Amethyst Gration 2013-18

Six Biscuits

A TRUBUTE TO A.A.MILNE’S “WINNIE THE POOH”
INSPIRED BY THEIR BOOK OF POEMS “NOW WE ARE SIX”
 

Before it’s time to go to sleep-
I’d like to have something to eat.

How about some biscuits- Yes!
But remember, soon you need to rest.

The pyramid begins to fall.
Remember not to eat it all!

A mouth-watering treat is all you see.
Remember to leave some for me!

Take another, if you dare.
If mum finds out, you’re in for a scare!

Only three left, but oh! What’s more,
Now you’ve certainly eaten four!

You’re craving for just one more sweet,
So you take just one more treat.

Restraint is not your best feature, I know,
But try, not the last one, don’t take it-
Oh no!

All of them eaten, not one left in sight,
but there’ll be some tomorrow-
Good night.

Untitled

Long ago in a land of old

A youthful hero, strong and bold

Conquered a beast within its cave

Rendered it powerless, left it drained

Yet all these years, its strength restored

Its power now become a hoard

This beast now shall rise again

Our hero’s descendant to bring its end

 

Alexis stared at the frame, and burst out laughing. Her parents had really given her a framed, inked parchment of the old legend? Ha! She didn’t believe in that rubbish. It was probably some random verse by a raving, delirious old poet who was inspired by hallucinations, anyway. Nevertheless, she dried her eyes, slightly teary from laughing, and gave a smile of pity to her parents. “The pictures are beautiful, the writing is elegant, but the verse-”

She cut herself short as she burst out laughing again. Shaking her head, she wiped her eyes and smiled again.

Her parents would never learn.

 

That night, Alexis stared up at the frame on her wall, above her chest of drawers. The colours were dull in the faded moonlight, but the picture was still very pretty. Alexis heard a faint rustle outside. Or was it inside? The small house, constructed of hard mud bricks stuck together with soft, sandy mud which had dried a few days after the construction, with a thatched roof of several thick layers of dead, dry leaves, large ones too, was completely silent-nothing stirred. Alexis sighed, and pushed the memory of the noise from her mind.

By morning, Alexis had no memory of the noise she had heard.

 

“Urgh…” Alexis pulled herself out of bed sleepily. She started when she saw the time on her Prussian blue alarm clock.

“Gargh! Eight forty-five!” She leapt out of bed, pulling on her checked school dress and black leather sandals, went to the kitchen, grabbed two slices of toast slathered with strawberry jam and began to munch.

She poured herself some orange juice from a pitcher on the table into a tall glass and took gulps between mouthfuls. Her mother, who was already at the table eating a bowl of porridge, scolded her.

“Don’t bolt your food like that. You’ll make yourself sick.”

“But I’ll be late!” Alexis protested, swallowing the last of the juice and bread.

“And you didn’t wake me up,” she added belligerently, much clearer this time as her mouth wasn’t full of food.

“I tried to, but you were so fast asleep you wouldn’t wake up!” her mother replied indignantly.

Her father traipsed in drowsily. “Keep it down ladies!” he half yelled, obviously not having the strength. Alexis grabbed the packed lunch sitting on the bench and shot out of the kitchen doorway. About thirty seconds later, she ran in, hurriedly kissed her parents, called a goodbye and slammed the front door behind her.

 

“Hi Alex! Just in time!” her classmates called as she skilfully dodged into the classroom and sat down.

“For a minute there, I thought you weren’t going to make it!” her best friend Sophomore; after the petite flowers in the forest glades, and Soph for short, whispered in her ear. Alexis gave her a nod of acknowledgement and stood up again.

“Miss Petter’s just down the hall. “Everyone ready!” She aimed this at the class-they often depended on her late arrivals to remind them to calm down a bit when their teacher was about to come in.

Setting her satchel down, Alexis got her books out and readied herself.

 

“HERE!” Alexis screamed. “Pass it here, PASS IT HERE!” Alexis jumped up and down, flinging her arms about with wild abandon. How could he not see her! She was the only free player on the court! Allan finally noticed and passed her the ball, and she shot up to catch it. Landing heavily, she pivoted on her left foot and went for goal. It hit the back of the ring, near the post, round to the right, round to the left, round to the front and… YES! The ball toppled into the ring, the attached net swishing slightly with the movement of the ball.

