Dear Arlie – bike

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 ‘bike.’

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

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Arlie rushed to the front door and flung it open to reveal George standing on the covered porch.

He held his straw fedora in his hands, nervously twisting it in circles. “My, aren’t you a lovely vision for this fine Fourth of July?”

Arlie tucked a few strands of loose hair into her bun and primped. “Why, thank you, kind sir. And you are so handsome in your freshly pressed shirt and striking tie. Is it new?”

George shuffled his feet and dropped his head as if suddenly shy. “It is. Got it at John Campbell’s mercantile for our outing today.” He tipped his head up and raised his shoulders as if finding an inner well of courage. “Are you ready to go? I heard the band practicing on the way here. The parade should be starting soon.” He held out an elbow, ready to escort his girl.

“Let me grab my parasol and tell Mother that I’m leaving.” Arlie dashed back inside, leaving her guest standing on the wrap around porch in front of a wide open door.

George awkwardly stood, as if unsure whether to enter, stay where he was, or sit on the porch swing and wait. Before he could decide which plan of action to follow, Arlie appeared in the doorway, tucking an embroidered handkerchief in her waistband, a white lacy parasol dangling from her wrist. Taking his offered elbow, she slid a gloved hand into the bend and the two stepped down off the porch and headed towards Main Street.

A squeaky noise appeared behind them, accompanied by a soft scrunching sound. Both George and Arlie turned their heads to look and saw Arlie’s neighbor on a bike soon to overtake them.

Arlie squealed with delight. “Look at Mrs. Henderson go!”

George chuckled as he watched the woman ride past them, her eyes intent on the road and never veering towards the pedestrians. “Bet the whole population of Ellwsorth will be in attendance today.”

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By the time they’d reached the downtown of their small community, Arlie already had her parasol open and was shading them both. Heat waves shimmered off of roofs and surfaces. Dust from the foot traffic billowed around the crowd, but everyone was so caught up in the excitement, that the heat didn’t slow anyone down.

A drum cadence announced the start of the parade and those mingling in the middle of the street quickly moved to the sides, clearing the way for the uniformed drum crew. A vendor passed along behind the crowd hawking his wares. “Flags here. Get your flags here. A penny a piece.”

George dug in this pocket and handed the stubble-faced man two pennies. He and Arlie now had a flag in hand to wave with the other observers. Three motor cars followed, with billowing drapes of red, white and blue festooning each vehicle. The local suffragettes followed at the tail end, waving flags high above their heads, while two women on each side of the group handed out flyers to the crowd lining the street.

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Arlie frowned as they passed by. “How I wish Millie were here for the fun today. It’s just not fair that her father spirited them away to Michigan. She’s always been here for the festivities. And Pauline too. This is the second year she’s missed. I wish she hadn’t moved all the way to Los Angeles.”

“Do you ever hear from her?”

“From Pauline?” Arlie waited for George’s nod of agreement before continuing. “Yes. A postcard now and then. Not often enough. But several times a year. We were so close for so many years. She’d often take the train down from Bloomington and join us at Old Settler’s Park for different events. Now our little group this year is down to me and Alla.”

“And me,” George reminded her.

Arlie patted his shoulder in reassurance. “Yes, dear George. You too. The best part of the day.”

He grinned slyly. “Maybe before the day is over, I can make it even better for you.”

“Better? Come now, dear man. How could that be? Do tell.” Arlie pursed her lips in a pout.

“Tell? And ruin the surprise? That would never do. You’ll just have to wait for the fireworks to find out.”

“Not find out till the fireworks? But that’s hours and hours away!”

The crowd began dispersing and moving down the street towards the park. George, the ever perfect gentleman, held out his arm to guide Arlie along. “My sweet Arlie. You’ll just have to wait in suspense. Now, let’s join the others at the picnic, lest they think I’m hogging you all to myself for the whole day. Much as I’d love to do that.”

“Give a little hint at least?”

George stopped and turned to look her square in the eye. “A hint? Hmmmm…fireworks and the desire of my heart…a lover’s moon…Arlie Shinkle on my arm…”

George Noble Paxton. That does not constitute a hint.”

