Character Development for my Supernatural Fantasy Project

I am lacking in interesting real-life commentary at the moment, and also lacking in something to do (other than studying, but I feel like my head will explode if I continue to try to force myself to understand German morphology). I’ve just realized I missed the deadline for The First Line Literary Journal’s Summer issue

But I love the prompt. For those of you unfamiliar with The First Line Literary Journal, it’s an online publication which gives its authors a one-sentence writing prompt that they would like each issue (published quarterly) to be centered around. I will probably write something for the fall or winter issue and submit it. Now though, I want to play with the sentence for the upcoming issue. You are also welcome to do so. I am doing so, because I think it would be excellent for one of the characters, Colina, in my fantasy series, Darling, that I am still developing.

The prompt: “I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old.”

I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old. My mother was a chamber maid and always busy cleaning up after rich, young school girls in their pristine, plaid uniforms and at six years of age, I simply had become too big to follow my mother around without being a nuisance or creating some sort of larger mess. The Headmistress, Miss Pritchett, insisted that I either hide in the kitchens or in the help’s quarters.

You can imagine how boring it is for a six-year-old to have to sit in the corner of the kitchen all day, doing nothing so that she doesn’t get in the way and disrupt the natural order of things at the St. Agnes School for girls in Aberdeen. One day, I figured no one would notice if I happened to wander away for a little while–as long as I was back in time for Mum and I to have our dinner. The practically ancient building itself held many secrets just waiting to be discovered. I thought I was just the explorer to do so. I tip-toed from the kitchen, heart beating in my chest over the suspense of my being caught.

Day after day, my daily routine went like this. Mum and I would rise, wash ourselves, have breakfast with the other servants and children, and Mum would go off to her work either in the gardens or assisting in the dining rooms. She’d leave me in the kitchen and tell me to behave myself. I assured that I would. The maids in the kitchen even informed her that I hardly made a peep and it was as if I were not there. As soon as the coast was clear, I stood up from my place in the corner and continued on my adventures around the old school, which was once a convent.

If anyone knew the St. Agnes School for Girls well, it was me. By the age of 12, I had memorized all of the secret tunnels and passageways around the school and to where each tunnel led. Unfortunately though, by the age of 12 I had become just big enough and just smart enough that I could be counted on to start helping Mum in the gardens and dining rooms, and also helping in the kitchens. In my free time though, I continued to make use of the passageways, eventually attracting notice from the students in my teens. But most figured I was just another student who just happened to never wear a uniform. Yeah, I noticed there were a few rebel ladies over the years who didn’t care for the rules set forth by society for them, and who didn’t care to be told what to wear. The headmistress usually set them straight though, and if they weren’t set straight during their time here, chances are they were set straight when they returned back to their parents’ estates or manors in disgrace for unruly behavior. For this reason, I’ve never envied these rich girls. I had more freedom with my tunnels and my woolen articles than these properly primped future homemakers did.

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Marionette

She lies on the wood floor, bent in on herself and broken like a porcelain doll a child had carelessly dropped. He stands over her, barking orders, commanding her to stand up, to come to him. She doesn’t hear him. He’s gone too far this time. She’s retreated to a world of her own, a safe place where it’s dark and no one can hurt her because it is so dark that no one can find her. Maybe in the darkness and the silence, she’ll finally be able to think and to realize why she continues to return to him.

Continue my story in the comments, if you wish. . .

A List of Things that Mommy Doesn’t Like: A Narrative Exercise in Point-of-View

Atheist. What a silly word. I heard Mommy’s date, Daniel, say that he’s one and when I asked Mommy what the word meant, she got mad. I didn’t know why. It’s just a word. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, coming up with everything it could mean. I didn’t even know how to spell it. As soon as someone told me what the word meant, I would then start asking how it is spelled. But until then, my main concern was defining the word. You have to have your priorities straight, after all.

I wasn’t having any luck with that though. Then it occurred to me that most adults like to receive something in exchange for another thing (like Christmas gifts and giving money to the person at the cash register when you’re shopping). I picked some pretty white flowers I found near my favorite sculpture in the park—a cat statue made of sparkly tiles—and headed over to where Mommy and Daniel sat.

“Look what I found,” I said, trying to make them think that the white flowers were the best thing in the world, since everyone knows that the more value a gift has, the more you get back in return. I held them out in front of Daniel, “aren’t they pretty?”

He took the flowers from me, thanking me. He seemed to fall for it and assume that they were indeed the best things ever. I was glad he was pleased, even if they were just flowers. It’s not bad to lie if the person being lied to is happier that way.

But Mommy wasn’t falling for it. She knew what I was doing. She always knew everything, of course,“Run along, dear. Mommy’s busy,” she said, waving her hand in the direction of the cat statue. I took a moment to glare at her real deep. Why was she trying to make it so difficult? For some reason, she really didn’t want me to know what an “Atheist” is. Maybe that had something to do with what the word meant. I retreated back to the cat and started listing all the things Mommy didn’t like, keeping track on my fingers.

