Unapologetically Verbose – May

Once upon a time there was a story…but not that kind of story. A story which promises to teach you at least 365 of the most intriguing words in the English language, and will perhaps provide an enjoyable repose for you at the same time. A story which will unfold month by month, with each excerpt containing all of the word-of-the-day entries for that month, as depicted in my very well-favoured 365 New Words A Year Calendar. Read these words, learn them, use them; they’re all wonderful.

Then come to love the story, and follow it each month. I don’t know exactly where it’s going, but I do know that it’s going to be special.

Here’s May…

In no uncertain terms did Erica Freeman ever want Charlie Whittaker to leave.

The very instant she sighted him walking up the drive to Freeman Manor she felt a frisson [1] of excitement flood her veins. She knew she had to speak to him. Which is how she came to wander down to the basement, interrupting him as he worked.

For a moment she stayed silent as she watched him, only moving towards him inchmeal, [2] as she struggled to think of her first action. The boy she was staring at was the quintessence [3] of everything she had been brought up to avoid, yet at the same time she found her attraction for him entirely unavoidable. It was like she had suddenly developed an unhealthy pica [4] for something she knew she wasn’t supposed to have. Something that might even be unhealthy for her, yet she wasn’t willing to fight her yen [5] for it.

It wasn’t because she thought his appearance was the most beautiful kind of tawdry, [6] or because she had seen how he had those remarkable cerulean [7] eyes, or even because she felt excited by the idea that their attraction that would be so obviously verboten, [8] it was because – somehow – from the moment she saw him – she felt like he had already left a notch [9] on her heart.

When she approached him she didn’t have any idea of what she was going to say, she feared she may run out of words altogether, but once she started talking she found the exact opposite to be true. Her nerves turned her into a whirligig [10] of conversation, too afraid to pause for respite [11] in fear that he would turn his attentions away from her and make their entire exchange ephemeral. [12]

It wasn’t until he finished his work and left, seemingly jilting [13] her without giving the slightest inclination that he would return, she reflected on her incessant talking and chastised [14] herself for it. The relentlessly chaotic way in which she had sprung on him had left him seemingly startled. He’d barely been able to utter three words during their conversation because she had overwhelmed him in every possible way. She feared that it had been excessively forceful, and made her appear self-indulgent, and perhaps a little sophomoric. [15]

It certainly didn’t portray any of the characteristics she’d hope to demonstrate to someone she so instantly gravitated towards. She felt that she should have controlled her ineloquent babbling enough to let him take a turn to speak, and tamed her own forceful nature enough to tantalise [16] him – instead of hurling herself towards him like an overpowering whirlwind.

She knew that’s what she should have done – she knew it would have worked –  which is how she came to be so determined to create another opportunity to see him. A second chance where she could prove that her charms were ineluctable. [17]

Her initial thought was to trace him online, but she soon realised that there was no digital evidence of him whatsoever. It was an unfamiliar and endearing anachronism [18] which made her even more intrigued to know him better. Her next idea was to simply find his details hiding amongst all of the paraphernalia [19] her parents kept for anybody who had been in their house. She’d find a contact number and arrange a conclave [20] where she’d be able to see him again. This time promising herself that she wouldn’t feel nervous in his presence.

It was a perfect plan – and there was no doubt that it would have been successful – but it ultimately became redundant. Erica wasn’t to know, but before Charlie left he had already made preparations which would allow for him to be invited back. 

The lights in Freeman Manor had been flickering sporadically [21] throughout the party, before they cut off completely at the zenith [22] of the celebrations. Everything from the crystal chandeliers to the festoon [23] of fairy lights draped across the wall – leaving the room enveloped in darkness which caused a flotilla [24] of hysterical people.

It presented the exact antithesis of cachet [25] that the Freeman parties were famous for – one which they wanted to fix before their reputation was in any way hampered. It lead them to call for an urgent repair. 

Erica overheard their phone call, but she wasn’t sure if he would come. He was, after all, the auxiliary. [26] Given the magnitude of the disturbance it seemed likely that they would request more of an aficionado – [27] but still, she snuck outside of the house to wait near the gates. Just in case, by some small manoeuvre of fate, he returned.

As soon as saw the incipient [28] outline moving through the darkness, she knew it belonged to him. As he came closer into view she noticed how he had a complaisant [29] grin on his face.

“You must be a mind-reader,” he said, the cryptic kenning [30] leaving Erica with a puzzled expression.

“You’re the only reason I’m here,” he explained. “You’re the only thing I wanted to see at this gate.”

She smiled. “I knew it.”

(You can navigate to the previous parts of the story by clicking here.)

Frisson – A brief moment of emotional excitement : shudder, thrill.

Inchmeal – Little-by-little, gradually.

Quintessence – The essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form. The most typical example or representative.

Pica – An abnormal desire to eat substances (as chalk or ashes) not normally eaten.

Yen – A strong desire or propensity. Longing. Urge. Craving.

Tawdry – Cheap and gaudy in appearance or quality.

Cerulean – Resembling the blue of the sky.

Verboten – Forbidden, especially prohibited by dictate.

Notch – A V-shaped hollow in an edge or surface.

Whirligig – A child’s toy having a whirling motion. Something that continuously whirls or changes.

Respite – A period of temporary delay. An interval of rest or relief.

Ephemeral – Lasting a very short time.

Jilt – To drop (someone, such as a lover) capriciously or unfeelingly.

Chastise – To inflict punishment on. To censure severely.

Sophomoric – Conceited and overconfident of knowledge, but poorly informed and immature. Of, or relating to, or characteristic of a sophomore.
Tantalise – To tease or torment by or as if by presenting something desirable to the view by continually keeping it out of reach.

Ineluctable – Not to be avoided, changed or resisted. Inevitable.

Anachronism – A person or thing that is chronologically out of place especially. One from a former age that is incongruous in the present.

Paraphernalia – The personal property especially of a married woman. Articles of equipment. Furnishings.

Conclave – A private meeting or secret assembly. A gathering of a group or association.

Sporadic – Occurring occasionally, singly, or in irregular or random instances.

Zenith – The point of the celestial sphere directly above the observer. The highest point reached by a celestial body. Culminating point.

Festoon – A decorative chain or strip hanging between two points. A carved, molded, or painted ornament representing a decorative chain.

Flotilla – A fleet of ships or boats. An indefinite large number.

Cachet – A seal used especially as a mark of official approval. A feature or quality conferring prestige.

Auxiliary – Offering or providing help. Functioning in a subsidiary capacity. Constituting a reserve: supplementary.

Aficionado – A person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a usually fervently pursued interest or activity. A devotee.

Incipient – Beginning to come into being or to become apparent.

Complaisant – Marked by an inclination to please or oblige. Tending to consent to others’ wishes.

Kenning – A compound word or phrase (such as life-liquid for blood) used especially in Old English and Old Norse verse.

Ramadan – The ninth month of the Islamic year observed as sacred with fasting practiced daily from dawn to sunset.

*This one defeated me.