Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Girl Fight!

I witnessed my first real girl fight recently. I came in at the end, but there was enough hatred, hissing, cursing, and blood to be more than enough for me. I have seen plenty of boy fights - meh. Girl fights are something else. It made me realize my own attempt at writing a girl fight was lacking. My inexperience with violence really showed. There was too much talking, not enough scratching and swearing.

I am including my girl fight scene from Courtly Scandals below. I appreciate any input you may have on bettering the pacing and realism of the fight.

A damp cold assaulted Mary’s face and neck as she stepped into the winter afternoon. There had been no time to think about fetching a cloak as Anne dragged her out into the garden. It appeared Anne was not taking the new rumors well. It had taken all of Mary’s self control not to laugh at the direction the malicious gossip had taken. She may be a slut, but Anne was the murderess. She could live with that. Besides, the reputation of promiscuity would soon blow over: if that type of thing stuck, no woman at court would ever have a reputation intact enough to marry.
Anne released her wrist and spun to face her, her skirts flinging droplets of slush as she turned.
 “You bitch.” Anne punctuated her words by slapping her open palm across Mary’s face.
Anne had struck her!
Mary was surprised that she was not surprised. She lifted a hand to the warm spot on her cheek. “Anne, get control of yourself. You are making a scene.”
All five-foot two of Anne gyrated with rage. “You! You started these rumors.”
In spite of her throbbing cheek, Mary had an unusual sense of peace. She really did not care what Anne had to say at this point. Of course, almost every courtier from Queen Elizabeth’s privy chamber seemed to care and was crowding the doorway into the cold.
“Anne, this is neither the time nor the place.”
“I am the Countess of Oxford. I will say when it is the time and the place. You are no one but a nursemaid.”
“The only person I have ever played nursemaid to is you.” Mary stepped closer and lowered her voice to a whisper. “For goodness sakes Anne, you are acting like a spoiled child.”
Mary stepped back just in time as Anne swung again, the momentum causing her to fall to the sleet covered ground. In a puddle of skirts and melting snow, Anne struggled to right herself.
She had barely recovered her balance before turning to the audience and pointing dramatically at Mary. “This woman is a whore and a murderess.”
Mary stood silent. There was nothing she could say in her defense that would matter, but Anne’s behavior was so extreme that she was unwittingly making the case for her.
“You are no friend to me. You only stayed with me so you could seduce my husband and then kill him. You have always hated him. You wish him dead.”
Did Anne have any idea of the trouble she was causing? Of course, Anne was a countess. Her position was assured regardless of bad behavior. Through no fault of Mary’s, she was a spectacle for the court. Again.
“Anne, you must stop this madness now. It has gone too far.” Mary could tell that Anne was past seeing anything rationally.
“I see nothing but a strumpet set on stealing my husband.” Anne’s skirts were covered in dirty slush. Her hands, shaking fists. She must be freezing. “Are you jealous of me? Do you wish he had married you?”
“You do not have the right to be so familiar with me. I am a grown woman and a countess and you will address me as such.”
If only she’d act like one. “Lady Oxford, surely your great mind can see the fallacy in your argument. I could not wish to see Oxford dead and wish to marry him at the same time.” Mary kept her voice low, hoping Anne would latch on to the logic and remember herself. Anne was embarrassing both of them enough.
A deep voice called from the opposite side of the garden. “Lady Oxford, you are a countess. Will you stand for such a slight against your reason?”
Anne and Mary both looked up at the same time to see the Earl of Oxford, beaming gleefully. He was wrapped in a counterpane and standing on the balcony outside his sick room, looking down on the frozen garden below him.
In the moment it took Mary to wonder at Oxford’s presence, Anne had managed to muster enough fury to attack.
Mary fell back as Anne jumped, her hands clawing at Mary’s face. She could hear cheers from their growing audience as she gripped both of Anne’s wrists to hold her at bay. Oxford was bellowing wagers, his money firmly on her.
“Two crowns that Mistress Mary will fell the Countess of Oxford.” Oxford shouted to the delight of their other spectators.
Face to face with Anne, separated only by Anne’s clawed hands, Mary whispered, “This is madness, Anne. Think of your baby. The future earl.”
“You would have me kill my child, too, wouldn’t you?” Anne redoubled her efforts, straining to reach Mary’s face.
Mary pushed back with all her strength, rolling Anne over on the frozen earth, their hoops and layers of skirting flailing around them. The crowd cheered and a woman’s voice called out. “I’ll take that bet. It’s always the little one’s that are the most venomous.”
Another spectator replied, “Come now, my Lady, Mistress Mary has at least two stone in weight on my sweet little Countess.”
Anne shrieked and pressed forward.
Oxford continued, his voice conciliatory, “My dear Countess, no sense in denying it. The odds are clearly in her favor. It would be silly for me to lay a bet on you, regardless of my affections. I do hope you prove me wrong.”
