I don’t usually introduce my teasers, but I wanted to tell a little story about this one. I wrote No Rest for the Wicked during NaNoWriMo2016. I wasn’t sure how I was going to introduce the character of Prudence, Vi’s aunt. I opened a message I’d received in my NaNo inbox, which I rarely did, and there was a writing prompt from a 6th grader inside. Just two words, and this entire chapter came together. Her suggestion was “awkward supper.” So here’s a little taste of what that prompt helped create.
Even though it had been almost a decade since Vi had last seen the room, nothing had changed. The same family portraits kept watch from the bloody red walls, the same servant still served the food, though his age had slowed his movements to a glacial pace. She moved the elegant meal around her plate with her fork as she thought about little George, enjoying what would probably be plain but delicious fair in the cozy surroundings of the kitchen alongside the old cook. She’d never wanted to trade places with a child so much in her life.
Bonnie started to speak, but Vi quieted her with a shake of her head and nervous glance to the woman at the far end of the long table. Her friend looked from the matriarch’s stern and quiet visage and back, mouthing, “Why not?”
Vi returned a frustrated but silent, “Just don’t.”
She rolled her eyes. “Miss Prudence—”
A vehement, short shush interrupted her from the corner. When she looked at the source she found the ancient butler bringing a quivering finger to his lips.
The little brunette’s face screwed up in defiance and she continued. “Thank you ever so much for welcoming us into your home.” Prudence didn’t even lift her eyes from her plate, her knife squeaking as she cut off another tiny piece of pork chop and brought it to her lips. Bonnie raised her voice and tried again. “You have a lovely home, Miss Prudence.”
The room held its breath as the older woman picked up a linen napkin and dabbed at the corner of her mouth. Prudence gently set down her fork and leveled her razor sharp, green eyes at her niece. “Viola,” she said with a soft voice.
Vi swallowed hard. “Yes, ma’am.”
“You know how I feel about talking during mealtimes.”
“I didn’t say anything!”
“I’m sorry,” Bonnie cried, blood rushing to her cheeks. “I didn’t know!”
Prudence waved away her concern but continued to glare at Vi. “No. Of course you didn’t. Because my wayward niece never thought to inform you.”
She began to protest, then slumped back in a sulk. “No, ma’am.”
“And why do we do that?”
Vi mumbled, “Because silence is golden.”