“SCORE!” Alexis screeched. “We won, we won, WE WON!” Her friends gathered around her happily, shouting praise and encouragement, slapping her on her back and giving her hugs.

Suddenly, she saw, out of the corner of her eye, a gentle rustle in the undergrowth, the glint of a luminescent, yellow-green eye, with thin, streak-like pupils. The eye seemed… almost feline. Its pair appeared, and they seemed to study her with cold, close scrutiny. Alexis blinked in surprise, and then gasped in shock. The eyes were gone! Her best friend Sophomore noticed she was staring.

“Alex, is there anything wrong?” Her worried tone shook Alexis from her thoughts into reality.

“Nah, Soph, nothing wrong. Thought I saw a cat in that bush, but I must have been dreaming, seeing things.” “Oh, okay,” Soph replied.

But she didn’t seem to be too sure, Alexis could see that.

And Alexis wasn’t too sure either.

 

“Goodnight honey, sweet dreams.” Her mother kissed her cheek lightly and gently blew out the oil lamp burning on the small table beside her bed.

“Night mum,” she replied, and heard the door close with a soft click. She turned over in her bed and drifted off to sleep.

 

A faint rustle, followed by another, louder rustle, woke Alexis, bringing her to the surface of consciousness. She blinked sleepily, and grumbled, “Urgh. Mum, it’s the middle of the night. Don’t wake me up.”

“I’m not your mother,” an unfamiliar voice said.

“Mum, stop playing. I know you-” She gasped, cut short by realisation. Alarm toned her voice darkly. “Then who are you? What do you want? Why are you here?” Alexis’ voice trembled slightly with worry. A gentle, yet rough, feline purr came from the window. “What? Why do you have a cat with you?” Confusion sharpened her voice like a knife.

“I’m not a human. And I certainly did not bring a cat with me, unless I’m very much mistaken. Or do you mean me? Well yes, in that case I did bring a cat. Me. Because I am very much a cat.” The unfamiliar voice seemed slightly male, and replied with slight indignation.

“Wait,” Alexis began thoughtfully,

“Oh I’m waiting. I’ve plenty of time.” The voice cheekily put in.

“Don’t interrupt!” Alexis exclaimed irritably. “Now,” she continued, “You’re not a human, but you talk, and you didn’t bring a cat, unless you count yourself, but you purr and you are a cat-” Alexis choked as she realised.

“You’re a talking cat!”

 

After a lot of explanation from the cat, which yes, was male, and yes, could talk, and yes, she wasn’t dreaming, and yes this and yes that until Alexis couldn’t keep track of it any longer, she came to many realisations, the first and foremost of which surprised her most-the legend on her wall was true! Tarra seemed pleased that she had an available copy in her bedroom, but Alexis didn’t tell him that she hadn’t believed in the legend until about an hour ago, for fear of him-well, she wasn’t really sure what she was scared of him doing, but she kept her mouth shut, just in case.

Her second realisation also surprised her greatly, and that was that she was the hero’s descendant stated in the poem, the descendant destined to bring the beast’s end. She also learned that she was to set off on a quest and that a mare named Bellatrix was waiting outside whenever she was ready.

Tarra elegantly jumped down from the window into the garden and left her to absorb the information and decide upon the date of her departure.

 

Tarra had told her that she would need to set off for her new quest within the week, however she was free to choose exactly when she left. The first thought that came to her mind at this proposal was that she would leave home immediately, and this would be great fun. However her second thought overrode this- she would miss her friends and parents, and her friends and parents would miss her. Her third thought chilled her to the bone, even in the warm autumn air-what if she died? But her last thought decided for her-she was to bring the beast’s end, so she wouldn’t die, and she would be able to see her parents and friends when she got home, and she had always wanted to go on a huge adventure, and this was just the thing, and it would be great fun. Of course, it was a lot for one thought, but she felt it, though big, could be counted as one thought.

But then she thought, I’m not the only hero’s descendant.

But her next thought comforted her-If I die, there won’t be any more hero’s descendants to get rid of the beast, and Tarra said I was the chosen one, so why not?

She decided to leave the next night, so she could say good bye to her parents and friends.

 

At breakfast the next morning, she told her parents about what had happened. Her parents smiled gently, unbelieving.

“Yes dear, that sounds wonderful. Now you get your school things and go off to school.” Her mother’s words were kind, in a sad, despairing “but we can’t give up hope yet” sort of tone. The same smile of pity she had sported on her birthday, two days ago, now graced theirs. With a snort of disgust, Alexis collected her school bag and packed lunch before stomping out the door.

