For the topic of characters interacting with the world I have selected an excerpt from “Fuel to the Fire”. For the passage to make sense I should explain that the principle character, Davran, has spent her entire life disguised as a boy in order to avoid being taken as an adult female by the despotic ruler, Saurian. At this stage in the story Davran finds herself in a parallel world that was once connected to the place she has grown up in. Therein, the world shares the same language, but as time has moved on so has the language in regard to open class words (nouns and verbs). As closed class words are so slow to change, I did not have to worry too much about general communication, and concentrated instead on identifiers that mark differences in the two worlds.
“Davran is it?” Felicia flushed. “Well don’t you go minding me; I’m just a foolish woman whose mind’s not in control of her tongue. Isn’t that so Brant?”
Davran managed a smile as Brant squeezed her shoulder.
“Our Kale got stuck on the same ledge, didn’t he? After bird’s eggs he was. Boys, honestly. That what you was after, was it?”
“No, I wer reaching fer… I… I don’t know.” Davran bit her lip. Held her tongue. He has eyes and ears everywhere, she reminded herself.
Felicia waited for an answer and Davran sensed her eyes beginning to water. She had never seen anyone so clean. That wasn’t true. Saurian had been that clean. He was the only one. Felicia’s skin was without blemish. Her dark hair glistened in the lamp light, reflecting glimmers of gold. Davran felt a strange sensation. For the first time ever, though she had no name for the feeling, she felt shame. Such a thing had never existed in her conscience before. There had never been anyone to feel inferior to. There had been only pride in her life: pride in finding food; pride in surviving.
She glanced at her arms, at the Fifteen years’ worth of grime which covered her skin.
“Would you like a bath?” Felicia offered, stepping forward, her tone rather commanding.
“Kale just got in, so the water’ll still be nice and hot. He’ll not mind you jumping in with him. Tell you what, leave your clothes on the landing and I’ll run ’em through for you.”
Bath? In with him? Whatever bath meant, in with him surely meant together. Hot water? Felicia surely meant, take off your clothes and sit with my son in hot water. Naked!
“No, I… I can’t.” Davran back-stepped, her eyes wide with the possibility of discovery, the door in her sights.
Brant’s hand gripped her shoulder.
Keep the secret at all costs. “No! I… I don’t wanna.”
“Want to,” Felicia corrected without pause for thought. “It’s alright dear. Nobody’s going to force you.”
At that moment Kale padded into the room, a rough looking, gleaming white cloth around his waist, wet footprints on the floor behind him. He was slightly shorter than Davran, perhaps a year or so younger. His chest jiggled with an abundance of flesh. The meat on his arms, flushed red, looking sparkly clean, made Davran feel like a dirty bone. She placed the phrase hot water with the word bath and realised it must mean removing dirt from your skin. The boy glanced at Davran, scowled, sniffed and shrugged his shoulders, as if the appearance of a scruffy stranger was perhaps not such an unusual sight. He snatched a green ball from a bowl, bit into it, and, with his mouth full, grunted a greeting of sorts before exiting.
“Looks like the tub’s vacant,” said Brant. “Will you take a bath alone?”
Davran looked into Brant’s eyes, at the smile formed creases and the ruggedness of his complexion. Smiling back, she nodded.