Friday, December 1, 2017

Story time: Napoleon's second chance at love

Ashar and I decided to use this old, extremely purple, postcard of Medici Fountain in Paris as a creative-writing prompt to co-author a story this week. While brainstorming, Ashar decided early on that he was interested in making Napoleon Bonaparte part of the tale. So we did some research on his life.

The only necessary background for our story: Napoleon and Joséphine de Beauharnais were married from 1796 until 1809, and this story — which clearly falls into the realm of historical fiction — is set in 1811, in France.


Once upon a time, Napoleon Bonaparte sent Joséphine de Beauharnais a note, via pigeon. He was asking for a second chance, so the note said: “My dear beloved Joséphine, I love you with all my heart and you make the stars shine brighter in my night-time sky, so, tonight, I want you to meet me at the Medici Fountain at 8:30 p.m. Sincerely, Your Beloved Nappy.”

Unfortunately, Joséphine wasn’t really down with notes from pigeons. So she took the note and, without reading it, flung it into her garbage can. However, her maid, Tabitha, saw her do this, and secretly saved the note.

Tabitha was walking around, cleaning Joséphine’s house, when she decided to take a break and reached into her pocket, pulling out the note. Tabitha read the note with wide eyes. She immediately got up and ran into Joséphine’s quarters, yelling, “Ma’am! Ma’am! You have to read this note.”

Joséphine read the note, and tears formed in the corners of her eyes. “Oh, my Nappy!” she said. Then, she realized that she was going to have to figure out what to wear to their secret meeting at the fountain. At this very same moment, Napoleon was also figuring out his wardrobe.

Napoleon put on his most famous grey cloak. He put on his black pants and his grey high boots and his white shirt. He dumped some water on his comb and combed his hair back. And he dabbed his skin with his favorite cologne, Saint Céleste.

Joséphine was getting into her prettiest dress, which was white with fancy blue diamonds. She put on her white diamond earrings and her blue diamond necklace. She brushed her hair. Her perfume was Magnifiquement Doux. She put on her dark shiny blue heels.

Thirty minutes before it was time for Napoleon to leave for the secret meeting, one of his staff members came into his office and said, “Imperial Majesty, I have many papers, related to the war you are fighting, which need to be read and signed immediately.” Napoleon stared at the thick collection of 37 papers in the man’s hand. How was he going to get out of this?

Napoleon sat down at his office chair and signed at least 20 of those papers. Looking at the time, realizing he had to go, he got up, grabbed his cloak and rushed out the door.

Joséphine, meanwhile, had her own issues getting to the fountain. While she was walking there, she suddenly found herself being chased by a pack of miniature pink poodles. “Egads,” said Joséphine.

Joséphine was searching her pockets for anything she could possibly use to distract the dogs. She felt something in one of her pockets, so she put her hand into her pocket and pulled out a piece of bread. She split the bread into multiple pieces and gave each poodle a piece of bread. So then she was able to continue on her way, because she made the dogs happy.

At 8:29 p.m., one minute early, Joséphine and Napoleon both arrived at the Medici Fountain, a beautiful piece of architecture which had been originally built in 1630 in Paris. It was late summer, so the sun was just starting to set, and the sky had a mysterious purple hue to it.

“Why did you invite me here, Nappy?” Joséphine said.

“Because I wanted to ask you for a second chance,” he said.

“A second chance at what, exactly?” she said.

“A second chance at our love that we had,” he said.

“What about your little country and your little war? How would you have time for me?” she asked.

Somewhere, a poodle barked.

“You mean more to me than the war and my country,” he said.

“Prove it,” she said. “Will you run away with me? Perhaps to Rome?”

“I’ll run away with you as long as that will make you happy,” he said.

Napoleon then looked up and saw a shooting star streak across the sky.

“Look Joséphine,” he said. “That star is shooting for the amount of love I have for you. You make my heart leap to the moon and back.”

There was a long pause.

Joséphine stared at Napoleon.

“What even,” she said.

However, Joséphine did realize that Napoleon, her Nappy, was being sincere, even if his words were somewhat cheesey. She looked lovingly into his bluish-gray eyes as the fountain gurgled in the background.

Joséphine glimpsed into the flowing water of the fountain. As she looked back into Napoleon’s bluish-gray eyes, she said, “Napoleon, your eyes gleam like the river in my heart.”

Napoleon reached for Joséphine’s hand and took it in his own. They both smiled. Suddenly, Napoleon realized they were going to need a way to get to Rome, which was approximately 882 miles away. Neither airplanes nor trains nor cars had been invented yet, although Napoleon wished they were.

A trip by horse carriage from Paris to Rome would take them at least 12 days, in good conditions.

But Joséphine had a better idea. She had a magic carpet that she had been given by her mother, Rose, who she loved dearly.

“Nappy, my dear, don’t freak out, but I have a magic carpet at my house. It will take us less time to get to Rome if we go by magic carpet instead of horse carriage,” she said.

“We won’t be able to take much of our stuff, including my books,” Napoleon said. “But we can always get new things in Rome, so that sounds like an excellent plan, my love.”

Joséphine took Napoleon’s hand and led him to her house. After a few minutes, they went inside and up to her room, got her magic carpet and went to her balcony and laid her magic carpet out. As they both sat on it, Joséphine told the magic carpet to take them to Rome, and off they went on their adventure.

And the pigeon that started it all followed them, caught up and then sat on Napoleon’s leg for the rest of the trip.


* * *

Addendum #1: Ashar wanted to make a proper cover for this very short book.

Addendum #2: Ashar's dream cast for the movie version would star Norman Reedus and Gal Gadot.

Addendum #3: Ashar is already providing notes for the Rome-based sequel. Hint: It might involve time travel.


  1. You are the new Janny Wurtz and Raymond Feist.
    Looking forward to what happens in Rome :)