30 Apr 2011, A New Novel, Part 208 She Should Remain in the Ecclesia
For those who haven’t been following this blog, let me introduce it a little. I am currently blogging my 21st novel that has the working title Daemon. The novel is about Aksinya, a sorceress, who, to save her family from the Bolsheviks, called and contracted the demon, Asmodeus. Her family was murdered anyway, and she fled with the demon from Russia to Austria.
I promised you a transition--that is indeed what I have been setting you up for. It follows as well as a very important scene that includes some strong foreshadowing…
This is how Aksinya’s days progressed with only the variation of the domestic work of the rectory and Ecclesia. Every evening, Aksinya asked about Natalya, but she received no information. Father Makar explained every time she asked that he still sought the Lady Natalya, but that no one knew what had happened to her.
On Saturday following the morning prayers, Ekaterina prepared to take Aksinya with her to the market, but Father Dobrushin blocked the door when Aksinya tried to leave the rectory.
Ekaterina pursed her lips, “What’s wrong Father Dobrushin. The Countess can help me with carrying everything. She will be very helpful.”
Aksinya stood silent.
Father Dobrushin answered carefully, “I don’t think she should appear in the marketplace. Right now, until we determine what is going on, she should remain in the Ecclesia.”
Ekaterina glared at him, “I would like her to accompany me, and I’m certain she would like to go out.”
Father Dobrushin sighed, “I will get a Greek Bible for the Countess to study today. That will make up for missing the market.”
Aksinya didn’t raise her head, “I would like to study.”
Ekaterina made a face, but she turned, “Very well. I’ll be back before midday communion. Father Dobrushin, look after my charge.”
Father Dobrushin’s face was very serious, “I shall.” After Ekaterina was out of the sight, Father Dobrushin gestured toward Aksinya. She wasn’t watching. He cleared his throat, “Countess.”
She glanced up, “Yes.”
“Come with me. I’ll give you an old Bible to study. It is a little worn, but you should be able to read it without any problem.” Father Dobrushin led Aksinya to the side of the ark, “Wait here. I’ll get the Bible.” He went between the rails and to the back of the ark. After a few moments, he returned with a large book in his hands. He handed it to Aksinya, “You may read this all you like.”
“May I take it to my room?”
“Yes. If you have nothing else you need to do, you should study it now.”
Aksinya clasped the large book to her chest. The place still stung between her breasts where the crucifix had burned her. She took the Bible back to her room and began to read it. She was so intrigued with what she read, Ekaterina had to retrieve her for the midday communion. Following communion, Aksinya continued to read until Ekaterina called her to come help with supper. Aksinya dragged herself away from the book and went to help.
After dinner, Aksinya begged a taper from Ekaterina and continued to read until the wax and floss was entirely gone. Then she prayed her rosary until she fell asleep. Her last prayer was that she might have light to spare so she could spend enough time to memorize the Greek Bible Father Dobrushin had lent her.
After that, Aksinya’s days were completely filled with her work, prayer, and memorization of the Greek Bible.
We start with the transition right away. Remember I told you yesterday I was setting everything up for this transition. The transition is to set you up for the time lapse that will come next. So, what I showed yesterday was the general day Aksinya lived in the rectory and Ecclesia. The next (transition) gives you an idea that time is passing. Tomorrow, more time will have passed. The purpose is to show you generally what is transpiring in a way that you know what is going on, but I don't have to show or tell you everything. This is an advanced form of a transition: you start slow and easy and move a little quicker each time. Eventually, the reader has a feel that time has passed, but also has the impression that they understand well what has been going on in the life of the main character.
Thus: This is how Aksinya’s days progressed with only the variation of the domestic work of the rectory and Ecclesia. Days have passed and each was similar to the last that I showed you. Also, Aksinya asks about Natalya every day. It would be redundant for me to show you this every day for weeks, so I give you a short synopsis in the narrative and all is good. We still don't know what happened to Natalya--just keeping the tension going as well.
Then out of the transition, I give you another scene. First the setting: when, Saturday; where, the rectory; who, Ekaterina, Aksinya, and Father Dobrushin, the what, Ekaterina wants to take Aksinya to the market with her. Father Dobrushin doesn't think this is a good idea. Aksinya is resigned to her role as servent. This makes their address to her as Countess all the more ironic. I don't tell you Father Dobrushin is worried or concerned, I just show you. His statement is a parallel to what he said before--Aksinya should stay in the Ecclesia. He gives no reasons, but you should be able to fathom his mind. He is worried that outside the Ecclesia, she will be unprotected from...the police, the authorities,...the demon. This is a foreshadowing. You might ask, why all this foreshadowing all the time. There is foreshadowing in almost every scene--yes. There is foreshadowing in almost every scene, this is the way to drive a plot. The foreshadowing is a means to connect the storyline in the scenes. This along with symbols, analogy, allegory, connected characters, the connections between and among characters. In a novel, these are the glue that binds the scenes and gives you a rich plot. If you need more convincing, think about the crucifix Aksinya wears between her breasts and about the demon himself, or Akinsya's luxuria problem. All these simple elements bring the scenes together and give sense to the whole.
Father Dobrushin then tempts Aksinya. His temptation is not the same as the demons--it is not a temptation to sin or to evil. He offers her a Greek Bible to study. He knows her well enough to understand that this will beguile and intregue her. Indeed, Aksinya is interested. You also know from her response that she would have liked to have gone to the market, but she would also like to study the book. Ekaterina isn't so happy. She wanted a friendly companion and help. Ekaterina isn't as interested in study. She warns Father Dobrushin to look after "her charge." See how serriously the father takes on that responsibility--this isn't a game to either of them.
In this time, Bibles were still relatively rare and special. This Bible is very special; since it is from the Ark (in the Ecclesia), it is one of the Bibles used for the readings in the Ecclesia. Note how Aksinya treats this Bible like she did the books of sorcery. She wants to read it in her room. She clasps it to her chest even though that brings her pain. This is all new for her. The image of the pain is new in this novel. Before, Aksinya had pain when she participated in evil and then was exposed to the church. Now, she gladly accepts pain due to the church--this is very new and another tie between the scenes in the entire novel.
Aksinya's study of the book is just like her study of the books of sorcery. She can't put it down, but the new Aksinya tears herself away from the Bible to do her work in the rectory and Ecclesia. This is a new Aksinya. She is putting away luxuria. She reads into the night until her taper is gone. Her prayers are for light--but note, she doesn't make a light (through sorcery). This is one of those ties that bind the scenes. Because of what went before, you can easily see Aksinya in the role she is portrayed. Then another very short transition. Tomorrow, another transition.