Dare to Read

February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Becquer!

Filed under: Becquer,On Reading,On Writing — carmenferreiroesteban @ 10:59 am
Tags: , , , , ,

by Carmen Ferreiro Esteban

Today is Becquer’s birthday.

Becquer, Gustavo Adolfo, was a Spanish writer, born in Sevilla in 1836. Had he been alive, he would have been 15 years short of 200, today.

Unfortunately he died young, at 34, leaving behind a too short body of work his friends published after his death, for while alive, he was mostly unknown.

Yet, Becquer, the poet, is not dead for every day, someone, somewhere, cares enough to publish a poem in her blog, to read his legends, then lie awake at night in fear of the ghosts he’s conjured with his words.

Becquer is not dead for he lives in his poems. And his poems are alive in the feverish mind of any Spanish girl whose heart has been broken yet once again.

He’s alive in my thoughts, for, as you may remember if you’ve read my previous posts, in my book, I made Becquer immortal and brought him to the New World.

And I know he’s alive because today, after weeks of struggling with a plot that seemed to go nowhere, something clicked in my mind and story and characters fit together at last, like the pieces in a game of chess aligning for checkmate.

It was that magical moment, if you’re a writer you’ll recognize, when everything falls neatly into place, the way a mighty castle forms at the bottom of a lake by the addition of just an extra grain of salt.

And being my book about Becquer and being his birthday today, how can I not believe it was his spirit’s whispers the wind that made music out of my notes?

And so it is with all my heart, I wish you, Becquer, a very Happy Birthday and a long immortal life.

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December 17, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 7

Welcome again to my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the previous installments, please check below.


by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

 

 

“Don’t.”

Federico’s arm shot in front of me and grabbed my hand. “Please, don’t,” he said. “Becquer might forgive me for breaking his car. Or for failing to drive you to the party. But if I do both, he will kill me for sure.”

I turned to look at him, surprised at the self-deprecating teasing in his voice.

“I thought you were immortal,” I said.

Federico smiled. “I’m sure he would find a way,” he said letting go of my hand. “His ingenuity to cause me pain knows no limit.”

“You love him,” I said and regretted it immediately, for I was afraid my inappropriate comment would throw him into another fit of anger. But Federico didn’t seem to hear. He was staring at the gaping hole in the dashboard where the wheel used to be as if he willing another one to appear.

“Becquer is right,” he said after a moment. “I do overreact sometimes.”

He sounded so defeated I felt sorry for him. Becquer was charming, I had to admit. It was not difficult for me to imagine falling for him and the pain at his rejection. “Not at all,” I said to cheer him up. “Your reaction was understandable giving the circumstances. He should have offered to pick you up.”

“You think?” he asked. Then, after I nodded, he added wistfully. “Let’s hope Becquer agrees with you when I tell him.”

I waited for him to produce a phone and call Becquer to ask him for a ride. Although it wasn’t cold outside, I was not looking forward to walking in the dark in my too tight black dress. But Federico didn’t move and when, after digging into my handbag, I offered him mine, he shook his head.

“That won’t be necessary,” he said. “Matt is coming.”

“How do you know that?”

“Becquer just told me.”

“But you didn’t…” I didn’t finish my words but waved the unused phone in my hand.

“I don’t need a phone to talk with Becquer.”

“You can read his mind?”

“Not exactly. I only hear what he wants to share. I cannot force myself into his mind. He would notice and block me. Actually, he just did that, when… Did Becquer ask you to be his secretary?”

“No. I’m just a writer.”

“Only a writer.” He smiled, a friendly smile that lit a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. And I found myself warming to him. “And what do you write, if I may ask?”

“Mainly stories for young adults, about impossible love and faraway lands.”

Federico nodded. “It sounds like something Becquer would love, and Beatriz would hate.”

“And you?”

“Me? I would have to read the story first. I used to write dramas when I was human. But I have mellowed with time.”

“You were a writer before you were immortal?”

“I was indeed.”

Federico bent forward and worked the CD player with his long fingers until he found the right track. “Listen,” he said. Sitting back against his seat, he closed his eyes.

Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women.

There is a shoulder where Death comes to cry.

The broken voice of Leonard Cohen came through the speakers, declaiming a poem made song. The first song I had danced at my wedding with the husband that had since become a stranger.

Take this waltz, take this waltz,

take this waltz with the clamp in its jaws.

Federico, eyes still closed, sang along keeping the beat on the dashboard with his fingers.

I looked at him in profile and, as if seeing him for the first time, I noticed his dark wavy hair, his cleaved chin, his arched bushy eyebrows. I gasped.

“You’re Federico,” I said, my voice breaking before I could complete his full name.

Federico nodded. “Yes, he said. I am ‘that’ Federico.”

Without losing his beat, he resumed his singing, his voice fitting perfectly the lyrics of the song, the lyrics of his perfect words.

To be continued …

If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

December 7, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast-6

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 8:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

Welcome again to my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Madison rolled her eyes when I picked the black lace dress from the rack.

“That won’t do, Mom. It’s Halloween. It has to be a costume party. Why don’t you call and ask.”

