The End of the New Beginning

Day 6 and here I am still monkeying around with what is still the introduction really.  Readers will note that most of this is a retelling of 2 days ago, which I intend to edit to almost nothing and move to here.  And those who have read Frankenstein or watched any of the movies will see that I have changed the timing.  Where Mary Shelley had the creature come to life at 1:00am (or perhaps Victor did for effect) I have made it the afternoon.  I figure candlelight may be great for atmosphere, but no scientist should or would work at something like this without proper visibility and I wanted to give the monster time to master its own limbs before finding Victor.

So here we go. . .

Victor Frankenstein, after his most agitated wanderings, returned to his apartments completely unable to enter that most hated room where his ghastly creation lay.  He told himself that the creature’s life was most likely brief, that a life brought about in such a manner could not be sustained, though he made no effort to confirm this, but only paused momentarily at the door and listened.  Satisfied that he heard nothing he convinced himself that this must be the case.  He had not examined his subject at all after its awakening to measure heart rate or pulse.  There may not have been any.  Perhaps it never had life at all.  The consciousness that its eyes appeared to have was most likely the work of his own fevered imagination, the breath exhaled simply the emptying of lungs that he himself had filled earlier in preparation of this ghoulish experiment.  As for its convulsions, he had caused just that reaction numerous times in the past two years, mostly on solitary severed limbs.  They did not miraculously come to life.  In fact the opening of the eyes was probably that same convulsive response, not an awakening into consciousness, but the reaction of a series of otherwise inanimate nerves to an outside stimulation.

It was not alive.

Victor ran to his bedroom where he paced the floors until he had convinced himself of this enough to fall, still clothed, exhausted onto his bed.  After promising God that he would never again interfere in what was so clearly His domain, he eventually fell into a fitful sleep.

Meanwhile, after many hours of confusion, Frankenstein’s cursed creature had made enough sense of his surroundings and his own limbs to leave the table and slowly explore the room he found himself in.  A few hours more and he confronted and operated the door.   His reawakened legs seemed to contain their own memory as to their function and awkwardly, but ably, carried him from the one room to another until he came to one last door.  Through this door was something far more exciting than through any of the others, a large bed, and within its curtains another creature much as himself.  He moved the curtains aside and took a closer look.  There was a face laying on a pillow.  This face he immediately recognized as that initial object he had seen so briefly when he had first gained consciousness and he felt a happy warmth flow through him at its familiarity.  His body gave a grotesque little dance at this marvelous discovery.  He bent down to explore it further smelling its flesh and listening to its breath.  He moved to the foot of the bed and observed the shape beneath the covers.  All of this, the face, the shape, the smell was somehow something he knew, something that was his.  He stood there some time holding open the curtains admiring this wonderful new thing.  He returned to the head of the bed and reached out to touch the creature’s skin when the legs started kicking beneath their covers and the face let out a terrible moan.  Then this new, but familiar being’s eyes opened and its face stared back at him.  The sound of its breathing stopped.  The creature did not know the words horror or revulsion, but he recognized their presence all the same.  Neither did he know despair and desolation, yet he felt them most acutely.

Victor upon seeing his most hideous creation so clearly still living and standing so close by him was filled with a terror and disgust deeper than he had ever known.  He jumped out of the bed and ran from the apartment.

The creature let go the curtains and retreated from the the bed as he experienced yet another new sensation — his cheeks had become wet with tears.  He too left the apartment, after putting on a set of clothes and taking whatever mementos he could.

What Happened to Agatha?

Day 5 and I am seriously lost.  Not to mention it was busy in the cafe today and so I got no writing done there at all (this should feel like a good thing, right?)  But I still have some notes from yesterday so I have those to work with.  I am introducing Elizabeth here (at the moment prior to the two letters, but still hemming and hawing over that one).   And I may edit yesterday’s work down to almost nothing. And a later note I think part of this belongs somewhere else, but will keep it here for now just so I don’t lose it.  I guess this will all sort itself out as I go on.

So, installment 5. . .

If you were to ask Miss Elizabeth Lavenza to describe a perfect afternoon, she would describe just this very one, the sun bright but not too bright, the air neither too cool nor too hot, the lake a pool of perfect glass.  And the house and the household was without crisis or controversy to take her.   And yet on this day it provided her no satisfaction.

