Beauty in Repose seems to get the strongest visceral reaction of any of my stories. I suspect it probably has something to do with the whole "buried alive" thing. Yes? Maybe? Could be. And I suppose it gets rather emotionally intense. Unlike most of my stories, this one doesn’t exactly end more or less happily. But it couldn’t have ended any other way. It wasn’t a story that was meant to be happy.
The idea of live burial, entombment, mummification, and all that sort of thing has always captured my imagination. Being sealed up, sealed off, sealed away. I’d been wanting to do a story with that theme for a long time. Truth is, it’s one of those subjects that get written about a lot in certain circles, and I dislike writing stories that have already been written – with minor changes – a thousand times. But when you get down to it, most tales have already been retold a million times over, so in the end you just have to write whatever makes you happy. Absolute originality isn’t as important as telling a decent story that captures the imagination.
And capture the imagination this story apparently did. I think there may be four or five fan-made sequels floating around out there... some written with permission, others not so much. Other people writing sequels to your stories is a weird thing. Sure, it’s flattering, but it’s also unsettling. As a writer you get rather familiar and attached to your characters, and when someone else has them do things that you know they wouldn’t do, you get all indignant – thinking, “She would never act like that!” Of the various sequels, only one person got the personalities right.
Another problem is that people seemed to have wanted to correct my story by enacting revenge and providing a happier ending – rescuing the girl and putting the woman in her place. Makes me feel that the story as it is written must be flawed. If I had thought the story needed to end totally differently, I would have written it that way.
Anyhow, in this story both the characters are victims in their own way. The woman has been hurt too many times and that, along with loneliness, has driven her around the bend. She can’t even see honest love anymore when it’s offered to her. Ironically, she went ahead and buried a girl who might have been able to give her what she needed. At least, on the plus side, the girl doesn’t die, and the woman does truly love her... just in a rather inappropriate way.