Friday, January 11, 2008

Something Old, Something New

(A Will and Diana Adventure)

Will was walking back to camp after watch duty when he came upon Diana and Sachi leaning on the corral fence, talking and sipping coffee.

“What’s up, ladies? Nice morning.”

“I guess.” Diana frowned, her thoughts elsewhere. “Mouse isn’t happy, and the wedding is tomorrow.”

“She thinks she’s cursed,” Sachi added.

“There's no such thing as curses.”

“Oh, yes there is. She’s supposed to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue,” Sachi said. “She doesn’t have a ‘something new.’ Her marriage is doomed.”

“It was probably doomed anyway,” Will said. “She’s been fighting longer than any of us. No way is she going to enjoy living in town playing stepmom to some Resource War vet’s brats.”

“And mom to her own,” Diana reminded him.

“Well, there you go. The baby is something new, isn’t it?”

Sachi sighed. “It has to be something you wear. Carrying it in your belly doesn’t count.”

“What about her wedding dress? It’s new.”

“No, it’s old. Mouse bought it from a used clothing vendor.”

“It’s new to her.”

The girls shook their heads as if he was stupid.

“How about some new socks? Mother gave me some and I haven’t worn them yet. I’d be happy to—”

“Wool socks?” The girls looked at him as if he had lost his mind.

“Believe me, the last thing her husband will a damn about on his wedding night is what’s on her feet.”

“Never mind,” Diana said. “Forget we said anything.” She slipped through the bars of the fence and went to check on her horse.

Sachi made to follow, pausing to add, “Weddings are girl stuff, Will. Don’t even bother trying to understand.”

At lunchtime, Diana noticed Will talking to Boeing, but didn’t think anything of it. Sachi saw them ride away in the afternoon but it didn’t seem noteworthy. The young men returned at suppertime, smug and smirking, and sat near Mouse, teasing her about the wedding. Mouse picked at her food, then gave her plate to a camp supporter and walked away.

After supper, several girls congregated in Mouse’s tent for one last night of girl talk, reliving old raids and spy missions, and offering encouragement for her future. They were asking for stories about her husband-to-be when Will and Boeing burst in.

“Break up your little hen party,” Boeing said. “We’ve got business with the bride.”

“Go away,” Sachi said, “We don’t need more bad luck by having men around.”

Diana and the other girls agreed, but Mouse waved them away. “I’m tired. If they want to talk to me alone for a few minutes, let them talk. I’ll see you in the morning.”

The girls filed out, whispering and casting suspicious glances over their shoulders. Sachi and Diana ducked behind a nearby creosote bush and waited to see what would happen next. Will and Boeing didn't stay long, and soon they emerged from the tent and began walking up the path, apparently pleased with themselves.

Sachi wanted to ask Mouse what happened, but Diana stopped her. “We don’t want her knowing we spied. I’ll ask Will when we’re alone. He’ll tell me.”

To Diana’s surprise, he didn’t. Although she pouted and pestered, the most he would say was, “We gave her a wedding gift. If you want to know more, ask her.”

When the girls showed up at Mouse’s tent the next morning, they found her already dressed, humming a cheerful tune.

“What happened with Will and Boeing last night?” Sachi asked.

“Will said they gave you a present,” Diana added. “What was it?”

Mouse gave a mysterious smile. “Let’s just say my wedding’s not cursed any more.”

“Will didn’t give you his socks, did he?” Diana asked. “Let me see your feet.”

Amused, Mouse lifted the hem of her skirt. “No new socks. I swear.”

“Then what—”

“Come on, help me with my hair like you promised. There isn’t much time.”

The girls hurried to get Mouse’s hair arranged and were helping with her borrowed turquoise jewelry when the cart pulled up, ready to take Mouse to the church. Some of the other girls had decorated it with ribbons and desert cactus blooms, and everyone from camp who could be spared waited on horseback, ready to provide an escort for her final departure from their unit.

Will handed Diana her horse and she swung into the saddle, still no wiser about the change in Mouse’s mood. As the procession started toward town, she pulled in close to Will. “What was it you gave her?”

“You didn’t see?”

