15th October, 1999
A young woman with hazelnut hair draped in a long, loose fitting jade dress is against an immaculate glass balcony high above an empty street pickled a ghoulish amber by weak street lights, weeping fat, black tears of mascara and terror. Her skinny, bony little body slides down the glass with a weak squeal and onto the cold wooden floor till she's foetal, legs folded in, aching, raw feet tucked under the folds of her dress, face hidden under her bleeding hand while the other clutched an ancient, mutilated teddy bear between pale, shivering fingers, each one ended with a nail clotted with dirt and dried vomit.
21st June, 1898
The same little teddy, albeit in much better condition, sat in front of the grubby fingerprint littered window of a toy shop, placed between a rocking horse and a dollhouse, It’s stubby limbs barely any length from its body. Its short curled fur was a milky cream except for its snout, which was caramel and ended with a polished button.
It stared out, watching the occasional stranger step into view from one end of his window to the outside and disappear passed the other. One of them, a small one with long hazelnut hair, braided and hung down their back, dressed in a frilly ocean blue sundress stopped, stopped and turned to face it.
She came closer, until her shallow breaths condensed onto the window. The two stared at each other through the fogged glass, it into her gentle blue eyes, she into its’s glossy black buttons. They were both frozen there for a moment until she suddenly smiled and nodded her head.
She spun around to the much larger figure with the neatly trimmed moustache that had followed her discourse and announced her desire for this lifeless beast.
That evening, the beast had been sat on the child’s dressed table, propped up by a book with the illustration of a small red chested bird . The child was now in a Violet nightdress, speckled with supper’s crumbs, sat on her charmingly miniature bed and brushing out her hair to it’s full length. she was soon done and padding over to the dressing table, returning the brush to it’s drawer, and again found herself staring into the little teddies’ buttons.
Julia’s world, as most little girls’ worlds were before the mind-numbing onslaught of screens that the following century was to become, was comprised of the misadventures of stuffed aristocracy and roguish rag-dolls. She pondered on where this newcomer would fit into it all. A Lord perhaps? No, the slightly rough feel of his fur gave way to a more rugged origin. A soldier? No, a Knight!
Julia reopened the drawer to retrieve a needle from her sewing kit, and gingerly placed it on both of the Teddies’ shoulders.
‘I knight thee…Sir Lancelot’.
And As the newly christened nobleman lay in the embrace of the child as she slept that night, it began an evolution without change, in the same way a circle of mushrooms becomes the home of fairies, a vaguely featured rock a sleeping troll, or a restless shadow in the child’s doorway, a creeping boogeyman.
Because, although the concept has been grossly diluted and stagnated to the point of hilarity and ridiculing, and even as you read this you will likely be reminded of some sickly sweet animation’s half-hearted moral, it is true; Love is a very real and very powerful force, powerful enough to alter logic and reason, and to bring this little bag of wool shaped into the crude figure of a bear into the land of the conscious.
1st July 1898
Lancelot sat on Julia’s lap, on a tartan picnic blanket in the family’s neighbouring field. He was about be inducted into the Daelchild literature club, a society whose prominence was second only to Mothers’ club, who had graciously asked Julia and Father to ‘play’ in the garden while she and the Ladies resided in the dining room. He had been seated between Lady Lilac, a tragically widowed ceramic doll who still regularly mourns her lost lover from the top shelf, and General Gunpowder, an old nutcracker with battle scars and a great many stories to tell, making his inability to speak all the more tragic.
Julia rapped a teaspoon against her mothers’ wine glass (she didn’t have any drink, it just felt proper to her) and called the group to order. Once the imaginary din had ceased, Julia began her carefully prepared speech.
‘I liked to start by announcing the unfortunate departure of Mrs Mare, who will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.’
Mrs Mare was a wooden rocking horse, one Lancelot had little time to associate with before she suffered a sudden and graphic demise at the hands, or rather buttocks, of one of Father’s Chaps and his drunken stupor, despite the best efforts of Dr Itsy Bitsy. Mr Stallion is still recovering from the mental trauma, hence his absence from the meeting.
‘But with every end there is a new beginning, and so it gives me great pleasure to welcome our newest member, the illustrious Sir Lancelot of Woolington!’.
Despite Julia’s’ enthusiastic clapping and her gestures for the others to join in, the vast majority of the Literature club failed to erupt into overwhelming applause. Nevertheless, Sir Lancelot felt giddy with anticipation, a sensation he’d recently coined as the ‘small joy before the large’.
Julia then went on to explain that, although she was very persistent, she wasn't allowed to borrow Mother’s ‘Picture of Dorian Grey’ lest it’s content deprave Julia beyond redemption, so she was forced to revisit her own ‘The prince and the pauper’. Sir Lancelot felt disappointment, or ‘anticipation but with no large joy’. He didn’t enjoy listening to The prince and the pauper. It made him wonder.