“Then I suppose you’ll just have to wait. Let’s go eat. I’m famished and my stomach has been rumbling for some of your Cook’s delicious fried chicken.”

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Dear Arlie – picture prompt

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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 a picture prompt. There’s three photos to choose from. This is the one I chose.

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

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With the long walk, the heat of the day and the water play, exhaustion settled in around the group of friends bringing the siren sound of slumber. Millie and Alla ambled back towards the blanket. Soon drooping eyelids proved that the others were ready to join William and Eddie, who were still dozing.

Arlie stood and nudged the two sleepers with a bare foot. “C’mon, let’s head back home. I have no intention of falling asleep out here where an insect is sure to fly in my open mouth.”

The boys sat up and stretched while the girls began packing up the food. On the walk back, the six weren’t as chatty or animated as they’d been on the way to the meadow. The three girls traipsed on ahead with the three boys lagging behind.

Millie eased up to Arlie and spoke softly in her ear. “So? What did you two talk about?”

Arlie answered with a Cheshire cat grin. “Not much important. But – he’s going to stop by Tuesday morning and walk me to the picnic.”

No matter how much Millie prodded and pleaded, Arlie didn’t add any further information.

The next two days a restless Arlie wandered the house. Her mother finally snapped at her. “Will you go in the kitchen and help Cook? You’re pacing is about to give me a case of the vapors.”

The minutes ticked by on the grandfather clock hanging on the foyer wall, with resonate gongs sounding every hour. Finally, the sun was breaking on a hot and humid Fourth of July day. Arlie stayed upstairs so she wouldn’t be called into helping with the picnic preparations. But her door remained open so she could listen.

Just as the clock finished chiming eight o’clock, Arlie heard a loud knocking on the oak door. Her feet flew down the stairs, her hand barely brushing the polished walnut hand rail.

 

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Dear Arlie – business

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 ‘box.’

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

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The small group finally arrived at the meadow, their journey slowed by the joking and lollygagging along the way. As they headed towards the small corpse of trees where they typically laid out the picnic blanket when they came to the creek to play and cool off, Arlie spoke up. “I’m so excited about the picnic and fireworks this year.” She tried to suppress a widening grin. “I even have a new frock to wear for the Fourth. It’s got huge blousey sleeves with a fun red, white, and blue trim.”

George looked in her direction and winked. “I’m looking…”

Before he could finish his thought, Millie butted in. “I won’t be there this year. I’m going to miss it.” She pursed her lips in a pout.

Arlie stopped and spun around. “You won’t be there? But why ever not? You’re always part of our little gathering. You, me, Alla – and Pauline before she moved. You have to be there!” Arlie gestured emphatically as if the waving of her hands in the air would make it so. She paused and scrunched her eyes, little lines around the corners emphasizing her worried look. “But what about the flyers? I thought you were going to help your mother and her friends pass out the flyers we folded the other afternoon. The ones advocating our right as women to vote.”

“Father’s being a beast. He took some time off from the bank. We’re going to motor up to Michigan on Monday.” Millie frowned and stuck out her tongue. “For the whole month! Imagine! What am I to do up there for the whole month with no friends? Although – it is awfully strange that he’d come up with this grand idea so suddenly. Almost as if he’s out to foil Mother’s plan to participate with the suffrage group.”

Quiet Alla spoke up from the rear. “Michigan? Why there? You have family there?”

Although Millie’s tongue returned to its proper place, the frowny pout remained planted on her face. “No family. Father says one of his business associates told him of an Inn that’s a wonderful place to holiday at. Sauble Inn, if I recollect. There’s supposed to be a grand lake with rowing and fishing. I imagine Father will be planted behind the end of a pole for most the days. It shall be dreadful. I know I’ll pine away from loneliness.”

A young woman always shows her sunny disposition. Words that Arlie’s mother frequently admonished her with came floating through her mind to haunt her. And, although she was slightly concerned about how it appeared that Millie’s father was attempting to sabotage his wife’s activism activities, thoughts of spending time with George crowded out her other concerns. “Well, if there’s rowing that should be delightful.”

