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.
I’m skipping ahead a few pages from last week’s excerpt. Beatrice has spent the night in the house after collapsing from illness and injury, and then falling into a very deep sleep. Because she’s too severely and extensively injured for bloodletting, her only course of treatment thus far has been cold rags to bring her body temperature down.
The moment the first slivers of light began breaking across the sky, I jumped out of bed, ran upstairs to Galfrido’s room, and pounded upon his door. In all the years he’d worked for my family, I’d never awoken him or taken advantage of my authority over him, but urgent times necessitated unusual measures.
Galfrido opened the door and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Without wasting a moment, I firmly grasped his left arm and pulled him into the hallway.
”You must hasten at once to Ser Folco’s house and tell him to come here,” I said. “Say there’s a very complicated, sensitive situation I need to discuss with him, but don’t provide any details. If I had the money, I’d pay you extra for inconveniencing yourself last night and this morning.”
“There’s no inconvenience in the life of a servant,” Galfrido said as he adjusted his cloak. “Doing as my master demands is just how my life is ordered. It doesn’t feel like a hardship or annoyance to me, since I’ve never known anything different.”
The ten lines end here. A few more follow to complete the scene.
He pulled his hood over his head. “I’ll return as soon as I can. God willing, Monna Bice will still be in this world.”
After he departed, I hurried to Beatrice’s room and peered in. Now that it was daylight, I saw how red and rashy her face was. It wasn’t merely flushed, as I’d interpreted it last night. To make sure she still drew breath, I entered the room and put my right thumb and forefinger over the veins in her neck. Praise God, there was a pulse.
Since there was nothing else I could do to help her, I went downstairs into the library and took my favorite book off the shelf. Though I knew The Aeneid by heart, reading it offered a more intense, personal connection to my dear Virgil’s ancient words than recalling them in my head or reciting them aloud. And even if I still failed to find solace in them for want of being preoccupied by the turmoil seething in my life, I nevertheless loved the full-page illustrations, fancy letters, and little drawings in the margins.
The door creaked open just as Aeneas had lost his dear Creusa. I shut the book and stood up to face Ser Folco, who walked ahead of Galfrido.