 

Alexis collapsed into the classroom, dark circles round her eyes.

“Everyone quiet!” She attempted to yell, but it came out as more of a hoarse cry, ending in a bout of coughing. “Miss Petter’s down the hall!” Slumping into her seat she got her books ready, almost asleep.

 

Alexis crunched along the slightly gravelly road, with her head down. Rubbing her eyes, she yawned sleepily. A rustle in the bushes snapped her into reality.

Her body immediately tensed. Alert, she glanced around warily for the source of the noise. Tarra emerged from the bushes on the side of the road. Alexis gave a short sigh of relief and went over to him.

“Have you made your decision yet?”

 

“Hey mum, hey dad,” Alexis sighed as she sagged into the house. Falling through her bedroom door, she dumped her bag at the foot of her bed and slumped onto the bed itself. “Mum, when’s dinner?” she mumbled incoherently.

“What’s that honey?” her mum called.

“I said, when’s dinner!” she repeated, louder this time.

“Why?” her mum called.

“I’m pretty tired, we had a game at lunch, and I wanna turn in early. Is that okay?”

“Sure thing, darling. I’ll put the vegetables on.” her mother replied.

“Thanks,” Alexis called back, turning over on her bed.

 

She woke ten minutes later to a loud crash by her ear. “Whaaa…” she trailed off sleepily.  Turning over, she was greeted by the sharp glint of metal and her mother’s grinning face.

“Tea’s up!” her mum called. Alexis rubbed her eyes and got of the bed, taken by a sudden rage of hunger.

“Let’s eat!” she exclaimed.

 

Alexis had put on her pyjamas and brushed her teeth. “Night mum,” she called.

“Just a minute,” her mother replied. A few seconds later, her mother walked in. “Goodnight dear. I hope your ‘quest’ goes well.”

“It will.”

 

As soon as the door clicked softly closed, Alexis became a silent flurry of action. Firstly, she changed into more appropriate clothes for a night-time escape. She collected all her shoes at the bottom of a large hessian sack hidden under her bed that had previously held potatoes. She then put all her clothes above her shoes. Finally she collected her smaller possessions, such as her hairbrush, jewellery and bathroom items (which she had collected when she brushed her teeth earlier) and stashed them in an old flour sack made of thick cotton, which she rolled up and put in the top of the hessian sack, and pulled the drawstring of the latter closed.

Alexis tested the weight of the sack. Finding it remarkably light, she nimbly jumped out of her large window and went to where Bellatrix had been hidden for the past night.

When she arrived there, she was greeted by Tarra’s growling purr. She petted him gently, and suddenly noticed he was wearing a dyed blue leather collar with a silver amulet upon it.

“What is your amulet?” Alexis asked.

“It is a silver disk, set with sapphires in a paw design,” Tarra answered.

“It’s beautiful.” Alexis replied.

She placed the sack above Bellatrix’s rump, and laced the drawstring of the sack through metal loops attached to the back of the heavy leather saddle over her back.

“Have you got everything?” Tarra asked.

“I think so,” Alexis replied.

“Alright then, let’s see. Clothes?”

“Yes.”

“Shoes?”

“Yes.”

“Personal items or possessions?”

“Yes.”

“Alright. But I feel as if something’s missing… Ah! Do you have the rhyme?”

“Oh! No, I don’t. Shall I go and fetch it?”

“You will.”

Alexis ran off the collect the frame.

 

Alexis climbed through her bedroom window, and looked about for something to stand on so she could reach up to the frame. She spotted a wooden chair tucked under her desk, and pulled it over to the chest of drawers. She stepped up onto it, reaching for the frame. Finally she caught hold of it, and, carefully lifting it off the wall, she tucked it under her arm and slipped out of the window again, not bothering to put the chair back in its original place.

 

Alexis silently ran over the grassy back lawn, bathed in moonlight, to a tree laced with a thick, overhanging vine, under which Bellatrix was hiding. Slipping through a thin gap in the vines, Alexis crept into the small, green room.

“Hey Tarra. I’ve got the legend.” she quietly called.

“What? In the frame?” he replied, incredulous.

“Uh-yeah, I guess so.” she answered.

“You’ll need to take it out.” he instructed.

