Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chapter 54: Isabella Counts The Branches

Thurs, November 26, 2074 9:20 pm: The House of Fallen Trees- Gothier, Pleasantview


Isabella crushed an orange seed between her thumb and index finger, her skin sliding frictionlessly across the membrane that coated it. She imagined she could see into the structure of the seed, right down to the objects of her fascination- The hypocotyl and radicle that would someday be tree and roots respectively. In her hands, this was more than a seed. It was a tool. And Isabella was Mother- fucking- Nature. She adjusted the hand that was falling asleep beneath her head. Life was a service to life.


"The boys are back in bed but I don't know how long they'll stay there." Isabella hadn't noticed Jean-Luc entering the room. He knelt by the fire, stirring the coals.

"If they have any sense, they'll stay there until they're twenty-one," Isabella griped. Standing, Jean-Luc wiped his nose vigorously with the back of his hand. His most unconscious gestures irritated her to the point where the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She did not like to be reminded of just how common he was by birth and at heart. In the end, Dina's bigotry had succeeded in wrapping its tentacles around Isabella's thoughts.


The ceiling groaned like a woman in labor. Isabella paused to listen. Her house echoed the dead. Jean-Luc dragged his feet wearily over to where she was sitting.

"Isn't it cold down there," he asked skeptically. Isabella stared up at him, her eyes blank. With the fire at his back, his face was grotesquely illuminated, a man carved in granite.

"Define, 'cold'," she asked. Jean-Luc lowered his body down onto the floor, ignoring her question and opting to discern the temperature for himself. His hands patted the tiles tentatively before he sat cross-legged in front of her.


"My father has stopped taking his medication again," he said. Isabella pursed her lips and bit her tongue. Jean-Luc already knew her thoughts but as far as he was concerned, the matter was not up for discussion. Remington belonged in a home where he could be observed and medicated by professionals all the live-long day.


"Maybe we should hire a nurse," Jean-Luc resolved. Isabella thought to herself that Remington did not need a nurse. Ultimately, what he needed was a body bag. Remington was a drain on the household and a drain on society as a whole. Isabella had always held firmly to the belief that a person should not outlive his usefulness.

"Izzy, did you hear anything I just said?" Isabella's eyes refocused on the room around her and the vaguely concerned husband before her.


"Of course. Your father is off his meds and you think we should hire a nurse." Isabella dropped the orange seed into the pocket of her nightgown and wiped the residue from her fingers onto the tiles. She pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. Jean-Luc furrowed his brow and gave her a bemused smile.


"That was easily ten minutes ago. Are you feeling ok, babe?" The question annoyed her and at the same time, she felt ashamed of being annoyed by it. Ten minutes... Isabella stared at the creaking ceiling.

"I don't know. I guess I'm just a little stressed," she said pitifully.

"Hmm." Jean-Luc clicked his tongue in thought. "I might just have something that will pick-up your spirits." Isabella felt an impending sense of dread.

"Can we take a rain check on that? I have to get up early tomorrow and it's always such a lengthy ordeal these days-"

"What?" Jean-Luc's bemusement hardened into a confusion that was almost tangible. "Oh. No, I wasn't talking about sex. But I am interested to know that you just can't be bothered." Isabella flushed, sliding her fingers along grout.

"Sorry. A poor choice of words," she grumbled. Jean-Luc leapt to his feet. Startled, Isabella began formulating a better apology.

"Hang on here for just a second. We'll continue this later," he said, outstretching a hand as though to keep her in place. Jean-Luc pushed the fur stools at the end of the bed aside then dropped onto his hands and knees.


"What are you doing," Isabella grumbled, sitting up. Her back ached. She was getting too old for lying on the floor. Jean-Luc pushed the sheets and the drapery frantically aside.

"I have something to show you. Ah, here we are." Jean-Luc reached under the bed and began to pull. Something metallic noisily scraped the floor.


"What is it?" Isabella punctuated the question with a yawn. Jean-Luc snickered.

"I can hear that the suspense is killing you. I'll show you in just a second. It's surprisingly heavy."


Isabella petted her pocket while Jean-Luc continued to dig. Maybe the orange tree would feed her grandchildren. Or rather, looking at her vinyard, it wasn't too far-fetched to hope the tree would feed her children. In her mind's eye, she could picture it well enough to be able to count the branches. Jean-Luc gave one final heave, producing a metal rack lined with glass jars.


He regained his seat behind the curious object.

"These are soil samples taken from Arbormoor and the surrounding areas. I've had them tested. Have a look." Isabella lit up, less because of the object in its self and more because her husband cared enough to bring her something that she would find interesting. Isabella picked up one of the jars and found that it was quite heavy. She could hardly raise it to her eye level. The jar was only a third full and the dirt inside was as fine as soot. Very interesting indeed.


