulous writerly 2017. Much success!

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  8. Sometimes fantasies should stat fantasies as they aren't all they are cracked up to be when they become real. Sure brought me right there with the descriptions indeed. Bet she'll never go there again.

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    1. Yep Patrick. Some fantasies lead to no good, as is the case here. I think she's had her fill of Carnavale.

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  9. Be careful what you ask for. I'm so glad she got out without too many regrets! I can't imagine this kind of desire, but to each his own. Filled with great description as always, but that ending was truly inspired. I've never understood how a simple mask could give anyone anonymity but with that type of makeup (your introductory picture) feasible. Unlike Superman, the only real superhero who got that was spider man, and in some costumes batman. LOL
    Some dreams just ask for trouble. Enjoy your holiday!
    PS: Having a few computer problems, typical when a current task relies on one. :)

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    1. Yes, indeedy, Yolanda, some dreams are dangerous.
      Sorry about your computer problems. Always the way, eh? I'm checking on the DLs, so don't worry too much.

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    2. Nice way to catch up! Yes, most definitely, break all the rules! It's acceptable when you're famous, but does it help you get there? Hmmm...

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  10. Aw, a shattered dream. I love this line: Darkness floated over Venice like a black cape, its edges reflecting the glint of the moon. Beautiful.

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  11. Utopian Dream turned nightmare. Very well done, The descriptions has me right there alongside Anouilh. Great tale of disaster narrowly averted, but hearts broken and dreams shattered none the less.

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    1. I'm sure Anouk isn't the first to be in this predicament!

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  12. How many times do we say, "I wish I were a fly on the wall in THAT scene"? I could see the burst of Carnivale colors, feel the crispness of the dress. There was even a change in the way the /air/ felt from pre-assignation to post. Wonderful language!

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    1. I'm glad I took you there, LuAnn! Thank you.

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  13. What a wake up. Her dream destroyed by reality and the appearance of the Contessa. It shows how our desires and our wishes are not always the best thing for us.
    The problematic is presented very well.
    Excellent writing.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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  14. Well, that got my blood flowing, Denise. I would love to visit Venice and it does have a history of a dark side. People go missing during Carnivale, so I've heard (maybe just back in the medieval times). This was a lush read and I enjoyed the pace! I posted my story a few minutes ago and need to have the DL added. The link takes them to it today, anyway. Merry Christmas to you in the Down Under world.

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    1. I hope you get to Venice, D.G. Much beloved city. I think Carnevale is a pretty dodgy time to visit Venice.

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  15. A textbook case of 'Be careful what you wish for', eh? Sounds like Anouk's dream included rather more permanence than Carnavale could offer... A great analogy for all Utopian dreams, I suppose. Expectations kill them every time :)

    Happy holidays, darling!
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

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  16. That was a hard and bitter lesson, not to mention a darned cold one. You made me want to travel back to those days of carnival when all the rules vanish. Thanks, Denise.

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    1. There's always rules but sometimes we don't know what they are. Thanks Lee.

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  17. What a crass thing to do. She wanted the full experience and got more than she bargained for.

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  18. Ah, fascinating stuff! I like the twist ending.

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