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Literature by FadingGrin

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Submitted on
January 16, 2013
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23 (who?)
A Gathering of Virgins

His father wants James to marry money, breeding, blood. His son is a purebred; no mongrel pups in his house, Tara risen again. Forget dust, rubber thong sandals and swamp cool copperheads covered with scales like alligator boots. His son and the chosen one will live in a different place; elegant, controlled and sleek.

His father wants a china figure of a bride for his son with porcelain flounces gritty as sand. So he orders a cocktail party, invites a bakers dozen of pureblooded virgins, well at least virgins on the resume.

Their twittering voices cascade over James, each word petty as a tame canary's peck. He keeps stabbing his hand with toothpicks plucked from the canapés so he won't fall asleep from boredom.

The flounces of the prospective betrotheds wilt like lettuce, their manicured curls sagged with the heat. Outside Anne hides behind the trellis, wisteria a veil over her face, tears pricking her face like thorns. No chance for her.

Fairy tales grow in England, they don't grow here. James is her other half, half of her soul, meant to be, they were meant to be. They have been entwined since they were five and he stumbled upon her grasping a plastic baggie filled with tadpoles and asked what the wiggling weeds were? Since then they have been together.

One night when they were ten, they peered through a gap in a peeling wooden fence at a couple copulating in their back yard The night so hot, the couple had dragged a lumpy mattress out in the slightly cooler darkness and then they poured their bodies into each other.

Anne and James watched intently as though they were watching a pantomime that will mean something. But now that they are old enough to testify to that meaning, his father will promise him to another body, another firm young sapling body, blood so achingly pure it would sting if you tasted it.

James stares at the eddy and swirl of delicate milk shoulders, loops of moon pearls, a prick of grit worn smooth by the trudging of years. Perhaps he could love in time one of these foals. Not like Ann, never like Ann. But still pliant flesh, warm bed, his father's money. He grabs a martini, another and another, no taste, no taste, just chill and a rarified numbness. He is a purebred, weak, hollow, a stream ruined dry.

The night before the gathering of virgins,  Anne threw pebbles at James' paned window, rattled him awake, a shivering of glass. Holding hands, fingers entwined so tight it hurts, they crouched outside the bar next to the abandoned cotton gin. "Oh I wish was in the land of cotton" They wished they were somewhere else.

Eyes closed, they listened to Pasty Cline walking the floor after midnight, her voice a smudged desolate promise. "Promise we will be together always," James asked, and Anne did, but with her fingers crossed behind her back. Because she knew better, no glass slipper would ever fit her foot.

Later they filled the tossed whiskey bottles with tap water, mixing the water with the dregs of whiskey. Then they chugged it and a faint drunkenness numbed them into hope. This is how it is. This is how it will be always, they try to tell themselves.

Inside his father's ballroom, virgins swirl in dress the pastel shades of crepe paper, so easily torn, such colors were not meant to be. But they are in this world. Anne's burnt nut mane would fade in this world. They would not see her, their eyes glinting, fences of ice, one touch would burn.

James closes his eyes. He hears a whiskey drenched burnished copperhead of a voice, "Walkin' after midnight". He knows he will be so many nights from now, a purebred with a purebred wife and purebred spawn. But he will drink whiskey not beached pure gin sharp, piercing as a soprano's aria, a voice that breaks glass so you no longer see out.
Class, status love and reality and whiskey and copperheads, edited after a critique by xIntwtch.
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A Gathering of Virgins

You ask no questions so I'll start by telling you what follows represents my opinons only, for you to use or discard.

It's easy to see how you're both a poet and prose writer in this piece. The colors and swirls of words work so well together, it's hard to find anything to point out as possible improvement.

1) So I'll tell you a little about myself. I was born to parents who were both brought up in the Deep South and, though they thought they escaped to the West Coast, they brought many Southern ways with them. One was expecting only the best as far as boyfriends (any friends) went. Another was how my mother instilled a way of acting in me that can occasionally be spotted to this day = a Southern Belle way.

1a) From that, I draw on inspiration to give you a bit of lit crit. I have a good friend now who likes to laugh when the "Southern Belle" comes out to play. It's a source of amusement because my parents disowned me twice for being a "race traitor." Not to worry, they always "re-owned" me.

2) Poor James doesn't seem to be able to get out and escape the fate his father plans for him. Anne must truly know James well, to realize he won't give up whatever hold his father has on him. Would it would make this short work fleshed out a bit more if we knew more about James? Why won't leave his father's house and go with Anne, like they did when they were young?

3) That's the main question I'd like to see answered, if only in a few more of your marvelous words. I can see James is bored and pricks his hand with toothpicks, but how against this plan to marry the deliciously described 'Southern Belles' is he? What is he willing give up? What would he have give up if he married Anne?

3a) Or is Anne the only one who continues to think they're meant for each other? Did James change his mind in the ballroom, or even before then? That's the only thing I wonder. Who is James? Who is he really, beyond being bored with porcelain dolls? Is he after money like his father is?

A terriic short piece about the vagaries and travails of love. What one person, or even two people, may want isn't always done. What is most amazing about this prose is how the words are used to great effect. I could "see" the ballroom, the bar, the watered drinks, the girl in the wisteria. Thank you, both for this piece and for reading this critique.
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The Artist thought this was FAIR
7 out of 7 deviants thought this was fair.

I really liked this. Sad, tragic really, but told with an air of acceptance, which just makes it sadder. I was actually really confused by the end of the first sentence though: Tara risen again - what does that mean? Your imagery is quite vivid and it really immerses you in that world. I agree with :devxintwtch: about developing James' character a bit more, expounding on his motivations for giving in to his father's demands, and so on.

I kind of found the use of the word "fucked" to be a bit too jarring and vulgar, compared to the mood of the rest of the piece. Especially because, as ten-year-olds, that seems an unlikely way for them to have thought of it.

I loved how you could feel Anne's character - her bitterness, like in this part: blood so achingly pure it would sting if you tasted it. Brilliant.

All in all, wonderful work.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
4 out of 4 deviants thought this was fair.

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Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2013   General Artist
heart-bendingly beautiful :heart: congratulations on the DLD, sweetheart. :tighthug:
swansisters Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you :hug: Towards the end of May my life was shattered in many ways. So I have not been on the site much because of hospitals and insurance and moving so I haven't written in while but this and your comments gives the will to say things still need to be sorted out but I need to start writing again. :heart:
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2013   General Artist
You have my support in every way I can, dear heart. Your poetry is as powerful, passionate and beauteous as your soul and I can see so much greatness from the eyes of your words. :heart:
Writing has always been the only way for me and I really cannot wait to see your name up on my deviation stack soon enough. :tighthug:
pomohippie7 Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2013   Writer
Congratulations on your DLD! :clap:
swansisters Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!!!!!
pomohippie7 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013   Writer
You're very welcome! :D It was well deserved.
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by =DailyLitDeviations in a news article that can be found here: [link]

Be sure to check out the other artists featured and show your support by :+fav:ing the News Article. Keep writing and keep creating.
swansisters Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you thank you, I have been absent from the site because my life fell apart in just a few days. So I have been dealing with hospitals and insurance and moving but this makes me so happy and will helpfully get me back to writing. Thank you!!!!!!!
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I feel like this story should end on the second to last paragraph - the final description is nice, but I could see it fitting into the middle as well. I don't know what effect you were shooting for, but it's up to you. The imagery is powerful, regardless.
swansisters Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you I will look at it again with that in mind and maybe a line or two to communicate what I wanted it was this world of money and fragile dresses that shouldn't last but it does while the love between Anne and James which should doesn't.
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