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 sharing from 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 right after last week’s excerpt, when Beatrice’s father Folco discovered not only that his daughter is very ill and injured, but that her husband beat her because he believes she was committing adultery. In the middle of his rant against his son-in-law and his own poor judgment in arranging the marriage, Dante’s stepmother comes into the room.
My stepmother smiled at Ser Folco. “I presume you’ve come to take your stricken daughter home. This scandalous arrangement can’t end a moment too soon.”
Ser Folco stopped in his tracks and stared at her. “Scandalous? You dare call human decency scandalous? Have you been speaking with my son-in-law Simone de ’Bardi? Who knows, perhaps you’re one of the women he’s been sleeping with in secret.”
Monna Lapa gasped and ran out of the room, almost tripping over her skirts.
“She refused to help Bice last night,” I said, hoping she overheard and felt even a smidgen of shame.
The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.
“When she saw me carrying Bice into the spare bedroom, she accused me of bringing her there for illicit purposes. Thank God, my eight-year-old sister volunteered her feminine assistance without complaining.”
“I’d be more than happy to give you one of my maidservants,” Ser Folco said. “It’s not fair to make a child provide all the assistance.” He pulled his cloak tighter around himself. “I think my business here is just about concluded. Praise Christ no one harmed Bice when she was walking alone at night, and that she collapsed where she did, when she did. I don’t want to think about what might’ve happened to her in different circumstances.”
I saw Ser Folco to the door while my siblings went to eat their morning meal. Once I bid him farewell, I dashed upstairs to check on Beatrice.
She was still deep in sleep, and her face hadn’t lost any of its redness. I made the sign of the cross over her, sank onto my knees, and began reciting every Biblical story and prayer I could think of about healing. All our days are numbered, but I couldn’t bear the thought of my immaculate dream being taken away before she was even midway our life’s journey.