But I didn’t have Becquer’s number and, even if I had, I doubt I’d have gathered the courage to call him. So instead I bought the black dress, for wearing no costume to a costume party seemed to me less embarrassing than to show up in disguise to a regular one.

The dress was too fancy for me and way too expensive but we didn’t have time to shop any longer. As it was I had barely finished my make up when the doorbell rang.

I called to Madison to open the door while I put on my earrings and struggled with the reluctant clasp on my necklace.

Downstairs, I could hear a male voice pronouncing my name with a Spanish accent that mimicked mine.

“Mom,” Madison called as I left my room. Without inviting the man inside, she climbed the stairs. “I told you it was a costume party,” she whispered as she reached me.

I looked over her shoulder, at the man framed in the doorway. He was dressed in an ivory suit that would have been in fashion a century before. Yet, by the easy way he carried it, the jacket open revealing a white shirt with the two first buttons undone and a red handkerchief loosely tied at his neck, I knew it was not a costume. I also knew, by the wide smile spread across his face, he had heard Madison’s comment.

I smiled back at him and, without apologizing, as doing so would have made the situation even more awkward, I offered him my hand.

“I’m Carla,” I said, “and you must be Matt.”

He was handsome, I noticed, with black hair and sensitive eyes that stared openly at me.

“Federico, actually,” the man said.

I looked at him with renewed interest. Federico. The friend Becquer didn’t want to pick up. The one who didn’t want to rent a car.

“Shall we?” Federico said and took a step back.

In the dim light of the porch, I noticed  a reddish glow in his eyes, a reddish glow that could only mean he was an immortal.

I hesitated. Why had I agreed to go to this party? What if they were all immortals and I was meant to be their dinner? Not all will be immortals, I reassured myself. For Beatriz would be there and Beatriz, I was certain, was human. Human maybe but no help to me. The look of hate she had thrown at me when leaving the Coffee Shop had told me that much. She would not help me if her boss decided to kill me.

But that was absurd. I had no reason to mistrust Becquer. He had been nothing but polite when we talked and I had no proof that he fed on humans. He had a coffee in front of him when I met him. I couldn’t remember him drinking though.

I was about to say no, claim a killing headache, a previous engagement. But Federico’s eyes were still on mine and I couldn’t bring myself to lie. Besides, I needed to see Becquer. I needed to ask him why and when had he given his business card to Nico.

I nodded to Federico. “Of course,” I said, grabbed my coat from the rack and followed him into the gathering dusk.

“I thought you didn’t like driving,” I told him as we reached the silver convertible parked by the curb.

“You’re right, I don’t like driving,” Federico said holding the door open for me. “But listening to Becquer and Beatriz argue I like even less. Believe me, Madame, I am in your debt forever for giving me an excuse to leave the house.”

“Why were they arguing?” I asked after we joined the traffic.

Federico stole a quick glance at me, as if wondering how much I knew, then shrugged. “The usual,” he said. Without warning he switched to Spanish, his words flowing fast, in the clipped pattern of Southern Spain. “As far as I can tell, she didn’t want to publish your book.”

“Oh!”

“I wouldn’t be offended if I were you. On the contrary. Beatriz has no literary talent. Yet she has taken upon herself to save humanity. Through books. She believes only Philosophy treaties should be published, and literary books dealing with the human condition. You know the ones where nothing happens and the authors are so much in love with their own writing, they forget to tell a story. I don’t understand why Becquer has put up with her this long.”

“You don’t like her much.”

“The feeling is mutual.”

“That wasn’t my impression. This morning, he convinced Becquer to go to the airport to pick you up.”

He braked sharply and swerved out of the road until the car came to a halt on the dirt shoulder.

“Becquer didn’t want to go?” He asked, his voice tense with anger.

“He… he had things to do and­­­–”

“Things to do. Like what? Decorating the house? I haven’t seen him for over a year, and he needs convincing?”

His voice rose as he spoke so that by now he was almost screaming.

I looked ahead at the trees caught in the headlights and waited for his anger to pass.

“What else did he say about me?” he asked after a moment.

“Nothing. Really. He left right after Beatriz came. Well, not after she came. For first, he stopped time so she wouldn’t interfere with my signing–”

“He stopped time?”

I nodded.

“So you know? You know who he is?”

“Yes.”

“What about me? Did he tell you who I am?”

I shook my head.

“No. Of course not. I am not important enough. For two decades I was his lover. And what I am to him now? An inconvenience when I come to visit, an errand to add to his list of things to do before the important guests arrive.”

He grabbed the wheel so hard it broke in two. He stared at it for a moment as if puzzled, then shook it loose and, opening the door, threw it against the darkness. His eyes flaring red, he turned to me.

He hates me, Becquer had said. He doesn’t, Beatriz had told him. And she was right. Federico didn’t hate Becquer. He was in love with him.

I stood still, eerily aware I was sitting next to a man who was not human and that, for all his gentle appearance, could break my neck without even trying. As he had the wheel.

I had to leave. Now.

My hand trembling uncontrollably, I reached for the door.