The feeling overtook Elizabeth around 2:00.  It was not a sudden blow, but crept in through the day until she could hardly bare it.  She could not identify it except that she was most dreadfully, unbearably cold.  So she fled the house for the lake.  This was a strange thing to do when it was cold that she was fleeing and it was always a few degrees cooler by the water, but somehow the cold she was escaping seemed to be something inherent to the house. There were times that the house was just too full of her family, the Frankenstein boys and men dominating every space whether they were present or not.  The lake though, was hers.

She had brought with her her usual accompaniments but when she got to the shore she found she had no interest in either her paints or her books and that the feeling had followed her.  Perhaps the problem was that there were no controversies at the house.  A good deal of her time and thoughts were taken up by the running of the place and by those that lived in it.  Today was hers and her mind had nothing to distract it from one pure fact, she was alone.  And on this particular day, though she could not say why, she felt particularly alone and particularly in need of an ally, one that was not a Frankenstein, but was like the lake, hers and hers alone.  There was no one of course.  The Frankensteins were a family that seemed to need nobody but themselves and assumed their ward to be the same so there were no friends to call upon, no confidante to stop by.  There was not even a letter from dear Victor for her to reply to, his correspondence having dwindled to nothing, and her own letters to him had been reduced to but the barest facts about family as there seemed no longer any point to opening her heart and relating any of her deeper thoughts and feelings to him.

And then it came to her — what happened to Agatha?

Agatha had not been so much a friend as a fellow outcast.  One year it was declared that Victor and Elizabeth must go to school.  Victor was to attend a school within the town, but Elizabeth was to be sent off to a school specializing in the appropriate education of young ladies, no doubt to remove any remains of her former, more rustic, foster parents   So Elizabeth found herself away from home on a wonderful adventure.  This adventure turned out to be not quite what she had anticipated.  The other girls did not take to her.  It’s not as if they were cruel to her, but they must have had a strange sixth sense, recognizing that she did not belong and would not be staying so they took no time to know her.  Agatha DeLacey was equally ignored.  These remote students turned out to be quite correct in their assessment.  It was deemed that Elizabeth was far too necessary to her mother and her brothers to remain where she was and that she could acquire her education through experience and her parents’ own tutoring.  She was not however  so necessary that they could not wait until the end of term as no refund would be forthcoming if she left early.  Agatha was removed three months after arriving, her tuition apparently unpaid.  Elizabeth wrote a handful of letters afterwards, but once she returned home her parents convinced her that to maintain any correspondence between them would not serve her best interests.

She thought again — what happened to Agatha?

Elizabeth decided to make inquiries at her last known address, or at least what she remembered of it.  She removed herself from her favourite rock and went back to the house.  The weather was taking a sudden turn, a reminder to all that this was November after all, and not the late summer day it appeared.  And she would require her desk.

Time To Change The Beginning.

Elizabeth lavenza blog

Day 4 and I am writing a new beginning.  No, I am not throwing out the two letters, but have decided that they need something in front of them.  So I thought I would introduce Elizabeth Lavenza and her circumstances and then after a couple of pages of that changed again and am starting with the monster, going into Elizabeth and then the letters.

So, to begin. . .again. . .

The creature awoke.  Pain filled his being and shapes and colours floated in front of him, one shape much larger than the others.  The larger shape became larger still until, for a brief second it was all there was and then, emitting a sound he could not understand, was suddenly gone.

He lay still for a while in blackness, then felt a strange twitching sensation and various shapes and colour reappeared.  A slow blink momentarily eliminated this vision and then it was renewed.  He blinked a few more times as his brain tried to interpret it all.

Something new entered the display, something of his.  He knew this because it brought pain with it.  He held it close and examined it, turning it, twisting it, opening and closing it and wriggling its various pieces.  He had discovered his hand.  His curiosity satisfied, he allowed it to drop.  It fell into his open eye and he emitted a small hoarse yelp.  A second limb, similar to the first, appeared to remove the offender from his face.

He lay a while longer and then his view changed.  He was seated.  Freed of the table,  his head turned one way then the other.  Fresh shapes appeared.  He slowly became aware that he was in a room.  His unknown limbs must have retained some memory of their original functions for in another minute his body left the table and he was standing.  This position could not be maintained though and he crashed to the floor.  The pain this brought about was immense and a barely audible groan left his lips.