"Who took these," Isabella asked. Jean-Luc shrugged.

"Old Man Tricou, I expect. I found them in the basement along with a lot of weird magic Fae shit. There are shelves of these things down there. And there was something else too. Blood. Huge glass jars full of it. I had those moved to the refrigeration units in your father's laboratory. And there's something else that you should know."


Isabella swallowed hard. She glanced at the floor beneath her wondering just what it was that she sat on. Why hadn't he told her any of this sooner? She hadn't even known that this house had a basement, let alone one filled with "weird magic Fae shit". And how much did Jean-Luc know?

"What," she whispered.


"The blood was still liquid, not in the least bit congealed and- Promise you won't think I'm nuts?" Isabella shook her head.

"You know I would never think something like that." Jean-Luc cleared his throat and sat back. She didn't know whether or not he meant for a dramatic pause but she felt the playful urge to kick him.

"The blood was still warm," he said.


  1. Ok, not the most eventful chapter in the world but there was some exposition that I needed to get out of the way. After these messages, we will return to our regularly scheduled program.

  2. Still warm? Hmmmm... suspicious. Kvornan is almost definitely involved, I'm sure...

    How old are JL and Isabella? They seem to be at the age where there marriage is becoming more about friendship than about romance, my intuition is not at its finest currently, so I could be wrong.

    Hmm... so Isabella is starting to notice the class difference? That sucks. Although, I guess when one grows up with Dina for a mother, it's inevitable that those sorts of thoughts will cross one's mind at least occasionally.

    I'm interested to see Remington. I wonder what he'll be like. If he's as ancient as Isabella makes him out to be, then he hasta hasta hasta be absolutely senile :D

  3. Man, I couldn't hang last night Pen! I crashed and burned shortly before 12! :(

    "Can we take a rain check on that? I have to get up early tomorrow and it's always such a lengthy ordeal these days-"Best line!! Haha! I was like awww for the poor dude! How can you complain it's too long Izzy? Maybe because she's started to focus more on the class bit instead of who her husband is/was to here! Hmm...Anywho...

    Warm blood huh? I gotta agree with Van! Sounds like Kvornan has his hand in something here!

    OMG! LOL! Her thoughts on Remington killed me! Isabella is either wicked or wicked funny! I haven't decided yet! I do love how she's interested in her legacy. In what she can leave her family. And in the lay of the land. She very much wants to work I think. Odd then that she would be thinking about class distinction since I'm pretty sure her mother would be very much offended at the idea of getting her hands dirty!

  4. Kvornan was involved in much of what went on in that house while he lived there. But then there was still a lot more going on that he didn't discover until later.

    Isabella is 27 and JL is 35. They started seeing each other almost ten years ago. They've been married for eight years. I'm not sure that there was ever any (in Verity's words) bodice-ripping passion going on between these two. They love each other but in a quiet, settled, serene kind of way.

    *Sigh* Isabella has always noticed the class difference. She just thought that she would be over it by now. And that's her thought exactly- That it was inevitable that she would have at least some residual prejudice left over from being raised by Dina.

    Remington isn't really that old. He's only 75. But he is suffering from dementia. His most recent antics include writing letters to God and shoving them in the oven, thinking that it was the postal box. O_o

  5. Teeheehee. Well you did have an insanely long work day. I fell out around 1. Hmm that reminds me. Must read new chapter of BAtT...

    I imagine that Isabella probably thinks of other things that she could be doing while she's having sex. LOL! Like, "This is ok but I could be in the lab observing those mold cultures right now."

    Isabella's thoughts are becoming increasing weird and erratic. Maybe her focus on class is just a symptom of that? Who knows. But she lost ten whole minutes during the course of that conversation. And it seemed to her to be only seconds.

    *rubs hands together* I know who put the blood down there and what they did to it to keep it er- fresh. But what I'm really interested in now is what Isabella is going to do with all of these basement findings.

    Absolutely. Isabella's entire focus in life is work and in working towards what her father tried to instill in her when she was very little- The promotion and preservation of life.

    So you can understand why 90-year-old warm blood might peak her curiosity.

  6. Letters to God? Hmm. Wonder what Remington wrote...

  7. Nothing sensical, I'm sure.

    To Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

    Greetings! It's me again. We never did set up a time for our meeting on the 21st. And something MUST BE DONE about that squirrel tamer in the attic. She is stealing all of my fresh cereal and replacing it with stale cereal. THIS CANNOT CONTINUE!

    Please heap your blessings upon my grandson Mortimer and my granddaughter Lydia. But NOT Donald! He has been bad this year.


