The Miraby Hotel

May 1st, 1946
June Miraby was fifteen when she began living alone with her elder sister, Lisa. At June’s new school, there were no other kids who had parents that were divorced. But there was a girl, who, like June, lived in a house with no parents, her name was Tracy and she lived with her grandfather. June and Tracy sat together at lunch one day, and June went home to tell Lisa that she had made a friend.
Heading home, June looked behind her, at the red brick school building surrounded by the school yard brimming with trees, the place where it was a secret to everyone that she was half Japanese. On the forms they put her mother’s maiden name as Margaret Keith instead of Mariko Kobayashi, and because of June’s bright blue eyes that were like her father’s, no one could tell of her heritage. Or at least she and Lisa thought.
June fumbled with her keys in front of their dark blue apartment door until she saw a mouse, grey and spongy, run along the baseboard. “Eek!” she screeched as it ran under the chair that was displayed outside her neighbor’s door, where the neighbor lady sat. The woman had hundreds of wrinkles on her face, a black shawl running down her arms as she glared at June with silvery eyes that showed no sign of any thought behind them.
June went into her apartment quickly and shut the door. Against the door, she stood in her yellow blouse and blue skirt, her now fluffy black hair falling in front of her eyes. The neighbor looked as scary as a witch, June thought, perhaps she is a witch, I’ve seen twigs and pendants hung outside on her door.
Inside the living room June turned on the lamp and let its yellow light bleed through the darkness. She always left this light on for Lisa for when she got home, as Lisa did not like coming home to darkness. On the stiff green couch, June’s stuffed animal mouse sat there, with black buttoned eyes and thread features, it looked friendly in the unfriendly home.
“Have you been here all day?” June picked it up and fumbled it over in her thin white hands. “How lonely it must be, sitting in this room all the time.”
They could not afford a radio, so June ate her canned soup in silence. Before, her mother would whip up dinner, and when her dad still lived with them there would be dessert too. And they always listened to the radio together. Even after dad moved out, June would visit him and they’d listen to the baseball games together. But after he moved to San Diego for business, she never saw him, “I’ve got to get the means to pay for your education,” she overheard her father saying to Lisa. “I thinks that its better this way.”
June closed her eyes for a moment, and then opened them. The room before her blurred at the corners of her eyes, like a painting immersed in water. There was a knock on the door.
“Hello,” the woman June opened the door to see smiled an open mouth smile. She clasped her white gloves and looked ahead with shining blue eyes. “Oh, June? Is it really you?!” she threw her arms around June, “Oh, you probably don’t remember.” She said almost teasingly, “It’s me, your Aunt Clarissa!”
Ah.
Aunt Clarissa… June had brief and flashy memories of her, like car rides and birthday parties and faces from long ago.
“Oh,” Auntie!” June gripped her skirt and grinned. “Of course I remember you, I just didn’t recognize you.”
“Well it’s been so long!” she recalled the fact in her shrill voice, looking around with beaming eyes and swift turns. “Oh, how I missed you June. How terrible is must have been, after that horrible evacuation.” She groaned with her hand on her heart.
“Well, we’ve managed,” June said maturely.
“Have you, dear?” her aunt sat down. Aunt Clarissa stayed for about an hour, she and June spoke about many things, and both of them seemed happy for the company. Aunt Clarissa drank the drugstore tea from the less than dainty cup, but she expressed no complaint.
“I’ll come by again, dear,” she said. “But I’d like to come round when you’re sister is home.”
“She’s home all day Sunday,” June announced.
“Then be expecting me Sunday,” her aunt smiled, like a streak of sunlight across her face. And then she left.
Lisa came home that night, June got out of bed at the sound of the door.
“You’re late,” June saw her sister’s shoulder’s slouching.
Lisa sighed through her faded red lipstick, “The hospital was insanely busy.”
“Someone came over,” June said with big eyes as she sat down in her silky short sleeved pajamas. “Do you remember Aunt Clarissa? She found out where we lived and visited while you were at work.”
“Oh, what a bother,” Lisa sighed.
The next day was Saturday, and Lisa did not have to work long that day. She helped give several children shots. Lisa smiled at the round headed child as the doctor raised his eyebrows and said to the little boy, “Now, don’t worry, Son,” he took the boys arm in his large hand, “This won’t hurt one bit.”
Lisa held her smile like she would hold a rubber band on two fingers.

10 thoughts on “The Miraby Hotel

  1. jennavandenberg says:

    -How does she live “alone” if she lives with her elder sister?
    -“elder” sounds a bit awkward. I know it’s a historical novel, but you sound like you are trying too hard here.
    -I’d cut the third line to: “But Tracy lived with only her grandfather.”

    -Awkward wording: Heading home, June looked behind her, at the red brick school building surrounded by the school yard brimming with trees, the place where it was a secret to everyone that she was half Japanese.

    -This sounds perfect 🙂 On the forms they put her mother’s maiden name as Margaret Keith instead of Mariko Kobayashi, and because of June’s bright blue eyes that were like her father’s, no one could tell of her heritage. Or at least she and Lisa thought.

    June fumbled with her keys in front of their dark blue apartment door until she saw a mouse, grey and spongy, run along the baseboard. “Eek!” she screeched as it ran under the chair that was displayed outside her neighbor’s door, where the neighbor lady sat. The woman had hundreds of wrinkles on her face, a black shawl running down her arms as she glared at June with silvery eyes that showed no sign of any thought behind them.

