Monday, September 24, 2007

New Beginning 369

Lisa just knew it was going to be one of those days. Everyone was cranky this morning from lack of sleep. Last night, some of the inn’s local customers insisted on drinking--and talking quite loudly--until after midnight. Another set of customers wanted to leave at the crack of dawn and required that their breakfast be ready long before then. Which meant she had to fetch water from the well in the dark.

“Hurry up you lazy girl!” called Celeste, the innkeeper’s wife. Lisa glanced up from the dirt path to see Celeste’s tall, thin figure standing in the doorway. The figure disappeared, but the door remained open. Lisa walked a little faster, pleased for the bit of extra light spilling from the kitchen door. She couldn’t go much faster, though, without spilling the water. She had already stumbled once on a fallen branch and sloshed some water on her skirt.

Now, with stick woman hovering over her, and her watery, wet skirt weighing her down, Lisa didn’t know where she would find the patience or the strength to make it to bedtime. And if tonight was yet another night with the locals hanging around and drinking until the wee hours . . .

She sighed. Life was simply a bitch, that was all there was to it. One long slog in the dark, one big stumble and fumble, one big . . .

“You, lazy girl, come on!” Celeste called again.

You’d be tired and lazy too, you skinny harpy, Lisa thought, if you’d been bedding down your portly old fart of a husband as often as I have.


Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Robin S.

16 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


Lisa dumped the bucket on the ground and tried to stretch the kinks out of her back. There'd been so many guests at the inn that she'd been forced to sleep on the floor--or get no sleep at all in a customer's bed.

She'd kill the girls at the office once she finally got voted off. Whoever said reality tv was glamorous?

--BuffySquirrel


“What’s your hurry?” The voice came from the darkness to her right. Lisa started and more water sloshed on her skirt. Inwardly, she cursed at the loss. She would have to make another trip to the well at this rate. Celeste was no doubt waiting with rod in hand, ready to make Lisa pay for being slow and clumsy.

“Beg pardon?” She squinted into the darkness, trying to see more than the vague outline of the man standing there. Her vision adjusting to the deeper darkness, Lisa could see the pasty whiteness of his skin. He beckoned for her to lay down her burden and join him. Lisa hesitated while she considered the consequences. The beating from Celeste would be the same whether or not she dallied with this man waiting for her with his rod in hand. Smiling, she removed the yoke from her shoulders and gently set the buckets on the ground.

--Sarah


Still, Lisa's day was heaven compared to the day Nq'Moxx from the planet Xxom'Qn was having. As alway, his landing party had taken the shape of the first lifeform they'd encountered, each team member forming a single component part of the organism. During the previous mission, he'd transmogrified into the left eyeball of a mighty warrior. Oh, the things he'd seen! But this time the first lifeform they'd encountered turned out to be worse than useless. Its legs were rooted in the ground, and although it had dozens of arms, none of them could move unless blown by a breeze. And then a terrible storm had struck, and many members of Nq'Moxx's team had broken off from the main body, which wasn't so bad until several humanoids emerged from the nearby structure, gathered up his fallen brothers, and tossed them onto a fire! The barbarians!

Nq'Moxx eventually fell off the body, too, and lay helpless upon the ground. And if that wasn't bad enough, some stupid female humanoid had just tripped on him. Nq'Moxx tried to look at the bright side, though. At least he'd gotten a good peek under her skirt.

--Lightsmith


Lisa paused again and put the bucket down -- it was rather heavy and the handle cut into her hands. What, with her somewhat disturbed sleep and this early breakfast call, it was all she could do to maintain a pleasant demeanor. She took a breath and hefted the bucket again, tutting as she lifted it from the ground.

Entering the kitchen, Lisa could already tell the guests were getting a bit boisterous. Celeste was hurrying to prepare eggs and ham and toasted muffins. “Quick, take this in,” Celeste instructed, nodding to the milk jug.

