She’d always wanted to be the perfectlady, all glossy hair and high-heeled shoes, smiling graciously behind flawless make-up, while people marvelled at the poise of her bearing and her chic couture.
But nature was cruel. The golden-haired baby girl grew into a spotty awkward teenager. There was no extraordinary mutation from ugly duckling to elegant swan for her; no amazing transformation in her teens nor late-blossoming in her early twenties.
And so she became a writer, acclaimed for her literary accomplishments while sheltering beneath the camouflage of the well-turned sentence and gorgeous prose.
Kneeling before the old chest, watching the winter sunlight filter through the dusty window of the attic, I’d paused in trepidation. I’d never been in this part of the house, as my uncle had forbidden it and his directives were not to be ignored lightly; but I’d been driven to explore the unexplained parts of my past and now I’d discovered that the chest contained the final few pieces of the puzzle.
Finally, I’d unlatched the lid and lifted it.
If only I hadn’t. My uncle had been right.
That day I learned that some things are better left undisturbed.
I stare wide-eyed at my invitation. As if I wasn’t already the breaker of a thousand diets.
I do not need any more temptation in my life. My fingers stomp on the keys like an over-weight middle-aged woman taking out the trash in which she’s concealed the evidence of her failure to stick to salad.
It’s virtual, a celebration for us girls, the ones who can only dream of those lithe bodies with which they once entwined.
Virtual chocolate cake? What’s the good of that?
Are you sure I can’t tempt you? Go on. See how many hits you get.
Author’s note: I was so taken with Violet Lentz’s response to this same challenge that this is what I found myself compelled to write. It’s also a little experiment about the magical pull of lust and chocolate!
– There’s a loada trouble goin’ down in the faerie ’hood.
– Like what?
– The Myco Boys are musclin’ in on our territory. Bringin’ in a whole bunch of new ’stools and ’shrooms. Stuff that’ll make your head explode.
– So, what we gonna do about it?
– We’re goin’ on the offensive.
– Doin’ what?
– Look here bro’, I got the seeds of a brand new product. Popweed from the Wealdan Woods. This stuff’s goin’ to blow their minds. It’s super-fast growing too. By next month’s Faerie-Fest we’re gonna have the pretty-wing girls’n’boys eatin’ right outta our hands.
Look away, my love. Remember it as it was. Listen to the birdsong swelling in a clear blue sky, hear the insects hum, feel the joy of the new lambs dancing in our fresh green fields.
Fix it in your mind. Our little farmhouse with its pretty garden. Smell the lavender you planted by the door, feel the cool breeze on your skin as it flutters the flower-sprigged curtains which you made last summer.
Let us go now, my love. Don’t look back. Let us leave this black and broken land and find a place where we can start anew.
The night is still. Down in the village of Little Sidebottom on the Marsh, all is quiet. The streets are deserted and the houses in darkness, even though it’s not yet eleven o’clock. The residents of this quaint picture-postcard village, in the heart of the quintessentially English countryside, are of the ‘early to bed’ variety, although not necessarily in their own beds.
Under the village’s bucolic exterior lies a hotbed of vice, murder and worse.
Who will be the next victim? Will they die by pistol, blade or poisoned cup?
Agatha’s fingers hover over the keyboard, poised for action.
The lights have all gone out. Mist closes in, swallowing up the moonlight. Darkness prevails. She throws another log on the fire, flares a match and lights a candle. At least the woodshed is full, the larder too. Her eyes flit about the room: every technological trapping is now defunct. Useless.
She’s more resilient than most, living alone in her little lodge on the lake. She’s just put new batteries in the radio, but no-one’s broadcasting. Empty airwaves.
Cut off. Cut adrift.
She takes up her pen and pulls her notebook towards her. All she can do now is write.