The Daily Post prompt is: purposeful. If there’s any girl I would describe as ‘purposeful’ it’s Deborah, the heroine of The Green Woman series. Here is a short excerpt from the beginning of the first volume, The Dark Citadel.


Shrill voices shattered the orderly silence as the pupils from Providence Central Institute for Girls made their way home from school. As they approached the corner of a narrow, dusty street, a tall figure broke away from the group and turned aside with a determined stride. The other schoolgirls bunched together at the corner to watch her go, then carried on up the main thoroughfare, their shapeless garments fluttering.

“My name is Deborah, not Serpentspawn, you foul-mouthed bunch of bitches!” the girl shouted over her shoulder after her departing classmates. “You think I care what your cretins of parents say about me?”

“Serpentspawn!” The catcall, followed by a burst of nervous giggling, wafted faintly back to her.

“You think I care that you all asked that I be moved to another class?” she whispered. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes glittered. A grey-robed man hurrying by on the opposite pavement caught her eye and clicked his tongue in disapproval. The girl held her head high and glared at him, the budding tears drying as hurt gave way to anger. With a defiant gesture she wrenched off the hated headscarf and shook her hair free.

“Get yourself home, little trollop,” the man gasped in indignation.

“If you don’t like what you see, don’t look,” the girl spat at him and, hitching up her flapping robes, ran towards the unlit end of the street.

She ran, her hair streaming behind, feet clattering loudly, defying the silent watchers from dark windows. No voice snapped at her, no window opened to let fly insults. If they had, the tears would surely have come. It was too much to bear. First there had been the humiliation of the snide comments from the sewing matron about how she probably got her sewing skills from her father. Then those bitches had taunted her with their moronic jokes about how many sacks her imprisoned father had sewn that afternoon. Was it her fault if they were all too stupid to see that their own fathers were just pig ignorant brutes? The pious temple creeper insulting her like that had been the last straw.

Get yourself home, he said. The girl shot a glance full of loathing up and down the shabby street. Home!

Dust clouds rolled up over the crystal dome, and the light dimmed further. The dark end of the street, where the girl lived, seemed unusually menacing in the gathering gloom. The sound of her running feet was suddenly too loud, too lonely. She stopped.

A scream rang out, a harsh, evil cry from the depths of the cloud. She clutched the headscarf, wanting to hide in its folds but refusing to show her fear, and cast about, searching for the source of the cry. Standing firmly in the middle of the street, with clenched fists, hair loose and wild, she raised her eyes to the unseen crystal dome, defying whatever was hiding in the murk to show itself. The cry came again, harsher, strident, and the girl, with a last angry glare at the blanket of cloud, ran for the shelter of a tenement doorway.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

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