[identity profile] hopenotfaith.livejournal.com
Two years later
At The Dormouse


Bin a busy day 'ere. Sunshiney sort o'day, so we put out tables an' chairs on the street. Really drew people in, so we'll prob'ly keep doin' it.

"Might need a permit," grumbled Faith, an' I smiled.

"Good thing'm married to the mayor, then," I said.

Still enjoyin' runnin' the tea shop. Feels like ours, now, not Miss Wanda's. Got a letter from 'er a while back. 'Ad a postcard of the new place she's livin'. Card took ages to get 'ere, think she sent it months ago. Ain't like there's a regular system. But it reached us, an' Faith 'eld my 'and so I could see it. The coast. Stroke a picture of the wave with my finger an' smile. Glad she's 'appy an' safe. Wonder what our Genny's up to, an' all the rest. 'Ear from them from time to time, but don't reckon the carnival'll ever be back 'ere, an' I don't blame 'em. 'Ope Nu's growin' up strong. So strange to think she was born jus' six months before my little girl.

Joy's such a good little thing. Toddles about in the shop, but 'ardly ever cries or frets. She is a joy to all of us, an' with me an' Faith's names, seemed good to 'ave another virtue. 'Cept to me she feels more like a blessin'.

Gettin' ready to close up now. Faith clears up, then kisses me goodbye cos she's off on a date. Been on a few dates with the same person. Might even be serious. I'd like that for 'er, though I don't dare bring it up. Use my cane to tap my way over to the door, then feel for the sign an' turn it over t'CLOSED. Sit down at a table to drink a cup o'tea before 'eadin' 'ome. Joy clambers up into my lap an' starts describin' 'er cookie t'me. Learned early that she's got to tell me 'ow things look, an' she's already talkin' a lot. Kiss the top of 'er 'ead an' smile. 'S good to feel at 'ome. Edmund should be leavin' the office soon to walk me back, an' I've got some news for 'im.

[Open to Edmund]
[identity profile] edmund-white.livejournal.com
[Thursday Afternoon, August 21 (day 452)]
(Bake Shop of Cockagne Bakery)

I've been keeping my eye on that house for a while now.


I've always liked it- liked the look of it, and the yard. Living above the Bakery for years, I've missed a yard. In fact, I can see it from the spit of grass outside the Bakery's back door.
And my apartment's been feeling too small for, well, forever. Kept turning over in my head how nice it'd be to have an office upstairs. It's so hard to get any paperwork done- even if it's related to the Bakery- when I'm at my desk in the back. And now that I have more staff, I don't feel like I need to always be there.

Part of me felt a bit ghoulish to keep watching it even when I found out that the couple who owned it were older, but it was just too perfect. And then two weeks ago I heard that they were moving in with their daughter's family. I couldn't help myself from jumping on it.
It feels like it's happened at just the perfect time.


I can't wait until Hope comes by today.


{Open to Hope}
[identity profile] hopenotfaith.livejournal.com
Thursday, 24th June, early evening
Edmund's apartment, above the bakery


In two days it'll be two months since I walked to the bakery an' showed Edmund 'ow I am now, an' we went on our first real date. An' it was lovely. It's bin lovely this whole time. An' now I'm sittin' in 'is apartment at 'is kitchen table, listenin' to 'im putter about an' put some dinner together, an' I'm really content. Feel like I'm becomin' part of 'is life now. Even met 'is parents, an' they've bin real nice to me.

But. I - want to be really part of 'is life, the way you are if you're - a couple. Lord, I'm blushin' even thinkin' about talkin' it over. He always kisses me 'ello an' goodbye, an' 'olds my 'and, but... I ain't a kid, an' there's so many things I never got to do when I was a teenager, an' I thought I might never 'ave cos of the way I was. So. Want to talk to 'im about it. Tell 'im that it's ok, 'e don't 'ave to worry, that 'e can stop treating me like I'm made o' fine glass or somethin'. I won't break.

"That smells nice," I say. Edmund's dinners always do.

