Friday, May 28, 2010

Chapter 15 The Walk

Jimmy's hand on the back of my neck sends ripples of fear down my spine. His hand is heavy, the pads of his fingers pressed against my skin gently guide me in front of him.

Downstairs a few people turn to look at us. There is one fire pit going that is surrounded by weary and dangerous looking people.

I think I see Maria. She looks ready to step over to us, but I catch a man behind her who puts his hand on her shoulder. Probably to stop her. I'm a tiny bit relieved that she doesn't come over to us. I don't want her to get in trouble with Jimmy, and I don't think I can face her anyway.

Jimmy's steps are quiet behind me. Once we're past the large group in front of the apartments, he moves his hand.

"Do you want me to carry your bag?"

"I got it," I say quickly, surprised that he even offered.

The silence between us is fat and uncomfortable. The dark surrounds us, suffocating me. I force myself to focus on something else. My hair hangs partially in front of my face, the wisps of the strands tickling my nose when I inhale.

I lift my head, shoving my hair behind my ear with one hand. I am not going to be the prisoner here. Not if I can help it. Mom always said that you can't control every situation, but you can at least control how you arrive in that situation. If you can't avoid it, then make sure to deal with it to the best of your ability.

We turn into a walkway that leads to a large building that appears as dark, if not darker, than the darkness we walked in. I glance at Jimmy who's leading me to that dark building and my feet stop. Some part of my body will not let go, will not walk into that dark building with Jimmy.

"What's wrong?" He asks me.

"It's dark."

I can almost hear the eye roll. "You're fine. It won't be dark inside."

He walks past me, and I find myself actually following him into the darkened building. It makes me uncomfortable. My skin crawls and I roll my shoulders trying to shove it away and push the darkness back. What if he lied to Brandon? What if it wasn't an order, and instead he's going to kill me now in this abandoned building?

Jimmy stops, turning towards me just as we reach some stairs. I can barely see them as my eyes start to adjust.

"C'mon." He moves towards me quickly and smoothly, and yet almost carefully. His hand slides to my back again as the other takes my bag. "Let's go."

Now with empty hands, I hold them together, tightly interlacing my fingers, as we walk forward together up the stairs into the darkness.

Jimmy's hand on my back is something of a strange and frightening comfort. I suppose the dark and the unknown of Henri's home is worse than the known of Jimmy and the dangers he represents.

He guides me up the stairs using gentle pushes from his hands and a softly spoken warning about lifting my feet.

By the time we get there, I'm actually thankful to be in Henri's apartment and half ready to hug him. There is a light here, not the normal oil lamp, but a real lamp bulb. I can see it near Henri sitting on the coffee table in front of the sofa.

"That took a while," he says to Jimmy, drawing my attention back to him. The man is a complete stranger to me. Before me stands a man I've read about in history books who also happens to be my father. It only heightens the fact that I don't know this man. He's neither the man in the books nor my father but someone else entirely.

"She's scared of the dark."

And Jimmy. And probably Henri too, but I don't say any of that and I'm thankful that neither of them can read thoughts as far as I know. My hands are still laced together in front of me when Henri glances at me.

He steps forward to take my bag from Jimmy, then motions for me to follow him. It's when I step forward that Jimmy's hand drops from its position on my back.

I follow Henri to a door not far away. He opens it and steps in far enough to turn on another light. "This'll be your room," he says as he puts my bag on his bed.

I step in after him having to squeeze past him a little so that I don't accidentally brush against him. The room is decent sized. There's an actual bed in the corner and a dresser for my clothes. I'd imagined that he's stick me in a closet or something. The bed even has sheets and a blanket like he'd prepared for my staying with him.

"We'll talk about your chores in a bit. I need to talk with Jimmy."

I nod and watch him walk away. As I go to close the door, I think I catch Jimmy's gray eyes glancing just past Henri in my direction. I quickly shut the door.

Once I'm alone, I collapse on the bed pulling my knees to my chest. The blanket has a very faint smell on it like it's probably been washed recently. I run my fingers over the knit covering on the blanket feeling each tiny hole/eye and the semi-soft fabric used to knit it.

Now what? Each of my breaths moves the tiny hairs on the knit fabric. I'm here now. Mom saw something in him. I assume she must have known him. If he's taking me in, then he must have cared for her at some point otherwise he would have given me away. He could've left me with Brandon at the very least.

Henri comes back, opening the door without knocking as I expected he would. I sit up quickly almost as if I were a kid doing something I shouldn't.

"While you're here," he says, "I want you to cook the meals- breakfast and dinner. I'm gone most of the day; you can do what you want. I'm the only one in this building. Though I do expect you to keep our living area neat. Got it?"

