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Topics - Chloé Lisse

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Backdated a few years, please enjoy this snapshot of a moment in a Parisian girl's life.  And apologies if it's a little off from the prompt.  :)



Oh, Rats

The black beady eyes of a small street rat looked up on the floor of a Folie-Méricourt underpass. Its brown fur stood out amongst the torn advertisements and graffiti that lined the walls, beneath which a homeless man slept between an acrylic blanket and a flattened cardboard box. Should he open his eyes, he would not see the rat, which had scurried back into a hole in the Lutetian stone, but the thick, black heel of a woman’s shoe, over-worn but still elegant.

From this heel began the lean silhouette of an outcast. These adopted streets, these backwater trails, this homeless network, they were hers. From the safety and expectations of Lyon, she had come here—the city of light and love. And while tourists chased these faerie tales, Chloe knew better. Under the cover of night, she sought out the unconventional, the dismissed, and the overwrought. It was from the ugliness of a city so renowned for its beauty she would fashion herself anew.

As the lights blinked on the streets, green, white, and red, the brunette traversed her route in black—the trench coat that pulled up around her ears, the jeans that were perhaps a size too small, and the fine powder that caked her eyelids. Inside the coat lining resided the blackthorn wand that had remained loyal all this time. Perhaps that was why she put more stock in objects than people—they didn’t turn on you.

The apartment building with the double green door was receded back into the street line so artfully as she approached. Even the angels at the top seemed to smile unknowingly from the clouded marble as the muggles trapsed in and out. Pursing her bright red lips, Chloe shook her head. They would need to go.

As she crossed the threshold into the foyer, she came into to grab the mail—their mail. The bright red envelopes with snowy stamps stuffed all those little boxes, one by one scaling up the wall by number. With a look around, she pushed her fingers into the top box and then the one below it until she had amassed a nice pile in the poplin of her trench. Clicking her teeth with a childish enthusiasm, she shuffled the letters—along with bills, advertisements and Chinese menus—together before returning them randomly amongst the metal boxes.

And with a wry smile, Chloe continued through the foyer, ignoring the steps that would lead up to her shabby apartment. A bright gust of wind lapped at her skin as she came out the other side, into the dusty back courtyard. Lined with the building’s trashcans and a fence to separate it from an adjoining property, the cobbled area was housed a single wood bench that no one used.

Grey eyes up in the sky, the French girl spotted a great mahogany bird circling the court. Graced with strong wings and deep amber eyes, its descent was sharper than any pigeon who’d ever frequented the courtyard in search of a lazy meal. Perching on the bench, it stared at her like an old friend as a weathered envelope hung out of its beak.

Reaching for it, Chloe ran her index finger around the wax seal—green, and in the shape of an ‘L’ with a Manticore in the background. But the handwriting gave him away, Oncle, as a light Parisian rain started to fall from the sky and sink into the ink. Shoving it into her pocket, Chloe looked at the bird, who was a little thinner than she remembered him.

Along the edge of the garbage can, an oversized rat, grey with soot, was sniffing around. Reaching into her coat lining, her fingers latched onto the wood of her wand. Then, pointing it clearly, she cast—without a word—something from her dueling days. On the bright cobble was the rat, flat on his back with his tail pointing at her while the blood ran down with the rain.

“Etienne, dîner.”

2
Hello! This is a hermit crab essay that heavily (and creatively) references a certain Sondheim musical rather than a more traditional faerie tale. I wanted to explore what an untraditional protagonist might look like in this context.



Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Across the wooded floor came the flashes of white light as the girl, honey-haired, sat beside the cauldron, black but bright. It was too perfect in some ways—the thunder, the fall winds kicking up the dirt on the muggle street below as her blue eyes examined the quiet crossroads for the bearers—but she didn’t let a storybook setting, however urban and unsettled, distract from the task. For not everyone could go into the woods. It was a unfortunate prerequisite of this brew that her hands, pale and puny things, could not touch that which birthed the potion.

It was a fate left in the hands of others on this, the last midnight.

Her black heels scratched the floor as she curled her body up against the window, as if proximity could render her wishes real. Boney fingertips curled around her black cherry wand protectively, though she knew spell-work alone could not always mend situations complicated by the politics of the heart or other relations.

Told a little lie
Stole a little gold
Broke a little vow
Did you?

If her mother could, she suspected she would easily call this girl by the window the most morally loose member of the Lisse family. But she didn’t talk to her mother—not since then. Tossing her ponytail to one side, Chloe didn’t mind; in fact, she didn’t care.

Out on the street and beyond into the woods, those others would be lying, doing whatever they had to for their items, their piece in the potion—a grog that had very little to do with them. Laced in her charm work, she had seeded her needs, those odd facets of seeing progress, sensing danger—whatever a human might to do to meet goals—good goals, bad goals, her goals.

And then when they arrived, she knew, in the doom and the gloom, and she’d steal away dreams, they would want what really mattered: the blame. That was what always mattered from the window or the potions stall: someone you can blame. And so, she took it. Again, and again.

“Alright, mother, when?” Chloe said as she followed a raindrop down to the street below.

You're so nice
You're not good
You're not bad
You're just nice

They all had been when she’d first encountered them—the stock boy, the unsuspecting student, the milkman’s daughter—and that’s what made them so perfect. An infuriating moral compass drove people into the street, into the woods because they thought they were good. As if like in the books that lined her childhood bedroom, there was good and bad and that faux magic—quiet and unsuspecting, the kind that saved your poor muggle life.

Clicking her tongue, Chloe knew better: she wasn’t good; she wasn’t bad; she was just right. And that was more valuable than any morality. It was the precision that would allow the waves to settle smack on time underneath these bubbles. The math of her life had accumulated to this very spot—the culmination of chaos in a bid for perfection.

This was what they did not understand: beauty was not perfection.

You're the world
I'm a hitch
I'm what no one believes
I'm the witch

Black nail varnished reflected her face back at her, older now and jaded. Or was it? Sometimes Chloe wondered if she had been born older, more complex and already in distain for the world. Or if it had all been a product of circumstance—a birth from the blame. And in that shame, she grew, tall and lanky, into what no one at the little French school could believe: a dangerous woman.

And so, they left her. Gave her claws and a hunch. The lizard skin she took with pride, a new armor and scale as every difficulty, real or contrived, landed on her name. And yet still, her magic pulsed within her blue-blood veins, and the thunder rapped on the tin roof as she spied her—the girl with the red cloak—along the cobbles.

Reaching into the black leather of her jacket with a single gloved hand, Chloe pulled out a pale green bean and held it up to that lighting light as she watched the girl, drenched in scarlet, cross the street, unaware of the potion’s properties.

Well, you can blame another witch
Now, before it's past midnight
I'm leaving you my last curse
I'm leaving you alone



Lyrics belong to the amazing Stephen Sondheim.

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