Saturday, July 13, 2013

of mortal gods part 1 chapter 3

That was the signal for the family meal to come to an end.  It was a shadow of her youth, an empty echo of the life Sophie had once known; and aware that her mother would sit back now, lost and alone in the comfort of her armchair, Sophie hurried on, reaching the fourth stair before she heard the teasing chimes of a soap opera.  Like much else that she had once enjoyed, these had lost their appeal, the gritty drama of a London square no longer engaging.  Sophie’s passions had become confused indeed; she had rejected much of her past, not hiding, but refusing to enjoy it, and at the same time she had allowed herself to become immersed in its magic.

This magic returned as she closed the bedroom door, echoes of TV still sounding from below.  The room was dark, only a desk-lamp offering relief; and beside it, a present from a doting father, was a leather satchel.  Sophie opened it as she sat down, the shadows about her already busy with goblins, pirates and wizards; these creatures were hers, or hers now, and they continued to busy about as she took out a plain notebook, bound like the satchel in a soft brown leather.

The notebook, like the satchel, like the stories themselves, was a special treasure; it held her dreams, worlds as endless as her imagining, and it also held despair, cruel, lying, deceitful things.  Sophie had laboured this cruelty, just as she had her magic; and the product of her labour was a notebook slowly filling with sketches, drafts, memories.  Sophie flicked these once she was settled, wanting to embrace it all.  The kingdom she entered thus was an idyll of light and dark; and its ruler was a god, perfect, flawed and mortal.

Mr Gralove had not died as yet, however; and Sophie’s god, some Santa Claus to educate a child was no more than a metaphor.  Sophie had learned this mantra almost with her first words, her loving, humanist parents determined to give her the utmost freedom.  She was free thus, at the age of 19, to own her despair, to know that what she regretted of her father was not the product of some wicked temptation; it was his own life choices.

Despite this freedom, that Mr Gralove had chosen made it no easier to accept his behaviour; and one of the few icons she retained from her father, a photograph on her desk, served to remind her both of his love and his deceit.  She could see his smile, hear his laughing voice as she looked up from her notebook; and as usual of late she wondered if even then, even as they posed for happiness, a summer picnic, Mr Gralove was thinking rather of his own selfish desires.

Sophie would never know the truth, could only guess at how her father felt; and though she asked the question many times the answers that presented themselves tended to change with her moods.  She chose at that moment then not to think, temporarily without a cheating father, a grieving mother; and as she prepared to escape, to reconcile the confusions of her past with the emerging clarity of her writing, William Earle, a young man with no family still living, was embracing a very different future of his own.


©2013 Padraig De Brún

Saturday, April 6, 2013

mortal gods part 1 chapter 2

“Who does she think she is,” Mrs Gralove complained at once; “dressing like that.  She’ll never change.  Those skinny hips of hers know too much about a man’s.......”


That same conversation, shared with wine, friends, giggles and an inquisitive self-interest, might have filled Sophie with a wicked, girlish delight.  As it was, she found herself employed once more as the prude of the Gralove household, stemming her mother’s bawdy bluntness and looking from the television to an indignant scowl.  She wondered, as ever, at this sight, whether such a scowl would be hers to inherit.  Mrs Gralove, meanwhile, had moved on; the shot of Crystal Favier was a mere prelude to a montage showing the French Prime Minister’s hectic European schedule.  Mrs Gralove chose her next comment to suit.

“And I don’t trust him either,” she said; “sticking his nose into everyone’s business.  He’s got his own country to run.”

Sophie smiled at this, leaning down to collect the plates from the ready-meal for two.  Such dinners had become the norm, an escape from the propriety of her father’s days; and though the food was bland, more heat than flavour, Sophie had ceased to remark.  Instead, she accepted the change in her mother, just as she did her share in the domestic chores; and moving with an idle, evening purpose, Sophie stood up to carry the plates to the kitchen.

“I’ve work to do,” Sophie explained without need; “I’ve an assignment to finish for Friday.”

“Of course.  You get on, Dear.”