To be continued …

If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

November 24, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast – 5 by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Filed under: Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 10:49 am
Tags: , , , ,

This post is for Marie and all my friends at BILY.
And in memory of Robert. Debbie, I think of you.


 

 

 

“Good for you!” was all Madison said when I told her I had an agent.
Her headphones back in her ears, she resumed her typing, while talking simultaneously, to the heads of her girlfriends trapped on the screen.
“He invited me to his party,” I said.
Not surprisingly, I got no answer.
“MA-DI-SON!”
“What?”
“Close the computer and look at me. We have to talk.”
“About what?”
I just stared.
“I have to go,” Madison spoke to her laptop, then snapped it closed. “I was busy,” she said, pulling off her headphones.
I ignored the challenge in her voice. For all her attitude, and unlike her brother at her age, she, at least, obeyed me. For the moment that was enough.
“Have you decided whether you are going to your party tonight?”
“Yes.”
“Yes, as you have decided, or yes as you’re going?”
“Yes, as in ‘I need a ride to the Mall to buy a costume’.”
“Today?”
“It’s your fault or have you forgotten you don’t let me wear the one I have?”
“I can’t take you to the Mall. My party is at six.”
“You are going to a party?”
Her surprise irked me, for it implied this was as rare an event as finding her in a good mood. Which was, in fact, the case.
“Yes, I am. I just told you. Becquer, my agent, invited me.”
“Then, you’re the one who needs to go to the Mall. You have no costume.”
“It is not a costume party.” I frowned. “At least I don’t think it is.”
“You don’t know? Really Mom, you need help.”
“Okay. I’ll take you to the Mall. You’re right. I need a dress.”
“Cool!”
Madison jumped from her bed and, in one of those sudden changes of mood I could never predict, sauntered over the piles of clothes that covered her floor and hugged me. “I love you, you know?” she said.
“Yes, I know.”
“Now about tonight,” I said as she started digging into her closet. “I will ask your brother to give you a ride at eleven, in case I’m not back.”
Holding a pair of jeans small enough to fit a Barbie, she turned to me. “Are you kidding? “He will be too stoned by then to drive.”
“Madison! Nico is not using. He has been clean for a year.”
“If you say so. But, if you don’t mind, I’d rather ask Abby if her mom can drive us.”
I left her texting on her cell, and headed for my room. But her words about Nico haunted me. Was she badmouthing her brother out of jealousy for all the attention he had gotten over the years by misbehaving, or had she seen something I had missed?
But what? His UTs, taken randomly since he had moved back with us late in August, had been negative. And, as far as I knew, he had been attending his classes at the Community College. A friend of mine taught there and I had told her to keep an eye on him. She would have called me had he missed too many classes.
As for his behavior, Nico was polite to me, as polite as teenager would be, and whenever he didn’t come home to sleep, he always let me know in advance. What else could I do? He was eighteen. I couldn’t tie him to a chair. That would be illegal, as the humorless psychologist had told me when I suggested it the previous year. The psychologist my ex had hired to evaluate us and advice the court who should have custody over Nico. I had meant it as a joke, of course. He hadn’t.
I heard doors opening and closing and the water running in the shower. Drawn by fear and by the memory of a time when this was routine for me–the time last year, when I was trying to find proof that Nico was using to force my reluctant ex to believe me and get help for my son–I stole into his room.
An unmade bed, a guitar against the wall, open books by the computer, dirty clothes upon the floor. Nothing obvious at first sight suggested drugs. No empty pens, no folded pieces of aluminum foil, no dryer sheets. None of the paraphernalia I had found then, for at his worst, Nico had not even tried to hide the evidence, as if he was too wasted to care, or maybe, at a subconscious level, crying for help.
No, nothing obvious, and I had become an expert at detecting everyday objects that could have another, lethal use, or unusual ones, like the glass container I was told it was a bomb by my friends at BILY, the support group for parents like me. The glass container that, otherwise, I would have put on my mantelpiece. For it had that artsy look.
I bent down and picked up his rumpled jeans. With expert fingers, I checked his pockets: his cell phone as was expected, a box of matches from a club I memorized and, at the very bottom, a small piece of paper, rolled in itself.
I unrolled it distracted, my mind a thousand miles away, already considering what this meant, and the few possibilities I had to make it right, now that Nico was eighteen. I held the paper in my hand. A business card, I noticed. And then I saw the name, Becquer’s name, beautiful rendered in the old-fashioned calligraphy I had seen earlier today, Becquer’s name screaming at me.
“Mo, what are you doing here?”
I turned. Lost in my thoughts, I hadn’t noticed the water in the shower had stopped running. But it had, and now, Nico, stood at the door, a towel wrapped around his waist. The boy who once had fit so smugly in my arms, a boy no more, looking down on me, his dark brows raised in a question.
He wasn’t angry. Not yet. Only curious. He wasn’t angry, until I raised my hand and showed him the card. “Who gave you this?”
Fast and furious, Nico reached forward and tore the card from my fingers. “What does it matter?” he asked as he squeezed it in his fist. “Are you spying on me?”
‘You don’t trust me, do you?” he continued, his voice getting louder with each word. ‘I did what you asked me, I took your dumb tests, and still you don’t trust me?”
“Have you met Becquer?”
“Why should I tell you anything? You won’t believe me, anyway.”
Before I could answer, he grabbed some clothes from the floor and left the room.
I stumbled back and sat on the bed, holding my head in my hands.
My two worlds that until then I had kept apart, my writing and Nico’s addition, had unexpectedly collided and lay broken at my feet.
Was Nico using again? Had Becquer a hidden reason for signing me?
Becquer had said he never lied. Even if he was being truthful when he claimed that, it didn’t mean he had told me everything. Or maybe Becquer had met Nico but didn’t know he was my son. Maybe he had given him his card. That didn’t mean they had been together when Nico… It was only a rolled card. It didn’t have to mean he had been using. But if he hadn’t why had he refused to answer me?
“Mom?”
I looked up. Madison, dressed to kill, in a short dress over tight pants, and wearing more make-up I could use in a month stared at me. “Are you ready?”
“Ready?”
Madison pouted. “Don’t tell me you are bailing on me? Whatever Nico has done this time, we need to go to the Mall.”
Lucky for me, I had somebody to set my priorities straight.
I knew better than to say that aloud, as Madison didn’t take well to sarcasm. Besides, she was right, we did need to go to the mall. As things stood between Nico and me and, despite the fact that Becquer was not quite human and I had met him only that morning, my guess was I had a better chance to get an explanation from Becquer than from my son. And that meant I had to go to the party to talk to him, and thus needed a dress.
I stood up. “No. I’m not bailing on you.”
Without saying a word that could release my fears and destroy my self-control, I followed Madison down the stairs and drove her to the Mall.

