Mysterious Happenings

The September/October issue of Somerset Studio is here and I was pleased to find three pieces I’d submitted in their “Expressions” section. The challenge for their Halloween issue had been to create artwork based on the young-adult novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenThe author, Ransom Riggs, had been inspired by highly unusual (and slightly disturbing) photographs of people on Victorian cabinet cards, and photographs of the actual cards are sprinkled throughout the book.

I love all things related to Halloween, especially as it was celebrated in the distant past, when things were just a bit more serious and a bit more…creepy. I searched for old photos on the internet and found a couple that could easily be construed as a bit odd or menacing, given the right context. After creating two pieces called “Secrets” and “Poison,” I decided to go in search of a real cabinet card to add authenticity to my next effort.

Within a few days, I was pawing through a shoe box full of vintage photographs at a favorite day-trip destination, the Webster flea market. My lucky find was a prim Victorian lady, all buttoned up in a long-sleeved frock, her unruly hair pulled severely back and pinned into submission. She sits very still for the photograph, but her expression hints at thoughts that are somewhere else entirely. What could be going on behind those pale, unfocused eyes?

Clearly what I had here was the portrait of a Victorian serial killer! Her victims? A string of ailing dowagers, each of whom had entrusted her with their care, and none of whom suspected she was after their money. She was extremely kind and caring (all faked), and came with excellent references (all forged) from well-respected members of society (now all deceased). What’s a girl to do when she wants a new frock, but the old gal hasn’t popped off yet? She tells herself her actions are “merciful,” but her eyes reveal the truth! And thus do the eyes of her victims, which haunt her wherever she goes…

haunted photo

Not content with confining themselves to haunting our deadly caretaker, these vengeful ghosts played tricks with my instructions for the piece as well! Where I had written “ink,” “tissue paper,” “paper napkins”, “white china marker” and “cardstock,” those naughty gremlins substituted “paint”, “paper towel”, “decorate tape”, “tissue paper”, “white crayon” and “cardboard”! Worse, they changed the title from “Haunted” to “Strychnine! Poison.” So don’t be fooled, gentle readers, and never let your guard down when it comes to those you have wronged!

Bwaaaaa-hahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa…

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One Response to “Mysterious Happenings”

  1. Pamela Ashe Says:

    You go girl! You got published again!

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