Location: Las Vegas, Nevada • Date: Friday, October 24, 2003
The moon was a pale, curved scythe hung over shadowy, roiling mountains when the seamstress finally arrived home from work. Few trees adorned the desert city that had been a safe harbour for the past five years, but autumn still whispered its presence in a brisk, bone-dry breeze at nights. Any other time, it would have made the foreigner wistful for trees with flaming leaves that carpeted brick and cobblestone pavements. Tonight, she did not even spare England a thought as she slid a small key into the lock of her letterbox.
A lonesome leaflet that curtly informed of a water shutdown for maintenance next weekend. The resident left it curled sadly inside, locked her letterbox, then made her way up to her apartment, trying her hardest to keep her steps even. She barely took off her shoes before she was in the narrow bathroom, hooking her thumbs through the fabric and tugging her underwear down.
Not a single spot of red.
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada • Date: Monday, November 10, 2003
The first wave of nausea came, in well-timed art of mockery, one week after she had surreptitiously slid a blue-and-white box across the pharmacy counter at a Magic Neep's. The cashier—a blue-haired boy with a softly singing neon-pink metal stud in one ear and whom could not possibly be older than a freshly graduated high schooler—had lazily lifted an eyelid to fix a vaguely curious look on her. As she reached to pick it up off the counter to put in her bag, he finally spoke for the first time in their largely silent exchange.
," he said glumly, "that's why my girl left me. She said I'd be a shit dad.
The witch said nothing. The following Friday, one of the other seamstresses had opened up a container that held two perfect boiled eggs for her salad and the scent had sent Ottilie to the bathroom at the cafe next door, emptying into the toilet every breakfast cereal flake, drop of tea and water, and two-thirds of her soul. The bloodless blancher in her cheeks was nothing a quick glamour charm cannot fix, but the cause of it was futile even to the strongest of charms. No—that called for darker magic or a healer's work.
Except that was not only her decision to make.
Which was somewhat absurd, given the fact that it
was inside her
, but that was delving into needless and impractically complicated territory.
The military wife thought of the cashier's remark as she re-read Elijah's letter two evenings after receiving it, the other wonderment as to what had taken his reply so long not less than thrice having crossed her mind. She brushed her thumb across his jaw in one of the two pictures that came with it, strangely fixated by the colour of his skin against the backdrop of a brightly burning sunset that, true to his word, reminded even her of her hair. What kind of father would he be? She did not know him nearly enough to make a judgment that felt in gravity and weight of seriousness like the passing of a sentence. Yet, if she were to have
to find an answer, the correct one came frightfully crystalline clear. Elijah Westfall would be ten and twenty-five times the parent that his drunkenly-married stranger wife could never be even if she'd tried with all her heart.
No good parents came to be from not wanting to be a parent in the first place.
Thank you for remembering and taking the time to take the pictures. The sunset is every bit as marvellous as you described. I'm sorry for the fall in culinary quality, but pleased to see that it does not physically reflect on you.
Unlike on her, whose brain had unsolicitedly conjured the image as described and resulted in her having to bolt for the loo. By now she had quite gotten the hang of it, at least. Unlike her fellow women similarly conditioned, she was blessed to have no symptoms of morning sickness and was, for all purposes, completely functional so long as certain food items were not introduced into the room.
Food aside, I would also enjoy hearing about your life when you are not on active duty. Is it true that soldiers dress in their sharpest uniforms and go to town on the weekends to take the local girls to dances, or is that just in the plays? Speaking of uniforms, I also see you've got wind about how fond we females are of a man in a uniform. Well played, Agent Westfall.
I'm afraid Viktoria has not been near short of inspiration as of late. Between approaching deadlines to get in the final designs for Fall/Winter '04 and Senator Nordstrom announcing that she's joining the Secretarial race, our chief designer has been firing on all cylinders. We are also coming up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, so the time leading up to the festivities is always particularly busy.
Do they give you any time off for the festive season? Do they let you go home or are you expected to celebrate with your fellow comrades at base? I am curious.
She pursed her lips, hesitating momentarily. A small, niggling seed of guilt blossomed like weeds in her chest. Elijah deserved to know. However, she could not begin to imagine the appropriate words to convey such news in writing. And, anyway, Ottilie tried to stampede out the guilt. She could have dealt with this now, before he ever returned, without his ever finding out.
She was doing him a favour