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The Oldest Fires
« on: March 24, 2014, 07:21:45 am »
He had scripts on his skin, underneath the white collar above the maroon tie.

A grown man, sans his leather jacket, laid on the black stone of the polished table. The room was held up by glass, held up by the very day, lending a glower to the gray floor itself. The space stretched around the elevator at the center. The building of their building had catered to the whims of his family, and despite it's minimalism, the whims had been decadent. They paid the ransom of kings, riches derived from their real estate and mining kingdom - home and rock - so they lived in castles, in towers. Delicate features, smooth, pointed a sharp nose at the unlit lamps. He had chrome eyes.

He had bruises on his knees, and asthma in his lungs.

The boy swung the ax, splintered the wood. Felt the hard vibrations from the shortcomings of his technique. Winter ate at the autumn colors, undressed the ground and frosted the trees of morning. The boy swung his head, casting his black hair back, thick with sweat. A knitted vest and slacks on, things that grown men wear. His hands wanted vengeance for the insult from the trunk. Angry wrinkles on his innocence. The boy swung his mood, gathering power, making heat. When the tree took the iron this time, he couldn't pull it out. His breath failed him and couldn't help him call for his brother. The boy swung forward, on his knees, in pursuit for oxygen.

He had nothing on his shoulders, and life's wind was blowing him forward.

Youth colored his moods, he danced with them, throwing money like words. More than words, as he'd thought himself to charm others with poetry, and not drown them with academia. The house, filled beyond the ability to echo, hosted his tantrums and carried his beautiful reflection on its mirrors and windows. The world would forgive; if he bent the fast cars it would forgive, if he started the fight it would forgive. The house in the forest with the tree he hadn't felled. Every boy gets to play at being a prince. His game was prolonged by affluence that followed his last name. He started the scrips on his skin.

He was soaked in confusion, suffering from the halt in his glory.

She was beautiful, and that was his problem. Art major in a white dress, as though her hair wasn't black enough. Green eyes and silver computer, sitting in the fold of her arm. When she corrected her glasses it was the hammer of her judgment. He was almost too young to be young, yet. Life had only just shown itself. In her kisses it had shown itself. He wasn't a major in anything, he owned too few years. She didn't have the numbers in her accounts, she was starved and pretty, and still he couldn't sway her to stay. Because of her a girl in University and a girl abroad and any girl with a smile for him would suffer, later. Today he suffered, instead.

He was here, in the Now.

Sael Orville sat up slowly in the empty boardroom. This floor had been evacuated, but the table remained. It had been transported by helicopter five years ago. Sael had been the pushing force to see its need gone. He wanted the family company to be run by the family. He corrected the red tie and leaned on one propped arm as he looked out at the city. There was some value to a view like this, but he couldn't appreciate it now. The tops of other buildings and the low of the world and its signature waters reminded him of father. A stoic light in the midday and a ceaseless, natural flow. Steady, alive - as father always had been. Sael clucked his tongue. No. That was the problem.

All his life he'd been a heir, the one with less claim, but just as much responsibility. You can't change the order in which you were born, and with the taste of a carefree life still sticking to his palled, he'd never wanted to. Heir, as it turned out, meant other things than money and enjoyment. This dragon of a company needed at least two heads, now that he'd insisted they lop off the others and control the body themselves. Brother had tried to be rational about it. Sael was not known for his business mind. He was nothing if not sentimental, belligerent. Sael got off the table. His office faced his brother's on the top floor, where father's had been. He supposed he needed to go there and look things over. Funeral tomorrow.

He supposed he'd have to move back to their house too, in an official capacity. The long limbed youth did not like paperwork. There would be a lot of it for his assistants in the future, he imagined.

He didn't visit his office, remade and outfitted for half a million dollars. Instead he got on his motorbike, one object in his dwindling collection of rebellions. The Orville youngest wouldn't run out, though. He liked this angel of the world better, rushing by with its filth and shine. Beside him, outside him. Their home was outside this city, but close enough to belong to it. Edwin Orville, a man of the city people, as they'd said about father. Sael threw his helmet on the stone in front of his childhood home. At least he remembered to leave the keys in the bike, so they could move it where it stood by the fountain.

"Champaign!" he called, the mock enthusiasm cold to the ear of the staff. "Or something stronger. And who do I have to rim to get a sandwich around here?" His hair was lovely and finger long, out of place from having been protected by the ceramics of his helmet. He did look every bit as the antagonist he was, standing in leather among the scurrying people, trying to ready the home for his fathers last audience in the morning that would come.

Beau

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2014, 07:26:15 pm »
“He left, Mr. Orville.”

Jason looked up at the words uttered by his executive assistant Marcy.  No need to ask who the ‘he’ was.  Jason sat back in his black leather desk chair, for a moment leaving the business papers unattended on the glass desk.  His fingers knit together.  The action was the only demonstration of his frustration.  His expression remained carefully neutral as it always did. 

Marcy asked, “Should we cancel the Board meeting?”

Decisions needed to be made.  Jason typically thrived on that atmosphere.  Today, however, the thought only tired him. The Board wanted to meet the newest member of the executive staff.  They wanted to see Sael for themselves and test his metal.  Apparently chrome melted.  He’d hoped for steel even though he’d suspected he wasn’t going to get it.  Jason had lowered himself to ask for help.  Gone out of his way to make his brother feel at home by stripping away every last vestige of their father in the place of honor.  Sael apparently couldn’t see the benefit of coming to his rescue for once.

He wouldn’t ask a second time.

“Cancel all my appointments for the afternoon.” Jason stood.  Although it was close to noon, his suit jacket was still in place so no need to remove it from the chair.  His tie remained tight around his neck, the only touch of whimsy the pale green stripe against the navy.  White shirt starched and pants pleated he was six feet two with broad shoulders used to the responsibility they carried.  He squared those shoulders now as he took a deep breath and looked out the picture window as the town below.  “I’m going home.”

Jason kept his own wing in the family mansion.  He had funds to build his own, but his father insisted he remain.  Close.  Under foot.  The better to mentor and mold.  Maybe the fact that he looked more like his mother, with brown hair and golden eyes, made his father think somehow he’d grow soft.  His mother folded under the stress, perishing when he was young.  He’d fight to make sure the same didn’t happen to him, even though he was slowly drowning.

He’d only rebelled once.  He’d hidden the indiscretion.  The harsh learning hurt enough to add stiffness to his spine rather than warmth to his smile.  To this day he refused to set foot in Paris.

I remember every detail. The German’s wore gray.  You wore blue.

Jason snapped back to the present as his chauffer opened his door and encouraged him to step out into the sunshine. He knew why he was thinking of her now – the feeling of abandonment fresh and inflicted this time by family.   But today it would not be a case of waiting at a train station for someone who never came.  The car had parked on the curved driveway before running over the roughly discarded motor bike and helmet.  It lay in the road tossed aside by its child rider.  Jason wasn’t sure he should be pleased to have guessed correctly that Sael would be home rather than at work.

Once inside the house, one of the staff quickly approached.  “We weren’t sure what to do, Sir.  He wanted Champaign.”

“You brought it to him?” The prodigal son should get what he wanted.  Jason waited only a moment or two before following the directions to where drinks and food were now set.  “I’ll take care of it.”

Didn’t he always?
« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 09:56:09 pm by Beau »

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2014, 11:51:07 am »
She stood in front of the mirror that occupied the full length of the wall, its polished cherry wood frame lined up perfectly with the pattern of the wallpaper. Golds and greens of the wall seeming to curl around it, around her reflection.

Long, pale fingers worked the buttons of the stiff black jacket into place. It matched the narrow skirt that followed her hips to her knees. It felt restrictive. It reminded her that this wasn’t who she was. Her cheek turned to the side to have pale green eyes, the color of stones, looking at the assortment of accessories in the narrow drawers drawn out for her. These weren’t her things. They belonged to her, but she hadn’t picked them. Just as this was her family home but she had spent very little of her life in it.

Her father had remarried after her parents separated. She had been little more than a child when her mother took her back to France. Grant Nathaniel was an old man now. He had a young wife and three small children. He would leave them his empire, if only he could keep it standing until one of those boys were old enough to take the reins.

Emmeline stared at herself in the mirror and could not miss the scathing judgement in her own eyes. “What are you doing here?” She whispered before taking a deep breath and pinning that short black veil into her hair. It looked sharp against those pale strands, swept back and carefully pinned.

It had been some sort of misplaced loyalty that brought her to his aid, to help a father she didn’t know save a fortune she would never touch. It wasn’t that she wanted it or needed it. Her mother’s family had been more than well off and she had been left plenty in the wake of her mother but the fact that she was not considered one of his heirs burned almost as much as the way he had called upon her as though she owed it to him to help. After three strokes, his doctors had practically barred him from work. He was going to be forced by the board to retire.

It was interesting to her that he trusted a stranger with his blood more than the people he’d known for years at his CEO table. Her mother would have thrown a fit if she had been alive to see this. Emmeline smiled a little, putting on a thin silver bracelet and watch. Her mother, Antonia, would have told her to drive the whole Empire of Nathaniel owned businesses into the ground. Antonia had been a unyielding woman, the kind that could hold a grudge for a lifetime. She had held that grudge her whole life.

Emmeline sighed and stepped into her heels. Her hands ran over the length of her front once more to smooth it out. A funeral. Grant had dragged her all the way back here to play his heir, to use his name and hold his fate, and now he wanted her to go to a funeral with him and the family. As though she needed to be reminded how grim this affair was. With a deep breath and a straight back, she walked out of the bedroom and toward the stairs.

Hannah, Grant’s fourth and likely last wife, was shouting on the other side of the second floor. No doubt trying to wrangle those spoiled boys into their ties. They still had plenty of time. Hannah was skeptical of Emmeline. Emmeline was mostly bothered by their nearness in age and had no particular care for Hannah’s discomfort over the handlings of the business.

“It’s still early.” The man at the door, she was quite certain he was a butler of some kind, watched her come down the stairs.

“Jet lag.” She said with a small smile. “I’m going out for coffee. I’ll meet them at the wake.”

“Mr. Nathaniel would like you to enter together.”

Emmeline stopped at the bottom of the stairs when the middle aged man remained standing in the way of the door. She had assumed his job was to make sure the boys didn’t escape to roll in the dirt but it seemed he was keeping her in as well. “Then we’ll have to time things very well, won’t we?” She took another step closer until she was invading his space. Another step and she was close enough to smell his aftershave. His eyes widened with discomfort. “I doubt we were ever planning to take the same car.” She assured, voice soft as though offering him an honorable escape. 

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2014, 07:05:29 am »
It would be a bit of a trek for Jason. Sael had escaped toward their old battleground. The attic in the wing that held father's study, just beside the wing that mother had deemed home. They invented worlds here, of course. Children with riches playing in dust, reusing furniture - albeit expensive - for props to hold up their imagined structures. Sael had liked building space fortresses, but the terms and scenes usually melded with medieval ones, which inevitably drew their game from space and down on earth, among knights and interrupted executions.

Once Sael had laughed hysterically at his own imitation of a bumbling servant. He'd drunken the dust in. Father had said Sael's asthma had come from their games. The little prince among cloth ghosts and cells of human skin. Sael had cared nothing for father's warnings, and nothing for macabre observations. He was obsessed with make-believe. How else would he get the princess, or the queen, or the swashbuckling wildheart with freckles under her eyes? Jason knew his themes well toward the end. When the older brother came, Sael sat on the first steps of the last flight of stairs. Everything had been cleaned without the children-them there to defend it. He wasn't sure he wanted to see their old imaginarium like that.

