Brevity has never been one of my virtues. Even in a so-called short story, I found myself producing far more material than I could actually use and wandering down amusing but unnecessary byways. Below are my two favorite deleted scenes from That Still Untitled Christmas Novella.
See you on Monday for the Title That Blasted Novella! Contest!
The outtake below was the original version of Amy’s conversation with Jane in the hallway after Amy’s disturbing discussion with Richard. (And then he said she said….). Anyway, I went with the more spy-oriented version rather than this one, since it seemed more in character for both Amy, who doesn’t like to admit to emotional weakness, and Jane, who isn’t the type to plunge into girly conversations a la Henrietta. Henrietta would have loved advising Amy– which is probably why Amy never mentioned anything to her.
“Am I obviously disgruntled?”
Her cousin scrutinized her flushed face. “At the moment? Yes.”
“I knew that. Not now. Before.” That was the lovely thing about family. One could talk to them in grumpy sentence fragments and know that they still had to love you anyway. “When you came in.”
Jane cast her mind back. “Not that I recall.” She raised her brows delicately. “Off-key, yes. Disgruntled, no.”
Amy waved an impatient hand. “I’m always off-key.”
“I know,” said Jane, who had the misfortune to be the one musical member of a tone-deaf family. “What’s this all about?”
Amy made a face. “I wish I knew,” she said honestly. She blurted out, “Richard seems to think I’m not happy.”
Either that, or he wasn’t. Amy pulled her Kashmir shawl closer around her shoulders. It was a distinctly chilling thought.
“Are you?” asked Jane, in that calm way of hers.
Amy thought about it. There had been more good moments than bad ones in the past year, but they were all of the domestic variety. That is, if one could call a household with obstacle courses set up in the back garden, maps of France taking up most of the ballroom floor, and a butler who alternately believed himself to be Richard III, Hamlet, and an unspecified Pirate King domestic. But why shouldn’t it be? It was their domesticity, not anyone else’s.
“How would you measure happiness?” she asked Jane anxiously. “Do you measure it in little every day things, or big, important ones?”
Jane looked a bit bemused.
“Well,” she said, in the tone of one determined to be helpful, no matter how silly the question, “you do tend to live your life in the day by day, don’t you?”
Amy considered this. “That’s true,” she muttered. She looked up at Jane. “But what if the other casts a shadow?”
Jane just looked at her. Amy could see her eyebrow beginning to rise.
Not the eyebrow. She couldn’t take the eyebrow just now.
This next outtake is of a totally different tenor, since it was the original ending of the happily-ever-after scene in Chapter Seven. In this draft, Amy and Richard’s increasingly gooey conversation is interrupted by some tactless person (need we say Miles?) banging on the library door.
“Nobody’s here!” called Richard.
That appeared to stymie the door panel. It was silent for a moment. Through the panels, a muffled voice called, “The spies are safely stowed. We just thought you might want to know.”
“Why would they think that?” muttered Richard.
Amy poked him in the ribs. “Thank you!” she shouted.
There was silence from the other side of the door.
“You can go away now!” called Richard.
Loud footsteps could be heard from the other side of the door, registering disgruntlement with extra thumping. Amy and Richard ignored it. They had better things to do.
Outside, in the snowbound world, a curious rabbit paused to watch, while a sparrow pecked for forgotten crumbs on the frosty windowsill. Strange people, those humans.
They would have thought them stranger still had they heard what the woman said, as she lifted her shining face to the Christmas dawn.
“The Twin Primroses?” she suggested eagerly.
“I refuse to be a primrose. And we’re not twins.”
“How about a buttercup?”
“Happy Christmas, Amy.”
“Does that mean ‘no’?”