I nod. "Uh, so there's no one else in the building?"

"Living here, no. There will be some people downstairs. Just don't go downstairs if you don't want to see them. They won't come up."

"Okay." A whole building quietly to ourselves. It's another one of those things that relieves and frightens.

"Breakfast tomorrow. I've got to start early, so don't be late."

I nod again before he leaves. Once the door's shut, I fall back onto the blanket again and close my eyes. It'll get better. You can get used to strangeness if you live with it long enough. Just have to make it past the beginning.

Next Chapter -->


  1. "Just don't go downstairs if you don't want to see them. They won't come up." <-- and my first thought is Killer would come up :(

    Maybe I'm traumatized, lol!

    But oh, *exhale* maybe this is okay. She has chores, and a room with a bed, and a whole house to herself, with Maria downstairs. Maybe it's okay? *biting nails*

    I loved the last lines. So hopeful!

  2. This seems a little too good to me, almost like the calm before a storm. After all, Henri won't be there 24/7...

  3. I've traumatized you all I think. Everyone is going to be suspicious here, I'm sure. And you should! Never trust anybody!

    Paula is trying to remain hopeful. I think she's a positive person. It's just her natural state. Or maybe she just wants to be a positive person.

    Poida, possible. And it's true, Henri won't be there all the time...

  4. Whew...after all the really horrible and tense stuff, this chapter is almost tame! There's still tension, but not so much for us--for Paula.

    It's interesting because we're no longer scared of Jimmy (at least I'm not), but Paula is. We know something pretty significant that she doesn't, and I think that's the first time such a thing has happened in your story. It's a very strange feeling, because I'm used to discovering everything along with your characters in your stories.

    Now I can see that Henri is Killer's father--I see the similarities in features.

    Henri is so abrupt. The first thing he talks about is chores. Women can be warriors for him, too, but he doesn't seem to want to train Paula....just like he didn't want to train Brandon. I wonder if Jimmy will offer to train her?

    Yay! I can't wait to see where Paula's story is going...

  5. lol, I sort of figured that you all could use a break. Oh wait, Mary's story was supposed to be the break.

    Yeah, I thought about that only after I started posting. And for some reason, I like it that way. I think it will add more meaning to some of his actions possibly down the road. Ultimately it'll give a different feel I think than if I'd put Mary's story at the end.

    But if I were writing for a book, I think I wouldn't use Mary's story as an intermission. Or sorry, my gut's poking me and going, *AHEM*. What I mean is that my gut says she wouldn't do that if this were a real book. She's so peculiar!

    Haha, you know, I actually made Killer first! Then I made Henri, so in Sims, they don't share any genetics! Killer looked off, but Henri looked perfect, so I just fixed Killer to match Henri.

    I know, poor Paula. I couldn't imagine what else this man could possibly say to her, lol. In my head, he does seem abrupt. I don't think the thought to train her really occurs to him. She's a bit old for it. Even Maria was old by the time she started training, but she was something of a unique and special case with her power.

  6. You didn't traumatize me, at least? D:? I feel like the oddest person ever for liking Killer. The more evil things he does, the more I like him. I think I'm just fascinated with his personality.

    I agree with raquelaroden. It IS strange knowing something about Jimmy that Paula doesn't.

    I'm worried about her living with Henri even though I'm not-so-secretly a fan of him as well. :(

  7. Paula's mother was a very wise woman. Her advice is very sensible and really shows that inner strength that you can see traces of in Paula.

    It's hard to be harsh on Jimmy knowing what I know now about his past. After the insight into his background, I am reading this chapter with a very different view of the character and seeing the hand on her back not as a threatening gesture but as something more of a limited gesture of comfort, a sort of hesitant, "It'll be all right".

    Paula's room reminds me a bit of a cell room. And Henri's remarks about what he expects of her makes me think he is treating his daughter more like a live in maid than a daughter .... or maybe that's how Henri is used to treating everyone and is uncomfortable or unable to express anything more "familiar" or anything verging on emotion. I don't doubt the man has emotions but maybe he is so used to being a leader and maintaining control of people, situations and events that he's somewhat lost touch with his ability (or lack thereof) of being able to communicate something more gentle.

    It comes back again to this whole thing of losing touch with one's very humanity, the thing that makes us compassionate, gentle, loving etc. I don't think he's lost touch with it, it's just 'lost' right now because of his situation.

    I am loving the interconnected stories and the relationship between all the characters. The connection between the stories gives a sense of continuation to each story, a strand that links all the stories together into this one massive tapestry of a world.

    It's great to see you and the story develop and leap forward in such fantastic ways.