More voices joined in the betting as Mary crawled backward enough to stand again. Anne writhed in the wet snow, struggling to right herself. Mary spared a glance at the crowd, searching for Charles. The audience cheered, urging her on, as she noticed Charles standing behind two pike-bearing guardsmen. Why were they holding him back?
“She’s not even putting up a fight.” The courtier sounded disappointed.
Was it her imagination, or had the crowd stepped closer, hedging her in? “Of course she is not; she would not dare strike a countess.” Mary did not recognize the voice as she scanned the garden, looking for an escape.
Oxford replied, “So why have you wagered two Angel’s on her winning? Come now sweeting, you can’t let my wife get away with ruining your chances at court.” Oxford laughed at his own words. “Anne, darling, that wench has been throwing herself at me for years. And now she has the audacity to pretend to be a lady? She’s naught but a country wench. Does she deserve to put on fine airs?”
     Mary sighed at Oxford’s tactics. He was egging on Lady Oxford and the crowd loved it.
“I am the better woman. I am a countess and she is nobody.” Anne seemed to have regained a second wind. Mary turned to see Anne smiling maniacally at her husband. Turning to Mary, Anne’s eyes narrowed.
“Please, let us stop this before it gets any worse.”
“Oh, I plan to stop this.” Anne bent to the ground, scooping handfuls of frozen, sodden earth, then rushed her.
Mary tried to move aside but Anne was determined, much to the delight of the crowd. Anne smeared frozen mud over Mary’s chest and bodice even as Mary tried to hold her off. Mary ducked out of her grip, only for Anne to grab her hair and yank her head back against Anne’s slight figure. “You will pay for your betrayal.”
Mary spun to face her, heedless of the pain as Anne’s grip held firm in her coiled hair. “Betrayal? You married the man who murdered my fiancé! You were like a sister to me, and now? Now, when you know how I feel, you think I have betrayed you by bedding your husband?” Mary stepped closer, the aggressor. If the crowd still hollered, Mary no longer heard them.
Anne stepped back, surprised, her hand still clutching a length of Mary’s hair.
“Oxford would bed anything with a hole and, what? You hate me because he wants me? God knows he only wants me because he can’t have me.”
Anne regained her composure and looked ready to strike.
Mary did not give her the chance. Both hands pushed Anne back and she stumbled.
In shock at Mary’s offense, her hands went defensively to her abdomen. “You would hurt my baby?” Any true concern for the child was gone as she charged forward to attack, both hands outstretched.
Mary stepped to the side, letting Anne rush pass. Again, she slipped on the frozen mud, sliding across what was usually the Queen’s ornamental garden. A place of peace and beauty that had become a frozen, muddy, battleground. Mary stood firm. “I would leave and never see you again, but you seem set on settling this here. So let us settle it.”
Anne rose again, this time hurtling towards Mary, catching her across the middle. Both forms locked together, Mary pounding Anne in the head and back; Anne pummeling Mary’s stomach. Mary heard the crowd cheer.
God’s teeth, what was she doing?
She stepped away enough for Anne to pull back her arm and aim another slap. Mary met her blow with her arm. Then both ladies were reeling, their arms flailing at each other like windmills in a storm. Mary could not hold herself back as she screamed, not sure if any of her blows here landing. All she knew is she wanted to hurt Anne. Hurt her.
It took a moment for the single, calm word to sink past the haze of anger. Halt.
Mary stopped short, dropping her hands to her side. Anne, taking this as an opportunity, jumped forward only to be restrained by a black clad arm.
Mary’s vision cleared and focused. William Cecil, Baron Burghley, Secretary of State for Queen Elizabeth, stood in front of her. One arm wrapped around a sobbing Anne. The other hand rested on the dagger at his waist.
“My lord Burghley.” Mary dropped back in an elegant reverence.
“Mistress Mary.” Burghley gestured her to rise. “I apologize for my daughter’s behavior. It is not to be condoned.” He spoke directly to his daughter, “A countess should behave as a countess.” Anne’s sobbing increased as Baron Burghley turned back toward Mary. “Mistress, I trust you will remove yourself from the Oxford household immediately?”
     A shout interrupted Mary’s response. Oxford. “Dear father, must you spoil all my fun?”

And, for your viewing pleasure, one of my personal favorites from Funny Or Die.
Jane Austen's Fight Club - watch more funny videos     


Avadonja said...

I gave you a shout out on my blog.
I love that video. Your fight scene was a little worry -- then again, I don't know how vicious ladies at court could be in all those clothes.

Susan Kane said...

Super cat fight! Mary handled herself well, and Anne showed her colors. Oxford? Well, those words cannot be said in polite company...Well done.

Susan Kane said...

I hadn't viewed the video before I commented. Excellent! Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Good scene. Having seen ladies slide in the mud in such outfits at Renaissance faires, it was easy to see these two fighting. :)

Hopped over from the campaign to say hi. Love that video too. And the name of the blog.


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