Dear Arlie – silver

I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘silver.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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As raindrops started pelting the glass, Arlie threw her hands to her cheeks and moaned. “Nooooo! It can’t rain.”

“Don’t think you have any say in the matter.” Millie was nothing if not matter of fact. “It’s gonna rain whether you want it to or not.”

“But it will be too muddy!” Arlie stomped her foot on the oak plank floor and crossed her arms across her chest in a pout. “And I want a picnic for my birthday.”

Alla shook her head slowly. “Oh…waaa…waaa…you get quite maudlin sometimes, Arlie. Do you think everything in life is going to go your way?”

A look of shock flashed across Arlie’s face. “Now that you mention it, dear…why…yes. I do believe that circumstances should favor my needs.”

“Your needs…and your whims…” Alla didn’t look very sympathetic.

“Oh poppycock. Needs. Whims. Wants. Whatever you want to call it. I do believe life should go according to my desires.” The firmness set in Arlie’s jaw compounded her intent.

Millie turned from where she stood watching the rain cascade down the bay window. “If you two would stop your snipping with each other and think logically about it, you’d realize that Arlie’s birthday isn’t for another week. It’s not likely that it’s going to rain for a solid week. It will be dry by picnic day.”

“You think. It’s rained for a week at a time before. Sometimes even two.” Arlie wrung her hands and began pacing the length of Millie’s bedroom.

“It has. But not during summer thundershower season. That usually happens in the spring.” Millie gracefully eased herself back down on her vanity seat. “Besides, as my Granny always says, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’ And she should know, with all the years she has behind her.”

Alla nodded her head in agreement, but didn’t add to the conversation.

Arlie scoffed in protest. “What silver lining could there be with this rain?”

Millie took a deep breath and appeared to be searching for patience. “Why dear, you know how low the creek gets during the summer. Some years it’s barely running by now. This rain will refresh the springs and it should be a nice wading depth for us in a week.”

Arlie didn’t look convinced. But when she awoke the next morning to the brilliant rays cast through her bedroom window, she knew that her friends were most likely correct. And they were. The rest of the week passed with nary another drop and the day of her party promised to be dry…and hot.

Saturday morning she sprung out of bed, wide eyed and bushy tailed. She could hardly get her corset tightened fast enough to run downstairs and check on the picnic preparations. When she scurried into the kitchen, she saw that Cook already had everything under control. An opened picnic hamper sat on the table, with a checked tablecloth folded beside.

Cook stood in front of a sizzling pan, turning pieces of fried chicken in the spattering oil. “Go on, girl. Get yourself some breakfast. You’ll have to wait on yourself this morning if you want this food ready before your friends arrive.”

“I do believe I’ll just have a piece of toast this morning.”

“Toast?” Cook snorted. “That won’t give you sustenance until the midday meal. You’ll waste away before you get to the meadow.”

“Okay. Toast with a bit of apple butter…and maybe a piece of fruit. I’m too nervous to eat much.”

Cook tried to suppress a smile. It didn’t work. The grin showed from ear to ear. “It’s that George fellow, isn’t it? You’re all atwitter over him going on the grand adventure with you today.”

Arlie smiled back at the sassy woman that had been a feature in their kitchen since she was a sprite. “Maybe…”

“Twaint no maybe about it. I can see what happens every time he’s around. You light up like a Christmas candle on a Christmas tree. That you do.”

Arlie cut a slice of bread from yesterday’s fresh baked loaf and popped it in their new-fangled contraption. Before it popped up ready to go, Alla and Millie arrived with a Kodak camera dangling around each of their necks. The girls giggled together while Arlie ate her light meal. Cook placed the containers of food in the picnic hamper, with plates and utensils laid in on the side of the basket. As she closed the lid, a knock at the side door announced more guests.

Arlie threw open the door to see George, William, and another boy standing on the porch.

George spoke up first with a slight blush rising up as the three stepped inside the kitchen. “Morning, Miss Arlie. This is Eddie, Williams’s cousin. You don’t mind if he tags along with us today, do you?”

Arlie cast her eyes down and simpered. “Why, not at all. It’s my pleasure.” She turned to the new fellow and held out her hand. “Eddie, so glad you could join us today.”

Millie looked up, appearing excited to see a third male guest. With a quick glance she acknowledged Eddie and then turned and dismissed him.

Alla made her way across the room towards where William stood inside the door. She hesitated as she passed Millie and murmured. “Not your cup of tea?”

Millie whispered back. “Not hardly. Too young and fresh faced. But he’ll be good company for the day.”

Chattering a mile a minute, the six friends left for the meadow. They moved as a group, taking turns carrying the wicker hamper until they reached the railroad tracks where they broke into pairs to traverse the portion they needed to walk along to reach the path that led to the meadow.

Millie hung back behind the others, hoping to capture a few photographs without her friends knowledge.

dear arlie_walking down RR tracks

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mhsusannematthews
    Jul 25, 2017 @ 12:33:37

    Well done. I’m sure that whining is generational. lol. I’m positive I remember my own daughter thinking it was only fair that the world revolve around her.

    Reply

  2. Tricia
    Jul 25, 2017 @ 15:24:32

    I love her excitement for her birthday – even the whining. Lol! But for something that exciting a little whining is bound to happen. Great job!

    Reply

  3. Vicki Locey
    Jul 25, 2017 @ 20:21:00

    What a great excerpt! Yes, I think whining is a universal thing.

    Reply

  4. jeanjoachim
    Jul 26, 2017 @ 21:16:49

    Such a delightful tale, transporting me back to that time. I love the manners and customs of the era. You paint the picture superbly.

    Reply

  5. kimlhine
    Jul 29, 2017 @ 22:51:03

    I love the idea of writing to a prompt.. can anyone join?

    Reply

    • trishafaye
      Aug 01, 2017 @ 03:24:43

      This group, Tuesday Tales, is a group run by author, Jean Joachim. There’s about eight authors that write each week. (I’d say PM me on FB, but you’re not there anymore lol) Send me an email at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com and I can get your info to Jean.
      (The only problem might be that she runs the group though Facebook, and all the messages and prompt lists etc are posted there.)

      Reply

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