1 May 2011, A New Novel, Part 209 She is Certainly Insane
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.
What follows is the full transition I promised you. I first set a day for Aksinya. Then I gave you a number of days (all similar). Now, I place the whole before you and this allows us to move to the next scene…
A couple of weeks passed as though they were days. The season of the church was now lent. They all fasted, although Aksinya wasn’t certain they could actually fast more than they did. The food in the rectory of the Ecclesia was filling, but it was nothing like what Aksinya had been used to. At lent, there was less meat, but she ate plenty of potatoes and almost all the tea she wished.
Father Makar came home in a strange mood Saturday evening only two weeks from Easter. Although Aksinya didn’t notice, he wouldn’t look at her at all. His eyes kept shifting toward her all through supper. When Aksinya was finished eating, Ekaterina pushed her toward the door to her room. She placed a taper in Aksinya’s hands, “Here, you might want to read tonight. I’ll take care of the kitchen.”
Aksinya was so happy to get back to her Bible, she didn’t think much, but took the taper in her hand. She stammered, “Th…thank you, Matushka.”
Aksinya headed down the corridor to her room until she heard the Lady Natalya’s name mentioned. Aksinya had asked, like clockwork, but Father Makar hadn’t been able to tell her anything. Aksinya quietly moved back down the hall and snuffed her taper. The door to the kitchen was open. The three sat at that table. Ekaterina wasn’t working on the dishes at all.
Father Makar was speaking, “The abbot won’t reveal anything about the Lady Natalya to me.”
“Does he know the Countess is here?”
“They have no idea.”
“They are looking for her?”
“That isn’t clear either. The Reverend Mother doesn’t know anything.”
Father Dobrushin breathed out, “It’s been almost three weeks. You’d think we would hear something, anything.”
“They may have concluded she is insane too.”
“I’ve watched her all this time. She is odd, but she is certainly not insane.”
Ekaterina added, “I agree. The Countess is anything but insane.”
“She believes she contracted with a demon. She is certainly insane.”
Father Dobrushin continued, “Whether she is insane or not, is not the main question to my mind. What I want to know is does the Cardinal seek her, and what happened to the Lady Natalya?”
The beginning is the transition. I use two methods to mark the when. The "when" is critical when moving time like this. The markers I use are first, two weeks, then the season is now lent. The use of church seasons is one of my favorite tie markers in these types of period novels. The time fits and it also gives other markers that provide information and period feel. Note, that they all fast, but Aksinya isn't certain how they could fast any more than they do. Here, I let you into the mind of the main character for just a moment. This is another way to contrast Aksinya's past luxuria with her new found poverty. She gets as much tea as she wishes, but it isn't the tea she likes best.
Now, another time marker and the actual scene. The day is Saturday and the evening. The time is two weeks from Easter. Father Makar will not look at Aksinya. He obviously knows something, but Aksinya is preoccupied with other thoughts and doesn't notice. Ekaterina notices. She gets rid of Aksinya as soon as supper is over. She places a taper in Aksinya's hands--this will tempt Aksinya to go read, ha ha. This is a temptation to Aksinya, but one that is reasonable.
They tried to get rid of Aksinya so they could speak about her, but Aksinya heard Natalya's name spoken, and she decides to listen. Now we discover Father Makar's connections in the city. We also discover that Father Makar has been seeking information about Natalya. He has also been keeping Aksinya secret. About Aksinya, Father Makar's opinion is direct--he still thinks she is insane. Father Dobrushin and Ekaterina come to Aksinya's defense. The ultimate problem with Aksinya is exactly what Father Makar thinks is what the rest of the world with think.
Father Dobrushin caps this piece with his question: “Whether she is insane or not, is not the main question to my mind. What I want to know is does the Cardinal seek her, and what happened to the Lady Natalya?” You should realize that all this is a set up. I have given you all kinds of foreshadowing and hints. These bind the scenes together and provide the background for what will happen next. Tomorrow, more of this important conversation (don't forget, Aksinya is listening).