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* * * * *



HYSTERIA



* * * * *



England, 1860


Mother tied my corset too tight again today. I try to blow out my stomach like a horse getting cinched, but she knows my trick and hoists her skirts up to dig her knobbled knee into my back while she pulls my laces taut.

She must get me ready for my Doctor appointment, and I cannot dare let my excitement show. So I lie abed and refuse my tea and only when she pinches my arms so tight that tears come to my eyes do I promise I’ll be good and do as she bids. But I dawdle and fuss until she swears that I’m the most horrid child and that she should have let Leery take me to the trolls.

I’m not a child, though I act it. I am five and twenty this December past.

I should be married at this advanced age but no man would have me for they all know madness runs deep in my family. My father speaks to specters like they were corporeal and his brother and their father before them. But my mother’s father did not care she would give him demented grandchildren. He did not care about his sickly daughter who would by miracle not die in giving birth to her only living child. The old fool only cared that his horses would be stock to the best stud in England.

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