Marie felt the sunlight on her face. The grasses of the field tickled her neck, and she sat up abruptly.

The guillotine…

But no, it was no guillotine on her neck. It was only a tiny spider. She flicked it away, gazing about her. Lambs frolicked. Butterflies fluttered. The lowing of cows in the distance signaled peace throughout the land.

The feeling of peace that engulfed her sparked an indignant rage.

How dare I feel at peace?

At the thought, she felt a smack across her face, as physical as a slap, yet there was no one there.

Terrified, she stumbled to her feet, running through the tall grass until she tripped over a stone and found herself rolling down a gentle slope.

By the time she reached the bottom, she was laughing. She didn’t know why. It was a highly inappropriate laugh, the kind hysterical women made at funerals. She gasped, unable to breathe, yet equally unable to stop laughing.

A curious sheep approached cautiously, cocking its head just so, in a comical way that only encouraged her laughter.

Why am I alive?

She knew beyond a doubt that she lived. There was no reason for it, but she knew it as a certainty beyond doubt.

She lived.

The sheep bleated, and she fished in her pocket for a treat. No carrots, but there were two radishes. She offered one, and the sheep eagerly trotted close to take it from her. She tried to get to her feet, but the stubborn animal first nosed her then actually rammed its head into her, trying to get at the other radish. “Here, take it you stubborn, silly beast!” she said, offering the vegetable with a flat hand.

Bells chimed in the distance. She looked farther down the hill, to the city. There was a church there… a familiar church.

As she walked down the hill she recognized the little hamlet and its denizens. But they were all real, and they shouldn’t be. Yet there they were; living and breathing people who obviously had lives and loves of their own.

Finding her way to the church at last, she stopped and stared at the faςade. It was undoubtedly the basilica of Saint Denis, but something was wrong. For one thing, this church boasted not one but two towers, perfectly matched. And something undefinable nagged at her.

No one paid her any notice as she walked in. The peace that had pervaded the place, soaking her through her skin to her bones, the peace was different here. Not gone… just changed. She stopped and looked inside herself, trying to identify the new feeling that was unbidden and unexplained.

I mourn.

Of course she mourned. She had done little else lately.

She knew the feeling well.

She stopped wandering and walked with intent and purpose to the thing she needed to see… the great monument… the king remembered.

She touched her lips, then touched the cold stone.  “Son of St. Louis, ascend to heaven.”

I decided months ago that I would start a new serial in 2012. I liked doing Synaesthesia, and although it never garnered many hits or comments, a few people liked it. It’s also good exercise to post some fiction regularly.

This story will tentatively be called “What Would Have Been.” The initial idea struck me a few nights ago, and as Marie Antionette keeps popping up mysteriously everywhere I look, I decided that was a sign I should make this my next serial. I’m writing this one directly into the blog, with only one round of editing. Please feel free to point out typos or anything that needs to be fixed! This story is just for fun, but I don’t want to leave it riddled with mistakes.

For those of you visiting from Write On Edge, welcome! This is a brand new story for me. (And it is EXACTLY 500 words… booyah!) Although this first chapter is going up on Friday in response to the first prompt of the year (which is Epitaph) I will post all subsequent chapters on Mondays, just as I did with Synaesthesia. I might every once in a while post a related bit for our Friday link-ups, but normal chapters for my short stories run between 500 and 1,000 words, and our posts are usually far shorter than that.

I do hope you will visit again next Monday and the Mondays after… and see who else shows up!

What Would Have Been

What Would Have Been is a short story (or novella… who knows?) that I am publishing one chapter at a time… as I write it. It’s a fun exercise for me, and hopefully a bit of entertaining reading for you!

This story is dedicated to the Janes. The real ones and the fictional, the ones who survived, and the ones who didn’t. For all of you.

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