Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chapter 33: Weighed And Found Wanting

Part I: Adelaide Is Weighed
Sat, November 14, 2074 7:32 pm: Lothario Hall- Rawling Hills, Pleasantview


"I don't know how you always manage to talk me into throwing these insipid little get-togethers Adelaide but I swear, there will be at least six months between now and the next time I have to share breathing room with mostof these people. And who is that girl coming in with Horace?" Dina snapped her fingers at the bartender while she spoke, never taking her eyes off of the door. Her voice undulated from high to low, marking what Adelaide knew to be her mother's first stage of inebriation.

While the bartender filled Dina's empty glass with gin and tonic, Adelaide patted her baby squarely on the back to quell her rising sobs. Adelaide then disinterestedly turned her head to see what girl her mother was blustering about and was met with the heavily painted face of Madeline Burb. Madeline locked eyes with Adelaide and waved bashfully. Adelaide refused to acknowledge the gesture.


"That'll be Madeline," Adelaide said dryly, rolling her eyes. "You know, your son-in-law's sister." Adelaide thought that Dina should have been able to guess as much considering the fact that Ian and Madeline were almost identical. Dina snorted contemptuously.

"Honestly Adelaide, you can't expect me to keep track of all Ian's siblings. Ginny Burb must have a revolving door between her legs. If age hadn't caught up with her, she'd still be popping them out. And what is that Madeline girl wearing?"


Privately, Adelaide had to agree with her mother on the subject of Madeline's choice of attire. Bright green paisley with brass rivets was not exactly the height of invention. But the rest of it had been completely uncalled for. Dina was already drunk enough to begin maligning guests and Adelaide would have to put a stop to it before it got out of hand.

"I think you've just had your last cocktail, mother."

"Nonsense. Why is she arriving with the Goths and not her own people?"


"Don't you know? Madeline and Enoch are engaged to be married." Dina gasped and grabbed her chest as though she were having a heart attack.

"Never, a Goth marry a Burb? Scandalous. But I suppose it is better than that thing Phoenix shacked-up with. Or what your sister married. This state is truly going to the dogs." Dina took a large swig of gin.


"Would it be worth the effort for me to remind you that you married me off to a Burb," Adelaide whined.

"You, my dear, are not a Goth. Besides, Ian wasn't my idea. He was you father's. I only went along with it because I was eager to finally get some full caste grandbabies."

"Isabella's boys are full caste." Dina choked on her drink.

Patting herself near the clavicle, Dina said huskily, "Jean-Luc Tellerman is a Townie." Adelaide sighed. There was really no arguing with her mother.


"We've been over this. He is a second generation Resident. His parents were both brilliant, first rate people- Not to mention disgustingly rich."

"Townies, both of them. Don't piss under my tree and try to tell me it's raining, Adelaide."

"I'm not even going to attempt to decipher that metaphor, mother." Adelaide bounced Francesca in the palm of her hand while Dina studied their closest friends and family like a white-gloved bird of prey. Perhaps it was the sweltering heat of the crowded room but Adelaide soon found herself growing nauseous. She closed her eyes and tried to ignore it. At length, Dina rose her glass in the direction of the Pleasants.


"Sabina is growing up to be a rare beauty, don't you think," Dina said wistfully. Adelaide furrowed her brow, both surprised by her mother's sudden amiability and desperate to prevent the resurrection of her dinner. "It is such a shame that the poor girl's head is as empty as a beach ball. Adelaide, are you alright?" Adelaide's vision was dancing. Her nausea was coming in waves. She had to get out of there.


"I... I don't know. I'm feeling a little flustered."

"I daresay you are. You've barely eaten for days and you don't diet. You're either newly expecting or coming down with something. And seeing as how you've never so much as sniffled a day in your life, my money is on the former."

"I think I'm going to be sick."


During a brief silence, Adelaide found herself directly beneath her mother's wide-eyed scrutiny. Dina looked her up and down, no doubt searching for signs of burgeoning pudginess- Weighing Adelaide with her eyes. Adelaide was not pregnant. She couldn't be. Francesca was barely eight months old. She didn't even want to think about the prospect of having another child so soon. Dina outstretched her arms to Adelaide.

"Here, give me the baby and go take care of yourself. I'll make your excuses." Adelaide instinctively turned away from Dina with a slight twist of her hips as if to shield the baby. Dina did not seem to notice. A burning liquid rose up in Adelaide's throat. The world was slowly churning. Her palms grew hot and sweaty under the burden of her daughter's body. Overpowered, Adelaide handed the baby to Dina for fear of dropping her.

Part II: Ian Is Found Wanting
Sat, November 14, 2074 7:39 pm: Lothario Hall- Rawling Hills, Pleasantview


"Ian!" He knew that snarl as well as he knew his own heartbeat. He did not even need to turn around to perceive the harsh contours of her mouth or the narrow squint of her eyes. Ian hastily stuffed the last hors d'oeuvre down his throat before facing his mother-in-law's soulless frown.

