Preparing for the Ball

taffys-sewing-pic

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

Susan compared various threads with the dress until finding an exact match.

She had been asked why she still worked as a servant. Why hadn’t she married?

She could not imagine loving a man as much as she loved Mrs. Goode or the girls. She had taken care of them since they were infants.

Miss Martha had grown since the tailor measured her. She was no taller, but she had filled out in the way a 16-year-old girl was wont.

Finishing the alterations, Susan held up the dress.

Perfect.

She went to get Miss Martha ready for her coming-out ball.

***

Others have done it, so I just tried my hand at it – this is a clip of my WIP, The Old Mill.  Although the book is set in 2018, this is a flashback to 1821.  I took about 1500 words that gave some of Susan’s background as she worked on the party dress (the party dress is talked about through out the book and the ball is all important) and turned it into a 100 word short-short. I hope this worked :)

***

Word count = 100

Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  This week’s prompt is here and uses a photo © Jean L. Hays.  Read more or join in by following the InLinkz “linky“.

69 thoughts on “Preparing for the Ball

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Not much ambition for herself, not that she could have gone too far in 1821, but she did become a second mother to the children she cared for, so not a wasted life.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks. It does seem odd how much of a fondness there was. Of course not all of the rich were as nasty as the guy in your story ;) I think servants who were that close to children would have to have some love of their charges – they often spent more time with the kids than the parents did.

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  1. 4963andypop

    Very nice piece Trent and an interesting point of view, that of the servant, not the master. Just finished watching “The Moonstone” mini-series, the story of a stolen Indian gem that throws an 1840’s household into chaos and disarray, including a servant overstepping her bounds while the upper class remain blind and indifferent to her suffering and human failings.

    Yours seemed to fit right into that time period.

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  2. Dale

    Wonderful piece, Trent. She is a member of the family at this point, even if she is under their employ. I can imagine one such as her giving up the idea of having her own life outside of it.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Dale. Yes, she is a part of the family, not “just a servant”. Part of what I cut out gives a little of the reasoning behind her decision. Maybe not a life for everyone, but for a few…

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Susan. The book itself is closer to horror, so a little different from Little Women ;) Actually, I should reread some of those 19th century American classics to be sure I have the 19th century flashbacks using appropriate language.

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  3. cordeliasmom2012

    Hm. I, too, have a WIP (doesn’t everyone on WP?) and I’ve been playing with the idea of posting the first snippet simply to see if there’s any interest in it. I don’t want to waste time continuing if everyone says it sucks. We all know that your stories never suck, so you’re safe to post anything you desire. I always enjoy your posts, Trent.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I think it can be a good way to gauge people’s interest, but you have to be careful. Just because people don’t react to a small clip doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. Having a beta reader look at it would give you a better picture. Of course, a first draft will always be rough, so the beta reader needs to know they are looking at the idea and flow more than the words at that time. Thanks for your kind words! Good luck.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Diana. It is a god exercise, one I should do more often. Of course the original has all of those other parts missing here – Susan’s individual voice, all of the back story that the chapter was written to convey, etc., but this little snip shows an important dimension of Susan’s character.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks. I’m sure there are a few that were that devoted to the people they served – they became part of the family. In the backstory Susan is one constant, though she is almost unknown in the historic record (i.e., she shows up in the flashbacks, but not the main story, except indirectly). Part of what is cut out here is that she is the only “live in”/household servant who has stayed over the years. She has also never seen a good domestic life – her main experience with married life is Mr. Goode, who is an abusive husband, so that is how she sees the “species”, power hungry and abusive.

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          lol, maybe. I think a lot of those 1400 missing words will stay in the final draft, but then again, many may be taken out – I just need to figure out how much backstory is needed to make sense of the present and how much can be left on the cutting room floor… I already cut out a lot of backstory between first and second draft.

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