It’s time to show the raw and rough edges, friends. Here is the unedited version of my short story for Writer in Motion. After Jeni revealed the prompt last week, I got to work and I’ve been sitting on this ever since. It’s been so hard not to share or revise.
LUNE DE SANG (Blood Moon)
A killer walked the streets of Marseille, but all Adeline cared about was having a smoke.
She lit a cigarette and took a long draw, resting her elbows on the window frame. Air channeled down the Rue du Panier, pushing strands of cropped brown hair into Adeline’s smudged eyes. Below, in the lifting darkness, women laughed as they prepared baskets of laundry to hang, their banter easy against the slap of wet fabric. The bells of La Major chimed five times. Early dawn was the only time an open window didn’t bring the stench of fish, petrol, and sewage.
Adeline arched her back and pushed her narrow hips from side to side, looking over her shoulder at her new lover. Serge lay prone on the mattress, his arms stretched over the pillows. They’d met in a cafe off La Canebière. He was shy at first, glancing in her direction once or twice before growing bold enough to meet her eyes. She’d beckoned him to her table with a smile. “Would you like a Pernod?”
Two hours later, they were walking hand-in-hand along the waterfront, past the moored trawlers bobbing in the old port. The moon was a waning crescent, allowing the stars their full beauty. Adeline pulled Serge to her and kissed him, tasting anise on his tongue. “Take me to your bed,” she whispered.
His garret was claustrophobic, strewn about with clothes. The only spot of neatness was his desk, which held a typewriter and a hopeful sheaf of paper. His rumpled bed smelled of sweat, but his enthusiasm for her was disarming. She’d almost regretted what followed, but regret wasn’t in her nature.
Adeline stubbed out her cigarette and went back to the bed. She pushed Serge’s blond curls back from his forehead and kissed his purpling cheek. Grey eyes stared back at her, unblinking. She bit her lip, her breath quickening as she pulled a pearl-handled scalpel from the pocket of her robe. Between Serge’s brows, she carved a crescent to match the moon they’d walked beneath. Blood welled, thick and darkly scarlet, but did not run.
“Lune de Sang” -- that’s what they were calling her in the papers -- for the mark she gave her victims. She’d chosen a new lover for each phase of the moon and Serge was the seventh. The police kept looking for a man. No one suspected a delicate sylph of a woman in her late thirties.
Adeline washed her hands and dressed, tidied her hair in the glass, and swept rouge across her mouth. She cast a lingering gaze to Serge and gently closed the door.
She’d gotten halfway down the block when a scream came from the open garret window. A girlfriend? The landlady? Adeline smiled. Neither her heart nor her pace quickened. Perhaps she’d take one more night of pleasure before allowing the young men of Marseilles to rest without fear under a moonless sky. Perhaps she’d let her next lover live.
My draft clocks in at just under 500 words. It’s spare, and let’s face it, a little dry and stilted. All of my first drafts are, and that’s done with intention. See, I have a long history with perfectionism. The kind of perfectionism that never allowed me to write a full manuscript for a novel until THE GLOAMING VEIL, which just finished developmental edits with the amazing Maria Tureaud. I have seven incomplete manuscripts, y’all. Seven. This is because young writer Paulette was too afraid to let anyone see her work before it was perfect. Hint: It was never going to be perfect, anyway.
After taking a few years off from writing, I’ve learned a valuable lesson — to let my first drafts be a shit show. I have learned to sit with my work until I’m able to produce something with merit, which sometimes takes a long time.
Enough self-indulgent navel-gazing. Onto the story behind the story:
Since I’m a photographer, visual impressions often come to me when I daydream a new story. Usually it’s a character. For this one, an image came to me of a seductive, worldly woman in her thirties smoking while looking out a window, with the sounds and smells of Marseilles in the background. I recently read an anthology full of short stories set in Marseilles, and French Noir was calling my name. The fishing trawlers bobbing in the harbor were the tie-in to Jeni’s gorgeous photo prompt. I had all the inspiration I needed to start, even though I didn’t quite know where I was going with the story just yet.
While I was pondering what to write about, I created a basic outline to get the bones of my story out of my system. Plantser that I am, the idea for the plot came to me as I was envisioning the setting and main character.
Location: Marseille in the 1920s
Main Character: Adeline
Scene: An apartment in Le Panier
Scene opens in the early morning in Marseille. Adeline is in an apartment overlooking the Rue de Panier, smoking and observing the scene below.
Flashback to the night she met Serge.
Climax — We realize Adeline is a serial killer and has killed Serge.
Resolution — Adeline leaves the apartment and moves on to her next kill.
Next, I’ll revise and clear up some of those cluttered sentences and refine the visceral show for Adeline’s character. I’ll show my next draft on the 22nd!
Here are the links to the other writers taking part in WiM. You may notice we have some new additions. This project is growing like mad! I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s stories and their commentary on their process.
The original dozen (not counting me):
J.M. Jinks www.authorjmjinks.com
Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)
Jen Karner http://www.SyllablesandSass.com
HM Braverman https://hmbraverman.com/category/blog/
Thuy Nguyen http://www.tmnstories.com
Kristen Howe https://kristenswritingendeavors.wordpress.com/
Kathryn Hewitt https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/
Sean Willson https://www.seanwillson.com/blog/
Talynn Lynn inkinthebook.blogspot.com
Ellen Mulholland www.ellenmulholland.com
The fresh dozen:
Kathryn Hewitt https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/
Sheri MacIntyre www.sherimacintyre.com
Sheryl Stein http://www.wrekehavoc.com
Belinda Grant www.belindagrantwrites.wordpress.com
Fariha K Hayyam farihakhayyam.com
Stephanie Whitaker https://stephwhitaker80.wixsite.com/swhitakerwrites
Dawn Currie https://dawncurrie.wordpress.com/
Megan Van Dyke http://www.meganrvandyke.com
S Kaeth https://skaeth.com
Ari Augustine http://bookishvalhalla.com
Here’s the schedule: