I should have been wary.
I (Barbara) should have known that when I put out a call for writers to send me material they’d deleted from their work — or descriptions of characters who’d been axed because they’d got out of control — that Savannah would be listening. That she’d take it as an invitation to burst out of the file folder where I thought I had her safely locked away.
That she’d post her name here, among the writers even, as if she’d invented herself.
A character who not only got out of control, but actually succeeded in taking over an entire novel for a draft or two, twisting everything around, convinced — though she was a secondary character — that the whole story was really about her.
And the thing was, I adored her.
Still, even without Dr. Johnson’s stern eye upon her, in the end it was clear she had to be struck out. It became a completely different story then, of course.
But I should have known that going down for the final count means nothing to the likes of Savannah Carr:
“April 29th. Very late at night, in the bloody freezing downstairs of a Tuscan farm house, a room that was once a cattle shed….”
Savannah Carr looked narrow-eyed at that, then crossed it out.
She closed her eyes. What she needed was to breath in the atmosphere of this Tuscan night and then let it flow out in the descriptive phrases her readers adored her for.
She began a new page.
Musings of a Flower Artist
Among the Mysterious Etruscans
If she felt a familiar twinge at presenting herself this way, she took a deep breath and let the sensation settle. The self-made self was not an easy load to carry. Surely it was a small detail that the botanical illustrations for her book about the Amazon, signed by her, were actually done by Kate Carswell — in whose newly-inherited farm house Savannah was now damn well freezing.
Still, she could feel the soft breath of the Tuscan night, the Etruscan night, the darkness the centuries had pulled across a civilization that she, Savannah Carr, would bring into public awareness as had not been done heretofore, yes, mystery and all.
Mystery. That suspect denigrated word.
Mystery was just going to have to lie back and let itself be burrowed to its golden core.
(And next day: from Kate’s point of view.)
When Kate got back to the house, Savannah had the look of someone pummelled by her own good nature into trying not throw a snit. “Katie, I called and called. It’s after five — we have to be heading for that party.”
Kate laid the painting of the anemone on the table. Savannah leaned close, and Kate couldn’t help but hold her breath, waiting for the curious thing that could happen when Savannah inspected something she had done, a look of discomposure that could come over Savannah almost as if she were feeling ill; and Kate would feel as if she herself was being swallowed by that look. How curiously warm and syrupy and powerful that sensation was: that she, Kate, was able to make her employer lose herself in this way – before Savannah nodded curtly, as she did now.
“Good girl.” Pretending she had hardly looked. “But scurry along and get dressed.” She sized Kate up: the rumpled shirt, the jeans. “Or maybe you can go like that; Luke said everyone is coming just as they are, after the horse-thing, though I thought I’d dress up just a little. What do you think?”
She twirled. Many silky levels shimmered. In addition there were strappy Roman sandals and a straw matador hat with a big red rose. She looked great. Unless the aim was blending in.