what is wrong with me

Tremonteam challenge #2

This week’s challenge was “Who would you be in the world of Tremontaine?”

I think I might have gotten a little carried away with this one, folks….

Meet Iris Pennyfeather, governess by day, novelist by night. 


All eyes in the salon are turned toward your pupil. Perfectly cadenced verses drop from pearly white teeth, the Trilling family opals at her neck sparkling in the afternoon light. Young Apollonia holds her back straight and recites with confidence, modulating her voice to bring out the drama of the poem, just as you have practiced. She has finally bloomed, hardly the shy gawky girl placed in your charge but a year ago. And not a moment too soon.

The verses are well-made, the sad tale of a Northern lady forced to marry a Southern lord, designed to rouse the emotions in the breast of the hearer. You should know of course, because you wrote them. There is a hardly a dry eye in the salon as Apollonia delivers the lady’s farewell; even the Crescent chancellor dabs at his eye with a lace-edged handkerchief. The poem gives Apollonia a depth of character far beyond what she possesses, enough perhaps to allow her to stand out from the numerous other debutantes hunting for a husband this season.

There is a wave of applause, too loud to be deemed merely polite, as Apollonia finishes her recitation. Yes, Apollonia will be your last. The thought of the stack of gold and silver coins you have saved from more than a decade shaping the daughters of the Hill warm you more than the chocolate in your lap. Combined with your percentage of your last two novels and the subscriptions to the next, it is finally enough to let you abandon this sad occupation as a parasite on the nobility and write. There is a sunny, and not altogether too chilly, garret above the printer’s shop that waits for you as soon as Apollonia is safely betrothed. You will not miss your odd status as governess, half-servant and half-peer, living in other’s homes. It was once the best you could hope for as a poor country cousin with a sharp mind and a distaste for marriage.

You will, however, miss the Hill’s most excellent chocolate, and there is no chocolate finer than Tremontaine’s, you think as you savor what is surely one of your last sips.

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-George Saunders