    For me, the story is like coming back and chatting with an old friend every weekend. You look forward to it and it never disappoints.

  8. It would feel strange to call this chapter "light" because it's not really. But it almost seems like it after last week, doesn't it?

    It's such a different experience reading about Jimmy now that we've heard Mary's story. I couldn't quite articulate it but I just get a whole different vibe from him now. I can see that there's an element of protectiveness in the way he treats Paula. Previously, I might have thought of it as an attempt at intimidation or as...some word that's just flown out of my head!

    Henri does seem very abrupt with Paula but that's sort of how I imagined he'd be. We haven't really seen much of him yet, though he's obviously pivotal, but I just don't picture him as the kind of guy to sit around making chit chat. Even with his daughter.

  9. I love the change in tempo. Drama isn't as intense if you don't give the reader a break, then let the drama build again. Wonderful writing!

    I'm one of the traumatized ones LOL! Still deeply suspicious....

    Henri is so odd. He reminds me of some kind of cult leader. He seems to see everyone as a tool, something he can move around, use, alter, or throw away if it's broken. I don't understand his motivation yet. One very scary uh, man? Biped?

  10. Nicole, I have to admit that I like Killer too. He's deliciously twisted to write about. His life in the Lost Territory is fascinating to me too, though I haven't really explored it yet.

    lol, I kinda like that strangeness. She's still freaking out, and we know something so personal about him that sheds a whole new light on him.

    Carnaxa, you're right; Henri does seem to be treating her more as a maid than his daughter. In a way it makes sense, I mean she has to do something. She might as well help him out.

    But I love your take on it! Because that's what I think too. It is like he's just lost touch with a part of himself, if he ever really had it. Henri and Jimmy's theme would definitely have to do with their humanity. And Brandon is their foil as someone who probably cares too much.

    Thank you! I really enjoy the connections. As the story grows, more things overlap. A moment from one story might pop up again in another story.

    Thank you so much!

    Carla, it does seem light after last week.

    I love it. It's true. Laura was the first to notate on chapter 14 that his touch on the back of her neck could be a dominance thing or a comfort protective thing. I love that I can share that other view of Jimmy and have you guys sort of see him as I do. He's still scary with scary friends and a high position, have no doubts, but now you can see the other side of him.

    lol, no he's not really the sort for chitchat. I'd imagine he'd be annoyed by chitchat more than anything.

    SB, thank you. Paula's story has always been a little slow. For a while I was actually worried it was too slow, but a story will do as it does.

    lol! You should always be suspicious. Paula will need to remind herself to be that way.

    Henri is kind of like a cult leader! If he doesn't see the uses of everyone around him, I don't think he'd have been very successful. He's set up something of a modern kingdom that has a culture partially thanks to him. I think a cult comparison is very accurate, especially considering how everyone almost reveres him.

    One scary biped! LOL! I think he needs a shirt with that.

  11. Quite a walk indeed. Again, I was struck at how Jimmy seems gentle in his handling and touching of Paula, does Paula remind him of Mary somehow? Offering to carry her bag?? A gentleman? And how subtle Paula's reaction changes to Jimmy during that walk, from 'sending ripples of fear down her spine', to the feeling of his hand on her back giving her comfort. Jimmy fascinates the hell out of me.

    Henri isn't exactly Mr. Cuddly Daddy, is he? "Cook me breakfast..." Yeah. She was better off with peanut butter sandwiches with Brandon.

    Great update Lunar!

    Oh, sorry I don't get to your updates sooner, I am not on the computer much on weekends! But do enjoy reading and commenting with my weekday tea!

  12. This update made me feel really sad for Paula. From the moment she arrived, Henri never once acknowledged her as his daughter and instead, ordered her like a servant girl. I would have been so demoralised if I were her. I mean, is that how you're going to live the rest of your life? Omgawd Brandon, please come back soon. T.T

    As for Jimmy... I don't think I can go back to fearing him, lol. Everything he does now suddenly became a sweet gesture. XD (How sad is that for him, huh.)

    You can get used to strangeness if you live with it long enough. Just have to make it past the beginning.

    That's another line for me to add to my favourites. :) Seriously, you're among the best I've seen in writing.

  13. Drew, that's a very good question. Other than being in a similar situation, I don't see Paula reminding him of Mary. But remember how Mary viewed him. One of the first time she saw him, she almost laughed at the way he seemed to politely eat the apple offered him while everyone around him was terrified of him.

    Jimmy is a fun fascinating character for me, I'm glad I'm not the only one here, haha. I have a lot of fun playing with the question as to whether he's really a monster or not.

    And Henri, a cuddly daddy? LOL! That's part of the problem I'm going to have with him. He's just stubborn and would prefer not to be in this part at all. But Paula of course is very curious about him.

