Over the past few days, I've found my attention re-snagged by a novella I wrote last summer by the name of Damsel. It is basically an emotionally fraught fairytaley Gothic romp about a highborn young woman named Evelina who gets imprisoned in a spooky manor house as bait to lure her true love (well, "true love") to come rescue her and MEET HIS CERTAIN DOOM at the hands of the villain. And then the villain's ward Tabitha gets appointed my heroine's impromptu handmaiden, and obviously, the sparks, they fly!
And while the plot still needs tons of refining, I have to admit I really enjoy the interaction between my leading ladies. THESE BANTERY WENCHES.
Anyway: is anyone in the mood for a Gothic manor house/fairytale romp with ladyloves? I'm not really sure what the kids are into these days. Ain't no party like a Bluebeard party 'cause a Bluebeard party is all about providing the opportunity to deconstruct atrocious tropes perhaps best encapsulated in the Poe quotation "The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world"! ... wikka wikka whaaaaat. (Yep.)
An excerpt of the two heroines getting to know each other via that most sacred art form BANTER, just for funsies:
I’m roughly shaken back into awakeness.
“What the—?” I open my eyes and there is Tabitha, her hands on my shoulders, her expression sour. The room is draped in sunlight, illuminating just how badly it needs a thorough dusting. Tabitha doesn’t have her hair tied back today; it hangs over me, tickling my face.
“Time to get dressed,” she says shortly.
I dread to think what moth-eaten old monstrosities she’s dug up to dress me in.
“I’d like a bath first,” I reply. Partly to detain her, and partly because I really, truly would. I don’t know if I’ve ever gone this long without bathing in my life.
Tabitha sniffs me. Sniffs me! Like a dog! “I bet you would.”
“You’re very rude.”
“You’re very rancid.”
“Oh, go to hell,” I grumble. I shove her shoulder just hard enough that she’ll get away from me.
“Aha!” she laughs, delighted at my deterioration in manners. “You might! A mouth on you like that.”
(Still, she gets up off the bed. It works! I have a bright new faith in the power of shoving people.)
“I most certainly will not,” I answer, heartened. “For it’s no doubt where you’re going, and I don’t ever intend to be where you are.”
“You’re where I am right now, you daft priss. And if you want a bath, then you can jump in the lake.”
I look out the window. The lake twinkles back at me. I’ve never done anything as wild as swim in a lake before. The closest I’ve come is playing in the ocean on holiday at the seaside with my family. I can swim, but ladies don’t make a habit of hurling themselves into lakes. But I imagine the water cool and sharp against my itchy skin, and it is so unlike dusty blankets and stale old air that I’m suddenly all but mad with wanting.
“Fine,” I tell her.
“I’ll gladly jump in the lake.”
She stares at me a long time, trying to figure out whether I’m mocking her.
“There’s leeches in there,” she says at last.
“What a welcome change of company. Come on, then.” An idea pricks me. “Unless you’re afraid Margrave won’t like it.”
She narrows her eyes at me. “I’m not the one who should be afraid of Margrave.”
“Do you think he wouldn’t let you take me outside?”
“I can do what I wish. He trusts me.”
She’s better than I’d expected at hiding her feelings on the matter. I expected her insecurity to spill all over her face—a common girl like her can’t have much of a natural aptitude for subtlety—but I look at her and see nothing telling.
Perhaps I’m a fool to think I can twist her around my little finger. That’s the sort of thing a villain does, not a young lady in love. It’s much more complex business than staring out a window and hoping.
“Come on then,” Tabitha says, pulling me from my thoughts. “Margrave wants you pretty, and I expect he won’t want the putrid stench of you stinking up the supper table.”
“I’m not putrid.”
She cocks her head at me and does a silly little flounce that’s thoroughly insufferable. “You really are.”
The worst of it is that she’s a little right.