“I suppose. At least it shall be cooler up there,” Millie conceded.

Arlie turned and began walking again towards the shaded glen. “Speaking of cooler, let’s sit down the blanket and basket and go cool our feet first before we eat.”

dear arlie_wading1.jpgThe rest followed and soon all six were down at the creek removing shoes and socks. The three boys were slowed as they rolled up pants legs, while the three girls simply picked up the edges of their skirts and were wading about in the ankle deep creek.

George was the first of the boys in the water, trousers up about his knees and hat still in place. He made his way towards Arlie.

Arlie giggled and kicked up a foot, splashing water in his direction.

“Arlie Shinkle…” he started in protest, then chuckled and splashed a handful of water back towards her. “You better behave, or I’ll get even at the fireworks.”

dear arlie_wading2.jpg“Now just how will you get even then? There’s not a bit of water about at the park.”

“No, no water. But there’s watermelon – and cold drinks. You just never know, my sweet girl.” His eyes twinkled as he teased her.

After an hour splashing about, the friends returned to the picnic area, cooled and refreshed. They dug into the hamper with relish, eating as if it were their first meal in a week. Full and replete, they lounged on the plaid, woven blanket. William and Eddie soon snored away, their heads propped up on their rolled up jackets. Arlie and George spoke quietly to one another, seated next to each other at the far corner. Millie and Alla, wanting to give their friend a little private time with her beau, grabbed their cameras and headed back down to the stream.

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Dear Arlie – box

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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 ‘box.’

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

 

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Although the heat was rising, it didn’t slow the group of six friends down. They were on a mission to reach the cool shade of grove of trees lining the meadow. Only the girl’s silliness gave them occasional pause, as they stopped along the way when their giggles overcame them as they frolicked in front of the camera lens.

Millie took the camera from around her neck and held it out. “George, come get the camera and take a photograph of us girls.”

“I don’t know how to use that new-fangled contraption. Last time I shot a photograph it was still the old box type.”

“You can do it. It’s a snap. Come here, I’ll show you what to do.”

After a two minute instruction on the workings of the Kodak, George seemed satisfied that he could operate the device. “Besides,” he countered, “if you two girls can do it, then a strapping fellow such as I should be able to.”

Arlie snickered. “It’s not the brawn that will take a good photograph. It’s the brains that matter for this.”

George looked up at Arlie with a twinkle in his eye. “Then I guess I’ve got the brains too. After all, I’ve got enough smarts to know that I want you for my girl.”

A hot blush rose from Arlie’s neck and tainted her cheeks scarlet. She opened her mouth, but not a word came out.

“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” George teased.

Alla’s raised voice from behind them shattered the moment. “Come on you two. Arlie, get over here with Millie and I so George can take our picture.”

Reluctantly Arlie turned to go join her two friends. She rather would have stayed and pursued the conversation with George. A Cheshire grin lit up her face as they posed for the camera.

He likes me! He wants me for his girl!

As she settled in on a wooden step between Millie and Alla, Millie rose up and started acting like she was going to climb over the makeshift ladder contraption set over the barbed wire fence.

Arlie’s grin widened, even though she tried to sound outraged. “Millicent Arnold! What in the world. Get back down here before you show those young men more than they need to see. Sit down properly so George can get a good shot of us.”

The click of the camera echoed across the space and the girls knew that Millie’s shenanigans were captured on celluloid. “I get this one. It’s my birthday so I get this picture to put in my scrapbook.”

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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.

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Dear Arlie – picture prompt

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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 a picture prompt, so the posts will be 300 words or less.

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

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Arlie shook her head vigorously, causing a lock to spring from her tidy bun and drape down the nape of her neck. “Not this year. After all, I’ll be turning twenty. I’m getting much too old for that now. Don’t you think?”

When Alla and Millie merely looked at her with questioning gazes, Arlie shrugged her shoulders and chattered on. “Besides…then I can’t invite the fellas to join us. A taffy pull would be fun. The boys would join us, loving anything with candy and sweets.”

Alla snickered. “And by boys you mean George. Right?”