To be continued …

If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

November 22, 2010

Who is Becquer?

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 7:28 pm
Tags: , , ,

In case you wonder, this is how I imagine Becquer when I write him.

Any guesses who this actor is?

November 19, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 4

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 6:26 am
Tags: , , ,

Welcome again to my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

Garlic for breakfast

by

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

He beamed at me when he was done. “I will ask Beatriz to send you a copy,” he said, whisking the contract in his briefcase.

“Why don’t you ask her now?”

I turned my eyes towards the woman standing by the door and, as I did, she came to life and stepped inside.

With the feline grace that characterized all his movements, Becquer stood—the noise of his chair skidding the floor lost in the brouhaha of conversation that once more filled the room—and motioned his secretary to join us.

“Beatriz,” he called as she came closer, “what a pleasant surprise. We were just talking about you.”

He flashed at her a smile that would have charmed a miser out of his gold. But the pinched expression on the woman’s face remained unchanged. “Indeed,” she said and stared at me.

I climbed to my feet.

“Federico called,” Beatriz said after Becquer had introduced us and told her I had already signed with him. “He’s flying into Philadelphia and wants you to pick him up.”

Becquer swore with an old fashioned Spanish word I had never heard spoken before. “Why didn’t you send Matt?” he growled. “Or told him to rent a car?”

“I did. But he insisted he wanted you. You know he doesn’t like driving.”

Like a boy told he must do his homework before playing, Becquer sulked. “Is that why you came? To tell me this?”

Beatriz nodded. “I called your cell first. But, as usual, you left it at home.”

“I hate cell phones,” Becquer said.

“You better go,” Beatriz insisted. “It took me a while to find you. Federico’s plane will be landing soon. And he hates waiting.”

“Yes, he does, doesn’t he? Even more than he hates me.”

“Federico doesn’t hate you.” Beatriz’s voice was firm as if talking to a stubborn child. “He…”

“Then why does he do this to me? Now, I won’t have time to set the lights.”

Beatriz took a step back as if to urge him to follow. “You don’t have to worry about that. I told Matt to set them after you left this morning. I thought you were too busy this year to care for such trivial matters.”

Becquer stared her down. “I appreciate your concern,” he told her, the stiffness of his body saying otherwise. “But you know I like to decorate the house myself.”

“You can always change the decorations if they are not to your liking.”

“Of course.” He looked at his watch, a flash of silver on his wrist, then he continued, no trace of anger left in his voice. “But you were right in asking Matt to do it. If I am to get Federico, I will merely make it on time before the first guests arrive. Which reminds me, he said turning towards me, “I have not invited you yet. Have I?”

“No, I don’t think you have.”

“How rude of me! I host a party for my authors every year for Halloween. I would be thrilled were you to come.”

“Thank you for the invitation, but–”

“The party starts at six,” he interrupted me. “Don’t worry about the directions. I’ll send Matt to pick you up. Expect him around five thirty.” He turned to Beatriz, “Please remind him if I forget.”

“Great,” he continued as Beatriz nodded. “Once more thing,” he said to me. “Please, don’t mention my–condition as my other authors do not know.”

He smiled when I agreed and bowed to me and, after stealing his briefcase from the table, wrapped one arm around Beatriz’s waist and whisked her away.