"You be the king. I be there hero." he said. Their games had started like that. He held up the glass to his brother, the gold liquid nothing in sheen compared to the older one's eyes, but far more bubbly. The boy in the red tie would keep the bottle by his right, polished leather shoe, of course. If Jason didn't take the offering it would be dropped to scatter into drenched stars on the wood below, and tipped into the lips it was destined for to begin with - the little brother hadn't decided. They both wore softness on their features from mother. Sael's mouth was reddest in the family, a point of pride, but his lower teeth were slightly crooked. That was why he clenched when he smiled.

The knot around his neck had dropped, first button alleviated to give some continuum to the pillar of his throat. Picking up the footlong from his lap he filled his cheeks with air and then expelled it in a loud gush. Some purple shades under his eyes contradicted that jester behavior. The color became slightly more tangible on the glistening skin behind his lashed, lining the white of his eyes. The son of a father hadn't slept very well. He looked down at the white bread, his shoulders dropped with a real breath before he bit into the meal, rocket lettuce and roast beef fresh to the crush. This silence would be part of the real conversation taking place. These baguettes always cut the roof of his mouth.

Sael chewed quickly, eyes reflecting his brother's shoes as the ends of his jaw worked. When the head with a sizable, dark backward wave lifted, a little strand came loose to dip into the corner of his left side view. There was some red dressing at the tip of his sullen expression before he flicked it clean. "You're always the king." he said, slightly hopeful. Take it all and leave me be, brother. Let my childhood continue. Hold the world up so I can play in it.

Such sentiment couldn't last in Sael. His emotional landscape was a hostile environment for modesty, with oceans of ego to drown in, and fires of passion to be consumed by. Passion looks a lot like anger, however flavored, to a male brother. "I mean, you have the gray hairs and the old man personality." Hand around the bottle, he put the sandwich down, wiping his mouth of imagined crumbs. "So, how was work, honey? Did you get a promotion?" Despite knowing the nature of champagne, he lifted the glass bottom high. When he swallowed foam overflowed onto his knuckles. Sael leaned back and crossed his feet as his collar darkened with spill. Too lazy to even swallow all of it. He was truly in a mood today, challenge spelled out in his eyes.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2014, 04:37:53 am »
The dining room wasn’t good enough.  If Sael selected his food from the spread on the table the presentation had been repaired.  The plates of sandwich makings and salad were mounted on white doilies – enough to serve four at least.  A fitting lunch for the prince, but apparently the venue had been lacking.

Jason walked on, searching the outside veranda, and found only the vendor from the party supply store under the sun.  A tent was being posted.  Tables and chair rolled into place for the wake tomorrow.  This was what his father had wanted.  They had months to plan it while his father grew weaker and weaker from the cancer that at his bones.  Jason found it difficult to watch what looked like a celebration being planned when there was no joy to be had.  He saw the trappings of ego – a man certain that others beyond family cared at his passing. 

Jason was certain he would have no such legacy.  No time for friends. 

The vendor asked if he wanted white linen or cream.  Jason said honestly, “I don’t care,” and moved back into the house.

He went up, rather than down.  His steps slow and heavy on the mahogany stairs.  Sael looked young and small like a child playing dress-up with his clothes in disarray.  By contrast Jason was tidy.  Again he’d not made himself comfortable and likely would not remove the tie until he retired for the evening.

A drink was extended.  Jason took the glass, noting that Sael chose to keep the bottle.  Manners demanded a “Thank you.” The delicate stem was pinched between his fingers.  He didn’t drink it.  He rarely did, even on better days.

“I was expecting you to stay and meet the Board.” The promotion wasn’t his to have or give.  If Sael looked at him, rather than his feet he might have seen the flash of emotion that matched his own.  Anger – for hadn’t it been Sael’s idea to move the firms control to family alone? Resentment - for the weight of that decision lay heavily on him now.  Frustration – at his brother’s selfishness.  Hurt – that he’d let it come to this.

The king has no power over death.

In his mind’s eye he imagined hurling the crystal glass against the wall.  Saying what needed to be said.  But he was too tired.  His own eyes followed Sael’s to the floor and his shoes.  He decided to sit on the step, a few feet away with the landing between them.  It wouldn’t surprise him if Sael spoke the truth that his hair was growing gray, even though he suspected his brother really hadn’t seen him.  They matched in the dark circles under their eyes.  But where Sael colored his skin with ink, Jason tended to let the morning sun bake it.  Today his flesh missed the ever present glow of his daily run.  He’d been working dusk to dawn for several months now, his cheeks sunken slightly not with fitness, but the lack of ten pounds due to starvation.

He couldn’t begin to answer the questions that hung in the air between them.  He imagined the words slipped over the railing and down into the dark below.  Jason twirled the glass, letting the crystal catch the light, his eyes on the liquid rather than the brother beside him.

“You can be king if you want.” Jason said.  His voice had a warm quality to it, even though he spoke more fact than invitation.  “I’m not stopping you.”

He’d rescued Sael time and again.  Today there was little he could do.  He couldn’t bring his father back.

“Mister Orville,” a voice called from the base of the steps.  It was the housekeeper, Mrs. Glory.  She started up, her steps unsure.  Then she saw the tableau and paused.  Her words were obviously for Jason. 

“You’re home?”

Jason lifted an eyebrow but didn’t explain why he’d come.  To him the answer would be obvious.

“Have you eaten lunch?”

“I’m not hungry.” He held up his glass in a mock toast.

“You need to eat.”  Mrs. Glory noted the plate beside Sael.  Pointed as though the other offered a good example.

Jason stood.  Funny how a moment ago he’d been feeling neglected.  Now he felt smothered.  “Thank you, Mrs. Glory.” 

He set the glass on the newel post and walked down the stairs.  Childish in his own way, he’d make a point of not eating now that he’d been told to do so.  He'd go to his room.  Make some phone calls.

Count the seconds until tomorrow.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 04:46:37 am by Beau »

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2014, 09:01:36 pm »
The reflective, sometimes silver irises caught his image perfectly when he reminded Sael of the appointment, another one in the growing pile of neglected responsibilities. Jason's likeness would be complete in those mirror pools, but the copies of the older brother would distort in pace with Sael's emotions. Soon the oldest Orville would only be his own colors, smeared in puddles of mercury. If there was something the younger hated more than fetters to something it was when someone else tugged at those bonds. He could see the fires burning his gentler colored brother then, but the corresponding flames in himself hindered the quiet conversation to reach any point of reconciliation, or expressed understanding.

So the sympathy wasn't spoken, when he recognized the traces of fatigue. The dark haired knew he was adding to a burden Jason shouldn't have to carry alone. Maybe freedom makes you weak. Surely the pursuit of it compromises everything else. Jason wouldn't take it all, wouldn't play at rage and grip the crown that was tossed at him. Sael had hoped. It was a kindness he wanted on merit of desire alone, not by anything he could trade, and not by anything he had offered in the past. There were no old debts to call on with Jason. "What's the reason of being king if you have to oblige the nobles?" he asked his brother's back.

It was a hollow argument that never happened. He would address and respect the Glory more than Sael had on his way in. The lingering taste of rocket was proof of that. Maybe he could think of a gesture later, subtle, to remind her that he wasn't a monster. Not really. Charm he could do. Charm and promises. Just not the follow-through. He couldn't follow now. Jason had walked away and Sael would stay. There was only bread and drink to keep him company. The night would come, and old fantasies morphed the shadows. His sinew were tight from childhood fears of childhood demons. He drank the grown-up remedy. It tasted like his mother's medicine. When he'd challenged it all enough, he went to his room. The sheets didn't smell right.

"I am disappointed at you." Sael said to the mirror as he put a tie on over a new shirt. The knot was black under a black collar. Different textures, if any one cared to note his vanity in the face of grief. Or so he would have them believe. The tie was old, and it's fibers were worn. By no stretch was it a modern size or shape. Back when it had been bought, it had been the best. Simply so. Father would not own anything but the best, and if he did, he would not have offered it to his youngest son to wear for mother's funeral. Sael had insisted on taking dad's clothes for strength. Most of it hadn't fit, so the tie had to do back then. "You have asthma, Seal, you shouldn't be smoking." he continued. It was a scene from one his favorite interactions with the Orville father.

He had been the usual brat that he was. Surely there were enough patches of land outside the corners of their house that he shouldn't have been caught. The boys in school had been trying the bad habit and Sael had been included. They usually included him. At home he practiced so the ashy burn would not get the better of him in front of his board of peers. Father had come home some time before, and discovered the scent. Sael had looked up at the man in motorcycle helmet with the goggles up. The son was so afraid he put on his uncaring persona, and the father had been so mad he'd slapped him.

"This isn't very smart, Sael Orville!" Sael said to the mirror and the fast completed image of a black griever. "Dad. It's just a cigarette." Appropriate shivers in his straining voice. "You can't have them! You're asthmatic. They're not for you. I'll get you anything else. They'll kill you, don't you understand?" He tugged at his vest and reached to the table beside his mirror, still holding his own gaze. A white stick and a golden square with sloshing fluids inside was produced. He took the flame to the fine cylinder. "I'm not going to live forever, dad." he said as he watched the paper take on the glow, betraying the leafs inside. "You don't have to die tomorrow, Sae..." His image was crying, holding the source of the lithe pillar of tar vapors.

Sael clenched his jaw and dropped the lighter. Suppose he had a heart after all. His lips became smaller as the dark around his eyes became redder. He didn't take a breath of that smoke. He crashed it's arson tip against his cheek, where the tears were, and it sizzled before it quieted. A smell of hotdogs when he flicked the disfigured cigarette at himself. As the salt and water ran down to the mark and passed it, the flow became salt and iron and a distinct change in color. The boy that wouldn't cry for father was crying blood. Letting the tears infect or clean the wound for a few minutes, he made his peace, caught his calm. By the time he left his room the little reenactment was only a small scab on his serene face.

He sat down in the kitchen, and stole a glass of milk on a passing tray. Mrs. Glory offered to warm it for him when she put down a tray of cookies passing in the rush of other people getting the house ready for its master, one last time. Sael wanted it but declined.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2014, 05:09:55 pm »
“Emmeline.”

A strangers voice made her stand still, staring at the butler that fancied himself a guard to the door. She turned around, not giving the butler any of his space back but freeing him of her stare.

Her father stood in the hallway, leaning much of his weight on a cane. The handle was metal and carved, the sort of piece that alone would remind of his wealth and power- even if someone managed to not notice the make of his suit, the gold of his watch or the polished leather of his shoes. She often wondered how that cane managed not to leave a print in the flesh of his meaty palm considering how he leaned since that last stroke. “We leave together when the boys are ready.” He said.

Grant Nathaniel always said things. He never asked or offered. He never suggested. He was a man that said. Just as he had said that she would come and he had said that she would take care of his business until his sons were grown. The dark in his eyes reminded of the man he was before the strokes made him wobble on his legs and his memory laps at times. He had trouble remembering some things, new things, but many old things he would never forget. If he had, he might have forgotten about Emmeline all together.

“Why are you here?” She thought again, staring at those old dark eyes that willed her to comply.

“Do you intend us to all sit in the same car?” She asked just as the squealing cries of two of his boys came barreling down the stairs ahead of them. They were running with glee. One was in the lead, face and hands smeared in something that must have been jam. That, or the child had succumbed to zombiism.

Both Emmeline and Grant pretended not to notice, neither willing to break eye contact.