[open to Edmund]
[closed]
[identity profile] hopenotfaith.livejournal.com
Thursday, 24th June, early evening
Edmund's apartment, above the bakery


In two days it'll be two months since I walked to the bakery an' showed Edmund 'ow I am now, an' we went on our first real date. An' it was lovely. It's bin lovely this whole time. An' now I'm sittin' in 'is apartment at 'is kitchen table, listenin' to 'im putter about an' put some dinner together, an' I'm really content. Feel like I'm becomin' part of 'is life now. Even met 'is parents, an' they've bin real nice to me.

But. I - want to be really part of 'is life, the way you are if you're - a couple. Lord, I'm blushin' even thinkin' about talkin' it over. He always kisses me 'ello an' goodbye, an' 'olds my 'and, but... I ain't a kid, an' there's so many things I never got to do when I was a teenager, an' I thought I might never 'ave cos of the way I was. So. Want to talk to 'im about it. Tell 'im that it's ok, 'e don't 'ave to worry, that 'e can stop treating me like I'm made o' fine glass or somethin'. I won't break.

"That smells nice," I say. Edmund's dinners always do.

[open to Edmund]
[closed]
[identity profile] janeveniver.livejournal.com
Day 350, 16 May
Late Sunday morning
The Bakery

After I finished the weeding and fed the chickens, I told Mother I was walking over to the Abbey for services. Tiffany was still in bed, or she would have turned up her nose at the idea of going to church. Mother was none too pleased, but at least she thinks it’s fairly harmless. I couldn’t tell her I’d worked up the courage to go and talk to Mr. White again, because of course she doesn’t know I went in the first place.

I know the Bakery does a brisk business early on Sundays, but it looks like it’s died down now. There’s no one at the counter, but the little bell on the door rang when I came in, so I just wait and try not to fidget.

[OPEN to Edmund]
[CLOSED]
[identity profile] janeveniver.livejournal.com
Day 350, 16 May
Late Sunday morning
The Bakery

After I finished the weeding and fed the chickens, I told Mother I was walking over to the Abbey for services. Tiffany was still in bed, or she would have turned up her nose at the idea of going to church. Mother was none too pleased, but at least she thinks it’s fairly harmless. I couldn’t tell her I’d worked up the courage to go and talk to Mr. White again, because of course she doesn’t know I went in the first place.

I know the Bakery does a brisk business early on Sundays, but it looks like it’s died down now. There’s no one at the counter, but the little bell on the door rang when I came in, so I just wait and try not to fidget.

[OPEN to Edmund]
[CLOSED]
[identity profile] valmont-vicomte.livejournal.com
Saturday, May 15th, about 5pm
Valmont and Hermia's apartment and garden


I've never thrown a party for a teenage girl before, but hopefully this will do. Alice doesn't exactly have many friends, and there aren't that many teenagers in town I'd trust to be kind to her and not make fun of her, but she wants a party with people her own age, which makes sense. She doesn't seem very grown up to me, but I know how important it is that she feels grown up, despite everything that's happened to her. So I invited Johnny, Damien and Ri, because they're good kids, and Micah may be a little strange but he's a decent boy, I'm sure of it, and like Alice he could do with some friends. But I wanted Fiona to be able to come too, because she was Alice's first friend who wasn't an adult, so I've started the party in the late afternoon so she can be here for a little while at least. As for the rest of the guest list, they are mine and Hermia's friends, but I trust them to wish Alice many happy returns and to make the party seem busy. Besides, it's a celebration of our family too, I think, not just of Alice's birthday, and so it's right that we have our family friends here too. The thought makes me smile.

It's a dry afternoon, thank goodness, though I've laid out drinks and food on our dining table inside in case of rain. Hermia and I put up bunting and laid out candles along the path in the garden, and it all looks lovely.

