You know that feeling when you have outfit pictures you really, really love, so you sit on them for a while to make sure they won’t get buried when you actually release them? I’ve talked about it before, and it’s perennially true. I took these pictures a week ago, and they might be some of my favorites ever. I’m skittish about letting them go.
I bought this dress secondhand from someone on Pinterest who was cleaning out her closet. It was originally from Tatted Tina’s Designs, whom I’d never heard of. And WOW, am I glad I’ve heard of her now. She’s a one-woman operation churning out some of the best-quality dresses I’ve ever seen. Next time I will definitely purchase from her directly.
Dress: handmade, via swap group
Hat & pearls: vintage, thrifted
Everything else: thrifted
And now for the other creative endeavor I’ve been sitting on. Kristina’s post about her recent literary surge got me itching for the same, and I’ve written about 14 pages into my own new novel.
“What’s it about?” you chorus.
“Uhhh…” I stammer. It’s not something I can sum up concisely yet. All I know is there are Faustian bargains. And a woman named Jocasta, after Oedipus’s mother. And possibly an eldritch abomination. I am New England gothic to the core.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt.
My mother liked to spook us.
Once when my sister was small, she asked: “how come there’s only two?”
We were sitting in the kitchen garden while Ma shelled peas. Dianna was racing in tiny circles, speeding up past the radish patch like the tubers would stretch out and trip her. She was four, I think, or five. I was ten.
“Only two? How do I know what that means, Dianna? Two of what? Peas in this pod?”
“In our family. It’s just me and Josiah. But the Howlands have eight kids. The Marshalls have twelve.”
“They do not,” I told her. Mrs. Marshall was sickly. No way she had that many.
“They do. Lyddie said so.”
“Because,” Ma said, “we’re not Catholic.”
“What’s that got to do with it?”
Ma put down her peas. She leaned forward and her big moon eyes got moonier.
“It doesn’t. I was just testing you. Can you keep a secret, baby?”
“‘I think so’ isn’t good enough, Dianna. I need you to promise me.”
“I promise, Mama.”
“That’s my sweet girl. Are you ready?”
She didn’t wait for my sister’s nod.
“Even before I met your Papa, I always knew I wanted two. One boy and one girl, which is what I got. Lots of women aren’t so lucky. They get exactly what they don’t want, and spend their whole lives resenting their children for not being the opposite. So when I got what I wanted, when my nest was complete, it was time to stop. To quit while I was ahead.
I made a deal. I got a big knife and I carved out the parts of myself that make babies. It hurt, of course, but I thought it would be worth it in the end. I carried my womb to the middle of the forest, I said it down, and I said, ‘all right, I’m finished! Do what you will with it!’
And the hungry forest spirits came out and gobbled it up. The hungriest of them said, ‘Jocasta, you tasted so good, you must have grown some mighty delicious little ones in there. Please, can we have just one bite?’
After all the work I’d done in making my little family? ‘Of course not,’ I told them. No one gets to eat them up but me, and maybe Darius if I’m feeling generous. Besides, this is my deal to make.’”
“What did the monsters do to you, Mama?” Dianna squeaked.
“Who says they did anything to me? No, I know how to talk to monsters, babe. I told them I was certainly finished having children, that I wanted my boy-girl pair to bring some symmetry into the world, and that I would like them to keep me to my word. If I even think about having another one, if I so much as run my hands over the cradle, they can have that taste they wanted so much. A nice hearty bite of sweet little girl.”
Ma grinned. “And they’ll hold me to it, too. Those folk aren’t playing.”
Dianna’s lips trembled. She was off and running before she really began to bawl. Ma didn’t go after her. She just laughed and laughed. She looked at me with her big moon eyes shinier than the real moon, like I was finally old enough to get in on the joke. I didn’t tell her she’d scared me, too.