In honor of Sweeney Todd and my favorite character: Johanna. Thought of this while listening to the soundtrack (which is absolutely amazing – if you haven't bought it, BUY IT). This takes place before Sweeney gets out of prison. I have no idea when Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland' was created, mind you, and have not the time to research about it, so no flames on that please. Thank you for reading.
The Man in the Moon
Johanna sighed longingly, her breath creating fog on the window, and she somberly traced her finger over the cold glass until it appeared as a frowning face, watching it disappear as the fog receded.
The candlelight flickered behind her, and suddenly Johanna realized how late it was – she wasn't even in her nightgown yet! But yet, she had no desire to move from her comfortable seat at the window, and she fidgeted nervously, trying to force herself to make her contentedness uncomfortable. It was about time she should be in bed, but her self-will wasn't that strong. Or maybe it was too strong – pigheadedness had always been one of her stauncher qualities. Her forcing herself to remain here, in this cold and hard window seat, looking down on the lamp-lit streets with the occasional passerby…this was pigheadedness, wasn't it?
Being pigheaded was something she was confident in; surely she had read all about it in the few books that Judge Turpin had ungratifyingly granted her. Women who had been pigheaded had always been the defiant types who spoke their minds and didn't care who knew it, and forced themselves to do something even when their bodies had all but given up on them. Being able to will themselves to do anything, they did anything, said anything…ah, maybe pigheadedness was not the right word for her. If Johanna was pigheaded, she would have escaped by now. But she couldn't. A part of her couldn't bear to make Judge Turpin sad, after all, he took her in and fed her and clothed her and gave her relatively anything she wanted. Many bird cages had adorned the back of her room by her bed, all gifts from the Judge to keep her happy, or somewhat, she believed, but now there was only one, and it was empty now – the bird had died from over-exhaustion, and she hoped Judge Turpin would get her a new one soon. Poor thing had fluttered itself all around its cramped cage for about a month, then had fallen over dead one morning.
Perhaps he was afraid she was pigheaded enough to try and escape – she was that way when she was little. But her bones were broken easily when she was little, and that had quickly put a damper on her tenacity to escape. One time she got as far as Fleet Street, but Beadle had caught her and dragged her back by her hair and she had broken her toe from tripping over boxes. Then she had cried for three days while the Judge had yelled at her and she nursed her broken toe. After that, on the fourth day of sniffles, she supposed he had felt sorry for her, and that she was crying from his temper, and he had given her a shiny new toy pony to play with. Of course it had been taken and broken by Beadle a week later, probably on orders from the Judge. He never wanted her to play with things for too long – soon she might have actually wanted a pony, and ponies were cause for her to go outside.
She still wanted a pony; she still wanted to ride one, to feel it jolt around as it trotted, pulling up its pretty little legs in a prance, to pet its mane and coo to it if it got frightened…she wanted to put roses in its mane and tail, to weave them in-between the locks, to braid its forelock and take small pieces of hair and intertwine them the way she sometimes did with her own golden tresses if she was feeling adventurous and rather pretty that day, and had to do some tidying around her room.
Johanna absentmindedly grabbed a string of hair, looping it around her finger and twirling it. She looked down at it and scowled – it was just as it had always been since she could remember: a beautiful, luscious golden, but it always looked nearly white and rather gray in the gloom of her room. It never helped that the sun barely ever shone outside either.
There was nothing more to ponder over at this window – it was making her grow depressed. Frustrated, she threw one curtain over her only glance at the outside world, huffing out a breath and stomping her feet on the floor as she got up. Johanna didn't care now if she woke the Judge up as her shoes banged against the wooden floor, he deserved it.
Now, here was the part of her that absolutely and irrevocably loathed Judge Turpin. Who was he to try and imprison her like some sort of animal? She deserved to be free, like all the other normal people in the outside world. But no, the Judge had always said that the people outside were the animals, and to stay civil she must remain in her room. However, the Judge always went outside, so did that make him an animal? She wished he would turn into an animal, and Beadle Bamford too; it would make escaping much easier. He certainly treated her as if he was an animal: a greedy dragon keeping his claws over his prized princess who sat alone in her tower with no way to get down. He had locked her in like she had locked away all of her birds, listening them sing their screeches to try and escape…Why, oh why did she have to keep reveling back to escape!? It was just as useless as the Judge taking away all of her toys and things that had put 'silly ideas' into her head…
But they were absolutely most not silly! They filled her mind with wonderful things – things of far away that she could never see, not even outside of her window that would not open. Towers that were nearly as tall as the sky, that only pretty ladies with beautiful long hair could be rescued from, creatures that could give you riches or life or love, beautiful gems that men around the world killed each other for, great battles of desperate kings and tyrants, mythical realms that appeared only in dreams where cards came to life and cats talked…oh it was all too astonishing for Johanna's mind to comprehend! But she had nothing better to do all day anyways, so she would sit at her window, her elbow resting on the sill, her hand underneath her chin, and she would gaze into space, dreaming of the places, making them real enough so that they were close enough to touch. She would play in them along with the characters, swinging aloft an imaginary sword, or falling through a looking-glass.