[open to party guests]
[identity profile] valmont-vicomte.livejournal.com
Saturday, May 15th, about 5pm
Valmont and Hermia's apartment and garden


I've never thrown a party for a teenage girl before, but hopefully this will do. Alice doesn't exactly have many friends, and there aren't that many teenagers in town I'd trust to be kind to her and not make fun of her, but she wants a party with people her own age, which makes sense. She doesn't seem very grown up to me, but I know how important it is that she feels grown up, despite everything that's happened to her. So I invited Johnny, Damien and Ri, because they're good kids, and Micah may be a little strange but he's a decent boy, I'm sure of it, and like Alice he could do with some friends. But I wanted Fiona to be able to come too, because she was Alice's first friend who wasn't an adult, so I've started the party in the late afternoon so she can be here for a little while at least. As for the rest of the guest list, they are mine and Hermia's friends, but I trust them to wish Alice many happy returns and to make the party seem busy. Besides, it's a celebration of our family too, I think, not just of Alice's birthday, and so it's right that we have our family friends here too. The thought makes me smile.

It's a dry afternoon, thank goodness, though I've laid out drinks and food on our dining table inside in case of rain. Hermia and I put up bunting and laid out candles along the path in the garden, and it all looks lovely.

[open to party guests]
[identity profile] hopenotfaith.livejournal.com
Monday, 26 April, morning

It's a bright day, I can see that, even if I can't see much else. Warm an' all. Faith insisted I wear a dress - "show 'im exactly 'ow yer different now," - so I got a floral dress from the market. Faith thought it was boring, but I ain't goin' to show up there in somethin' skimpy. This is difficult enough.

Bin two months since I've bin like this. Six months since 'e kissed me. An' we've only 'ad one conversation in all that time, but I still think about 'im. An' it's clear 'e ain't ever going to come back an' see me, so I'll go to 'im.

Faith walks me to the bakery.

"Just 'is boy in there, luvvie," she says, and we step in.

"Is Mr White 'ere?" I ask, an' 'is assistant says 'e'll get 'im. Faith kisses me cheek.

"I'll see you later, luvvie," she says, all gentle-like. Feel a bit panicked when she's gone, cos I can't see nothin' without 'er 'and in mine, an' anyway - I'm nervous about seein' 'im.

[closed]
[identity profile] hopenotfaith.livejournal.com
Monday, 26 April, morning

It's a bright day, I can see that, even if I can't see much else. Warm an' all. Faith insisted I wear a dress - "show 'im exactly 'ow yer different now," - so I got a floral dress from the market. Faith thought it was boring, but I ain't goin' to show up there in somethin' skimpy. This is difficult enough.

Bin two months since I've bin like this. Six months since 'e kissed me. An' we've only 'ad one conversation in all that time, but I still think about 'im. An' it's clear 'e ain't ever going to come back an' see me, so I'll go to 'im.

Faith walks me to the bakery.

"Just 'is boy in there, luvvie," she says, and we step in.

"Is Mr White 'ere?" I ask, an' 'is assistant says 'e'll get 'im. Faith kisses me cheek.

"I'll see you later, luvvie," she says, all gentle-like. Feel a bit panicked when she's gone, cos I can't see nothin' without 'er 'and in mine, an' anyway - I'm nervous about seein' 'im.

[closed]
[identity profile] hermia-sophia.livejournal.com
Sunday, April 4
The garden behind the Whitechapel Inn

We awoke in each other's arms, both terrified. Valmont, because he feared that I was being attacked; I because I felt something wrong in the world, something beyond the long sleep and painful thirst and weakness. Some ripple of Power that was twisted and wrong. But under it all I could sense Nanshe's presence helping to set the dream-world right again. And Valmont and I had each other, and we were safe, and despite everything, that makes the waking world right.

And neither of us wanted to postpone the ceremony. We wanted - no, needed to continue. Needed to make some new beginning, needed to make life go on as it was supposed to.

And so, still shaky, we went to the abbey this morning at dawn.