“It is important that you are seen at my side.” He said with that same unbreechable voice. How is it a man’s legs could wobble but his voice could remain a tower of will?

“Is it?” He had signed over the reigns of his companies to her with the agreement that she would give them to his son when he was grown. The same son that now ran about screaming at the top of his lungs to make the doorman cringe. “I am going to get coffee. I give you my word I will not enter without you.”

She saw the moment his lip twitched at the offer of his word. She knew the words in his throat, the ones that would say her word was no better than her mother’s. He swallowed them down because he had banked all his empire on the belief that she was enough of his child to save him. She remained stiff, waiting for him to give her leave because despite all the willfullness of her heart and the stranger he might be, her father was leaning on that cane and looking to her.

Grant Jr. ran into her with an ‘umph’. The play of boys stilled and he looked up at her with large eyes, his hands peeling sticky off of her jacket. A clump of jam rolled onto her skirt and then the floor.

Emmeline let out a pointed sigh and her father smirked like the king that always got his way.

She turned away from him and the door and started toward the stairs again. “I only have one more black dress, if they sully that then blue will have to do.” She decided and the old man huffed. She wasn’t sure if it was a laugh or an agreement.

“I want coffee.” She said, certain the butler would heed it now that he had won in a sense. “And I want it to be very, very sugary.” She emphasized the importance of the sugar just before the boys took up screaming and thumping through the house again.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2014, 08:49:12 am »
No radio played in his room.  Jason had risen at the insistence of an irritating buzz from the alarm clock, and even that had been put on snooze three times.  He wasn’t inclined to rush for the events of the day.  He showered and dressed for the wake in black, all the way down to his polished shoes. He’d complete the color pallet with a mug of black coffee soon enough.

The circles under his eyes were lighter than yesterday.  For once his sleep had been dreamless. He spent several minutes staring into the mirror; unknowingly much like his brother did in a room a wing away.  His introspection wasn’t on the past or his father’s memory, but rather the bleak and demanding future that faced him.  He imagined bars around him holding him in and forced himself to breathe.

There was a tap at the door.  Jason’s frown darkened as he went to answer. 

Mrs. Glory was on the threshold with an envelope in her hand.  “So, you are awake?” she said. A nod and then she seemed to regret the accusing tone.  “You can’t hide in here forever.”

“Have guests started to arrive?” Jason glanced at the clock, nothing it was still early.

“No.” She clarified and offered the envelope.  “Your father left a final request.  This note explains from what I’ve been told.  Mr. Lawrence said you weren’t to have it until this morning.”

The attorney likely knew that Jason would refuse whatever it was, or make alternative arrangements, given more time to deliberate.  He reached forward with sure hand, suspecting he knew what it was included within.  “Thank you.” He said, although he wasn’t entirely grateful.

Mrs. Glory stepped away and gathered a tray with some breakfast on the side board in the hall.  She brought it into the room and set it on the small table in the sitting area.

Jason opened the envelop and read the simple request while she was there.  His sigh the primary response.  He felt little in the moment save for the cage walls growing smaller.  How could he deny a final request, even if he’d made the dramatic gesture of surrendering the one thing he was being asked to do.

He looked at the clock and noted he had an hour.  “I’ll need some time to prepare.  Thank you for the coffee.”

“There is food there too,” Mrs. Glory said as she walked to the door.

Jason managed a half smile.  “So there is.”

After she left he went to his closet and removed the viola case.  This too was black, but it wasn’t as dust covered as someone who didn’t play anymore would suspect.  The instrument was in fine tune.  The best money could buy, even if it hadn’t made the tour with the London Philharmonic as it was intended.

Jason didn’t need the music. Bach’s Chaconne something that he knew by heart.  He’d run through his father’s favorite piece once and be sure he wouldn’t break apart in the slow torture of playing for nine minutes.  And then he’d go downstairs and be sure that his brother actually decided to wake up and not run off again.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2014, 08:51:00 am by Beau »

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2014, 02:42:13 pm »
They reflected

Damian's quick legs that carried his body fast, moving fine silver trays and heavy plates; Josephine's curves, well beyond the thickness of her generation's, his, preference, but as always with Josephine even her curves carried some determination in them, he should know; Glory's everpresence and her sense of duty mixed with a bond of family that the boys leaned on without rewarding; master chiefs that had to be present, each in their corners, but to what end if this feast was going to be a sullen ordeal?

He played with the fantasy of doing this for the rest of his life, just root his bones to the chair and smell the cookies all day, drink milk for nutrients as he recorded the happenings and rolling tides of the Orville kitchen. Somewhere among it all he could chronicle it with a certain slow flare befitting the aesthetics of old money in scripture. The world would forgive him if the book sold well, and it might even elevate the status of the servants. He would become gray while watching new generations bloom around him, new appliances replace the old ones.

"Another ode to your ego inside there, Sael?" Josephine asked, touching her finger to his temple expertly without upsetting his hair. He turned his head to take her in fully, and not just a part of the canopy of aprons and clapping heels. For a moment she was bitter on his bed, wondering if she should burn it down with her cigarette after he told her to get out to get his lunch ready, her salts still coating his lips, and a more classical filth fresh on the tip of his nose. No one would say the youngest Orville wasn't generous when he wanted to. This had been years ago. She hadn't changed much. Still tried for her degree with the money she made here. Her pasty face had somehow lost the freckles she'd cultivated back then, but other than that she'd not aged. Had he? They way she relented her wit for sympathy suggested she wasn't looking for wrinkles or rot on him. "What happened?"

Ah, the burnt tear, the crust of his rebellion. The pain that had woken him up. He licked his lower lip to see if he could imagine hos she'd tasted when she'd come in to tidy his room on her first day. The way she stiffened and angered now suggested she knew what he was thinking. She was deep enough to matter, but not important enough to be treated gently. Perfect. "Do you think you can take a break for a while, Josie?" he asked, silver voice to match his eyes. An innocent ring without echo other than in the flesh of her heart, where it could be accessed through all that poor people's callouses. She nodded and that was when he changed. "Well then you're pretty wrong. Please try to look like you're just not taking my money."

No fit. That had been too glorious. He'd loved some kind of liquid thrown in his face or a long winded, heated explanation why she was better than him. Josephine, like her body, was genuine. She'd seen his body in daylight back then, and not been surprised about it's story. She looked unsurprised now, too. All she did was nod, a hardened dip of one corner of her mouth before she stood straight. She did not reject him because of his cruelty, and that grated him the most. When she walked away to see what else she could do he wanted her to stay.

Sael finished his glass and left it on the chair. Through the doors he bumped into something slightly older and slightly taller. He looked at mother's eyes. The metal of winners. "Jay." he said with a nod, hands pushing fingers into pants pockets with thumbs hooked on the outside, lifting his jacket somewhat. Informal with a trailing elegance he'd inherited. It was all the Sael charm. The calm in his tone was an offering for Jason, despite the nickname. It might be the only reasonable tidbit he'd give today. "I see you're looking as sunny as always." Thus concluded the civility. His head turned forward as he started to lean into a first step away. "Tell me when it's acceptable to open the first bottle, will you? Maybe something dry and unpleasant."

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2014, 01:35:20 pm »
The black dress she changed into was less stiff than its predecessor, the skirt and jacket. No frills but smooth lines. She would have rather worn the jacket. She was going to have to consider buying an actual suit. Her role was already becoming that, a role, a game of pretend. Grant Nathaniel wanted her to look strong. He didn’t know what strength was if he thought it had to do with pinstripes and tailoring.

She reminded herself of that when she left that room for the second time. Her mother had been a strong woman no matter what she wore. In a plain dress and sandals she could bring any man to his knees. A voice like a queen and eyes that never looked down. Even in all those years they had lived simple and happy, Emmeline had always seen her mother that way. She owned business and lived a full life. No excuses, no apologies, no regrets. Emmeline wasn’t sure how to be that sort of woman but she was certain pretending to be Grant Nathaniel’s heir wasn’t the way.

She came down the stairs. The bulk of the noise in the house had funneled into the lobby. The doors were open and daylight danced on that polished floor. The boys were squirming in their suits, their shoes too slick for their preferred speed. Their mother, Hannah, was fussing with her hair in the mirror and snapping with the irritation of a long morning at the nanny. Rangling three boys between four and eight was not an easy job.

Hannah was a pretty woman. The kind that knew it because they’d worked hard and paid a lot to make it true. Her dark hair was pinned tight today and her makeup subtle. She was wearing a black flowy dress and a large hat and sunglasses, as though she might be crying. She would have to take them off if they went inside but Hannah was the sort of woman who planned for her look the moment she got out of a car. She leaned closer to the hall mirror and poked at a wrinkle on her cheek that no one else could see.

Her whole body stiffened the moment she saw Emmeline coming down the stairs behind her. She touched the brim of her hat with gloved fingers, wondering why she hadn’t picked a short tuft of black veil like Emmeline.

They rarely spoke. Too close in age to form a maternal bond. Too far away in lifestyle and opinion to be friends. Emmeline didn’t stop to say hello and Hannah didn’t turn from the mirror until the opportunity had passed.

They poured out of the house, two black cars waiting with doors held open. The nanny and boys piled into one. Grant Nathaniel made his slow approach on the second. “Emmeline.” He called her, voice low. It was an order, like all other things, telling her to get in the same car.

She climbed in and sat across from her father. Hannah joined them and the door closed to seal in the awkward silence of their companionship.

“Make sure the boys behave.” Grant said briskly to his wife at his side. “Edwin Orville was a good friend. I won’t be embarassed at his funeral.”

Orders. Always orders. Emmeline looked out the window.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2014, 08:12:51 am »
Jason entered the main living area in time to hear Sael’s disrespectful words towards the housekeeper.  He walked up behind his brother and offered a glare to show his disapproval.  The elder brother was unaware of the romantic history between the two.  If he considered the possibility the truth would not have surprised him. Sael was about indulgence. 

Jason on the other hand was about denial.  While Sael wanted a drink to dull the pain, Jason would refuse the same.  Now he refused the permission requested, only narrowed his eyes over the nickname and request to be partially absent.  The hooded eyelids masked the envy at how easily his brother escaped.  And yet he let him go.  Retreat the only option on a day clouded with too many emotions to properly manage.

A car was coming up the drive.  He saw the dark silhouette in the smoked glass and knew it would be the first of many.  Jason didn’t shy away from the door.  He opened it and stood on the threshold to receive the lawyer and his wife.  The smile on his face didn’t reach his eyes as he thanked the man for the belated message from the grave and agreed to comply.

Another car came up the drive.  Jason held his ground for the first wave of guest and then managed to drift towards the outside gardens and the tent and chairs.  He made small talk with a few people but couldn’t remember the words.  The place reminded him of a wedding without cake.  The guest of honor was in attendance.  A body returned to ash was in the brass urn at the front of the tent.  A few people formed a line and were drifting past paying their last respects.  Wine and champagne were opened.

Well, at least Sael will be happy.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2014, 07:09:33 am »
And Sael was happy. He was ecstatic with glee as he held the glass of clear gold and little pearls swimming toward the surface of the narrow cylinder on a foot. All fancy things must have the option of shoes, it seemed. Most of his happiness couldn't be seen though the gray film clinging to his face where it wasn't wrapped in a net of dismal light cast back from the water in the fountain. And the glee was weighted by whatever leaded his brows. But he was joyous, sitting on the edge of the stone construction, celebrating.

