41: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Colin Mardsen sat in his study, ensconced in the red folds of his favorite chair, perplexed by this new novel. He was an educated man and the pejorative connotations of that word__bourgeois__ were not unfamiliar to him, but it had always been an insult without sting, a happy consequence. Outside of the imagination of a moralist author, does the werewolf curse the lunar power pulsating through bone and muscle? Certainly not. Yet there it is. The sting. But, along with the sting, a special sort of vindication. The ideas pushed and pulled at each other like the flavors in a complex Thai dish, and he could only digest so much at a time. There was an old envelope spotted at the bottom of an open drawer, covered in dust, he liberated it from the detritus of time and put it to work. The envelope moved at twenty page intervals, at thirty page intervals, at fifty. His makeshift bookmark served as concrete memory, a marker for how far his eyes and mind had travelled. In years to come, as he returned to the book, the envelope was always part of the ritual.

Family functions became a pain as soon as his sister found true love and a third husband. The man evinced at all time a wit and a bonhomie that made him almost irresistible. Almost. If only he had a sense of context, if only Mister Three showed an awareness of his place in the social constellation. Mardsen would rather spend time with an equal rather than that frustrating lump who occasionally passed him the rolls or the pepper. It had been so long since the family allowed him an accomplice to share a bon mot or an unorthodox opinion, and this one had such potential. It had to be done. Copies were so rare that it would have to be his own. One night, before leaving for Christmas dinner, he pulled the book from the shelf, removed the envelope (Mister Three would have to devise his own ritual), and wrapped it hastily in a tasteful holiday pattern. A small elegant package with hard corners to help the lump find definition.

The week before his son got shipped out he spent every evening alone in the study, crying. Each night, he attempted to find something small in volume yet significant in spirit that his boy could keep on his person at all times. He had silly, embarrassing dreams of his first edition "The Sun Also Rises" stopping a bullet. On the final night, disappointed by his library, he rummaged through his drawers. And then the compass. In his family for generations. Guiding Mardsens through three continents. Perfect. And under the compass his old bookmark, stripped of all talismanic powers and returned to messenger status. He read the name for the first time: Kadrey. The postdate was twenty years old.


Heather said...

I'm confused by some of the "he's" in the 2nd paragraph, which antecedent are you referring to?
It took me awhile, but the photograph really helped with this one... more direct than I thought.
I hate to say it, but I'm having doubts about the form, the going backward thing. It has to still tell a story, (I'm thinking Memento),and I'm having a hard time remembering what came before (or actually after). I remember the first entry and the death one, but some of the others aren't as vital to the story seemingly, and so fade from memory. Maybe if there were more clues earlier on as to where the story is going, or I should say, what led them to where they are...
It is interesting though, to think that the so-called "end" of the story is not as important as the event or events that get you there, like the why or how are more important than the what, or the reasons more than the actions.

sebastien said...

Thanks Heather, i'll go back to paragraph 2 as soon as I finish wrestling with chapter 39.
In terms of what is necessary or not: the chapters are designed as independent modules. The hope is wether you remember/prefer/care about 2 chapters or 48 chapters that can still be your story, or rather the story that you got out of it.
Remember the Memento model only work for people like you and Kegan and Tom that have been reading since chapter 50. Different entry points will result in different experiences. In terms of structure try to think more of a meal of tapas.
That's the blovella right there: tapas. Maybe I'll re-title the damn thing.