Alexis carefully began to prise open the back of the frame. Turning the metal fasteners, she removed the back and cautiously removed the parchment.

“What now?”

“Now roll it up…” Tarra prompted.

Alexis carefully rolled the crackly parchment into a cylindrical shape.

“And now what?”

“Now you take the black and red silk scroll-tie from around my neck and tie it around the legend.”

Holding the scroll in her left hand, she used her right to prise the scroll-tie from around Tarra’s neck and tied it in a neat bow around the legend. She looked at the beautifully smooth silk, a question in her eyes, present on her lips.

“Is something the matter?” Tarra asked inquisitively.

“Nothing’s the matter. I was just wondering where you got this beautiful tie from.”

“I found it on the floor of the library. Someone must have carelessly left it there. And anyway, it isn’t stealing since I am a cat.”

Alexis gave a sigh of repent. “Oh well then. But if I get in trouble I’m blaming you, alright.”

“It’s a deal.”

“Now can we get going?”

“No time like the present!”

Alexis fitted her left foot into the stirrup and swung her right foot over to mount Bellatrix. Tarra nimbly jumped onto her lap, putting his front paws up on Bellatrix’s shoulders to instruct Alexis. Fitting her right foot into the corresponding stirrup, Alexis took the reins.

“You’re in charge. Where to now?”

“Just get Bellatrix onto the open road and we’ll go from there.”

Alexis gently steered Bellatrix out of the garden and onto the road.

“And now?” Alexis asked.

“We hit the open road!”

Alexis dug in her heels and they set off at gallop.

The Silver Staff

Fenn ran through the cobbled streets, her leather slippers padding silently on the stones. Pale moonlight illuminated her surroundings. Fenn turned into a dark alleyway, and caught her breath at the stench of rat droppings, raw sewerage and bins filled with rotting scraps. Fenn peered around the corner, her heart pumping furiously as she pulled her coat anxiously around her. There they were, a small dot near the fountain. Cloaks of indigo and violet swirled behind them, their swords and daggers at the ready. Fenn ran down the alley, holding her nose to avoid the horrid odour. She hesitated as she saw a movement in the shadows at the corner of the building that faced onto the next street. She crept forward, noticing the steady drip of water coming from a moss-covered gutter near a side-door to a crumbling warehouse just to Fenn’s left. She sidestepped a rusted bin that was overflowing its foul contents into a puddle around it, and tiptoed a few more steps until she was right where she had seen the movement. She silently slipped into the street.

 

As soon as she had stepped out into the street, a great metallic beast came charging towards her. Fenn screamed as the monster roared, gaping red jaws with rows of sharp, yellowing teeth. Fenn looked desperately around her, and snatched a piece of building rubble at the corner of the decaying warehouse. Fenn threw the rock at it, but it bounced harmlessly onto the ground as the metallic scales rebounded the stone. Suddenly, a flash of blue light darted towards Fenn and vaporized a section of wall near her right shoulder. She jumped left, only to have the guards press daggers to her neck. Fenn bolted through the hole in the wall and ran through the warehouse maze.

 

She ran past tall rows of endless boxes. Each row of boxes was older and mouldier than the next. It was damp and dank in the warehouse and Fenn gasped for breath as she slipped slightly on the slimy floor. She couldn’t hear the monster any more, and the footsteps of the city’s night guards had faded several minutes before. I have outrun them, she thought. Now I can rest for a few minutes. She went to the nearest wall of boxes and scrabbled with her fingers to clear away the filth accumulated from years of neglect. Her fingers found a hard surface, and as she impatiently brushed away the rest of the muck, a faint gleam came through the dust and dirt. As the last of the grime fell away, she saw a brass rod-no, a silver rod! It was embedded with many precious jewels, inlaid in a rainbow. At the top was a ruby, red as blood. Then a tiger’s eye, rippling bronze. Next, a topaz, like a drop of sunlight. An emerald, like lush grass. A sapphire, glistening like a piece of ocean. And an amethyst, as purple as the violets growing around the fountain in the town square.

 

Fenn looked at it, entranced by its beauty, and gently stroked each gem. Different energies coursed through her as her fingers trailed upon the gems. The ruby gave her fiery energy. The tiger’s eye gave her earthy energy. The topaz filled her with bright energy, like drinkable light. The emerald gave her earthy energy too, but it was a different sort of energy. It felt more connected to nature. The sapphire gave her energy of water. And the amethyst gave her magical energy that connected her to everything around her.

