The Muse-in-law

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

Elizabeth quickly closed the journal and pushed it under the embroidery.  The pen clattered to the floor and rolled under the bed.

Her mother-in-law stood at the door moments after her thunderous steps alerted Elizabeth. She instructed a maid, who followed her, to collect all the books in Elizabeth’s room.

“Books can disturb your  sensibilities and corrupt your mind…making you an unsuitable wife for my dear son…”. Her voice echoed the hollow righteousness of her mind.

Elizabeth studied the ignorant yet vile creature in front of her silently.

“…that’s why I’m banning books for you. Girls should be like flowers – delicate and pure… “, the woman continued her monologue.

and deceptively poisonous? like you?“, Elizabeth wanted to say when inspiration struck her.

“Thank you”, Elizabeth blurted ,interrupting and dismissing her mother-in-law.

When she was left alone eventually , Elizabeth started writing the perfect plot twist for her play: “The team employed the use of Nightshade to get the information they wanted from their captive.”

———– end —————-

Nightshade – is a type of plant where the flowers, steams and leaves are poisonous like the flower shown in the picture prompt.

I also drew inspiration from the first woman to write an English play and publish it in her name: Elizabeth Cary  or Lady Falkland. More information on her is available in Wikipedia:,_Viscountess_Falkland

Excerpts from the wikipedia article that acted as a basis for my piece:

“At the age of fifteen, her father arranged her marriage to Sir Henry Cary, later made Viscount Falkland, who married her because she was an heiress. When she finally moved into her husbands home, her mother-in-law informed Elizabeth that she was forbidden to read, so Elizabeth instead chose to write poetry in her spare time.”

Elizabeth turned her mother-in-law’s ban of books  into a muse to create her own written material….

Her first play The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry (1613) was written in iambic pentameter ….. The Tragedy of Mariam was progressive for its time because it was the first English play to be written by a woman.[4] Her social commentary discussed divorce and female agency, which was innovative for the time. The play discusses revenge, scheming, and plotting as core elements which all aid in Falkland’s critique about patriarchal tyranny.”

The about 150+ word above story was in response to ‘Monday’s finish the story’ flash fiction challenge. This unique flash fiction challenge  provides  a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story.This time I used the first sentence (in Italics) provided at the end. The challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided. Details are available here:


20 responses to “The Muse-in-law

  1. Beautifully written !!! I was told the exact same thing about reading books by my mother-in-law..


    • Thanks Mersha. It’s such a sad thing to know that such ignorance is still alive in people like your MIL after all these years. There is only thing to do….Turn her into your Muse-in-law 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story! I loved it.


  3. A true work of art Ansumani! This is excellent! Thanks for contributing again, and be well… ^..^


  4. Some people think they can control others around them but nobody can stop the imagination, great writing.


  5. That is very well crafted. Enjoyed the link.


  6. Even evil mothers in law have their uses! Nice story.


  7. Beautifully written story and I love the tribute to Elizabeth Cary. Well done!


  8. Love the story behind your post. Brilliant! it was my own mother who hated my reading, although, thank God, she never banned it. Excellent tribute!


  9. A great story and I love that you’ve based it on real events. I’m glad Elizabeth Cary managed to put the constraints imposed by her married life to good use. Well done. 🙂


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