Jessabel finished drying herself off with a thin towel after finishing a warm bath. All performers in the Brown Buck Fair were expected to be clean and presentable, but warm water baths were not commonly available for all performers. Still, Mr. Brown recognized that his junior contortionist, 18 year old Jessabel Laterza, had an exponential boost in confidence and stretchiness when she took a warm bath before warming up. Jessabel was looking to be a rising star. Cheerful, instantly likeable, bubbly and spontaneous, the once withdrawn, reclusive and somewhat plump Lowlander girl, had trained hard and easily was on the track to becoming the Fair’s most popular performer. The tiny girl (She was barely 5 feet and two inches tall) captivated everyone she met. In garrison towns, sergeants had to pretend to want to keep their young soldiers away from the fairground, even though they too secretly wanted a glimpse at her, even girls wherever they went watched enthusiastically, though whether it was jealousy, admiration or perhaps a mix of both, no one could agree on. It was not just her incredibly soft and impossibly bendy body that kept happy audiences coming again and again. She was a very active talker. Machine gunning words and talking nonstop without fail, her tendency to find a friend in everyone, young and old, added greater depth and spark to how people perceive her.
After patting down the last of the dampness and doing her best to keep her naturally wavy hair from looking too silly, Jess walked into the temporary room she shared with her fellow performer and best friend. Dora Derricks. A voluptuous and plump Highland girl with an equally nutty and bubbly personality, she was training sleight of hand with cards, the thin pieces of paper dancing from finger to finger. Jess grinned and removed her baggy linen gown, tossing it on the small trunk which contained both of their clothes. The gown was Dora’s, but being much taller and bigger than Jess, Jess found no problem occasionally “borrowing” Dora’s clothes for comfy affairs.
Jess spoke. “So, I gotta warm up and then we’re gonna be hitting the town!” *She stood without clothes in the center of their room, her legs shoulder-width apart and in a flash, bent over backwards, folding in half like a book, her hands gripping her knees and pulling her shoulder blades into the backs of her thighs as she took a few steps around before popping back up to normal shape.* “Do we have food? I want food.”
Dora walked over, putting the cards down. Her long skirt swayed with her hips as she walked over to Jess with a bundle of clothes. “First thing’s first sweetheart, put these on or you’ll get a cold.” She tossed the assorted garments to Jess. “I’ll go find something.” Dora started digging through a basket and began to yank out things while Jess began to pull on some soft brown leggings and a super tight undershirt for warming up.
Dora pulled out a small jar of milk. “Looky here Jess. Here kitty kitty.” Jess perked up and crawled over on all fours jokingly making off-meowing noises. She stops a foot away and stands up. “Ok seriously what else is there?” She drank from the jar while doing standing torso twists. “Actually, you know what? I’m fine, don’t wanna get sick during the show.” Jess spread her legs and slid into side splits. Dora walked over and rolled her eyes. “You know you never get sick right Jess?” Dora leaned over and firmly grabbed a Jess-ankle each, pulling up until both of Jess’s knees touched her own ribs and her feet touched above her head. After a few minutes of holding the stretch, Jess began to poke Dora’s stomach. “Off, off, off. Shoo. Shoo.” Dora could not possibly argue with such sound logic, and so, released Jess’s ankles, which remarkably stayed up for a few seconds without support, before Jess let them down.
Jess stood up and began to get dressed. She slipped on thin and soft leather slippers and a pair of bright yellow, red, and blue patterned pants, with a matching shirt. “You coming with, Dora?” Jess spun on the balls of her feet. Dora nodded. “Why would I miss the opportunity to see you going butt over brains for a crowd of Praven city drunks?” She laughed and picked up a small bag. “Come on let's get going.”
The two girls walked down the streets as the sun was nearly finished setting and found a cozy stone alleyway. Pulling together an improvised pedestal of a stage from a nearby barrel basin, Jess cartwheeled onto it, illuminated in the light of wall-torches and candles. She slid into the splits and looked around. Her bright and vibrant outfit and her acrobatics had already began to attract attention, and the late street walkers began to gather around. From the crowd, Dora made a brief announcement: “Jessabel Laterza! The Stretchiest Girl in the World!” With her cue to prove it to the crowd, Jess pressed her palms against the rough wooden surface and kicked her legs back, arching them over her head and bending her spine. Her feet hung in front of her face and she turned her head, kissing one, then the other, and grinning like a kid who just did something naughty. She walked on her hands in the position, showing everyone how she was bent. After a round of applause, she dropped herself by stopping to support herself with her arms and her chest hit the stage with a thud. “Plonk!” Jess exclaimed, and her feet hit the ground on either side of her face. The crowd gasped and clapped even more. Jess grinned and rolled her spine, supporting herself on her tummy and her elbows, cupping her face and looking pleased. Her groin was only inches away from the back of her own head.
“D-does it hurt, miss?” A small boy stood right in front of her, nervously asking, but his eyes shown pure admiration.
“Nope! And call me Jess, my name’s Jess. Or Jessa! That works too. What’s your name?” She bouncily replied.
“James. James Leland.” The kid replied, encouraged by her cheerful attitude.
“Whaddaya wanna do when you grow up James? Gonna wear a lovely red uniform and be a soldier? Or make horseshoes? Or bread? Or toys? I like toys.” Jess asked.
“My pa’s a carpenter but I-”
“But I wanna do what you’re doing.”
“Oh that's actually a fantastic idea!”
“What’s it called?”
“It’s a tongue twister, James, you sure you can say it?”
“Contortionism. I’m a contortionist.”
“That’s not that hard to say!”
“Ouch that took me like two days to say right.”
“Are you flexible?”
“Touch your toes.”
James bends over and places his hands flat on the ground by his feet.
“See! You’re rubbery like me too! Just keep practicing and you’ll get as good as me!”
Jess rolled her legs back and sprang up only to sit down again and kicked both her legs behind her neck, sliding them down and opening her hips. Dora walked over with a tiny crate.
“Gotta run for a little bit, its break time!” Jess declared as Dora rolled her eyes, picked her up and within seconds, stuffed her into the tiny space and shut the lid.( Jess was originally designed for a medieval rpg I used to play, and there's a ton of unreleased content of "medieval Jess." I decided I wanted to go back to basics with her and finally show you guys what an 18 year old Jess as a fair performer would look like. I really want to do more of her so tell me what you want to see more of!)
He felt pink, and she felt blue…
Air came in through the nostrils, cool air, the kind that exists in a large empty room.
Yes. The coolness felt great against his warmed up body.
No need to start slowly, the arms flew up, and her back rolled in on itself, he smiled with anticipation. Before she could identify the action, his chin was on the cool floor.
Her eyes opened. Her legs hung in the air just in front of his face.
The cool tips of his fingers found her feet, clad in a warm layer of nylon and spandex. The stirrups tugged up against the inside of the foot, a pull up the sides of the calves, the inside of the thigh, around the hip.
A joyful instinct took over. His back became a spiral, her arms became jointless and limitless, locking and twisting around his legs like vines with a mind of their own. Her shoulders felt an exhilarating pull and without command from the body, his legs opened and fell into splits, the toes so close to the floor.
Pat felt great. They were themselves, limitless, formless and flexible beyond understanding.
This painting is one of the few by Isaac Bekham. An enigmatic Regency era painter who, in some deviation from artistic norms of the period, depicted lower class people in his works, mostly for enjoyment and consumption by the upper class of which he was a part. Currently on display at the National Gallery in London and created by using oil paints on canvas.
What is not mentioned in the painting: The girl does not have a name, rather she is simply known as “Lass.” And we at Filter GX look forward to showing more of her