"Yeah, Mom? What can I do ya for?"


"First of all, you may save your maternal affectations for your actual mother. Secondly, you are meant to be hosting this party, not gorging yourself on chocolate. And lastly, your wife has taken ill and gone to bed. Ginny has Francesca." Ian's nervous grin vanished.


"Addy is sick?" Ian had never called her that aloud before. And even with as naturally as the pet name had rolled off of his tongue, he still regretted having given voice to it at all, let alone in front of Dina. Adelaide was not the sort of woman that should inspire baby talk and cutesy sobriquets. She was the sort of woman that merited long-winded poetry and vows of undying passion. But in the end, Ian was not the sort of man to write poetry or feel passion.

"Yes Ian, that is what I said. Now do you need me to repeat any or all of what I just told you? Or was once sufficient enough for me to get my message through to your gnat's brain?" Ian slowly nodded the affirmative but he secretly wished she would repeat the part about affection. Dina sniffed tartly then turned on her heals and fled across the room to chat with the Dreamers.


Ian breathed a sigh of relief at having been left alone. He hated parties. Hell, he hated his social position. As Ian turned back towards the food, he was startled to find himself face to face with a foolishly grinning Lawrence Caliente.

"Hiya!" Laurie was unusually peppy. Ian didn't know what to make of it.

"Oh, hey Laurie. How are things?"

"Oppressively dull. What about you? You enjoying yourself?" Ian glanced around the room at the sea of stiff, terrifying people. No, he was not enjoying himself.


"Same here," he said simply. Laurie's grin widened.

"Excellent," he said, then looked over his shoulder and gestured for his sister to come join them.


Ian had always liked Lydia. She was fun and spirited- The absolute antithesis of the Adelaide Lotharios of the world. She spent her days in downtown pool halls wearing tattered jeans and drinking grown men under the table. She was wild, boyish and most people agreed, irredeemably eccentric. But what Ian admired most was that she made no apologies for any of it. She beamed at him when she came to a halt just behind Laurie.

"Happy birthday, Lydia," Ian said almost shyly.

"Thanks, Ian. Wanna turn this shindig around?" Ian raised his eyebrows. He didn't know what these two had planned but he thought that it was almost worth the combined ire of his mother-in-law and his sick wife if the night could somehow be salvaged.


"Yeah," Ian said. "As a matter of fact, I do want."

"Great," Laurie exclaimed, punching Ian in the shoulder. For such a small person, he threw a shockingly painful punch. Ian resisted the urge to rub his aching shoulder in front of Lydia. Laurie leaned towards Ian, evidently for the purpose of secrecy. "If you'll kindly direct the birthday girl to your circuit breaker then we just might be able to kick this party up a notch."


  1. I read this this morning(once again) and I thought it was fabulous! Couldn't comment because the clock was ticking for work but...

    I love the interaction between mother and daughter! There relationship was just so real...and snobby! LOL!! It gave me alot of insight into the dynamics of the castes!:)

    Anyways...I can't wait to see what Lydia does to spice up this party!

  2. They're making you work on a national holiday? That's lame ass! LOL

    I think when I originally planned this party it was mainly for the purpose of showing how these people treat one another and not just how they treat the lower castes. So if that came across, then my job is done.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter, Phoenix! I'm going to get off the net now and drive to my grandmother's for turkey and apple pie!

  3. Wow, those high caste people are so bitchy! Dina's definitely one of those characters you love to hate, that's for sure. I feel bad for all her husbands, but I guess they're free of her now.

  4. LOL Penelope! I work at a police department! Sooo...there really aren't days off!:P They make up for it though so it's all good! ;)~

    And it definitely came across! Wonderful update!

    *goes off to work on my story*

  5. Phoenix: Yay, new Ravensworth!

    Van: Ha! Interesting that you mention the husbands. Don loved her madly from the moment he first saw her right down to the day that he died. The Mortimer marriage was crap for everyone involved (Mortimer himself was a much worse piece of work than Dina). In that case, Dina's gold digging put her in a miserable position, particularly after she realized that she was in love with Don. Michael was a totally different situation. It was a marriage of convenience(and revenge) that turned out rather sweetly. Dina was very young and a much different person then. She was a good and dutiful wife (even though she ended up cheating with Don near the end there).

    I feel bad not for her husbands but for her daughters. Isabella, as far as Dina is concerned, was a terrible disappointment. And Isabella has had to live with her mother's criticisms for as long as she can remember. Adelaide turned out to be everything that Dina thought a respectable young woman should be- Bright, stoic, pretty, sophisticated. But the consequence of that is that Adelaide turned out to be almost as cold as her mother.

  6. Ok, so I wrote an explanation of the caste system for anyone interested. It is located here.

  7. Hi! Thanks for your excitement about my update - it made me feel happy, since I admire your story so much. :-) I can't wait to get caught up on all the Blue Lake happenings. I caught a glimpse of Laurie in this update. Yay, a favorite of mine!

