Making Allusions/Sample: Colossus

**I have since revised the sample to give it more of a Mark Twain dialect, rather than the Old South slave dialect – not only less offensive (seeming), but more suitable to the plot**

I’m one of those snobs who loves to make allusions in my books. For those of you who are following Colossus on Wattpad, you may or may not have noticed my Doctor Who reference. I’ve heard that this is not good practice, but I can’t resist it. I love reading an allusion I’m familiar with in a book, or hearing one in movies. However, if I don’t know it, depending on the context, it may be frustrating. Some allusions, depending on how much the plot depends on them, require scaffolding.

Very few people outside of Georgia are familiar with the Uncle Remus Tales. We learn them when we are very young, and they have stuck with me for quite a while. I make an Uncle Remus allusion in a later chapter, but it is glossed over. I wanted to strengthen the connection. To kill two birds with one stone – strengthening the allusion and Monica’s character – I wrote this scene. It’s just the first draft, so let me know what you think!

MMMM

            “Sterling!” Monica cried, jerking awake. Her heart pounded against her ribs as she swung her head around, making sure she was alone. Her dream had felt so real, and she was convinced that when she woke, she would find her little sister crouching next to her, tears streaming down her innocent face. Relieved, Monica attempted to regain control of her breath. Her heartbeat slowed gradually.

Sweat made Monica’s robe cling uncomfortable to her skin. With an exasperated sigh, she peeled it off and wadded it into a ball. Pressing her face into the silky cloth, she took several deep breaths. She wished she could stop crying so often; It was exhausting and embarrassing. Rhodes loved it when she cried, loved wiping or licking the tears from her face. Her throat constricted with anger. Every time she cried, she was just giving him one more excuse to touch her.

Sniffling, she blinked the tears away. She listened, but the room was silent except for Witt’s soft snoring and Heather’s rough, even breathing. The AC rattled on, making Monica flinch at the sudden noise. She pursed her lips until her heart slowed down again.

“H…Heather?” she called softly. Z shifted in his closet, but Heather’s breathing continued unchanged. “Heather?” she dared to call a little louder.

Heather inhaled sharply. Cloth rustled as she pulled herself up against the wall before she answered, “Mm-hm?”

“Do…” Monica swallowed as tears pricked at her eyes again, “Do you remember the stories you used to tell the kids?” Her voice tightened as she said “the kids.” She couldn’t remember a time she had gone so long without hearing them, and thinking of them made her heart ache.

Heather let out a long breath, a brief tremor betraying her sympathy. “Of course,” she said, “yeah.”

Monica opened her mouth to speak several times, but couldn’t push the words out. She didn’t want to ask Heather to speak in her state, but her fear overwhelmed her consideration. She felt foolish and vulnerable, like a child. “Wou–” she squeezed out, “Would you tell me – tell us one? The one that helped David with the dogs?”

David, the next-to-youngest of Monica’s four younger siblings, had been attacked by a dog two years ago, resulting in twenty stitches and a paralyzing fear of walking outside. He would not even venture out the back door to swim in their pool. To assist in his recovery, Heather told him folk tales about the trickster Br’er Rabbit, turning his various adversaries into dogs.

Heather sat in silence. Monica wondered if Heather was actually holding her breath.

“Um…” she replied after a moment, her voice thick and shaking, “yeah, give me a minute.” Her grandpa had told her those stories. Monica realized that if she was missing her family, everyone else must be missing theirs as well. Heather’s rasping breath became quick and heavy, then slowed. Monica was surprised when she giggled.

“Bless yo’ soul, chile,” Heather began, adopting the far South dialect of the story-teller, “I ain’t got time for that.” Z scoffed, either at her absurd accent or the concept of her not having time.

“Pleeeeeease?” Monica could not keep her voice even. She should have remembered how Heather began.

“Well,” Heather continued, “I guess y’all bin good chilluns…”

As Heather spoke – broken occasionally by clearing her sore throat – Monica slipped her robe back on. She curled against the floor, her back against the back wall. Heather’s voice pulled her away from her anxious thoughts, and she fell asleep, dreaming of rabbit in a white robe out-witting a stupid, vicious dog.

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