And then the Judge would come and ruin them by whisking away her trinkets with the swirl of a cloak or a gesture of his finger. Sometimes, Beadle would take away her toys just to make her feel sad. Beadle always enjoyed such things, the rat.
Johanna flopped herself down on her bed, yanking off her expensive shoes and pulling back her arm to toss them across the room out of angst. Oh, bother, but then the Judge would come up and ask what she was up to, and she just couldn't bear to see his face when she screamed at him in fury (she had shouted at him more than once that she utterly despised him). She set her shoes down gently, making sure that her temper tantrum had not been heard downstairs. Soon it was just the sound of her heartbeat and breathing, so she undid the other shoe and slid off her stockings.
A flash caught her attention outside: the street lamp outside flickered, and she realized she had forgotten to close her other curtain in her tirade. Her toes swept across the floor quickly, and once she got to her sill she lifted them off the wood, leaning on her knees on the seat – the floor was quite cold. She thrust the thin curtains together, making sure they were securely closed before picking up her skirts and running lightly back over to her bed, which she hopped upon and bounced a couple times before reaching back to undo her corset.
She used to have a nurse to dress and undress her when she was younger, but Judge Turpin had felt that she shouldn't grow attached to people, and had sent the nurse away after a couple of months; he had ordered the nurse, apparently, to show Johanna how to dress herself, and as soon as she had learned, the nurse was gone.
It was a shame: that nurse had been Johanna's only real human friend. She'd had imaginary friends before that she played with, but soon, even the ever-amusing Cheshire Cat had begun to bore her. Now all she had to play with were her birds. But now her bird was gone, and she had begun to try and memorize songs that she thought sounded like birds' songs. Singing always entertained her, but posed a challenge as to try to make up a melody that would suit her.
If only she had a notebook of some sort, then she could write them all down and remember them forever! Though the Judge would never allow it. If she wanted songs, he gave her embroidery. If she wanted toys, he gave her embroidery. If she wanted a bird, he would reluctantly give her a bird, then lecture her on how she mustn't waste her time dilly-dallying with such pests, and focus on perfecting her embroidery.
Johanna looked across the room to where her half-finished embroidery pattern was sitting, and she gave it a reproachful look and stuck her tongue out at it. Why did somebody have to create something as utterly boring as sewing? The lady that had thought of such a thing obviously had never seen anything particularly exciting in her life.
Now fully undressed, Johanna leaped over to her wardrobe, trying to evade the chilly floor, pulling out a silk robe and wrapping it around herself as she skipped across the other side of the room to her dresser, pulling out a white nightgown. It was a pretty little thing, with lace around the three-quarter length sleeves and the opening for the neck. It was quite comfortable, and it never made any noise if she began to toss and turn during the night, which of course she did once in a while. But only when she was dreaming of her father.
Johanna had never really known her father, for the Judge never said anything about him. She used to ask Judge Turpin about him every other month, but each time she did, the Judge just got more and more distressed and upset, and Johanna had finally given up and just settled for what little information she had been able to barely squeeze out of him.
He had been a barber, she knew, and had done something terribly wrong that had gotten him killed – executed, she heard the Judge mumble, almost to himself. However, Johanna knew when Judge Turpin was lying, and she had quickly dismissed that thought of beheading. So he was still alive, but Johanna had no idea where he was, or even what he looked like. Of course she still had a couple memories, but she had been naught more than a baby, and they were all quite fuzzy, except for one. All of her memories of him had started out like that, but then they had all faded away, and some were completely gone altogether.
The one she was referring to was, sadly, one of the back of a man's head, his hair sleek and rather black, and she assumed this man to be her father. He was talking to a clerk of some sort, and then he turned his head to the side, just enough so Johanna could barely see his profile, and he glanced at her and smiled crookedly, but it was still a wonderful smile. And then, being just a baby back then, Johanna must have fallen asleep, and the memory ended.
