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Old 12-05-2012, 06:12 PM   #1
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All The Wrong Places (Closed for Tio_Narratore)

Character image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ajwWvz_ieN...400/Aggy+3.JPG

Marie Thenardier had given up fashion modelling six months back, and had not looked back since. Abandoning a promising career, Marie had lost her love of the art, coming to dislike - and then hate - the idea of being objectified, reduced, converted to a two-dimensional image. Her feelings on the subject were complicated, and few people bothered to ask her what was really going on. In reality, she felt there was some spark in the art of modelling, something magical that had been lost through the years. Worse, she wondered if modelling was really the ideal field of aesthetics; what she really longed to do was something like ballet - a polished form of dance, the real height of storytelling and beauty wrapped up in one another.

The problem was, nobody started ballet at twenty-four, and she felt herself beginning to resent her lost youth, and lost potential.

Which was why she was currently working at the coffee-shop. She considered it an intermediary stage, with no clear vision of where she was leaping to next. In the meantime, she had found a man.

Simon Lyons was a productive, workaholic, industrious man. The only adjectives that really fit related to his work, which he served almost religiously. He was an architect, serving his own gods of beauty, and times were frequent when Marie felt left out of his life. She wanted to be an angel in his celestial palaces, and found herself instead looking on from earth as he labored away in his faraway excellence.

Marie had no strong sense of why Simon wanted to marry her. He was neither dense enough to marry her purely for her looks - which were positively intimidating - nor in love with her sense of confusion and turmoil. Existential doubts were unknown to him. Yet they were together. "It was just one of those things".

Today she worked from 7 to 3, not hating every moment of her job, but rather in a state of utter coldness. Grind the beans. Fill the filter paper. Start the machine. Let it brew. Pour the coffee. And on, and on.

And then someone walked in. Someone who might change things. Permanently.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:37 PM   #2
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There was no sense of kismet, no inevitability, driving McKenna that morning; it was a simple desire for a good cup of coffee. He’d been wandering the streets since before dawn, photographing cityscapes in the hazy, low-angled light of the dawn.

He was well-known – and well-paid – as a portraitist, with more than thirty years of rendering people in oils. He had a reputation for capturing a subject’s essence on the canvas, and his studio had seen people from panhandlers to princesses come to sit. The princesses for the money, primarily, though some had character, and the panhandlers entirely for their character. In between the two extremes, it was a mix of character and cash. But no matter who, the signature “McKenna” on the canvas guaranteed a good price from the sitter or at the gallery.

He enjoyed the portraits, meeting the people, getting a sense of who and what they were, sitting them for some photographic sessions, and then getting down to the oils. It was demanding work, though, more so mentally than physically, and he found respite and refreshment in a variety of ways. And that was what sent him out into the streets this hazy morn.

It wasn’t that he left his insight and abilities behind, though. In shooting cit or country or even still life, McKenna strove to find the inner reality of his subject, and his ‘scapes and stills were as valued as his portraits.

After 7 now, and time to end; the sun had risen and the haze had cleared. Time for a coffee before heading back to the studio. And this was also a respite. At the studio or the gallery, and at the museum dinners and the cocktail parties, McKenna was recognized and, though known only by his patronym, sought by many who claimed him as a friend. Away from that world, he was unknown by sight and bore no name at all. He was good-looking, nearly six feet tall, and reasonably well-built, particularly so for a fifty-ish man who took no regular exercise, who saw no need for a ‘personal trainer.’ His full, but neatly trimmed, beard was distinctive in his youth, but now most of the men his age sported facial hair. He relished the anonymity of the street and parks, of the coffee houses and diners, and took advantage of it whenever he could.

And so it appeared with this little coffee shop. No one looked twice at his entrance and nothing of note transpired as he crossed the threshold. He took a seat at a vacant table and waited for the girl behind the counter to come for his order.

“No, not a girl,” he reminded himself, “they’re really women. One shouldn’t be patronizing.”

Still, he reflected, they were all so much younger than himself that he could consider them girls.

His mind wandered over the morning shots, “place portraits,” as he thought of them, until the girl – no, the woman – addressed him. He looked up at her as he stated his preference – a vente vanilla latte – and was taken by the look of utter ennui on her face. It flowed from her eyes and washed in and out over the ridges of her cheeks and the corners of her lips; he even felt it coursing down her shoulders and flooding the whole of her body. His eyes followed her back to the counter and waited for her return. He knew he couldn’t help but want to talk to her and to see into the depths of the epic boredom she exuded.
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Old 12-07-2012, 03:27 AM   #3
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Marie Thenardier wore ennui like a scarf, and disappointment like a mantle, but it was the strange, alien beauty of a model that her body held underneath. It was in her walk, though utterly unintentional; in her subtle movements, stirring a coffee with a spoon; in an odd smile that caught you as subtly as though whispering sultry words into your ear. Meeting Marie, one was struck by the impression that you were in the only person in the room. One felt more alive, more virile, heightened in ways beyond the barriers of everyday life. However, most people felt her contemptuous nature surging behind this - you were the only person in the room, and she was explicitly rejecting you. You only felt yourself rise because you were trying to rise to a silent challenge in her eyes, and universally failing.

Perhaps because it was the start of the shift, Marie's glance at McKenna was somewhat less cruel than she usually provided. She did not yet lash him with her whip of unlived dreams. Instead she smiled slightly, placing the drink before him, and quietly, in a faintly northern-french accent, repeating it as he had stated. Then she pre-empted McKenna's intention to speak, by tilting her head slightly, and saying, "I'm sorry, but don't I know your face from somewhere?"

From her, as with pretty well anything she said, the words did not sound like a stereotype. If anything, her manner of speech evoked the film noir of old Paris, the slight mystery behind her words hinting at worlds beyond your comprehension. As though they certainly had met somewhere before, and it must have been under very interesting circumstances.
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