tweaking (chapter 25, part 1)

(image courtesy Becky F)

If this seems confusing, maybe it’s because you haven’t read what came before.  This is the 25th chapter of What Would Water Do, a novel.  To begin at the start, click here.  I also write short stories, personal essays, and other bits.  Look in the categories, above, to see more.  

If Lang continues at this pace she should be done with the director’s cut of Deep Water by the end of the week.   It is almost 3 a.m. according to her wristwatch: she should go home to rest, cook breakfast, see Elle off for her lessons and come back to meet with Liz, the film editor.  Then they can spend the day going over her notes and tweaking things.  

She pops another pill from the vial in her pocket and swallows it with a swig of tepid coffee. Her little screen is filled with the golden, delicious figure of Adele Ratignolle, Edna Pontillier’s best friend.  For this part Lang was very pleased to use Juliette Bouchez, one of her favorite women and a magnificent actress whose heavy French accent works perfectly for this film set in high Creole society. The first time they met at a party in Paris five years ago, Juliette had twitched clear across a crowded room with her arms outstretched to greet Lang in her voluptuous embrace.  Juliette had said, “Where have you been all my life?  I am so glad to finally meet you!”  Rosemary and Eleanor immediately liked her, too.  Juliette would bring her husband and kids over to their apartment to cook delicious meals.  When Lang and Rosemary had their little tiffs, Juliette was always sympathetic but never took sides.  “That is how it goes,” she would say with a little shrug and a smile.  “Ah. You poor, poor idiot. You should know this by now.” 

To Lang, Juliette is the ideal woman, the kind who will laugh in your face regardless of the little lines around her eyes and mouth or the garlic you had for lunch, with the hope that you’ll join her.  Juliette makes the perfect mother.  Among her other roles, she was brilliant as Jesus’  mother, Titian‘s muse, and Oberon’s queen.  Not only was she perfect for the role of Edna’s pregnant friend but she also happened to be in the third trimester of her very real pregnancy with her third child when they shot this scene, which starts with an eyeful of Juliette/Adele’s enchantingly full figure clad in a frilly apricot silk dress, swooning back against the pillows on the divan with her blonde hair dripping down from its chignon and a fan busily flipping to cool her flushed cheeks.  She appears to be in quite a bit of discomfort but smiles valiantly at her companion nevertheless.  

Mae/Edna perches stiff and straight in tailored black on the wooden chair beside the sofa; she and her friend Adele are having an argument.  This is at the end of the film, in the last scenes leading up to the finale when Edna drowns herself in the Gulf of Mexico.  Edna has become estranged from her husband and children and has lost all interest in her art and hope in reuniting with Robert, whom she loves.  She spends her days walking aimlessly around town like a sleep-walker, trying to discover meaning for her life.  Edna insists, “But I would never sacrifice myself for my children or for anyone else.  Perhaps I would give up the inessential, but not myself.”  


A large portion of this chapter has been deleted.

To read more, contact me and we can discuss publication. (!)

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. 2&4&12B&24 9 18A 14B 22 12A 18B 20B&7&16A&16B 14A
    15A&15B 11 23C 3B 3A 19A&19B13&23A&23B&21A&21B
    20A 6 10 21C 25A&8&17A&17B&5&1 – I’m just glad to have
    caught up with you – I think the character Edna perhaps,
    should not have had children. I’m not calling her a saint, but
    I’ve always believed that this ideal of a husband and family
    isen’t for everyone. Course the time she lived in didden’t
    understand that – girls were married off as soon as possible
    with no thought as to weather or not they were wife matieral.
    I think one should learn to understand their weaknesses as
    early in life as as they can, so as not to put themselves on
    the spot. Testing your limits is fine but not when other people’s
    lives are on the line. Maybe you are selfish – people tell you to
    fight such feelings, but such feelings are best fought by giveing
    to charity are doing volenteer work, not by exposing others to
    your fickle nature by pulling them too far into your life, the most
    selfless thing a selfish person can do is understand that they
    are indeed selfish, and strive not to let that aspect harm anyone.
    Specifically, by seeing their actions ahead of time and avoiding
    situations that might lead to tragity.

    I believe if you ask someone what they want in life, and the
    answer is something other then children. It is very possible
    that person isen’t a parent – an egg/sperm donor perhaps,
    but not a parent. However if children are your big dream –
    perhaps you are – nature however, programes all of us to
    think we want the things that contribute to the survival of
    the species, but not to it’s happieness.

    In short, if you take on a huge responceability you do
    not really want, one that lasts many years. It’s possible you
    may eventually crack under the pressure. Sometimes such
    responcibilities can be avoided – sometimes they can’t, but
    if your not the kind of person that can handle them – they
    are best avoided when possible.

    • Thanks, Rastelly. I think you have seen into the heart of what I was thinking about when I wrote What Would Water Do. I wonder how many babies would be born if women had to be entirely sure and devoted. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a woman like that.

      • My grandmother on my mother’s side
        was really into children, but she wasen’t
        one of those mother’s who hoards babies
        like some women hoard cats. Though she
        had seven, 🙂 five boys and two girls, she
        managed to help all of them acheive their
        dreams as well as simply survive into

        She was dedicated to children the
        way Nasa is dedicated to space travel.
        Grandfather was the same way. He
        had a way of convinceing you that chores
        were a privlege and not an obligation –
        with words such as – Today we get to
        clean fish! He also had a talent for
        going into his personal junkyard and
        welding into existence whater tool you
        happened to need for anything. Did
        I mention he also had a garden?
        (and he built houses for a living.)

        The grandmother of my father’s side
        had the clean house with the nick nacks,
        It was like a museum,but Berniese and
        vernice had the fun house. Both had their
        merits, I really miss those days.

  2. i have the feeling i’m seeing fractiles (sp). people inside of people

    • What an interesting idea. It is true that they are all facing the same questions, from different angles. And perhaps Robin and Victor are too similar. Do you think? (Plus, remember that every character in this book reflects me.)

  3. What you said to Gail, that everyone in the book reflects you–do you believe that an author’s every character reflects them, or is it a conscious decision of yours? If you purposely write “against your type”, so to speak, say, if you wrote a story where someone tortured and murdered crows, would that be a reflection of you–your evil twin, I suppose? Are these dumb questions?

    • I can’t speak for all writers but I think that I naturally gravitate towards characters that ring true for me; I can imagine them because they feel right, they just fit. Everyone has many faces of their personalities that can’t be seen. I think my characters all do things I can imagine doing– even the gay guy, the famous starlet and the old hippie. Don’t you think you can read an author through their characters? Just like looking at their face I suppose. It’s all intensely personal, no matter how distant and cerebral some writers try to sound.
      (And probably because Gail is my mother and is sometimes concerned that I’m talking about her in my writing, I like to remind her that it’s all about me– the same way that her paintings are all about what’s inside of her.)

  4. No one wants to do the same thing thing all the time.
    Even when it’s their favorite thing.

  5. Fine writing again. I keep saying that. I will keep saying it.

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