She carried the milk into the dining room where a group of coach drivers was banging the table and singing “Eggs, eggs, glorious eggs, why are we waiting, do you lay them yourself?” When Lisa placed the jug onto the table, one of the burlier rogues patted her backside and said, “You got something for me to nibble on, love?”

Lisa took up the milk jug again and beat him to a bloody pulp. She was fucking miffed.

--ril


As she walked back to the Inn, she could see Celeste in the window of the kitchen. Only a minor spot was left on her dress from the water spillage, but this wasn't important, as Celeste would have more to complain about by the end of the day than the appearance of her servant.

Celeste, from a distance, looked as if she could be a nice person, but Lisa knew better. Last night, while listening to the others talk about the villagers in hushed whispers behind closed doors, Lisa overheard Celeste make plans to spend a holiday in Wrenwood, the village that lay beyond the hills.

Wrenwood was well known for their horses, the potters and the criminals living in the stone imprisonment behind the caverns of light. Lisa, once upon a time, had lived there with her family. But that day had ended too soon.

On more than one occasion,Celeste had mentioned her brother's life of crime and his dreaded hundred year banishment to the prison. Lisa, also knew that Horace, Celeste's husband, did not approve of Celeste even speaking about her brother, much less visiting him. But the family secret couldn't stay a secret much longer.

Celeste turned her attention to the door right as Lisa walked in. Lisa knew that if she wanted to get out of her life of servitude to Celeste and Horace, she would have to use Celeste's own words against her.

"Morning Celeste." Lisa kept her head down as she focused on not spilling the water upon the cracked wooden floor. Celeste remained silent, seemingly distracted away from Lisa's quiet mannerisms. "Did you enjoy your usual crowd last night?" Lisa continued to talk, asking questions that she knew Celeste wouldn't want to answer.

"Please leave the water in the pitchers for the guests and tend to the laundry. I must leave here tomorrow by sunset." Celeste spoke in her usual brass, condescending tone.

"Are you going to visit Wrenwood?" Lisa looked her directly in her eyes and could see a slight tear forming.

"Shut your mouth and never speak of my affairs again or you will be banished too."

That tear disappeared quickly as Celeste's mood changed to hatred and spite for her servant as was apparent in her eyes and that wrinkle in her forehead.

"Your brother will only repeat his crimes if released." Lisa spoke before realizing what she had said. But there came a time when Celeste was not her boss, Celeste was just the sister to the man who had killed her mother, Judie, father, Michel ,brother, Jameson and baby sister, Melicent. Lisa had been the sole survivor of that terrible night and she had vowed never to let her secret be known to Celeste. But today marked the tenth anniversary of her family's demise and she felt that her time was finally here. Her family's name, Wrenwood, was finally going to rise up in the village again and Celeste and her life of hiding as the sister of the most notorious criminal in this village's history, was over.

--Cicily Janus

Robin S. said...

EE,

Do you have ANY idea how happy you just made me? I just about can't believe it.

Anonymous said...

Darn, I was working on this one when the opening was snagged by Evil. --Bill Highsmith

When the Innkeeper wanted to give Lisa and the scullery maid some additional training in the cupboard, she shrugged and put down her pail.

"You may be lazy fetching water, but I expect you to give this lesson your full attention," he said as he patted the girls into the cupboard, lit the candles and closed the door. "Aren't you girls a little overdressed?" said the innkeeper.

Lisa took a paring knife from the shelf where she had planted it by the potatoes. The young scullery maid saw the knife and cloistered herself behind Lisa.

"I am, Sir," said Lisa. "I wouldn't want to spoil my apron with pig's blood. But first, I would like to negotiate a new employment contract for me." She felt a nudge from behind. ". . . and this girl."

ME said...

Wow! The continuations are great! Enjoyed each one.

Liked the opening too. Guessing this might be Historical Fiction, which I do like to read. But if it is, The first line seems a bit modern, unless, of course, the story involves time travel! I would read more.

Robin S. said...

Hi, Bill- Could you please give yourself a "name"? Do you really think my actual last name begins with an "S"?