Valmont said that I was the one guiding this part of our wedding solemnities, for I was the one closer to the gods. So I arranged the offerings for us to burn on Nanshe's altar: two little bundles, both the same. Not hair. Not incense. Not anything that would be in an Athenian wedding offering to the gods. We are making our own way, here.

So there are herbs from the garden that I planted and he cooks from. The first lilacs that Valmont gave me, and the lilies I gave him, both now dried into fragrant shadows of themselves. Splinters of wood from an empty keg for his profession; scraps of paper from an old book for mine. (Lydia offered me a book that was falling apart anyway; I would never have taken a page from a book otherwise! She gave us a gift, too: a lovely leather-bound and gilt-edged volume of Yeats.) And cotton candy - even though it made everything terribly sticky and I feared it would melt, I had to put cotton candy in there, for the memory of that first night that we soared above Excolo on the ferris wheel and felt as if we were flying. And because it made both of us laugh when I put it in, and we should begin our life together with laughter.

We smile as we light our offerings, and as we smell the fragrance as it floats up to the heavens.

Now, back in the garden behind the inn, I smile again as I wait to take my place next to Valmont and in front of Mab. I've found more lilacs for the bouquet, white and purple both, standing out against the shimmering deep blue fabric of my gown.

I have no parents to bring me to the altar, and neither does Valmont. We just have ourselves, and are giving ourselves to each other.

There they all are. Our friends - all of the people who have grown dear to us in the last year. Our Alice, looking lovely and more grown-up than ever. Mab, tall and serious. And Valmont, who looks so magnificent that my heart leaps at the sight.

I feel a nervous thrill run through me as I step out. Dear gods, I'm getting married! For an instant, I'm terrified, as I stare down that long aisle. But then I realize, why should I be afraid? At the end of the aisle is Valmont. I have nothing to fear as long as he is there.

At the end of my long journey, he was here waiting for me.

So I take a deep breath and step forward, towards my new life.

[Open to wedding guests!]
[identity profile] hermia-sophia.livejournal.com
Sunday, April 4
The garden behind the Whitechapel Inn

We awoke in each other's arms, both terrified. Valmont, because he feared that I was being attacked; I because I felt something wrong in the world, something beyond the long sleep and painful thirst and weakness. Some ripple of Power that was twisted and wrong. But under it all I could sense Nanshe's presence helping to set the dream-world right again. And Valmont and I had each other, and we were safe, and despite everything, that makes the waking world right.

And neither of us wanted to postpone the ceremony. We wanted - no, needed to continue. Needed to make some new beginning, needed to make life go on as it was supposed to.

And so, still shaky, we went to the abbey this morning at dawn.

Valmont said that I was the one guiding this part of our wedding solemnities, for I was the one closer to the gods. So I arranged the offerings for us to burn on Nanshe's altar: two little bundles, both the same. Not hair. Not incense. Not anything that would be in an Athenian wedding offering to the gods. We are making our own way, here.

So there are herbs from the garden that I planted and he cooks from. The first lilacs that Valmont gave me, and the lilies I gave him, both now dried into fragrant shadows of themselves. Splinters of wood from an empty keg for his profession; scraps of paper from an old book for mine. (Lydia offered me a book that was falling apart anyway; I would never have taken a page from a book otherwise! She gave us a gift, too: a lovely leather-bound and gilt-edged volume of Yeats.) And cotton candy - even though it made everything terribly sticky and I feared it would melt, I had to put cotton candy in there, for the memory of that first night that we soared above Excolo on the ferris wheel and felt as if we were flying. And because it made both of us laugh when I put it in, and we should begin our life together with laughter.

We smile as we light our offerings, and as we smell the fragrance as it floats up to the heavens.

Now, back in the garden behind the inn, I smile again as I wait to take my place next to Valmont and in front of Mab. I've found more lilacs for the bouquet, white and purple both, standing out against the shimmering deep blue fabric of my gown.

I have no parents to bring me to the altar, and neither does Valmont. We just have ourselves, and are giving ourselves to each other.

