I promised myself I’d get back into my novel this month. Forest Avenue Press will still be my primary focus, but I want to make room in my life for Henri, my protagonist now languishing in Chapter Four, draft two, still waiting for his chance to board a ship to America.
Interesting things are happening in my book, though, and some of them have nothing to do with Henri. Maybe they’ll get cut in a later draft. Or maybe they’ll stay. I’m not really concerned. But for now, holding a glass eyeball inspired the town baker to find his artistic side. You’ll note “the village chorus,” in this case unidentified children and mothers speaking to each other. That’s a device I’ve been using pretty regularly in this draft, and I love the larger sense of community it brings to the page without getting bogged down in details and extraneous names.
Here’s a short passage from Lost Notes:
Fruit grew heavy in late July. Small children wandered around town with stained mouths, though they were supposed to bring their findings straight to their mothers. The berries were intended for drying or jamming—to brighten the taste of winter bread.
The baker had little use for worrying, though. He used what berries he could find to color his sugar spheres, which he displayed in the front window, attracting crowds in the street after church. Who would buy sugar that had been melted and cured into glassy circles and ribbons? It could not be fashioned into molasses. It could not be added by pinch to hot grains. It could not even be stored properly, for the mice and the dust claimed their shares when the baker went home for the night.
Like ice, the children thought, pressing their stained hands and mouths against the glass on the front of the boulangerie. The baker has taken ice and run it through our mothers’ spinning wheels, turned it into fat threads of crystal, and then he has woven baubles from those glassy threads.
“It is much simpler than that, children, to make boiled sweets.” The baker, when he had a crowd, often came out to say hello and offer tiny nibbles—always something from the back of his display, where the granular loss wouldn’t show. “May I demonstrate the melting process?”
“Come inside, then, children, and I will show you.”
“Please, Maman? May we go inside?”
“Move along, it is time we get home, come now, toi aussi, Bernard, allons-y,” the mothers said. They did not want their children talking to someone so wasteful. “You may not go inside today.”
“But we are thirsty!” the children complained. “We are tired! We want to go inside. It is cooler in there than out here in the hot sun.”
The mothers hastened their children away, fearing a trick. It was one thing to make lace—beautiful but practical. Their work would be used. The baker’s work was not even work at all—it was a waste of supplies.