Short Stories

Writing: Character Sheet: Petula Upwood

Hi everyone! It’s time to introduce another character sheet and this time, our heroine. It was fun to read what I wrote six months ago and to see what I thought about what kind of person Petula should be. There have been some minor changes, but her essence is the same. Now I kind of want to write about Aunt Essie and her bad-ass youth.

Anyway here is:

Petula Upwood

Role in Story: A major character, one whose through the story unravels. Petula is there to tell her dry comments about society, other people, and Necropolis also she is there to look the city and its habitats from an outsider’s perspective.

Occupation: Necromancer

Physical Description: Petula is a small girl, she looks like someone you can push over. She has dark circles around her eyes from all the reading. Her snow-white hair (is due to all the experimentation with necromancy) is a mess, and she dresses in dark clothes to fit the part of a necromancer. No one can say her to be pretty, but she not ugly either. She doesn’t care much for her appearance as she sees it as a waste of time. All she cares about is her career and necromancy. If someone wants to tag along for the ride others call life, then good for them. But if they are insufferable, then she makes sure there is no reason to stick around. Her usual cheeriness makes sure of that.

Personality: Unpleasant, disinterested about everything else but necromancy and mastering her profession, spiky, introverted, sensing (trusting her five and sixth sense), thinking, judging (likes her schedule, her way of doing things and so on.) Sarcastic. Rude. Arrogant, picky, unfriendly, surly, sullen, quarrelsome, fearless, cultured, confident, capable, imaginative, impartial, independent, meticulous, observant, precise, reliable, rational, realistic, persuasive, perfectionist, orderly in her own way, intense, neutral, private, proud, stubborn, asocial, colorless, difficult, gloomy, pessimistic, melancholic. Unruly.

Habits/Mannerisms: Reads her book constantly, wrinkles her nose, watches under her eyebrows, when annoyed she will either burrow deeper into her book or slam it shut and stare the other one down. Usually, she opts out engaging as she doesn’t see a point to it. Doesn’t laugh even how hard you try. Snorts at best.

Books with her: Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Necromantiae and The New Edition of Needlepoint Masterpieces by Mildred Whither

Background: Petula Upwood was born in Leporidae Lop to an aristocratic family. Has a younger sister and brother. Has loving family who were always baffled and a bit hurt by her cold demeanor. Still they tried to make an effort to include her as they thought inclusion would be a good thing, not understanding that her withdrawal was her way of being in the world, that it wasn’t done against them.

From early on, Petula could see and hear the ghosts. That spooked out her family, especially her father Norville Upwood who couldn’t understand how his little daughter only four years old could know about their family history so much and especially about their secrets. When he perceived what was happening, he got angry at his dead relatives. They were stepping across a line no one should. A four-year-old child shouldn’t be a vessel for adult problems. Petula didn’t mind, she was fascinated by the world no one else heard. As years went by, she made sure to learn to see the ghosts, she stood still and looked past the reality seeing behind the veil. She knew how not to let her mind play tricks on her, to understand and acknowledge what was evident. She got so good at it, it even freaked out the dead. They couldn’t hide from her anymore, and there was a huge discussion about it on her sixteenth birthday. The dead wanted her to be sent away, to a boarding school. They insisted that from Norville. To send the girl to learn manners and to become a good woman and wife, Norville didn’t want to hear any word of it. He wouldn’t let them bully his daughter to be anything she wasn’t.

The arguments got worse every day, and Norville packed their things and moved into their city estate. She loved living in their first home. In the mansion. But all the unsolicited advice from the dead aunts, uncles, and grandmothers got to his father’s nerves, and he insisted that it was better if they moved into their city estate for the sake of mental health. He asked from Petula what she wanted to do, and she told them about Necropolis and the University for necromancers. Norville and the rest of the family agreed with her after a year of arguing. When Petula turned eighteen she was accepted to the University of Necropolis and left Leporidae Lop behind, taking a month-long sea voyage to her new home. Her family had insisted on her to take a chaperone with her, but she refused. Another argument broke out, but as always Petula won. That caused anger, jealousy, and other unpleasant feelings in her siblings, that she got away with everything, that their parents were powerless against her.