There they all are. Our friends - all of the people who have grown dear to us in the last year. Our Alice, looking lovely and more grown-up than ever. Mab, tall and serious. And Valmont, who looks so magnificent that my heart leaps at the sight.

I feel a nervous thrill run through me as I step out. Dear gods, I'm getting married! For an instant, I'm terrified, as I stare down that long aisle. But then I realize, why should I be afraid? At the end of the aisle is Valmont. I have nothing to fear as long as he is there.

At the end of my long journey, he was here waiting for me.

So I take a deep breath and step forward, towards my new life.

[Open to wedding guests!]
[identity profile] goddessnanshe.livejournal.com
Wednesday, sometime, somewhere in Dream

Once upon time there was a beautiful princess. Her hair was the colour of jet and her skin was the colour of nutmeg, and each of her teeth were like pearls. Flowers grew where she walked, so that the fields around the tower that was her home was carpeted in blooms as white as snow. The princess was very happy, all save for one thing: her fear that one day the thorn of one of the flowers would prick her. Her servants combed the field for thorns every day, trimming the stems so that it would be safe for her to walk. But still the princess was afraid, and she neglected to notice that each month the forest encroached closer on her home, until one day, standing in her field of flowers, she looked up to see the trees looming around her, undergrowth thick with thorns. Frightened, she fled inside, and as she ran she began her first bleeding, and the blood that trickled down her thigh fell to the earth and stained the roses around the tower a deep and brilliant red.

Inside the tower the princess was afraid that she was dying, for her father had always insisted that royal blood was the most precious of all things and must never be spilled. Weeping, she showed the blood to her old nurse, who laughed and kissed her cheek and told her this was the secret gift of women, and now she was blessed. So the princess wiped her eyes, and was no longer afraid of bleeding. But the thorns of the forest came for her all the same.
[identity profile] goddessnanshe.livejournal.com
Wednesday, sometime, somewhere in Dream

Once upon time there was a beautiful princess. Her hair was the colour of jet and her skin was the colour of nutmeg, and each of her teeth were like pearls. Flowers grew where she walked, so that the fields around the tower that was her home was carpeted in blooms as white as snow. The princess was very happy, all save for one thing: her fear that one day the thorn of one of the flowers would prick her. Her servants combed the field for thorns every day, trimming the stems so that it would be safe for her to walk. But still the princess was afraid, and she neglected to notice that each month the forest encroached closer on her home, until one day, standing in her field of flowers, she looked up to see the trees looming around her, undergrowth thick with thorns. Frightened, she fled inside, and as she ran she began her first bleeding, and the blood that trickled down her thigh fell to the earth and stained the roses around the tower a deep and brilliant red.

Inside the tower the princess was afraid that she was dying, for her father had always insisted that royal blood was the most precious of all things and must never be spilled. Weeping, she showed the blood to her old nurse, who laughed and kissed her cheek and told her this was the secret gift of women, and now she was blessed. So the princess wiped her eyes, and was no longer afraid of bleeding. But the thorns of the forest came for her all the same.
[identity profile] npc-excolo.livejournal.com
Time has little meaning here, though your body back home may disagree.

Dream.

A forest.


A forest of the oldest sort, thick with brambles, trees snarled with centuries of life. It stretches for miles, many of them very dark, because the trees grow so close that it is hard to see. From a high vantage point, on one of the hills of the forest, one may glimpse a tower at the heart of the forest, a great graceful column of grey stone. Here and there there are clearings, bright with sunlight, and streams running with clear water. But mostly there is dark.

In the distance, the howl of a wolf.


[OPEN TO ALL]
[identity profile] npc-excolo.livejournal.com
Time has little meaning here, though your body back home may disagree.

Dream.

A forest.


A forest of the oldest sort, thick with brambles, trees snarled with centuries of life. It stretches for miles, many of them very dark, because the trees grow so close that it is hard to see. From a high vantage point, on one of the hills of the forest, one may glimpse a tower at the heart of the forest, a great graceful column of grey stone. Here and there there are clearings, bright with sunlight, and streams running with clear water. But mostly there is dark.

