Cinda: 8: Autumn : Calder on the Myrddin Sea
Siri Laramore lived in a lavender cottage at the end of Fastidious lane. Cinda and her cousin Mem wound their way closer, up the continual incline of the village as it clung to the hillside. To Cinda it seemed Calder should just slip into the sea.
“It isn’t that steep,” Mem scoffed, “and it is quite flat around the bay.” Mem was 14 and sometime irritable. It also didn’t improve his mood that he would rather be at his Uncle Jay’s carpentry shop. But Elise insisted Cinda should be accompanied. The village was a labyrinth of narrow lanes and blind corners. And also, Cinda was known to fall into trouble–at least, her Aunt Elise’s estimation of trouble.
“Well, you can go now. I’m here.” They stood at the end of the short flagstone walk.
Mem looked at the dark plum colored door and back down the lane toward downtown and the docks, toward Jay’s shop.
“She’s an Auntie, you know. Uncle Fox was thrilled we’d met. Two peas in a pod we’ll be, he’d said;” which was likely why Aunt Elise was worried about her youngest son Mem leaving her even younger niece Cinda alone with the woman.
“Father said I could go and he didn’t even say anyone had to come with me.” It was only after he’d taken off to a public house with Fox did Elise tell Mem he’d have to go with. Cinda’d reminded Mem of this earlier, but he’d shrugged. He was more afraid of his mother than anyone.
The door opened and Siri Laramore waved. She looked like the most harmless person ever.
Mem nodded, turned to Cinda and said, “after you.”
Mem was tall and strong and rugged in the fashion of the Lark men of Calder. He was handsome and serious and it made Cinda smile to see him sitting so cautiously upon the fainting couch upholstered in sea foam embroidered green. She’d taken the sturdy sitting chair of chocolate leather and masculine proportion. She looked slight and impish. Mem glared.
Siri Laramore began to pour them tea from a delicate pot, bone-thin and inked with poppies. She poured Mem’s tea into a mug, and then turned to hand Cinda a cup on saucer. “It is good of you to visit,” she repeated. Aunt Siri had said as much when they’d crossed the threshold.
“I saw you inherited Felice’s red wool coat?” She’d been the one to gesture toward a wall hook as Cinda had shrugged out of it. But how had she known it had been Felice’s. “I noticed the bird stitched onto the lapel. Felice’s trademark I believe?”
Cinda nodded, “Janet usually picks the threading out, but that coat was impossible.” Janet was the middle Lark child, and the one who wore the red coat second. Mem had it lucky. His elder cousins were so hard on their clothes Mem usually got his first-hand. If any of his clothes bore a Lark, it was because Felice would make them for him. She’d tuck them along a cuff or at the collar.
“The red suits you,” Siri complimented her guest. Cinda wondered if she was suggesting something. Her eyes narrowed on the elderly woman suspiciously.
“I remember your grandmother Sylvia having a red coat, very similar cut. She’d wear it when at sea with your grandfather. You could always spot her from the shoreline.” If Cinda remembered properly, Sylvia had lost that coat in the sea. But Siri must not have been calling that incident to the surface because she was smiling in sweet reverie, not sorrow. Unless she hadn’t liked Sylvia Wyatt.
“Did you like Sylvia Wyatt?” Cinda asked.
Siri’s smile widened, “I did, actually. She was one of my favorite Blackfeathers; although, forgive me, but I thought it a shame she went and married your grandfather. She wasn’t the same afterward, not completely anyway. Lovely woman though. Very beautiful, and fierce.”
“Father and Fox and Elise don’t talk much about her, but the others do. I think they missed her when she settled down here.”
When Cinda thought of her paternal grandmother, she recalled one of the small portraits her father carried and kept tucked away. Sylvia stood in a narrow entryway half in shadow, part of her goldenrod cocktail dress shimmered, as did the painted nails of her right hand, part of her lips, her brown eyes, her chesnut hair. The other half was muted as she posed with a hand on her vibrant hip, a sassy tilt of her chin turned with her mostly bare shoulder. Her skin was so white. Cinda would hold out her arm and look at the carelessness of her own skin that never seemed to freckle or tan, or burn; but it would dry. She bet her grandmother had had to lotion like mad to keep her skin glowing like that.
“I’m sure they did miss her. She was a quite a draw. We were all surprised she was willing to settle in Calder. But your grandfather was a charmer in his youth; and even still when he was older. He had as much a way with words as drink.” Here was that sorrowful smile. Siri waved a hand, as if to cast the past aside. “It appears some of Sylvia lingers amongst the Wyatts. I understand your sister Celeste is a performer.”
“A dancer,” Cinda clarified. “Ballet.”
“Yes, of course,” the elder woman smiled. “And you are taking lessons as well? Some stories do come with the winters and the Blackfeathers whom migrate home for a season.”
“Yes, with Willow and Karev.” Cinda didn’t want to talk about it.
Mem finally decided to finally interject, “She’s gotten some stage time these past two years.”
“Are Fane and Fox still running The Red Shoes?” Aunt Siri asked. Not unkindly she added, “I would think you would be clever in the role of the young orphaned girl.” The brief Act where the widow finds the girl starved and alone and takes her in and feeds and clothes her and buys her her heart’s desire, red shoes. It had been a role Celeste had rejected and some of the other Blackfeather girls had been too shy to pursue.
Mem looked down at the precariously balanced plate of cookies he’d been steadily inhaling. This exit from the conversation arched Siri’s left eye brow.
“I’ve a thing about red shoes,” Cinda admitted. She didn’t look embarrassed or sheepish, but her nostrils flared a bit and her lashes lowered a fraction in a dare. The dare was for anyone present to not laugh.
Just this morning, she and Mem and Aunt Elise and Janet had been in the Shoe Shoppe near the back where the discounted and refurbished donations were. A perfectly good pair of red stained leather shoes were available in Cinda’s exact size. “I’ve a thing about red shoes,” she reminded her Aunt. Elise sighed and set them down. She would only argue if there were no other options. Then a voice came from behind them, a high mimicry, “I’ve a thing about red shoes.” The group of girls cackled. “Well I’ve a thing for wearing other people’s shoes,” one said from the swarm of ribbons and sharpened eyes. Mem had grabbed the shoe in Cinda’s hand before she could launch it in their direction. Janet told them to stuff it, and Aunt Elise wilted into a shadow. The store owner intervened and ushered the girls who were just browsing from the Shoppe.
“What sort of thing are we talking about?”
Cinda squirmed a moment. The clock that had ticked steadily onward upon their entry seemed to slow before halting into a dramatic pause.
“Does this have to do with the things you know, Cinda?”
Cinda looked to Mem who shrugged.
Still tender from the morning, Cinda decided to merely nod, but not elaborate.
“Well, I hope it doesn’t get in the way of your dancing, if it is something you love to do.” Aunt Siri looked quite determined on this point.
“It won’t,” Cinda replied. She knew it wouldn’t.
by Leslie Darnell
proceed to “a dancer“