A couple weeks ago I had you choose between the Sovereign, a servant girl in the Sovereign’s employ, and Merryn. You chose to dig through Merryn’s undie drawer. The race was close – the Sovereign was a near second.
I love the character Merryn. Truth be told, I love all my characters, even the bad ones. But Merryn is a constant, minor player throughout the series, and she’s been fun to write, mostly because she’s so unlike me. She’s proper. She’s orderly. She’s responsible. She’s wise. She’s over four-hundred years old. She’s not human.
Tucked inside her drawer with her undergarments is a smallish black box. She never opens this box. She rarely even looks at it. But it’s there like a presence; a thing with eyes that see and ears that hear. It only holds three things: a leather cuff with a rose imprinted on it, and two letters – one opened, one not.
The cuff was a gift from from a boy she loved when she was young. His eyes were green and neither of their parents approved. His parents sent him to labor as a farm-hand to his uncle. Hers sent her to work for a wealthy couple near the Ovedlea mountains. She never saw or heard from him again.
Merryn received the opened letter over seventy years ago, and has never fully recovered from what she found written there. I know you’d probably like to read it – after all, that’s what we’re here to do, isn’t it? – but I love Merryn, and I don’t know if I can bring myself to let you. I have a black box of my own, and some of the things in it are so dear, and so heartbreaking, that if I found that someone had perused it I would feel violated on the deepest level. Let’s leave Merryn’s heartache be, and move on to the unopened letter.
This one was given to her by Grace Torvald. Grace’s mind had begun to slip in the years preceding her death (although she would have bitterly argued against that notion), and she’d given this envelope to Merryn with specific, vehement instructions: Keep it safe, and give it to the man that will come. The impossible man, with the impossible eyes.
Merryn had taken the envelope and promised Grace she’d do as she wished, inside knowing that Grace’s mind had slipped a little further. She’d held onto the envelope, not out of obedience, but out of respect for the woman who’d treated her with a kindness she’d never expected from an employer.
If you feel like Merryn’s undie drawer is a little morose, you’re right. That’s because she keeps her happy cherished things out where she can see them – a way to beat the darkness that hides in her drawer. A portrait of her with her twin sister sits on top of her drawers. They’re wearing matching flowered dresses and matching smiles. She kisses her sister on the nose every morning. Also kept on top of her drawers is a silver hair-brush and matching mirror – a gift from Steren and Grace on one of her many birthdays; she can’t remember which. The set was extravagant and she shouldn’t have accepted it, but they’d taken such joy in giving it to her. It had become her reminder that while her parents had meant to punish her by sending her here all those years ago, they’d given her a great blessing instead: because to work for Steren and Grace Torvald was to be loved by them. That was just the kind of people they were.
That’s it for Merryn’s underwear drawer! Now you get to vote for next time: The Seamstress, The Sovereign, or Hamilton Felin (Rein Torvald’s best friend). Vote below.