|One Hundred Sentences on Jennifer Tarleton
||[May. 15th, 2007|01:54 am]
Fool's Gold: A Dresden Files RPG
WW to come.|
Jennifer Tarleton; Fool’s Gold
“Will you be all right?” Vanessa asks, closing the trunk on the last of her very heavy suitcases; “I’ll be fine,” Jen answers, and means it.
Even a dancer can take a bad fall; thank God for Morgan’s doctor friend.
Maybe she loves Tony, but she’s got principles; one of them is that she will never settle for a man who hits her.
She didn’t believe Harry when he said he was a wizard, but maybe she should; it’s almost like magic, the way he makes her feel the way she used to.
“Daddy!” Jenny cries, when she wakes up that morning, “Daddy, it’s snowing, get up, Daddy!”; she hurries downstairs to put on her coat, and waits excitedly for him to come and dance in the snow with her.
He never does.
Even if her father came back now, she would still feel empty.
The song turns and twines sinuously on itself, so she lets her body follow the rills of music, and is honestly surprised when the boy she was dancing with accuses her of coming on to him.
They’ve said things to her, done things to her, all of them trying to break her, but the only person who’s ever really hurt her did it with kindness.
In the aftermath, Morgan was absolutely furious with her for going with the Wardens to save him; but they needed her (or more precisely the baby) to find him, and anyway she wasn’t about to sit around and wait.
“That’s it,” Jen says, panting between contractions, “this one’s fine but I am never doing this again!”
When her father vanished, her world fell apart; after she put it back together, she swore she would never depend on someone that much again.
Some wannabe made the mistake of lifting her choreography for a song and claiming it as his own; after Jen gets through with him, the lawyers don’t have anything left to do.
Jen eyes her prospective costume (bright neon pink), gives her director a “you’re-kidding-right” look, and informs him, as if he hadn’t noticed, that she is a redhead.
It’s only after she comes down from the high that she realizes what she said mid-orgasm.
It’s not the choicest of jobs, stripping, but she has to eat and there are bills to be paid, and hey, at least she gets to dance.
The day after Morgan asked her to marry him for the second time, she catches herself looking at engagement rings wistfully, and scolds herself. She won’t trap them both.
She bosses her chorus back into formation and runs them through the dance, just hoping they don’t look like prey to the monster; at least they’re not running around getting in the swordsman’s way.
Jen could have knocked herself over with a feather the first time she talked the landlord into extending the deadline on her rent, the second time, she was a little less surprised, and by the third time, she couldn’t remember a time she hadn’t been that capable.
She paused in her frantic climb towards the top for a breather, took a look around, and realized that she was exactly where she wanted to be.
Morgan kissed her, and looked a bit surprised that he’d done it; she kissed him back, and wasn’t surprised at all.
Jen may not be the best of mothers, but she is better than hers.
When she’s dancing, she isn’t thinking about anything except the way her body moves and the sound of the music. It’s the only reason she survived her adolesence.
“Mom,” Arthur yells, banging into the kitchen in the manner of all gangly eighteen-year-olds, “I need a prom dress!”
Jen grits her teeth, does not ask, and finds him one.
Six months, six months and no word and then they send him back much too thin with haunted eyes, and nothing she can do will make it better.
“See, Jenny,” her father whispers, holding her tightly, “that’s the North Star. If you make a wish when you see it, that wish will come true.”
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Jen has more will than most.
Part of the reason she loves Morgan so much is that he actually pays attention to her; he will hold her when she’s happy, he’ll fight with her when she’s annoyed, and he brings her raspberries when she’s sad.
Academically, she knows that the hormones from her pregnancy make her weepy; it’s her excuse for crying when her mother calls her a whore.
Jen’s light dancer’s build has fooled enough people into underestimating her to gain her quite a reputation.
Jen walks home from her graduation, prepared to scream at her mother for not attending or even picking her up, only to stare openmouthed at her belongings piled on the front porch.
After her mother’s funeral, she went back to the house she was born in with Theo and helped him pack it up; all those pictures, the perfect family, mother, father, son, and no sign of her or her father anywhere.
Jen wraps her arms around her middle and stares up at the ceiling; she knows Morgan will come back if he can, but what if he can’t? She can’t do this alone.
She didn’t attend the wedding, she refused to speak to her stepfather for nearly a month, and she wouldn’t even hold her baby brother; it’s difficult to repair relationships you never had.
