Saturday, February 2, 2013

Excerpt: Anticipation and Dread

I'm thinking of starting a new series of sorts on my blog. It won't be anything weekly, but every so often I want to start posting excerpts of stories that I've written. Or, more accurately, I want to post small scenes that I've written. Scenes that could turn into stories if I had the inclination to continue them. Often an inspiration pops into my head and I just have to write, but after I finish the scene, I may or may not be inspired to continue with the characters I have created. I love to start things, but finishing them is not my strong suit. Perhaps I need to learn the art of a short story instead of assuming that these shorts should be much longer?

In either case, I really just want a place to post these small snippets of my imagination. I hope you enjoy them!

Anticipation and Dread
Pheadra was about to meet him for the first time ever. Right now. A tight knot coiled in her abdomen, causing her to clench her buttocks and thighs in nervousness. She swallowed compulsively, glad she was alone for at least a few more seconds.
This man - this stranger, let's be honest - was to be her husband. They were to be wed tonight. Within an hour, actually, she thought with a quick intake of breath, her stomach swooping like a barn swallow.
A small intake of breath. The beautiful cream gown she was wearing was tighter than anything she had ever donned before. Her waist was as slim as a sapling, easily bent and broken by the slightest gust. She spread her skirts, looking at herself critically in the mirror. She could almost concede that she looked lovely. Not beautiful - she would never be beautiful with that protruding nose and high forehead and dimpled chin - but certainly alluring, in a certain way; her flaws were less noticeable, disguised. Shifting left and right, she surveyed herself critically. Her small breasts were satisfactorily padded and pushed up, creating the illusion of generous cleavage. She trailed her fingers over the new swells, smiling at their novelty and softness. The veil on her head was a bit like a lace halo, floating lightly around her shoulders and cascading down her back. It was her favourite part of the ensemble - it made her feel like a goddess with its jewelled crown.
The snap of the latch startled her and made her drop her hand to her side guiltily. Her mother stood in the doorway, inspecting her critically. This lasted several minutes, her eyes dragging along the lines of the dress as Pheadra stood there awkwardly. Without so much as a word or nod, her mother shut the door, a sense of finality flooding through her daughter.
There was no love between her mother and her. Pheadra suspected that her mother's love was completely spent on her older sister Pheona and the beloved baby of the family, her brother Kappe. These two were bestowed with warmth and smiles Pheadra could only dream of. It would have hurt her if not for her father. She wasn't sure if he was simply making up for her mother's lack of interest, but her father seemed as though he had more expectations of them; he expected them to do their duty as eldest and as heir, respectively. But Pheadra was neither; she was the forgotten middle child, the spunky, wild, energetic child that could not help but bring a smile to her father's face, a reminder of his own youth.
And yet...
And yet he had allowed the unthinkable. Moreover, he had arranged - with similar detachment and secrecy as Pheona's - her own betrothal and wedding.
Pheadra shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut. She would not think of the betrayal, the ache that refused to leave her chest. She would not cry. She would face her duty and do as she was expected. She would not let her father down.
Pheadra took a deep breath and opened her eyes just as her bedchamber door opened for the second time in as many minutes. It was her maid, Chroesa, ready to lead her to the temple. The small, pale girl gasped with pleasure when she saw her mistress.
"You... you look like a goddess!" She whispered with no small amount of awe.
Pheadra rolled her eyes, exaggerating her exasperation with a smile. "A fallen one perhaps!" She shook her head with mock disgust, gesturing at her skirts. "A horror!" But the tone she used was light, teasing. She felt like a goddess in this dress, despite not being able to breath.
Despite her eventual fate in this dress.
"Come, my lady. We mustn't keep everyone waiting."
"They already are," Pheadra said with a shrug. Nothing would start without her. But she came willingly enough, resigned, leaving the chamber without a backwards glance. It would be the last time she ever stepped foot in her childhood room. 
Everyone was waiting, on their feet, in the crowded temple great-room. Her parents could be seen at the front left, her siblings beside and behind them. His parents were to the right, shifting anxiously from foot to foot. The minister stood directly in front of her, at the end of the endless cobalt blue carpet that stretched before her.
She could not see him. He should be right there, beside his parents, across from her parents, looking eagerly down the lane-way as everyone else was. But it was too crowded. She could only see the shifting masses of relatives - hers to the left, his to the right - and friends. Not her friends, of course - her parents would never have presumed to lower themselves by asking who she might want present - but her parents' friends. And his, she supposed. She recognized frightfully few people in the mob of flesh.
An expectant rift shuffled through the crowd as the music started and those closest to the back noticed her entrance. Chroesa gave her a small, insistent shove in the middle of her back before melting into the crowd. Pheadra almost stumbled, nervous. The smoking incense made her eyes water and mind swim with its intoxicating sweet scent. All eyes were on her as she took her first trembling step down that intimidating aisle. Her heart beat in her throat, a drumming in her ears that blotted out all other sounds - the hum of appreciation from the crowd, the shrill of horns and strum of strings from the band. 
The walk across the temple great-room took hours, days - seconds. Too soon, she stood before the minister and realized he was standing right beside her, previously hidden but now revealed, his hand ready to take hers. She turned slowly, wanting to stretch this moment, the moment she laid her eyes on her fiancé - her husband - for the first time.
Her first thought was that there must be some mistake. Surely this stunning man could not have chosen her, plain Pheadra, to be his wife. She knew that he had seen her likeness, been acquainted with her many charms - and faults - and still he had chosen her. It couldn't be for her dowry, as that was a paltry sum and infertile piece of land, the best having gone to the eldest, her sister, and the heir, her brother.
Yet still, he had chosen her. Out of the dozens of girls who were of marriageable age - many whom she knew to be more beautiful or rich than she - he had chosen her.
She had assumed him to be either old, incredibly ugly or simple. He was none of these and the look in his eyes stole her breath away. 

What do you think? Want more?

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