Friday, 6 July 2018

Fragments: Maxime meets Leopold

Recently I've been thinking that it would be nice to introduce a new series to my blog, called "fragments". These kinds of entries will be based around small selections of my writing that I find interesting or meaningful, but will not include any spoilers or otherwise important aspects to the plots of my stories. Kind of like giving a 'taster' of my writing!

Scraps of “L'hôtel des Roches Noires”  - Ellie Morris

Below is a scene in my novel "Maxime", from chapter two. Maxime is a work in progress, and I'm currently at 37,000 words, but this particular scene has been edited and reworked quite a lot this year, since it was the selection I submitted to my university application.

In this chapter, Maxime is twelve years old and about to embark on a new adventure - the first day of his acting career, on set! He meets his strange, subdued co-star, Leopold, who becomes an important character in Maxime's story. 
The synopsis for my novel is here, if you are interested.

“How is your sister? Feeling better?”
“She has her surgery tomorrow. It seems to be very painful for her. My parents were rather upset that she got sick very quickly, and at such a bad time.” Maxime smiled apologetically at his manager, as a slight guilt for mentioning the timing of her illness was nibbling at him. “I wish I could have stayed to cheer her up.”
“I’m sure it will cheer her up to know that you are taking a huge leap in your career,” Monsieur Borde said, with a frankness that suggested Max was crazy to even think of staying with his sister.
With a nod of his head, Maxime climbed into the man’s sporty vehicle. His eyes were on the city unfolding around him. With a dusty blue sky, everything seemed to be covered in a slight haze. Cars crawled down the roads like big, blocky beetles in bottle green, chocolate brown, and sleek black. There were dark rain clouds gathering in the west, and a certain frostiness remained from the biting winter months they had endured in Paris. Both the elegant and the scruffy strode down and congregated in the streets, princes and paupers alike, hustling along to keep warm and reach their destinations. It seemed to Maxime that everybody who populated cities always seemed to be in such a rush, especially those from the most important metropolises around the world; nothing could slow them down, and he was glad to be in the car, as he was often skirted around like an annoyance and overtaken by gangly-legged men and brisk-walking, important-looking women in hats and heels.
 “We’ll be about forty to forty-five minutes, I suppose,” Borde said, and then looked rather anxious. “You don’t get travel sick, do you?”
Maxime assured him that he did not have motion sickness.
Guaranteed that the boy wouldn’t make a mess of his cushy new car, he sped off into the juncture — rather too fast for Maxime’s liking, but he kept his mouth shut. Once they joined the other cars in the meander down busy Parisian blocks, they slowed to a more amiable pace. Monsieur Borde tapped the wheel with his fingernails in distaste.
“I hate driving in the cities,” he commented. “Such a drag. The countryside is more fun, you’ll see.”
Max’s face paled. He rather enjoyed the snail-like crawl, and the slight movements of the car every twenty seconds rocked him like a baby. But once in the outskirts, things were speeding up a bit.
Fearing crashing and burning on his first day of his acting career, he clutched the edges of his seat and kept his back ramrod straight against the chair. The joy-riding Monsieur took his silence as appreciation for the fast life, as the boy’s face displayed no signs of discomfort.
“Fun, isn’t it?” he hollered over the roaring engine.
Max had no words. He could only let out a shrill, giddy laugh as his stomach performed somersaults and other acrobatic feats.
Soon, they were rolling across the gravel leading to the studio. If Maxime’s legs were trembling after his earlier journey, they nearly collapsed beneath him as he attempted to follow Borde’s lead to the entrance. For a split second his knees touched the gravel, but he quickly sprung back up like a Jack-in-the-Box as though it had never happened.
 “Maxime has arrived just now,” Borde called out to the halls, which wasn’t exactly embarrassing to the boy, but he wished that he could have made a more subdued entry.
Quickly, Borde briefed him. “They are a bit older than you, the other actors. Just remember your age, and to respect your elders, and you’ll be fine.”
Max’s pleasant nerves at the idea of meeting his co-stars quickly turned to sawdust in the pit of his stomach, heavy and indigestible. He went red, and then he went white.
“Do you think we’ll all get along?”
He knew he couldn’t survive in such a place if everybody loathed him or saw him as a little brat to be ignored, yet he put on a cheeky, provocative tone to hide the rise of emotion in his chest.
Monsieur Borde ignored his question, and as they turned a corner in the labyrinth-like palace of props, costumes and cameras, a young man popped into view.
He was conversing with another gentleman about thirty years his senior, and spoke in a hushed, secretive tone. There was a dull flush on his face when Maxime and Monsieur Borde approached, and he stopped the conversation short to consider the approaching duo markedly. Mostly, his dark eyes were on Max.
 “Leopold, this is Maxime de Faye,” the director, whom Max had met only once, proclaimed. “And Max, meet Leopold Ronis.”
Max stared back at the boy stood before him, gazing unabashedly, which made the director click his tongue and titter artlessly.
“I bet you two will get along famously,” he said with excitement, clapping Ronis forcibly on the back, who stumbled a little and began to look more uncomfortable than ever.
“We have our fingers crossed,” Monsieur Borde grinned.

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