Friday, February 2, 2007

For Jennifer (Again)

The dark-clothed villain tiptoed through the library, the candlelight flickering ominously against aged leather tomes. Visible in the half-light was the form of a woman. The intruder knew that, if light had been stronger, he would have seen her uncontrolled mass of hair, barely shaped into a recognizable style, her pale, almost translucent skin, her gangly limbs akimbo as she leaned over her knitting. The nameless foe grew closer, closer, until he could see the yellow light touch the girl's gown, the handwoven Scottish wool blanket, her custom-made socks. He crept nearer, making no noise, he had carefully been trained not to do so.

He reached out his hand...

"Ahh!" cried his victim, unleashing a blood-curdling scream, loud enough, the villain thought, to awaken the entire household. He whirled to flee, only to find himself face to face with the business end of a sword.

"Unmask yourself!" demanded Laura. The other woman put down her knitting and removed a wig, which Laura had carefully constructed from her own hair. Laura had drafted her handmaiden, Emma, to take on this dire task, in hopes of drawing the killer out. She had clothed her friend in a dress from her own wardrobe, so the intruder could not be suspicious.

The black-clothed fiend pushed back the hood from over his head, unwound the dark bandages that concealed his face, and stood without guise before the two women.

"You're kidding me," Laura snapped. She put down the weapon. "I cut my hair for this, you freak!" she sighed dramatically. "Do you know how hard it's going to be to get it that long again? Come on!"

"It's true," said Laura's handmaiden. "Who do you think has to style it?"

Laura gave the other woman a significant look.

"Sorry, Miss," Emma replied.

"It's not as if he hadn't already noticed," Laura soothed. "Andy!" she shouted, "You can call the whole thing off."

"Tee Hee!" the intruder laughed. "You really went to a lot of trouble! The look on your face!"

"You punk!" Laura groaned.

"Oh, you were scared!"

"Daaad."

"But you weren't expecting me, were you? You thought I was some killer!" Laura's father, village idiot and pastor of Ro'an, gave her a gleeful smile.

"Honestly, if you keep this up, the next time someone really tries to kill me, I'll just let them do it since I'll think it's you."

"You know you love it!" he replied.

"No, Dad, I really don't."

He grinned back, and she knew he would never stop. From the moment of her birth, he had begun to pop from around corners and shout, bang on windows at night, and sneak up to frighten her. She only hoped he would be prepared to stop her reflexive strike if he frightened her while she was armed.

"So, when are you seeing Andy this week?" he asked, five times in rapid succession.

"He's here now."

"Oh," her father became suddenly nervous.

Andy walked through the door to the library, holding a sword of his own, drawn.

"It was just my dad again," Laura told him.

Crestfallen, since he had longed for the opportunity to prove himself once more in battle, Andy sheathed his blade.

"And you wondered why I have trust issues," Laura said.

Just then, the door flew open once more, with Lady Hannerstein flying through it, her long blonde hair streaming behind her, trails left by tears marking her cheeks.

"Jennifer!" Laura gasped. "Whatever is the matter?"

"We are overrun!" sobbed her friend. "You must protect me. The Horde has taken Gre'valu! All is lost."

Laura, amazed at how some people could cry and still not look like that thing that burst out of that guy's stomach in Alien, took her friend's hand. "Don't worry, Jen. We'll think of something. Until then, I promise we'll keep you safe."

"I don't see how," Jennifer replied. And with that, she swooned in a dramatic and very real fashion. Shocked, Laura's father managed to catch Jennifer before she struck her head on the pianoforte, which would have been incredibly painful, and something the author would not wish upon her friend even in the fictional sphere. Even though it would have been marvalously climactic.

Upon seeing the terrible fate that had befell Lady Hannerstein, Emma fainted, falling gently onto the couch as if she had planned her desent. Which she probably had.

"Wow," Laura's father said. "This swooning thing is getting to be real popular. All the young ladies seem to be doing it," he looked meaningfully at Laura.

Our heroine sighed, picked up her knitting from under her handmaiden, and sat on her cushioned stool before the fire. Looking up at her father's expectant glance, she rolled her eyes, "Not going to happen Dad."

A pity the girl is so stubborn; it would have finished off this scene in a wonderful Tableau.

What can an author do?

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