Who Goes There?

Who Goes There

Who Goes There?

Fascinating, these adventures, this memoir so cleverly disguised with names seemingly strange, yet with character so easily identified by Madeline. After all, she was like a fixture in the house. Always there. Never missing a thing. Her own quarters on the third floor might be modest, in fact spare, but she knew every room in the house, was privy to all the comings and goings – including all the male visitors, no matter how discrete their appearances might seem.

But if this was how her mistress wanted to record her dalliances, so be it. It added to the mystery and made reading them all the more intriguing.

Madeline had just finished straightening the chambers of her mistress, when she realized the book on the nightstand was no novel, nor even a volume of poetry. It was, in fact, a diary. The fact that the cover was well worn, yet Madeline had never seen it before, meant it must have some value to her mistress. Perhaps it normally was kept in the locked cabinet with her jewelry.

The temptation was too great, and Madeline found herself sitting on the edge of the bed, pouring through the pages, drinking in the details of moments of passion she might only wish for herself. Features she instantly recognized were here so intimately described that she envisioned each of those “discreet” visitors.

So enraptured was she by the details before her that she was startled to hear the unmistakable sound of footsteps in the hall outside the bedroom. She dropped swiftly to the floor beside the bed, view of the door blocked from her sight, and hoped it was not her mistress coming her way.

Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction challenge #11: Who goes there? offers a painting by Adriano Cecioni, Interior with a Figure, and the theme Who goes there? The word count here is 279.

Image source: Wikipedia

13 thoughts on “Who Goes There?

  1. I’m not sure about the structure of this one. It took me a few readings to get it straight in my head. In such a short story I think it might be better to keep the chronology linear rather than backtracking. The ending also seems to lack drama. It’s a bit flat. I think you need a final sentence to finish off the story rather than leaving it dangling.

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    • Linear… To me, the story is about the maid (and yes, what tempted her). I suppose I could have had her performing her duties, finding the diary, then given her impression of the contents – fictionalized content, re: the names – but my mind doesn’t work that way. I know you’ve pointed out my non-linear story lines before, but I’m not sure how to rewire my brain to correct that.

      I could have finished it off, but I wanted to leave it with an unanswered question – Who goes there? I suppose The Lady or the Tiger was lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. Of course, she chose her direction the moment she started reading the diary.


      • It is perfectly possible to do backtracks, but it needs careful working so it’s clear what’s going. That’s even harder in a very short piece. For the ending, I didn’t mean that finishing off necessarily meant a conclusion. An unanswered question is fine; I meant more something that indicates what might be about to happen, and how the servant feels about it; The reader cares about her because you’ve built up her backstory and created a real character.

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        • I see what you mean. Maybe something as simple as recognizing for certain whose footsteps are approaching and regretting actions that mean the end of her employment would achieve that.


        • Exactly. I’m not an expert, don’t even know if I do it myself how it ‘ought’ to be done, but I have a feeling that a story is incomplete if there are too many possible directions left open at the end. If there’s an indication that one possibility is more possible than the others, the reader can see the option and accept it or not.

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  2. Pingback: Microfiction challenge Who goes there? The entries – Jane Dougherty Writes

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