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Sarah's Writing > Drying Posies {Romance/Historical}

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message 1: by sᴀʀᴀʜ (new)

sᴀʀᴀʜ | 28 comments London, Summer of 1348. Sixteen-year-old Alison Staunton lives alone with her Aunt and Uncle in an orderly house in the streets of late middle-age London. It's a poor but perfectly normal life. Doctors are doctors, street urchins are street urchins, officers are officers, royals are royals. And Alison soon finds herself falling for a mysterious man who gave her a posy at the street market of the Thames. But in just a few weeks, life in London will take a horrendously nasty turn.

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Prologue

The clear, sweet chime of bells cuts through the still Londonian air like a knife. It’s the sound that jolts me from my nice, le-way dream and back into the bed I lie in. Sitting up straight at the sound, I shake my head to clear off the fuzziness of the dying dream in my mind. I rub my eyes, my knuckles uncomfortably scraping my cheekbones. Stupid. I had grazed them only last morning in the streets. I stand up and look out of the closed window of my home. The sky is black, the pavement two stories below shines like dull, fogged over silver in the moonlight.



My eyes wander further and spot a hooded figure in the distance, a person who walks along the streets in a uniformly straight line. The figure faces the row of orderly, neat houses which line the unevenly cobblestoned street, the night having rendered them to masses of blurred shadows. He pulls a cart behind him, covered in linen. All of a sudden I know who it is, but I force myself to think of something else. A linen vendor, p’raps? No. He nears our house. Aunt Lann and Uncle Matthimeo are no doubt still asleep, and yet thinking of them sleeping strikes a sudden bolt of fear into me, sharp, quick, and yet it leaves behind a scorching, lingering and unpleasant feeling. Visions, the horrors of everyday events resurface from the depths of my mind. A ring of black spots, beaked men... I can almost smell the posies.





He holds a bell, raised in one hand, the other pulling the chariot. The folds of his cloak pool like shadowed puddles around his feet. Clad in complete black, the only thing that stands out from his appearance is the golden bell. Raising his masked face to my window, his colourless eyes meet mine and I let out an involuntary shudder. Then he speaks. I wonder why I hadn’t heard the words earlier on. “Bring out your dead!” The clear, sweet chime of bells cuts through the still Londonian air like a knife.


message 2: by sᴀʀᴀʜ (new)

sᴀʀᴀʜ | 28 comments Chapter One

Aunt Lann hears me come in before I even say I'm home. I slip almost soundlessly through the door and step over the threshold. She's a miracle, that woman is. I don't know how she does it. "Alison Staunton, you're late!" She shouts from up the stairs.

"I know, I'm sorry." I sigh and set my basket down with a loud clunk.

"What was that?" She yells.

"I said I give you my sincerest apologies ma'am." I say, in a very posh manner. I see her come down the stairs, garbed in her usual century-old house slippers and garderobe.

"Now don't you act smart with me, young miss." She gives me a narrow look, inspecting me as I am accustomed to.



Her eyes trail down to the basket at my feet. I stand there mutely as I massage my left forearm. It burns with a freshly renewed pain. "I hope you brought everything I asked for." She says quickly.

"Yes," I mask my exasperated sigh with my parole. "Shepherd's pie, two. They're still warm. A sack of potatoes." Heavy, I think, but don't mention it.

"Good." She nods, then reaches down with a sigh and picks up a bouquet of flowers.

They're small, neat, their petals lightly pigmented with a rosy peach colour. One closed bud is small enough to fit into the front door keyhole of Aunt Lann's house. She raises her eyebrows, looking at me in disbelief.

"Alison, darling, what have I told you about bringing flowers into the house? You know of your Uncle's allergies, he'll be gettin' a heart attack."

I look at her and shrug, then gently pry the flowers from her hand. "Don't fret, honestly, must be your paranoia," I joke, but the look she gives me isn't one. I drop my smile. "Stop worrying, Aunt Lann, I swear I'll keep them in my room."

She looks at me. "Very well, but I shan't be acceptin’ any more swearing from you, and just this once. They were your mother's favourites."



She sticks a vase in my hand. "Now go, and not a word to your Uncle, or else he'll hit the roof." I kiss her cheek with a word of thanks and sprint light footed up the stairs to my room.



I can't stop staring at them. They've got me captivated by their small and barely noticeable elegance. Their neatly aligned peach coloured petals coil perfectly around the heart of the flowers. I can't help but smile. My mother's favourites. I understand why. They're subtle, elegant, beautiful, all the things she was.



Posies.



I let my eyes rest on each bud in turn. Posies.



"Alison Staunton!" Aunt Lann yells up the stairs. I sigh and tear my eyes away from the only things which now help me remember my mother. An unenthusiastic expression on my face, I trudge down the stairs.

"What?" I reply.

"Now don't you 'what' me, Alison," Aunt Lann reprimands me for the umpteenth time on that subject. I have to roll my eyes. Typical. But she won't let me out of it. "Manners, Alison, manners." She says.

"Yes, Aunt Lann?" I suppose that works as both an apology and suitable answer.