There was a relief that came with champagne. The poison in it held a promise of departure, and the name on the bottle made it less vile. An accessory, not an addiction. The taste he'd learned to like, just as he'd submitted to stiff clothes if they were cut right. Sael raised his glass to the statue in the middle. It was a summer motif, so it looked taunting now. He proceeded to place the vial down beside him, untouched by his lips. He drew his fingers over the knot around his neck and then flipped the tie out, over the vest. The faux pas fluttered to the side and made his image asymmetric in the water.

The chatter of soles was more oppressive than before. The guests had arrive to rival the number of the staff. Edwin Orville was loved. His wealth of friends wouldn't falter. They'd come to send him off so that the praise they'd sung for him in the past wouldn't look like lies now. Sael wrinkled his forehead miserably. Why was everything so incurably bitter? He'd wished sorrow would come, and that this exhausting rebellion would end. A juvenile breeze through his mind had him flip the glass over the stone border and into the depths of the fountain before he stood, plastic smile on for the audience. Jason wouldn't be in here now, he'd be in front, so Sael could well afford to show his mature side without having his brother's eyes on him. Shake hands, take condolences as though they were compliments. Who were all these people? Did they expect him to remember their stories?

The corners of his mouth thickened as he pretended to make strained faces, as though there was a fit of emotion behind every word. They liked that. It was a bit more passion then they were expecting. He tried to mend some relationships that were squandered yesterday when he'd abandoned the tower in the city. They all understood, and he briefly flexed his knowledge of basic business while showing a healthy interest in how they would carry their father's legacy instead of relying on it. The board members were galvanized, seeing that Sael might not be a burden, but also saw hope that he might be manipulated by either one of them.

This would afford him some leeway in the future. If they thought they were grooming him to perhaps share stocks then they wouldn't mind if he had his occasional emotional outbursts. It showed an appealing weakness that they could fantasize praying upon. Every would-be king wants an apprentice. Sael noticed something else with them. They were all offering up their children for his comfort. Sons for weekend adventures and daughters for support. He was impressed by the ambition of Julius Dender, who suggested he talk to his fourteen year old Lena. Sael was sure that would be more scandal than help to the silver mogul. The smile from the Orville son was predatory in response, but the man took it as courtesy. What else would this man do, Sael wondered. He seemed equally vicious and dumb.

And so Sael found himself a place in the pressed crowd with straight collars. Nobody asked why his ratty tie was out, nobody remarked on the healing tear on his cheek. Pretending like this was as good a self punishment as any. He felt dirtier for every climbing handshake, and discovered some faucets of father's empire he'd not known about. This charade was almost better than the physical degradation of dulling his mind and killing his liver. He was sure that would come eventually. For now he was being a good son, and an obedient brother.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2014, 02:23:53 pm »
Mr. Nathaniel had been the first out of the car. He didn’t hold out a hand for his wife, one occupied with the cane he clutched and the other in the pocket of his perfectly tailored slacks. Somehow good tailoring could mask the crooked shape of old men.

Emmeline got out of the car after Hannah. Her gloved hands smoothed down invisible creases on her dress, green eyes somehow cold when she turned that sharp jaw to look at the crowd of mourners. Grant Nathaniel sent his wife off to be seen with the boys but really he sent her to keep them from making a scene or getting in his way. He wanted sons but that didn’t mean he wanted children.

He waited for her to walk to his side before he started toward the crowd and the tent. The wrinkles of his face seemed deeper and for the first time since he informed her of the funeral she would be attending, Emmeline realized that he was unhappy. She knew what she needed to about Edwin Orville. On paper he had looked much like her own father, building an empire, only he had been lucky enough to have his boys early on and married a woman that had stayed by his side.

She wondered now if that great friendship between Edwin Orville and Grant Nathaniel had not been purely out of business. They had been like men with too much ambition and money for one lifetime.

Emmeline watched her father when he leaned heavily onto his cane and stopped in front of the urn. He looked hard at the vessel, as though measuring the death inside. She felt instantly uncomfortable, wondering if he would speak, if he would show some sort of grief, but then all chance of her father baring his soul was passed and he had turned away from the urn and her. She followed him because without saying it, she knew it was what he wanted.

He had brought her here to introduce her to all of the important people of the world and to make sure they knew she was a Nathaniel. With every hand she shook, face she stored, name she memorized, she felt a little colder. The old men tried to compliment her on her pretty face. Just like her mother, they remembered. She smiled and accepted their words because their underestimation of her would only make it more amusing when she saw them again in board rooms with fleets of lawyers. Half of Nathaniel’s friends were really rivals and the other half were more his victims than his equals.

She half listened to everything said around her, storing what seemed relevant while a part of her was looking at the strange sort of wake taking place in this tent. It was a social gathering, a meeting, a collection of the most influential businessmen and politicians the state had to offer. She wondered if this was what her father’s funeral would look like.

When Grant took a seat with a few of the older of the old men to reminisce, she noticed the way he swallowed down his water and wondered if he had just subjected himself to the prattle of his company for a pause in circling the room. It was odd, to realize just how old the god of her childhood had become. He wouldn’t have turned to her if he had been able to do it himself, Emmeline reminded herself.

She gave herself an exit rather than taking a seat, deciding to look for a glass of wine. Grant caught her wrist before she could get away and she looked down sharply at his withered digits clutching her pale skin. He leaned closer and she was inclined to lean down. “It is important that you pay your condolences to the Orville boys.” He said. She nodded stiffly and he let go.

Orville boys. From what she’d heard they were hardly children and yet Grant talked about them as though they were barely out of adolescence. It had not been difficult to discern what Grant thought of them. The oldest, Jason, was a model example of what sons should be and the younger, Sael... well, Grant Nathaniel had given her the impression that he would not be involved for long.

She found a table and took up a glass. She looked passed the table and through the nearest end of the tent to see a yard and a garden and the boys rampaging their way through the bushes with nanny in tow. Hannah was no where to be seen but Emmeline could hardly blame her. She took a sip of her wine and then found herself struggling to swallow without choking when Grant Junior got caught in a rose bush and started wailing like a cat. Finger touched her lips to hide the start of a laugh and she turned away from the scene.

When she turned back to the scene it was only to find her father on his feet again and commanding her over with a brush of his old fingers through the air. Emmeline put down the glass she’d taken only a sip of and crossed the tent to join him on his way to a cluster of suits. They seemed to fade when Nathaniel neared until only one man remained. He looked tired and she noticed first the mark on his cheek. Was that a burn?

Grant Nathaniel did not offer the young man his hand, his jaw set and his old lips tight. “Sael.” He said the name. “Your father will be missed.”

Emmeline stared at her father, surprised by the chill of his voice. He looked as though he was about to speak again, when he saw someone else in the crowd and gave Sael a nod before leaving.

She couldn’t help but smile in his wake and then pressed it back. “I could have sworn he taught me manners when I was a kid..” She muttered before turning to look at Sael. She offered her hand. “Emmeline Nathaniel. I’m sorry to meet you like this.” She emphasized the truth of that by shooting another confused and surprised look at her father’s back before he folded into a new cluster of bodies.


Grant Nathaniel had only been somewhat surprised that Emmeline had not yet followed him. It didn’t stop his exit or his advance toward the only Orville left that mattered. He stood in front of Jason Orville when he found him and leaned his weight onto his cane. “You did a good job with this.” He said, fingers gesturing in a way to indicate the funeral. “He would have approved.” Grant’s voice was hoarse as it always was, ground out from an old chest.

He would make small talk first before noting aloud that Jason had yet to meet Grant’s heir. He would speak of her education and accomplishments, like a resume, before looking back to see that she was talking to Sael. He would point her out without actually pointing, because that would be vulgar. “Emmeline Nathaniel.” Was her name in this city. Not the same last name she had used in France, but still it was hers.

Grant wanted Jason’s appreciation of his heir, the way Edwin would have given his approval in decades passed. Some part of him still wanted an Orville he respected because there were so few others that he did.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2014, 05:37:25 am »
Jason turned at the sound of Mr. Nathaniel’s voice.  He knew the man’s first name, but had never used the familiarity.  The older man held himself to “Mr” and such he would remain even in this moment of potential bonding.

“He left specific instructions.”  No point in letting the man think Jason was a superior party planner.  Indeed the other would more appreciate orders carried out with precision.   And the careful nod and change of subject indicated a certain amount of satisfaction.

A waiter passed by.  Jason wanted something to do with his hands so he selected a stemmed glass and held it quietly while the older man spoke on the weather and the stock market.   Another guest patted Jason’s shoulder but didn’t interrupt.  He offered a weak smile and nod, only half listening to Nathanial’s introduction of his own heir. The word ‘she’ caught his attention.  His brows puckered together, not because he resisted women at the top of the corporate ladder but more because it was unexpected.  In the years he’d known the man with him he hadn’t mentioned a daughter.  Jason didn’t like the idea of a secret power behind the throne, particularly when there were pending contract negotiations that needed to be dealt with.  A school was mentioned.  A life in France.  One side of Jason’s mouth lifted in a twisted smile.  He loved irony.

“I once knew a…” but he never said the name.  His eyes followed Nathaniel’s introduction and caught sight of the woman speaking with his brother.  A heartbeat.  Two. Emmeline.

He took a drink – a long gulp that filled him mouth.  It kept him from asking the myriad of question in his mind.  What was she doing here?  Where did she come from?  He stared a moment longer and then blinked rapidly to dispel the memory. Only years of practice at hiding his emotions saved him from the embarrassment of confession.

Of all the gin joints in all the world. He clung to the familiar.  A favorite line from a film allowed him to stay in character.

“I look forward to meeting her,” he lied.

And yet, he knew he wouldn’t be walking across the lawn to do so.  The twinge of jealousy seeing her standing next to Sael, and the pretty picture they made cemented his vow.  He would not be so vulnerable again. 

He had waited. 

She never came. Perhaps this all explained it. 

She lied to me. His fingers clenched on the stem of the glass.  It was a miracle it didn’t snap.  Far from soothing his ego the thought that she’d pretended to be something she wasn’t only made the hurt fresh and new.   Like he hadn’t been worth the trouble.

Another tap on his shoulder.  This time it was Mrs. Glory with her fingertips on the black suit coat.  Her concerned look warned him his mask might not be completely in place.  She saved him all the same.  “You’re wanted up front.”

He handed the glass to her with a careful nod.  A shallow breath and he took his leave of Mr. Nathaniel with the appropriate words that surfaced from somewhere in his subconscious.  He could pretend too.

Jason was careful not to look in Emmeline’s direction as he moved towards the head of the tent.  A microphone was there.  Chairs so people could be comfortable first for the brief memorial and then for the food that would follow. Words would need to be said, but Jason had already decided it was for Sael to offer a suiting remembrance.   He wasn’t much for showy speeches, preferring business to be quiet and death to be more private than the party before him.

The pastor from the local church offered a welcoming word and a prayer.  Jason said ‘amen’ with the rest but couldn’t recall what the man had said only moments later.  He walked the few steps to center stage.

“I was asked to play something in honor of my father, via a letter this morning.” Jason said.  Mrs. Glory had come with him to the front.  She’d set his glass somewhere and hovered instead with the viola case.  “He never thought this day would come, but since it has…”

Jason took a deep breath.  His fingers were better spokesman in this moment in any case.  He’d play.  Nine minutes and thirty two seconds.  Then he’d sit and pretend some more.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 05:44:14 am by Beau »

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2014, 08:58:38 pm »
He saw them as somber tides in a landscape of rivers. Everywhere he turned his feet were soaked and his body cold with this constellation of flowing grief. He dipped his hands in it, to do his job entertaining the black jackets and the black ties. Those hands did feel cold after a while. Surely there were good hearts in here, underneath the plastic ceiling and metal poles holding it up, but he didn't forgive those who had a warm shake and sincerity through their voices. They were part of this mourning feast that he desperately wanted his leave from.

