Love and Hawthorne – Pet Names

February 6, 2013 at 2:51 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

You have to wonder why pet names are so common with lovers.  Nathaniel Hawthorne refers to Sophie as “my Dove” in his letters and plays with the notion of wings, flight and a lightness of being, teasing that if she leaned upon his arm as they walked together, rather than him supporting her, she would lift him up.

The metaphors and similes Hawthorne’s letters use are enchantingly romantic, with poetry to his prose. As you read the letters you can’t help but smile. Flowers, birds, sweets, warm, fuzzy animals and celestial bodies are often used as pet names – things with fragile allure, delightful comfort or permanent beauty. The dove reference is not a surprise, a bird often associated with romantic love.

While lovers may choose a pet name at random or vague association, this is not always the case. It can be interesting to write the origins of a pet name into a story.

I offer another excerpt from the sixth book of Masters & Renegades. After this book, as the series continues, one of my characters, Dee, refers to her love interest as her “Moon”. This is where that pet name came from:

With a sigh, Clayton released his spell on Dee and tried to relax, a difficult thing to do because of the agony that still burned in his calf. Free to move again, she approached him.

“I’m sorry, Clay,” she said, settling onto the pier next to him. “I think you were right. If I had gone in there, I probably wouldn’t have come out again. I managed to fight the pull for a while though. I got you out. Thank you for coming back for me. If you hadn’t been there, I think I would have walked onto that burning stage. The draw was so strong.”

She noticed Clayton was smiling with great enthusiasm, despite his injured leg.

“You fought the pull for me, Dee. You did it. You came for me. I wasn’t sure if you could manage that. I wasn’t sure if I meant that much to you. I was hoping I did, especially considering the other bits and pieces I had seen. I had to live through this after all. Logan hasn’t thanked me yet.” The clairvoyant chuckled, and then grimaced in pain.

“You didn’t think you meant that much to me? What would ever make you think that?” Dee said, looking hurt by this statement. “You mean everything to me, Clay. I may not always be the best at showing it, but I thought that you knew me better than that by now.”

“You just have so much going for you,” Clayton mumbled, his face reddening. “Sure, you have a few issues to deal with, and you have to keep working on your controls, but you’re so strong, and so capable. I’m weak, Dee. I don’t have that much to offer. My clairvoyance is as much a curse as it is a gift and I’m useless in a fight. That – and I know you still think about Nolan, and that you still miss him. I’m not surprised, you told me that you would, but I can’t help feeling like I’m living in his shadow.”

“Oh, Clay,” she exclaimed, exhaling heavily, and then reaching over and giving him a hug.

“The leg,” he whimpered. “Watch the leg.”

“Nolan was kind of like a supernova,” she said quietly. “He shone very briefly and very brilliantly when my sky was very dark. He left an impression that will never go away. Anything that shines that bright always does. But using the same type of analogy, you’re my moon, Clayton. No matter what happens, I can always depend on you being there, glowing softly, whether my sky is dark or filled with stars. A supernova is special. They aren’t something you see every day, but they aren’t something that you can rely on either. On the other hand, I need my moon – it’s not just special, it’s essential. I count on it. Do you see where I’m coming from?”

Clayton nodded, savouring the moment. He would rather be her sun, shining with his own light rather than merely reflecting hers, but at least it was something he could hold onto for now.

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