I watched them go. He, dark and tall, she swaying slightly on her high heels, their closeness hurting in a way that shouldn’t have.

His hand never leaving her waist, he opened the door and held it open for her to pass. And as he did, their bodies touched.

Beatriz looked back over her shoulder and glared at me, her pale blue eyes cold like ice, her lips closed in a tight line. Then she was gone.

I sat back.

I was breathing hard, I noticed, and my heart was beating fast. What had just happened? Was Beatriz jealous of me as Becquer had suggested, jealous that I’d take her place? Or was she warning me that Becquer was his? But he wasn’t, was he?

“She’s my personal secretary,” Becquer had told me. How personal, I wondered now. Had he meant that they were lovers? And what if they were? Why should that bother me? But they were not, could not be for she was close to my age and he was…almost two hundred years old.

I closed my eyes for a moment to calm myself down. What was I thinking, worrying about Becquer’s private life instead of worrying that he had a life at all, as he, by all logic, should have been long dead? Unless nothing of this had happened. Unless I had imagined he had stopped time. Unless his claim that he was Becquer had been a lie.

Outside the window, coming down Main, a dark convertible waited at the light. As I watched, the roof rolled back and the sun poured inside the car, on the black hair and pale skin of the man who claimed to be Becquer. I held my breath, afraid that he would burst into flames. Across the distance, Becquer smiled and, in my head, I heard his laughter, a clear laughter of childish joy. Before I could react, the light turned green and, with a slight movement of his hand, he shifted gears, and, disappeared in a blur of blue.

His acknowledgment of my reaction did nothing to reassure me because, as far as I was from the window, no human eye could have seen me. And so I knew that Becquer was Becquer as he claimed, an immortal who could freeze time, and I, by signing the contract, had just bound myself to him.

I took a deep breath. The smell of coffee overpowered now the other scent, the scent of lemon with a hint of cinnamon, Becquer had left.

Steam still rose from the second cup he had brought me. I picked it up and swallowed the espresso in one gulp, burning my tongue. But caffeine did not do the trick. The fear remained.

Unfortunately, as Becquer had mentioned, in the States, you can’t get brandy in a Cafe. And that was what I needed now, a shot of brandy in my coffee. Or, even better, a shot of brandy straight.

I needed a drink.

To be continued . . .

Check next Friday for a new installment of Garlic for Breakfast, a novel delivered to you bite by bite here at Carmenferreiroesteban’s Weblog and at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/search/label/Carmen%20Ferreiro.

November 12, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 3

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 9:10 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome again to my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

He took back the contract and setting his hands, palms up, on the table in a gesture of surrender, stared at me.

“I’m Becquer,” he said. “Gustavo. Adolfo. Becquer.”

He pronounced the name slowly his eyes straight on mine and I knew he wasn’t lying. Yet the truth was unacceptable.

“You may remember me from your Spanish classes,” he continued. “‘Literatura’ it was called then, if I’m not mistaken.”

“That is impossible.”

I stood abruptly sending my chair crashing to the floor. I remembered Becquer, all right. He was the Spanish poet whose poems of unrequited love I memorized when I was 13, as every other Spanish girl has done, before and after me, the first time a clueless boy breaks her heart. Yes. I remembered Becquer. But Becquer …

“Becquer is dead, ” I said aloud. “He died long ago.”

He nodded, a smile playing on his lips as if pleased that I remembered him. “In 1870 to be exact. Only, I didn’t really die. I just stopped being human.”

“And what are you now? A monster?”

He winced as if the word had offended him. “I’m not a monster. For a monster is, by definition, a fictional creature, and I, as you may notice, am quite real. And if you meant it metaphorically I reassure you I’m not evil. The change gives us powers, but doesn’t alter our true nature. I’m still who I was. No angel, no demon, but both at once.”

He had moved to my side as he spoke and lifted my chair.

I took a step back. “Don’t touch me.”

He bowed to me, in an old fashioned way that didn’t seem out of place. “As you wish,” he said. “But with your permission, I’ll get you a drink now, so we can discuss this further.”

He skirted the tables and the people sitting, eerily still, around them and reached the counter where a barista stood, a cup on her frozen hands.

I considered running away, but dismissed the idea. It seemed unwise as he would find me, I had no doubt, and bring me back. Besides I wanted answers. I sat down.

Soon he came back balancing a cup of coffee he set in front of me.

“Thank you. ”

He nodded. “I meant to bring you something stronger, ” he said. “But, after twenty years in the States, I still forget they don’t serve alcohol in the cafes here.”

“Twenty years? Two more than me.”

“I know,” he said, reminding me of the fact that he had googled me and thus knew more about me that I would have liked. Not to mention the fact that I had probably given him my card at the conference and so, he had my address. Not a reassuring thought.

“What do you want of me?” I asked.

“I want to represent your work as I told you before. You may not believe me but it is the truth. I never lie.”

I laughed. “Becquer. The ‘Becquer’ wants my writing. If you’re really him, why don’t you write your own stories?”

“Because I can’t.” There was anger in his voice, at my challenging him probably, and something else something like pain or was it frustration?

