Wednesday Writing Prompt (WWP) is a biweekly challenge for you and for me. I post a writing prompt on Wednesday morning and a response to it on Thursday. Then anyone who wants to participate can write a 250 to 500 word scene or story in response to it. Let’s see where this wacky world of writing takes us!
This week’s writing prompt was
“It’s not fair. I shouldn’t have to do something I don’t want to do.”
“It’s not fair.” Tessa snapped.
“I know, but–” Caroline started.
“I shouldn’t have to do something I don’t want to do.” Tessa turned from the mirror, the white chiffon of her wedding dress whispering on the pockmarked wooden floor. “I shouldn’t have to marry him just because father wants me to.”
“It’s an important alliance, Tessa. We need the money.” Caroline hugged her younger sister.
“And that’s my fault?” Tessa pulled away and sneered. “It’s been three years since you married Kenton and apparently solved this problem.”
Caroline started pacing the room, smoothing the wrinkled from her skirts. She thought about her wedding and how she’d only met Kenton once before she saw him at the altar. Their father had chosen Kenton because of his family’s connections to three wealthy merchant empires. He needed to make a good financial match with Caroline or the family would have had to forfeit their estate. It had been that bad. Between father’s poor business sense, shady deals, and tendency toward gambling, the family had barely enough money to survive. Sadly, Kenton’s family’s business contacts had heard of Archibald Henderson and had refused to business with him. And so, three years later he was looking to make an advantageous match for his younger daughter. Because what else were daughters useful for?
“It’s not your fault, Tess. But it is your problem. We’re lucky Mister Benedict wants to marry you.”
Tessa slumped into a chaise near the fireplace and looked around her childhood bedroom. Her corset dug into her ribs and cut into her waist. She took a deep breath, as deep as possible in a tightly laced corset, and said, “Of course he wants to marry me. I’m thirty-seven years younger than he is and still have taught skin on my body.” Her defiant eyes glared at Caroline, demanding she find a way to placate her statement.
“That, and…” Caroline knelt in front of Tessa’s chair and placed her hands gently on her sister’s silken knees. “And the rumours of your other talents.”
“No. No. How could he know about those?” Her voice was breathy; her lungs losing the battle for air.
Caroline squeezed Tessa’s knees and looking into her wide, frightened eyes. “There are rumours. Servants talk.”
“How do you know this?”
“I know,” Caroline paused and sighed. “I know because Kenton had to reprimand two of our stable boys and one of our house girls last month for discussing your outbursts in the garden where anyone could overhear.” She swallowed the lump of remorse in her throat. She should have told Tessa as soon as it happened.
Tessa looked at the crease where the plaster walls met the panelled ceiling. “Well then. He plans to use me in two ways, I suppose. The financial support father requires is little compared to the weapon he’ll have in me.”
“You don’t have to let him. You can fake it. You’ve gotten stronger at hiding the symptoms these past weeks. Or have you just not had any visions?” Caroline cocked her head to the side and for all Tessa could see, looked like a confused puppy.
“I’ve had them. I’ve seen many of the servants’ dreams. And the disgusting things that have gone through Robert’s head concerning nearly every lady in town, available or married.” Tessa shivered at the repulsive visions of her cousin’s dalliances.
Hearing a gentle two-note knock, both girls looked at the door. “Miss Caroline, Miss Tessa, are you nearly ready? The carriage is out front,” Mrs. Banks’ honey-voice inquired.
“Yes, Mrs. Banks. We’ll be right down,” Caroline called. She looked into her sister’s sad eyes and made her decision. “Change quickly. Into your plainest dress and oldest bonnet. We’ll go down the back stairs while they are all waiting at the front to wish you well.”
Tessa eyes widened.
“Quickly, now!” Caroline pulled her sister out of the chaise, turned the girl around, and started unbuttoning the unwanted silk wedding dress.