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Chapter One - An Introduction

Three olive-skinned women stood outside a sturdy brick house with intricately designed features, arms around the others’ shoulders while they gazed at what would be their new home. Lillian, the troubled young mother, glanced at her daughters, an awe-stricken expression inhabiting each of their faces. She looked back at the house that loomed ahead, hoping that she could create for them a life that they would never regret.

Lillian only wanted the best for her two growing daughters; seventeen-year-old Fiona, the high school senior with a big heart and even bigger dreams, and ten-year-old Vivian, the innocent child who always turned to the brighter side of things rather than the darker. She didn’t want them living the life she had led as a young teenager growing up in this often-cruel world. So, after her husband Miguel Mendez had left his loving family only to crawl into the arms of a younger woman, Lillian had worked her heart out to find them the perfect house to rent in a completely different city, leaving their past behind them. The family was trying to start a new life here in the cozy city of Glendale, California, a mere ten miles away from Los Angeles.

Ever since she was a little girl, Fiona had instilled an incredible love of art within herself. She had a remarkable talent for painting beautiful landscapes and other inanimate objects in an amazingly real form. One of her most prized masterpieces was an eye-catching sunset scene, which symbolized her love for passion and romance while simultaneously expressing her flair for painting in shades of red, orange, and yellow. Fiona’s friends had often described her as an exotic dreamer with a keen sense of ambition and determination. One of her biggest dreams was to attend the Royal College of Art located in London, England. She had been saving up all her income from her low-paying, dead-end job and planned on raising enough to get her overseas at least by the time that she was ready to go to college. But her first priority was to look out for her little sister Vivian, who didn’t quite understand what was going on between their mother and father.

During their first night in the new house, Lillian journeyed out to look for employment, leaving Fiona to care for her little sister. While she was busy in the kitchen gathering supplies for dinner, Vivian ran in behind her from the living room, nearly causing Fiona to drop everything that she was holding.

“Hey, Fi, what are you making for dinner tonight?” Vivian asked anxiously.

“It’s a surprise…” Fiona said, grinning down at her mysteriously.

“Awww, c’mon, Fi, tell me!” exclaimed Vivian, growing more and more curious by the second.

“That’s not going to work on me this time, Viv. Now go and finish watching your movie before you miss too much of it,” Fiona told her, with a gentle push towards the living room. Vivian crossed her arms over her chest and gave her big sister a hopeful look, intending to soften her up enough so the answer she wanted might accidentally slip out. When that didn’t work, she reluctantly trudged back towards the cheerful rumbling of the TV.

After they finished eating, the two sisters heard a car door slam from outside.

“Mommy’s home!” Vivian screamed, as she sprinted towards the front door. Lillian waltzed through just in time to catch her in a big hug.

“Hey, honey,” she greeted her youngest daughter, “how was dinner?”

“It was good, but it would have been better if you had joined us,” Vivian answered, her gaze dropping to her feet.

“Awww, I’m sorry, Viv. I wanted to be here too, but I’ve got good news. I think I may have found a job that will really help us out.”

Vivian’s eyes lit up at this as she wrapped her arms around her mother in another hug.

Fiona, who was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, recognized the fear in her mother’s eyes as she spoke to Vivian. She knew Lillian really hadn’t found anything remotely close to a helpful job, she just didn’t want Vivian to worry about her not finding a job and the family becoming desolate. Lillian knew she couldn’t hide the truth from Fiona but she didn’t see any reason to burden Vivian’s ten-year-old mind any more than was necessary. Fiona knew it was hard for her mother to bounce back into the working world after depending solely on Miguel’s income for so long.

Later that night, Lillian started to confront Fiona about what had happened earlier, but when she peered inside Fiona’s room, she found her painting another beautiful landscape on the easel that was given to her as a going-away present from her boyfriend. Lillian hung in the doorway, a little taken aback at how visibly real the painting appeared from where she stood. Fiona never even noticed that her mother was watching her, she was so focused on giving her painting that perfect unique touch that made it all her own.

Suddenly, a small sigh from behind jerked Fiona back to reality, forcing the paintbrush held so carefully between her fingers to splotch over a spot she had wanted to keep clean.

“Crap!” she screamed in frustration. “Now I have to start all over again!”

Lillian quietly slipped out of the room as to avoid being the cause of ruining Fiona’s painting. She whisked the idea of talking to Fiona out of her mind. She knew Fiona would understand that she only lied to Vivian in order to protect her.

In her room, Lillian became haunted with past reveries of her ex-husband. She had married Miguel right out of high school, completely abandoning any thoughts of attending college that she may have had. She never had to work, besides doing little odd jobs here and there, since he had provided most of the support for their new life together. Lillian felt a tear slowly trickle down her cheek. She hadn’t noticed that thinking of old memories would make her so emotional. She wished more than anything that she could have kept his attention long enough to make him stay with her, instead of running off with a girl twice her age. She had never been without Miguel in her life and she still didn’t know how she was going to support her two daughters without him.

to be continued...

"True beauty is seen through closed eyes."


The following comments are for "A Dawning Amidst Darkness - Intro"
by babygurl

The challenge
I stumbled onto this because of the great title. First impression, it felt like 'Under the Tuscan Sun', if I'd started watching it a fourth of the way through. Nothing wrong with that, i liked that movie. What this story needs is less description and more action. For example, instead of telling us about her sunset-scene, have her find a place for that picture on the wall of her new house, using the opportunity to explain from her perspective why it is special.
Good luck with the rest.

( Posted by: malthis [Member] On: March 3, 2004 )

you've got a point..
Thank you for your comment Malthis and although I've never seen that movie, I'll take that as a compliment. I understand what you're saying, and you present a good point. I'm what you would call a descriptive writer, I guess. Thanks for your suggestion and for bringing it to my attention. ;)

( Posted by: babygurl [Member] On: March 4, 2004 )

Hi Babygurl,

I think this a good start, and can actually see the need for a healthy dose of description and scene-setting in what is destined to be a long piece. However, I do recommend that you cull the extraneous away from this piece in order to shore up, or strengthen, the foundation you are building. It's something that I aspire to, and frequently fail at, in my own work.

Here are the words of Poe, who says it much better than I ever could:

"In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has been presented unblemished, because undisturbed; and this is an end unattainable by the novel. Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here as in the poem; but undue length is yet more to be avoided."

Much good luck to you in writing this novel. Your characters are interesting and engage the reader, and I'm certain your flair for description will serve you very well.

Thanks for sharing,

( Posted by: Safiyah [Member] On: March 5, 2004 )

you've also got a point :)
Thanks for the advice Safiyah ;) You guessed right, it is a long piece (I've actually already written 22 pages and still in the process of writing it). I think adding too much to a situation like that quote says is my weakness. I always seem to be doing that. I don't know how to stop. I just get on a subject and can't get off of it. But I suppose, in some ways that is good. thanks again for all your compliments, they are very much appreciated, especially coming from such a great writer as yourself. :)

( Posted by: babygurl [Member] On: March 7, 2004 )

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