So I started to write my novel, then I ended up scrapping the 1067 words I had and rewriting everything in first person. I am really liking the way this is turning out, although I have to keep stopping myself from using flowery descriptive language like I would if I was doing 3rd person because it is totally different. I’m hoping that someone can give me some feedback on whether I’m staying in one character’s voice, since I’m doing first person for the very first time in a story longer than a few paragraphs. Here is what I have so far if anyone is interested, I’d love to hear if it works!
I stood with my hands clasped tightly behind my back, the strain on my shoulder didn’t show on my face although it had been dislocated only a week ago. I was very good at keeping a grim countenance. It would never do, of course, for this client to see the disgust on my face as she droned on. Petra Valencourt was a wealthy woman, entitled but not titled as the saying went. The opulence of the room cradled her white draped form like a pearl in a gray and white shell. Pale silvery carpets, undyed spider silk, covered the wooden floor of her receiving room; white curtains puffed slowly in a breeze I could just barely feel on my cheeks beneath the thick brown beard I’d grown just for the occasion. It itched. I concentrated a moment, letting her words roll over me as I mastered the urge to scratch. With some clients I’d have done it, it would have given a certain air of grim interest but I had a feeling she would see it as unseemly so I kept my hands locked together. I doubted anyone who looked as I did had ever soiled these rich carpets with rough leather boots tied tight the knee and an ankle length coat, much too warm for the beginning of autumn and frayed around the hems and cuffs. It concealed all the trappings of my profession.
Petra had an annoyed twist to her pretty lips, her own expression suggesting that she complained merely about the new puppy soiling the draperies. She was explaining to me, in unnecessary detail, why she had hired me to murder her seven year old stepdaughter. “Don’t know why he didn’t drown the little mongrel,” she was saying, fulfilling the puppy analogy in my own thoughts. I fought to keep in a sigh. “His family had to beg him to marry me after he brought her back from that whore in the capitol to be his little pet project, as if I don’t come from a good family and brought new trade to his businesses.” She smoothed one hand over the swell of her stomach, “As if I can’t give him a legitimate child. I’ll not have my babe given half a share over that little piece of,” she stopped herself. Closing her eyes for a moment as her vehemence overcame her mask of gentility. Her hair was so blonde as to nearly be white with a few strands lashing her cheeks as she trembled with rage. She was beautiful, too bad she was a monster. I know, I’m calling someone a monster who is paying me to do murder. I never said I was better, just that I should know one when I saw it.
She looked up at me, as though waiting for me to give my own commentary on what a dreadful man her husband was to sire a child on a prostitute before he’d ever met her and to want to provide for said child in his will. I gave a slight grave nod as though asking her to continue when all I wanted was to get this over with if only to shut her up. I didn’t really want to get to the ‘doing my job’ part of the afternoon, but I did want to get out of this woman’s presence. The silence in the room, in the whole manor in fact, was deafening. My ears rang with the lack of every day sounds a home this large should have produced just from servants going about their business. You would never have guessed a child lived here, or that another was expected it was that quiet. I decided to break the silence myself, “Madam,” my voice rumbled in my chest, an octave lower than my usual speaking voice. With repeat clients this subterfuge was not necessary, but unless she decided to kill her husband sometime in the future I doubted we would ever meet again. Not exactly running in the same social circles. “There is the question of witnesses.” I fished, curious about just where all the servants had gotten to.
“Oh,” her mouth made the shape and the she smirked slightly as though she were about to be clever, “I sent them all away, gave them the half day off so they could visit the fair halfway between here and town.” I grimaced but said nothing, it wasn’t a part of my job to assist in my client getting away with hiring me. It was only my concern to not get myself caught or leave any nasty little traces an investigator would be looking for if they even looked, since accidents happen all the time not everyone who goes missing or turns up dead goes looked for or looked into at all.
“How ingenious of you madam,” I murmured quietly, her face lighting with self congratulations. “Now if I may perform my duties as per your request?” I wondered if she was going to do it. I’ve had clients back out at the very last moment, even had one try to back out when that last moment ran out and they felt bad. I hated it when that happened but I’m no one’s conscience. I was already arguing with my own at the moment.
“Oh,” she said again, looking gratifyingly flustered, “Yes, of course.” She had to heave herself out of the chair, breaking the illusion of untouchable beauty as she made a soft grunt of exertion. She was farther along than I thought, maybe two or three more weeks at most until the baby came. She adjusted the hem of her gown and slipped out through one side of the double doors. I caught a glimpse of another room beyond, this place was both old and grand and hadn’t yet been remodeled to fit the new fashion. In these old manors one room just led into another instead of exiting out onto hallways stretching down the whole length of each wing. I listened to the shushing sound of her footsteps crossing hard wood, then silence as she walked out of earshot. I unclasped my hands and briskly scratched my cheeks and chin through my beard and quickly finger combed the hair back into order. I looked around the perfectly decorated space and allowed myself a grimace before quickly resuming my position as though I’d never moved when two sets of footsteps reached my ears.
The soft sound of Petra’s longer stride and the stumbling stride of a small child reached the door and it swung open. Petra held a little girl by the wrist, practically dragging her into the room. I could see that they were almost exact opposites and I tried to remember if she’d given me her stepdaughter’s name or if she had only given her epithets. I didn’t think she had. The girl’s skin was a few shades darker than the woman’s, her hair dull and black; it looked as though no one had been taking care of her for at least as long as her father had been away. “You see my dear,” Petra’s voice was perfectly friendly, it was a striking contrast to the angry tones she had been using only a few minutes before, “This nice man is one of woodsmen hereabouts, and he’s come to tell me about a nest of baby rabbits he’s found and wanted to give you the opportunity to see them!” her words ended on a bright upturned note, full of amiable cheer. She lightly patted the girls head, looking as though she’d like to rub her hand clean on her delicate dress but only refrained from force of will. I hated her in that moment; oh I’d despised her already for what she was paying me to do but this was almost unnecessarily cruel.
Petra pushed her forward, “No introduce yourself to this gentleman.” Her mask fell as the girl faced away from her, sneering down at her from behind. He nodded gravely to her, “Amba, sir,” she spoke almost too softly for him to hear her. She stumbled slightly as she came out of an ungraceful curtsy. “That’s a good girl.” She was a wonderful actress, anyone else who hadn’t seen the slight disgust on her face after touching her husband’s child might think she was a doting mother, I bet people found her beautiful but not particularly bright with her light high voice and simpering expression when anyone who mattered was looking. No one would believe that this guileless creature could buy the death of a child while preparing to bring another into the world. Looking at the wary expression on Amba’s face, I had a feeling she would believe it; with the way she had surreptitiously shied away from her stepmother’s touch.
I couldn’t watch this farce anymore, my shoulder was on fire from the way my hands clenched behind me and I could only just keep a snarl from my voice as I said, “I’m Marten girl,” and held out a hand to her, “Now, let’s go see about those rabbits eh?” I didn’t look at her stepmother as Amba put her small hand in my own which swallowed hers up and turned away. There were wide double doors, paned in the same expensive thin glass as all the windows, leading out to a porch and stairs down into the garden below. I tugged her in that direction and I breathed in the clean outdoors air, cleaning my lungs of the stink of that perfect room with it’s perfumed and hateful occupant. Of course a part of me hoped that the bitch would cry out, stop no! But of course she didn’t, she just watched.