Ted's oak tree

Hanan Adi

Germany

Impressionist.

A word is worth a thousand pictures.

Message to Readers

All your criticism is invited! Is anything unclear, inconsistent, etc.? Does the voice come out naturally? Are the characters believable? I would be very happy to hear your thoughts. Thank you so much for your time and patience!

The Débutante

April 16, 2016

“Yes, she’s certainly a model lady: tall, pretty, slender, exquisitely dressed, and what fine manners! Never a word out of tune, nor a fold out of place; not a look, not a smile, not a laugh undue…”
        “And how she sails through every waltz, like a feather on the breeze…”
        “Ah, yes, how pretty Miss Edith is! The pearls and lilies in her hair, the sylph-like throat, the tiny bodice…”
        “My goodness,” I interposed, gleeful of an opportunity to disrupt this tiresome paean of the recent débutante, “is that Miss Edith flouncing off into the garden just now?”
        “Who, she?” Several copious skirts shuffled about in pathetic disorder as their wearers turned to peer through the ballroom window. “So it is! Great goodness—where is her handmaiden? Where could she be off to? And is she trotting? Why, I never expected such impropriety of her…”
        “And what a glout she wears,” I remarked, “I wonder what is the matter?” and removed from my perch.
        “Sit down, Emma; you’re a lady. Where are you going?”
        “To ask her what troubles her.”
        “Don’t you dare—it is wrong to pry upon another’s business. Sit here, and no nonsense.”
        “Fie, I mean to sympathise,” and shutting my ears to the remonstrance of my more genteel peers, I slipped into the benighted garden after Miss Edith.
 
 
Having had unobtrusively disposed of my pinching shoes under a bush, I trotted down the lawn in her wake. Yet when whalebone checked the further exercise of my breast and forced me to halt, she was several paces ahead of me still. “Ought I to call to her?—No, it isn’t proper.—Should I anyhow? Do I dare?—Oh, fie, why have there to be so many rules?”
        To my relief, Miss Edith halted at the fountain in the centre of the garden, and taking spirit in this chance to traverse the distance between us, I set off again apace, although my head reeled for want of air.
        Miss Edith gazed upon the cool, softly lapping water.
        She raised a graceful, shimmering arm—and struck the water with such force that her whole trunk was drenched.
        She ripped off her immaculate silken gloves and grabbed in each bare hand the thick of her curls, and with three tugs they all came loose. The rest of her hair—what must have been her true hair, I understood now—fell from its high pompadour into a shapeless tangle over her head and shoulders. And she picked and flung down from this tangle all her gleaming pearls and lilies.
        Groping along her back, she loosened the lacing of her bodice, and cast the gorgeous frame of silk upon the grass, and trod on it. Her whirlwind of skirts followed.
        She wrestled with the lacing of her crinoline, resorting at last to wrenching at the seams, until I heard the fabric snap. She ran her hands along her back, wresting open the lacing of her corset, and released herself, gasping and gasping like one who has never known till now what joy it is to breathe.
        Last of all she unlaced her tiny shoes, held each one high in each fist—they fitted precisely within her palms—and cracked their soles against the stone edge of the fountain.
        The sound struck and reverberated like gunfire.
        She dropped the broken things, and doused her face in the cool fountain, over and over and over, till she gasped for air.
        She paused, and gazed once more at her reflection.
        Then she laughed.
 
 
The débutante pulled off her stockings, turned around, and stood in nothing but her white petticoat and wild tresses.
        Divested of her high hair and voluminous dress and iridescent jewellery—all of a sudden she was nothing but a little lost girl on a dark, lonely lawn, before an enormous house, whence giggles and song still emanated, unaware of her horrific deeds, unaware of her at all.
        She faced the house, planted her bare feet a yard apart, and struck her chin up.
        Then she spoke.
        “Hark ye me,” she cried in a queer voice, like a foal’s first whinny, shrill, broken, but fierce.
        “Hark ye who know and have made me as I am. Hark ye all!
        “Ye think that ye can cage me in bone and lace and false manners; ye think that ye can parade me like a bauble, that ye can forsake me to the clutch of any strange handsome man who first requests my hand, that fair semblance is all fairness. Yet hark, ye are wrong!
        “I am a human and a living soul. And now as ye call me a young woman, I am my own master. I claim my freedom. My freedom to remain chaste as long as I wish; to have friends who love my self and not my wealth nor my title nor my face; to live sincerely, and purely, unfettered by affectation…”
        “Hear, hear,” I whispered.
        “Hark ye me now, for I am no longer your plaything. Yea ye can yell and ye can strike, but I am not afraid of ye. Come, I challenge ye; forever I shall stand here unshakeable, free—”
        “Miss Edith!”
        The little girl on the grass started.
        “Miss Edith, you come here this instant!”
        She swept the evidence of her crimes behind the fountain and tried to refuge there also, but found the ledge too low to conceal her, and sprang up, eyes darting for a hideaway.
        “Here!” I called, and for the first time she noticed me. I had found and we huddled behind a vast maple just off the path, while her handmaiden drew nearer and nearer, her voice rising in impatience with every call.
        “Well,” I whispered, “now is your chance: show your spirit!”
        “Are you mad?”
        “No. What stays you? You said you weren’t afraid. Go on!”
        “Well…”
        “Please—for our sake, Edith…”
        She glanced toward the house, and toward the handmaiden, then shuddered and covered her face in her hands.
        The call approached irate, unfaltering.
 

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4 Comments
  • Hanan Adi

    Hooray, I'm so glad you love it, Emily! Thank you so much for stopping by, and good luck on all your own literary efforts. Do come again; I'd love to have you around!


    over 1 year ago
  • Emily Rice

    I love this so much!!! I aspire to write this well.


    over 1 year ago
  • Hanan Adi

    Thank you so much, Mossy! Come again, sometime!


    almost 2 years ago
  • Mossy

    Your work is superb! A very good and interesting read! :D


    almost 2 years ago