IMAGINARY LOCALES OF MYSTERY AND MAGIC
Places where it seems like you could find something new. Places that seem a little magic. Places where I can imagine myself tumbling into the picture and doing something specific and lovely and important. Places with a distinct aesthetic and a lot of glow. Places where a novel would be set. Places that need a heroine. Places for an adventure.
- •I'm a pupil at an all-girls boarding school in England. I can't stand my roommate in the dormitory; she's cruel and rich and petty. One day, she accuses me of stealing a piece of jewelry from her that I never touched. I run out past where we are supposed to go in the fields and trees outside the Academy and find this place. It feels different.
- •I'm a tough one, familiar with the backwoods and the mountains. I have to find a man who will tell me the story of how my grandparents met. He's ornery and lonely and lives away by himself in the hills, and there's rumor that he might be sinister as all get out. I'm determined to find him.
- •I'm a millinery assistant in New England in the 1910s. The head milliner is my aunt and guardian, kind in a brusque and businesslike way. I'm in love with the boy I see working at the lighthouse. I've never talked to him before, but I've imagined his rope-calloused hands a hundred times. Today I'll talk to him. Or maybe tomorrow.
- •I'm at a boring political party for my husbands mayoral reelection campaign, held at a boring big house. I wander off, resentful and a little buzzed, and stumble across this table with my name on a placecard. A beautiful woman with a predatory smile steps out to pull out my chair for me. "Won't you sit down," she breathes.
- •I'm a governess for a moderately well-off family in 1840s England. One day, they are all invited to a mysterious benefactor's estate for a promised discussion; I am brought along to watch the children. As we grow closer in the coach, a heavy scent of jasmine fills the air and the children grow quiet. The gates open slowly, creaking and groaning.
- •I will be the first woman to reach the top of Mt. Strange if it kills me - and it seems like it just might. This is the night I'm supposed to summit on my groundbreaking solo expedition. The air feels crackly and wild, and I've never seen Northern Lights like this. I'm not sure what will happen.
- •I'm an heiress living in Gilded Age New York. I throw the most famous and fabulous parties anyone living can remember. What nobody at these parties knows? My greenhouse is filled with delicate poisonous flowers, worth-its-weight saffron, and a plant that induces pleasant hallucinations. One day I find a stranger snooping inside. He's gotta go.
- •My husband is lost at sea. I have nothing and I'm desperate to procure food and firewood for my baby. One day, I scream out to the wild Scottish ocean, "YOU CAN HAVE ME BUT SAVE HER, PLEASE!" The next morning I awake to a glistening dark-haired woman in the corner of our small whitewashed house. "Come," she says, baring her pointy teeth. "Now."
- •I'm an archaeologist. I believe in fact and I'm desperately searching for a new find to please the investors of my dig, now that the museum's gone under. I find a shard of pottery that I know - I KNOW - is from at least 4,000 years ago, and yet it's bonded to some sort of plastic, with strange markings on it. At night, I start to hear humming.
- •I'm a girl in colonial Pennsylvania. I dress as a boy so I could join the Minute Men and fight for liberty. I've been wounded in battle - I can't let the army doctor tend to me or he will discover my secret. I'm limping towards the home of Elizabeth Janning, daughter of the richest Dutch traders around, recent widow, who kissed me when we were 12.