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... the big things take care of themselves.



Robert Carrick a member of SSOA's Write Club on Tuesday evenings, undertook a fictional interpretation of the last part of Emily Dickinson's famous quotation, 'If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves':


Dust danced in the narrow shaft of morning sunlight that streaked diagonally through the lace curtains and splashed across Emily's petite teak writing desk beside the bedroom window. Rarely had Lavinia been invited beyond the threshold of the door, but Emily was gone, now deceased, and so too was Lavinia's sense that she was intruding.


Lavinia stood with her hands on the back of the chair and looked through the glass across the listing headstones in the cemetery of Amherst Massachusetts, before turning her attention to the room. Her sister was omnipresent, even in absentia. A single bed, neatly made and covered in a white linen bedspread, was pushed into the far corner, and hanging on the wall above the bedhead, was a tiny portrait of Emily’s dear friend Susan.


Lavinia paused for a moment to look at the picture before opening the doors of Emily's wardrobe. It was full of dresses. She picked one out, held the delicate fabric against her body and turned to look in the mirror. As she looked at her reflection, she noticed a small leather clad sea chest on the floor beside the dresser. She returned the dress to the robe and knelt down to inspect the chest, which was locked.


Lavinia took a poker from the hearth, prised open the latches and opened the lid. Inside were countless notebooks and sheets of paper, covered in Emily’s handwriting.


A trove of Emily’s poems, she thought.


Lavinia gathered up an armful of manuscripts and hurried across town to meet with Thomas Higginson and Mabel Todd, who had arranged an appointment with her to discuss Emily’s estate.


‘This is quite a find,’ Thomas said as he sifted through the sheets of paper and passed them to Mabel.


‘Our Emily was more productive than we realised. The publisher will be impressed. Did you say there are more of these?’ Mabel asked.


‘Yes. So many more. In life, she eschewed society, but now, in death, the world will come to know Emily Dickinson,’ Lavinia explained.


Mabel thumbed through several more pages, picked one out and quickly read it before passing it to Thomas.


‘See what you make of that. It’s called Wild nights. Wild nights! But there is one recurring theme that society doesn’t need to know. I’ll edit it before we submit.’


‘What’s wrong?’ Lavinia asked.


Mabel sighed. ‘Vinnie, the public must never find out about Susan. It will cause a scandal.’


‘But this is 1886!’ Lavinia said.


Mabel smiled. ‘If we handle this prudently, Emily Dickinson will be a household name. As Emily herself said, ‘If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves.’


Wikipedia: Thomas Higginson and Mabel Todd collaborated in publishing the volumes of poetry discovered in a locked chest by Emily’s sister Lavinia after Emily's death in 1886.


Copyright: text by Robert Carrick; photos: Wiki.


Posts on this SSOA blog are published to showcase the work of emerging writers who meet weekly to workshop stories. The posts comprise just some of the responses written in just 10 minutes as a warm up to the meetings.

If you'd like to join any of our groups or are looking for writing classes, contact us at ssoa.com.au

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