Aunt Essie was the only one who seemed to get her and support her all the way through her decision to become a necromancer. She was the one who assured Norville that Petula was strong enough to handle herself and to cope with anything life threw at her. A short trip to another continent, to get an education, was just a nice story for later to be told. If only she knew what Necropolis would throw at her. Actually, she did. Aunt Essie had a bit of clairvoyance in her, and the thought of Petula’s faith made her chuckle every time they or anyone else talked about what she would be when she grows up.

Internal Conflicts: Understanding there is more to the human condition than she appreciates. Understanding there is even in her a deep urge to connect, but not knowing how and not understanding why it should be done through some arbitrary rules others had decided on her behalf. Perceiving that there is something wrong with her, that it is the cause of the hurt she so often experiences. But never when she is alone, doing what she loves, but too often when she was forced to be around other people.

External Conflicts: Awakening of Ira, wanting to go home to pack and leave the city. Minta, and other people around her. Morris constant smiling and need to connect annoys her. Kitty. Agatha.

Notes: Petula could feel Aunt Essie watching her. She glanced over her book, and there she was, gazing somewhere beyond her, but still at her. That look always annoyed Petula. Aunt Essie never cared to tell her what she saw. Petula knew others thought her eccentric, odd, and senile, but she didn’t think she was. Petula had a sixth sense for these things, and it was telling that Essie saw something real. And it was unfair she didn’t tell what.

“Essie,” Petula said.

Essie sat there in the drawing-room, she continued staring past her and not hearing what Petula had said. Petula wanted to throw her with the book she was reading, but she wasn’t willing to hurt anyone least of all the book. She wasn’t more than twelve, actually a day older than twelve. That was why Essie was there, she had come to celebrate her birthday. Petula didn’t understand why there had to be a fuss, it was something she hadn’t chosen and couldn’t control. And rarely she cared for the gifts she received. Most of the time, they were something others thought she ought to be and have and not what she was and wanted. Her mother always bought her a dress, and she always hid the hideous things at the bottom of her closet, every time making her understood how spoiled she was. Petula stood up from the floor and walked to Essie. Her aunt followed her movement but still looking past her.

Petula laid her hand on the woman’s arm gently, not wanting to spook her like she sometimes did. Those times when she couldn’t control her annoyance. “Essie,” she said.

“Yes, dear,” Essie said, sounding distant.

“Come back,” she said.

“Is it dinner time already?”

“No, but—”

Essie looked deep into her eyes and clutched on her hand. She was fully present. Petula wanted to cry out, but she didn’t.

“Oh, it is you, deary,” Essie said, letting go of the hand. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

Petula was never very convinced by that sentence, she said it too often. She was sure that meant Essie saw something horrible in her future. Something which she was entitled to know to try to prevent it. But the last time she’d demanded to be told, in a high voice and lots of dramatic hand waving and feet stomping, Essie had slapped her. She could still feel the sting, but she’d refused to cry and still refused, but she always tread carefully around the older woman. “It’s not for you to know,” Essie said like she always did. “Not dinner time yet, eh?” Essie added, sounding more like her usual self.

Petula shook her head.

“Then you better get back to your reading,” she said. It sounded a lot like a command. That if she didn’t comply, there would be hell to pay. “You need it,” the woman added.

“Sure aunt Essie,” Petula said and walked back to her book and began to read. This time she made sure to turn her back on the woman, but the thing was it didn’t help. She could feel her eyes on her. But there was a trick she could do. She shut her eyes for a one long moment, opened them and began to read. The world around her disappeared.

Thank you for reading! Have a lovely day ❤

© K.A. Ashcomb

1 comment on “Writing: Character Sheet: Petula Upwood

  1. Tiny girl known for dry comments? Love her already

    Liked by 1 person

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