Travel Adventures, Cincinnati Attractions & Writing
I’ve done the work: written the manuscript, rewritten it, (thanks Greg Bouman) rewritten it again (thanks Kathy Schnier) and sent queries. Now it’s time to pray!
“Pray as if everything depended on God , and work as if everything depended on you.”
For over a century, Charles Dickens’ Madame Defarge has been reviled as one of literature’s most evil villains. Notorious in the “Reign of Terror” immortalized in A Tale of Two Cities, she tortured, stalked, and determined to kill innocent people, even a child, in her pursuit of the extermination of her enemies. But tucked into Dickens’ classic lays a document written in ashes, soot, and blood that reveals the horrors her family suffered–persecution, murder, and rape. Never changing the horrific actions Dickens denotes, Tell Wind and Fire explores the emotions behind them, humanizing the woman who shouts, “Tell wind and fire to stop, but don’t tell me!”
Saint Antoine, November 1775
“A common enemy.” Therese Defarge lowered a second pail into the fountain. Her fingers jerked from the frigid water, but she forced her hand into it, to pick out the leaves and grit. She heaved the pail out; water overflowed the sides, seeped into the muck of mud, waste and stones of the jagged street, and chilled her in the setting sun. She shivered.
“What’s that?” Louis Gaspard balanced a pail on his head. The feat made him seem taller than his already unusual height, and more like a clown than ever. His two other pails splashed as he pulled them from the icy water. “How will a common enemy help?”
“You can’t do better than that, Therese?” Veronica flung her head and hair beneath one of the fountain’s three copper spigots. She gulped and spat water toward the tenement alleyway where she hoped to pick up more than the few francs she’d earned last night. “The boy’s just been given permission from the girl’s papa to court his sweetheart, he comes to you for advice, as half of the happiest couple in this dismal quarter, and you say ‘find a common enemy.’”
“It’s good advice.” Therese tried not to breathe the stench of the quarter, or feel guilty that she might actually be happy. She scooted out of the way of two women approaching the fountain with pails. A gaggle of children followed them, and the streets’ feral cats scattered. The women would make a supper of soup tonight, mostly of fountain water, perhaps with carrots and beets, and a bone for flavor.
A black and white cat stepped toward Therese. It reminded her of the pet that had killed rats on her family farm. She and Madeline loved that cat.
“Bah!” Veronica pulled a pot of rouge from her bosom and reddened her cheeks. “How does ‘hate’ mean ‘love’?”
A gray splintered shutter pushed open in a second floor room north of them in the courtyard. The setting sun threw sparkles on the stream from the chamber pot that dumped the apartment’s waste into street. The window slammed shut again, and two of the children in the street giggled and pointed at a third, who howled, now covered in filth.