I have been fighting off a cold for the most part. This weekend, I was at that awkward stage where I was too sick to work, and too well to sleep. I did spent some time sprucing up the Transit Toronto website and writing up a scene idea that might make its way into a possible historical/detective fiction novel featuring Faith, however.
Tomorrow, I’ll be working on some updates to my sister-in-law’s website as well as a couple of other website commissions before working on a chapbook that Erin hopes to have ready for a reading she’s giving tomorrow night. And sometime in that, I’ve got an article I have to write. So, pretty busy, and not much time to blog.
In the meantime, here’s another scene of the renovated chapter four of The Young City. This follows immediately from this scene. It’s close to a first draft, but any comments you may have are appreciated.
It was a tense walk back after Rosemary pulled on her corset and overdress. The wolves’ howls faded as the eastern sky lightened, but the two walked on in silence. Peter stared warily at Rosemary’s hunched shoulders.
They heard the sounds of waking households as they entered the alleyway parallelling Yonge Street: a shout, a child’s cry. At the other end of the laneway, they heard the slap of water on the bottom of a metal bucket.
The shop was dark. They took a moment to clean the mud from their boots and frown at their wet pant legs and bloomers. At least Rosemary’s stains were covered by her overdress. They snuck into the kitchen. Together, they crept to the stairs.
The back door banged open. Faith came in, grunting, hauling a bucket over the threshold. She looked up. “Rosemary! You are up early!”
Rosemary closed her eyes wearily. She nodded to Peter, who was hidden by the wall, and turned back to the kitchen. “We’re both up. Peter’s still getting dressed.”
“Help me lift this onto the stove.” Faith grasped the rim of the bucket. Rosemary came over and pulled at the metal handle. Together, they hefted it up. Rosemary wrinkled her nose at the brackish, earthy-smelling water. “Ew!” she said before stopping herself.
“I know,” said Faith, opening a hatch in the pot-bellied stove. “The condition of the wells are a disgrace.” She poked at the embers with fresh kindling. The fire flared to life. “That is why I always boil the water, no matter what the Public Health Department says.”
“Good idea,” Rosemary muttered. The water smelled like her damp bloomers.
“Put some in a pot when it boils. There’s a packet of oatmeal in the pantry.” Faith nodded at a small room in the corner. “I have to fetch my books.” She stepped upstairs. Rosemary stared after her, then looked away. She took a deep breath, fought down a surge of jealousy, and set about exploring the pantry.
She was stirring a bubbling pot of oatmeal when Faith returned, followed by Peter, wearing fresh clothes.
“I am sorry I was such a poor host yesterday,” said Faith. “I hardly saw you between your late morning and my late studies. But I must say that this place was kept clean, and I thank you for it.”
Rosemary rolled her eyes, and said nothing. She hated cleaning, but it was just the excuse she needed to search and find those candles. Not that anything had come of her sacrifice.
“I see my education is in good hands.” Faith gave her a winsome smile. Rosemary bit her tongue.
Edmund entered from the front. “Ah! Breakfast! Good, I’m famished.” He pushed forward, grabbed up a bowl and stood waiting. Rosemary realized she had the ladle in her hand. Edmund made no move to take it. She dipped the ladle in the pot and poured it into the bowl. He walked away, licking his spoon.
Faith set a bundle of books, tied by a leather strap, on the table. She picked up a bowl and stood waiting. Rosemary served her too. Then Peter shrugged, picked up the bowl and joined the line. He frowned at Rosemary’s look. “Um… please?”
Rosemary slapped a ladleful of oatmeal into his bowl. Peter walked away, wiping a fleck from his eye. Rosemary served herself and joined the others at the table.
Unlike dinner, breakfast was eaten in silence. Peter kept shooting worried glances at Rosemary, which soured her mood even more. Then Faith pushed aside her bowl and stood up. “I have to go to classes. I sign up for my new ones today.”
“Off you go, then,” said Edmund. “When you are through here, Rosemary,” He handed her his dirty bowl, “come up front. I’ll show you how to handle the shop.”
“Thank you again for the cleaning, Rosemary,” said Faith as she swept out the back door.
The room emptied out, leaving only Peter, Rosemary, and Edmund’s dirty bowl in her hand.
She looked down at it, then swung it at the kitchen table with a shout.
Peter grabbed her hand. “Woah, woah! Easy!”
“I didn’t go off to college so I could keep house,” she snapped.
“You’re not just keeping house,” said Peter. “You’re helping Edmund out with his store too.”
She wrested the bowl from his hand and raised it high for his head.
“I’m really, really sorry I said that,” he said, raising his hands. “But, Sage, it’s just a couple of days. Until we can get the stuff we need to go back. Okay?”
She lowered the bowl. After a moment, she set it on the kitchen table. “Lanterns, you mean.”
“Yeah. And rope, since we did fall in. And maybe climbing gear if we can afford it.”
“We can’t afford it.”
She looked up at him, suspicious. “You’ve thought of something. Give.”
“I was just thinking,” said Peter. “We’ve got food and shelter thanks to you. Meanwhile I spent all of yesterday staring at the construction site from the top of a hill. Maybe I can be more constructive, so to speak. They hire for odd jobs at the beginning of the day.”
Rosemary’s eyes widened. “Have you ever even lifted a hammer?”
“How hard can it be?”
Her hand went to her cheek. “Oh, my God, you’re going to die.”
“It’s a good plan,” said Peter, affronted. “It gets us more money, and I can scout the site properly. Perhaps even find things, like a lantern, to help us go back.”
She sighed. “Just be careful, all right?”
“Okay, Miss Worry Wort.”
She reached for the bowl again.
“Backing up slowly,” he said. Then he turned for the back door. He hesitated there a moment, then turned back. “This may sound weird, but… doesn’t this seem like an appropriate time to kiss?”
Rosemary snorted and shook her head, smiling. She came to him and kissed him on the lips. “Have a good day at work, dear. Bring home that bacon.” She gripped the back of his neck. “Don’t get hurt.”