Lunatic Hysteria

Clarence rather missed his Gwendolyn since her illness.

It had started simply enough when she and Clarence had been having a pleasant breakfast, enjoying a hearty plate of sausages.

“I think I’d like to go for a perambulation today, Darling.  Do change into one of your outdoor frocks, and we’ll set off in an hour,” Clarence had declared.

With a careful glance out the bay window facing the garden, her lovely face framed by her dark curls, Gwendolyn had murmured, “That sounds rather dull.”  This response had been most unexpected, considering her usual enthusiasm for whatever plan Clarence might make for their daily leisure.

Clarence had been quite befuddled, naturally, and had called the village doctor to come and examine his lovely wife to make sure she hadn’t suddenly come down with a fever.  When that physician had been unable to find anything wrong, he’d been written off as barely more than a farmer’s veterinarian, and Clarence had sent for an acquaintance of his from his club in London, a doctor who also boasted a respectable lordship to come and inspect his beloved for any malady.

The good doctor had prescribed bed rest for Gwendolyn to cure her disagreement, and she’d taken to the advice with a fury, throwing herself into bed and insisting for several weeks that Clarence should not disturb her while she convalesced.

Of course, this attitude was attributed to the illness, and the doctor assured Clarence there was no harm in seeing his wife while she recovered from her ailment.  When this course of action only served to exacerbate Gwendolyn’s foul mood, the doctor insisted it was only a sign that the treatment was working, and soon dear Gwendolyn would be through the worst of it.

When a month passed and Gwendolyn had taken to locking her door at all times (a fruitless gesture as the housekeeper was always ready with her great jangling keyring) and flinging whatever object was at hand when she saw Clarence’s sandy head poke through that portal, the bedraggled man finally resorted to having Gwendolyn restrained.

Clearly, the doctor told him, they had simply caught a very early case of hysteria, and it was now progressing into the more violent stages.  There was nothing to do but wait it out.

Much to Clarence’s chagrin, he finally conceded the point that his presence only seemed to agitate Gwendolyn, and so he refrained from further visitations to her chambers, although he still overheard great thumpings and groanings coming from that forbidden place, and all the while he fretted over the degraded sanity of his formerly angelic wife.

After a rather miserable winter, Clarence grew accustomed to his new circumstances.  He realized that he was, in nearly all respects, once again a bachelor.  Though thinking of Gwendolyn struck him with periodic pangs of regret, he acclimated to his new life.  It was almost comfortable.

In fact, it was so close to comfortable that the cool spring evening when the creature appeared from heaven and escorted Gwendolyn from the manor, regaled in her finest jewels and best silk dress, was remarkable only because it legitimately freed Clarence from the obligation he’d long excused himself from.  Yes, he’d been shocked at the time, and had looked on in horror as the thing which resembled a man, but which wore a hideous orange suit and had the visage of some sort of reptilian tabby cat, had taken Gwendolyn from his home, her arm linked comfortably around its own, and escorted her to a floating carriage the color of bright mint.  When Gwendolyn glanced back at him, he thought he had seen a glimmer of a smile.  Then they were gone, disappearing up into the clouds.

In the ensuing weeks, Clarence often thought of that moment, and wondered what exactly he had witnessed.  He tossed Gwendolyn’s chambers to ensure that she wasn’t playing some coy trick on him, though when she failed to turn up, he began to suspect that she was really gone.  He took to wearing mourning, since as far as he could tell his wife was no longer with them on this mortal coil, and it was a more sensible thing to explain to friends than to suggest what he thought he had seen.  He dared not repeat the story for fear that he might be seen as brain-addled.  That would be quite a horrible fate, now that he thought on it.

___________________

As usual, this is a piece done for io9‘s Concept Art Writing Prompt feature.  I’m not entirely happy with the result, and would love to hear any suggestions for how it might be improved.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

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