July 30, 2010

Voilà! C est Magnifique!

Hooray for partners! My wonderful partner has written this little tale, which she took great pains to keep at exactly one thousand words. The poem I've been saving for tomorrow will finish off the month.

I've got a few back-to-school projects going that will keep me busy next week, but I'll definitely do my best to get you started on a nice little serial to read. Through the poll, I have discovered we have at least four loyal readers...and I think I know who you all are, too. Everyone voted for Assignment to Earth, so that's what you will be getting. Sometime in the future I still would like to post the short version of Tanella's Flight, though, because it is a very different story from the novel that was published, and I'd love to share it with you.

--Anne

Prompt: In the South of France…there was a ferocious…businesswoman…who reigned over a band of piglets…and considered a career in interior design.

Violet Jardin fiddled with the small but precisely cut bits of paper and cardboard resting on the mat on the tabletop in front of her. She moved some of the fragments from one side of the exactly drawn rectangle to the other, cocking her head and scrutinizing the effect she had fashioned.

“No, that’s not quite what I had in mind,” she said out loud, although she was completely alone. She moved the splinters and chips to other areas of the mat and studied the effect once more.

“Still not quite right; hmmm, let me put this one…here,” she said, moving a key bit of the fabric-covered cardboard, “which leaves me free to sling this piece from the corner…here, and then I can move this one over to…there.”

Matching action to words, she changed certain pieces around, and then studied the results, viewing all angles of the piece critically.
“Yes, that’s got it,” she said, nodding at the mat board. “You’ll do!”
Violet picked up the digital camera next to her and snapped off several pictures from different angles, humming an unstructured smidgen of music as she captured the essence of her creation.

Setting the camera back down, Violet stretched and yawned, then covered the mock-up design of Mlle. Luminaries’ Beauty Salon to ensure the pieces would stay in place until later today when the celebrated beautician would view it and decide “eef eet weel doo” for the new boutique the woman was opening in Calais.

Violet sniffed. The lady had as much interior design sense as a hockey puck, and that was being generous. Where hair design and fashion were concerned, however, ‘Miss Lightball’ as Violet was wont to call her when the woman was out of earshot, was an absolute genius! Women from all over the globe flocked to these shops to have individually designed hairdos created specifically for each, and they paid big bucks for the privilege, too. Some were ludicrous!

But, on the other hand, people were beginning to come to her for their specialty shop designs, and paying her—well, not fabulous bucks yet—but at least a large piles of dollars to have rooms ‘done’ by her…Violet Jardin. She suddenly grinned like a small child given carte blanche in a confectionery shop.

Violet knew that part of her success was due to her instinctive feel for fabric, wallpapers and paint and how they related to each other. The rest of her success was due to her demanding—and getting—absolute perfection from the vendors she worked with, settling for nothing less than exquisite. Violet understood what each room needed, and would settle for exactly that and nothing else to achieve the perfect balance for the specific use to which the room was to be used.

She’d settled in the South of France quite by accident, really, but few knew that. In her early twenties, she’d been an entertainer; not exactly by choice, but because her father had demanded it of her. She had a good voice and a graceful way of moving, so her papa had pushed her into joining an international musical group he was promoting just before they came to Europe on tour. The longer she worked at this, the less she enjoyed it.

Oh, she was a dab hand at it because she was able to wheedle the most from the players and musicians around her, and her voice and dancing sort of cemented the whole of each production into a seamless recital. Then she’d found the Piglets and her reign as the queen of their band began. She grinned now, thinking of them.

Six little porkers that she’d dress up like clowns; what a scream! They’d enter the stage from six different angles, squealing and snorting and making a ruckus, and converge on center stage and abruptly stop as they came face to face, as if they didn’t realize there was anyone else on the boards except themselves. A loud pop would sound from the back of the hall which would make them jump, and then, in perfectly pitched six part harmony, they’d croon delightful tunes. They sounded better than the old Barber-shop Quartets which had been popular thirty years ago, although they didn’t actually sing words.

Although highly irked, her father had to admit she had a good thing going. Of course he would admit this, as he received fifty-five percent of their nightly take of the ticket window’s profits. It took its toll on her singing and dancing, though, because the piglets would only perform for her. They ran away from her papa squealing in fear whenever he headed in their direction, which strained their voices and made it nearly impossible for them to perform the next evening, so she persuaded him to move on through Europe without the ‘Passionate Piglets’ and, soon after he’d left her part of France, she sold the group to another entrepreneur for whom the pudgy porkers would work.

Their new boss had signed a contract with Violet stipulating her papa would still receive his fifty-five percent for three more years, and after that the full price of the piglets’ earnings would revert to their new boss and be under his control exclusively. The Piglet Band brought in scads of money. The last she’d heard of them, they were touring Russia and performing to standing room only crowds.

She’d slipped off to Paris to complete her education as a designer, changing her name so papa couldn’t find her. Winning her certificate, she worked for several years for other design companies, gradually coming to the notice of the wealthier clients. Several of them had her design rooms in their fabulous mansions, which she did extremely well. Then she’d found her niche; designing boutiques with individually signatured themes.
Her doorbell rang. Ahh, here was ‘Miss Lightball’ now. Excellent!