This alone is enough to cause him unease, or ‘anticipation, but with small fear and discomfort instead of small joy’, as wondering was still a fairly new and alien practice, involving seeing an event or being in a place that you are not in fact seeing or attending, sometimes with people you don't know. He often worried he wasn't doing it right, as his wonderments often involved places he’d been to, events he'd already watched, and with people he was well acquainted with. It would then make him wonder what the correct method would be, which then naturally made him worry whether he wondered the correct method correctly, bringing the line of thought full circle.
But the particularly troubling wonderment that the prince and the pauper brought on was this: What if he was involved in a similar trading of lifestyles and was unaware of it? What if he was given this life at the cost of another's? What if he was only able to articulate, imagine and develop because someone elsewhere lay dormant, a prisoner in his own absence of a mind? Or, an even more troubling thought, what if he had stolen it without realising? What if Miss Julia found out!?
‘How could you! An act of such cruelty and disregard for others Committed by a so called bear of valour and chivalry? Unthinkable! Clearly there has a been a lapse in my usual excellent judgement of character. Never again shall you dirty my home with your vulgar presence!
It was indeed a troublesome wonderment, a wonderment guilty of Much unease-mongering and many metaphorical heart-beats being skipped.
Perhaps he should ask General Gunpowder for his opinion on the matter. He seems like a dependable fellow, if rather quiet.
5th August 1898
The past month had been quite the education for Lancelot. Julia taught him and the others so much about the world outside of the home, starting, of course, with that there was a world outside of the home, and an explanation of what a world is.
From what he understood from Miss Julia’s energetic, if occasionally conflicting lessons, the world is a place filled with places people enter by being born (a process Julia has yet to explain) so they can grow up or old, whichever suits them best, choose an occupation, such as a lawyer, a miner or a prince and make or receive a family,(a possible product of the mysterious birth process).
He has also learned much about Miss Julia's family and their occupations. Father works as a ‘busyness’ man, which involves him in the process of making money, although what recipes and utensils are used are still as much a mystery as the recipes and utensils used in the birth process, excluding the facts that whatever was involved was very time consuming, and required daily attention elsewhere from the home.
Mother's occupation is peculiar, as it is similar to Father's in the sense that it was very time consuming and important, but also vastly different as Mother seemed to be an 'entertainer', primarily of guests. she spent a large expense of her time preparing for and entertaining these guests. She also seems to be grooming Miss Julia for this role as she often requests her presence, either to help prepare butter and bread or cake or to be complimented by the guests for being so smart or kind or beautiful or someone other verbal commendation. Sir Lancelot failed to see the entertainment value in any of this, but took this as a sign of his own absence of knowledge rather than one of Mother's ineptitude, and preserved his silent.
But the greatest revelation for Lancelot was his introduction to the titles. Miss Julia explained how titles were similar to the swords of Sir Lancelot namesakes in several fashions, the first referring to the most modest being akin to humble squires fiddling with little more then overambitious daggers, while the most beloved of the nobility would wield the long, shining blades of the good lord. The second fashion relates to the first, in that the greater the title, the more smitten the wielder’s enemy will be. A measly master Peterson, a master so new to the world he was yet to master the master and become the mister, would, and by all rights should, tremble and quiver in the presence of a Sir, whose blood was so elegant that if it were to, heaven forbid, leave his body, it would do so with great decorum and with great care as not to spoil the newly deceased’s suit.
Sir Lancelot didn’t think it possible for him to continue to swell with pride without it causing some kind of emotional leakage as Miss Julia explained how a knighthood was awarded only to the pinnacles of courage and righteousness throughout history.
She then took him into her hands and planted a kiss onto his perfumed forehead, and announced him as her very own, and was proven very much mistaken.
15th October 1898
It may be one thing to be told about the world outside, but it is one of a very different nature to venture into it, or rather be carried by someone who is doing the venturing. Miss Julia was wary to bring any of the literature club along her trips since the disappearance of Lady lilac in the domestic sands of a faraway side of the sea, But recently she's been adamant in bringing Sir Lancelot along whenever Mother or Father collect her as company on their travels.
Whenever Father accompany the two, Miss Julia and Sir Lancelot stare at glass jars filled with yellow shiny pills, bigger multi-coloured lumps speckled with tiny crystals, and biggest rainbow balls, all the whilst Julia deduced the perfect ratio of sweet, sour and savoury for her little paper bag she’ll take home as Father collected his cigars from other places, or they embalm themselves in velvet scarves and stockings while father is measured for a new suit by his other-place-but-not-too-other-place tailor (Father often implies that some places are too other to share it’s people with us, although Mother is in disagreement and often tells Miss Julia that if father had his way, the only colour of the rainbow would be marble white).
On Mother’s adventures, they occasionally search frighteningly large bookshelves for the literature club’s trademark one-woman discussions, Miss Julia tapping each book’s spine as she went along like an old tradesman does as his father taught him as an unorthodox ‘trick’ to unearthing the quality of his produce. More often than not, though, It was to endure the entertainment courtesy of Mother’s vast array of friends and relatives.
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