“If I had, I wouldn’t be asking.”

“I thought you girls showed off those sorts of things.”

“Quit being mysterious. What kinds of things?”

“You know Boeing’s been seeing that girl in town. . .”

“He sees lots of girls.”

“The one who does fancy lace stuff.”

“Mouse wasn’t wearing any lace.”

“You know,” Will said, “You’re the smartest girl I ever met, but you’re still pretty dense sometimes.” While Diana sputtered for an answer, Will jerked on the reins. Just before he kicked his horse into a trot he added, “She makes lace stuff for the girls at the brothel. And if you can’t figure it out now, you’re hopeless.”

Diana watched him move ahead and pulled her kerchief over her nose and mouth, not because of the desert dust but to hide an attack of giggles.

Sachi trotted up. “What is it? Did he tell you?”

Diana nodded. “He told me. And it sounds like Mouse’s marriage will be lucky, after all.”


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

LOVE it!!! Oh, man. What a great thing Will did, there.

I won't ask how he knew to find such a garment, however... *wink*

Anonymous said...

***GUFFAW!!!!*** That's awesome. :-D

Chairman Mao said...

I didn't know Mousies gotted married! hehehe

Kittyhugs and purrs from MaoMao!

Gwen Mitchell said...

Very nice job. The writing was clean and the story was cute.

Serena said...

I think you write well. I was a little confused as to the characters, their relationships and the setting (I'm not familiar with what is apparently a larger series), but it was easy to read and the dialog sounded real. Good work!

R. Jill Fink said...

Fantastic dialogue and characters! I liked that Mouse waved away the girls, letting the guys help, and they came through for her. You have a nice way of delivering the story.

williamfromkc said...

Bad news:

I had to read it twice before I finally got that her wedding gift was some sort of lacy undergarment. I had a little trouble understanding why this would make her so happy and why it would make the other woman giggle. Didn’t you say the bride was already pregnant? Wouldn’t that suggest a relaxation of her modesty?

Also, I felt a little distracted trying to place the context/timeframe of the sequence. Was it the old west? You mentioned a resource war. Is it one of those back-to-basics future settings when nobody has gas because of shortages?

Good news:

Anyway, I agree with other posters that the dialogue is crisp. I especially like the fact that you are willing to gamble on a subtle and implied resolution to the conflict. Nothing wrong with making the reader do a little work!

If this is part of a longer story, I would definitely buy it in a store to read the whole thing. I think you have a lot of talent.

Kate Boddie said...

Thsi was definitely a nice departure from the more serious Will and Diana stories I've read. It was cute! But I want to know how Will knew her size! Unless he has an eye for that sort of thing . . .

Unfocused Me said...

I haven't read any of the previous stories in the series, but I didn't have any trouble picking up enough of the setting early on to enjoy the story. I thought it was perfectly plotted for the form, nicely paced, and carefully crafted. Well done.

Caleb said...

In the beginning I was a little confused about the characters. But I thought it was very well written. I'd like to be able to write dialogue that sounded this good.

William Skye said...

I love a piece that pulls me along, something I don't have to struggle to read. (Okay, sometimes struggling is half the fun..) Hard writing makes easy reading.

I'm content reading Flash to know that I won't know everything about everyone. That's part of the fun.

More! More!

Slake said...

Loved It.. Great Writing!

Ray M. Solberg said...

You have such a talent for dialogue! Which is not to diminish the rest of your writing which is very clean and solid, but I really was drawn in by your dialogue. I confess to being a little disconcerted at the first few paragraphs but it was fine as I read; I personally don't mind a bit of confusion when the story shows more than it tells to offer explanations as you have done. Very satisfying read. Now I want to go back and read the other tales.... :)

Well done and good use of theme.

AlannahJoy said...

Superb dialogue, as always. I personally would have liked to see more physical description, but other than that I thought this was a lot of fun and I was eagerly waiting with anticipation to know what the mysterious gift was. Trust men to think of sexy undies. ;-) Excellent work!

Alice Audrey said...

LOL. I can see why he didn't want to say, but it's a lot better than wool socks given the occasion.