In the distance, the howl of a wolf.


[OPEN TO ALL]
[identity profile] edmund-white.livejournal.com
Friday, February 19th Mid-Morning
Day 264
Town Hall


I've been doing a lot of reading the past few weeks. First it was all about strange things. Magical things. Supernatural things.
And then I got picked as Judge. They all said how calm I was, how patient. How fair minded I can be. Except Toby who said, "None of them want to do it, and you were the last one elected. Short straw, my friend." At least he's honest.
I haven't felt very fair, or patient, or calm lately, but what else can I do? Toby's right about why, but its part of the job. And if I have to do it, then I have to do it right. Not just for the man I'm judging, but for the town. And all I can do is hope that I never am called on to judge again.

So I've taken it very seriously. When people have tried to gossip to me about him, I've been polite, but said no. Walked away so that I'd have some clarity. I mean, you can only be so impartial about a fellow who there was a riot about, but I'm trying. And that's what the books say: that the best judges and juries decide based on what the evidence tells them, not on how they feel about the defendant.

This morning I took great care with my appearance- a man's life literally is in my hands. I want to look presentable. Made sure I arrived at the Hall ahead of schedule. My hands are steady and my face is set. Soon the rest of the Council and the others who'll act as jury arrive. Then the Sheriff, her office and their prisoner.

Time to begin.

{Open to those at the Trial}
[identity profile] edmund-white.livejournal.com
Friday, February 19th Mid-Morning
Day 264
Town Hall


I've been doing a lot of reading the past few weeks. First it was all about strange things. Magical things. Supernatural things.
And then I got picked as Judge. They all said how calm I was, how patient. How fair minded I can be. Except Toby who said, "None of them want to do it, and you were the last one elected. Short straw, my friend." At least he's honest.
I haven't felt very fair, or patient, or calm lately, but what else can I do? Toby's right about why, but its part of the job. And if I have to do it, then I have to do it right. Not just for the man I'm judging, but for the town. And all I can do is hope that I never am called on to judge again.

So I've taken it very seriously. When people have tried to gossip to me about him, I've been polite, but said no. Walked away so that I'd have some clarity. I mean, you can only be so impartial about a fellow who there was a riot about, but I'm trying. And that's what the books say: that the best judges and juries decide based on what the evidence tells them, not on how they feel about the defendant.

This morning I took great care with my appearance- a man's life literally is in my hands. I want to look presentable. Made sure I arrived at the Hall ahead of schedule. My hands are steady and my face is set. Soon the rest of the Council and the others who'll act as jury arrive. Then the Sheriff, her office and their prisoner.

Time to begin.

{Open to those at the Trial}
[identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
“The silence often of pure innocence persuades when speaking fails.”
- Shakespeare


Monday lunchtime, near the sheriff's office, on Main Street

This has proved almost too easy. The clouds are rolling in, air heavy with the promise of rain, and I stand in my Danika body wearing an old coat with the collar turned up against the cold, jacket short enough to show a few inches of a tidy, worn work dress and a calflength of wool stocking. My shoes wear the signs of good, honest farm labour, and my blonde hair is frizzing round my face in the damp air. I look very distressed.

"Did - was there really a man arrested for... for beating on a girl?" I say to an old woman gossiping with her friend on the street. My fingers flutter together anxiously.

"Oh yes," she says, "it's a horrible thing. They think also he did in a girl as worked at - well, the brothel, my dear," she says, lowering her voice over that salacious detail, eyes gleaming with prurient interest. "They think he chopped her up."

"Oh," I say, and I faint very neatly to the ground. It's not long before I have half a dozen people round me - offering water, saying they will take me to the Dormouse, fussing with my coat collar to let me breathe.

"I should've said something," I say, and I burst into tears. That gets me sat down on a bench, an old woman's arm around my shoulders, and a very handsome young man crouched at my feet. "I should - "

"What is is, dear? Do you know something about what happened to those girls?"