A haughty rise in Arlie’s shoulders hinted at her inner agitation. “Naturally I mean George. Just as you’d enjoy pulling taffy with William.” She stuck her lower lip out in a pout. “But Mother nixed that idea. She said July heat is too ferocious to have molasses boiling all afternoon.”

“Arlie Lorraine Shinkle…” Millie spat the words out in frustration. “So what are you planning for your birthday party? Don’t keep us in suspense.”

“Well…I was…maybe…” Arlie hemmed and hawed.

“Spit it out,” Alla commanded in a rare show of authority.

“I was thinking a picnic in the meadow. I’ll ask Cook to fix us up a picnic basket with fried chicken and finger foods. We could go to that shady glen nestled at the bottom of the meadow. After lunch we could wade in the stream. Get our feet wet.”

“You just want to show off your trim ankles to the guys. You’re such an indecent lass sometimes.” Millie giggled at her impudent accusation. “You are inviting the fellows, aren’t you?”

As Arlie nodded in agreement, a distant rumble of thunder echoed across the skies and through the room. All three girls dashed to the bay window.  The wind whipped elm branches about and the sky darkened with the threat of an imminent thunderstorm.

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Three friends – circa 1911

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Dear Arlie – earth

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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 ‘earth.’

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

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Arlie straightened the stack of pamphlets in front of her, then leaned back and fidgeted with the cameo brooch pinned on her collar. “This isn’t as important as these flyers about our right to vote, but…are you two coming to my birthday party?”

Millie spun towards Arlie so fast she sent a flurry of the precious folded flyers tumbling across the dining room floor. She bent to retrieve them before her mother saw her and chided her for carelessness, and her friends came around the oak table to help. Millie glanced up, her hands still in motion gathering the mess. “When’s your party?”

“The party will be July first. It’s a Saturday. My birthday is on the third, but with all the festivities going on, Mother got the vapors just thinking about all she’d have to do in two days’ time.” Arlie sighed and rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why she’s in such a state about it. It’s not like she actually does anything. Cook is making all the food for the picnic at the park. And I’m sure Cook will be in charge of my party preparations too.”

Alla spoke up in defense of the absent parent. “There’s a lot to get ready for a party. There’s all the cleaning too, getting the house ready for guests.”

“Cleaning?” Arlie giggled at the thought. “Mother doesn’t clean either. Cook does all the dusting, shining, polishing, and beating of the rugs. Mother stays busy crimping her corset tighter and polishing her pearls.”

Millie’s mother entered the room, her skirts swirling around her quick steps, sending a light breeze in the direction of the errant papers. “What on earth? Millie, darling, whatever are you three doing on the floor in the middle of this…this…jumble?”

“Now Mother, it was just a little fumble on my part. See, we’ve just about got it all picked up.”

Millie’s mother simply shook her head with a bemused smile on her face. “Sweet, sweet child. I do believe you got your clumsiness from your father. Speaking of which…” She turned and looked at the ornate walnut coo coo clock sitting on the fireplace mantle. “…he’s due home from the bank. And I, obviously, don’t have his supper even started yet. You three may want to make yourself scarce to avoid the upcoming fireworks. And it will be the dark, sputtering ones, not like the pretty flashy ones we’ll see on the Fourth.”

The girls laid the papers on the table and took off for Millie’s room where they could talk about the upcoming birthday activities. Alla and Arlie plopped themselves on the downy mattress, while Millie turned her vanity chair towards the bed and sat on it.

Alla almost wiggled with excitement. “Arlie, are you having a slumber party again this year?”

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Dear Flora – firecracker

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 ‘firecracker.’

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

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Dear Arlie

June 1911

“Alla, dear, hand me another stack, please.” Arlie Shinkle held a hand outstretched across the table and looked at her friend expectedly.

“Certainly.” Alla Richardson finished the crease she was making on the leaflet she was working on and laid it down in front of her. Taking half of the papers from the stack sitting beside her, she handed them over to Arlie. “After these, we’ll be finished.” She looked back down at the table and resumed her task in an aura of silence.