Not satisfied in its crumpled position, his body re-collected its limbs and he was vertical once more, this time his hands gripping the table for support.  He felt the presence of his foot, moved it along the floor and propelled himself towards a chair, his first step.  He extended his hand to the chair and leaned his weight against it.  He remained upright.  Within a few minutes he had mastered this new ability and walked around the large room he found himself in peering at things, smelling things, touching things.  He amused himself thus for close on two hours at which point he discovered the door and its function.  He entered a new area and repeated his explorations.  He discovered another large area and another door.  Through this door though was something new, a large bed, and within its curtains another creature much as himself.  He moved the curtains aside and peered in.  There was a face laying on a pillow.  This face he recognized as the first object he had seen and felt a happy warmth flow through him at its familiarity.  He bent down to explore it further smelling its flesh and listening to its breath.  He moved to the foot of the bed and examined the shape beneath the covers.  All of this, the face, the shape, the smell was somehow something he knew, something that was his.  He stood there some time holding open the curtains admiring this wonderful new thing.  Then this new creature’s eyes opened and the face stared back at him.  The sound of its breathing stopped.  The creature did not know the words horror or revulsion, but he recognized their presence all the same.  Neither did he know despair and desolation, but he felt them most acutely.  He let go the curtains and retreated from the room as he experienced yet another new sensation — his cheeks had become wet with tears.

His body, aware of necessities that his brain had yet to discover, found some clothes and put them on.  He entered the world.

I Forbid It

Day 3 of November and a third installment to my tale.  This bit just conversation written in pieces at work and now to be turned into something more cohesive I hope.  I can always fill in more details after.

Mr. Frankenstein wondered what was happening to his children and what could be done about it.  First a son lost for months to dangerous and delusional fevers and now Elizabeth seemingly become insensible.  Clear-eyed, sensible Elizabeth, who could be counted on to not fall to passion, but looked to to keep everything in order.

“I do not understand, Elizabeth.  Who is this Miss DeLacey?  What do you want of her?  What does she want of you?  You know nothing of her other than she was impersonating your friend and that her family is living under aliases!”  Mr. Frankenstein attempted to glower at her from his great height, but the last few years had eaten much of it away so Elizabeth was not nearly as intimidated as she once would have been.

“She was not impersonating anyone.  Having fled persecution her father simply thought it in aid of his family’s well-being to change their name and that name happened to be that of my friend and their address similar enough or near enough that when I sent a note, that was where it was delivered.”  Elizabeth tried to glower back, but her gentle beauty robbed her of the effect as much as her adoptive father’s failed height robbed him.

Mr. Frankenstein stalked up and down the room, his hands clasped behind his back, only occasionally looking at this suddenly rebellious daughter.  She was usually so obliging.  What had gotten into her?  He felt for a moment a terrible, creeping dread work through his heart.  It seemed to him, and not for the first time, that some dark force had entered his family, or perhaps fortune had simple left it.  Taking with it first the sweetest and most constant of wives, one that should have outlived him by decades, and then later the health and reason, if only temporarily, of a brilliant and robust oldest son.  Now it seemed to threaten new dangers.  Mr. Frankenstein was far too pragmatic and optimistic a man to entertain the thought of dark forces for too long, but he could certainly believe that luck may be lost if not held tight.  Fearful of what might come next he fought to keep what he had left.

“People can say anything in a letter.  It does not make it true.  Tales of monsters in the night, families fleeing and fleeing again.  It is utter fiction my dear.  You sent a letter of inquiry to a girl you hoped to be your friend and they seized upon it.  You wait my child, the blind old father will have conveniently died before your friend arrives and her supposed brother, (more likely a husband or lover, and a brute on top of it) will appear a short while later to take up residence with her in our cottage.”

Elizabeth had not been without such doubts herself and already owned the obvious solution.  “We are not helpless in such matters.  We simply have them thrown out if they are not as made out.  And if she arrives alone we are not obliged to let her in.”

“Oh Elizabeth, what is this in aid of?  Are we not family enough that you feel it necessary to bring strangers into our midst?  You are all we need dearest daughter.”

Elizabeth’s resolve was not to be broken.  “I love you all dearest father, as you well know.  But I am without female companionship.  I have no one with which to share those confidences that a woman is sometimes burdened with.”

“What burdens could you have my sweet Elizabeth, we care for you so?  And what of Justine?  She is returned to us now.  Certainly Justine can fill that place.”

Elizabeth felt a momentary pang at the suggestion that a servant, even one as adored as Justine could take the place of companion to her.