“Since I became an immortal,” he said slowly, “I can’t feel anymore. I don’t feel pain, nor joy, nor fear, nor sorrow. Without feelings, without passion the creativity is gone. That is why I cannot write, and I miss it. I miss it terribly. I miss the fury and the chaos, the agony and the ecstasy of the artistic creation.”

“When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke ’round me, I am in darkness—I am nothing.”

“Virginia Woolf,” he finished my quote. “My thoughts exactly. That is why I need you. You and others like you who have the gift, so I can be witness to their creation and, through them, through their words, feel the flame that now eludes me.”

“And that is all?”

“That is all, I promise.”

“Why did you stop time then? Because you did it, right? You can change it back?”

He laughed, amused, it seemed, at the panic I couldn’t conceal from my voice as the thought struck me that this was to be forever, that we were to be the only ones alive in a frozen world.

“Yes, I did this, and I will bring them back to life after you give me your answer.”

“But I don’t understand. Why did you do it?”

“Because of her.” She pointed again at the woman by the door. “I was afraid of your reaction were you to learn from Beatriz that I am—immortal.”

“Why would she want to tell me?”

“To break your trust in me.” He shrugged. “She is jealous of you because she thinks I want you to take her place.”

“As your secretary?”

He nodded.

“Didn’t you tell her—”

“I did. Yet she is here. But enough about her. Would you sign for me?”

“You won’t regret it,” he added as I said nothing. “If you sign, you will never have to worry about the business part of writing. You will be free to write full time while I deal with the editors and publishers. I used to be terrible at convincing people to look at my stories when I was human, but I am surprisingly good now.”

He flashed at me his winning smile and I found myself smiling back. Was he really that clueless or was he just playing me? For, considering his exotic beauty and the fact that most people in the industry were women, I didn’t find his success surprising at all. And his offer was most tempting. Like his human self, I also lacked the social skills needed to sell my work. Yet…

“You’re scared of me.”

“I…”

Becquer smiled. “It’s only normal. No need to apologize. To fear the unknown is a survival skill we all posses. But what if I promise you no one will get hurt? Would you sign then?”

“Then it’s done,” he said when I didn’t argue, “for you have my word.”

He moved aside the second cup of coffee I haven’t touched and set the contract once more in front of me.

“Should I sign with blood?”

He smiled a crooked smile. “That would be lovely,” he said, a glint of red in his dark eyes.

I winced.

“But it is not necessary,” he rushed on, and passed me a pen, a beautiful carved pen, I swear wasn’t there when I asked.

Our fingers brushed as I took it. His were not cold as I’d imagined, but pleasantly warm, a human touch.

“I told you I am not a monster,” he said holding my eyes, and with a flourish of his wrist signed his name right beside mine.

To be continued . . .

Check next Friday for a new installment of Garlic for Breakfast, a novel delivered to you bite by bite here at Carmenferreiroesteban’s Weblog and at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/search/label/Carmen%20Ferreiro.

November 5, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 2

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 12:01 pm
Tags: , ,

Welcome to the first chapter of my paranormal mystery novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the teaser last week, please check below.

Enjoy!

   Garlic for Breakfast

by
Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban


Becquer called Sunday morning.

I was arguing with my daughter, at the time, because she wanted to go to a Halloween party, and I had said no. It was not only because the party started late that I opposed her going, but also because the outfit she planned to wear would have been too small had she been five, and she was fifteen. Caught in the middle of my impassioned speech to support my refusal, I picked up the receiver and barked a sharp hello.

A voice, deep and beguiling, answered mine. “Carla,” he said. “This is Becquer.”

At the memory of the dark eyes bearing on mine his name had evoked, my heart went into overdrive.

“We met last Sunday,” he explained after I returned his greeting, “at the Eastern College Writers Conference.”

As if I could forget. He had been the only agent to ask me for a full manuscript that day. The only male, too, in a sea of female agents, a fact that would have made him memorable even if he hadn’t had the impossible good looks of a pagan god. He was older than most agents at the conference, mid thirties was my guess, and, unlike all the others, he knew who I was.

“I read Two Moon Princess,” he had told me as we sat at one of the tables in the cafeteria that doubled as conference room. His voice, loud enough to be heard over the noise of other attendees furiously pitching their stories, was warm, creating a comforting intimacy between us. An intimacy his words had only enhanced.

He was the fifth agent to whom I had delivered my pitch that morning. Or maybe he was the sixth. I had lost count of how many had told me already, with a canned smile glued on their faces, that my project was not a good fit for their list. As for someone reading my published work, that was a first. Ever.

“You did?” I mumbled, trying to remember whether I had sent a resume with my application.

“I ran a search on you,” he said answering my unspoken question. “I’m interested in Spanish history,” he added. Nothing personal, his words implied.

“Your accent—”

“Still there after all these years.” He interrupted me as if to discourage further inquiry, then continued. “Tell me about you new novel. Did the boy kill the queen?”

“It’s a love story,” I told him, reluctant to give away the ending.

Becquer smiled, showing a perfect row of sharp teeth between his sensuous lips. “Marvelous,” he said. “I love love stories, especially when they have a tragic ending.”

