A Photographic Novella in Twenty Episodes 1
Text and Makeup by Jennifer Broome
Photography by Allie Mullin
ÂŠ2012. All Rights Reserved 2
“O, before I begin, I must confess My odd syntax comes under great duress Couplets before, never did rhyme until My love for flowers overcame my will. Why I speak thus, I truly do not know For I am no poet, yet still the words grow From beneath my tongue as if on a vine Speaking only thus I have for some time. I have no family, no one to claim For, alas, I have forgotten my name. Its syllables cannot match anything And so I’ve been left with no name to sing.” At this point, Mina interrupted the narrative. “Well, we have to call you something.” She looked up and down the girl’s face. “It’s 5
obvious; weâ€™ll just call you Fleur until you remember you other name.â€? The girl took some time, rolling the name around her tongue.
“That fits quite nicely, the name you just gave,
I take it with thanks, and you I shall save. I shall try to, at least, for I know not How to speak with such limited argot.” “You’re doing just fine,” Mina reassured Fleur. “I understand everything you’ve said so far.”
“Prophecy is incomprehensible— Never too clear, never too sensible; Even when spoken plain, without a rhyme And yet what I know is lock’d in this dime.” “Dime?” inquired Tatter, suddenly alert.
Mina explained. “I think she means the ten syllables she has to have in every line she speaks. Though they don’t follow a pattern, so it’s not meter exactly. It’s like…well, it’s like asking a little girl to speak with unbearable restrictions. I’m amazed she’s gotten this far and I’ve been able to understand. What she lacks in skill she makes up for in clarity.” 8
Fleur looked extremely gratified at this halfcompliment.
Mina used her fingers to tick off points. ‘So far, we know you had a name. You lost it because you can’t say it with your speech, um, irregularity. You have to speak in rhyming couplets with a certain number of syllables. What I want to know is, where did you see us? Why are you following us? What prophecy do you have to tell me? And what are you going to do after you relate it to us?” Fleur put up four fingers of her own to remind her of Mina’s questions. She thought for a moment, and resumed her halting half-poetry:
â€œNo name till now, no home, no place to be Except that den of low chicanery Known to Philomorphs as they know their sport; To the Theatre of Last Resort I crouched to spring, but suddenly I saw Three travelers enter. I sat in thrall Until by chance I espied firelight And then I heard speak from on a great height: 11
“‘Go, young maid, and seek out the valiant three Serve them well, and speak this message from thee: “‘Tell these three persons that should have been four Their guide will lead them to a darkened door That seems to hold only epic defeat. Within those walls is the force they must meet—
The Derkling Queen seems an enemy; Neither pity nor sympathy has she For those who meet capture in her dark realm That carry spearhead, shield, banner, or helm. Yet mind this: she has not, this Derkling Queen, Forgone mercy. Heartless as she doth seem, Peer beyond her forbidding outward show Into her soul, which withal still doth grow. Careful they must be, justly innocent Of intrigue against her and her servants. Heed my words, and this trio, if worthy, Shall bring peace for the Philomorphs earthly. â€œThe voice came to me, which lesson I learned By rote so that I could, in my own turn, Deliver the prophecyâ€” the warning To you, just as it was come this morning. 14
Once I impart to you all that I know I’ll retire, then a garden I’ll grow Wherever I am, you may always find Me where there bloom flowers, fruit on the vine.”
Fleur fell silent and looked beseechingly at the three travelers. They too were silent, trying to take in all that she had said. Mina noticed that, in the course of Fleur’s narrative, dark had crept upon them. She spoke. “Thank you for seeking us out to tell us your story. We shall stay here tonight and think about what you have said. Will you remain with us?” Mina smiled. “I’m sure Hatter has supper for all of us, and as long as you stay out of striking distance of the parasol, you’ll be fine.” After a moment, during which Fleur looked warily at Tatter, she gave a slow nod. Hatter, apparently pleased, began to unpack her hat and prepare supper. 17