 

When she finally managed to remove the rod from the many mucky, poorly stored boxes, she found the rod was a metre-and-a-half-tall staff, and topped with a perfectly formed quartz geode, with six small, tower-like shapes with pointed tips stretching upward, each around ten centimetres tall. The six gems were placed in the top of the staff, with the ruby at the top, just after the geode, and the other gems coming down from the ruby.

 

The staff stood at least as tall as herself, no, a little taller actually. Carefully peering into the cavity she had created in the teetering boxes. Was that… leather? She gently tugged at the strange shape. The dirt gave way easily, and she took it. It was a long, thin leather case. She gently placed the staff in it. The staff fitted perfectly. Suddenly, she realised something peculiar. Neither of the items seemed to be damaged at all! A low creaking sound came from behind her and she realised the wall of boxes was falling over. Galvanised into action, Fenn sprinted along the isle, the wall of boxes crashing down behind her, each column like a domino. Fenn made one final leap to clear the boxes, but was crushed by a heavy piece of something…

 

Awakening

I opened my eyes.

Consciousness.

I didn’t know who I was, or where I was, or what I was, or when it was, or why I was there and how I’d got there.

I had no memory, but I had a feeling it wasn’t right for my body to be as it was.

My eyes closed.

I wasn’t really thinking who, where, what, when, why or how. I just felt. Just feeling.

I tried to sense my environment. My body moved mostly of its own accord. When I tried to sense the world around me, I automatically moved my appendages. Then I felt something that I sensed shouldn’t be there, but was nevertheless. I couldn’t see it. Then I realised I couldn’t see anything.

Why couldn’t I see?

I tried to see. I tried, but I couldn’t seem able. I relaxed and willed myself to see. After a few seconds, the world fuzzily came into view. I looked around for a few seconds. There were lots of big dark things, very tall. Their surfaces appeared rough. I looked at what I was on top of. It was soft, and damp, and myriad colours, grey, red, green and brown.

Then I remembered what I had originally been trying to see. Stuff… that was behind me. I instinctively turned my head and saw dark feathery stuff. I poked it, and realised it was part of me, because I felt the poke.

I attempted to move the feathery bundles. My nerves were far more responsive that I expected them to be and suddenly I had been lifted from the ground completely and further up into the mass of big, dark… things.

I gasped and fell back to the damp bed. I tried again, and this time I was shortly met by pale green things shifting in the breeze above my head. I moved around in the canopy, the thick feathery bundles now spread and easily supporting my weight.

After I had explored a little, I descended to find nourishment.

A bush with some plump berries appeared as I peeked around one of the rough dark things. I went forward and sniffed – I wasn’t really sure why, it was just instinct.

It smelled sweet, somewhat floral. I decided to pop it in my mouth.

It was oddly delicious. Sitting down, I swallowed and picked another. Also tasty.

After a few more I decided I probably shouldn’t have any extra in case their taste didn’t mean they were okay to eat. I stood and decided to explore from the ground.

I walked around another of the rough dark things to see a clear, bubbling brook. I stepped forward, divesting myself of the shabby white robe I was suddenly aware I sported and stepped into the shallow water. It was cold, nearly freezing, but I relaxed, grateful for the cleansing chill.

Lying in the water up to my neck, I cupped some in my hands and sipped. The icy liquid was invigorating, and I drank the rest in one gulp.

I took the dirty white cloth from the bank and pushed it under the water, rubbing the thin, coarse fabric between by fingers to remove dirt.

After soaking a little while longer, I was a little cold, and a little hungry so I climbed out, re-donning the plain robe.

I walked for a while, and decided to find the bush with the berries. As I snacked, I realised that the forest was sorely lacking signs of life. Rising, I spread the feathers behind me and raised myself for a better view. I knew there was somewhere I had to be, as soon as I could.

I just had to find it.

Changing Weather, Changing Sky, Changing Me

The cool sensation of the little droplets on my skin, rolling off or permeating the dry warmth of my clothing. I look to the slightly overcast sky and smile as more drops hit my face. I hold my hat as I stroll along, sight on the sky as I wander down the path.

The warm salty liquid streams down my face, down my arms and legs and back. I wipe the sweat from my temple and glance at the bright blue sky, not a cloud to be seen and the sun beating down. I take off my hat and ruffle my damp hair. I don’t bother to put my hat back on as I slump forward with a groan of complaint then straighten up and continue walking.

