Chugging Along


A fairly quiet evening. I spent most of it scanning in Alan Ivin's drawings for Greg Gick's Crescent, Cross, Star & Pentagram from Ninth Aspect. CCS&P remains the longest story in the :Trenchcoat: canon, and one of the best. Greg is yet another of those criminally unpublished writers. He has a flare for narrative and characterization that I've not seen in many a published novel. And he loves to write. I hope and pray that he gets more chances to.

Cameron is another friend of mine who is criminally unpublished.

Anyway, the scanning is the slowest part of working on the Trenchcoat Farewell Project. My scanner is pretty slow, and then I have to work to touch up the drawings. This can take an evening to do to do a story's batch of 10-20 illustrations; laying out everything and making it look nice is another evening.

If I get the time, I'll be through the stories of Ninth Aspect and reentering the uncharted territory of unpublished fan fiction. The light at the end of the tunnel is closer, and it's not a train.

Thanks to Lisa Inman for following up on my meme from yesterday. Hopefully, others will take up this fun exercise. I'll have to look up my Natalie Goldberg or Anne Lamott for other fun things to do to exercise the writing muscle.

This weekend, I finally got around to writing that long-in-coming argument between Peter and Rosemary. Kathy Stinson raised her eyebrows when I noted that I'd written the scene which immediately followed the argument, and the scene which preceded the argument, but not the argument itself. Somebody was avoiding the conflict!

Well, I wrote it. It's still an early draft, with Rosemary and Peter talking too much in complete sentences, but here you go. I think I have the thrust of the scene. I look forward to your comments.

The thing you need to know about this scene is that Peter and Rosemary have now been stranded for two months, and Rosemary is feeling the conflict of being comfortable in her new surroundings, and homesickness. She has a happy moment when Faith reveals that she's making her a new dress, but that happiness vanishes when Faith throws in the line: "I promise you, Rosemary, that you shall have a dress that will last you for years!

In the kitchen, Rosemary knelt over the washboard, scrubbing clothes so hard, her knuckles rattled. Tears trickled down her cheeks and her breath came out in sobs. She'd stopped twice to wipe her nose on her sleeve when Peter burst in through the back door. "Funny how you appreciate working half-days on Saturday," he said. "What's for lunch?" He rubbed his hands together, and the calluses on his knuckles whispered.

Rosemary turned away. "Hello, Peter," she gasped. "There's bread and a little cheese in the pantry."

Peter stared at her hunched shoulders, frowning. Rosemary sniffed, and he drew back in disbelief. "Rosemary... are you... crying?"

She sniffed again. "No."

"What happened?"

"Faith's making me a dress!"

There was a pause. Peter blinked some more. "But I thought Faith was an excellent seamstress--"

Rosemary burst into tears.

Peter stumbled back in shock. Then he stepped forward, pulled her up and wrapped his arms around her, cradling her face into his chest. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "Whatever it was I said, I'm sorry. Don't cry!"

Rosemary dried her eyes and took a shuddering breath. "It's not you, Peter. It's just-- I-- I'm being stupid."

He held her out at arm's length and looked her in the eye. "What happened?"

She cleared her nose. "I went to Faith to help me with my hair and I caught her hiding a bolt of fabric. I asked her about it and she told me it was a gift. She was making me a dress."

Peter mulled this over carefully. He nodded. "And you're upset with her because..."

"I was so happy," said Rosemary. "But then Faith said that the dress would last me for years! Years! The moment before, I was missing my family so much, and the next moment I was so happy to be here, in this house, in these clothes; I'd forgotten my parents in Clarksbury! I don't want to be here for years! It might as well be forever! We've got to go back!"

He sucked his lips. "Okay," he said slowly. "We can try."

"Try? The last time we tried was a month ago! Let's do it tonight!"

"It's a cold night. It might not be the best time."

"It's only going to get colder!"

"Rosemary, I--"

She pulled away from him. "What are you trying to say?"

He took a deep breath and avoided her eyes. "Rosemary, we've been here for what? Two months? We've gone back to the sewers three times, now, and each time we found the same thing: nothing!"

She turned away and faced the window. Her knuckles tightened on the table.

Peter went on. "I looked all over that cavern. The only sign of a cave-in was that hole we keep banging our heads on!"

The autumn breeze blew memories of lake air, leaves and turkey dinner in Rosemary's face.

"We can keep trying if you'd like; maybe Faith won't notice our clothes getting filthy every other week, but..." He took another deep breath. "What if we can't go back?"

Rosemary said nothing.

Peter took another deep breath. "You know, things could have been worse."

"How?" Rosemary whirled around. The look on her face made Peter stagger back. "Just how could things have been worse?"

Peter swallowed. "We have a roof over our heads, and three meals a day. We've got jobs. Better this than dying on the streets, or living out our lives in a poorhouse."

"Oh, I suppose that makes up for the culture shock," she scoffed. "Or, non-culture shock!"

He was wide-eyed with shock. "Why are you being like this? I'm just saying that things aren't so bad--"

"Aren't so bad?" Rosemary gasped. "You're asking me to live in a world where I can't vote, where Faith gets harassed for going to medical school. You're asking me to live in a world of tuberculosis and cholera. You expect me to be happy, here?"

"Well, if we don't have a choice, then yes!" Peter snapped. "Instead of moping about, you could go to school--"

"How? This household can't support two women attending University!"

"Maybe if you wait for Faith to finish, you could--"

"Study what?" She clapped her hands. "Oh, I know! I'll take up physics and discover radium! Eat your heart out, Madame Curie! Everything I dreamed of being is all gone! I have no family, no career, nothing to look forward to--"

"At least we have each other!" Peter bellowed.

Silence fell on the kitchen as Peter and Rosemary stared at each other, both breathing heavily. After a moment, Peter continued. "We have each other. I know you miss your family, Sage; I miss them too, as well as all our friends. But if we can't go back, at least I can say that there's one thing I'd miss most of all standing here in front of me. You are the only home I need, Rosemary."

She flushed, looked away and bit her lip. The future stretched before her, empty, but at the same time frighteningly full. She looked Peter in the eye. "It's not the only home I need."

Her eyes went wide the moment the words left her lip. Had she really said that? Peter stared at her, dumbstruck. Silence stretched again. Then Peter turned for the back door.

"Peter, I--"

But Peter shot up a hand. "Don't!" He stood with his back to her. "If what we have isn't home for you, then I guess I'm not welcome here." He stormed out, leaving Rosemary staring, the bitter taste of tears on her tongue.

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