Here’s a little something from an f/f historical paranormal tale of mine. Jemima is sent to be ‘guardian’ of a young girl in a gothic country house. Her real job is to break the creature, but she does not yet know why.
In the meagre shelter behind the door, a small figure lay curled on the floor. It was filthy, naked, and rather barbaric in appearance as a consequence. However, on hearing her approach, it raised its head, exposing a pair of large, luminous eyes. Jemima studied the face before her. The expression was alert, watchful and confused. A lithe frame, long limbed, folded itself defensively in face of her observation. From the build she guessed the creature must be at least sixteen years of age, but very likely older. The eyes gazing up at her seemed impossibly knowing, and full of emotion. Jemima had no idea how to read what she saw there, but found no trace of insolence. Melerton wanted the girl biddable. That could be achieved in a number of ways, some crueller than others. Looking at her new charge, Jemima had the feeling this was no spoiled rich girl to be punished, but something rarer, finer. All inclination to ruin died within her. Melerton had said to break her spirit, but she saw little sign of pride or self determination in that grimy face. She turned to the door and summoned Katie back with a sharp word.
“Have hot water prepared. We will render the girl presentable. She is to learn how to behave herself, and if she is to be civilised, she must be clean. What clothes are there for her?”
“Nothing at all?” she barely managed to conceal her disgust at this.
“Then we must make arrangements. Take her to the bathroom and bring hot water up immediately.”
Jemima did not possess a large wardrobe. She returned to her room and selected a dress – a simple, dark affair with no adornment. It would suffice. As the girl had nothing, Jemima would have to loan her own hairbrushes and pins as well.
Once the bath was full and steaming, she sent the servant away. “Do you understand me?” she asked the filthy girl before her.
No native curiosity whatsoever. The handle rolled beneath her fingers, allowing the door to swing open onto a bare space. An odd smell wafted towards her, sweet, musky and evocative of sadness, although she couldn‟t quite think why. No bed. No furniture of any kind in fact. Is the mute already deranged? Is that one of your ‘complications’ Mr Melerton? She eyed the empty space carefully, deducing that her charge must have hidden behind the door. She wouldn‟t be the first child to try that particular trick! Ready to fend off an attack, Jemima stepped into the room.
A shake of the head confirmed Melerton‟s assessment.
“Take off your clothes. You will bathe.”
The silent creature complied, pulling off the tattered, shapeless garments she had worn and dropping them on the floor. She showed no signs of awkwardness about being naked.
Jemima rolled up her sleeves, and set about scrubbing layers of filth from the narrow body. As the dirt soaked into the water, it revealed exquisite white skin and silken hair that gleamed where the sunlight touched it. There were blue and purple bruises contrasting vividly with the white. Lifting the tangled hair to wash it, Jemima drew in a swift breath, startled by what lay beneath. The young woman‟s beauty was marred by two horrendous wounds running in parallel from her shoulder blades to the base of her ribs. Washing had opened the injuries and they both seeped blood. She couldn’t keep her fingers from them. The girl started at her touch, evidently pained but still silent. When Jemima looked at her face, she saw slow tears rolling over pale cheeks. Another mystery, into which she would not pry. Still, she had to wonder what it meant.
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