Arlie tipped her head towards the third girl sitting primly at the end of the table. “We made good time, getting these done. It would have gone faster if Pauline were here to help us.”

Millie nodded in agreement. “I wish Pauline hadn’t moved all the way to Los Angeles. I miss her being a part of our fun. Have you heard from her lately?”

“I got a postcard last month. It was a train going through the orange groves in Southern California. A wintertime picture – and not a spec of snow. I’m jealous. She said she’d gotten my letter. The one where I wrote and told her about Mrs. Kitch dying. Poor Florence. Losing her mother this young. And now she has to take care of her little sister, Ida Mae.” A look of sadness settled in around her briefly, then she shook it off and returned to the moment. “Millie, are these the last of the flyers? Did your mother have any more that she wanted folded?”

“No. This is the last of them. She’ll be excited that they’re ready to go. She and her suffragette friends will be passing them out at the parade on the Fourth.” Millie thrust her shoulders back and sat up ramrod straight. “She’ll be expecting me to help too.”

“But I thought we were all going to attend the parade together,” Arlie exclaimed. “It wouldn’t be the same watching the parade without you.”

“I know. I know. But Mother’s whole group is working with a vengeance now. Grace Trout has made such progress as president of the Equal Suffrage Association. And Mother was giddy with excitement when two women were elected to the school board in Springfield a few months ago. She’s confident that we’ll have the right to vote soon.”

Alla broke her silence and spoke up softly. “And your father…how’s he taking your mother’s crusade?”

Millie groaned in reply. “Not well. He alternates between a frowning, icy glare and bellowing like a mad bull. Especially the nights when he returns home from the bank and Mother’s been too busy to have dinner waiting for him like he prefers.”

“That must make for some awkward evenings.” Arlie leaned back in the carved wooden chair and tucked some loose curls back into her twisted bun. “When I get married, I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my husband. He’ll treat me kindly and with respect.”

“Ha! What husband? You keep up that kind of attitude and you’ll never get one.” Millie chucked and slapped at Arlie’s arm to show she was teasing. “You still have your eye on George?”

Arlie flushed a deep scarlet and hesitated before replying. “…maybe…He is going to propose one day. I just know it.”

“You sound awfully confident about it. I don’t know though…he and William have been hanging around without making any moves.”

“William’s mine!” The words burst out of Alla’s mouth. Her hand flew up to cover her lips and a wide eyed look of surprise stared back at her two friends.

A smirk peeked from Arlie’s face before she managed to hide it. “You can have William. I’m not interested in him. I want George. He’s the one I’m going to marry.”

“You think. I would have thought he’d make his intentions known by now.” Millie spoke firmly and forcefully. “He may not be the man for you if he’s not man enough to be bold.”

An arrogant tilt of Arlie’s chin paired up with a gleam in her eyes. “He’s man enough that he asked me if we were going to Christina Park on the Fourth. He wants to watch the fireworks with me.”

“Knowing him, he’s going to have a string of firecrackers in his pocket. Not an engagement ring.” Millie grinned as she gathered the piles of folded flyers together.

Alla sighed and a wistful look settled on her countenance. “I wish William would ask me. You’re a lucky girl. Your birthday on the third and fireworks with her fellow on the Fourth.” She turned towards Millie. “What about you? Who do you have your sights set on?”

“Me?” Millie laughed in response. “I doubt I’ll ever marry. Not if all men act like my father. I think being a strong, independent woman is more important. Until we have the right to vote, and are equal to men, then there’s too much work to be done. I’ll be marching in parades and passing out flyers and making phone calls and protesting with all my might. I won’t have time to be home cleaning a house, pressing and starching shirts and slaving over a stove so that my husband can be the big man boss of the household.”

Arlie and Allie looked at their friend in astonishment. Although they’d be helping Millie and her mother and the local suffragette group with their activities over the past year or two, they had no idea that their friend felt so intensely about the cause.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – picture prompt

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In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. In this snippet, we jump ahead in the story to Peggy’s first day of class.

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt.