****

“I finished your manuscript.” Becquer’s voice came through the phone, bringing me back to the present, “and would like to meet with you to discuss it. If it is all right.”

“Yes, of course,” I said trying and failing to sound nonchalant. “When?” I grabbed a pen and faced the calendar on the kitchen wall to mark the date.

“The Starbucks on State and Main in fifteen minutes?”

“Fifteen minutes? You mean, you’re here in Doylestown?”

“Exactly.”

I would have asked for more time but I could hear Madison screaming her head off up in her room, complaining to a friend probably about her impossible mother, and half my mind was busy blocking her, which meant I didn’t have a lot of brains left to think. So I agreed, only to panic as soon as I hung up. What was I thinking? I would never make it on time.

But I did. It took me a minute to run upstairs, give Madison an ultimatum—either she could go to the party in another costume or wear that one at home—and rush in and out of my room.

****

Becquer was sitting by one of the windows, a cup of coffee in front of him. He got up as I approached and, with a movement of his hand, invited me to the chair across from him, then asked me what I would like to drink.

“An espresso would be nice,” I said, taken aback by his old fashioned manners. When was the last time someone, male or female, had offered to get my order? Yes, I knew gentlemanly manners are a sign of male dominance, and I had endured enough of the drawbacks of a misogynic society as a child to be certain I didn’t want to live in one. But the way Becquer asked was not condescending, more like offering a courtesy to an equal. If he wanted to impress me, he succeeded. Somehow I thought he wasn’t trying.

He came back sooner than I expected and set the espresso in front of me: a small cup on a saucer, the European way. I thanked him, for the coffee and for the fact that he had brought me a real cup. How did he know, I wondered, that I missed the Spanish cafés and the coffee served like this, in white porcelain cups? Maybe he missed them too and he had guessed.

How strange the little things I remembered from my old life, the one I gave up when I followed my ex-husband to the States. I shook my head to get rid of the memories, and sipped my coffee. Becquer stared at me.

“I loved your story,” he said, when I put the cup down.

I waited, out of habit, for the ‘unfortunately it doesn’t fit my current list’ I was certain would follow, but it didn’t come.

“I hope you don’t have an agent yet for I would like to represent you,” he said instead.

“You want to represent me?”

“Yes, of course. You didn’t think I came all the way here to apologize for not taking you as a client, did you?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“I trust you have checked my credentials by now and know I’ve run my agency for ten years and been pretty successful placing my clients.”

He laughed when I blushed for he had guessed right.

“So?” he insisted.

I knew I had a speech prepared for this occasion stored somewhere in my brain. But when I searched my mind I couldn’t find it. I nodded. “Yes, I would like you to be my agent.”

“Good,” Becquer said and reached for the briefcase resting on the windowsill. He had beautiful hands, I noticed, wide and strong, an artist’s hands. Long ago, when I was young, I had looked at hands as a way to judge a possible suitor. Becquer’s would have passed the test big time. Not that it mattered anymore. I was not thinking of a suitor now. Haven’t since I’d married. Not even after the divorce. When you marry the devil you don’t want to try again.

“Are you all right?”

I blushed furiously under his dark stare and nodded.

Becquer pushed a paper towards me. “I took the liberty of bringing the contract with me,” he said. “Care to sign?”

“Now?”

“After you’ve read it, of course.”

An alarm went off in my head. Every piece of advice I had ever heard telling me to be cautious, to read the small print. But when I looked down and saw the contract, I flinched in surprise. It was handwritten, with the flowery calligraphy they don’t teach in schools anymore. A style that would have been outdated even in my time. Yet it was easy to read: the text was short and straightforward, the conditions better than the ones on a standard contract. No fine print to ponder.

I looked up. “It seems reasonable,” I said, then stopped, suddenly aware of the total silence around us. Everyone, I realized with a start, was frozen in place, as if they were actors in a movie I had paused by mistake.

“What happened?”

“Beatriz,” Becquer said and pointed at the door where a woman in a smart suit stood facing us, “my personal secretary. She found me.”

I looked from the woman back to him, and then again around us, taking in the impossible stillness of the place.

“Who are you?” I whispered.”

To be continued …

Check next Friday for a new installment of Garlic for Breakfast, a novel delivered to you bite by bite here at Carmenferreiroesteban’s Weblog and at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/search/label/Carmen%20Ferreiro.

October 30, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 1

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 8:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Below is the first installment of my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.

Enjoy!

by

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

I let him in.

How could I not when he was carrying my brother, either dead or unconscious, in his arms?

My brother and I were not exactly best friends at the moment. He was a pain, to put it nicely, and the way he had been behaving lately, I would not have been surprised to know he had OD. In fact that is what I thought when I opened the door and saw the man standing in the dark. The man as pale as dawn and so devilishly handsome I couldn’t stop my heart from beating faster, even though I knew he was too old for me. Way too old, for he looked even older than Nico who, at eighteen, had three years over me.

“Your brother needs my help,” the man said, his voice deep and commanding. “You must let me in.”

