The Letter Opener Experiment

November 3, 2012
“Mr. Holmes,” It takes three tries for my gloved hands to rap hard enough upon the door of the famed Holmes’ abode for anyone to hear me. My fingers are trembling so badly, whether because I am terrified or anxious to meet him, I don’t know. Eventually, the man himself comes to the door. I clear my throat as daintily as I can manage, “You wanted to speak to me?”

A man in his thirties with a cascade of shining curls and a sign of stubble set stubbornly on his jaw, opened the door with so little flourish and fanfare that I’d assume he wanted nothing to do with a fellow human, let alone a woman.

He didn’t speak, nor did he make any move to break the discourteous silence. He only… watched me with eyes so dark I’d assume they’d belong to a member of the Fae. Instead, it was the woman, I, who needed to “man up” and utter the first word, “You requested my services recently, and—“

“Oh,” His facial expression lifted upwards into a semblance of delight, “Seeing, by the looks of you, I’d observe I’d first met you on the iced bridge over the river Thames?”


“My favorite club of a certain perverted notoriety, which I frequent often?”

“I’d never--!”

“Possibly my dear Watson’s bachelor party then?” He paused and clapped his hands together for effect, “As one of the cabaret, not a guest, obviously… You were an Italian, oho no, Spanish dancer! Ahem, you gave an immaculate performance by the way… in the bedroom.”

“Sir, I warn you that I will give you a total of three seconds to explain yourself before I take a dagger and slit your throat!” My fingers twitched, wanting to reach for the letter opener I’d tucked in my corset but then forcing myself to calm. Think of the children, starving on the streets, all of my siblings are under my care. They depend on me, and if that means dealing with this man…

“Ah, ah, and no. So I’d humble myself to wonder at if my powers of deduction have so deteriorated that I’d forgotten you were part of some macabre—!”

This is it, the blackout moment where my Spanish blood courses through my veins and I lose all control… Damn you Holmes.

I took the glove I held in my free hand and slapped it across his face. He didn’t even turn his cheek in shame. He only blinked, as if stunned I’d do such a thing as be offended at his atrocious lack of etiquette.

“That’s quite enough of your games, sir. I only came here asking for employment as your maid so I can avoid any such cabaret performances, Mr. Holmes. Mrs. Hudson, bless her soul, recommended you…of all people.”

He paused, looked quite serious, and cocked his head back and forth in thought. He then, with all theatricality lost from his voice, remarked, “Of course, miss, I’ll expect you tomorrow at approximately midnight, wearing the appropriate lacy garters and corset.”

His eyes flicked to my breasts, and I blushed for all the wrong reasons. I was wont to slap him again when he spoke, “You do realize that, as in most places, I’d consider a letter opener to be a very strange accessory for a woman’s, ahem…pride and joy.”

I gawked, wondering how on earth he knew I had a concealed letter opener, of all things.

He refused to let me have a single word more and remarked, quite seriously to my face, “You know, if you were to be a man at that very moment, I could have very well taken it as a threat and killed you. Even with you being a woman, I realize that your exact thoughts right now revolve around how the devil I’ve managed to read your mind.”

“Naturally.” I laughed to heal my wounded pride, “It wouldn’t take any intelligence to deduce that one. Just like it wouldn’t take any effort to say that I think that your thoughts right now revolve around becoming better acquainted with my letter opener. Now, sir, the job? Can I receive a direct answer or will I have to resort to asking if the good doctor behind your shoulder is in need of a maid?”

He paused, inhaled sharply, then turned to face away from me and speak to an unseen figure within the room, “Alright, Watson, I took the bet! I could hold a conversation with an unfascinating woman for a set amount of time without any ulterior motive, nor killing her as I constantly kill your dog, now may I carry out my newest experiment on you?”

The door is shut rudely on me, and I hear a heated conversation from behind the mahogany door. I shudder at the cold that quickly replaces the warmth of where Holmes once stood.

This time, it only takes me one try to knock on the door, and only half the time for it to swing open and reveal just the man I was looking for.

“Let’s start over. Mr. Holmes, you requested my services for an experiment of some sort? You know, the one you were about to perform on Watson and thus most likely kill him or his dog? Seeing as to the doctor’s completely dumbfounded reaction, I’m probably the first person to ever wish to volunteer. It means I’m probably mad or desperate, but we’ll deal with specifics later. The experiment, Mr. Holmes?”

A smile chock full of boyish enthusiasm and thing I could not place was instantly upon Mr. Holmes’ face. I had never felt so afraid as I did now.

“Watson, dear, you were wrong about this one. It seems my first impression was uncharacteristically flawed, she’s a woman actually worth my time! She’s a volunteer!”

I couldn’t resist a parting quip, “If I were a man, I would kill you for that insult.”

“Don’t overplay a hand, sweetheart, it just isn’t done in the circles of polite society. And yes, now I actually care about that sort of thing, simply for the sake of a true lady being in my male presence. By the way, you being hired at all was Watson’s idea, so if you have any problems, talk to him. I’ll pay you, you clean, this will be the basis of our relationship until the day every single one of your poverty-stricken siblings marries or gets a job.”

He leaned in close, and this time, I shivered for very different reasons when I felt his rough, unshaven skin against mine, “Just in case you cannot follow my brilliance, darling, I meant you as that aforementioned lady. You are a lady, right? Oh, but wait, I’m never wrong. Why? Deduce this, darling: I’m Sherlock Holmes.”

…hijo de puta…

Join the Discussion

This article has 46 comments. Post your own now!

