I promised earlier a snippet of “Emmaline,” one of my short stories, and invited you, dear reader, to see if you could pull out the line from which came my muse. Yes, it’s in the story, so no, you don’t need to pull anything from thin air. The answer lies before your eyes.
“Emmaline”is my own piece, written as part of my portfolio application to the University of Houston’s undergraduate Creative Writing program, and is excerpted below. (I’m very pleased to share that I was accepted.)
I welcome thoughts and feedback, so please, don’t be shy.
Your task now is to guess the line in this excerpt in which the muse for this story is hidden. Good luck!
Slowly, the girl raises her head and lifts her paintbrush from the canvas. Blue paint drips to the dark wood floor, and the matron standing tall in the doorway purses her lips in disapproval. “Emmaline, it is past time for tea. As soon as you have made yourself presentable, you may join your father and mother in the sun parlor.”
The woman swishes away in a swirl of dark blue taffeta, the door left open behind her so that she may hear whether the brushstrokes resume, and Emmaline rests the paintbrush on the canvas stand and eases herself down from the stool. In the bathroom, over the porcelain basin, she washes the paint from her hands, and the blue swirls down in ribbons like the blue blood that would bleed from her veins. Reflected in the mirror, her ivory skin and pale blonde hair resemble exactly that of her mother and father, the incestuous twins. And that of their mother and father, the first cousins. She adjusts the black velvet ribbon that ties back her silky strands. Such blue blood should have rendered her imperfect, but she is perfect.
The witch nurse saw to that.
Finished in the bathroom, Emmaline returns to her bedroom and moves the canvas from the easel to her window cushion so the paint may dry in the dusky light.
The voice returns, commanding obedience: “Emmaline.”
This time, Nurse closes the door behind her, and Emmaline is not displeased to hear a key turn in the lock. Solitude serves her best.
Next to the antique four-poster bed is an antique vanity, and inside the drawer hides a small journal, bound in the same black velvet from which her hair ribbon is cut. Emmaline lowers herself onto the vanity’s stool, and dips a pen into an ink pot.