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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It was the same as always with this site. That’s why Peggy only looked at Pinterest after the boys were in bed for the night. First she scrolled through the new posts. That task always took longer now that she followed more pages than ever before. New recipes, craft ideas, garden inspirations. Quotes that encouraged and motivated. An hour later she was still browsing. She hadn’t even looked at interior design ideas yet.

She pulled the loose tendrils off her neck that had escaped from her massive hair clip and muttered out loud to herself. “Okay. Ten more minutes. And that’s it.” Moving the mouse to the search option, she typed in ‘interior design living room.’

If the countless pins that showed up weren’t enough, additional options were listed across the top bar, giving her the chance to drill down even further: Colors. Warm. Rustic. Staircases. Modern. Bohemian. Small. Traditional. Cozy. Contemporary. Luxury. Simple. The possibilities went on and on.

Feeling whimsical and free-spirited, she clicked on ‘Bohemian.’ The images that appeared caused a feeling a peace to settle across her like a well-worn cloak. She grinned, feeling like she was stepping back in time, back to her younger care-free days – a time before husband and children – a time of fewer responsibilities.

She kept scrolling and looking, even as her eyelids began to droop and her shoulders began to sag. Yet, she couldn’t stop. She felt compelled to keep looking.

The sound of a buzzing alarm from her bedroom filtered through to her consciousness and jolted Peggy awake. She sat upright in the chair where she’d dozed and shook her head, trying to step out of the fogginess of slumber. Lifting her head, she saw the golden orange glow of the sun peeking over the horizon, casting its early morning embers across the sky. She wondered what Derek would say, or if he’d even notice that she never made it back to bed last night.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – stone

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. In this snippet, we jump ahead in the story to Peggy’s first day of class.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘stone.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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Sure enough, his footsteps padded down the carpeted hallway, right past the dining room table without a pause to stop and say goodnight. A brief moment of elation filled her with joy. She wouldn’t have to deal with his bullshit tonight. Almost as suddenly as the happiness descended, it fled, leaving in its place a well of sorrow and sadness.

Tears welled up behind her eyes, her vision clouded and sobs threatened to spill out. She caught herself and stopped the emotions from overwhelming her. She didn’t want him to hear her break down crying.

We can’t keep going on like this. I need to make a decision. I’ve got to give him an ultimatum. But…what if he takes me up on it? I don’t have any money. I don’t have a job. I have no earthly idea what I’d do then.

Reacting in a manner that had served her well her whole life, instead of dealing with the critical situation in front of her, Peggy tamped down her emotions and her thoughts and turned her attention to an action unrelated to the dilemma that left her feeling confused and helpless. She flipped through the pages of the opened textbook in front of her.

TT_stone bedroom.jpgA photograph of a peaceful, serene bedroom caught her eye, making her gape in awe. A rush of desire flooded through her. I want that room! The light neutral colors were soothing. The bed linens were plush and inviting. The beige stone wall behind was the perfect accent, lending a natural, but not rustic, feel to the atmosphere.

She turned the page to find another photograph depicting different stone varieties for interiors.

And here I thought stones were only used for walkways, or maybe some countertops.

She ran her finger down the list; marble, field stone, limestone, granite, slate, river rock, pebbles.

TT_stone.jpgI can see there’s going to be a learning curve in this class. There’s ideas here that I’ve never even thought of using in a room. I’d better start opening my eyes and checking out the possibilities. Maybe I’ll text Wanda tomorrow and see if she wants to meet up and go visit some model homes with me.

The grandfather clock on the wall ticked on as Peggy spent the next hour browsing through her brand new copy of The Fundamentals of Interior Design. After perusing through the end of the book, she returned to the first chapter and began reading. The Design Process. Yellow marker in hand, she highlighted sentences and sections that she wanted to make a note of. At some places she picked up a red pen and underlined words and ideas that she wanted to remember. On a legal pad she made notes of words to look up, and ideas she wanted to Google for more information. By the end of the chapter her mind whirled and tumbled with new data and facts. One more thought crossed her mind. She closed the book and set it aside, then pulled her laptop closer. Opening it up, when the screen appeared, she clicked on a favorite icon. Pinterest.

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