Parzi

United States

Writing a novel is like playing a D&D campaign by yourself and I stand by that.
I write and stuff every now and then, ain’t no thangggg.
I’m 15.
My pronouns are she/her.

Oh, and yeah, my life matters.

Message to Readers

Hiya hiya :)

Chapter 1: https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/264843/version/571270
Chapter 2: https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/265111/version/571599
Chapter 3: https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/265471/version/572337
Chapter 4: https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/265768/version/572931

Summer of Josephine (Chapter 5)

January 9, 2022

FREE WRITING

10

I stand, unmoving, in Father's study.  He sits in his teal desk chair with his back facing me. I look in every direction but his. The bookshelves that line each wall are filled with a variety of books. The plaid curtains have been drawn back to let in the mid-morning sun.  Candle wax slowly drips down the golden candle holder atop the desk. My gaze shifts upward to a portrait above the fireplace.

A beautiful woman in a silver gown stares curiously into the distance. Her jet black curls lay gently on the copper skin of her shoulders. Her hooded eyes gleam with a vague sense of wonder. Underneath the portrait lies a plaque with her name carved into it. Elizabeth Malia Smith.  Father always said I had her eyes. I don’t see it. 

“Josephine.” Father says with his back turned to me still. I flinch at the sound of his voice. 

“Yes, Father?” 

“Why is it that you’re so intent on disobeying my every order?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps if they were a bit more fair the-”

“Fair?” He says, turning his chair to face me. “You wish to speak of fairness? I spend days preparing a meeting for you and Ms. Tessalyn and her mother,only for you to come up with some half-witted scheme to scare them away!”

“That wasn’t my ide-”

“Then, I try and give you some semblance of discipline and you decide to use that time to sneak away to god knows where!”

“It was Addy’s house! And I didn’t sneak off! Ms. Natalie let m-”

“I devote myself entirely to making sure that when you and your sisters leave this house you will be well provided for. That you’ll make something of yourselves! And yet you’d rather spend your days prancing about town with some lowly seamstress!”

“She is not a lowly seamstress! Her name is Adelaide Porter and you know as much! For four years, she has been my closest friend and yet you act as though you don’t even know her name! And for what reason? Because she doesn’t come from wealth?!” I say, stomping my foot down. “Ever since Mother passed away, all you’ve cared about is your precious money and your precious legacy and it’s sickening!”

“That’s enough, Josephine!” He says, rising from his chair.

I falter, stepping backward. I feel a tear roll down my cheek and drip off my chin. “I just don’t understand. Are we not wealthy enough? What more could we need? Why can I not just be happy?”

He strides over, placing a hand on my shoulder. “Is that truly how you feel? Unhappy?” 

I stare down at my feet, unable to look him in the eyes. My silence seems to be an answer in itself. 

He sighs deeply and walks over to the fireplace. He stares longingly at the portrait, his eyes clouded with sorrow. “I never wanted daughters. I was always so terrible at courting women, how could I be expected to raise one?” 

He runs a gentle hand down the picture frame, smiling. “But your Mother? She wanted a little girl more than anything. She prayed every night, without fail. I just didn’t understand. Then, Elaine was born and it was as though my eyes had been opened for the first time.” He says, his eyes wide with remembrance. “I swore then that I would do whatever it takes to give her, to give all of you, the best that life could offer. But I just don’t know what to do without Elizabeth… I’ve failed her, haven’t I? Failed you all.”

I stand beside him in silence as we admire Mother’s portrait. She was beautiful beyond measure. 

The next morning, Father wakes us all early in the morning and tells us to wear our picnic attire. 

“Are we going on a picnic?” Lilliana asks as I tie her dress sash into a bow. 

Well, one would assume so.” I say with a smile.

“We haven’t been on a picnic in ages!” Lelani says, hopping up and down with excitement.

“Lelani, stop! You’ll bounce your hat right off your head!” I laugh, making sure the ribbon is tied under her chin properly. 

Ms. Natalie knocks on my open bedroom door before stepping inside “If the girls are ready, I’d imagine they’d like to help me pick out strawberries?”

“Oh, yes please!” Lilliana says, skipping out of the room and down the stairs. 

“Wait for me!” Lelani cries, trying to wriggle her way out of my grasp. 

“Just hold still!” I say, struggling to slide on her left shoe. “There!”

“Thank you, Jo-Jo!” She says sprinting off toward the kitchen. 

Ms. Natalie smiles and follows behind her. 


We all climb into the stagecoach and I’m surprised to find that not only is Ms. Natalie accompanying us, but Father as well. He assists Ms. Natalie into the shotgun seat, then climbs into the driver’s box.  

During the ride, Elaine tells me of Peter’s most recent letters while Lilliana, Lelani, and Margaret play games and sing songs. 