Sael began to understand he would always be in here, in their tent where he'd refused to take his first drink. Unaltered mind makes real memories. It wasn't like he could give back the blood father had given him, or change his past where the man had supported him in his strifes. Father would always be part of his foundation, and therefor the loss would also always be there; sometimes smaller, perhaps, sometimes titanic, but always present. It is impossible not to think of the conclusion of things, if you know. And how could he be more certain? He was here, dressed up on the day of the funeral, dusting off relationships that had been stagnant, and ushering fresher friends along. Sael was an extension of Edwin to all these people. Gravity, if Sael'd ever felt it.

A man that embodied his detachment said a name, and followed it with a fact. The Orville son knew this kind of tactics. No lies, no accusations. It was more than fair. It was honest. "Yes." he said and nodded once. The man either took it as an acceptance of shallow offerings, or simply did not care. Father knew people like this, power on their shoulders, so much it was weighing them down. Responsibility to greatness was hard to carry. An unyielding belief in the same could claim your soul early and hold it hostage for the rest of your time. The cane and its following legs moved away. That apparition was replaced by some lightness and her silver wrist.

Her eyes were a cold color. A chilled kind of exotic. She was out of place here, but not for lack of trying. In that, she mirrored his rebel perfectly. They were both declining their flight. That jacket container her, that veil flattered her, small, like her grief should be. She didn't speak too much of Edwin Orville, and that was just as appropriate. Seal took the hand and noted its temperature. His thumb measured her knuckles as he held on. "How are you related to him?" Sael asked without finesse.

The old man Nathaniel had always looked formidable. It was a clue to Edwin's character to have the respect of a man like that. Sael wasn't interested in the players of the financial game, but even he had noticed Grant the few times their paths had crossed. This woman looked nothing like the cane and the countenance. She looked very much like youth. Youth that had been objected against. "I mean thank you." Better not linger on it, if she decided her blood was none of his concern.

When he let go and the air reminded him there was nothing binding them but weather and her will to extend courtesy, he drew upon another persona. A little less sincere than the grief, a little more honest than his polite routine. The slight lift of his straight lips was honest. "There are other ways to meet, if you'd like a do-over, Emmeline Nathaniel." She looked like pleasant company, even stimulating. Women pending seats of power were different than girls in education. They were equal parts stone and bubbling life. "You cold be reaching for a fingerfull of fingerfood over where the refreshments are served, and I could just happen to be aiming for the same morsel." A little more life in his voice. His routine didn't usually contain too much glee, though. Silver eyes pulsed with returning mischief.

One of the staff was passing them, and Sael took his arm before he could leave. The drinks on the metal made threatening sounds before the waiter could redistribute energy and calm the glasses. A skillful recovery. Sael had not left her eyes. "Or, a little more contemporary and cynical instead of harlequin, we could meet over drinks." The other man took the hint and extended the tray for her to pick her vessel. If she declined he would insist. "Nothing is more disarming and engaging than substance abuse, after all." he finally let go of the man, who still waited for her to chose. Two men hoping she'd say yes. Sael felt brilliant.

Then he felt cast in shadow as his beacon of a sibling stood there, and then sat there. This was the most intimacy he'd shared with Jason in quite some time. Though they were a room apart, Sael understood what it was like to be watched, and lift the weight of the corpse that wasn't even present. Would it have been lighter if they held it up together, or would it just encourage them to crumble against each other. Thoughts they would not be sharing.

"That's my brother. He's into that kind of stuff."

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2014, 03:14:23 pm »
Emmeline smiled softly in the face of his blunt question, she had lead into it after all. “I’m told he’s my father. Extensive paternity tests were done so I have no ground to argue.” She offered even though he’d offered her a way to ignore the question entirely. “A product of his first wife.”

He was charming for certain. He offered a do-over and before she could explain that she was not a believer in second chances, he had found opportunity. He inconvenienced a waiter and made her smile with his clever tongue. She took the drink and thanked the waiter but it wouldn’t change the way they really met. That was why do-overs were impossible. She would always remember that they had met over her father’s bad manners and Sael’s charming wit to recover the moment.

The drink would not have been as memorable if it had not been so elaborate.

There had been a time when she liked the idea of do-overs. Her mouth parted to speak and she would never remember what she had meant to say then because attention had been taken at the center of the room. She turned toward it, drink in hand, and felt the world wobble underfoot.

Jason.

Her mother had always said fate was a wicked friend. She had said many other things with crueler words and less truth in her soul when the pain got the best of her toward the end. When she lay dying that slow death, fate had been many things to her, but a friend was not one of them.

Nine-minutes and thirty-two seconds she stared like all the others. He was not the same young man she had known. Fitting, because she was not the same girl. Seeing him scratched at a bitterness in her heart that she had forgotten was there. She had almost forgotten that romance was real. It was so glossy in her memory, like a movie made by idealists. No responsibilities or futures. Nothing but that romance and it’s joy. That’s what it had been, a romance without a future. How tempting it had been though, to run away.

Her chin lifted toward the end of his play. It hurt her pride to think that she almost ran. Away from her life. Away from her family. Away from her responsibilities. And it seemed that running had not suited him either.

Sael spoke and possibly for the first time in too long, she took a breath. She turned to look at him and perhaps he would think that moisture gathered in her eyes was for the beauty of the song and the sorrow of the moment. His brother. She took a drink and swallowed down half her champagne.

“You’re not musically inclined than?” She asked, voice a little more guarded now. She would not fall. She was here for a reason and today was for socializing and meeting the other sharks in the tank. She smiled but it was less honest than before. “My mother liked the idea of me playing the violin as a child but my father wanted the piano. They spent so long arguing about it that I dare say I lost most of my interest in learning to play.” Lost her interest, yes, but learned all the same. Piano had won out. Grant always won.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2014, 06:03:52 am »
Chairman Orville is dead – long live the Chairman.  It seemed that Jason wasn’t the only one who received last minute memos to appear and speak.  Jason sat at the front of the tent and let his jaw clench over the parade.  The words were sentimental.  Speeches choreographed.   And all this time he’d thought he’d been left to shoulder the details.

Good old dad, never leaving anything to chance.

Jason put away the viola.  From the grave his father still refused to delegate what was important to his ‘trusted’ son.  What would tomorrow bring?  Another assistant?  Another merger?  He’d lay odds that paper work would be sitting on his desk on some other puppeteer move from the great beyond.

Not that he wanted the responsibility.  He sighed and let a hand washed over the viola case.  He hated it.  Hated everything.

Jason let his eyes lift and gaze at the crowd.  It seemed that Sael still had Emmeline’s attention.   She seemed to find no issue with being in his garden.  Sparkling like the glass of champayne she held. She never used to wear black but somehow it suited her.

He shook his head.  It didn’t matter.  This wasn’t about trust or the past.  Coincidence only.

And if you keep telling yourself that….

Jason stood and placed a hand on the last speaker’s shoulder as he appeared to break down before the crowd.  He chose not to comment on the crocodile tears.  With his typical mastery Jason cleared the stage and retook the microphone eager for the charade to conclude.

“And now, I’d like to invite my brother to come up and say a few words.  And then Father Hester will say a closing prayer.”

Or at least I hope that’s what will happen.

It would be just like Sael to need some ‘convincing’ to come forward.  Did Jason dare urge the crowd to offer a show of applause to bolster the inflated ego?

He only smiled cynically at the thought.  With his luck Sael would bring his new friend with him and they’d do a vaudeville act.

And trample all over my heart in the process.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2014, 06:08:21 am by Beau »

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2014, 11:07:56 pm »
It was hard to see things in Grant Nathaniel resound on Emmeline's face. She was pretty, lifting up the lack of color that she wore, and Sael did not take the older Mr. Nathaniel for a pretty person. Sael made a point not to look for similarities either, when she gave him her close genetic connection to the man. The son of the house simply nodded at the fact. It was a precarious thing, to note on family traits between a woman and her manly relatives. It was also too common for finer repartee, something he was intent on treating her to, today.

And then the thing with Jason happened. He had a way of asserting his poise without looking like he was calling for attention. That was the art of everything in their tier of society. Subtlety in the dramatic. If you called it melodrama, you weren't truly initiated. Sael wasn't sure that would be wrong, though. A cow doesn't call itself a cow. He'd seen that Emmeline was moved. Something in him wanted to discard the somber play of expressions as affinity for the music, but she looked beyond the viola, and onto something else, judging by her eyes. A compliment to Jason, one he would never know. It was Sael then, that was bitter.

She had not recovered fully when she offered life to their conversation. He offered honesty in return instead of more darkly chipper wit. "I was too stupid to ever tire of arguments of adults." He lifted the rim to his upper lip without tipping it. Then he lowered the glass again, eyes on the back of Jason's head. Why couldn't some poor soul find the seat beside him, and offer him some dull conversation about father's good character? These sheep, they should at least know common etiquette. Jason relished in dry conversations. "They impassioned me." You can't uproar without rules.

He didn't know a shadow had stuck on his cheek as he felt for his brother. Drink did well in washing that away. When Sael's head fell back into place and the vial was hollow, hanging at his side, that shadow had gone. "We've had similar lives, I think, Emmeline." For some reason or the other he held his glass hand up, and extended the upper two fingers to touch her shoulder, which left the foot of the glass touching her arm. Seeking contact. The gesture might have been perceived as superior. He'd sooner hope it came off as emotionally eloquent. He was trying to make a bridge, after all, chrome eyes offered, his mouth shrinking in the beginning of a smile.

"It's good to know I could find a drop of that, in this sea of black kelp." And that the drop is not some single minded tycoon, or empty minded trust fund princess. No matter the eloquence of the touch, it couldn't convey that detail. He was inhaling to say something to that likeness, keep her interest in this backdrop of penguins and the last light that would surround his father, when Jason flicked him on the nose for sympathy Sael hadn't even vocalized. The addict took the glass back from her arm quickly, and tipped the residual drops into his mouth before he smiled wide. Playful and light. False.

"If you excuse me. I have to invent a summary of a life in about twenty paces." he switched their glasses and offered a wink to pay the difference. He also leaned in out of habit, but didn't leave a peck on her cheek. "If you refill that glass, it'll be as though we've kissed." he said and grinned as his head moved away. He let her see the dramatic fall of his features. A master actor, wearing his controlled but utterly sad face before he turned. He hoped she'd seen the performance and been amused.

He found himself on the scene, shooting a poisonously serene look at Jason before addressing everyone else. "Dad was everything you know him to be. A king who patted you on the back and rolled up his sleeves to change your tires. And he was a family man, too." Metal eyes vibrated then. "Somehow he found the time. He was immovable in the way that something can be, without being in your way. A support." He'd never let The Orville man know this, had he? "His patience was eternal, as I'd seen it as a wheezing child, but not in the way I'd hope." The drink, her drink, that he held up, did it shake in his sure fingers? Father had always been patient. Now he would always be waiting for Sael to change. The son clawed and fought the wave back. He felt desperate not to give them anything, but also willing to give sentiment to father. "To my Edwin." Because you are all scum around his ankles. And because I am no better.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2014, 01:18:56 pm »
Sael had a way with words. It wasn’t something that was noteworthy at first since everyone in this tent had been taught well their language and the value of the words they choose. The parade of men and women that took the podium were proof of that. Words were the bullets of the civilized world and money was the air they breathed.