“We all of us love Justine, and I think of her as family, but she is not a friend.  I am without female friends, we are so solitary here.  And Justine’s health and temperament are both much changed since her return.  I am not altogether comfortable with her.”  Elizabeth, sensing her father weakening, pressed on.  “And you, dear father, who have done so much for so many, done so much for me, you surely would not deny me this opportunity to help a fellow creature.  It is what you would do in similar circumstances, what you have done.  And I am sure that Miss DeLacey will be as useful to our family as I have strived to be.”

Mr. Frankenstein collapsed into his chair feeling defeated.  At his age, his energy no longer sustained him and his opinions as it once did.  He waved his hand in a faintly mumbled acquiescence.

Elizabeth kissed him on the cheek.  “Thank you father.  I am most grateful, especially as I had sent the letter inviting Miss DeLacey and her father to stay some time ago.  I received her reply this morning.  They have accepted our offer.”

Mr. Frankenstein nodded, still wondering what had happened to his most dependable daughter.  “Well, I hope the roads are good for them.  The weather has been most uncommonly fair and we are bound to pay for it somewhere.”

My dearest, dearest Elizabeth

second installment of Elizabeth Lavenza

So here I am on day two of National Novel Writing Month and about to make my second installment, a second letter.  And as far as I know, the final letter in the work, but things change I know.  I have already gone back and made minor changes to the first and would do more, but this is about getting it all done by the end of the month and I can take care of all that later.

So another step into the beyond. . .

My dearest, dearest Elizabeth,

If I may be so bold as to address you as such.  My saviour, my benefactress, my sweetest friend, modesty bids that I should refuse your generous offer, but pride left me years past, and what is such modesty but pride disguised.  I accept with a gratitude that no words can adequately express.

Before I go on further however, there is something I need to address.  I wish to make plain my love and regard for my sister-in-law.  I fear that my previous communication may have painted her in a poor light and that you, whose opinion I hold so highly may think ill of her.   She who has done so much for my family’s welfare and happiness and for my brother’s most especially.  Safie is a woman of great beauty in any land and even greater wealth.  A happy and comfortable future was assured her.  And yet, acting against both blood and breeding, she left behind a life of luxury and certainty to travel to a country whose customs, tradition and language were all strange to her.  With little experience beyond her family’s most confining walls she managed to glean our family’s whereabouts (this with only two individuals being aware of where we resided and under what name).  Then upon obtaining this information she set off, at great risk to her health and person, on a dangerous journey to find and join a family reduced to wretchedness.  All this to keep a years old promise made by herself and by an overly cunning father.

I recognize that in our months together many aspects of our life caused her pain, from the food she found so bland in flavour and colour, to the cold and damp of our climate, to never hearing her own tongue spoken.  And our cottage and even her and my brother’s current apartments would be humbler even than any of the quarters of her once numerous servants.  Yet, for all that she left behind, she maintained the brightest of demeanours and looked not only on my brother with pride and love, but on my father and myself also.  Is it not reasonable that after all that she endured, and the deprivations that she must surely feel daily, that she would declare herself done? That she would decide that a wretched and horrific beast such as we encountered that day was too much for her?  No, she has my brother to take care of and I hope, children to soon think of.  I do not hold her position on the matter against her, and it is only proper that Felix ally himself with her.  She is his wife and all she has done she has done for him.

Having removed that burden from myself, onto more pragmatic subjects.  Your offer to pay the passage for my father and myself is most generous, but unnecessary.  We are not entirely without means and will find our way without great hardship.  And after all you are doing for us, bearing this comparatively small cost is a joy.

A small cottage, regardless of its state, would be lovely for my father, but to then provide a room for myself seems most excessive.  I am sure I can stay with my father, unless of course you require me in the house.  I repeat my offer of before.  I am happy to work and become most capable.  I quite surprise myself at just how useful these last few years have made me.

Oh, dearest Elizabeth, I am quite beside myself with the excitement of this new adventure.  I look forward to meeting Masters William and Ernest.  And your father, Mr. Frankenstein.  And will your cousin Victor be returned?

But what I am in greatest anticipation of, is meeting you my dearest Elizabeth.  You who have become sister to me.  I hope to prove myself worthy of your love and generosity.

