A new beginning

29/09/2016 07:11

The latest prompt from Blackship Books and Flash Fiction Friday.


Use the first sentence of the first full paragraph on page 5 of the book you're currently reading.


The book is 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley. The sentence comes from page 24 of the book but it's the fifth page of the actual story because of introductions and prologues and stuff!


Well, these are useless complaints; I shall certainly find no friend on the wide ocean, nor even here in Archangel, among merchants and seamen. Instead of moping about it, I must learn to make the best of my own company, although being alone has always been the most frightening state of existence to me. I fear the emptiness of my own mind, the gaping abyss of emotions, the absolute and inescapable fact of my being alive at all. My life has been one of friendship, companions, activity; endless, feverish activity whose only purpose is to stop me being alone with my own thoughts. How will I endure the solitude that is opening at my feet, that threatens to suck me down into its awful, eternal silence?


I shiver, pulling my shawl more closely around my shoulders. Such melancholy thoughts are inappropriate. I must learn to value my own musings for they are the only ones I shall encounter in the months to come. It will be impossible to interact with my fellow creatures for then they may uncover my secret, and that must never happen. Of course, it is no secret yet. Today, I am still very much a young lady, my long hair neatly coiled upon my head, my hands soft and white, my body wrapped in such clothes as you would expect me to wear. But tonight that will all change.


The scissors that are to begin the transformation lie there upon the table, ready to begin their dreadful work. How is it that I find myself at this point? But such questions are useless. I know their answers too well. What other choice do I have? How else am I to fulfil the vow I made? For vows made at midnight in sultry garden are no less binding than those made in a courtroom... or a church. I promised to follow thee, my beloved, wherever thy steps might take thee. I promised to be thine and thine alone, whatever distances might separate us, and that I would strive to find thee if ever we were parted.


Such vows are made once in a lifetime. Such vows can never be forgotten.


But where art thou, my beloved? Dost thou think of me? I lie awake at night, imagining that we gaze upon the same stars, that thy thoughts are filled with my face just as my thoughts are filled with thine. The curl of thy hair, the warmth of thy smile, thine eyes that beckoned me beyond the dusty confines of expectation and convention. I can remember every word thou ever spoke to me, every expression upon thy heavenly countenance. Be assured, my beloved, wherever thou art, I shall find thee.


The day thou left my father's house, I begged and begged so earnestly that I might accompany thee. Oh, why didst thou refuse me? I could see in thine eyes that thy desire was as strong as mine. And yet thou obeyed my father's wishes, after telling me so many times that his words were as old and decayed as the crumbling walls of his house. I wept for a week after thou departed. I began innumerable letters to thee, wishing to provide some relief to my poor bruised heart, but I could never get further than, 'My dearest, dearest darling'.


After a month of pining, I decided that it was high time that I acted. I decided that your refusal to take me with thee did not mean thou didst not wish to have me with thee, that it was for form merely, that thou wast waiting for me nearby, perhaps in the next town. Then I was struck by fear that perhaps I had idled too long, had lost the chance to ever catch thee up. What if thou had waited that first week within a mile of my father's house and then decided that I was never coming?


Oh, but why had thou not sent me word? A single line would have been enough to bring me running to thine arms! How many times have I imagined our reunion? Tear-stained cheek pressed to tear-stained cheek, hearts that can never be sundered beating in eternal harmony, whispered endearments repeated over and over. Such are the images that have kept me strong, that have kept my feet to the path that will lead me to thee.


And so I gathered as much wealth, both money and jewels and other trinkets, as I had in my own possession and that I could easily carry, and left my father's house behind. I asked after my beloved in every town and village, tracing thy steps. I dressed as a servant and went by foot, knowing that it would make me slower but also that I would go unremarked. What more could I do for love?


Tears roll down my cheeks as I sit in contemplation of my lost love. I am hardly aware of them at first but as they splash down upon my hands they bring me back to myself. The scissors catch my eye again and seem to mock me. My planned disguise is the most obvious, to pass myself off as a boy. But what boy would sit here sobbing to himself? A boy would be active, would be doing not crying.


Yet, even as I grow angry with my womanish weakness, I am reminded of how far I have already come. This room is not in my father's house, this chair is one that I have never sat in before, this fire seems to crackle with a different music to those that I have known before. Tomorrow I set out on a new phase of my adventure – my quest. For then I leave behind not only my home and familiar surroundings; I leave behind my very self, become a wholly new being that nobody has ever seen before. Is not this death of my old self worth a few tears?


I imagine the scissors doing their work, each stroke of the blades cutting away a small part of my old life, transforming me into something new. Who is this boy? What is his family? Why is he seeking this life of adventure and hardship? These are questions that I have not yet given thought to but I realise that I must find answers to them. They are the natural first questions that anyone would ask a stranger. First, he must have a name! Real fear creeps upon me for the first time as I realise how blind I have been to the realities of my situation. I have planned so much – but so little! How did I expect to go about without even a name? Stupid, stupid, stupid girl. Stupid and unworthy girl!


But again a kinder voice speaks within my mind. I have thought of these things now, late perhaps, but not too late. Tonight I shall invent a short history for my new self, a story he can give out, if required. For it strikes me that there is no need to tell my tale from the rooftops. The self that I have presented to the world thus far is open and gregarious; my new self will be a person who does not volunteer information, but does answer honestly when asked about himself. It would not do to appear secretive for that would encourage others to try to discern the secret.


I take stock of my disguise. The scissors with their single task, but I find myself shrinking from performing it. My hair has always been a matter of pride to me. But what use is pride, now? I am on a quest of love! Then there are the shabby boy's clothes that I purloined from a washing line a couple of days ago. I have not yet tried them on but they look a good size, perhaps even a little too large but that will add to the impression that I am poor and have to make do with whatever I can lay my hands on. And now I have my little history, a name, a place of birth, parents, a reason for leaving everything behind.


Tomorrow, my new life will begin in earnest when I go down to the harbour and hire myself on a ship bound for America!


A new beginning

Beautifully Descriptive

Date: 02/10/2016 | By: Joyce Juzwik

I really like this one, Rose. You've painted such a vivid picture of both your character and your settings. You make it easy for the reader to put themselves in the character's shoes, and be able to understand their motivation and their determination.

Who knows where this young lady's journey will take her, but in the end, I hope she finds what she seeks, whether it be the lover she seems to have lost, or truly a new beginning.

Nice one

Date: 29/09/2016 | By: Dave B

Enjoyed this, Rose. Really gets the imagination going.

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