Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wednesday's Writings: The Girl

On Wednesdays, I'll be posting a short story or poem. For the most part, it will be something that I've written, but if I get my friend's permission I might put in some of their work as well. It could also be a famous story or poem that I've been thinking about. 

This one is called "The Girl." I wrote it for my English 201 class this past week. Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

"The Girl"


            The girl sat in her window seat looking over the dirty streets of London. An open book lay on her lap; her dainty white hands folded over the pages. Her blonde curls hung around her face limply while her pale blue eyes hungrily devoured the outside world.
            Her mother never let her go outside. She said it wasn’t healthy or safe. Her mother was out there now, socializing with her friends. Her father was probably smoking, out of sight of the women, with the other husbands. Her parents were so predictable when they were in public.
            Her nursemaid was across the room, straightening up the girl’s things. Nanny hardly ever left the girl alone. The girl sighed.
            “What is it, precious?” the nursemaid asked, hurrying to the girl’s side.
            “Oh, Nanny. Will I ever see the world?” she murmured in her soft, sickly voice. “I want so much to go out of this house. I am sixteen after all.”
            The nurse’s eyes softened with pity for her ward. “Precious, your mum and your dad only want the best for you. You’re sure to see the world once you’re well. Besides, you’re the daughter of a noblewoman, it’s not fitting that you should be out among the people.”
            The girl sighed again and didn’t answer. She knew all of this already. She’d heard it before. Then her ears perked up. The creak of carriage wheels, the slam of a door, and voices downstairs could only mean one thing. Her parents were home.
            Eagerly, she set her book aside and stood up. Long folds of white cotton fell around her legs. Shivering, she pulled her green wool shawl tighter about her thin shoulders. She slowly descended the stairs and entered the parlor. Her mother was reclining on one of the sofas while her father leaned on the mantel.
            “Lydia, what are you doing up?” her mother said irritably. “you should be in bed, child.”
            “Mummy, it’s only seven,” Lydia protested.
            “Don’t argue, child.” Rebecca Donnelly snapped. “Go up to your room.”
            Lydia looked to her father pleadingly, but he merely patted her head and turned to the brandy decanter and glass.
            “Charles, must you? In front of the girl,” again Rebecca snapped a reproof.
            “Yes, I must,” Charles replied. “and you know our daughter has a name.”
            “Yes, yes, of course. Good night, Lydia.” Rebecca glared at her husband.
            “Good night mummy, papa.”
            Her father grunted in reply and took a long swallow, taunting his wife. The minute Lydia was out of the parlor, Rebecca started railing against the evils of brandy.
            Disconcerted and discouraged, Lydia returned to her room. Nanny examined the pale face and the wet eyes. She held out her arms.
            Sobbing, the girl fell into her nanny’s arms. “Oh, Nanny, they don’t love me.”
            “Sure they do, precious,” she stroked the girl’s curls with coarse hands.
            Lydia did not reply. She only sobbed.
            Without notice, the door opened and Rebecca entered. “What are you doing, Mrs. Mumforth?”
            Nanny stood, helping Lydia to her feet. “Just consoling your daughter after she has been wounded by your unkindness once again.”
            Lydia and Rebecca both stared at the Irish woman. At this sight of such bravery in front of her mother, Lydia fainted. Rebecca screamed. “Mrs. Mumforth! You have killed my daughter!”
            Charles came running into the room. “What is going on?” He glanced at the prostrate form of his daughter. “Send for the doctor, Rebecca.” He knelt down and lifted the girl to her bed. “Mrs. Mumforth see that she is decent enough to receive the doctor.”
            Nanny saw the wetness in his eyes but did not comment. She made a mental note to tell Lydia about it later—maybe her parents did care.
            Rebecca re-entered the room. “Doctor Baron has been sent for.” She turned her glare to the nurse. “You are released from our service Mrs. Mumforth. Lydia does not need to be spoiled and petted by you or have thoughts against us pushed into her head. You may leave immediately.”
            Charles sat on the bed and took his daughter’s hand. “I’ll stay with her until the doctor comes.”
            Mrs. Mumforth silently gathered her things. “Good-bye, Sir.”
            Rebecca glared at the absence of a goodbye. When the woman had left, Rebecca turned to her husband. “I will begin looking for another nanny for the girl. You stay with her.”
            “Do you think that is the best for her?” Charles asked his wife. For one moment in his life, he felt responsibility towards his daughter. “After all, she is sixteen.”
            “What do you suggest, Charles?” Lady Donnelly did not like being thwarted in anything.
            “A companion. We should find a girl to be Lydia’s companion. Perhaps one that could benefit from Lydia. A girl of lesser class who could make Lydia stronger.”
            Rebecca stared at her husband. “A girl of lesser class? Charles what has become of your morals?”
            “I wasn’t meaning a girl off the streets. I was referring to a less fortunate nobleman’s daughter,” Charles defended.
            “Oh. Well, I suppose that Lydia might be able to benefit from such a relationship. I will look out a suitable companion.” Rebecca haughtily swept out of the room.