  8. Noooooooooo I am caught up! So this is how it feels! *stares at blank wall where "Newer Post" is supposed to be*

    Luckily I brought my own confetti. *tosses* *blows horn*

    This is a fabulous story, Pen, I am so glad I finally got around to reading it. I loved the prologue way back when but I never make time to read anything. I think I am officially hooked now, though.

    Oh and I keep forgetting to comment on this but I absolutely love the character of Dina. She is SUCH a ...character, as my mom would say.

    Now, let's have a nice cocktail party (looking forward to seeing how that's going to be spiced up) and then MOAR JACK PLZ!!!!

  9. Yay, I'm so glad you're back, Beverly! And there's plenty of Laurie to come, don't you worry!

  10. Thanks, Lothere! You know how much I love your story so I'm well chuffed that you're enjoying mine!

    *hands Lothere party hat to go with her confetti*

    Dina is another fun one to write. She's a complete mess! Like Enoch, I love her in the story but if she were a real person, she would be so extraordinarily despicable.

    Hehehe Oh the cocktail party. I'm still out of town for the holiday. My family won't let me leave! And I haven't had time to work on 34 while I've been here. So no projected date on when the next chapter will be up. Though it will be sometime this week.

    And of course there will be MOAR JACK! I took a couple of pictures of him a few hours ago. Onward to the completion of the party!

  11. OK all caught up now. I enjoyed all the recent updates and can't wait to see more of the party. I also read all the Behind the Scenes stuff and thought it was great. I love the Tricous, so it was fun to find out how you got started with all that. Yay! *Waits for MOAR*

  12. hehehe I might have to start putting effort into/cleaning up the behind-the-scenes blog if people are actually going to read it. Most of the time, it's just stream of consciousness banter.

  13. Just stopped by to say Thank You for the kind note you left me on the conclusion of A Dark. ((((Pen))))

  14. Oh! Wait! Sorry to double comment but I just noticed what you said about the behind the scenes blog. Yeah, keep it up, I really enjoy it! I might even make a behind the scenes for Whistle the Wind. Not as detailed as yours, because my story isn't as complex. But yeah, I always make a point to read yours.

  15. Question. What are the divorce laws like in Pleasantview? Judging by amount of unhappy marriages, I'm guessing it's illegal, or at least frowned upon.

  16. Ah, interesting question! It's kind of like this- Divorces do happen and they aren't terribly difficult to get (Cassandra's youngest son Phoenix is in the middle of one right now, actually. We'll get a peek at him in the next chapter.) But unless the marriage is completely miserable, these couples normally try very hard to stay together. This is because not being married is a little taboo. If you get a divorce, then there is an unspoken expectation that you'll immediately start looking again. And there aren't very many fish in the sea in Pleasantview because everyone is married. There's a whole lot of settling going on.

  17. As an amendment to that previous comment, I should add that there are some happy married couples in Pleasantview. I just don't write about them because there is no drama there. :p

    But John and Ginny Burb are deliriously happy. Agrippa and Daphne Dreamer have something of a budding romance going on. Lilith and Dirk Pleasant are quietly contented. Lucy and Oliver Hanby are happily in luuuvvv. Isabella and JL, also in love. The Bennetts (Angelica and Crispin) are very happily married. Lavinia's best friend Christine is enjoying a splendid marriage. So are Catherine's parents Meadow and Tyson. And actually, Donna and Sean Wallace are happy (even though Donna has been known to have the occasional tryst).

  18. So with the last names, I'm guessing they just take the name of whichever family is higher in society when they get married?

  19. Yet another amendment to the divorce comment:

    Phoenix is the eldest son, not the youngest. I forget that all of the time because Agrippa has always been the mature one.

  20. From a distance...and I doubt you'll see this... but this is freaking hysterical and so GOOD. I mean it is incredibly good!

    I don't know why I didn't expect it. Lots of reasons. Way over the top can't possibly understand it give me a map and a compass reasons and some more. But it is so good.

    Ok. Where's the POV issue? I don't see it. Looking again. It's like a movie script. Which is good. I just do not see any problem here.

  21. Oh yeah. This was one that cracked me up while I was writing the dialogue. Dina is nuts. hehe Thanks, Beth!

    The POV changes right in the middle of this chapter as it breaks into part 2. It hops from Adelaide to Ian. Why? Because it was either have two party chapters with two parts or have four party chapters.

  22. Makes sense to me. Efficient use of very minor POV break instead of multiple chapters and you know no one would know why you did it that way.

    Dina is insane. Not stalking insane but nuts.

  23. Heh. I didn't really know why I was planning on doing it that way either! In the grand scheme of things, it just seemed like a lot of chapters for a party that didn't affect the overall plot that much. These were mostly just fun.