In our first week of class, we were required to write a piece featuring a female protagonist. It was important to pay attention to voice and identity because so often we can reveal what we want known through interactions and what is left unsaid rather than directly coming out and speaking it over the character. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote for class. Hope you enjoy it!
Once upon a time there was a girl who dreamed. She didn’t dream of flying or being free or other happy things. Instead, she dreamed of faces she had never seen, of people facing challenges that she had never heard of, obstacles that she didn’t understand. Sometimes they won and sometimes they lost and she watched it all play out in her head in black and white.
The first time she told her parents about her dreams, they encouraged her to forget them. The daughter of an innkeeper shouldn’t be bothering herself with such fantasies, they would tell her. Get on with your chores. While the dreams became more regular, her confessions of them became less frequent until she stopped sharing them all together. Her parents were relieved, believing the dreams to have stopped, as they had hoped for. Her friends wondered why she didn’t wish the faces away, or take something to help her sleep a dreamless sleep. Why did she care what happened to strangers she would never know? And so she soon ceased to confide in them as well. No one, it seemed, could understand how she felt.
Because the girl had come to love her dreams and the people she saw there. She kept a sketchbook of their faces under her mattress; a testament to their struggles, a memorial of their outcomes. She rejoiced when the strangers were victorious and she wept when they were overcome. She felt as if she were taking part in the drama of a life that was bigger and more meaningful than the one she lived out in her small village. And her life was more exciting than most since all the strangers that visited their hamlet had to pass through her father’s inn. Even the travelers from across the lake were not as exotic as the people from her dreams.
Until one day, when the face in her dream was a familiar one. And the obstacle, which seemed so trivial, was not overcome. The girl awoke in a panic, tangled in her sheets, her face wet with tears. She felt that she must tell the blacksmith’s wife what she had seen, but was unsure of how to go about it. She was distraught. For days she prayed for a happy ending, tried to convince herself she’d seen the wrong ending. But each time she looked at her sketchbook she knew it was only a matter of time. She wrote a letter and then another and another and then burned them all and finally went to seek the counsel of her mother.
Her mother seemed deeply bothered by their conversation, refusing even to look the girl in the eyes while she pleaded for help regarding the best approach. She offered no comfort or counsel and, as the days passed, seemed to avoid the girl altogether. Even during the funeral, she still refused to meet the girl’s eyes and the two became like strangers.
© 2016 Katharine Anne Brown All Rights Reserved