Welcome to the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, started by VikLit and now run by Lexa Cain, our fearless new leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom.
This wonderful hop has generated many smiles, made me count blessings, helped me encounter some wonderful people, and given me a chance to catch my breath and reflect on how truly fortunate I am.
Today I am celebrating one of those items peculiar to me: finishing a chapter that had been giving me some trouble. The two characters are major players in the story. One is a elderly prostitute who had been a dancer before she broke her ankle and had no choice but to go on the street. In France of that era, prostitutes were not criminals, provided that they checked in with the authorities on a regular basis. This one is a skilled nurse.
The other is the main character of the trilogy, a police officer with an unusual past. She saved his life when he was badly wounded in the revolution of 1830, and he has been trying to get her to come off the streets. What happens after she agrees is a pivotal moment in the story. (It is not in this section.) It’s good to finish it:
“It was a pleasure,” Malet said. “In return, Fanny, let me ask a favor.”
Fanny looked up at him through a blooming smile that softened the fatigued lines of her face and made her seem pretty. “Anything,” she said.
“Come in off the streets,” Malet said. “Now.”
“Off the streets?” said Fanny.
“You heard me,” said Malet. “You’re too old for this. People here have changed. You’ve been coming in with black eyes and bruises, and it’s only going to get worse. I’ve done what I can for you, but my influence extends only over the Police, the Army and, to a degree, the criminal world. I can’t control half-crazy, randy-drunk students!”
She looked up at him. “What else can I do? Prostitution’s the only thing I know.”
“Who told you that and why in God’s name did you believe him?” Malet demanded. “The scoundrel who blacked your eyes? Who would credit such a villain? My God, Fanny! I owe you my life from the rioting in ’30 when I was shot through the lungs! You can work for the Prefecture as a nurse. Sonnier thinks you’re a finer physician than he is! It would be an honorable retirement. Haven’t you earned it?”
Tears welled from her swollen eyes and slid down her cheeks. “This is the only thing I know,” she repeated.
Malet took her slender hand in his. “That is a lie and you know it.” He raised his eyes to hers. “I can’t imagine what possible crime you may have committed to make you convinced that you are fated for such a dwindling life and squalid death.”
Her eyes filled with tears.
He lowered his eyes, withdrew his handkerchief and gave it to her. He was silent as she blotted her eyes and then handed it back. “Fanny,” he said. “I am begging you: if you love me, come off the streets.”
She was weeping now. “Oh you’re a devil!” she said. “You got no call to talk to me like that! I never tried to solicit you—you’re not for the likes of me and I know it!”
“You are my dear friend, Fanny. God knows I love you! I mean what I say: get off the streets. Please! I don’t want to have to investigate your murder.”
Fanny dabbed at her face. “It’s too late for me,” she said.
“It is not!” Malet looked down into her tear-drenched eyes and gathered her hands again. “Listen to me,” he said more quietly. “You are not doomed to a lonely and wretched old age. There are many here who love you. You saved my life. Please: won’t you allow me to save yours? It would give me joy! You can step off the streets, away from all those who mock you and use you. You can be the healer you always have been, and you can go into an honorable and well-loved old age. We will care for you. You have earned it. And it will give happiness to all of us.”
He could see that she was wavering. “Come with me now,” he said.
That is not the entire scene, but it is the part that troubled me, that was difficult to put into words. No doubt I’ll tweak it more.
What are you celebrating? why not celebrate the vast array of creativity, humor, beauty and wisdom of the A to Z challenge? I will be!