WeWriWa—Arranged marriage anguish

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

I’m now returning to my alternative history, with the working title A Dream of Peacocks. It starts on May Day 1274, when Dante met his great love and muse Beatrice Portinari, and will give them an eventual happy ending, with lots of Sturm und Drang.

This comes from Chapter XVI, “Permanently Broken Bond.” It’s now 1287, and Dante is 22 years old, married for the last two and a half years to Gemma Donati. He was studying with his guardian and mentor Brunetto Latini when his eight-year-old halfsister Gaetana (Tana) told him Gemma went into labor about two months early. During their walk home, he discovers Tana knows about his love for another woman.

Tana stepped over a puddle. “Didn’t you ask her parents if you could marry her? People in love are supposed to do that, not let themselves be married to other people.”

My heart ached as I remembered first the announcement of my betrothal and then the news of Beatrice’s betrothal. “There was nothing we could do about it, since our parents decided for us whom we’d marry. Before Bice’s wedding, I kissed her in her parents’ garden when we were alone under the strawberry trees, since I didn’t want de ’Bardi to be the first man to have that honor.”

Tana stepped closer to me and squeezed my hand. “I’m really sorry you lost the girl you loved and had to marry someone you don’t love. Even now I can hear in your voice how much you adore her. When I’m old enough to be married, will you let me marry a man I love?”

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

“Yes,” I said without hesitation. “Now that Babbo is with God, it’s my duty to arrange an honorable marriage for you. I want you to marry a man of means, so you won’t suffer in poverty, but I also want you to marry someone of your choosing, a man who genuinely loves and respects you. If God blesses me with any daughters, I’ll do the same with them.”

“Oh, good. I thought you’d let me marry someone I love, but I had to ask just to make sure.” She smiled up at me. “You’re the best brother God could’ve blessed me with.”

Author: Carrie-Anne

Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

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