May the good Lord bless and keep you and yours dear sister.  I remain your most devoted, humblest and affectionate of servants,

Agatha DeLacey

Dear Miss Lavenza

elizabethlavenzablog-dear miss lavenza

I am beginning this tale with two letters.  Unlike Mary Shelley’s work, this will not be an epistolary novel, however it seemed like a good way to set the story up.

And so, to start. . .

Dear Miss Lavenza,

I am sorry for the great length of time since my last communication, but as you will have noted, our residence has changed, the second change in as many months, and I fear, not a happy one.

This change was brought about by the most peculiar of circumstances.  We (my brother and his betrothed and myself) walked into our home one evening to find what we believed to be my father under attack.  An assumption that would later prove to be quite false.   My father was in the midst of giving his word to a desperate stranger that he would provide him with assistance and we, in ignorance and fear, drove that stranger from him and from our abode.  If you had seen the creature, you would have understood the great violence of our reaction.  You would understand with what horror we beheld him and how fearful we were for our father.  He was immense, monstrous in proportion, being of close to eight feet, his face was of a terrible, inhuman hue and his costume mere rags.  I fainted away upon seeing him and my brother tells me that he actually struck the miserable creature with a stick.  It was Felix who drove him from the cottage.

But we who have known the misfortunes and deprivations that we have known, should also know grace.  We should know to hesitate before judgement and should have paused to collect what facts there were before acting so rashly.  By the time my father had calmed us and assured us that the man meant him no harm, but was most unfortunate and ill-used and requiring of our assistance it was too late.  The poor creature had disappeared we knew not where.  And although my brother and I lost our fear after my father’s exhortation, Safie remained unconvinced by his explanations and refused to stay a moment longer in the cottage.  We were forced to change lodgings.   This did in fact bring about an improvement in habitation, however the state of our family was not improved at all, in fact our misery was greater than I have known it.  My father felt our removal a terrible betrayal to one in need and an unforgiveable breaking of his word.  And after much quarreling with my brother and his wife he declared it his intention to quit our home and not return until he had aided his new acquaintance.  What was I to do, but follow my father.  He is old and he cannot see and I could not let him search for an unnamed stranger without my assistance.  We have returned to the vicinity of our old cottage and made inquiries, but noone seems to have seen such a man, as remarkable in appearance as he is.

And now I get to the most difficult of subjects.  It is because of my father and my concern for his well-being that I write the particular letter that you now hold.  I know it to be most indelicate, but I require a way of supporting him and myself.  I hold no illusions as to the difficulty of my task.  I have nothing to recommend me, no nearby family, no real acquaintances and a borrowed name.  But I assure you I am acquainted with all manner of labour and can put my hand to anything.  I entreat you my dear Miss Lavenza, is there a situation within your household?  Could you find room for myself and my father?  There is nothing I would consider beneath me, I promise.  It was possible to live in some mean comfort when there was my brother present, but he is no longer here to assist us and I fear for my father’s health.  He is not so foolish to believe that we can find his stranger at this stage, but he will not return to my brother’s house and I cannot allow him to live on his own, blind as he is.

I apologize for the forwardness of my commission.  I lay no specific claim upon your affection.  I recognize your friendship was won through pretense, that my name is only a recent invention of my father’s to aid in our safety and that I am not the friend that you had hoped to find when you first contacted us.  A happy accident for which I am eternally grateful, but one which must bring you some sadness.  I ask you all the same, for I believe us to be friends of a sort, each become intimately acquainted to the other.

If you are unable to help, I will not take it amiss, and will continue to call you friend.

I hope you are well and that your cousin is also.  I believe you thought him improved according to your last letter.

May the good Lord bless and keep you and your family.

Your humblest and most affectionate of servants,

Agatha DeLacey

Hello writers and readers

Well, I have done it.  I have decided and declared I am writing a novel in a month.  I thought about it last year, but alas, chickened out.  This year though, I have a plan.  Over the next thirty days I will tell the tale of Elizabeth Lavenza, adopted sister and betrothed of Victor Frankenstein.

This is a bit of a cheat, I know.  A good deal of the plot has already been mapped out for me and the main characters are already present.  And in some ways, I look at this as an exercise.  However, this is most definitely a novel.  We have only had one person’s version of the events, that of a mad man, and that version is second-hand, the tale transcribed by R. Walton to his sister after hearing it from Victor.  I have always felt there was more to be known, more to be told.

And so, I present to you what I presently call “The Tale of Elizabeth Lavenza”.