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Story Notes:
This is all a bit out of order. It also contains spoilers for Josie Goes. In other words, Josephine Someone is getting ahead of herself. (Again.)

For those of you who do choose to read in spite of this, in JG, I, with the help of the rest of the form (including Thekla) save Thekla from being expelled, though she does have to leave when the school shuts in Exile.
"Oh, you look lovely, Thekla!"

It is an empty compliment, of course. I look far from lovely, and so does she. I cannot even remember her name. My mother chose the guests from those who are suitable, in other words, those who are hodgeborne.

Hodgeborne. What does that even mean any more? It means nothing to me, now. It just means burden, and hardship, and only having "suitable" friends.

It is my wedding day. His name is Hermann von und zu Edelgroße und von something-or-other. That I cannot even remember my own married name is something I find very sad. He is now seventy-six. I hate him.

It is a Winter wedding, as my parents want to get me married off as soon as possible. Joey and Dr. Jack's wedding was in the Winter as well. That was different. She could look at him without wanting to murder him. Dr. Jack, I mean.

I look around at my bridesmaids. I have never seen any of them before. None of my schoolfriends were allowed to come, as they are all too "common", and anyway, we are torn asunder, all over Europe, with Evvy, Corney and Elma across the Atlantic. I think Josie's still at school. The School. It would be nice if Paula and Cyrilla could make it, but Schloss von Rothenfels was taken ages ago and all of them vanished. They are all (the bridesmaids) dressed in blue and silver, these long, boring blue dresses with high necks and long skirts, trimmed in silver. The von Stift coat of arms is blue and silver. I, however, wish that it were red and pink, so that I may have a red and pink wedding, like the Maynards'. But no. It has to be blue and silver, black and puce. That's his coat of arms.

I won't marry him! I swear I won't.

I look in the mirror. Is this me, is this Thekla? A shy, small girl almost eighteen, in a long, white dress covered in fine silver lace. It is very pretty, and very finely made, but it is the most uncomfortable thing I ever wore. It has a real iron corset. I long for the fresh cotton, wool, silk and velvet frocks which Juliet Carrick made for me because I had nothing suitable for school. She was lovely about it, taking me to Innsbruck to choose the fabric, which she paid for out of her own pocket, allowing me to take Josie and make a day out of it, eating at a café, everything.

My mother is here, fussing like a mother hen. Vater comes in now, and marches straight up to me.

"Now, lady, today's your wedding day, there will be no silly childish nonsense."

"Yes, Vater."

"There will be no mention of that dreadful School."

"Yes, Vater."

"You shall not ruin your dress."

"No, Vater."

"You shall not complain. This is your duty to the line of von Stift."

"No, Vater."

He turns and goes. Not one word of love, not one kiss, nor a good-luck wish. Just that. Mütter goes too, leading the bridesmaids, and I am left alone, the future Frau von und zu blah de blah de blah.

That thought is the last straw. I won't marry him. I won't!

I open the window and peer out. It is a long drop. I pull my suitcase out from under my bed and pack into it my eight frocks - four Summer, four Winter -, my doll, Adelina, and my teddy, Alfredo. I pack a few books as well, which I bought while at school, away from the unreasonable censorship of my parents. There. That is all I wish to take, my happiness packed in a bag and taken with me.

I throw it out of the window, hoping that Adelina won't break. I pose a bigger problem. I can break no bones, not injure myself at all. I climb onto the windowsill, hitching my cumbersome skirt up.

Clambering down the ledges is difficult in the wet weather, reflecting my drizzly mood. I dive across the courtyard, flinging myself behind a potted bush - no real bushes enjoy the hospitality of Schloss von Stift -to avoid Wolfram the gardener, and through the wrought-iron gates.

And I am free!

I won't marry him!



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