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November 2, 2011

I ran across an old story I wrote a while ago. We had an assignment at the Circus to write a short story inspired by a brand. I think this one was inspired by Anthropologie. I thought I’d post it. I’ve moved to Chicago, and I’m loving it! I’ll post more about this wonderful city soon.


Miss Sadie Montague knew that when she moved to Provence, she’d be leaving everything she loved about her simple, Southern life in Charleston, South Carolina behind. She’d been raised with the smell of pluff mud tickling her nose and the ghosts of her ancestors dancing around her, guiding her steps over cobblestones and into womanhood.

She knew she’d always be able to go home–after all, open arm staircases always welcome you back. But for now, she was where she was supposed to be–the South of France, where she’d ached to live for as long as she could remember. Sadie was a photographer. She’d always been a photographer, ever since she was six years old and her grandmother gave her an old Polaroid camera for her birthday. She majored in photography at Converse College, and supplemented it with a minor in French. Over the years, her talent and craft had truly blossomed. The pictures she took could evoke emotions people didn’t even know they had. Provence held a romanticism for Sadie, and it was her dream to travel through the countryside, taking pictures of the ancient and crumbling architecture, the entrancing, Mediterranean landscape and the proud locals.

Although Sadie had a good bit of money saved up from selling her pictures back home, she had decided against renting an apartment, and instead paid a small, weekly fee to the manager of an Avignon bed and breakfast to keep the smallest room in the house open for her. Sometimes, traveling through the countryside kept her away from her room for a few nights, and on those nights she was glad she had the extra money to stay at local, humble inns. After a month of living in Avignon, she had fallen in love with her tiny room and the hustle and bustle of the guests coming and going. The old, creaking house was large but inviting, and late at night when it got quiet, she knew the old house was whispering secrets to anyone who knew enough to listen.

Her wrought iron bed took up most of her room. Over it rested a soft, warm, homemade quilt made of strips of colored fabrics. Before she fell asleep at night, Sadie liked to gently run her fingers over the bumps and threads, wondering where all the different pieces came from. The only other furniture in her room was a simple, wooden wardrobe and a wooden desk with a reading lamp on it. The lamp’s yellow shade cast a warm, homey glow throughout the room.

Sadie glanced at her watch, and noticed that it was time for the guests to gather for dinner. She walked out of her room and down the stairs to the kitchen, running into Isabelle, the owner of the house, along the way. Isabelle was an ancient French woman who spoke almost no English, and as always, she was wearing her signature starched apron, embroidered with bright flowers and birds. Sadie knew Isabelle appreciated her being able to help her translate the English of the very rare American tourists who passed through, and she smiled at Sadie when they passed. Isabelle looked like she was on a mission to collect everyone for dinner–she hated it when people were late.

Sadie walked into the kitchen and dining room, and as always, smiled as she noticed that every cabinet door had a different knob. Colored glass knobs, crystal knobs, brushed copper ones, and even hand painted porcelain knobs. She sat down at the table with the other guests. Tonight, some were Italian, some Greek, and some Indian. Sadie was used to not being able to converse with anyone at dinner when they didn’t speak French or English, and she just nodded a hello to everyone. The table was set with mismatched china–old, vintage, gold-rimmed china that Sadie was sure would sell for hundreds of dollars back home. Charlestonians relished in their antiques. Tiny tea cups were already set out on the table for after-dinner coffee. Whimsical tea cups that reminded Sadie of her favorite childhood book, “Alice in Wonderland.” In the middle of the table sat etched-glass candle votives with tiny tea lights glowing in them. Isabelle’s home might not have contained the fanciest decorations in France, but Sadie always delighted in how hard she tried to make her guests feel welcome.

Sadie’s mouth started to water at the smell of the roasted duck the maid was bringing in. The entrance to the dining room was behind her, but she noticed a figure’s reflection in the worn glass of the full length mirror resting in the corner. A guest she’d never seen before. A boy of about her age, and one of the most beautiful boys she’d ever seen. He sat down at the table beside her.

“Hello,” he said in English, “my name’s Tradd.”

An American. Tradd. She knew right away he was a Lowcountry boy. She smiled. Her Charleston ancestors must be trying to bring her home. She wondered how much of a fight she’d try to put up.

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