“Hmm. . . Sinners. People who ring the doorbell and give us pieces of paper with lots of words on them. Lasagna. Spicy food. When I say potty-mouth words they say on TV. Potty-mouth words. When my room isn’t clean. Laundry clothes on the floor. Aunt Marjorie. When I don’t eat my veggies. The Liberal media. . .whatever that is,” I had to stop because my mouth was getting dry from talking so much. I licked my lips, but there was no spit on my tongue. I was so thirsty. I hated that feeling. There was probably a drinking fountain in that building where they put all the art that doesn’t belong outside. It was nearby too. I decided that even though Mommy had said I couldn’t leave the area that I would just be gone for a minute, and it was worth it. I mean, people died from thirst in hot places like Africa.

I walked over to the building and went to the back where the bathrooms were. There was a drinking fountain between the room for men and the room for women. As I drank, standing on my tippy-toes, I wondered why there wasn’t a separate bathroom for kids. I drank for a long time until my front hair strands were soaked because they had fallen in the water, and then went back to Mommy, Daniel, and the cat statue. (I decided that I would name the cat statue Shirley. She looked like a Shirley.) Mommy and Daniel were still there. I climbed on top of Shirley and tried to listen to their conversation. Maybe they were talking about what an atheist is since I was gone.

“. . .Maybe if you are ever in Norway, I’ll take you,” Daniel said. Norway was where Daniel was from. He told me that in Norway you have to be fat because it’s so cold there and the fat kept you warm. That’s why he was fat and ate a lot of pizza. He tried to give Mommy a flower, but I knew that she wouldn’t be happy with it. She hadn’t fallen for my trick.

“I don’t like the cold,” Mommy said. She was using her mean voice she used when she yelled at the “liberals” on TV.  I added “the cold” to my list of things that Mommy didn’t like.

Daniel looked sad, like the liberals would have probably looked if they heard her too, “Samara, what is wrong,” he asked, using her real name that I wasn’t allowed to call her. Mommy sighed real big like she did when she was tired or I was asking too many questions. I figured that Daniel was asking too many questions too.

“You’re an atheist,” Mommy said.

“Mommy, what’s an atheist,” I asked again, remembering that I still hadn’t figured out what it meant.

“Emery, go play,” Mommy said, still using her mean voice. My feelings were hurt and I decided that I would stop asking her that question if she was going to be so mean about it. She turned back to Daniel, “see what you’ve done?” What did he do? I wanted so badly to ask, but Mommy wasn’t in the mood to answer questions.

“You could tell her,” Daniel said. He was being what is called my “advocate” in mine and Mommy’s “conflict”.

“Tell a child that there are people who don’t believe in God,” Mommy said, using her outdoor voice, “you must be mad.” That was what an atheist is? Boring. I was hoping it would be something with a lot of pretty colors or made out of candy. My next guess was that an atheist is someone who becomes very fat in order to stay warm, by eating lots of pizza. But I suppose the real definition better explained why Mommy didn’t like that word very much.

I looked back across the grass and saw that Mommy wasn’t by Daniel anymore. She was walking away toward the car. I jumped off Shirley, waving bye-bye to Daniel, and ran to catch up with her. She was walking very fast and when she opened the car door for me–if she was like Arnold Schwarzenegger–she would have probably broke the door off the car. She was mad. I wondered if it had anything to do with Daniel. She didn’t seem to like him very much. But I liked him and that was all that mattered.

“Mommy, are we going to see Daniel again,” I asked, hoping that she would say yes. She clicked my seatbelt in and then went around to her door.

“No.” She was still using her mean voice.

“Why,” I asked, “he was funny.” Maybe that would remind her how much we needed Daniel around. Funny, nice guys who liked pizza as much as I did were nice to have around. Mommy didn’t answer though. I added “nice, funny guys who like pizza” and Daniel to my list of things that Mommy didn’t like.

*

I don’t know if I’ll go further with this or not, so it’s up here for now. I really enjoyed writing this, however I know there are flaws.

First Attempt at Cthulhurotica

“I too thought he was mad to love me—at the very least, risk his reputation for a lunatic like me. I had just come from an ordeal which should have killed me, or so they said. My mind refused to recall what had brought me to Butler Hospital, an asylum for the mad. He, Dr. Warwick, was determined to “restore me to my wits”, though oftentimes his methods suggested that he needed to be restored to his wits. Perhaps I only thought him mad because he loved me and wished that I could be well again. But I did not want to remember the accident which killed my parents and left me in a rickety, rotting boat somewhere near Newport shrieking about some kind of sea monster.”

I’m very excited about mixing the Cthulhu mythos with erotica. Writing this is certainly proving to be an interesting experience.