    Mr. Remington Tellerman

    PS. Please tell Janet she left her stockings in the dryer.

  8. I'm really curious about why the soil is so heavy. OK and why the blood is still warm. That's just creepy.

    Izzy and JL have quite the platonic relationship don't they? What a thing to say to him! LOL! Lengthy ordeal? She should be grateful it isn't a wham bam, thank you ma'm!

    Poor Remington, burning his letter to god..

  9. The ceiling groaned like a woman in labor.You're descriptions are serious. I feel like I'm a fly on the wall staring at Izzy and laughing at her indifference... if flies can laugh.

    Okay, and why is she so ready to toss Remington out with the next trash pick-up? I mean I can see his age being a hassle... and his residence in loonyville... but still, old and crazy need love too.

    Warm blood. Freaky. Very much so. Incredibly so. Sorcery is afoot!

  10. I was originally trying to say you're descriptive. And then say that description was serious.

    And it got confangled into one strange ass sentence.

  11. hehehe I of course can't answer those yet, Gayl!

    Poor JL. I'm worried that from now on, he's going to be watching the clock, wondering how he's doing for time. That's got to be a libido killer.

    Well, I don't think that he turned the oven on but that he just left them in there, shut the door and walked away. The maid probably found them first thing in the morning.

    Thanks for reading, Gayl!

  12. A laughing fly! That's positively classic! *snickers* Laughing fly...

    Ah but that's exactly the thing- Isabella doesn't see it in a "old and crazy people need love too" light. You know, the way most people would probably see it. She sees it in a, "This guy is broken. Let's throw him out and get a new one," light. He is obsolete. Finito. What do you get when you cross Mortimer Goth and Dina Caliente? Someone with really screwed up philosophies about how the world should work.

    Sorcery is afoot!

    Heh. I know that feeling, Veron!

  13. Hmmm so much to ponder,
    There definately seems to be some lack of affection between JL and Isa, Dina as a mother has to play a huge role in all that.

    Warm blood, extremely heavy soil and a previously unknown basement??? questions questions questions, LOL!

    Interesting story, the way you write everything flows so smoothly, filled with humor as well yet very serious on the same hand.

  14. You're right. I'm sure that Dina has put no small strain on the relationship over the years. Isabella has always felt the need for her mother's approval. Dina is constantly comparing Isabella to Adelaide and Isabella (by Dina's estimation) is always coming up lacking. Isabella is plain one. The weak one. The sloppy one. The one who married a Townie. And let's not forget the fact that she's Mortimer's daughter. (That twisted, senile freak!)

    It probably doesn't help that Isabella is starting to stare at the deep end, either.

    I'm not sure that there is a lack of affection there (though I imagine that JL is a little ticked at her right now). It's just a different kind of affection. No fireworks. Just peaceful contentment.

    Ha! Yep. JL was waiting to spring that one on her after they were well settled in the house. Particularly after they found that burial pitt out back. He loves their home and he's not going to let little things like dead bodies and creepy basements prevent his family from living there.

    Thanks, Cherie!!! :)

  15. Question. Did Dina have anyone in mind for Isabella before she married JL? That just occured to me out-of-the-blue for some reason or another.

  16. Hunh. You know, I never really thought about it. But I'm guessing that the answer is no for a few reasons. There wasn't really anyone living in Pleasantview at the time that Dina would have approved of. She would have never dreamed of setting Isabella up with someone from Veronaville since, well, she didn't have very high hopes for Isabella. Even before Isabella married, she was a disappointment. Lastly, Dina was focusing all of her energy on Adelaide (who also married lower than Dina would have thought but at least she didn't marry that Townie farmer). And veering just slightly off-topic, when Adelaide was a toddler, Dina wanted Troy for her. But the idea of marrying a 20-year-old in his 40's kind of turned Troy's stomach a bit.

    Oh, how the times have changed.

  17. Really? I would've thought that since Troy's mom was born a Townie, Dina wouldn't have approved of him. I guess the fact that his dad was descended from a fae made up for that, though.

  18. Oh yeah. His dad being from a prominent Veronaville family made a huge difference. It makes Troy's birth technically better than Dina's even though his mother was Townie-born. But it wasn't just a matter of birth. What really made the difference for Dina was Troy himself. He was brilliant, hard-working and charming. He had weaseled his way in with all of the right people. He was clearly going places. Dina saw that match as an investment in her daughter's future.

    Also, you have to keep in mind, Don's father was a Townie and his mother was full caste. His birth was therefore lower than Troy's and about on par with Dina's (if still a bit of a put-off because of the social norms that were broken.)

    It's a complicated system with few hard and fast rules. But in it, your professional and social merits make an enormous impact.