But Sael had a way with words that would have taken breath and livelihood from better men if he had ever been interested in aiming it. Maybe it was his lack of aim that made it charming. She looked at her arm when he touched it, stem of his glass cold and fingers like from holding the vessel. Green eyes looked back up at him. Similar lives. Similar in the vaguest sense she imagined, and mourned him momentarily for it. She had only endured Grant for her youngest years. Before she was teen they were gone and life had become something else. Something better and at times, maybe worse.

He liked their surrounding to a dark ocean of kelp and she supposed with all the pearls in attendance, it was accurate. It was easy to let him talk. To listen to him.

Jason’s voice was like a dagger from her past, made louder by the microphone and calling out to his brother. She didn’t look. She chose not to. What did it look like to him? Her appearance here, talking to his brother of all people. Was there a chance he had forgotten her? Or that she had changed so much she could go unrecognized?

Sael took her glass from her hand and she let him, watching as he set the emptied vessel of his own drink into her fingers. He leaned in and she didn’t draw back. Manners had a way of keeping a person still. Instead of kissing her cheek he spoke and she couldn’t help the small smile from possessing her lips when he did, watching the pointed change in his expression.

Was that what it would be like when Grant died? Would she be expected to speak eloquently and mournfully of his life passed? Emmeline wondered if she would be invited when the day came. If Grant Jr. were grown then, he might be the one with tears in his eyes and the weight of mourners on his shoulders.

She remembered her mother’s funeral. It had been nothing like this. A small church that her grandmother had loved, an urn with flowers and framed photos, family at her house afterward with too much food brought by guests and laughing tears when they told stories. No microphones. No business colleagues. They would send condolence cards and flowers for weeks to come, but that day had been for family and friends. Grant had not attended though he had been invited. He had sent flowers with just his name on the card. Or rather, she imagined that his secretary had sent them in response to the invitation.

She thought about asking him. It bothered her, not knowing if he had sent them or not. But she never asked because she feared that knowing would make it impossible for her to stay here and help him.
   
She could feel Mr. Nathaniel watching her, eyes boring into her back and will commanding her to notice. She ignored him. She looked at the empty glass in her hand and sighed. Would every day in this city feel like a funeral?

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2014, 06:50:34 am »
Sael didn’t come automatically to the cue.  Jason stood in the front of the tent and waited.  All eyes were on his brother who took his time about most things, and of course they would see the woman with him.  Jason tried to keep his focus on family, rather than guest but it was difficult.  He could almost feel the speculation around them as strangers wondered over the facts. The mood of comradary seemed to reach across the lawn and slap Jason in the face.

His jaw was clenched tight as he finally surrendered the center stage with a simple step to the side.  He supposed Sael said something moderately intelligent to the adoring audience, but Jason wasn’t listening.  Oh, he caught a snippet about bikes or something another, but thought of the past were unwelcome. 

Unwelcome in any form.

And yet they seemed to nibble at him.  A certain fragrance in the air.  The temperature.   When Sael raised his glass Jason couldn’t do the same since he had none.  But it was easy to close his eyes and imagine a toast said long ago.

Silence affected him then.  He moved forward mechanically and thanked everyone for coming.   He put a hand on Sael’s shoulder as a brother would do, but the emotions he felt were a barrier to be used like a shield, rather than a hole that needed to filled.

Jason turned and reached for the viola case.  He snapped it shut and carried it with him as something to keep his hands busy.  He walked from the stage and into the crowd.  He’d been told by Nathaniel Grant to meet his heir and so he would.

He wouldn’t run.

He couldn’t hide.

And so he’d come and stand before the woman in the black dress that did not belong in this time and place.  “Emmeline Nathaniel, I presume.”

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2014, 07:06:34 pm »
The golden tint in front of him felt heavy in the glass. Despite their difference in punch, he'd always felt vodka was a thinner liquid than champagne. There was never any foam in a shot of vodka. Today, though, this liquid rang a little harder, a little colder when he saw his brother distorted through the glass. He had found the pretty too. It didn't sit right with the youngest in the family. Sael drank up quickly and granted them all a last nod and a weighted smile before he left them to hum at his speech and shake their heads at their loss.

He would have gone back to the fountain if he could. Proximity to water dulled the edges of social life, of al human things. He'd laughed at the sentiment when it was presented to him from smeared lips smoking found cigarettes. Eventually he'd come to embrace the placebo of that romantic thought. She had been long gone, sticking needles into her tattoos and marking her blood somewhere else. All substances have their own clarity, Sael had found. He drank his newest glass down, swallowed the expensive, small bubbles.

If he did go to the fountain he would come too close to the two. Depending on the shift of the crowd, the waves of the kelp, he might have to pass them. It would feel odd. He did not linger long on why. Drinks in either hand, two in his left grasp and one half emptied in his right, his intentions were clear. Today was a glorious excuse. It had been the gravity of the vessels, not their small delirium that he had wanted. Such subtle and insufficient self destruction was still enough to keep people from stopping him as he ventured into the house.

Sael lost two to a table and a stuck out, empty hand before he was inside. The staff catered to him flawlessly and without a word, inverting their ebb as he passed. Watchful of his drinking hand and careful not to look at his face. He reached for the burnt tear as he walked with lowered head. He wanted to retreat into chemicals now, but he'd decided to make today a war between himself and his gnawing vices. Emmeline was also submerged in this world against her preference, as he'd understood, and he wasn't so weak that he couldn't do what she did until at least this evening. The drink was just out of manners now. He was sure his steady step was a nice little surprise to the servers, as well. It would take a lot more to sway Sael Orville.

He walked the stairs, dangling his gold vicariously by the ring of its top. Belonging here had faded with his absence. They'd kept it mostly the same since his childhood, when he could run through here naked and not care, and still, the sheen of the wood and the design of things had changed to him. Alien coats to keep everything new. He stopped somewhere in the middle going up and scratched at the wall. If he peeled off enough layers, would he go back to a time when the sun backed the surfaces and mom's scent was lingering, soft and everpresent?

He sat down and sighed, looking at the mourning puddles on the floor of their main hall. Maybe this should make him wonder about the attendance of his own funeral, but he instead thought they were like ants, infesting the house on this important day. Father would stand tall and deal with them. Father would make Sael feel good about whatever he didn't feel good about. And it would make Sael feel guilty. There's my idiot son, having a fit as usual. He put his forehead between two ballast, his hand on either and found a place for his chin as aimlessly counted the people. This was the first funeral he'd seen like this. Mother's was mostly a collection of emotions his little heart couldn't properly digest, back then.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2014, 02:40:07 pm »
It would have been naive and selfish to hope that he pretended not to see her. She was both naive and selfish. Sometimes in unison and sometimes separately.

It felt like the world was slowing when he started toward her, when she knew it was coming. She put the glass in her hand down on a the nearest surface. Did she think she would need her hands or did she not want to look like she was enjoying herself? She missed the glass as soon as she gave it up. Nothing to hold between them. Nothing to occupy herself with that could excuse not meeting his gaze.

She wasn’t that person anyway. She had wronged him, after all. She had been right but she had done wrong. It was complicated and somehow that suited the day. It didn’t hurt to face him but it hurt to be there for something as intimate as his father’s funeral. She shouldn’t have been there.

He said her name. Not quite the one he’d known but close. He didn’t sound like the man she’d known. He didn’t really look like him either. She stared into his eyes and wondered if she looked so different as well. “I didn’t know.” She said, voice low and body tense. Would he make a scene, here? Would Jason Orville make a scene anywhere? Would she blame him?

She wondered if she should apologize but knew she wouldn’t. “I didn’t know you were an Orville. I’m sorry for your lose.” She wouldn’t have run into him like this if she had known. She wouldn’t have blind sided him. “I’m only in the city to handle my father’s businesses. He insisted I come with him... He was fond of your father.” She wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or not.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2014, 03:09:17 am »

She seemed tense – that was good.  Jason walked across the lawn and watched as Emmeline emptied her hands like she might need to use them to defender herself. Or slap him. At least she wasn’t indifferent. He stopped before her at a respectable difference.  Friends would have stood closer, lovers still more.  He barely kept the distance of acquaintances.  The wind pushed at his back, but he ignored the peer pressure.

“You didn’t know?” Jason tipped his head to the side with idle curiosity.  Why did he have the impression that her nose was turned up at him.  A hint of superiority in her voice – like he’d been pretending to be a fine wine only to be revealed as a bargain vintage?  He’d used his own name.  He would have answered a direct question if the topic had come up.  “It wasn’t something I thought important.” A pause. “Back then.”

He was his own person.  Still was, even though he’d bent to a path he’d fought against.  Not broken.  He believed there may be some glory in surrender; he searched for it and would find it eventually.

“Thank you,” he said.  Pleasantry for pleasantry. 

Not that he cared if she was sorry.  Not that he cared at all.

He felt like being cruel. “Your father never mentioned you…before today.” But then she likely knew that she was beneath the ‘great ones’ notice.  They all were just shadows of the empire.  “Exactly what business can you handle? Does he have an art collection he’d like catalogued?  Some letters typed?”

He opened his mouth to add a snide comment about getting to know his brother but then thought better of it.  The Emmeline he’d known wouldn’t have sold herself that way.  She didn’t deserve his jealousy.  She was nothing to him.

And if I repeat that enough someday I’ll believe it. 

His jaw closed on the petty words, and he wondered instead where his brother had gone.  As desperately as he wanted to find out what she was really doing here, now was not the time or the place.

“Let’s do lunch some time,” he said.  Only he knew that if she offered the slightest encouragement he would suggest that time and place.  “For now, I need to go and find Sael.  Make sure he’s not drinking himself under a table or lighting the house on fire.  You’ll excuse me.”

And so, without waiting for permission he moved off and towards the house, pleased he’d managed to satisfy Nathanial’s request, paint a disparaging picture of his competition and made his escape without admitting how much he’d missed her.  All with a mimimum of words.  Maybe he could be an Orville after all.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2014, 10:46:06 pm »
It was a clever ruse, hiding in black between ballast. The crawling of the hired help, the brisk of the native, the dance of those that believed that waiting on a house made from old stone and stories was the best thing in life, everyone told their origin, no, their very bloodline by the way they stepped on the welcoming, hard floor. He was lost in a cluster of relatives that seemed to know each other more than through polite, required interactions. It warmed his heart to rival the heat of the alcohol when they were collectively feeding off each other's approach to how a mourner should behave. When one lowered her head, the man in the couple beside them would too, soon. And so they went on, pushed together, wobbling through the linear, strict servants toward the front door. This was also a fantastic way of guessing who was tupping whom behind who's back.

He would be wondering about garters on the matriarch of the cluster, or the invisible lines on the lower back of the dress of the younger female trailing behind if his mind had been sound. Now he only saw their threads of friendship. It was pretentious, yes, he expected that, but there was also something real in the way one of the males held the door, and one of the ladies, well between all the ages, clapped him on the cheek, as though he had been the sorrow stricken young son of the deceased. It underlined Sael's own feelings about them all too well, and he dislodged his head from between the fat wooden pillars to look down at his drink.

A soft thing, gray, moved in his center when he heard a shadow of a voice. Sael stood, left foot low and right foot elevated on different steps. His chest was out as he saw Jason talk to Glory herself. Sael and the narcissistic pieces of his mental quilt had picked up on his name. It was a well honed reflex. It was a ragged, discarded thing about himself that he'd rather not examine. And it compelled him to walk down the stairs. Like some antagonist already drunk on pride he swirled the untouched liquid in the expensive, tall vessel.