I stroll through the park in the glow of the late afternoon sun. I’ve been to the market and the stall owners packed up a little while ago. It’s been a clear day, with a little cool breeze making it just right. I eat a sandwich near the play equipment before beginning my way home. I take a hard-boiled lolly from my pocket which I bought earlier, and pop it in my mouth. I think as I walk home. It’s good thinking weather.

I run through the pelting rain, the cold liquid soaking my jeans and jacket as I hold tight to the straps of my bag.  Little hailstones begin to fall, getting bigger as I dash towards a dimly lit bus shelter against the dark grey of dusk. As I lean my bag on the back of the shelter on the small bench, I watch the droplets contact with the plastic and roll down. I look at their intricate paths tracking downwards where they stop as the drops fall off. I giggle, feeling a bit silly but happy as I inspect the water.

I wander around the park, occasionally jumping over puddles and sometimes landing in the shallow water at their edges. The sky looks stormy grey, but it has already rained; you might think it’s the calm before the storm, but it’s the calm after. I throw bread to the ducks. I go across the road to the library. I borrow some books. I eat soup in the cottage café a little way down the path.

The seasons bring a funny thing called weather.

The secrets of the sky are hidden.

The seasons may make me feel silly with the rain on Christmas in summer.

The sky will always hold a secret.

The seasons may be weird but I can live. Easily.

The sky is always different, everywhere.

Changing weather.

Changing sky.

Changing me.

The Prophecy

It was foretold, and it has come true

That Green shall be united with Blue

 

Old Purple fancied blue as her colour

And in love with Green thought them closer each other

 

Old Blue has moved on, to purple instead

And fresh Blue with Green shall feast on her dead

 

Now Queens Green and Blue are united strong

Upon thrones as one until endeth our song

The Sixth Sense

High ringing notes accompany low, flowing ones,
against a colourful background of piano
translated into monochrome.
The silvery dances become towers
lined in black and laced with flowers,
intricate vines.
A looming cardboard archway,
painted windows let us gaze into a world consisting of nothingness.
Wafts of scented calm
resisting grandeur
bring me back,
home.
Becoming what I now know, reflecting the pain it has taken away.
Mirroring into my gut where it lodges itself amongst what I have savoured,
forced down to prove the worth of my strength.
But what pain I must feel
morphs into happiness, because firsts are followed by seconds
and I can rest in the knowledge that tomorrow will come
and I can continue to show
who I was and will be,
with the caress of the sun.

Jane Eyre Creative Response

Ah! She said she would stay with me; how true was this? I scarcely could believe she stood before me, speaking of mysterious uncles leaving fortunes, yet naught considering the strangeness of now spending her enriched days with one who had fooled her, from whom she had run, and who now lamented the loss of both a hand and the faculty of sight!

With a sigh, I began to speak, to again question the sprite of her conviction; but remembering her disregard of my doubt, I withdrew from expressing such thoughts aloud. Confidence renewed, I envisioned a new life, one filled with the joys of shared disposition and mutual companionship, but in thinking of Jane I was forced to reflect on her response. I frowned, uncertainty slowly closing on my consciousness, my hopeful visions obscured by doubt.

I felt Jane begin to shy away from my embrace, and, hesitation momentarily overwhelmed by passion, I drew her more tightly to my breast. I could not bear to have my dearest angel, herald of all joy, plucked from my arms again by the cruel whims of Fate. Once was surely enough.

I subsequently expressed the necessity of her remaining by my side; she duly reminded me she had already made clear her full intention to do so, but our conversation was again drawn to the intent of Jane’s promised residence, and my mood declined. She declared she cared not for marriage, and seemed joyously liberated in her dismissal of Holy union. Oh, but were I restored to my former strength! I might have sought her out, rather than dwelling in my misery, and boldly asked her hand!

Such a hand appeared, then, as Jane resumed speaking. Little could I tell of it by sight, but her small, fine fingers upon my hair and forehead confirmed the character of the pale blur my vision rendered for me. As she fussed over my surely wild locks, I was seized by shame; she noted the dilapidated and beastly state of my appearance. I was sensible of remorse, and some strange cousin of horror, as the light of Jane’s presence illuminated for me how cowardly I had been. Twice I had been wounded by Chance; and yet rather than recover what remained, I had instead allowed myself to sink to further morose depths. I had abandoned myself just as I had abandoned company and society; I had ceased regard of my appearance, renounced care of my person, and become an unkempt ogre in my near hermitage. Jane took a haughty tone in her evaluation, a superior mien; I feared she found me offensive.