    -Too many details here (dark blue door? grey and spongy mouse? Does it really matter?) and if she is glaring there is thought behind the eyes.

    “Have you been here all day?” June picked it up and fumbled it over in her thin white hands. “How lonely it must be, sitting in this room all the time.”
    -Seems like odd behavior for a 15 year old.

    They could not afford a radio, so June ate her canned soup in silence. Before, her mother would whip up dinner, and when her dad still lived with them there would be dessert too. And they always listened to the radio together. Even after dad moved out, June would visit him and they’d listen to the baseball games together. But after he moved to San Diego for business, she never saw him, “I’ve got to get the means to pay for your education,” she overheard her father saying to Lisa. “I thinks that its better this way.”

    -Perfect contrast, and this nicely provides some background to June’s situation without giving everything away. An indication of what baseball team they cheered for might be a nice way to give the reader a clue as to the setting.

    -The Aunt Clarissa bit seemed quite detached. Why did she suddenly appear and then suddenly disappear? Didn’t seem natural at all. She walks in the house, has a quick conversation and leaves? Wouldn’t a long-long aunt stay and wait for Lisa, or explain why she was here, or SOMETHING? If that choice was purposeful, then at least June should think it is weird.

    The next day was Saturday, and Lisa did not have to work long that day. She helped give several children shots. Lisa smiled at the round headed child as the doctor raised his eyebrows and said to the little boy, “Now, don’t worry, Son,” he took the boys arm in his large hand, “This won’t hurt one bit.”
    Lisa held her smile like she would hold a rubber band on two fingers

    -Isn’t this June’s story? Why are you in Lisa’s head now? (I like the rubber band description though)

  2. vanessafowler says:

    It feels a bit like a patchwork quilt of ideas-things happen quickly one after another, but it isn’t clear to me what is happening or where the story is going. I think if you give us more clues about June’s goal/journey, and slow the pace down a touch it would help a lot.

  3. suesauer says:

    Alo 😀

    So I work in the film industry(storyboards/scripts) and I am going to break down a bit of your page the way I would for storyboards. Here goes:

    — thumbnail one —

    June Miraby was fifteen when she began living alone with her elder sister, Lisa. At June’s new school, there were no other kids who had parents that were divorced. But there was a girl, who, like June, lived in a house with no parents, her name was Tracy and she lived with her grandfather. June and Tracy sat together at lunch one day, and June went home to tell Lisa that she had made a friend.

    —- I would draw two girls sitting on a school bench separated from the other kids silently eating food together. —- I have cut out everything else because we get to her living with her sister later on so no need for it here.

    —- thumbnail two —-

    Heading home, June looked behind her, at the red brick school building surrounded by the school yard brimming with trees, the place where it was a secret to everyone that she was half Japanese. On the forms they put her mother’s maiden name as Margaret Keith instead of Mariko Kobayashi, and because of June’s bright blue eyes that were like her father’s, no one could tell of her heritage. Or at least she and Lisa thought.

    —- wide shot, high school big and imposing in shot, girl back to camera looking at school, maybe reveal sign on fence as she walks away that shows no mixed races allowed.—- add depth to her separation in a visual way. Would add the mother and so on later when its more relevant, right now we are finding where she stands in her world, something like that.

    —– thumbnail three —-

    June fumbled with her keys in front of their dark blue apartment door until she saw a mouse, grey and spongy, run along the baseboard. “Eek!” she screeched as it ran under the chair that was displayed outside her neighbor’s door, where the neighbor lady sat. The woman had hundreds of wrinkles on her face, a black shawl running down her arms as she glared at June with silvery eyes that showed no sign of any thought behind them.

    —– wide pan in to mid shot/or close up of June ariving home —- Show neighbor being aloof right of the bat, no need for mouse. June fumbles with key because the old lady is staring at her. Will help sell her a bit to the viewer, nobody likes to be stared at.

    And so on, the pace of this reminds me of movies like Donnie Darko, or the movie It follows… Not sure if thats the feeling your trying to give your readers but thats what I’m picking up. I must say though that the pictures you are placing in my head are really strong and clear, that is a really good thing.

    Nice one :D/

    • spicychilipepper says:

      Thanks so much! Your critique is genius, and you made suggestions that I wouldn’t have thought of. I really appreciate that you took the time to break it down and I’ll definitely be implementing your feedback. (^.^)

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have nothing to add to the said comments. Just enjoy the process of learning. All of us didn’t start well at first. Just continue writing!

  5. Jen says:

    I’m intrigued by the idea of June living with her sister. Also intrigued about the hiding of her identity. would be interested in reading more. good luck!

    Here’s a few thoughts I had:
    -first two sentences are awkward, consider re-writing. In general, first paragraph doesn’t seem to flow smoothly, however it is very revealing of the situation.

    -where the neighbor lady sat…could remove the word “lady”

    -it looked friendly in the unfriendly home… – consider rephrasing.
    a friend in an unfriendly home. ..it looked friendly when nothing else did…other options

    -June picked it up and fumbled it over in her thin white hands. …”fumbled was used previously – and in better context the first time. consider a different word here.

    – the woman June opened the door to see smiled an open mouth smile. – awkward

    -Lisa held her smile like she would hold a rubber band on two fingers. – nice line!

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