34: A Moment of Breath

After the whirlwind of doors and water and clothing, it was quite jarring for Edmund to suddenly be sitting quietly in a large empty room.

Somehow, he hadn’t really thought about what would happen once he was adopted; he knew things would be different, but he was feeling something he had never felt before and was having a hard time putting it into words what it was. He was not unfamiliar with the humours that fueled the human body, but he had never had the opportunity to experience much of them.

With the analytical eye that he usually reserved for watching others, he began to think about himself.
Of course, it was perfectly sensible that he would be feeling something he had never felt before. His whole life had been behind a small wooden fence, and now he was living behind a much larger one made of iron. Where before he had lived in a house with ten rooms, now there were over seventy, each behind a different door. The rooms and hallways were so big that when he glanced up, he kept expecting to see the sun instead of a chandelier, or gas-lamp.

It wasn’t just different, though, it was unknown. He didn’t have to deal with Mrs. Mapleberry and all of her behaviors he had come to learn so well. He didn’t have to dodge the children running through the halls, because there were no children.

This wasn’t just a new life he had found himself thrust into, it was a new world. He half expected to find doors on the floor, or furniture on the walls. Everything that he had grown to know over his eight years of life had vanished, and nothing was familiar at all. He couldn’t eat until he was dressed in other people’s ill-fitting clothes. Walls that should have been bare were covered with strange and dark decorations. Drafts were absent, as the air seemed quite content to lie dead in the stale hallways and large rooms. Even time passed differently, marked by the sudden tremors of the building as the whole mansion struck the hour like a massive clock.

He was completely lost in a new world of huge rooms, dark clothing, and a matriarch that seemed practically eager to be disappointed in him. The only thing that gave him any sense of hope at all was the possibility of new books to read, but in the chaotic and incomplete tour of the mansion Mrs. Kippling hadn’t shown him any library or even a bookshelf other than the ones in the Study.

The name of the feeling still eluded Edmund until he took another bite of soup and noticed with surprise that his hand was shaking.

Terror, he realized with a sudden satisfaction. That’s what he was feeling.


4 thoughts on “34: A Moment of Breath

  1. I really like this moment with Edmund. I was think he’s a boy with a lot of nerves, he seamed never to be scared or bothered with what was happening to him. I mean, he seamed to take everything quite easily
    But l see now he just doesn’t have the esperience to understand his own feeling. I’m very curious to see what will happen now :)


    • “Emotional Intelligence” is one of those phrases that sort of hits me the wrong way. It’s always felt like a bizarre oxymoron to me. I really like how you put it; “Having the experience to understand your own feelings” is a much better turn of phrase. He’s young and lived his whole life through books. He’s never felt anything like terror before, and all that talk of ‘humours’ and ‘glands’ don’t prepare you for the real thing.


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