So... now and then I'll mention in these posts how I'm a bit of a space cadet, and very flaky. I get the feeling a lot that people don't believe me - that they think it's the sort of over-sold flaw like "clumsiness" for a heroine in a paranormal romance.
I have evidence to the contrary.
Last year there was a short fiction contest. I typed something up, inspired by my love of Niccolò Machiavelli and some recent readings I had done about how he refused to escape to Venice because his love for Florence was so high, and imagined myself his cousin and correspondent (fictional, of course) who had tendered the unredeemed invitation.
Well, apparently I didn't realize I had won last year.
I'm not sure when it was announced, but I just ...missed it. No idea. No clue. Now I'm completely verklempt. Language and writing is a deep love of mine, and so I'm so completely overwhelmed both by the honor and by the unexpectedness, so I'm reproducing the story - and some of the pictures which inspired it - here. I had actually planned to release it all along, but forgot or something. I don't know. Last year is a blur.
There is a new contest this year, with the due date of May 31, so get your thinking caps on and pull together something inspired by the fairelands.
Nicoletta stood at the edge of the canal, watching for the red sail.
The stone of the lion was icy against her gloved palm despite the
languid summer day which had passed, and the breeze from the ocean also
brought the scent of hay from the other side of the canal, where the
final few figures in sackcloth and straw hats bound together long stalks
in tight bundles. Through the narrow eyes of her mask, she could see
the first figures in worked silk and velvet spilling out from spindly
buildings into the streets, careening drunkenly around children on
narrow ladders touching lamplights with a flame and sending a warm pink
glow across the mosaic paths.
She shrank back against the lion, the pale gray and silver of her own
gown and cloak blending in against the stone, slight enough against the
massive guardian of the western canal entrance to pass unnoticed even
when a crowd of revelers passed barely an arm’s length from her,
chattering like magpies.
“Can you believe, exiled from Florence by the Medici…”
“…imprisoned for months, even tortured…”
“…think he’ll come here? Like even they did when exiled?”
“I heard he went to France. Twice.”
“…comes to Venice and he can never return…”
The crackling of paper started Nicoletta out of her eavesdropping,
and she glanced down quickly, sealing wax already crumbling off of the
worn surface of her letter and staining her fingers crimson. A few of
the written words caught the fading light.
“…well but barred from our beloved home, from our Florence. I hope to
find someplace quiet to recover… return to favor… Machiavelli.”
Nicoletta stood at the edge of the canal, hoping and fearing for the red sail to bring her Niccolò to her.