    And, lol, you're so sweet. It's okay. Most people are busy on the weekends. And weekdays, for that matter. That's why I'm thankful people take the time out to read at all.

    So thank you.

    Ning, "demoralized" is a good word, but Paula's stubborn. She's got nothing left, and I doubt she's going to accept living like this for very long to be honest!

    lol, poor Jimmy! But I like the whole idea of image vs. truth. Who he appears to be to someone like Paula is not necessarily who he really is. Maybe. I enjoy bouncing back and forth with him, hopefully in a realistic manner. Because he's so divided...

    Awe, *blush* thank you very much.

  14. Hi, Lunar!

    This comes at a perfect time after reading about poor, lovely Mary.

    It's a very tense walk though. I love the way you describe her thoughts and her sensations.

    I'm glad she thinks of her Mom and follows that valuable piece of advice. It makes me feel better about her Mom dealing with her particular situation in prison too. And I like the fact she remembers her Mom saw something in Henri...

    I think she is already changeing her mind a tiny bit about Jimmy. It's nice to know that his hand felt comforting to her if only to a degree.

    I was surprised the building is kept dark downstairs and wonder what the reason for this is.

    But I was even more surprised when I read that Henri has got electricity. Is the lamp powered by batteries or does he possess a small generator? Is the house actually wired or not?

    I was very intrigued by this line ..."He's neither the man in the books nor my father but someone else entirely."
    I love the way you play with the fact that one person can have many different social roles at the same time.

    How nice of Henri to actually make sure her room is ready. I wonder whether he washed the sheets and made the bed himself or had someone else do this.

    I'm glad Paula will have something to do and is free to roam the house. The fact that she can choose to see or not to see "people downstairs" is interesting too. She is abviously safe in that house and the "people downstairs" will obviously know that she is Henri's daughter. That gives her more social esteem now, I think.

    I agree that Henri sounds stern and slightly gruff. It's fitting for a the important persona he is, though. I can't help wondering if he sees something of Paula's mum in Paula and how he feels about that. Also I onder whether she is his only daughter...

    I really really enjoyed this chapter! :)

  15. Thank you Moondaisy.

    Paula's mom is a very important person in her life. She'll become increasingly important I think for Paula now in this situation. Paula's never seen herself as being anything like her mother.

    Well, Paula might not have been changing her mind about Jimmy as much as she just became more terrified of the dark and the world around her than she was of Jimmy.

    Oh, I see all your questions about electricity really were all answered, lol.

    Thanks, Moondaisy. I enjoy playing with social roles immensely! Because we each have so many roles we play ourselves.

    Oh, that's a good question that I didn't even think of myself. Did he have someone else do this? He's not really the sort of leader to give "dry cleaning" type orders, if you know what I mean. He's bossy, but not in that way. I bet there's a story behind those clean sheets and made bed! Oh I think you've helped me out again.

    I think you're right. It wil definitely be better than hanging out on the balcony at Brandon's place.

    Thank you Moondaisy! I always enjoy reading your comments so much.

  16. Amazing how, the minute you learn something about a person it can affect how you view an act. Before Mary's story, Jimmy seemed controlling Paula as he put his hand on her back to push her forward. In this chapter, my head says it's more like a protection thing. While he is in contact with Paula, none around the bonfire would dare even think of harming her.

    We've seen his love for his younger brother and this girl is his brother's sister - I'm wondering if that makes her untouchable in his eyes because Brandon wouldn't forgive him if harm came to his sibling?

    My impression at first was that Henri was treating Paula like a pet but I think someone else said that he was just treating her as he treats everyone else. I also get the impression he's never been involved in the lives of his children until they are old enough to be of use to him and Paula as a "neutral" won't ever be of use to him so he has no idea how to deal with her.

    Although, having said all that, the thing I'm dying to know about is the relationship between Henri and Paula's mother. How did they come into contact with each other? Was there a relationship or was it a once off mistake? Did he love her or did he just see her as another bump in his life, someone to be used and discarded when she no longer served a purpose?

  17. Yeah, exactly! *claps hands* Haha, you're dead on. While he's in front of the others, he in contact with her, and once they round the corner, he removes his hand. It's definitely a move that probably would make others see her and go, "poor girl." She probably looks like she's walking to her death.

    How Jimmy views her is a good question. At the moment, I think he's wondering that himself.

    lol, seriously, you think the same way I do. I actually thought the same thing. I can see Henri looking at Paula and wondering what the hell he's supposed to do with her exactly.

    As for Henri and Paula's mom, hehe, that's something we'll get to eventually. Everything comes out eventually.