When the stagecoach slows to a stop, Lilliana is the first one to burst out the door. She runs out giggling and jumping before squealing in excitement. “Mother!!” She exclaims.

“Mother?” Lelani says, scrambling outside. “It’s true! It’s Mother!”

I step out to see a tall grassy hill sprinkled with flowers in every color. I race up the hill alongside my sisters, laughing all the while. 

Atop the hill is a beautiful tree covered in small white and pink flowers. A strawberries and cream tree, Lilli calls it. Under the tree lies a large rock. A gravestone. The tree's blossoms fall around it like gentle snow. The grass underneath the stone is overgrown and beginning to climb it’s way up the sides. The engraving is caked with dirt and dust yet it’s still legible. 

“Hello, Mother.” I say, kneeling down beside it. 

“Mother!” Margaret yells, scampering up next to me. “Mother! Mother! I have the loveliest dress for the Fete of the Solstice this year!” 

“And I lost a tooth this month!” Lilliana says, pointing to the gap in her mouth. “Elaine says that means I’m getting taller!” 

“Not exactly what I said.” Elaine chuckles, sitting down in the grass. 

Ms. Natalie and Father make their way up the hill, blanket and picnic basket in hand.  Father lays out the blanket while Ms.
Natalie arranges the food. 

“You brought jam and toast!” Lelani grins.

“And peaches!” Elaine exclaims. “I thought grocers didn’t start selling these for another week!” 

“I have my ways.” Ms. Natalie says, winking. 

Our picnic consists of jam and toast, peaches, strawberries, lemonade, wine, cheese, and mince pines.  The seven of us sit and eat, while regaling Mother with tales of the past five years she’s missed.  

“And then she let those awful creatures loose in my room! It was terrible!” Lilliana says, stuffing another strawberry in her mouth.

“They were only fireflies!” Lelani says through a mouthful of peaches.

“And I made her gather every last one.” Father chuckles. “You would’ve been heavily amused.” 

“We should make daisy chains!” Margaret says, finishing her glass of lemonade. 

“Yes! Yes! Mother loves daisy chains!” Lelani says, jumping up.

“Father! You must help us pick flowers!” Lilliana says, hopping onto his back. 

“No, no, I’m quite comfortable here.” He says, sipping from his glass of wine with a smile. 

“What your father means to say is that he’s much too old and serious for such frivolous activities.” Ms. Natalie says, rising from the blanket. “I’ll help you, girls. Afterall, we’d hate for your poor father to injure his old, weak bones.” She teases, adjusting her sun hat.

We all exchange looks and stifle giggles as Father almost chokes on his wine. 

“Feeling bold today are we, Ms. Natalie?” He grins. 

“Perhaps.” She smirks. 

Elaine rises from her seated position and pulls Lelani close. “I’m willing to wager that Ms. Natalie, Lelani, and I could pick twice as many flowers as you three!” She says, pointing at Father, Lilliana, and Margaret. 

“I’m willing to take you on that wager.” Father says, removing his coat. 

“Winner gets the last of the mince pies!” Lilliana says, stomping excitedly. 

“Care to join us, Josephine?” Ms. Natalie asks, turning to me.

“No, no. I’d like to stay here and talk with Mother if that’s alright.” I smile. “Besides, every competition needs a neutral party!” 

“Very well.” Father says, rolling up his sleeves. “On your count, then?” 

“Three…” I begin.

Lelani removes her hat and stretches her legs. 

“Two…”

Lilliana giggles as Father lifts her onto his shoulders. 

“One! Go!” 

Shrieks of laughter fill the air as the six of them sprint off down the hill in search of flowers. I laugh watching Ms. Natalie almost trip over her heels before kicking them off. 

I turn to the gravestone, dusting dirt from the top of it with my hand.”You really must take better care of yourself, Mother. Appearances are key.” 

I lay back under the shade of the tree and smile. “I’ve been well. In a relative sense of speaking. I’ve made a friend! A young woman named Adelaide Porter. You remember the Porter family don’t you? The seamstress and the banker? Though Mr. Porter isn’t a banker anymore. He hasn't been in some time! His firm went bankrupt a few years back. Anyways, they have two children, if you don’t recall, the youngest of which is Adelaide. We’ve been good friends for a while now and I think you two would get along famously.” 

I look up and see Lilliana and Lelani try to push each other as they race across the field. 

“The girls are becoming marvelous young women.” I smile.

Margaret runs up behind them and pushes them both forward. 

“When they aren’t fighting.” I admit. “Lilliana has learned to read and is getting much better with her writing. Lelani is starting to brush her own hair, granted it always looks horrendous and I have to fix it, but she’s trying. Margaret is…interesting to say the least. Though she can be a bit crude at times, it comes from a place of love.” 

