Woman of Yonville (Madame Bovary)

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Slippers torn, slimed with mud, galoshes forgotten. Your pretty feet make haste to stumble among the dirty tussocks–a rat run for former trysts. Your suave beau in the chateau cares little for old time’s sake–you’re nothing but a wilted nosegay. He won’t scoop you up, out of the mire.

The silky tradesman of fine gossamer goods caught you in his web a while ago. He is trying to be reasonable–as the slips of paper accrue, stuff them inside the drawer of that walnut escritoire all ladies of quality should own.

Go native, romanticise–cling to fantasy tatters, forget your failure as a mother. Imagine the admiring glances as you lean out to play croquet from a sedan chair lined with the finest brocade, carried by exotic footmen in powdered wigs. All this could have been yours if the cards had come out right, not the shabby shuttle of the diligence, this village life next to the pig sty, listening to the pompous talk of small traders.

Charm the boy, it is all you have left. Dig deep into your slim purse for leftover wildness and unbridled passion–shrouded from our eyes in that carriage ride about town everyone knows about. Scandalous beyond belief, the numerous stops, interrupted by taps from a silver-topped cane. Drive on.

Death is without a face and he is always laughing–a devoted follower, only one step behind. Scoop the white powder from the blue jar with both hands–await your terrible fate, a pyrrhic victory over a petty life you couldn’t control. Someone should award you the Légion d’Honneur for all your adulterous crimes. See your poor husband quivering in the corner like a faithful dog, praying with eyes shut as your pale lips plant a parched kiss upon the tortured body of Christ. This is your grand finale and your death aria no mere rattle.

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Woman of Yonville (Madame Bovary)

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