He held the foot of the crystal to Jason's shoulder. An amicable touch between brothers. A taunt between boys. A challenge, as always. "I see you met her." he said, returning fast to their scene, where Sael had no place. He thought about the radius they had carved out, one he had orbited obediently. Stiff as only Jason could be. And her, untouched by the Orville game, caught up in her own old, greek frame. It was a show of interest veiled in a jab, his words. A jab is a reference to hand-to-hand combat. It is to catch your opponent's attention. It is attrition, keeping the fight alive. Sometimes jabs were simply courtesy. Yes we are doing this. Yes this is a competition.

"She's a course for the fine silver, isn't she, Mr Senior Orville?" It was low, even for the thoughtless little brother. His tattoos said he was reckless, a romantic, and that part had been executed well, but the title wasn't fair. Not to either of the three men that occupied the atmosphere and oppressed the house. Was this what a ghost was then? Sael had one. Jason too. Perhaps they were more like the man in the afterlife than their farewell's suggested. "I think she'll go well with the oak bed. Looks spry." He was wearing layers of himself. His parody, his legend, his favor to the audience. It was all to see if Jason would tell him with his face and posture if she meant something, and what.

He wished Glory wasn't close to see this.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #24 on: July 08, 2014, 08:25:05 am »

It drained from her- her memories of who he was, of what she had had with him. They slipped through her finger like still hot ashes, burning her skin before leaving her cold. He wasn’t the man she knew, not in the slightest. His voice tasted bitter and she wondered if that was her fault. No, she wouldn’t accept responsibility for it. She was responsible for making her choice not to run away with him. She was responsible for her family and that was why she made that choice. Where had running got him in the end? She wouldn’t be responsible for that.

He excused himself before she could respond to his jabs. He wanted her to feel belittled? As though he could point out her father’s lacking love for her? As though he knew what hurt her? Suddenly she realized how important it was that he never see her weaknesses. A nice boy once upon a time, now a wolf with too many teeth.

He tried to demean her, as though her education had been any less than his.

He walked passed her because he didn’t want her reply. He wanted to hurt and run. Running seemed to be his forte. The part of her that loved him was the same part that wanted to spit those words at him. Funny, how easily love and hate could mingle with each other. “It was interesting to finally meet you, Jason Orville.” She said so that he would hear it.

There were no restarts, the way Sael had said. There were no second chances at first meetings. They had met before and that could never be changed, no matter how much the world around them had.

Emmeline turned toward her father as though she had always known where he was and that he wanted her attention. A handful of steps and she stood beside his chair where he sat, old hands twisting around the handle of his cane. “Have you grieved enough?” She asked, voice low and steady.

He gave her a disparaging look. If he were a younger old he would have scolded her. But he was the oldest of olds and still getting used to needing someone else. It was a fragile relationship that could shatter at any moment. Everyday she wondered if it would be the day he finally got over this game and found someone else to do her job. She wondered if she would be the good daughter and let him or if she would be his daughter and tear his kingdom down around him.

Graham Nathaniel turned his head to look for his wife in the crowd. Emmeline didn't offer to go and find her for him because she wanted to see if he would ask or not first. She looked away so as not to seem overly available for his bidding and noticed the Orville brothers. Sael had been charming before, but he seemed like more trouble than she could have imagined now that he was Jason's brother.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2014, 04:15:22 am »
Jason wasn’t going to play this game.  His look to his brother was wooden, a tin man absent of emotion.  “Grow up,” he said.  The look on his face implied that he had little time for the other if he refused his advice.

Should he warn his brother off Emmeline?  He considered for a moment, the territorial part of him wanting to hold and protect.  His brother was dangerous where women were concerned. But she wasn’t his. 

He’d handled the moment badly.  Even that he wanted back.  He’d rehearsed once what he’d say, but time had faded eloquence.  Tonight, she hadn’t fallen at his feet in the garden and she never would.

For the first time today he felt grief.  “Good night Sael.”  And he walked away, up the stairs to his room and the solitude he’d so carefully earned.

Jason returned to work the next day.  There were others who would attend to the administrative details of executing his fathers will and distributing the material possessions.  He had a company to run, and even though it was Saturday, he rose, drank his coffee alone in his room and went about his normal routine.  The clock barely read 7 a.m. before he went down the stairs.

His driver wasn’t by the car outside, nor was he in the entry hall.  Jason went to the kitchen and offered a frown to the man who seemed content to sit at the sunny breakfast nook table, chatting happily with Mrs. Glory.   Jason stood on the threshold of the room waiting.  The pair was laughing and Jason had to clear his throat to be noticed.

“Oh, Mr. Orville,” Mrs. Glory said.  The chauffer stood ready to get to work.  “Will Master Sael be coming with you today?”

Part of Jason wanted to tell them to sit and finish their conversation.  He didn’t like how her smile had faded.   The other part reacted to the mention of his younger brother with grit teeth.  ‘No.”

He didn’t much care what Sael did.  Perhaps in a week he’d find somewhere else to go and Jason could wallow in misery alone.

The drive to downtown was uneventful.  The walk to his office held no hint of what would happen during the day.  It wasn’t until he was reading his mail, all opened and placed neatly on his desk by his assistant Marcy that the day went from bad to worse.  The letter was handwritten and transmitted via post.  Jason found the envelope, but there was no return address to give a clue as to the author or their ware bouts.  Jason read the text and subtext.  He lifted the paper to his nose and gave it a sniff to see if he could confirm his suspicions that a woman wrote this. 

“Marcy,” Jason said into the intercom, only to realize he was alone in the office. He read the letter again.  It warned that Nathaniel, trusted business associate was not so much to be trusted.  On the back of the letter was a cryptic set of numbers.  Dates and times.  Transaction codes.

With a frown, Jason set the paper down.  It wasn’t a threat but rather a warning.  And it seemed it wasn’t the only letter.  The sender believed in redundancy.  He found the second letter further down in the stack.  It was similar but it warned that a future shipment of goods sent using Nathanial’s ships would not arrive 
“Motive?” The question applied to both the sender and the potential that Nathanial would do such a thing.  One didn’t do business this way.  Trouble was the Orville’s needed Nathanial’s ships.  His first impulse was to call the man and confront him.  But instead he sat back in his chair and tapped a pen against the desk.  He needed to think.

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2014, 01:18:48 am »
The morning had been disappointing as far as day-after poison went. And Sael knew a good vintage ass-kicking if he saw the receiving end of one. He'd slept like a child, not deathly deep as he did on pills, not light and frightened as he did on powders. He sat up naked, clean. From one rib to the other there was scripture, black, and to underline that scripture was a smaller, red font, well drawn and well drawn-out cursive. A bitter smile across his torso, and the sentiment in the message was there too. Almond paragraphs over the orbs of each shoulder, etched there to look weather worn, as though someone had left wet scrolls to dry on him and peeled the parchment off to leave the hymns. He had other tattoos as well.

The tear had well dried out. He drowned it in the shower and ignored it while shaving. He didn't linger on the few pull-ups in the doorframe or in the bitter of Glory's best combinations of blends. The helmet fit and the garage smelled wonderful. Oils and leathers and machines. This was a large chamber of freedom. He took to two wheels, of course, and rushed out without closing the door. There were bad things left behind him, chemicals, in the air. Father had been a stickler about not starting the engine inside, if they could help it.

Glory had said that Jayson had gone to work. What else? He couldn't have stayed in bed after the funeral of his father, of course. A hum of self-scolding accompanied that tell-tale anger. He was having a fight with his brother without his brother. The frustration translated into the throttle. This bike gave good torque. It was tempting to scratch the cars on his way through the traffic. This was dangerous. This was satisfying. This was why there was a steel cage ready to bend for Jason, and why there were steel cages ready to bend Sael.

He stood underneath the structure that might as well have been their actual amount of power. The measure of their worth. What did it mean now, the 'we'? Strange to think of himself and Jason as a team, but what else was there? The ghosts of their parents? The forever misplaced Glory? Sael pulled off his helmet and sat back on his bike from the side, challenging the building with his chin high. Jason was already up there, commanding the cogs to spin.

Sael sighed and left his helmed on the seat, picking out his phone. There was going to be real work today, with commitments he couldn't blow off with neither witticisms nor clever but empty exit lines. He had loved the recently late Orville Head, and today that love would chain him. He would need to look forward to something if he was to bear it all. A few quick taps and he had the number to her official cell phone. He left the bike and flung the keys to someone who looked colorful enough to be a hop.

"Hello. This is Sael Orville. I just thought of you and wanted to remind you there are other ways to meet. Call if you're charmed, text if you're not." He'd made love to answering machines before.

The cowhide parted over his chest. There was a tie underneath, a weave of red and purple on top of a gray base. White shirt, mourning jacket. He pointed a dashing finger at the boy in the reception and made quick eyes with the girl that brought treats to her boss, whoever that might be. Sael was chewing on the doughnut, leather lost as he stepped in to Jason's office. Crumbs fell through the thickening air with some discomfort to lay on the floor in his wake.

"So," mouthful of sprinkles. He liked the colorful ones. Out of pure vanity, he still had his gloves on, despite having lost the biker jacket over his sports one. "I'm ready to out-shine you in this too. What should we do from our tower? Make people homeless? I saw a shelter we could knock down on the way." Pastry clout out his mouth with the words. then he swallowed and intentionally did not wipe his lips so that the smile would be all the more insufferable. "I'd also like a desk."

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2014, 01:58:10 am »
She looked at her watch. Not because she didn't know the time but because she wanted to remind the man in front of her that he was wasting hers. Her arm dropped back to her side. It would irritate Mr. Holt. To be fair, there was nothing Emmeline could do that would not irritate Mr. Holt. He was one of Nathaniel Industries board members and formerly the chief legal officer of the corporation. He owned shares and liked to remind her of it because she owned nothing. She was just the daughter of Grant Nathaniel. She liked to remind him that Grant Nathaniel owned 57% of Nathaniel Industries and that she would be sitting in his office until he decided otherwise.

Mr. Holt had new complaints this morning. He had called her secretary first thing to demand she come to his office on the eleventh floor to answer for some of these new changes. She had stood there patiently for ten minutes while he huffed and puffed and turned himself red in the face. She pretended to be bothered but the truth was, she loved watching him struggle to spit out all those words while holding back the really ugly ones, the ones he really wanted to say. He wanted her chair and she didn't care.

When he seemed to be done it was her turn. She was wearing pinstripe slacks, tailered so that they would almost hit the floor in her three inch heels. She liked being tall around these men. She liked making them feel short. Her vest matched her slacks and her shirt offered no cleavage or frills. “Mr. Holt, the next time you call my secretary with an 'emergency', please try to make it a real one- or I will.” She said boldly. “Your questions are valued and will be covered at the next board meeting.” She turned away from him then and started for the frosted glass doors. A man outside them saw her coming and quickly pulled it open. He was smartly dressed, in his twenties and a had the kind of shoulder to hip ratio that would easily put him in magazines. He was pretty and he was holding her coffee and her schedule.

It hadn't taken long for Emmeline to realize the company her father had kept in his business companions. They liked having pretty women around to answer their phones and fetch their drinks. They had tried to get her to bring them coffee in the first week.