My first impulse was to obey, but something was odd in the way the man stood holding my six foot brother as if he were, like the scarecrows Mother had spread over the lawn, made out of straw.

“What happened?” I asked instead, reluctant to comply.

“He got hurt,” the man said. I shivered under his stare and took a step back. His eyes were not black as I had first thought, but red, or had they just changed color? Either way they were contact lenses, I reassured myself. How could it be otherwise even if it wasn’t Halloween?

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” the man insisted. He was dressed in black, black pants and a black jacket closed almost to his neck. No Halloween costume, my mind registered while he continued. “Your mother is coming, Madison. But it would be better if you let me in. Now.”

“You know my mother?” A stupid question for he had just said so and he knew my name. But my mind seemed to have gone trick or treating and left me alone with the strange man in a no costume and the red eyes.

“We’ve met.”

He sounded annoyed, angry even, and the thought occurred to me that he could have pushed his way in already if he had meant me harm. He was obviously stronger than me–strong enough to carry my brother–yet he had not. He had stayed outside the door that, even open, he had respected as a barrier between us. A barrier he wouldn’t cross unless I’d invite him in. At the end, it was his politeness, his restrain to force his entrance that won me over.

“Come in.”

“Thank you,” the man said as if he meant it.

I felt the rip in the air when he entered and moved aside to lead him into the living room. But the man brushed past me and climbed upstairs heading straight to Nico’s room. Maybe he could read minds and got the outlay of the house from mine. Or maybe it was the scent. It didn’t take a hound to smell my brother’s room. I followed them.

From the door, I saw the man had already set my brother over the rumpled comforter that half covered his bed.

“Leave,” the man said without turning.

But I didn’t move. Nico’s face was white, even whiter that the man’s had been. And his eyes were shut. Was he dead? Before I gathered the courage to ask, the man unzipped his jacket and, in a sudden movement, touched his own neck with his hand. As I watched a line of blood formed over his skin. He sat on the bed then, and, lifting my brother, held his face to his wound.

I screamed and ran to him. I didn’t see him moving but he must have because his left hand pushed me back. Nico’s eyes, opened wide, his dilated pupils staring blindly at me the last thing I remembered before the world went blank.

To be continued …

Check next Friday for a new installment of Garlic for Breakfast, a novel delivered to you bite by bite here at Carmenferreiroesteban’s Weblog and at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/search/label/Carmen%20Ferreiro.

March 5, 2010

Good writers borrow, great writers steal. T.S. Eliot

Filed under: On Writing — carmenferreiroesteban @ 5:26 pm
Tags: , , , ,

 

Vampires, angels, zombies and fairies have invaded the shelves in the teen section of the bookstores these days.

As a writer of Young Adult novels, I have read my share of them, and enjoyed reading them well enough, while calling it research. But after a while they all started to blend in my mind. The good guys were always young and beautiful, the bad ones, still young, but ugly. And not being either young or beautiful myself, this started to bother me.

Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to have a wicked and wise older woman as the protagonist? Something like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer with the mother as the slayer?

After bouncing the idea in my mind for several days, I presented it to my friends and fellow bloggers. They both liked the idea and even volunteer to co-author my story. Then, Mary Fran went to the bookstore and found a book which she thought had stolen our idea, and panicked. Wouldn’t we be copying if we wrote ours now?

I told her,”No, of course not. My story is different.” How could it not be when I had not read those other books?

It was only later that I remembered a surrealistic moment I experienced last year when reading Diane Gabaldon’s novel Outlander.

Both, Outlander and my young adult novel Two Moon Princess, involve time travel.

In Outlander, a nurse from 1945 England travels to XVIII century Scotland where she falls in love with a native.

In Two Moon Princess, a girl from medieval Spain travels to modern day California and then back to her world with the American boy she fancies.

But that is all they have in common, the time travel part. The story line, characters, voice and intended audience are totally different.

Yet, when I reached the last sentence in Outlander, I almost dropped the book. The sentence paraphrased eerily close the last sentence in Two Moon Princess. How could that be possible? I hadn’t read this book when I wrote mine.

So, maybe Mary Fran is right. Maybe my vampire book will not be totally original. But that won’t stop me from writing it. After all, according to Plato, there are only six basic plots, so any story we may tell has been told thousands of times already in a slightly different way.

We, writers are like children playing with dolls, dressing them with a new outfit and making them look new every day. And as long as we have fun doing it, why should we stop?

As I did in my previous blog ‘Rejecting Rejection’, I’m going to give you two sentences.—the two endings I mentioned above—and ask that you leave a comment telling me which one you prefer and why.

Please do, you’ll make my day.

#1. “And the world was all around us, new with possibility.”
#2. “Around us, the New World stood still, waiting.”

And in case you wonder which one was mine in the Rejecting Rejection blog, the answer is # 1.

So, congratulations to the winners. Oops, I said there will be no winners. So, I rectify congratulations to everybody that left a comment, and thanks so very much.

Carmen Ferreiro Esteban

Please follow my book reviews at https://carmenferreiroesteban.wordpress.com