Ok, I’m neck deep rewriting and I’m trying to funnel my limited resources of talent so here’s a game instead of me trying to tap out my tired brain for new content.
I had a different beginning to my new story but after talking with my editor and admitting the story needed a good deal of work I came up with a different beginning. It needed it so that I could help set the stage and develop the characters. Even though I loved the original beginning sometimes you have to make these choices in editing.
Below are my two beginnings both of which are still in the story but one has taken the spot of the actual beginning. (Don’t proofread I know it needs editing!) Which one is it?
Beginning #1: Is this my new beginning?
“So it is a man you seek?”
The lavish woman rested in lavish fashion against a lavish backdrop. The room was as opulent as the situation. The chaise lounge of cream pressed velvet with golden studs lining the perimeter where the lush pillowing met the hard frame groaned as she shifted her impressive weight in a cat like stretch. Perfect laid makeup coated the beautiful round face floating down to the over jeweled fingers waiting to cradle her chin. She smiled a knowing smile as her visitor squirmed uncomfortable under the scrutiny.
The carved feet of the chair creaked as she shifted again to reach for the delicate porcelain cup steaming with a rich tea. A matching pot of cream tipped to pour in enough to make the steaming brew a milky swirl. Another smile as she lowered her rouge lips to the rim to sip in exaggerated delicateness at the expensive Asian import. It arrived that week on a frigate laden with exotics from the exotic continent. She enjoyed the niceties of life and she enjoyed, even more, the fact that she could finally afford them. Hard work did indeed pay off.
She sipped again as her vivid green eyes took in the meek mouse sitting across from her. The girl was unremarkable, hunched over in her drab high-necked gown of practical grey wool with the plainest black lace trimming a matching white lace cap and frilly fichu. Hidden was even the idea of femininity as if banished to some particular jail of prudish contempt. Somewhere, though, under the bulk and practicality was a youngish well formed looking girl. She made it difficult indeed to recognize the fragile lines of her petite heart shaped face or the luminosity of the large doe like eyes with elegant dark smudges forming crescents underneath them staring out as if in wonder of the world at large from the pale creamy skin that held the slightest blush from the icy winds of the cold spring months.
Madame Descoteaux staked her fortunes on her abilities to size up with a quick accurateness the female persuasion. These pragmatic skills had taken her on the far journey from the dank Paris slums to London’s glittering haute société, or at least into the demi-monde, the underbelly of the dark wishes of haute société. In her estimable opinion, despite the separate admiral qualities of beauty, the full package held together of the girl’s physical merits presented a rather unremarkable dull temptation. The one true beauty the girl could boast that the sensible madame Descoteaux could detect was piled high upon the frail head in heavy braids of the richest chocolate brown she had ever seen. She wanted to pluck the dreary pins holding up that glorious mane in its sensible bun and set free what she knew was a spectacular display.
“I, uh, I, uh.” The girl stammered red faced. “No, not a man, exactly.”
Penciled eyebrows raised near to the hairline of reddish blond hair piled with artful intention on the good madame’s head. “I’ve misunderstood then. You say you want to know about the male form?” The lady sat back in satisfaction watching this somber, virtuous creature squirm in discomfort. She knew what sort of impression a garish brothel madame must present to such a girl.
What a Rubenesque image they were together in that room having tea as if just another day. She, madame Descoteaux, the soft and round, utterly sexual being, bearing every popular beauty mark of the current mode, postured as no less than a dangerous female predator across from this field mouse in all her country finery, guileless. The girl was no match for these feminine wiles, no match at all.
Beginning #2: Or is this my new beginning?
Drrrump, drrrump, drrrump. The long legs on her mahogany bay reached out in front of them like spindles gripping into the firm earth. She left Papa far behind as his ghost bellowed for her caution, from a time before, a much happier time, warning his disapproval at their speed. Her papa would deny her nothing than that which threatened her safety and at this speed on a path she little knew it was dangerous and foolhardy to push the majestic animal with this urgency.
That day Papa could not stop her. His physical form put to rest a few days before and what was left to her, Cossette, were the echoes of their times together, echoes to replay in her mind with the maddening effect of abject grief. That day as she raced along the verdant path in reckless abandon she did not care what might become of her should even one tiny stone turn the wrong way. She did not care that his ghost cried for her to stop, for her dear papa’s sake, stop and be safe. In fact, she relished the opportunity to join him wherever he was.
An angry sear ripped at her heart through the exhilaration streaming off both she and her horse as the sweeping landscaped blurred. She huddled deep into the neck of her mount sheltered against the whipping wind, whispering in the animal’s ear. “That’s my girl. Faster now. Faster and faster.”
The freedom was almost more than she could bear. The air rushed past in a thin finite stream so fast that her lungs struggled to grasp a breath deep enough to satisfy her needs. Her legs screamed at the injustice of maintaining her jockeyed position in the uncomfortable side saddle. Regardless, if she could, she would take flight, stopping long enough to swoop down and fetch her Papa, before, before it was too late, then leaving forever for some far-off land where pirates and princes danced together and nowhere were the evil tyrants of everyday life.
As she and her mount approached a quaint brook, all of it so unfamiliar to her, she readied herself to take flight in truth, for the few effortless seconds it would take to arc across the insignificant obstacle. As the front hooves lifted, out of nowhere came a loud shout, startling Cossette causing her one foot to slip from its stirrup. The rest came as a blur as her body lifted away from her horse and they separated ways during this brief flight.
She might have heard the even drumbeat of the hooves touching ground bringing her horse to safety but not before she heard and felt with overwhelming pain the thud of her body striking the unmoving land. The agony was immediate and intense freezing her body into a state of shock as her mind screamed for some release. She could scarce breath, in fact, she could not breath at all. The exhilaration of breathlessness from before was replaced with the terror of true suffocation.