She can never have enough time with her family, or maybe they can’t get enough time with her; she keeps hearing a ticking clock.
She’s going to hell, she definitely is, but the look on her ex-boyfriend’s face when he meets her current boyfriend is just too funny.
Arthur slept through the night, and there was raspberry sorbet in the freezer, and Morgan to fight-flirt with, and really, could it get any better?
She played Maureen once in Rent, before her career as a choreographer really took off, and Morgan grew to hate “Take Me or Leave Me” as much as “Seasons of Love.”
The first time anyone really knew how bad the arthritis was getting was the day she stopped dancing.
“There’s something wrong with Jenny,” Alicia says, letting the curtain drop across the window; “she never plays with the other girls her age, just with the boys!”
“Maybe that’s because the girls are boring,” Roger says, and buries himself in his newspaper.
When she was thirteen, Jen found out she was allergic to peanuts through the time-honored method of eating one and almost dying; she found out the true state of her life when no one came to visit her in the hospital.
Tony sneaks his hand up her shirt, cajoling; “Down, boy,” she says, pushing at his hand, and it’s then that he hits her.
“Morgan, how pregnant is your girlfriend?” asks Commander Luccio, with an exasperated sigh.
The hours of the school day always dragged by, lame horses stumbling over uneven ground, except for gym class, where she could turn everything into a dance.
Jen had a cat growing up, imaginatively named Kitty, who died when she was nine; it was nearly four decades before she could bring herself to adopt another animal.
The rose at the nape of her neck is a teenage rebellion; though she still quite likes that first blooming tattoo, she feels more at home with the rounded complexity of the Celtic knot on her hip.
“Ow fuck!” Jen yelps; Morgan backs off and apologizes, and she shakes her head. “My own fault for spending more than two seconds in the sun.”
Her stepfather came faithfully to every dance recital she ever had, even after she stopped telling him about them.
Jen sometimes wondered what became of her classmates in high school, and if she should contact them; she stopped that when one of them walked by her in Chicago’s bustling streets, looked at her, and snickered.
A couple of old ladies stare and whisper; Jen rests her left hand bare of rings on her obvious pregnancy, and stares right back.
Lady Luck has been kind to her in every respect but one, and even in that she was merciful; having a love like this really can make up for anything.
Jennifer Tarleton, White Wars
Jen’s never been a teacher before, so it’s a little odd having Gabrielle stumble after her trying to imitate her steps, but it’s a little nice as well.
The Council pushes against her conscience, and the struggle squeezes her so small she can’t breathe.
There was no funeral for her father, only a swift execution and a careless hole for a grave.
Jenny ran to her father when she woke from a nightmare hours after midnight, forgetting in her fear that he was gone; but her stepfather holds her and rocks her back to sleep, and maybe she hasn’t lost her father after all.
The things people do for money, Jen thinks, filing yet another arrest report for a prostitute, and refuses to think that she might be doing exactly the same.
For the first few weeks Jen drifted, lost without a specific purpose; it was Mercy who saved her, true to her name, when the girl asked her for help in the gardens.
It’s odd, she thinks drowsily, wrapped in Morgan’s arms, how much people regard him as a myth; he’s never been anything but human to her.
She had a few lovers with the Alliance, but never anyone she was close to, and never anyone she regretted losing. With Morgan, it’s different; he’s so much a part of her now that she doesn’t think she can lose him.
In a lot of ways, Jen never really had a childhood; before she was eight, her father encouraged her to be adult so he could talk to her, and after she was eight, there was nothing to enjoy anymore.
Ballet shoes with ribbons tight up her calf, silk stockings, a leotard, and a light net skirt that isn’t quite a tutu (and where Morgan found it, she has no idea), and somehow she feels enough like a real dancer to perform for an actual audience.
Ashlynn hands her the flowers and sweetly tells her who they’re from, and Jen is too busy going bright red to question her.
She’s singing a verse from South Pacific in the shower, “Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair,” except she’s changed ‘man’ to ‘life,’ and when she emerges with her hair a brilliant red, it turns out that’s exactly what she’s been doing.
If she were to be honest with herself, the promotion is an honor as well as added danger; she’s always wanted to be the best, after all, even if she’s only the best secretary.
She will never be a mother. How could she bring a child into this ruined world?
If Jen had been given her druthers, she never would have completed high school, much less college, but that’s what pressure does to you.
Theo gave her a little talk once, when he thought she was straying away from the principles of the Alliance; she woke up in a cold sweat for a week.
