Saturday, July 23rd, 1870

Dear Diary:

Oh, I’ve gone and blundered up something wonderful again. Matilda’s soul, as beautiful as it is, leaves something to be desired in terms of current coiffed couture. It is not fitting for a servant to run around with his hair long and loose. Perhaps a gypsy can do so. A lady’s maid (or valet, now that Matilda is a man) can hardly keep a lady in good standing if he does not even look respectable, himself. This, at least, was my reasoning when I broached the subject of Matilda’s hair.

I offered to do the job myself. I had done an adequate job of painting Matilda’s skin once upon a time ago. Surely hairdressing could be no more difficult. Clearly, I was mistaken. I babbled away like a damn brook whilst chopping Matilda’s fine flaxen locks into messes. In the end, I’m afraid his head looked rather like an overgrown porcupine.

I can’t help it if I was distracted. You see, Matilda and I discussed the topic of his restored humanity while I worked. It is not every day one gets to ask the recipient of a miracle how it feels to live with the result. In truth, I think he feels a rather more awkward than he had anticipated. He even expressed a bit of dissatisfaction regarding his gender, owning a fear that his “equipment,” as he termed it, looked rather inelegant – not to mention embarrassing, as his soul is, apparently, as much in control of his member as is the average post-pubescent youth. Just imagine it! Poor Matilda is an adult in the throes of a second adolescence! And worse, too, since his entire body has changed literally overnight. He feels everything more keenly. He smells more, too. Hears more. Tastes more. He is positively awash in sensation. No wonder he keeps tripping over his own shoes.

I tried to put him at ease as much as I could. I assured him that his appearance was not inelegant. Certainly, he’s of a smaller stature than one might expect, but I’ve seen far worse during the course of my work. While I blithely blathered on about malformations and discolorations aplenty, Matilda took on a discoloration all his own: his cheeks turned the exact shade of red as the velvet cover of my vanity table. I think I shocked him. He always said he did not mind my work. It would seem that he lied.

Diary, is it too cruel to admit that I felt a little disappointed? Talking about my work at the club felt rather like a great rush of water bursting forth from a burst dam. I never talk about my work. Discretion demands my silence. But with Matilda… well, was it wrong of me to think that I might open up this one part of myself to another person? I am a selfish woman. It is not for me to speak of unspeakable subjects. No wonder Matilda felt uncomfortable. He, at least, has a sense of decency! But Diary, it was nice to speak freely and without shame for a moment.

Later, that shame came back tenfold. I think it was about the hundredth time I apologized for Matilda’s botched hair. Somehow, I got to thinking about all of my many horrible sins. Matilda comforted me. He said I am too hard on myself. He even called me a wonderful woman. Lord, I even feel guilty about wallowing in my guilt! Somewhere in there, I recall him saying I “might be something more.” I don’t recall the specifics; my mind was too much awash with bloody cellular phones and kraken-sized holes through madman-sized bodies. But really, diary, what did he mean?

What, exactly, is Matilda to me? Obviously, he is my maid-of-all-work. Perhaps I should call him my manservant. Still, he is in my employ as a personal servant. He cleans my house. He cooks my meals. He runs my baths. He tucks me in at night and wakes me in the morning. He shops for my groceries. He mends my clothes. He tidies my hair. He presents my guests. And by God, does he ever make a damn fine cuppa!

Excuse me. The twenty-first century has a way of creeping back into my vocabulary from time to time.

Even so, he had a point about the “more” business. It is not every mistress who braves potential demonic activity in order to restore her maid’s humanity. Nor is it every maid who crosses time gate contraptions in order to assist his mistress in a prison break. We two have been connected, via Mr. P’s odious ring, by our very thoughts. I know the taste and texture of his most minute musings. He knows my inner darkness, yet chooses to serve me faithfully. His soul is precious; mine, tainted. But we protect each other. We complement one another. Dare I say we love one another?

But what more could he possibly want? And what more could I possibly give? Oh, bother. I hope his humanity doesn’t go and make him my suitor again. Who marries the maid? And besides, if I did that, where would we get our income?

Oh, blast! I’ve just had a horrible thought. Do you think he calls me wonderful only because his previous master was a demon? No great compliment, that. I’m wonderful, of course, when all one has known is a master who makes you clean up the blood of the innocent after the weekly ritual sacrifice! Damn it all. And damn you, Mr. P., provided you aren’t damned already! How is it that even from some strange netherworld, that dreadful demon still has a way of haunting me?

All right, Diary. My eyelids are drooping. I had better go to sleep. I don’t want my eyes to be puffy in the morning.

Your Penitent,

–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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