Pierre Francois
Written: 3-11-02
Quickwrite For "Writer's Cramp"

Prompt: A man of the cloth...a young girl with a secret...a birthday card and a dying woman...your story is about deceit.

(Just under 1000 words, not counting this sentence or the one above showing the prompt)

"Pierre! Pierre Francois! Come back!" She cried. In her arms she held a blue jacket with gold stitching embroidered on it.

The small figure disappeared into the shadows as she chased him, small feet padding on rain slick bricks. The girl slipped, fell, got up and ran some more. "Pierre! Pierre!" Her voice echoed into the night, falling upon sleeping ears.

The streetlights cast multiple shadows of the young girl, some of them blue, some of them yellow, and some of them black, all of them chasing the young girl down the silent street.

"Pierre!" She sobbed, running as fast as she could, her feet slapping the wet street noisily. So young, and yet she had to live with her secret, that Pierre Francois was her father. She loved him dearly, and wanted him to take her and her brother with him, but he knew that the children would deface his name, as they were out of wedlock and with a gypsy woman. She cried fiercely, losing sight of her father as he ran from her.

Her pink bonnet flew off and landed silently in a puddle and she drew away. The ribbons wafted in the wind. Her footsteps drifted into nothingness as she disappeared from view and hearing.

* * * * *
Madame Westerly opened her eyes slowly to the columns of sunlight flooding her London apartment. "Flat." she corrected herself, "It's a flat." She groaned a little, loosening her jaw muscles from a long night of tense dreams.

Reaching over to grab her journal, Westerly yawned quietly, but it was enough to rouse her nurse Emile, who promptly jumped up.

"Madame! Lie bahck down, roight now!" Emile exclaimed, rushing over to force Westerly back into bed. "You need rest!"

"Rest, shmest!" Westerly blinked sleepily. "Just get me my journal. And some toast!" She barked.

"Shmest?" Emile made a face and bit her lip. "I'd bettah call the dohctah."

"It's an expression in America, Emile."

Emile squinted. "I'll git you yar toast. You doun't nayd any jornaling todaye, madame."

"Right." Westerly waited until Emile was out of the room before snatching up her journal and the pen next to it. She scribbled fiercely. Westerly closed the journal quickly as Emile entered the room.

"Doo you wont tay wit that, dea?" Emile grinned sweetly. Westerly shook her head.

"Ver' well dea." Emile exited.

Brrriiiiiiiing! A bell sounded.

Westerly found herself looking around for a telephone, and then remembered it was the doorbell. "Emile! Can you get that! I would but..." She trailed off.

"It's your brother! That miserable creep."

"Let him in!"

"Ahh! My sister finally hired some younger help... wait, no! It's my Emile! Why, you're looking spectacular, love!"

"She's in her room."

"Thanks a lot, love." He walked through the threshold, "Bea! You're looking great, today!"

"Jonathan, I haven't seen you in a while. Did you run out of money again?" Westerly said dryly.

He gave her a coy look, "What? You don't think your old brother came to see you just for kicks? How are you doing, love?"

"Other than the fact that I can't eat solid food and the doctor's say my days are numbered in the double digits? Oh, I'd say I'm about 100%."

"Bea, you're still of sound mind and spirit, and that's what counts, eh?"

"If I were of sound mind I'd never have let you in. What do you want, Jonathan?"

"All I want, is to give you this little gift I bought you and be on my way." Jonathan handed her a box wrapped in brown butcher-paper.

"YOU? Brought ME something? My heart! My heart!" She clutched at her chest, grinning slyly. "You must really be up to something."

"Oh no, no tricks this time, old mum."

She ripped open the box, "A coat!? What possible use would I have for a coat!"

"There's gratitude for you."

"No... I mean... it's beautiful. Where did you get it?"

"From a tailor in Paris. A so called, man of the cloth. He claims it belonged to the famed Pierre Francois. Supposedly he was some sort of French military man or something. Very important over there. Or so he said."

The color drained from Westerly's face and she almost lost hold of the jacket altogether."And... you bought it for ME because...?" She left it hanging as a question.

"You're birthday's next week and I'll be out of town, you know. Oh yeah, here's your card." He handed her a brightly colored envelope.

"Yes, but why a jacket of all things? You know I can't get out of bed!"

"I mean, you're a writer, maybe it would inspire you to write something great before... I mean... uh--"

"Before I die, you mean? I know I'm dying Jonathan, and no words are going to stop that." She sighed, "Not that I enjoy hearing it, mind you."


"Thanks, Jonathan, I'll see what I can do with it." For the first time, she smiled genuinely at him.

"I just wanted to ... make things right. You know." He smiled sheepishly. "Oh, I'm no good at this sort of thing, love. Give me a hug." He embraced her and kissed her on the cheek. "I'll be seeing you, sis."

"Bye." She breathed.

He tipped his hat and left with a new bounce in his step.

Immediately upon touching the jacket she knew it was old. Suddenly feeling bad for all the times she'd lied to her brother and to the world about her father, she allowed a tear to fall onto her cheek.

Westerly thought she'd gotten rid of the jacket forever. She was born with it, and, she realized, she'll die with it.


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