The photo shows some of Notre Dame Cathedral's gargoyles.
I wrote this story a while ago. As often is the case, this is a piece I created for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle word challenge. The required words are in italics.
I hope you enjoy reading it!
After the story is a short note about my favourite author (at the moment)!
I recommend his books.
Early in her studies, Cindy had already become opinionated about architecture. Modern architecture was too square, too plain, too colourless, and altogether too predictable, and she was bored with the path of education she was trapped on. She craved to explore the souls of great and legendary historic buildings, but they didn’t exist in Ontario.
When the opportunity to enrol in a French exchange program came up, she leapt at the chance. She would be immersed in the architecture of Paris, and study at a renowned school of architecture for a year. And it would count towards her degree.
Finally, after three long months, she arrived in Paris and was greeted by the family she would be living with.
The house was dark inside since it was part of a terrace. It was as if it was being squeezed by its neighbours and was narrower than intended. The steep stairs led up three floors to the attic where Cindy would be staying. She looked out of the window and, in the distance, she could make out part of Notre Dame Cathedral. She had come to the right place. So much to see, so much to learn from.
However the school work was rigorous and demanding. Cindy soon began to distrust her abilities. The theory demanded a discipline and focus that Cindy found hard to conjure up. She questioned her decision to study architecture and daydreamed about other paths she could follow. Perhaps she could play a musical instrument—after all, she’d found learning the violin came naturally to her, and she was rather good at the piano as well. She loved art, especially drawing. Sketching buildings was one of her strengths that had led her towards architecture. But these ideas didn’t inspire action.
The doubt took its toll. Her emotions began to yo-yo between a determination to continue on her chosen path, and a desire to break free and work towards another goal. The trouble was, that she didn’t know which way to turn, and what’s more, her inner voice told her that if she couldn’t stick to architecture, she wouldn’t stick to anything.
One afternoon, when the sun was bright but had failed to uplift her spirits, Cindy gazed out of the window and caught that glimpse of Notre Dame. It was time she visited the iconic place. She closed her laptop and grabbed her backpack which was equipped with sketchpad and pastels.
She stood outside the imposing, humbling building, reading a pamphlet about the cathedral’s famous gargoyles. A French voice made her jump. He apologized for taking her by surprise, and explained, that if you wanted to see them, you must climb the bell towers. He told her his name was Michel, and that he was going up one of the towers if she’d like to accompany him. He told her that he was a photographer and artist, and his favourite subjects, at the moment, were the gargoyles.
Did she know that they not only kept the water away from the sides of the building but also kept the demons away, thus preserving the sanctity and safety of the interior of Notre Dame? He told her what he knew about the history of some of the gargoyles, and mentioned that the ones with mouths seem to digest the rain water and then spew it out.
His enthusiasm and passion infected her, and she couldn’t wait to see the grotesque figures.
Back in the attic, she looked at the couple of sketches she’d created and realized she’d had the best time of her life. That’s what she wanted to do. To draw. To paint. To be an artist.
Dropping out of school wasn’t easy. People argued, cajoled, and tried to reason, but she wouldn’t have it. She arranged to stay with the family for the rest of the year and signed up with the same art tutor that Michel studied under. She attended some master classes with Michel and enjoyed his company. The brightness of his eyes, his lithe body, and his joie de vivre made her spine tingle.
But it had been a whole week and she’d not heard from him or seen him. When the art tutor asked questions and didn’t know why Michel wasn’t at class, Cindy’s anxiety rose. Something was wrong.
She walked to his apartment in pouring rain, treading in cold puddles and dripping with worry. Knocks on the door weren’t answered. He never locked it, unless he was out, so she tried the handle and walked in, calling his name.
He was in bed, his teeth chattering, but his face flushed. Cindy threw off her soaked raincoat, retied her sopping ponytail, and got to work. Water. Clean sheets. Doctor. Sponge bath. Water. Pick up medicine. Give him medicine. She was at his bedside for 48 hours without sleep, helping him to sip water, putting cool washcloths on his forehead, and encouraging him to swallow pills in applesauce. By the time the 48 hours were up, he could talk coherently, his fever was down, and he could eat a little. She fell asleep in the armchair and didn’t wake up until the next day.
So, the gargoyles played a role in changing Cindy’s life. And I’m sure they’ve done the same for others. They have magical and spiritual powers that most mortals cannot comprehend or even want to understand. They chose to help Cindy that day when she visited Notre Dame. They knew she’d find Michel sick and near death from pneumonia, and would find her intended path – to train as a nurse.
Michel and Cindy can see Notre Dame in the distance from the large windows of their apartment, the walls of which are adorned with framed photographs and sketches of gargoyles, including the drawings that Cindy created on that fateful day.
Vicky Earle Copyright 2023
My Favourite Author - at the moment!!
I won't keep you in suspense any longer: Richard Osman!
I have read the first three of his 'Thursday Murder Club' series. (Secret: my sister has ordered the latest, #4, for me: Hooray!).
The books are brilliant. They are full of humour, insight, and plot twists involving wonderful characters.
Richard Osman is intelligent and witty.
Note the comment by Val McDermid at the bottom of this photo.
Here is the description of book #1, The Thursday Murder Club:
"In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves the Thursday Murder Club.
There's Red Ron, the infamous former socialist firebrand, still causing trouble; gentle Joyce, widowed, pining for another resident, but surely not as innocent as she seems; Ibrahim, a former therapist who understands the darker side of human nature; and Elizabeth? Well, no one is quite sure who she really is, but she's definitely not a woman to underestimate.
When a local developer is found dead, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. The friends might be septuagenarians, but they are cleverer than most. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it's too late?
In The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman has employed all of his considerable wit and intelligence to give us just the curl-up-and-read novel we need right now. It is pure enjoyment, so prepare yourself for a flat-out pleasure of a book."
Richard's books are available on Amazon.
And don't forget to pick up the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series while you're ordering!!