Sunday, 3 August 2014

Excerpt from Manuela Cardiga's NEW NOVEL: "MANscapes - Journey Into Light"

A flowery script on a swinging plaque proclaimed “The Retreat”. An air of gracious negligence pervaded the house. Rambling bougainvilleas sturdily climbed up the walls to peek into the windows of the upper story, shading the deep verandas with a riot of colour in vivid contrast to the peach sun-bleached walls.

There was a woman in the garden, moving slowly through a forest of roses. Thick-trunks and knotted branches with viper-toothed thorns produced a riot of blowsy roses, the bruised scent pervading the warm, moist air. The woman looked up at the sound of the engine, placing one hand on her hip, inquisitively tilting her hat in the opposite direction.

“Winston?” A warm contralto, “What are you bringing me now?”

The young man slid the door open for Clara, helped her down with a warm, lingering touch to her elbow, and unloaded her luggage.

“A seeker, Mamma: a painter-Lady with pretty eyes!”

Clara gripped her suitcase in one hand, the travelling easel in the other and stepped past the open gateway onto the shimmering crushed-shell path leading to the front door.

She glanced back over her shoulder:

“Thank you. Thank you, you are very kind.”

He grinned, “I like Pretty Ladies. I like Pretty Ladies who come to stay.” He waved and jumped back into his bus, and drove off with his expectant cargo.

The woman approached, head cocked, her face in the shadow beneath the broad-brimmed hat. Her hands were covered by thick canvas gloves, her thin arms scored by red welts, one of which was bleeding copiously.

“And who would you be, child?”

“I’m Clara,” she paused, savoring the words, “Nova. Clara Nova.” She liked that. Her new name for a new life: Clara Nova, a new light.

The woman stripped the glove off her right hand and extended it, broad-knuckled and brown, towards her. The skin was surprising soft, the nails well tended. The face under the hat was amber, lightly creping at the corner of the eyes and along the long throat.

The slackening of the flesh over her cheekbones placed her age in the late sixties; her snapping black eyes defied the softening of the surrounding flesh.

“Sylvine, Sylvine Devereux.” A smile lifted her face into beauty, “You have come to seek a haven? Be sure you have brought no devils with you!” she nodded, “They hitch in on your shoulders, girl.”

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