Daily Dialogue: Cauldron of Malice – Chapter One

Funny thing about these daily writing exercises is that although I value what they do for me, the act isn’t enough for me these
days. That nasty Monster of Purpose has reared its head over the past month and roared, “Need meaning, damnit!” The purpose of the exercises is to write blind for almost an hour but, over time, I’ve approached the table with some sort of agenda. Now, I can’t do these unless I have some sort of idea of what to do. Which is why these have been sporadic lately. At the same time, I know that I have to do them if only to stay creatively active. I know how long the gap can be before creating something, and I told myself to never be inactive for so long ever again. Yesterday, I had an idea that would bring me back to these for the month. It’s a really small idea, so I get to keep writing blind, but I’ll be sticking with two characters. Every weekday, I’ll be carrying their adventure (or trauma), not knowing where it’ll end until the 28th. My intention is to be very linear and not refer to previous exercises. I’d like each one to exist by itself, yet be part of a bigger story. Well, enough rambling. Time to put on some Ladytron.

Catherine
Wake up. Wake up, Agatha.

Agatha
Huh…

Catherine
Wake up. And face the new day.

Agatha
What are you… Who’s saying…

Catherine
And face the new beginning.

Agatha
Who are you? Where am I?

Catherine
Both are intriguing questions, but I do not think you’d like the answers very much. No, dear Agatha, I do no think you’d like the answers at all.

Agatha
How do you know my name? Where’s my husband?

Catherine
Thoroughly milking the teet of intrigue, aren’t you?

Agatha
Help! Someone please help me!

Catherine
A hundred miles in any direction is the distance your screams will have to travel before finding a caring pair of ears. Save your breath, dear Agatha.

Agatha
Let me out of here! I demand it!

Catherine
A demand from thine lips? What makes you think you can demand me?

Agatha
I am a lady of the court.

Catherine
I see.

Agatha
And I would have your head on a pike for the carrion.

Catherine
Do you hear that?

Agatha
I hear nothing, trollop.

Catherine
That is the sound of your strength failing. What good is a court if they can’t hear or see you?

Agatha
They will find me.

Catherine
Of course they will, dear Agatha. Shall I answer some of your questions?

Agatha
So that I may know exactly whom my guard should unleash havoc on? Yes, please do.

Catherine
I am Catherine Malachite, your teacher.

Agatha
I have never had a teacher named Catherine.

Catherine
Excuse me, your new teacher.

Agatha
I have passed all my tests, far beyond what anyone would expect of me.

Catherine
Because you’re a woman?

Agatha
Be quiet.

Catherine
I care not for your scratchings on paper, dear Agatha. Your time spend behind the cover and spines of so many books. Your clever ways of drawing attention to your femininities and not to your lazily written essays.

Agatha
I have done no such thing!

Catherine
You’re a woman in a misogynistic age: of course you have. I am not here to blame or judge. Only to teach.

Agatha
And what, Mrs. Malachite–

Catherine
Miss.

Agatha
Of course. What man would want someone as sully as yourself? What do you– What COULD you teach me?

Catherine
The matters of life.

Agatha
I would say that I know enough about life.

Catherine
But not how to end it.

Agatha
Why would I want to end my life?

Catherine
Who said anything about suicide? Your life is the most precious thing you have. It’s the lives of others that are less than nothing.

Agatha
You’re not teaching me anything new, Ms. Malachite.

Catherine
I will teach you how to take the final step, dear Agatha. The one that will break you from the shackles of modernity and ascend you to places you dare not know.

Agatha
Why would I want to go to such places?

Catherine
Because I know how exhausted you are with getting by on your femininities. Those same femininities that will only fail you as time pulls your flesh closer to the grave until the rest of you follows. Those same femininities that hide who you truly are, the woman who has to survive her failings.

Agatha
How do you know who I am?

Catherine
If one stands still long enough, they can know everyone who passes them.

Agatha
What do you want?

Catherine
I told you. To teach you.

Agatha
I refuse to believe that merely helping someone learn murder is enough to get you off.

Catherine
Such language! So unbefitting for someone so feminine!

Agatha
I’m a woman who has to survive her failings.

Catherine
Heh. Quite. Tis true, I desire something.

Agatha
Or someone?

Catherine
No, I have given up on matters of the flesh. Most of them.

Agatha
Then tell me, what are we bartering in this quid pro quo?

Catherine
I need to be a better woman. I need help to be a better woman.

Agatha
Oh? So you are slave and you are master to me?

Catherine
Just as you are to me, dear Agatha.

Agatha
How am I going to make you a better woman?

Catherine
By teaching me not to depend on others. By allowing my happiness to depend on me.

Agatha
What makes you think that I could, or would, help you with that?

Catherine
I’m not sure that you, with either instance. You may be utterly worthless to me. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

Agatha
What makes you think that I would murder someone?

Catherine
I didn’t know until a few minutes ago, actually.

Agatha
What happened a few minutes ago?

Catherine
You stopped crying. And began to smile.

Agatha
I see.

Catherine
As do I.

Agatha
Where is my husband?

Catherine
Away. Do you love him?

Agatha
No one marries for love. Our families wanted to combine their wealth and a marriage was the cleanest way to go about it.

Catherine
Has he consummated, left his seed to grow in your savage garden until it grows tumorous and screaming?

Agatha
No. He prefers boys and I prefer… my toys.

Catherine
I suspect that your parents will turn queerer than your husband if you don’t produce a child for them.

Agatha
Like I care what those ancients think.

Catherine
Not a fan of them? Not even your own?

Agatha
I don’t want to bore you with the cliches of the upper class.

Catherine
Thank you.

Agatha
I’m sure that you see the irony of asking someone to help you find happiness within yourself.

Catherine
I’ve breathed that irony the entire time I’ve been with you. But only a fool avoids help when they know they need it. Pride is for children.

Agatha
Where do we begin, Miss Malachite?

Catherine
With you calling me “Catherine.”

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