It was the Dear that stopped her, another shift in her mother’s mood, this time hinting at sadness.  The emotion aged Mrs Gralove, her face drawn, lost in a display of false bravery.  Sophie’s guilt rose accordingly, as if she was to blame, as if there was something that she could do to compensate for the regret that dominated Mrs Gralove’s thoughts.  There was not, Mrs Gralove had her own life to live; but still uncomfortable, seeking to offer a distraction, Sophie turned her comments to the Music Awards. 

“Myla Santos is performing at the awards tonight.”

“I heard.”

“They say she looks great, back to her best; and she sounds great too.”

“She should do; she’s not that old, Sophie.”

In the past Sophie might have challenged this; and with a preference for a more urgent, even aggressive rock-style to her music, Sophie could have argued that Myla Santos belonged to a different age, one where a provocatively sexual woman was a surprise.  She did not do so, however, taking up a copy of Especial Magazine and handing it to her mother; Mrs Gralove took it as expected, flicking the pages and pausing on Myla’s latest scandal, a love-nest outing with a toy-boy dancer.

Sophie knew the story already, though she was not a fan of such periodicals.  The teaser said it all, the dancer’s mother outraged by her son’s association; but again Sophie did not comment.  Her mother was busy, however briefly, and taking advantage of the moment Sophie continued with casual noises into the kitchen.  There she rattled plates and cutlery, making it clear that she was close enough to be called.  When she was done she returned to the living room, pausing at the door.

“I’ve work to do,” she repeated.

“Of course, Dear.  You get on.”



©2013 Padraig De Brún

Monday, March 25, 2013

mortal gods part 1 chapter 1

                      The audience for the Myla Santos appearance was already in position as the limousine turned off the A4 onto the busy Berkely Row.  The number plate was named to be recognised, the gaudy, expensive car designed to turn heads; and in the excitement that followed it was forgotten that the ageing, scandal-ridden star had lost much of the innocent, teasing charm through which she had earned her fame.  Instead, as in the early days, there was a crush of young, adoring men.  Scattered among these, and emitting high-pitched screams were girls of all ages.

            These fans, dressed in imitation of Myla’s past, flocked to the car as it slowed its approach to the hotel steps.  They risked much to gain a glimpse, competing to be closest and calling their idol’s name, Myla, Myla, Myla, whilst slapping the disguising tint of the darkened windows.  Behind the glass, almost as if Myla could be known was the healthy tan of a perfectly groomed face and the lightly smiling pout of ruby lips.

Myla had chosen the expression with assiduous care, the product of many hours of labour.  It was complemented by a red, Salvore dress, silk bunched to the knees to form a full, swooshing skirt.  Myla showed the design to its best as the car stopped outside the hotel and a minder, dressed in black, handed her to the pavement.  The man, bulging precise muscles beneath his uniform, stepped back once she was out.  Then it was the opportunity for Myla’s gift, her head a coif of delicious, peroxide bob; and she held it this way and that, angling its effect for the perfect view.

That effect included the dark, brown eyes, warm and glistening with the excitement of the occasion.  Myla was at home, in her space; and she did not hurry then as she stepped up the red carpet, making the most of the opportunity to be fully on show.  She might have been a cock, preening himself to the worship of his pen, or a goddess living in the adulation of her temple; her every movement said that she revelled in admiration, and she paused repeatedly beneath the chatter and click of flash-bulb and camera.

Like the fans, like Myla herself, the cameramen could see thus that Myla Santos was back.  Few women had ever possessed her poise, her quality of sexual tease; and though more conscious now, both studied and trained, there were sufficient hints of that tease remaining to please all.  It showed most splendidly as she turned, almost at the revolving doors; her Venetian designer had served her well, strips of silk enshrining her breasts in a low V.  These breasts, like the stomach below them, taut in replication of her youth, belied both her age and her two teenage boys.

Once these details were confirmed Myla passed on.  Already the focus had shifted, some different car at the pavement, and the chants of Myla’s name had lost their urgency.  They chose now a lesser diva, Crystal Favier, a singer known most recently for her marriage to the French Prime Minister.  This new position, a celebrity, political wife, meant that Crystal had lost her wild-girl image.  She dressed now with the modesty of a tea-party; and the performance she offered had more of the royal, than the sexual.  She had almost completed this performance by the time Sophie Gralove flicked the channels to the evening news.


©2013 Padraig De Brún