Uncategorized, writing

Dubious Math and a Work in Progress

Happy Wednesday! Today is the day that our most excellent monkey maven, K.L. Schwengel, has designated as WIPpet Wednesday, which involves posting a date-related snippet of one’s work in progress. I’m working on an alternate history of sorts which takes place in a slightly different version of the world from 1880-1930. The theme is that it involves icy regions of the earth – the Antarctica and the Arctic and other desolate and fascinating places and the people who inhabit them (thus, the series is called “Icebound”). Here is the beginning from volume 2, “All Mouth and No Trousers,” currently in progress. My math is suspect, but involves: 27 lines (11+19+2+0+1+4-1)

Commandant Gorge Elderbatch didn’t actually read the letter from his wife until two days after receiving the bundle of mail. He was sitting in his office, laboriously attempting to compose and inspiring speech after delivering the latest round of orders to attain the impossible, create triumph out of disarray, and endure the unendurable for the sake of God, glory, and Shepherd’s Pie. A waft of Mrs. Elderbatch’s perfume rose from the crisp, neatly handwritten letter. She had told him the name of the perfume countless times, but he never could remember it. Something like Athena’s musk or St. Brigid’s Rose Arbor or maybe it was Henley’s Delectable Concoction. Whatever the name actually was, he conjured in his mind and image of his stately, rather prudish, carefully manicured, and pleasant smelling wife. He read the letter all the way through, blinked, wiped at his eyes – for they seemed to suddenly blur everything – and sat for a moment staring at his office wall before reading it again, slower this time.

Dear Gorge,

It is with little regret and great satisfaction that I pen this letter to you now. By the time you receive it, I will have left behind our modest home at 10 Will Bury Ln. and arrived at the sprawling veranda of Rodrigo Rodriguez Scardina’s cattle ranch in Brazil. You and I will have at last ended this farce of a marriage officially – for the vicar Williams assures me that your desertion of me and the children to that God-awful southernmost post is more than cause enough to file for divorce. If it is not, however, adultery on my part should seal the deal entirely. I warned you that if you left you would live to regret it. I imagine you assumed that threat was not something I was prepared to enact.

Miss Electra Yellowsmile appeared in the doorway, her luminous blue eyes attentive. “What was that, sir? I didn’t understand what you were saying.”

It was at that moment the Gorge realized he had been reading the letter aloud. There seemed to be something wrong with his vision, which blurred and sharpened at irregular intervals. And there was a most tremendous throbbing in his temples the likes of which he had never experienced before. A voice rasped out:

“Mrs. Felicia Elderbatch has filed for divorce.”

The voice was a man’s. Since only he and Miss Electra occupied this room, logic told him that the voice was his. It got louder.

“She has taken Phebe, Edward, Maurice, Andrew, Prudence and even Methuselah the dog to South America to live with some bloke named Rodrigo! Do you hear me, Miss Yellowsmile? My wife has left me and filed for divorce!”

“Oh,” Electra responded, a dimple appearing in her pixie-like chin as she frowned, lips downturned in a perfect half-arc. “How very unwise of her.”

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13 thoughts on “Dubious Math and a Work in Progress”

  1. wow…what a way to get that news. Not just in a letter but a letter with so much attitude attached to it. I liked how you portrayed his emotions in this. I don’t think it’s something we see often enough.

  2. Wow. That’s some letter! Doesn’t sound like they had a very good relationship to begin with. I love how you draw us into his mindset as he reacts to it.

  3. Oooh I like this. I really like how you do things like “There seemed to be something wrong with his vision, which blurred and sharpened at irregular intervals.” and “The voice was a man’s. Since only he and Miss Electra occupied this room, logic told him that the voice was his.” It really puts us in his skin, which is something I love to have happen to me when I’m reading.

  4. Man… this is fantastic. I often find 3rd person narrative boring because it lacks voice and depth of character perspective, even if I like the story and characters. But this… this is bang-on. Exactly the kind of thing I want to read more of. Somehow the distance actually adds to it, but I feel like I’m right there with the character. When I get back to attempting 3rd person, I’m coming to you for tips.

    Well done! All the likes! *raises bottle of Mrs Elderbatch’s perfume*

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for your kind words! I don’t know that I’m any kind of expert – I think it was dumb luck, actually. I did recently attend a writer’s presentation in which an agent gave a bit of advice: “If you get the voice right in fiction then everything else can be fixed. Plot, characterization, etc.” It really stuck in my mind.

      Haha, glad to hear that Mrs. Elderbatch’s perfume made an impression!

  5. So great! I don’t know if my favorite part is, “for the sake of God, glory, and Shepherd’s Pie,” or that that woman’s name Miss Electra Yellowsmile. Seriously – the way you gave us such a quick but absolutely thorough picture of his wife was fantastic. Can’t wait to read more of your work! 😀

  6. Nice excerpt. 🙂 Poor George. 😦 Can’t say I blame his wife terribly. Not that I condone her behavior, but taking off and leaving her with five kids for what surely would have been quite a long stretch wasn’t exactly gentlemanly on his part. Still. Poor guy.

    I love Miss Yellowsmile’s reaction. 😀

    Heads up: a couple of your an’s got auto-corrected to and’s.

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