"Go out. Get some air." She replies. I grin at her and grab my shawl from where it hangs from a peg next to the front door. Before I slip out, she shouts, "and don't go bringing in more flowers, or else I swear by the heavens above that they shall, all of them, go down the drain."

I laugh. "I promise, Aunt Lann, I promise." Then I close the door behind myself, smiling.



The folds of my black, plain dress ripple around my legs in the lightest of summer breezes. I begin my way down the streets of London, my feet hitting the ground at odd angles, where the uneven cobblestones, worn down into soft muteness by the timeless scuffling of feet, pave the earth. For awhile I wander around, giving the occasional familiar face a radiant smile or nod, before finally choosing my path. Today's destination: the Market at the River Thames.



✣✣ ✣



Hopefully they'll have a new recent import. I can't help but let my mind wander off to think of the strangest of objects; ornately carved with darkly twisted nature as I look out upon the bland grey waters of the Thames. Within the waves the barest reflection of a ghostly ship can be seen, but as I look up, the sight that greets me in place of this strange vessel is one of golden, sun-like radiance- the beams perfectly carved, a three- master, she is, with billowing white sails- soft as clouds. She is almost a sky on land- a new horizon. I tear my gaze away from the ship with a sigh. My azure eyes trail over the busy port, where it is getting more and more crowded by the second. The huge three-master turns her side to me, and the majestic prow suddenly advances once more to make a swift and imposing entry into the docks. As she floats past me, I see her name for the first time. Painted onto the sleek wooden bow of the ship in neat gold lettering are the words Third Trident… A name that rather suits its majestic appearance, I think as the name reminds me of the mythological Sea-God, which had once inhabited the majority of Aunt Lann’s when her niece was still a child.

A door on the side of the hull opens us as she grinds against the stone landing of the port. People rush around me, securing the ship’s lines, family running up to greet their long-missed relatives back. People cry and laugh and heave whilst I stand there mutely, struck by her grandeur. Murky sapphire waves lick her barnacle-encrusted hull, and my mind suddenly trails off to tales of deep depths below, of faraway lands and kingdoms hidden beneath sea foam.

A jolt as someone bumps into me brings me back into real life. People are filing out of the door, and one of the sailors kneel, his hand running over a barely noticeable white line of scraped wood and varnish. From here, I can see the callouses on his hands. He most likely worked on the large buffeting sails of the ship. My ears do not fail to pick up the vulgar words that erupt from his mouth as he frowns. “Bloody hell, bloody varnish’s off! Can these sons of sea-dogs steer a ship or not? Fixing this will not come bloody cheap,” It seems to me like he’s talking to himself, but as soon as he talks, several others around him nod apprehensively.



✣✣ ✣



“It looks wonderful on you- I find it very fitting indeed.”

I blush to my hairline, and twirl my fingers around the fine silken fabric. “How much is it?” I ask the vender, but it is more out of curiosity than want.

“Two hundred and fifty ducats, but I’ll make you a special price at two hundred.” She says with a quirky smile. “Does that sound alright?” She’s an aged lady, with a soft voice that sounds like pleading and cowardice mixed together, and I feel sorry for her.

I give a small huff and take the shawl off my shoulders. “My apologies. I can not afford it.”

She gives a disheartened sigh and hands me a sheathed dirk. “How about this, then?”

“Sorry- I don’t excel in weaponry.” I say, and am about to hand it back when she stops me.

“No, no, silly child. Not for you, for your lad.” I look at her, befuddled for a few moments.

“Pardon?”

“Your man. Fine blade like this’ll make him like you more, believe me, it was like that with my husband. All men are like that,” she says with a sly smile, “I’m sure yours is the same.”

I fight my instincts to not snort out loud in a rather unladylike manner. “I- don’t have a man, as you put it, Ma’am.”

“Is that so?” A voice, young, masculine. I turn around to find myself face-to-face with a young man, who looks about my age, perhaps a bit older. I feel my cheeks flame again- now that is something that I can’t control.

“Yes, yes it is…” I reply drowsily.

His deep black eyes bore into mine as he lets a small, quirky smile lift the left-hand corner of his mouth. “I see. Well, one as near-grown up as you oughtn’t wait too long, hmm? To protect you, you’d need one…” With that, he saunters off gaily, his sandy-coloured hair ruffling about his ears as he walks. I quickly clear my head of all sorts of things, including confusion, and turn back to the vendor.

“Sorry, I-” I cut myself off as I feel the soft silkiness of petals against my skin. I look down, and see the delicate bud of a posy resting on my hand where it lay upon the table. To protect me? I think, and pick it up. Aunt Lann would kill me if she found out, but it is a token to me. I wrap my long fingers around its stalk and pick it up gently, then whirl on my heel and begin the walk home.



“But you didn’t buy anything, miss!” The lady calls after me, but my mind is far too flushed with the young Don Juan who has just crossed my path.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I really like it!


message 4: by sᴀʀᴀʜ (new)

sᴀʀᴀʜ | 28 comments Thank you! :D


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