Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: A Woman Scorned

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

This week, I took a detour from my usual flash because while listening to Burn this morning (and yes, I am Hamilton obsessed lol), I was inspired to write a little sketch from Eliza's point of view. I call it A Woman Scorned. Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to. Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

A Woman Scorned

“Eliza, please! It was a mere slip of the tongue, nothing more.”

Eliza Hamilton gave her husband an icy stare. The man was brilliant, there was no doubt about that, but sometimes he had no common sense. The trouble with Alexander was he talked too much, and didn’t allow himself time to think through what he was going to say.

“The tongue gives voice to what is in the mind,” she retorted, and had the satisfaction of watching him wince at her words. Good, let him suffer. Why should she suffer alone? She knew he had not come through this thing unscathed, but at the moment she held no sympathy for him.

The only good thing that had come out of the whole affair, as far as Eliza was concerned, other than the opportunity to spend time with her sister Angelica, was that Alexander had pretty well shot his presidential ambitions in the foot. Perhaps now he’d stay at home more, and be the father and husband she’d always hoped he’d be.

Although there were times, such as now, when she wasn’t sure how much she wanted to have him there.

Eliza shivered. The infernal heat of New York City in the summer had given way to autumn’s briskness. Although she wore a shawl, the fragile lace did little to impart warmth.

“Perhaps we should return home,” her husband suggested in his most solicitous manner. The man could be charming when he had a mind to be. His words almost brought a smile to her weary soul but then she remembered she was not the only one Alexander Hamilton had charmed and her resolve stiffened. “Or take a carriage. I fear the chill of the evening air when you are so recently recovered from your confinement.”

“No, we must be seen,” she said, perhaps a bit more sharply than she intended.  Their last child had been born in August; she would not allow Alexander to use his birth as an excuse to avoid the public. “We will make an appearance this evening. And we shall walk, as we always have.” And that ended that discussion.

As far as Eliza was concerned, the matter was a private one between her and her husband. Never mind that he wrote the whole thing down and published it for the world’s perusal.  Never mind he’d revealed himself to be an adulterer in order to save his precious legacy and in so doing destroyed their lives. What would she tell the children when they were old enough to understand? The pamphlet was out there, and it was available, and she feared what would happen should they discover the truth about their father.

Philip was old enough to understand now. And while he was disturbed by his father’s actions, he steadfastly supported him because he loved him, and would not listen to anyone denigrate Alexander in his presence.

Eliza hoped that championing Alexander in the face of his guilt would not come back to haunt Philip in his later life. Men were often known by the choices that they made. Wasn’t Alexander living proof of that?

But she couldn’t worry about any of that now. Now they must present a united front, for their marriage must appear sold to the world’s scrutiny—none were entitled to know the truth. Only Angelica, her dearest sister and best friend and faithful companion knew the effort required to maintain the fa├žade of the loyal spouse. Much as she knew Angelica adored Alexander, Eliza knew her sister was there for her and always would be. Angelica was the only reason Eliza was going to be able to get through this—her sister gave her strength, even in the face of adversity.

“Good evening Alexander, Miss Eliza.”

Eliza felt Alexander stiffen beside her at the first sounds of that familiar voice. She did not share her husband’s dislike of Aaron Burr, an animosity she suspected was prompted by more than a little jealousy as from any other motivation.

They stopped, face to face. Alexander tightened his grip on Eliza’s arm. She withdrew from him to free her hand.

“Good evening, Mr. Burr,” she greeted him, offering him her hand. One thing she appreciated about Aaron Burr was that he was never less than a complete gentleman. She remembered his late wife, Theodosia, and how devoted the couple had been to one another. 

Burr took her hand and bowed over it, his fathomless eyes seeming to probe her very being. She suspected he knew more than he would ever reveal about Alexander’s perfidy. But unlike her husband, he would never be so crass as to expose such information to the world. She saw kindness there, and sympathy.

“Will you be joining us this evening?” She assumed he’d received an invitation to the soiree. After all, they often ran in the same circles. To paraphrase the Bard, politics did make strange bedfellows.

Burr glanced between them. Eliza had the feeling he was assessing them before making a response. She found herself hoping he would answer in the affirmative.

“It would be my pleasure,” he said, and his smile was most radiant. “I’m taking the air first, but I shall see you shortly.” He nodded to each of them in turn, continuing on his way. He was probably still in earshot when Alexander spoke up.

“Why must you encourage him?” he asked in a petulant tone as they resumed their stroll. “You hold no animosity toward him, although he also had a relationship with Mar—“He caught himself just in time. “With Mrs. Reynolds,” he hastily amended.

“As her lawyer,” she reminded him coldly. Why could he not keep the strumpet’s name from his conversation?

“I only meant—” he began, but she shushed him quickly.

“We are here, let’s have a pleasant evening.”

Before he could voice his nightly request, she cut him off. “You will sleep in your office until I say otherwise.”

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Now check out the other Briefers!

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