May 22, 2016

The Second Date

When I was eight years old, I caught a leprechaun.

He was taller than I thought he'd be - almost my height. I remember him looking like a child with a grown-up's face, dressed in loose clothing. He didn't wear green, except for a bright green feather in his cap. He said his name was Ril.

Catching him was quite the task. I had made an entirely inappropriately sized trap that in hindsight would have only caught a dormouse. I was hiding behind my bed when Ril climbed into my window, and broke the trap with a single step. The pieces ended up slicing through the fabric of his shoe, and when he ventured into my closet to look for a replacement, I vaulted over my bed to slam the closet door and sit against it so the leprechaun couldn't escape.

He was quite agitated at first, and thrashed around the closet for a clip, knocking down hangers and kicking shoes this way and that. Soon, he calmed down and - as the stories my teacher had read to me that week in class had taught me - offered me three wishes.

I immediately wished that I didn't have a sister, which didn't make sense, because as I finished the sentence, I realized I didn't have a sister. I had never had one - I was an only child. The voice from the closet assured me that it was done, and that I had two more wishes, but I was furious at myself for having wasted a wish on a sister that had never existed.

Instead of making another wish, I stood up and opened the door. The light hit the inside of the closet and the leprechaun blinked, looking into my eyes at amazement. In a flash, he was running past me, jumping onto my bed, bouncing higher than I had ever bounced, headed straight for the window.

I shouted at him, wished that I had never opened that closet door, but he was gone. I ran to the window and looked around, but there was no sign of him. No green footsteps, no trail to follow. I sat down resigned on my bed, and that's when I heard it.

A rustle from inside my closet. I looked over and noticed that the closet door was closed. And there! Was the handle turning? I slammed back against the door, heard another bump from inside - or perhaps it was my body against the door - and waited.

After a few minutes, I spoke through the doorway, asking Ril if he was there. There was no response, but I knew he was. I knew that this wish had worked, and that I now had one more.

So, yes, Ruth, there is a very good reason why that dresser is in front of that door. And, yes, that's why I have full confidence when I say I can literally make any wish of yours come true. So, let's have it. What's your wish?

May 1, 2016

Things That I Could Get Away with Saying If I Was a Victorian Gentleman Suitor

You have pierced my heart, Miss Sparrow, and I fear that I cannot now - nor may ever be able to - remove you from that most vital organ without doing irreparable damage as a consequence. You are lodged there permanently, and it is my burden to carry you with me for all the remaining days.

You are blameless, Jane. Does one urge the sun to stop shining because one perspires? Does one command a stream to stop its course so as to retrieve a bauble that floats away? No, and neither should any man need you to acquit your smiles or shield your eyes. The fault, dear Jane, lies in my weakness and not in your strength. You must shine and I must bear it accordingly.

My fondness for you grows day upon day, and I have more than once put pen to paper in a foolhardy attempt to use the written word as my ally in lovemaking. And yet! The words I write are nonsense, as like a child trying on the suits he finds in his father's bureau when left alone. I feel as if I have climbed the beanstalk and know not how to act. Your opinion dwarfs all other opinions, your grace overshadows all else, and your face instills in me a sense of awe that strikes me dumb. Speak, Diana, and restore my words to me.

I find it impossible to imagine you as my wife, little Rose, and I find it impossible to imagine you as anything else. I did not come to Rook House looking for romance, and yet romance has found me. You are strange and ineffable and quite insufferable and have bound up my soul inexcusably in my short time here. Had I but heeded my prayers and avoided stopping here, I should have saved both of us a mountain of troubles and also doomed us both to an unhappy life. The truth of it is, Rose, that there is only one fact that we can seem to agree on, and it is that a marriage between us is inevitable, and I have never been one to stand in the way of inevitability.

I'm not dancing with her. She's a peasant and the color in her cheeks is no maiden's blush but more likely from the heat of a kitchen fire. Good God, man, don't be daft. I'm a Duke.