I shake my head tightly.

"I know - I know - him," I say quietly. "He - We went out a couple of times, and he was - he was real nice to me, and -" The old woman gives me a handkerchief. "You know, I ain't really dated much," I say, shamefaced, "cos my momma's sick a bunch and I'm busy out on the farm, and he just - he was real nice, and when he -" I turn my face away, and I can feel the vibrating tension from the boy at my feet, his desire to be a hero. "He - I thought it was my fault," I say, and then there is a furious chatter rising from the little crowd, and the conversation spreads in ripples.

"Some carnie's been carving up our girls," one man says fiercely. And there is discussion of me and of Melania - ah, yes, that explains some of what I saw in her - and how we're hard working girls, salt of the earth girls, and who is this monster and why hasn't he been strung up? What the hell is wrong with this town that a murderer and molester can be caught redhanded and he's cosseted in jail? And did you hear that he attacked that nice Mrs Beddau (I wonder if at any other time Glass has been described as nice) when she went to visit him in prison? He should be put in the old stocks in town. People would show him how they felt, alright. They'd show him very clearly indeed.

I manage a brave, trembling smile for the boy at my feet, and he springs up, ready for something, anything, if it will make me look at him like that again. And I nestle in against the arm of the old woman as the crowd grows larger and voices grow louder, and I wait for the storm to break.

[OPEN]
[identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
“The silence often of pure innocence persuades when speaking fails.”
- Shakespeare


Monday lunchtime, near the sheriff's office, on Main Street

This has proved almost too easy. The clouds are rolling in, air heavy with the promise of rain, and I stand in my Danika body wearing an old coat with the collar turned up against the cold, jacket short enough to show a few inches of a tidy, worn work dress and a calflength of wool stocking. My shoes wear the signs of good, honest farm labour, and my blonde hair is frizzing round my face in the damp air. I look very distressed.

"Did - was there really a man arrested for... for beating on a girl?" I say to an old woman gossiping with her friend on the street. My fingers flutter together anxiously.

"Oh yes," she says, "it's a horrible thing. They think also he did in a girl as worked at - well, the brothel, my dear," she says, lowering her voice over that salacious detail, eyes gleaming with prurient interest. "They think he chopped her up."

"Oh," I say, and I faint very neatly to the ground. It's not long before I have half a dozen people round me - offering water, saying they will take me to the Dormouse, fussing with my coat collar to let me breathe.

"I should've said something," I say, and I burst into tears. That gets me sat down on a bench, an old woman's arm around my shoulders, and a very handsome young man crouched at my feet. "I should - "

"What is is, dear? Do you know something about what happened to those girls?"

I shake my head tightly.

"I know - I know - him," I say quietly. "He - We went out a couple of times, and he was - he was real nice to me, and -" The old woman gives me a handkerchief. "You know, I ain't really dated much," I say, shamefaced, "cos my momma's sick a bunch and I'm busy out on the farm, and he just - he was real nice, and when he -" I turn my face away, and I can feel the vibrating tension from the boy at my feet, his desire to be a hero. "He - I thought it was my fault," I say, and then there is a furious chatter rising from the little crowd, and the conversation spreads in ripples.

"Some carnie's been carving up our girls," one man says fiercely. And there is discussion of me and of Melania - ah, yes, that explains some of what I saw in her - and how we're hard working girls, salt of the earth girls, and who is this monster and why hasn't he been strung up? What the hell is wrong with this town that a murderer and molester can be caught redhanded and he's cosseted in jail? And did you hear that he attacked that nice Mrs Beddau (I wonder if at any other time Glass has been described as nice) when she went to visit him in prison? He should be put in the old stocks in town. People would show him how they felt, alright. They'd show him very clearly indeed.

I manage a brave, trembling smile for the boy at my feet, and he springs up, ready for something, anything, if it will make me look at him like that again. And I nestle in against the arm of the old woman as the crowd grows larger and voices grow louder, and I wait for the storm to break.

[OPEN]

January 2014

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