Last night was Writing Race night. This is an hour of self-propelled writing, knowing that all over Australia other writers are doing the same thing. It isn’t a race against each other, but against ourselves. I used my time last night to make a tentative exploration into the characters from the cake-themed short story of this writing experiment.
To be truthful, I generally don’t do this exploration of character for a short story. This would be a first draft … for my eyes only. But I promised to share everything, and so you are getting this first draft, warts and all. As you can see, there is no setting … but I did warn you all that setting was my weakest skill. Most of this will be discarded, but I can already ‘hear’ my characters. Elena is not as ‘no nonsense’ as I first conceived her, because she is genuinely fond of her boss, Sir Bozz. The princess is likeable, but I need to work more on her personality. Sir Bozz is quite as charming as I imagined him …
Foelddim was a tiny country, its main exports were perry and people. It monarchy had survived into the 21st century by good luck rather than good management. But time and inbreeding had thinned the royal blood, and now the monarchy consisted of a single surviving princess. The monarchy was shaky, and so it was decided by the parliament that their princess needed a husband, a consort…
Elena was going through a list of possibilities with Princess Royal, Odette.
“The English royal family has a prince or two to spare…” ventured Elena.
“Oh my. I hope you aren’t suggesting the baby,” exclaimed Etty, screwing up her nose, “and do I come across as a cougar?”
Elena just rolled her eyes. The Princess Royal had a whimsical sense of humour. “I was thinking more of one of older young men. The red-headed adventurer seems sweet.”
“He also seems to have a roving eye. He is rather handsome and he knows it.”
“Well, the bachelors of the British Crown isn’t limited to just him,” said Elena. “But he is probably the best of unmarried ones.”
“Indeed. And British men do have such lovely accents,” said Etty. She sighed. “I’m not trying to be difficult, you know.”
“I know. But the parliament fear for the succession. Why not agree to approach this British lad, and see what happens? It will get those old fogeys off your back for a while, if they see you are at least making an attempt.”
“Will it get Uncle Bozz off my back?” asked Etty.
Elena fell silent. They both knew the answer to that would be ‘no’. His Excellency, Sir Bozz Sciocco, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, was Elena’s boss; she was his Under Secretary. He wasn’t really Etty’s uncle; he had been best friends with the King and was Etty’s godfather. He had watched her growning up, sending her presents and letters from all over the world as he travelled for his position. With the death of the King, he had taken it upon himself to be Odette’s advisor and main supporter. However, he was very old-fashioned. He sincerely felt that Etty’s position required her to marry and provide an heir (or six).
As if called by the mention of his name, Sir Bozz wandered into the Elena’s office, his head down as he went through his notes. “My dear, could you rearrange my afternoon appointments so that I have a chance to visit the Erehwon embassy around four o’clock?” Then he caught sight of the Princess Royal, smiled fondly and said, “Odette, my dear! How are you?”
“Just peachy, Uncle Bozz,” replied Etty. “You’re looking well today.”
“Thank you, thank you,” said the ambassador. “I’m wearing one of my new vests. I believe it does suit me.” He did a sober spin to show off his garment, a dark plum confection striped with threads of bronze. There was enough fabric in the vest to make a ball gown for both Etty and Elena.
“It’s lovely,” said Etty, and meant it.
Elena suppressed the urge to grin. She didn’t want to hurt Sir Bozz’s feelings, and not because he was her boss. She said, “The tailor did a fine job, you Excellency. And I will contact the Erehwon embassy immediately to make the arrangements for your visit. Last meeting of the day?”
“Yes. I’m certain to be asked to stay for an informal dinner.”
“Did you want me to come to take notes?” asked Elena. She knew the ambassador did most of his real work at the so-called informal dinners.
“Yes, my dear. I hope you didn’t have any other plans for the evening?”
“Only with me, Uncle Bozz,” said Etty. “And it was only to share a pizza and watch a movie. We can do that another night.”
“Excellent. I’ll make it up to both of you. I’ll shout you the pizza for tomorrow night.”
Both the girls grinned and Etty hugged the ambassador. “Thank you, Uncle Bozz.”
“Tut-tut,” muttered the old gentleman, but he looked pleased all the same. He wandered out of the office again.
“I’m sorry you have to work late again,” said Etty to her friend.
“I’m used to it. It means I’ll get to sleep in tomorrow, as his Excellency won’t be up until noon.”
“The joys of the diplomat’s life,” said Etty, half enviously. She hardly ever got the chance to sleep in. If she didn’t get up early, she would rarely have a chance to exercise. Later in the day was taken up with engagements and meetings.