Thanks to Roni of Fiction Groupie for hosting today's Let's Talk Blogfest. Stop on by her site to see the listing of all participants.
My offering for today's fest is from WIP-2, Clearing, a sequel to my first YA book. I've had three people help me with the few snippets of French and deeply empathize with my protagonist's sentiments about learning the language.
Context here...Dani, 17, and her mother are about to head to Paris in a few days. She's studying for finals with her boyfriend (and sometimes French tutor) Theo. Earlier in this chapter, Dani learned of possible complications to the trip while he was asleep and her mother was out.
I reach for Theo’s shoulder, give him a little shake. Then a harder one. “Thebes?”
He lifts his heavy head off of me. His hazel eyes flutter open, more gold than green in the afternoon light. He groans. “Oh, Dani, I did it again, didn’t I? Jeez, I’m sorry. I’m just so tired all the time. Maybe I need to start drinking coffee like you do.”
I smile. “It would stunt your growth.”
“Little late for that, don’t you think?” He leans back, stretching, and his firm stomach peeks between his shirt hem and the waistband of his khakis. I look away, sit on my hands again before my hormones get the better of me.
“Mum wants to know if you can stay for supper.”
“Yeah?” he says, poking me in the ribs. “What about you?” Poke. “Do you want me?” Poke, poke, poke. “To stay?”
“Not if you’re gonna be a bully!”
“Moi?” He strikes a Miss Piggy pose.
“Non, ta jument méchante, qui ronfle comme un os endormi.”
Theo roars with laughter. “My evil what? Mare? Who snores like a sleepy bone?”
“I meant twin. Ju-something…else.”
“Ah. Jumeau, ma chérie. Jumeau méchant. Evil twin. And I do not snore. Especially not like a bone.”
I roll my eyes. “Bear. I wanted to say bear.”
“Ours, not os. Bien? Dis-le et répète, Danielle.”
Say it and repeat. Oh, brother.
I tip my head side to side as I chant, “Ours, ours, ours, ours, ours. Happy?”
“Cheer up, babe, you’ve improved a lot. Your grammar’s quite good. You used the feminine adjective with jument, which was great, even if it wasn’t the noun you wanted.”
“I’m never gonna get this. Parisians will bludgeon me with baguettes for crimes against the mother tongue.”
“You are getting it. Can’t you see that? You’ve picked up in six months what it took me three years to learn. Of course, I didn’t have a patient instructor completely dedicated to my success.”
“Come on, Thebes. You’ve got to be bored out of your mind teaching a dunce like me.”
“Dunce? Hardly. You are way too hard on yourself. So you made a mistake. Big deal. Who doesn’t? Heck, I’m learning here, too. Remember the flashcard fiasco?”
“I’d rather not.” Theo pounding the wall, purple-faced; me curled up in fetal position—not a scene I care to replay. Ever.
“Well, me neither. That was totally my bad. But I learned from it, right? I’ve had quite the adventure developing my cutting-edge teaching techniques.”
“Yeah? You doubt me? I’m deeply insulted.”
“What’s so cutting edge about, ‘Dis-le et répète’?”
“How do you think you learned to draw, Dani? Practice. Lots of it. Years of filling sketch pad after sketch pad until your scribbles became shapes became art. Anyone who thinks they can get some new skill without practice is an idiot. So, ma chérie, after we get through tomorrow’s finals and my last regatta, we will répéter, en français all day, every day, until you go. Très bien?”
Mum strides into the living room, clenching the phone. I can almost smell the fury pulsing out of her, like fumes from a hot engine.
Pas bien. Mal. Très, très mal.
“There’s been a change of plans,” she says.