It was the eleventh day of October 1840 when I saw her… Claudette… the entire world stopped on its axis. I held my dainty, laced glove to my face as a wave lashed against a sea cliff. I was to be shipped off to the Duke against my will the coming morning, but I knew nothing would ever be the same—
Sorry! I didn’t see you standing there. You caught me scribbling in my diary, lusting after my Claudette, who works the odd job of cleaning ancient fossils. Here, let me clear this paint palette off my dusty spindle wood chair so you can sit down.
I am happy you found me because even though I am holed up in an abandoned seaside cabin, I can also be found in an alleyway or relaxing on the French countryside. You never know with me.
Excuse my disheveled nature, as I am a mess lately. I thought about drowning myself ever since my lover Claudette was sent to Australia by none other than the Duke himself. You see, it all started when my father, Richard, grew worried about my melancholy and gifted me a “friend” to pass the time with.
Our friendship quickly blossomed into, to my surprise, a budding courtship. Our days were filled with the sound of rustling petticoats, heavy breathing, and discordant violin music. We’d take prolonged arcadian walks by a pond, as our fingers grazed the tips of one another’s so gracefully.
I understand you didn’t ask to hear my tale, yet here I am holding my candelabra guiding you through a dimly lit hallway. The hallway is composed of my illustrious paintings of former objects of my affection. Flowers, fruit, a maiden’s dilated pupils. I’ve lost many unrequited loves in the past: one to dysentery, one to drowning, and one to my brother. Please don’t make me get into it.
Don’t mind me; I am only gazing into your eyes to find the spellbinding spark that I had with Claudette. Our nights were filled with lingering glances near a crackling fire until one of us would succumb to our brewing passions.
Alas, it isn’t there between us.
Have I mentioned it’s nearly my WEDDING DAY?! Sshhh, be quiet and dim your candle, I think Father heard us coming up the stairs.
Yes, tomorrow I am to be wed to the Duke without my consent. That’s why I’m here. They are treating me for hysteria before I board the tiny boat and sail against my will. The thought of an unsatisfying marriage haunts me in my dreams. I see visions of Claudette’s face etched in between flashes of wedding lace and parchment. God, it brings my chamber pot to a boil.
It will not end well for me.
A few more things you should understand:
- I only ever look like a very white French or English woman, who’s very straight and yearning for an Oscar.
- My female counterpart is always involved in a shut away profession that requires the use of skilled hands.
- I am a lady from the 18th or 19th century. Why? Because lesbians didn’t exist until the postmodern movement. And even then, we can’t be certain.
We haven’t much time left, as I am an adroit painter and writer and must finish my etchings before my candle burns out. Before you go, can you please take this letter I penned and this brooch to my dear Claudette? You won’t? Because if my father were to find out, Claudette and I could both be beheaded? Now that you say it, that does sound quite familiar. No matter, I will probably bump into her at a museum or opera sometime in the next twenty years.
My god, I just realized I didn’t ask you your name? What is it?
You’re… the Duke?
My… my… my… sir! It’s an honor…
Riddle me this… will I see sunrise?
The two lovers never meet again as she died before she got the chance to see Claudette, who arrived from Australia the day after the funeral.