There is a strange sort of power in being weak, in being the one who goes unregarded; they never see her, and so she sees everything.
It’s the dancing that keeps her alive; it’s just that simple.
She was reading Bleak House when the rebels kidnapped her, and she can’t help but wonder if the book is still there on her bedside table, waiting for someone to pick it up and finish reading it.
That’s the problem with building a new life; you have to destroy the old one, and sooner or later everyone gets hurt.
She was still Jenny when her father taught her how to be a good person, all the little attitudes and codes one must live by; she became Jen when she chose survival over principles.
The neighborhood boys reteated before her anger, and her father laughed and told her she was acting like a redhead. Jen is nearly eighteen before she figures out why that was funny.
They don’t trust her, but then, why should they? She isn’t one of them.
When her father was executed, it was only the first taste of a fear she learned to live with; a constant undercurrent of terror that even penetrated her dreams.
Jen cannot remember a time when her hair was its natural color, and she’s still surprised by just how red it really is.
It took turning her entire comfortable world upside down and inside out before she realized just what was wrong with that world; she never had anything that was hers.
She spent a lot of time thinking about what it meant to be faithful, after she changed; eventually she figured out that to be loyal to someone, they must be loyal in return, so how could she have betrayed anyone?
”This paperwork,” she growls, in tones of utter loathing, and adds, “Who the hell was in charge of it before? It’s completely out of order.”
Her face looks different now, sharper, with more angles; less like someone to be walked over, and more like someone who does the walking.
She has always been an outsider, observing from the shadows; she likes it that way, though she can’t deny that it’s better to have someone watching with her.
Jenny whines with frustration and stamps her foot because she can’t reach the cake on the table; her father laughs, kisses her forehead, and promises her that she’ll grow.
He watches her and she can feel it, his eyes on her body like a tangible pressure; he touches her and she can see it, his hand on her skin like a whispered caress.
Arthur has a mild fever, Emily is coughing every three seconds, Jen can’t breathe through her nose and Morgan is just generally feeling ill; at least they’ve got an excuse to curl up in bed and be miserable together.
Jenny Tarleton underwent a complete personality change overnight, puzzling her former playmates. Now she sits with the girls and pretends to tea parties, instead of climbing trees and taking their dares, and no one can understand why.
“This is worth it,” she whispers, watching her children fight amiably over a toy, and decides that phrase sums up her life.
None of the endings she went through were ever expected; there was no agony of the last days, the last hours. Fate has been kind to her at least in this.
The year she spent as an invisble secretary to the Senior Council made her hard and sharp-edged; the year she spent as a highly visible secretary to whoever needed paperwork done in the Arx made her frustrated, but softer.
Someone asked her once if Morgan’s age made any difference to her; Jen only looked at them oddly and said they were both adults, so what did it matter?
Jen wraps her hands around her briefcase white-knuckled and concentrates on Duchess Sullen’s terrible color-sense to keep from being afraid.
Theo tells her he’s only doing his duty, and not a hair beyond, then whispers that perhaps it’s she who cannot fulfill her obligations; for the longest time, she believed him.
For many long years she feared her brother and everything he represented; when she hears of his death, she cries hysterical tears and loses the last of her fear.
She had never met a mortal before she came to the Arx, never seen one in her life; she expected to see more of a difference.
When she’s dancing, the world feels right, like it never does when she’s standing still.
Her father’s signet ring is much too large for her fingers, so her stepfather puts it on a chain and clasps it around her neck, kissing her forehead as he does.
Jen made a home for herself in the Arx, and she really was happy; she still nearly cried for joy when Conchita came to join them.
She finds she has more energy for everything when she hasn’t been working magic, and eventually, she just stops trying.
Her mother is too brittle, her father is dead, she herself teeters on the edge of traitorous, and her brother is frankly insane. Her stepfather is the only reason this scattered family still works.
It’s a bit sad that the only thing she feels when Lionel grabs her arms is a sort of resigned sorrow, and the only thing she thinks when he warns her not to make noise is “Here it goes again.”
Jen laughs, bright and clear as a bell, and Theodore Henslow Sr. stiffens, then gasps; his little stepdaughter, the child he thought lost, alive and well and happy, is far too much of a miracle to be real.
While she was with the Alliance, and for a little while with the rebels, she couldn’t help but feel as if she was dangling in midair. Years later, holding her first child against the swelling of her second and smiling up at her husband, she has the same feeling—but this time she knows she’s flying.