IMSteel said...
Dec. 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm
Pretty good, it could use a bit more description, but the actions of the character you do a good job on. 
Claudia.VII replied...
Dec. 31, 2012 at 8:47 pm
Thanks! I'll keep that in mind in the future.
CariePierce said...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm
I want to marry your writing...! Well done, I hope to become as great as you one day.
Claudia.VII replied...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm
This is probably the hardest comment I can ever hope to reply to. All I can say is that I'm flattered, and by looking at your work, you're already far ahead of me, if anything! Keep on keeping on. :)
Battle-ColorsThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm
OK, this pretty well written.    I'm  assuming you're using the movie version of Sherlock Holmes (with what's-his-face...ironman..I can never remember actors names).  Becuase in the books Sherlock wasn't one for women, he was cordial with them, but never...well...interested(except for this one lady who out smarted him, but that's complicated).  Over all I like the story and think you did a good job.  So bravo, Claudia!
Claudia.VII replied...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm
Yes, I'm ashamed in myself for using the movie version, but what can I say, I'm a hopeless, girly romantic at times. Books don't have adventurous theme songs and "ironman" (Robert Downey Jr., don't worry, I wouldn't have known that either if I hadn't spent two days obsessing over the movie), though I love books all the same and generally detest people who lord movies over their humbler, literary counterparts. I'm such a hypocrite. Sigh... And,... (more »)
Allicat001 said...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm
This is honestly one of the most well-written articles I've read in a long time!  I must know what this experiment is!! Great job and keep writing! :)
Claudia.VII replied...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm
Thanks!! And as for writing, your article's done well too. :)
Labtopnerd This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm
Amazing! I felt like this piece was written by Arthur Conan Doyle himself! Very well written.
Claudia.VII replied...
Dec. 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm
Thank you, and I should say the same of your work, as well!
MayaS. said...
Nov. 27, 2012 at 11:10 pm
This was compelling and fabulously witty.... "Watson's bachelor party" = LOL. (Your story clipped along and didn't  get bogged down in boring neverending Victorian sentences, THANK YOU) My only point of confusion was that I never caught the narrator's name.
Claudia.VII replied...
Dec. 28, 2012 at 11:13 am
I so happen to keep those "bogged down, boring, neverending Victorian sentences" in a special place in my heart, I just cannot hope to recreate them with my measly 21st century education... yet. And it's strange that, when writing this story, I never gave it enough thought to give this feisty Spanish narrator a name. Curious. Anyways, thanks for catching that and hope to see you around on Teen Ink!    P.S. I'm glad you found Watson's bachelor party a... (more »)
guardianofthestars This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm
I found this an enjoyable read. The only complaint/ thing I notice is that you forgot a qotaion mark here or there and one apostrophe in the word "won't". Other than that an enjoyable read.
Claudia.VII replied...
Nov. 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm
Thanks for commenting! I'll have to watch crossing my T's and overusing, or in this case, underusing, those apostrophes in the future...
Snowflakes said...
Nov. 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm
I really liked this! I liked the storyline, and how you developed the characters throught the piece. I also liked the way you write; you're very talented and creative in your sentences, so that was fun to read.
However, in the authors comments you told us to mannage that we're in the year '1800s', but the way that your woman character speaks in this is a complete contradiction as to how a 'lady' at the time would speak. For example, words such as 'damn' and ... (more »)
Claudia.VII replied...
Dec. 28, 2012 at 10:40 am
Thank you for taking the time to write this comment, even though, apparentally, it took me a month and then some to get back to it. I understand that this piece is nowhere near accurate, and I'm comforted to know that there are people on Teen Ink who will take enough time out of their day to tell me so. Thanks again for the comment and I guess I'll have to pay attention more when I read those classics! I'd say rereading "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is a safe&nbs... (more »)
Snowflakes said...
Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm
Okay so I really did enjoy using this. I was drawn in straight away, and I loved the storyline, and how you presented Sherlock.
However, in your authors comments, you tell us to think that we are in 1891. Although I know that you are reconstrcuting Sherlock Holmes in this piece, certain language used didn't fit in with the time period you gave. For example, Holmes was of high status, and would not use such phrases that you have used. Also, the woman character in this would not say word... (more »)
Dead_Angel said...
Nov. 11, 2012 at 11:36 am
Firstly, let me state that I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. And, unless I am greatly mistaken, you were using the Robert Downey Jr. version of Holmes. If that's the case, you did a decent job with that. However, your first paragraph was in the present tense, and every paragraph after that had suddenly switched to past tense. Pay attention to your tenses; don't let them switch around. That will only confuse the reader, making it difficult to focus on the story. Also, a problem (for me any... (more »)
Claudia.VII replied...
Nov. 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm
Thank you for the critique! I happen to have a problem with keeping my tenses straight. As any writer, I'd developed a habit of past-tense. But then some hidden bug went wrong in my authorly DNA, and I found myself writing all my stories in the present tense form. As you can guess, this was a nightmarish predicament, so if you find me switching between the two, please inform me of it right away, and I'll try to keep them straight. Thank you! :)
Dynamo This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 11, 2012 at 10:34 am
Since you wanted critique, so you'll have it:P   Firstly, it was a good attemp at reconstructiong Sherlock Holmes but it lacked the smooth flow and impeccability of Doyle. Don't worry, you don't become Doyle in a day. But that's saying. The style you use can be termed as post-modern in a sense, but what Conan has used is something different, like, add more specs or something. And a person of Holmes' brilliance is not a good guesser, he has the power of observation. Y... (more »)
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