And to think, the Judge had tried to convince her once that he was her father. That conversation had not ended well. Johanna had reached to where her temper had boiled over, and she stubbornly brought her heel down on the Judge's toe, and it had turned blue, purple, yellow and black for a month. His foot had had to be bandaged and he had been rather gruff with her that month. Beadle was ten times worse.
Johanna stuck her chin out prissily, walking like a noble over to her bed, where she threw back her covers, careful not to blow out her candle's flame, which was the only source of light filtering around her room. She would show Beadle some day how…how…pigheaded she could be.
She slid underneath the covers, shivering for the first time that night as the blankets adjusted to her body heat.
As much as she hadn't known her father, Johanna still missed him something terrible. It was like her heart was turning to stone; each day a part of her grew colder, and it was harder and harder to warm it up again. The anger that she felt towards Judge Turpin didn't help either, which meant it was getting harder and harder to love something. She had read about love – it was the fluffy, romantic stuff that made the whole story interesting. It was sometimes even the basic structure of the story, or the whole reason the story was created.
Johanna wanted to be loved – she wanted to have someone to rescue her out of pure love, she wanted to come home to somebody who loved her, she wanted whole countries to wage war over her, out of love. But if the first one could never happen, why should the rest?
Maybe love was just an imaginary thing, just as imaginary as the friends she had longed for, the ones that she wished were real. How could you know it existed if you never saw it, tasted it, smelt it, or touched it? Ah, but she mustn't go that far. Her analysis on love was easily compared to the existence of her father. She had never seen him; perhaps the visions that she called 'memories' were just things that her brain had created, like mirages she had read about in books that talked about the desert, to fill in the empty space in her that refused to be sated.
Perhaps so…her father was, to her, just as real as the man in the moon. At night, Johanna had always loved to picture a face in the moon, if the smoke from the chimneys did not cover its shining face. It was a little comforting to her to imagine that there was a face there, and sometimes she even pondered if her father could be the face in the moon. But then she approached it scientifically, just as the Judge had taught her to do, and she had concluded that this was most impractical. Yet, it was still lovely to dream such fantastical things…
Johanna's blankets were now thoroughly warm, and she was snuggled in quite comfortably. Reaching up, she cupped her hand around the back of the candle-flame on her nightstand, and, with one small puff of air, blew out the candle, causing smoke to swirl as gracefully as the ballerinas she had read so eagerly about.
She had always wanted to be a ballerina, to dance with such poise through the air; she had even asked Judge Turpin at one time if she could get a dance instructor, but he had strongly opposed it, making his usual excuses on how he hated to see her get all sweaty, and she could get hurt, and how she shouldn't get too attached to people…and then there was the odd excuse that still perplexed her: he said that her hair would get in the way.
"My hair in the way?" she had spluttered at him, for the second-most fun part of being a ballerina was putting your hair up in those elegant buns that kept every single lock of hair out of your face. Johanna had tried it once, but to no avail.
If the Judge was telling the truth for once and my father actually was a barber, he could have put it up in a bun, or rather, just chopped it all off altogether, she smirked at herself, repositioning her body so that she could pet her curls.
Deciding to do something thoroughly un-Johanna-like, she climbed out of bed, putting a stopper on her shivers – they would ruin the moment. She dropped on her knees, folding her hands and bowing her head as she had read some heroes do when they needed help.
"I really don't quite know how this works, or who to pray to, so whoever will listen, please do so," she began quietly, feeling not a bit embarrassed. "Please help my father, whoever he is, wherever he is, do the best he can do at anything, and whatever he had done, please forgive so that he can return home and claim me as his rightful daughter. Please find my mother and cure her ill spell so that she will have enough courage to stand up to Judge Turpin, and hopefully give him more than a bruised toe. Please help this lonely princess be as free as the pigeons that sit outside my window and give whoever I'm meant to be with and love for the rest of my life the bravery to find me and do whatever it takes to whisk me away from here." Her tone became scientific and skeptical as she continued. "I know this is far too much to ask, and I have no clue if this is even how I do it, or if it's even going to work. Plus I don't even think any of these will happen anyway…I just…oh, bother," she concluded, now turning slightly red as the feeling of being watched crept up her spine, making her tingle.
She climbed back into bed, rather ashamed, curling up under her covers and letting a couple hot tears roll down her face.
Good night, father, my father, my man in the moon, she thought rather crossly.
And with that, she hummed herself to sleep.