Letters from Eleanor

Old man nude: caroline allen, acrylic on canvas, London, 2007


In writing fiction, you often draw on your personal experience and fictionalize it. I read tarot cards for years professionally — with all the strange and wacky stories that entailed — and often had folks tell me that I should have a psychic in one of my fiction pieces. I never felt compelled to write about it, and I knew from my process that I would some day feel compelled and it would come naturally.

Well, it finally happened. In real life, I was romantically rejected by someone of the “ruling classes”. I am for better or worse solidly working class (although being an artist somehow trumps class…), at any rate, after the “rejection”, a friend of mine, Lisa, in DC and I emailed back and forth processing the event, cracking jokes, expressing outrage — the sort of processing where good friends help each other feel better. Lisa dubbed the guy Little Lord Fauntleroy, and as a joke, I emailed her a fictionalized letter from Eleanor Monteblanc to the Lady Yarrowmoon discussing the antics of one Lord Fauntleroy and the milkmaid, the buxom, fleshy psychic Caroline. The servant girl did not know her place and had presumed a relationship with the Lord Fauntleroy.

Twice a week after that, I added an email letter from Eleanor to Camilla Yarrowmoon (whose dalliance with a young stage actor kept her on the Continent for months at a time). Other people in Lisa’s office began to read the ongoing “letters from Eleanor”, until the entire thing became a rough draft of a novel. A very rough draft. The first few letters were clearly jokey — but then I fell into the subject in my soul, and the letters become more serious. Books on late 1800s psychics fell into my lap. The gods felt compelled to douse me in the subject, to require a creative response.

The most fascinating side of it was exploring the psychicness of Caroline, and of Esther the cook, and finally Eleanor’s psychic-ness. I needed to dimensionally explore clairvoyance, clairaudience, automatic writing, telepathy — all the woowoo arts. I needed to understand it historically, metaphysically, spiritually and creatively. Only a few chapters are written — and I plan to write much more.

Here’s the first letter:

February 10, 1890

Lady Yarrowmoon,

I send you the local gossip via letter, as your presence in town is sorely missed.

Lord fauntleroy has fallen from favour with his family, dare I say nearly cut off from them entirely. He has taken up with his family’s former chambermaid, Caroline, some generously breasted hussy with a
reputation and a wild nature, to boot.

This Caroline has professed herself a psychic medium. She’s even been speaking out in the chapel, out loud, against the sermons of the parson!

Can you imagine such nerve! Well, of course, YOU can, Lady Yarrowmoon, being no wallflower yourself. Nonetheless, I say what poor manners! What gall! She speaks of the spirit world as if she has some special connection. Oh, these commoners. These fortune tellers. These pagans. Ok, I know that I sometimes have Esther the cook read a few tea leaves for me, but Esther knows her place. Oh she does. Hemming and hawing about what a wee thing she is, in the eyes of our good lord, and only reading after much persistence on my part…oh, she IS difficult that esther, but this hussy, this Caroline, fancies herself so high and mighty, she does. Oh it makes me overcome with grief. That one. She’ll come to no good, I tell you.

We hope said lord fauntleroy comes to his bloody senses…ah but yes, Dear Lady Yarrowmoon, I’ve just had word. Harold my footman has just whispered the news in my ear. Ah, he’s rejected her. Forthwith and outright and without any ado. Our own dear Lord Chesterfield happened upon him at the Duck and Lady and found him as pissed as a sailor. Barely making sense, apparently under some delusion that he loved this Caroline, this chambermaid. He was cursing and spitting, and telling anyone who happened near him what was wrong with them, or so Lord Chesterfield reported to his footman who then told my footman, who then told me.

Well, I suppose he’s only human (as if us of the ruling classes were human…ha ha), but he has broken with the chambermaid hussy, and I swear to you that is all that matters. All will fall into its natural order of things in due time. The sun will rise in the east, as it were, and set in the West and Little Lord Fauntleroy will join us again for evenin’tide. Of this I am assured.

Dearest Lady Yarrowmoon. You are a woman of culture. You understand. Please do return home forthwith so that we may sip our tea and enjoy our gossip, as is the rightful order of things.

Ta for now

Eleanor (The Lady Monteblanc)


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