Yet, what! A new thought rose; I was at once agitated and soothed. Surely she merely teased me? In spite of my distress over the dishevelled aspect of my exterior, I sensed that Jane did not express genuine revulsion, or even mild distaste; her words seemed entirely designed to articulate a desire to rehabilitate me. Presenting her with the stump that concluded my left arm produced for me a similar impression, and even when questioned she maintained she was not revolted.

She eluded further conversation on my limb and visage, instead restoring the hearth and calling for some supper. We sat, and she arranged before me what Mary had brought in. The meal was consumed and then forgotten as we conversed, the warmth and fire I had so missed rekindling as if its radiance had never disappeared at all. I felt much revived with my darling Janet beside me; she too appeared jubilant. I desired to know all of her, any change in her since our parting; I enquired. I had much to ask, head full of questions; but if Jane stayed as she so promised, there would be time enough for that.

Reflective Commentary

My piece is intended to be a direct companion to the passage on pages 502-504 of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, rewritten from Mr Rochester’s point of view. I wanted to explore Brontë’s theme of the power dynamics between men and women, and her ironic reversal of these dynamics, as well as the usual roles and situations society give men and women, between Jane and Rochester. Earlier in the novel there is an almost exact reversal of my passage in which Rochester and Jane are under the horse-chestnut, and he is teasing her by making her think he will marry Blanche Ingram and send Jane to Ireland, while knowing he intends to marry Jane. In that passage Rochester is in control of the conversation and Jane is at his mercy. In this passage their roles are reversed, and I thought it would be interesting to show Rochester’s point of view when Jane is the one in control and he is in distress over Jane’s intentions.

To imitate Brontë’s writing style, I observed and utilised her literary techniques. I used paratactic grammar, having only independent clauses connected with punctuation or coordinating conjunctions, in as many situations as possible. However, like Brontë, I did use some non-paratactic structures where it was simply the best way of expressing a phrase. I also endeavoured to use complicated syntax, such as changing the order of the subject, verb, and object, as Brontë often does this. I wrote the passage in the first person, as Brontë does, to explore Rochester’s inner thoughts and feelings and lend sympathy to his character.

Additionally, I aimed for a 19th Century lexicon, by using more complex or protracted synonyms that would have been in parlance in Brontë’s time. Words such as “regard”, “mien”, “faculty” and “disposition” are uncommon today but were typical vocabulary of Brontë’s time. I included also specific phrases used by Brontë, namely “I was at once _ and _” where two opposing emotions or characteristics are juxtaposed, “I was sensible of” as an alternative to ‘I sensed’, and “some strange cousin to/of _” where an emotion that is not entirely describable at the time is related to something similar.

I added little exclamations in Rochester’s narration, as Jane’s narration and Rochester’s dialogue both included such. Interjections such as “Oh!” or “Aha!” were used to indicate excitement or new, sudden thoughts. Alliteration is also used by Brontë, and the poetic tone created by it reveals the influence in her writing of poets such as Milton, Wordsworth, and Scott. In the red-room Jane had to stem a “rapid rush of retrospective thought”, and here Rochester “feared she found [him] offensive”.

Brontë uses personification to intensify Jane’s emotions or ideas, such as “Hope”, “Passion” and “Conscience”. I was not able to include this so much in my response, but I did capitalise “Fate” and “Chance” to continue the idea of these more abstract concepts being given a more tangible presence. I attempted some Gothic elements, with Rochester referring to Jane as a “sprite” and himself as an “ogre”, incorporating the supernatural airs Brontë is so fond of. Also difficult to include was irony, and the social criticism Brontë creates with it. There was, though, some to be found in Rochester’s distress over Jane’s dismissal of marriage and her opinion of his appearance, as this highlights the unconventional and ironic nature of the situation in which Jane is leading Rochester on while Rochester is embarrassed and anxious.

Throughout Jane Eyre, Brontë explores the ongoing theme of the balance of power between men and women. However, we always get this balance from Jane’s perspective, which while insightful does not tell all the story. I thought it would be fun to take the opportunity to show this relationship from Rochester’s perspective, especially at the point where the usual social roles have been reversed.