The first chapter, "Of Preludes", in Charlotte Rose's story...
| I was a young girl in my early-mid twenties (I simply cannot recall the exact year anymore for so much has happened since then), though most would swear on their lives that I was much older. From a young age I was told that I was a pretty girl. Not desirable, exactly, just pretty, and far too reserved to be anyone’s anything. That never really bothered me, for I had little desire to be some man’s housewife. In fact, quite the contrary, I had always believed since I was a little girl that I would never be married and never have children. I was afraid to grow up alone, always afraid, but the idea of living by myself without the boundaries of another to worry about was always the more appealing of my limited options.
I was blessed, or cursed, with the want to reach ever higher and to find some divine inspiration in all that I pursued. Unfortunately for me, the life I was born into never offered such exceptional release. Instead I was forced to deny the most primal and intrinsic urges I knew, was forced to trade them for the simplicities of the lower-middle class in a land where money meant so much and inspiration meant very little.
And of course there was always that idea, that fragile hope, forever hanging over my family’s collective head, biting and praying at the same time that I would settle down and marry a wealthy man. My family had once been far wealthier than it was now, ages ago in Czechoslovakia. My grandmother attributed our “new poverty” to my great-great-grandmother’s marriage to an Irish man, but I was never much interested in family history and blamed no one but our poor ability to be appropriately frugal for our lack of money. And, like I said before, it never really bothered me as a child or as a young woman. I was far too enchanted with the intangible and the thought of beauty outside of money and class. I was entranced by the shapes of flowers and the scent of rainfall, by the curve of every human’s fragile body or the degree of sunshine radiated from behind the high, wispy clouds.
I always kept my very pale, blond hair somewhat short, a sign that worried my mother and always forced her to ask me if I could possibly hang around with more nice little girls to play with dolls and drink imaginary tea with imaginary guests. Amusing thing, is it not? A mother asking her child to put aside the more realistic past-times of running races and building forts and delve instead in the imaginary and unrealistic by talking to plastic dolls. In fact, I always found it rather backwards, but I never dared to question my mother’s authority.
I had my father’s eyes: also very pale, and a strange shade of blue-grey-green that always shifted and always seemed about to shatter like glass. Sometimes my eyes seemed so light they were nearly transparent, a literal window into the sanctity of my mind. But I had my mother’s temper. She was always one for a conflict and was rarely the sensitive mother I always seemed to need. In fact, I was always an emotional person, every bit as sensitive as she was callous, and as a result of my lack of emotional outlet, I became a bit of an introvert with the tendency to flow my frustration into something new and of a different shape. Had I been a slightly more violent person, I would have been just like my mother: angry and belligerent. But because of my father’s quiet nature, I was a bit more constructive with all the tension that I had come to know from the moment I could understand words and toddle around the house.
My family moved to America before I was born, making my elder siblings the first real Americans in our family. I was the youngest, so by the time I was born the magic had long since worn out, though it was never completely forgotten. My family loved what it found in this new country, and my father said we could easily thrive there. Unfortunately, it could not be so, not for him. My mother left when I was six years old after a particularly nasty fight with my father over her alcoholic tendencies and a man whose name I did not know but whose temptations had stolen my mother away from us. Seeing the devastation she and this strange man caused my father tore me apart and made me hate her for the longest time. My gentle father had never deserved such a fate, had never done anything in his life that would require a fraction of this horrible, immense punishment. He remarried ten years later after finding a quiet, pretty woman much more similar in personality with whom he would spend the rest of his life. I loved my new mother, but in a detached way which never allowed us to get close. As much as I hated my real mother for what she had done, this new attempt at a parent was not and never could be my mother. After all, I was who I was, and that much I knew already.
I had five older brothers, but the oldest child in our family was the only other girl. Her name was Iselle, the only thing my father and mother ever really agreed on. She was an enchanting young lady, beautiful and graceful and everything I could never be. But she was infertile, and when she married at nineteen and could not bear her husband any children, the burden fell back on my shoulders to marry into a wealthy family in this new land and thus stabilize all we had into something concrete and comfortable.
However, as time wore on and I continued to grow into what I would invariably become regardless of what they wanted, they realized how futile their efforts were to persuade me to be this maternal, fertile goddess to their family. I did not spend my days pursuing their dreams, and I did not spend my nights dreaming of what they wanted. Instead, I spent my hours longing for escape, for a cathartic exit route from what everyone knew and wanted. I dreamt of a different life consisting of different people. I did not want a stable job so I might become rich. I wanted to write so I could pursue my own personal passion and to paint so I could express my own desires.
I escaped when I was still rather young and did my best working anywhere I could, really, to get the money I needed to survive. And when I deemed I had enough to live off of until I wrote a best seller of the ages, I quit my jobs and retired to the sanctity of a small home in the suburbs of a large city across the country from where I had grown up. I never stayed much in contact with my parents except for the occasional phone call to or from my father or brothers. I heard from Iselle maybe once or twice in my life after she and I went our separate ways. We did not need to communicate, for we hardly knew each other at all, and we were both far too preoccupied with trying to drown ourselves in ideas we created to disguise our unhappiness and unsteady past.
And that was truly where my story began, for I would soon realize that all the years leading up to that point in my life were nothing but a prelude to a beautiful and exotic composition. Really, I could have never seen it coming, and I would not have wanted to even if I had the opportunity to glimpse at it.