She stopped in the doorway to look back at the red faced man. If he kept this anger up his heart might stop. “Mr. Holt, don't ever call me to your office again, or I'll have it moved even further from the top.” Emmeline warned before walking away and down the hall toward the elevators.

Clark was with her, taller than her by a head but on pins and needles over her temper. “You're messages.” He said, holding out a small gathering of papers first. She took them and thumbed through them before handing them back to him. He handed her her coffee, her third one this morning, and recited her appointments. She wasn't sure if he was doing that because he thought she had forgotten since an hour ago or if he was reminding himself.

He followed her onto the elevator and pressed the button for the top floor before handing her her cellphone. “It rang.” Clark said when the doors closed.

She scrunched her face and tapped the bottom of the phone to bring it to life. She had expected it to be her father or maybe his doctor. He had an appointment today and she had already made sure she'd be getting the results in a personal phonecall from his physician.

It wasn't Grant or a doctor. Voicemail. She tapped it and held it to her ear. She was ready to frown but his voice reminded her mask that there were other expressions. She bit back the smile but Clark had already noticed it, his interest piqued and his ulcer relieved. She hesitated when the elevator opened, still looking at her phone. She wanted to call him back. She was a little charmed. But Sael wasn't just anyone. She remembered Jason last night and the small amusement bled out of her features. She saved the number and started to tap the letters. She knew she shouldn't reply at all and yet she did it anyway.

'Other ways to meet than at a funeral? You mean without my father and a yard full of greedy old men? Sounds unbearably pleasant. /Em'

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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2014, 02:53:23 am »
click
Another shot of whiskey please bartender.
Keep it coming till I don't remember at all,

Jason poured  some whiskey from the crystal decanter into the glass.  The hour was early and he had no plans to drink, but he liked the smell and the look of the liquid as he held the glass up to the light.  The view from the office window was marvelous as well.  A skyline filled with unfeeling metal and chrome.

How bad it hurts when you're gone,

His father’s office still had a certain vibe.  He’d asked the Administrative Assistant to box up some of the personal possessions in the desk and Jason was surprised by the two cardboard cases.  Truly his father’s life had been work.  The art remained on the wall, something purchased for charity and displayed for accolades.  Jason supposed the artist had talent, but he didn’t understand why anyone would pay a million dollars for a swatch of color on canvas.

He rubbed the back of his neck and arched the muscles to reduce the tension.  Add the trouble with the letters and a pending merger with another firm and his plate was full.  It wouldn’t be hard to move a cot into his own office and simply let the place absorb him.


Turn the music up a little bit louder
Just gotta get passed the midnight hour, maybe tomorrow it won't
Be
This
Hard

Jason heard a noise near the door and he turned at the sound of Sael’s voice.  He did his best to mask the surprise at the site with a bland expression.  Turning from the window he let his golden eyes trail over his brother observing his appearance and the donut.  His heart thumped awkwardly.  His knuckles clenched on the glass in his hand.

Who am I kidding?
I know what I'm missing.

“You can have this office,” Jason said with a wave to show off the space.  Sael likely thought that Jason hasn’t waited for his father’s passing to move to this executive space, but the truth was he had a matching office on the opposite side of the hall.  Packing his own things wouldn’t take as long as it should – he’d always hesitated to commit and bring in anything truly personal.  The idea of sitting at this desk however turned his stomach, but he figured space was equal to his brother.  Sael might even appreciate the view.

Jason wondered how long it would all last.  “Prodigal son returns.”


I had my heart set on you
But nothing else hurts like you do.
Who knew that love was so cruel?

Jason set the glass on the desk and walked over to his brother.  The donut looked good.  His stomach rumbled as though it wanted to confess his need.  Jason looked at his brother’s sugar covered lips and up to his eyes before reaching for the last of the treat.  Chewing would keep him silent for a moment longer.

He licked the sugar off his finger and said, “I have an…issue… that requires attention.  Letters came this morning.  Read them.  Handle it.”

Unlike his brother, Jason took his thumb and wiped away any evidence of his transgression.  No sprinkle would signal the unhealthy act.  Surprisingly though he was hungry.  He’d like to think that he’d set aside some of his pain.  That he would eat having turned some dramatic corner, but he knew it wasn’t that easy.


And I........
Waited and waited so long
For someone who'll never come home

“We can knock down orphanages later,” he said with a touch of humor.  Jason reached out and put a hand on his brother’s shoulder.  The closest he’d come to admitting he needed help would be to say, “With the McKinley merger I’m too busy.”

Meeting over he took a step towards the door.  “I’ll have Marcy bring the paperwork.  Marcy isn’t part of the deal – you can pick your own assistant, either from the pool, or if you’d like to advertise for something specific we can.”  He debated about warning Sael about certain laws.  The last thing he needed was some sort of suit, but deep down he couldn’t quite believe that Sael would stick.

He wanted it too desperately.  He couldn’t allow himself that kind of want, so Jason simply said, “We’ll talk later after you get up to speed and have some time to formulate a plan.”


It's my fault to think you'll be true
I'm just a fool

Ultimately Jason wouldn’t linger.  He’d hear what Sael had to say, pray for at least an agreement and then he’d move on to other things.  Phone calls to make.  Contracts to read.  Unfortunately his head wasn’t completely into all the details.

I said that I don't care
I'd walk away, whatever

His thoughts kept returning to the funeral.  He wanted to think the restlessness was caused by his own grief but he knew that wasn’t the case.   Jason couldn’t blame it on the viola that never made it back to the case either.  Poor manners did not excuse his crass behavior.

And I tell myself we were bad together.
But that's just me trying to move on
With
Out
You

Sitting at his own desk he tapped his pencil on the mahogany.  His relationship with Em was over.
The sigh on his lips proved it.  Leaning back in the leather chair he closed his eyes and rocked slowly.  For some reason the smell of graphite from the pencil was sparking a memory and he put the pencil under his nose and thought back to a visit to a park.  Crisp white paper of a sketch pad.  A loaf of French bread.

Jason twirled the pencil in his hand and wondered what ever happened to the drawing he’d made that day.  Had she kept it?  He shook his head and put the question away.  It was foolish to dwell on what-might-have-beens.


But who am I kidding
I know what I'm missing

Sitting up, Jason opened his eyes and reached for the inner office phone.  With a button pressed, he spoke to his assistant.  “Marcy, I need to place an order for…” he chewed his lip, “flowers I guess.”  He wanted something more special, but he didn’t have the practice with dramatic gestures.

“Flowers, Sir?” Her questioning tone reinforced the unusualness of the request.

He nodded even though she couldn’t see.  “If you bring me the number, I’ll make the call.”  He’d like to think he was avoiding the impersonalness of his secretary taking care of it, but he knew he was avoiding gossip as well.


I had my heart set on you
But nothing else hurts like you do

Marcy gave him the name of a local florist and Jason used the pencil to take the note.  He remembered an earlier purchase.  Tulips, not roses.  She’d seemed to like them.  They were out of season, but he didn’t care about the price.

The florist asked, “What should the card read?”


Who knew that love was so cruel?
And I…
Waited and waited so long

Jason decided, “I’m sorry.  No signature, please, just the words.”

Another question from the florist, “And you want this delivered to the business address, rather than the home?”

He’d debated originally and given both.  “Yes, I’d like her to have them as soon as possible.”


I can't accept that it's lost.

His hands gripped the phone tighter and changed his mind one more time.  Sorry seemed wrong. He was, but that was about him.  He wanted something from her, “Actually.  Change the card.  Let it say, ‘Forgive me.’”

That seemed more open ended.  More forward looking, although he really didn’t want to consider what he was hoping for.  His chest hurt and he rubbed at the dull ache.  Maybe this at least would ease the guilt of the words he’d used.  They were unforgivable.  Anything else…


 
I'm just a fool


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Re: The Oldest Fires
« Reply #29 on: September 28, 2014, 12:37:12 am »
Jason did not go to attack. Sael couldn't exactly conjure an image of his brother frothing at the mouth, practicing uncontrolled violence, but all this play at being the village idiot seemed a little wasted when all he got was a collected and silent welcome. The more he felt as though he should be here, the more ants walked on his shoulders. Old flight response. He pulled that impulse back, knowing he'd hate himself more than usual if he sang an excuse and left already. He gathered more strength from the well of respect he had for his father.

Sael nodded at the offer of this space. He knew there was no higher place. He wouldn't say no to father's office, hadn't earned the right to reject something so precious. If Jason would give it away, then Sael had to take it. He didn't have anything in the way of experience, but he'd put them in this boat, saying words like 'legacy' and 'family'. If dad's ghost was here, maybe he could do some good. "Nice. I'll take it." he agreed and came in deeper.

He met Jason part way and raised the remains his brother reached for. He flicked his fingers and wiped his lips to free himself of the sugar and sprinkles. He looked at Jason chewing. In this relationship taking offered food could be a bid for peace, too. The disapproval the golden eyes was gone. Things were severe, if not dire. This was stressed by Jason's hand on Sael's shoulder. The younger brother decided not to make light of it, if Jason would not. Fact was, Sael knew very little of this business. Jason knew-- well, more.

Half a smile for Jason's joke, one corner lifted and another dropped, not to be charming, but because he was honestly half amused at the reply about orphanages and half put off by the tip of the iceberg of work Jason had presented. "Read my homework, present diorama. Got it." he said and wondered intensely what it might pertain to. Something in Jason's demeanor suggested this was more than just setting Sael up to carry his part of the workload. This particular assignment felt specific to Sael himself.

Sael must have raised his eyebrow in a telling manner when the woman's name was tossed, because that interested was quelled quickly. "Aw, comon. Don't be cheap with the Marcy, at least until I get my own." he said. The joke had its claim on the air and then it left. It was the same with Jason. When the door closed behind the man Sael cleared his throat, looking around. How dreary these lit spaces were. Could he change them? Dad had fought from here. All kinds of battles.

He got acquainted to chair quickly, felt he as though he had to. Mourning jacket off, sleeves rolled. The least he could do was look like he was working. Eventually that became true. The few things he did know showed their value was he went through the document. Sael was a novice, but not an infant. He knew the workings of people, if not always their trades, and there had been basic hints at this world in his education. Nathaniel's name all over the documents.

When Marcy came he behaved exemplary. She had a bit of Glory's air about her. He wanted someone competent as well, someone that perhaps could start to fill the gap in his experience with all this. Someone that could draw the straight lines so that he could free-hand. People like that usually painted on their own, though. He dreamed of the perfect assistant and tail as he loosened his tie and read what he'd been provided. With a sigh he leaned his temple on his knuckles, thumb petting the healing tear.

This was Jason's way of telling him to be careful. The sentiment could have been tender, but Sael guessed it was more for the sake of the company. In his hubris he was already thinking of theories to combat Nathaniel's techniques, already Sael believed himself above this kind of thing. His pride had taken him through many trials of life. His pride had drug his face in the dirt on numerous occasions, as well. Sael stood and brought his jacket. Time had done what it does.

he smiled at Emmeline's message and replied. "You're up for a treat then. Lunch, to be more exact. I'll send you the address and you can school me on just what it is we all do."

He stuck his head into his brother's office. "Hey." he said before coming in. "I sort of have lunch plans and I was wondering if you know any good business-y places to go?" he smiled widely, fixing his tie and rolling down his sleeves. "But not all the way ritzy, please. This could be pleasure, too." Silver eyes gleamed with some smugness. "Emmeline Nathaniel from the funeral. Figure we keep our friend's close and our Emmeline's closer, yes?" he expected some scalding for his choice of company, and was ready to defend his choice to go.

She was pretty, after all.