            Lydia’s eyes fluttered open. “Papa?”
            “Yes, child. Just rest, the doctor will be here soon.”
            The girl did as she was told. She always did as she was told. She leaned her head back against the pillow and closed her eyes again. She felt her father get off the bed and heard him leave the room. She opened her eyes.
            She was never going to get out of this house. She pushed the blankets off her legs and walked to the window. What she would give for one night outside these walls! Suddenly, an idea began to form in her mind. She knew that she was going to die very soon. Doctor Baron had told her that on his last visit.
            “What do you mean, he isn’t coming?” shrieked Rebecca.
            “Doctor Baron cannot come tonight, Milady. He is occupied at the present time with an important surgical procedure.” A strange voice answered her. The servant Rebecca had sent for the doctor. Lydia smiled. It was going to be easy.
***
            When it was quiet in her house, the girl slipped downstairs. She had changed into a dark green cotton dress and a long brown hooded cloak.
            None of the servants stopped her on her way out. She breathed the free air deeply and nearly choked on the filth in the wafting smoke. She crept along the streets reveling in the freedom. She saw all manner of people that she didn’t know existed. She realized how sheltered she’d been all her life.
            Suddenly, a hand grabbed her arm out of the darkness. She didn’t scream, but she jumped. She was feeling much braver tonight. More brave than she should. “What do you want?” she asked calmly.
            A rough voice replied to her question. “What is a lovely young lady like yourself doing outside at this time of night?”
            “Walking,” she curtly replied. “now please let me go.”
            “You’re too na├»ve, love. I think I would rather hold onto you for a little while.”
            Her bravery was quickly fading. “That would not be very noble of you, sir. Please let me go.”
            “Aw, look. The pretty lady said please,” the man chuckled coarsely and took a step closer to Lydia.
            Something hit him in the jaw. He fell to the ground noiselessly. Lydia looked curiously in the direction of the object. A young man stepped into the light of the streetlamp. He could not have been more than eighteen. Lydia thought he was very handsome—the dirt and grime on his face only enhanced his features.
            “Beggin’ your pardon, miss, but you really shouldn’t be out here on a night like this ‘un.”
            “What is your name?”
            “William, miss. Please, let me get you ‘ome safely.” His brown eyes pleaded with her, but she was determined to be stubborn in her rebellion.
            “William, this is the first time I have been out of my house in sixteen years. I am going to die very soon. I do not wish to go home. I feel perfectly safe with you.” She stuck her chin out.
            William stared into her pale face, so desperate for freedom she was willing to risk her life. “What’s your name, miss?” he said softly.
            “Lydia,” she smiled and her pale features were transformed. William was mesmerized.
            “Lydia,” he held out his hand. “let me show you the city.”
            She took his hand in reply.
            William showed Lydia all his favorite places in London. The baker’s shop where he waited every morning, hoping that the baker would make a mistake and have to throw out some of his baked goods. The square where all the vendors brought their wares to peddle—where he spent most of his free time trying to wheedle food and cloth off the peddlers. He took her to the alley where he fought other homeless men for the right to dig through the garbage. Finally, he took her to his home.
            Lydia walked around the small apartment. It was bare except for a pile of ratty blankets in one corner and a burlap sack in another. The windows were covered with soot, but William had wiped off some of the dirt on the inside to get a dusty view of the city. Nothing had ever looked more beautiful to Lydia.
            “This is your home?”
            William shrugged. “It’s an abandoned buildin’. It ain’t much, but I call it ‘ome.”
            “I think it’s lovely.” Lydia turned to look at him, a half smile on her face.
            He took a step towards her, she kept smiling. Suddenly, he was standing only a few inches in front of her. Hesitantly, he took her chin in his dirty fingers and leaned in to brush his lips against hers.
            A far away rooster crowed loudly.
            Lydia pulled away. “Sun up. I have to go before my parents miss me.” She brushed by him and headed for the door. He nodded and followed her. He led her back to her street.
            “May I see you tomorrow night, William?” she asked shyly before entering her home.
            “And every night until we die,” he kissed her hand gently.
            They never got to see each other again. Lydia went upstairs to sleep before her parents awoke and decided to visit her. She left her dirty green dress and cloak on the floor and changed into her white nightgown. She slipped into a peaceful sleep and never woke up.
            Doctor Baron said her heart just stopped working. He didn’t know the cause, but he told Rebecca and Charles Donnelly that he had been expecting it. Charles drowned his sorrows in the brandy decanter and Rebecca threw herself into her charity work. In their own way, they had loved their daughter.
            William heard the news of Lydia’s death the next day. He rocked back and forth in his apartment for hours before deciding what to do. He waited outside Lydia’s house every night until he died thirty years later. He never loved anyone else.





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