Today’s Daily Post prompt says this: Worlds Colliding — Take two main characters from two different books (either fiction or nonfiction) and introduce them to, or have them meet, each other. What would happen next?
I just could not come up with two characters from different books. I did toy with the idea of having a TV character, James T. Kirk get fresh with Lizzy Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, but I just don’t have the time to develop that story today. However, the prompt did make me think of a story I wrote about ten years ago where I, in my imagination, get to meet a famous author. So I am going to deviate from the prompt and re-post that story.
A bit of context regarding this story is necessary: In 2006 I was involved in an interactive writing project at the Soul Food Cafe. The project was to write a series of stories based in the fictional realm of Christine de Pizan’s City of Ladies situated in the mythical realm of Lemuria. We posted our short stories on a blog of the same name. In my stories, I made myself a bartender in a pub that I named the Il Taverna di Muse. What follows is one of several adventures my character had in the City of Ladies. Enjoy.
A Chance Meeting at the Apothecary in the City of Ladies
It was “Mojito Week” at Il Taverna di Muse, and the Proprietress sent me to the Apothecary Shop to purchase bundles of fresh mint leaves, an essential ingredient for the drink. I was excited to make my first visit to the Shop as I had heard it was an extraordinary sensory experience.
The moment the door chimes announced my entrance into the Shop I was assaulted by the pungent scent of spices, the earthy smell of fresh clipped herbs, bundled and hanging from the rafters, and the warm, inviting aromas of tea and fresh baked pastries.
Besides providing apothecary services to the neighborhood, the Shop was also a place for writers and craftspeople to gather who preferred a quieter, less frenetic environment. There were some tables and chairs near the pastry section and in the back was the Stitching Room were some textile artists were piecing together a quilt.
After I made my purchase and was heading toward the door with the wrapped bundle of mint under my arm, I noticed a middle-aged woman in a Victorian-style dress, black silk with starched white lace around the collar. Her hair was pulled high and she balanced a pair of wire glasses on her nose. She was busy reading a book. I stopped and stared for a moment. She was so familiar. Then I knew—it was her!
The woman became aware of me and looked up. “May I be of assistance?” she said with a prim clip.
“Oh, excuse me, I didn’t mean to stare… you look just like…. I mean…. Oh what am I trying to say….Ma,am, are you Miss Alcott? Louisa May Alcott?”
“I am she.”
“Oh, this is such an honor, Miss Alcott! I’ve enjoyed your work so much.”
“Thank you, my dear. I am gratified that my little women mean so much to you.”
“Ma’am, I wasn’t referring to Little Women—I mean, don’t misunderstand me, Little Women was wonderful, but I was referring to your…your…..”
“Potboilers? Blood and Thunder stories?”
“Well, yeah.” I sheepishly smiled.
“Please, have a seat, my dear.” She smiled. “Most of my readers don’t know about those stories.”
“And it’s a shame—Pauline’s Passion and Punishment, A Long, Fatal Love Chase, and my favorite, A Modern Mephistopheles—they were innovative, way ahead of their time.”
“Oh, yes, well, you see, I’m from your future. It’s a little strange, I know.”
“Strange? My dear, this is Lemuria. Everything is strange in Lemuria.”
“So you read my potboilers?”
“Yes, ma’am, as part of a research project.”
“My works will be researched? “
“Yes, indeed. You were, er, ARE, one of the first feminists. Your women’s suffrage work is well documented and your literary works reflect this as well.”
“Yes, a person who supports women’s rights and strives for justice and social equality.”
“I see. And you see this in my writings?”
“Yes. Your female characters are fiery, independent women, most particularly in your potboilers, but even in Little Women—Jo for example.”
Miss Alcott chuckled. “May I share a secret with you, uh…..”
“Lori, the fact of the matter is….” She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “I wasn’t very eager to write Little Women.
I suppressed a smile. I already knew that her publisher pushed her to write this simple moral tale for children. “Really!” I said.
“No, I didn’t really want to write it. Very dull and ordinary.” Her voice lowered to a whisper. “I very much enjoyed writing my potboilers. They are so …lurid.” I believe Miss Alcott was beginning to blush. She continued, “The women in those stories were far more interesting and….and….” She struggled for a word.
“…More real?” I said.
“Yes, indeed. More real.”
I glanced at the clock on the wall. “Is that the time?! Miss Alcott, I don’t want to be rude but I really need to get back to the Taverna.”
“Of course, dear. It was a pleasure making your acquaintance.”
“Likewise, Miss Alcott.” I headed towards the door.
“Did women ever get the right to vote, in the future, I mean?”
“Yes, ma’am, we did.”
Miss Alcott picked up her book and resumed her reading.
“Outstanding” she muttered with a smile.
Lori Gloyd © 2006, 2015. Original post for this story: https://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2006/08/21/a-chance-meeting-at-the-apothecary-shop/