Months have elapsed since my last post. I may have to have a re-commitment ceremony with my blog after New Years to get my lazy brain back in shape. This next piece is my own work on an assignment I posed to my students. They were required to write a historically accurate, yet fictional, short story based off a painting that inspired them from the time period we were studying. Although this is much shorter than the work they produced, and has less of the historical research I required them to do (in the form of footnote annotations), I felt like sharing. I was inspired to write after looking at this painting I had never seen before…..
This is the very short sketch that resulted from my meditation on Kroyer’s painting:
The Tidal Pools
“Beatrice I think you have misunderstood me.” The tide swished into the folds of Beatrice’s muslin dress. She stared steadfastly, yet remotely ahead. “I do not mean to implore you further, but please consider the situation. It is simply not your place.” Clarice’s voice could not penetrate Beatrice’s thoughts. She could not distinguish between the sounds of the ocean and the high-pitched blather of her companion on the beach. Intently absorbing the sounds she had yearned for through the cold winter by holding the conch shell James had given her when he was five—-oh, she knew Clarice meant well. They all meant well. Her mind concentrated on the formation of the waves rushing in and the pools of water forming on the strip of the narrow beach she found herself on. She did not want to be appropriate and dignified. In fact, she desired quite the opposite. She imagined herself like the misplaced pools of water on the beach left as the tide retreated. Those pools glared at her, standing apart from the rhythmic, constancy of the ocean. Out of place, blocked by a piece of driftwood or a bulge in the sand of the uneven beach. Eventually the pool would evaporate. Or rejoin the molecules of its parent ocean when the tide rose again in twelve hours. Perhaps a child would disturb it and it would be something new altogether. She wanted to walk into the ocean and swim. She wanted to tempt fate. Edna Pontellier had captivated her. She could not walk along the beach, or even dream about the ocean without pondering what it must feel like to let the ocean tides sweep you into oblivion. It was quite radical, Ms. Chopin’s newest story. Clarice would hate it. Ever since their time together at Miss Porter’s Clarice had been the constant fly in Beatrice’s ear, buzzing with gossip and reminders of the parameters and expectations of well-bred society. Beatrice was surprised Clarice had yet to mention her bare head and loose chignon. Ahh, but even Clarice would loosen her yellow sash of respectable dressing standards in the face of Beatrice’s recent actions. She smiled inwardly, Clarice, for all of her good intentions, remained a blithering idiot. Hoping to marry the her Avon beau, Clarice van der Laan was destined for a life of Newport galas and bland conversation. Beatrice wondered about James. How he would have poked fun of Clarice right now with his fast wit and chivalrous manners. Clarice was the very opposite of innuendo. Quite literal, she believed in Emily Post and little else. Beatrice chided herself again for allowing herself to find joy in her memory of James. Why had she challenged him so? Although he had sought her out for advice since they were children, he had started to become the man their father had designed. Masculine, handsome, and meant to be the next Mr. Carlisle of Carlisle Bros Corp. he looked like James, but sounded more like Clarice’s tiresome beau every day. She had lost him like the sand sifting through her fingers, grain by grain. She was no longer his confidante; now that she had said the awful truth to him, and to the entire occupants of the sun-room at the Wentworth, she was fairly sure their bond was quite severed. Looking out into the ocean she trod into a displaced puddle. “Oh my, you have quite ruined the hem muslin dress my dear Bea. Put your hat on, you look as though you have let yourself go at the young age of nineteen, that just will not do. How do you expect to find a husband when you have no inhibitions in your thoughts? We are no longer in Farmington my dear Bea. You must wear your hat. Do try to dress better tonight, you may borrow my yellow sash if you wish. It will truly bring out the flecks of gold in your eyes.”