Come on, at least just be "Bill".

That would be really good.

McKoala said...

First two lines seemed a bit contemporary: 'one of those days'; 'cranky'. You don't need 'quite'.

Other than that, good start; hope it doesn't take too long to make breakfast, though, I'm hungry for some action!

pacatrue said...

I enjoyed the opening and would keep reading. It's nice straightforward writing. The only tweak I have is the "Celeste, the inkeeper's wife" bit, which seems to be an information feed for the reader. Our heroine knows who Celeste is. So you might find an alternate way to introduce her precise job description.

Like mckoala said, I will want something other than normal inkeeping duties by the end of the page -- or make me laugh -- and then I will keep reading to page 2 or 3.

Anonymous said...

You could probably skip paragraph one altogether and start with paragraph number 2.
-mb

Anonymous said...

I really like this beginning. Lots of good character set up and scene setting mixed in with a bit of action.

I took some of the comments here and played with the paragraphs a bit. Mostly just switched them and deleted a few words from each.

Not sure if this will work with your third paragraph, but I like it in this order.


“Hurry up you lazy girl!” called the innkeeper’s wife. Lisa glanced up from the dirt path to see Celeste’s tall, thin figure standing in the doorway. The figure disappeared, but the door remained open. Lisa walked a little faster, pleased for the bit of extra light spilling from the kitchen door. She couldn’t go much faster, though, without spilling the water. She had already stumbled once on a fallen branch and sloshed some water on her skirt.

Everyone was cross this morning from lack of sleep. Last night, some of the inn’s local customers insisted on drinking--and talking loudly--until after midnight. Another set of customers wanted to leave at the crack of dawn and required that their breakfast be ready long before then. Which meant she had to fetch water from the well in the dark.

Sarah

WouldBe said...

Hi, Bill- Could you please give yourself a "name"? Do you really think my actual last name begins with an "S"?

Dear Robin Somebody,

I also go by WouldBe.

--Bill Hathpicklegherkin

Phoenix said...

I like Sarah's rewrite. You don't mind if we just rewrite your story for you, do you, Author? :o)

From Sarah's version, I would change the first sentence of the second paragraph to the MC's thoughts first, and then go into the "telling" portion of the paragraph to make it feel a little more immediate.

It's just lack of sleep, Lisa thought charitably. That's what's making everyone so cross this morning. Last night ...

Oh, wouldbe is Bill H! And Church Lady is Takoda. And Sarah posts as Anonymous. And -- So does this mean that there are really only 5 people ever commenting here? It's just those 5 all go by multiple aliases? I'm beginning to understand things a LOT more clearly now...

Evil Editor said...

Actually, Phoenix, it's just you. All other comments are made by me to help me feel popular.

Robin S. said...

Hi WouldBe Bill -

Good to know.

hi phoenix - "It's just lack of sleep, Lisa thought charitably. That's what's making everyone so cross this morning" worries me - because I think the innkeeper's wife is simply a bitch. Why give her any charitable benefit of the doubt? Kinda takes the fun out for me.

Deborah K. White said...

You mean, I'm just a figment of EE's imagination? Huh. Maybe this is all a dream, and in a moment EE will wake up and none of us will exist anymore...

Anyway, I'm the author. Thanks for all the kind comments, suggestions, and re-writes. Robin S. is right, though--Lisa would never think charitably of Celeste. I do because I'm an adult who knows why Celeste acts that way toward Lisa, but Lisa wouldn't. Which brings up another point. I may need to be more obvious about Lisa's age. This is the beginning of a YA book, and Lisa is about 14 years old here. I'll have to think on what to about it.

AmyB said...

I wonder if there might be a better place to open this story. Lisa is doing her morning chores. Aside from it being "one of those days," there's no indication that anything interesting or unusual is about to happen. I'd like to have more sense of the conflict to come.

_*Rachel*_ said...

I know it's probably way too late, but I wanted to say that this sounds a whole lot like the scene in Les Miserables where Cosette has to go fetch water in the dark.