PREVIEW FRIDAY: Victorian Town

BY NANCY THORNE

A novel excerpt. Copyright is held by the author.

MARTHA AND her father walked arm in arm into the line of the Grand March while I sat and searched the room for Ben, just in case he’d changed his mind.

There must have been over a thousand people mulling about, dressed in the most beautiful clothes I’d ever seen. My mind flashed once more to Cinderella, but of course that was just a fable. Who’d want to be rescued by a prince anyway, unless it was Harry, and he’s taken. Although, I had to admit it, how great it would be to have someone sweep me away from my home now and then.

My thoughts continued to drift until the Grand March came to an end. Applause sounded through gloved hands, muffled. I watched Martha and Dr. Edgecombe steer themselves between the many twosomes.

Piano chords and single notes played a rhythmic pattern and I recognized the song as a waltz. I couldn’t remember how I knew this, but knew it nonetheless. One-two-three, One-two-three.

The woman I’d met on Main Street earlier in the day, the woman with the guard geese, sat next to me. I didn’t recognize her at first, though. She was dressed in an emerald green gown, and three feathers towered above her thick, curly black hair. All that hair was squished under that frilly cap?

 “So nice to see you again,” she said. “A truly magnificent evening.” A multitude of colours paraded past.

“Truly,” I said, placing my fingers along my cheek to expose the ring. She noticed it right away, but the reaction I hoped for didn’t materialize. She only asked again about Little Current and exactly how long my train ride had been, and if I travelled from the north, south, east or west.

What direction is the future? Martha waved her hand and smiled as she and her father swirled in front of us.

The day was beginning to feel long and I was no closer to the significance of the ring. “Please excuse me,” I said to the woman as I stood.

She remained seated and with an attitude of defeat said, “Of course, my dear.”

I walked over to the front of the hall and stepped outside. The ring slipped easily off my finger.

I knocked on Jess’s door, hoping her parents were still at work so we could talk freely. I had gone to 1876 this time without waiting for her to come to my place like we’d planned, and the truth is, I felt guilty about it. She opened the door and stepped outside.

“I’ve only got about 20 minutes. I told you on the bus I’ve got practice tonight. Why didn’t you text? What’s up?” We sat on her porch steps.

“Oh yeah, I guess we were just on the bus.”

“What’s going on, Abby? You’re acting really weird.”

“I forgot about your practice.”

A realization came over her. She stood abruptly. “How could you forget when I just told you? You went back there, didn’t you? You went back without telling me.”