Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Written Word Wednesday

Good evening out there, my LDs. I've updated the March list. Thought I was going strong for March, but that's fizzled quite a bit. I think it has something to do with the weather becoming nice. Don't get me wrong, I'll still make my 100 goal (obviously) by the end of the year. I'm just slowing down. So I'm going to continue on with Ashley and Andrew.

The buildings were tall trees of brick and wood and glass. The team and carriage came to a graceful stop outside of the Hale, Booth, and Sanders building. Daddy is Cole Sanders, one of the best lawyers in the state of Mississippi. He exited the carriage and helped me down. I brushed small wrinkles out of my dress, straightened my bonnet, and took Daddy's arm to walk into the building. Large fans manned by light-skinned quadroons circulated the air and the stone floors helped keep the temperature down. We walked past the receptionist and up the stairs to the second floor to Daddy's office. I sat down in one of his chairs after picking up a paper fan off the corner of his desk. He went over to his safe and opened it. He turned and handed me ten dollars.

"Should this be enough until I find you?"

"Daddy, this will be plenty! I want to find some ribbon and new material for a dress Matty's going to make for me." He nodded, helped me up, and escorted me to the door.

"I'll be here for about an hour, then I'll come over and we'll shop together. I do need new shoes and probably a new shirt or two. I need one for this weekend. Don't want to look shabby, right?" I'd almost forgotten - the Booths were sponsoring a Spring Cotillion this Saturday! I was looking forward to dancing, food, enjoyable conversation, and hopefully a young man to come calling in the future. I quickly kissed Daddy's cheek and swept down the stairs, tucking the fan into my wrist bag. The doorman tipped his hat to me, then rushed to open the door. I gave him a polite 'thank you' and he smiled back. I walked outside into the sunshine and headed left down the block. There was a large dry goods store a few doors down from Daddy's office and it's where I expected to find the perfect dress material. I had some ideas for a patter, and Matty was wonderful at taking my sketches and turning them into wearable creations. I walked through the open front door under a large sign that read, "Stewart's Sundries" and into the store proper. Pleasantly cool and full of the wonderful smells of spices and wood and oil on the first floor, I walked toward the purchasing counter. A petite, older woman was dusting the glass behind the counter and stopped when she heard my footsteps approach.

"Good morning, miss. Is there something I can help you find?"

"The materials are on the second floor, correct?"

"Yes. We've just received several bolts of lighter weight summer materials in lovely pastels."

"Thank you," I replied and headed for the stairs. Ascending, I stepped off of the top step into a large, open-air room with dozens of racks of different materials. There were large wall racks of rolls of unbleached muslin and sheeting and denim. I saw gingham and silk, cotton and canvas, most with colors and patterns to please the eye. I walked around the center islands, searching for the perfect pattern on tarlatane when I heard giggling. There wasn't anyone else but myself on the second floor, and I wasn't afraid. The windows were open, so I assumed there was a back garden where children were playing. I heard the woman downstairs call out, "Catherine's on her way, miss!" Who was Catherine? Just then, I saw a small girl poke her hear round the corner at the top of the stairs. This must be Catherine. I wasn't sure if she saw me or not, because she looked back down the stairs with a huge smile on her face, then took off for the back corner. I hid behind a rack of bolts, wanting to see where she was and what she was doing. I heard a heavier set of footsteps; belonging to a man, I guessed.

"Catherine, what are you doing?" I heard him ask. I wanted to see where he was headed. "Where are you, little one?" By the tone of his voice, I wondered if they were father and daughter. A smile began to creep onto my face, but I didn't want to pop out and scare him or the girl, and the troublemaker in me wanted to see how this would end. "Catherine, come out! Mother's waiting downstairs!" He continued on toward the back of the room. Suddenly, a small hand popped out from under the curtained bottom of the rack I was next to and touched my arm. I gasped, but reached for the hand and helped the girl it was attached to out from under the rack.

She stood up, brushed her dark brown fringe out of her perfect brown eyes, looked straight into mine, and said, "You're beautiful. Andrew will love you eternally." She turned and bolted for the stairs. Who was Andrew? I stood, and was immediately knocked back to the floor. I hit my head, but thanks to the knot of hair, I hadn't hurt myself.

"Oh, Lord, I'm so sorry!" someone exclaimed. I attempted to sit up, but the corset wasn't giving me much room to do so. I opened my eyes to see a young man crouched down next to me. I looked into eyes of cerulean blue and flushed. I had never been so close to a man before in such an intimate way. Dancing, yes, but never like this! He reached out his hand to help me up. I placed my gloved hand in his, and a shock traveled down my arm and settled in my stomach. He helped me to my feet and then attempted to brush my skirts off. I wanted to slap him for bolting into me so rudely, but I didn't want to mar that perfect cheek...of course, if I did slap him, I would be touching him!

"Are you ok, ma'am?" he asked, obviously concerned for my health.
"Oh, I'm fine. Nothing broken, nothing bruised...yet," I responded.
"I am truly sorry. I was just trying to corral my sister Catherine. Why were you hiding?"
"I didn't want to scare you or your sister," I said, secretly relieved that 'Mother' meant exactly that. "I was just trying to stay out of the way."
"I'm Andrew."
"Ashley." The fluttering in my stomach blossomed its way to my heart and became more pronounced.
"I don't recall seeing your face here before. Are you from Hattiesburg?"
"No, but my father works here, and it's our Thursday outing. He works down the street."
"What does he do?"
"He's a lawyer."
"Really? My father is one as well."
"Who is your father?"
"Paul Hale. Yours?"
"Cole Sanders."
"Miss Ashley, it looks as if we have that much in common."

I turned the tables on him. "I don't think I've seen you around here, either."
"Well, I go to school at the university in Alabama. I'm studying law and business," he said, unconsciously straightening up. I smiled.
"Why were you chasing your sister up here?"

"Catherine is...well, she's rambunctious. She loves coming up here and playing in the racks. She often pretends she is a princess in one of the books Mother received for her. We were headed into my--well, our fathers'--office to meet him for lunch, and she bolted past us to come here. She said something about beautiful. I didn't hear the rest, and Mother sent me after her. The woman downstairs is my aunt. She didn't come after Catherine herself--she finds Catherine amusing. She and Mother are sisters." I nodded in understanding. As I was thinking of something else to say, Catherine came up and tugged on Andrew's shirtsleeve.

"Mother says it's time to go," she said, looking up at her brother, then up at me. She smiled. It was slightly unnerving the way she looked at me, like she knew me and what my future held. Andrew reached out for her hand and she took it. Then she reached for mine. "There. Now we're a circle." I didn't quite understand until I looked down at the same time Andrew did and we both realized that he was still holding my hand. Just as quickly, he released his grip, and I knew that we were both blushing by Catherine's giggle. I could feel the heat all the way into my toes. He and Catherine turned to go downstairs, and she looked at him. "See? Princess."

He glanced back at me, and I flushed again. As they walked down the stairs, I heard him whisper, "No. Beautiful."

I almost fainted right then. I took several deep breaths, willing myself not to keel over. My legs felt like waving bulrushes. I turned to the rack and began looking through the materials. This time, I wasn't seeing colors or patterns. I was anticipating the next time that Andrew might 'run into' me.

Heepwah, and be safe out there.

Your writing
Mrs Dreamer

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Be safe out there.