Elaine laughs as she struggles to carry handfuls of flowers. 

“Elaine has matured beautifully. You’d be very proud, I’m sure. She’s found herself a suitor, you know. A young man named Peter. I don’t care for him all that much but Father does, and Elaine really does. It’s endearing in a way, I suppose.” 

Ms. Natalie runs up and drops a bouquet of flowers on the picnic blanket. “Pardon me, Josephine.” She says, breathlessly. “Am I interrupting anything?” 

“No, not at all.” I say sitting up and patting a spot beside me. 

Ms. Natalie sits down and faces the gravestone. “I never got the pleasure of knowing her.” 

“Really? You began cooking for us almost two years before she passed.”

“Yes, but by then she was bedridden and far too sickly to do anything let alone cook, hence my hiring.” 

“Oh.” 

“Oh but, I’m sure that if she was even half as wonderful as you girls she was the most extraordinary woman.” 

“Yes. She was.” 


After tallying the totals, the team consisting of Margaret, Elaine, and Ms. Natalie wins, but the latter two give their mince pies to Lelani and Lilliana.

We then gather all the flowers and begin making the daisy chains. 

“Do you remember the song about lavender? The one Mother would sing?” Lilliana asks as she finishes off her first chain.

“Yes, yes, I do! Oh, how did it go?” Lelani says, rubbing her temples. 

“Lavender’s green, diddle diddle. Lavender’s blue.” Elaine sings quietly. 

“Yes! That’s it!” Lilliana exclaims. “You must love me, diddle diddle. For I love you.” She sings, slightly off-key.

“Lavender’s blue, diddle diddle. Lavender’s green.” I sing, also off-key. 

“When I am king, diddle diddle. You shall be queen!” Lelani sings, clapping her hands in rhythm.

“A brisk young man, diddle diddle, met with a maid.” Margaret sings, batting her eyes. “And laid her down, diddle diddle, under the shade!” She finishes with a snicker.

“Margaret!” Elaine and I scream in unison.

“Don’t be crude!” Elaine says, tossing a handful of flowers at her. 

Soon, we’re all laughing and screaming as we throw flowers at one another.  

And for a moment, I swear I can hear Mother laughing with us.

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  • January 9, 2022 - 2:01pm (Now Viewing)

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6 Comments
  • Paisley Blue

    This is absolutely beautiful! You've painted a picture of mourning yet acceptance, and the happiness is so pure and familiar that I feel I must be there with them. This is truly one of the best stories I've read in a while. Gorgeous :)


    14 days ago
  • Yellow Sweater

    This is so perfectly lovely! Sad, sweet, wonderful... I can't tell you how much I look forward to new chapters.

    I totally get what you mean about the doable thing. It's absolutely incredible when you think about it. We can literally create a whole new world with just a keyboard. As for technical aspects of publishing, the first thing I would look for is a mentor. I've been so lucky to get advice and support from published authors. My mentors have helped edit my work, find literary magazine's to submit to. They have even connected me to other members of the broader literary community. Also it's just super wonderful to have an a super cool older adult to get to wax philosophical about writing with. It's a little more difficult in rural areas, but if you are in an urban center often there are a lot of programs for young writers people are running for free. Like in Seattle, I just randomly started attending youth speaks meetings, and ended up establishing a great relationship with the guy who ran the program and even got to go halfway across the country with them to a spoken word conference. Just a like a quick google search for programs in your area might help you find something. I was really surprised by how many resources there are out there.

    Also, I really hope you get this story published! I know I already said this a million, and I should try to be more descriptive, but it's wonderful! If you ever have any questions about anything writing/ publishing related please don't hesitate to ask. There is a good chance I won't know the answer, but If I don't I might be able to refer you to someone/ something that does! I'll try to keep you updated as my own journey evolves:)


    14 days ago
  • mnesic writer

    Re: yeah it’s the weekend and I have nothing else to do plus I found a way to move around the whole situation of him being able to touch the door and not feeling the bats- he just can’t touch living things. So now I’m really excited that I have that figured out!!! I’m glad you’re liking it so far!! I’ll probably have another out tomorrow.


    15 days ago
  • Love, Rose

    re: yo thank you for the comment - I'm so unsure and can't have people I know reading my stuff - so I really appreciate it. you posting your story inspired me a bit and i adore your work


    15 days ago
  • SophieNic

    Your talent is unbelievable! How you manage to post this often with such an incredibly high standard I really admire.


    15 days ago
  • mnesic writer

    Re: thanks for your comments! You pointed out that he was able to open the door but the bats flew through him. Yeah… I done messed up. All of these rules are so confusing to me and I’m making them up. Seems like I might have to re establish the concepts of physical touch so that can make more sense. XD


    15 days ago