The Family

So here it is, day 7, nearly midnight and me only now at the computer.  And the most useful snippets written at the cafe somehow didn’t make it home.  But we’ll get a few words down before going to bed. . .

Elizabeth left the parlour for the study.  She was greatly relieved that her father had agreed but. . .Justine!  She sat at her desk to look over the household accounts and tried not to think about it.  Still, it hung there. . .Justine.  The suggestion of Justine as a companion and confidante for Elizabeth smarted.  She held nothing against the girl, loved her in fact, but the fact was she was a servant, and as loved and admired as she was by them all and as grateful as they were for her return, propriety must prevent a relationship of such an intimacy.  Unless Elizabeth’s position in the household was not what she thought.  And since the death of her mother she was growing increasingly in doubt of just that.  At Mrs. Frankenstein’s death bed she found herself asked, at sixteen years of age, to become mother to the family.  Elizabeth was deeply honoured and touched by this final request.  She who had spent so long trying to be worthy of her family had been given a responsibility that proved absolute trust in her.  But she had not considered the cost.  She knew much of the work entailed — she had assisted her mother with many of her duties.  What she hadn’t considered was the different life that a mother leads compared to an unattached girl, especially in household already so self-contained.  Her journey from the last days of girlhood to the beginning of womanhood went unobserved by anyone outside of the Frankenstein home as the years to follow would likely go equally unobserved, and she felt she must spend the rest of her life without friend or partner.

Elizabeth was certainly not unaware of how fortunate she was in her position and for this was extremely grateful.  The Frankenstein family was a good one.  Well established and well thought of.  They were wealthy, but not excessively so, and what they had their family was considered to have earned.  Alphonse Frankenstein was quite old considering his young family, but he was by no means frail and his intellect was highly regarded.  Their friendly sparring matches over books, current events, or whatever might take their fancy, never ceased to bring Elizabeth delight, even though she lost more than she won.  His much adored wife, Caroline Frankenstein, although much younger, was never possessed of her husband’s vigorous health and died after nursing Elizabeth through a dangerous bout of scarlet fever.  Could there be any greater proof of love and devotion to a daughter?  Or any greater example of the Frankenstein foolishness and obstinacy?  It was this fatal combination which Elizabeth considered to be the one dangerous flaw in the family, one she was forever trying to guard against — there was no warning them away from a course, once an idea took hold.  And of course, there were the three sons:  William, the youngest and their golden child;  rambunctious and well-named Ernest who was seven years older; and of course, Victor, the eldest, who at 20 years was seven years older again and the same age as Elizabeth.

Elizabeth had joined the family at 5 years old.  She had been living as the charge of an Italian peasant family when Mrs. Frankenstein discovered her, or rescued her as the Frankensteins would relate it to others.  The squalor they would later describe was much exaggerated, though certainly those looking after her had very little when her future adoptive mother arrived.  A terrible accident the year previous had made work impossible for the father until recently and the family’s circumstances had been greatly reduced.    But Elizabeth did not remember ever feeling deprived, in fact she remembered that time as magical and her family of the day as beautiful and strong and very, very kind.  However, she also knew she was somehow separate.  Where those around her, large and small, seemed to have purpose, she did not.  She would watch them all at their various chores and admire their strong, able bodies and wonder what was missing in her that rather than ask her assistance they would insist on doing for her instead.  Elizabeth remembered little of the day Mrs. Frankenstein arrived, but she imagined it would have been much as all the others with everyone busy but her.  She did remember being stared at and thinking if she stood very still and thought of nothing she would disappear and that this stranger would lose interest in her.  Instead the stranger became more intrigued.  She made some inquiries as to this mysterious child’s situation and after much conversation amongst her foster parents, their relatives, friends and the neighbourhood priest Elizabeth found herself taken from her home and being presented as a present to her new brother, Victor.  Ever precise Victor, possessed of the acute powers of observation and the stubbornness of both his parents declared that she was not his sister, but that he loved her all the same.  He called her cousin and they were inseparable ever since.

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Author: karensnovemberbook

I am a textile artist, cafe owner and mother of two who has decided I don't have enough to do and so am going to write a novel in a month. Hey, it's easier with a clear deadline, right? Here goes. . .

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