Claire: In London

     Claire stood motionless in her room, staring out the window at the narrow London lane. Any moment now her suitor would come calling, and she would descend into the parlor where his currently unknown face waited. She was extremely uncomfortable, done up splendidly in her stays and gown. Her mother had made certain that Claire had a fine gown for courting, for who can win herself a man while looking terribly drab?
     A fine rain was drizzling, and the blank grey sky matched Claire’s mood. She longed for the days when she was small and could dress like a boy and run through the streets like a crazy little urchin, laughing and playing with her half brother, Aiken, two years her younger. He spent his days pining over a delicate young thing that was far beyond his reach, and had forsaken childish play for wooing.
     Claire thought absently about how so many people were forced, by accidents of birth and pressures of society, to be just what they were told to and expected to be. Aiken had wished to grow into a proud, strong soldier, but instead illness had dashed any hopes of glory, however misled, to the ground. Their mother had secretly confessed her wish to travel, to see the world through clear eyes, but marriage and motherhood had bound her to house and home.
     Thoughts turned inevitably to Claire’s own wishes. The distinct issue with Claire’s wishes was the fact that Claire herself had no idea what she wished for. She knew that often she shared her mothers dreams of travel, and more often than not she would think of the sea. Her father had left her no memories, having left when she was wee, but he had left her a small and exquisite ship in a bottle. She had grown up with that ship on a shelf near her bed, and had always begged her youngest uncle for any books he could acquire that told of ships and the sea.
     The rain was coming down harder, and Claire turned from the window running with rain. She attempted to sit on the side of her bed, but found it impossible to sit in her current garb. She cursed a few words she learned from often sneaking around the docks when she oughtn’t. She ought to be a proper lady, with a husband and babes and a good life. She snorted derisively in the privacy of her room and tried leaning against a wall.
     She heard a sharp cry from outside her room and hurried towards her door. She soon found that it was difficult to hurry in her voluminous skirts and grabbed handfuls of skirt in either hand. She hurried through the house and into the kitchens, where her mother stood, a hand over her heart and her mouth in an O.
     A tall young man stood a few feet from her mother, and Claire mused that it might be her suitor. She quickly contemplated her mothers shocked expression and cry, and the mans stern look and large size. She darted, as much as she could dart in her skirts, towards where a small vase sat upon a table. She seized it in one hand and prepared to throw it at the man.
     “I don’t know how you’ve upset my mother, but if you harm her-” she began. The man started laughing, and threw his hands up defensively.
     “I would never harm our mother,” he said smoothly, his voice colored with a French accent.
     “Our… mother?” Claire asked, confused. She still clutched the vase in her raised hand.
     “Yes, my dear… meet your brother,” her mother said weakly.
     Claire slowly lowered her vase. “I already have a brother,” she snapped.
     “Well now you’ve got another one,” the man laughed. “You can set that vase down now.”

The End

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