We have returned from a day of fun and mayhem at the orchards. There is a really cool one that does a whole revolutionar/frontier thing and that's the one we went to (Rileys Farm) . It was a lot of fun and we came home laden down with 2 gallons of cider we pressed ourselves, 4 pumpkins of various sizes, and a kit and information/recipe book for hard and sparkling cider making! A fun time was had by all.
Now that we have that out of the way I believe I promised to have the first instalment of my serial up tonight, so I shall get on with that!
Off The Path Part 1
"This is so lame."
Tiffany's boots crunched through the dry leaves and twigs that lined the pathway as she stomped her way through the trees. Her muttering was accompanied by slashing with the stick she had picked up along the way.
To her left the mountain rose up, splitting the sky with it's jagged peaks while the sun inched slightly behind them. To her right, just visible over the tree tops, smoke curled from the chimney's of the village that huddled in the valley.
The village that her oh so caring mother had dumped her into.
When her mother had waved goodbye from the window of her little coup, then peeled out as if the hounds of hell themselves were after her, leaving Tiffany standing next to her aunt that afternoon all Tiffany could think was typical. It was so typical of Rita to drop her with some well meaning relative, or friend, or stranger, and then run as fast as she could back towards whatever loser she had hooked herself up with. Oh there were the good times. Times when Rita would hook herself up with a guy who liked having a kid around, or she would be between creeps and notice she had a kid to keep her company. But they never lasted.
In her long fifteen years as Rita Cook-Stephens-Johnson-Arrington-Connors daughter Tiffany had become almost immune to constantly coming in third or fourth on her mother's priority list. At least that's what she told herself every night as she wondered where she was going to land the next day.
Well this time she had landed in a tiny little speck of dust on the map with an aunt she couldn't ever recall meeting. She had seemed nice enough. A little on the froo froo hippy side, but generally ok. Tiffany had always been good at getting a vibe on a person and being dumped with practically strangers on a regular basis had taught her to trust those instincts. Her gut was telling her Sarah was ok, so she would go with that until it told her otherwise.
Apparently Sarah had gotten all the looks in her generation. Rita was all sharp angles and dark sultry looks, but Sarah was almost a polar opposite. Where Rita was rail thin, Sarah was curved and almost slightly plump. Rita's face had tightened through the years, but while Sarah's face had crinkles in the corners it seemed to be young. Rita's hair was teased, or sleeked, or tortured however the latest magazines said it should be, but Sarah's hair floated haphazardly around her head like a golden waving halo.
The cottage that Sarah lived in wasn't too bad either. Set back slightly from the rest of the village the overflowing garden had made the little thatched roof building seem to almost blend into the forest that stood at it's back. Summer was almost over and huge handfulls of flowers seemed to shoot up all over, along with strange spikey plants and bushes. If she had been a kid she would have expected to see strange faces peering out at her from the green shadows. But she wasn't. A kid that is.
The inside had been just as strange, ok so not strange but at least different, as the outside. Walls painted in jewel bright colors, dark wooden rafters over head carved with strange creatures. A strange mix of furniture and little knicknacks left all over in a haphazard manner, as if Sarah picked them up to look at them and then put them down randomly. The old stone fireplace even had a cast iron pot in it hanging from some sort of peg. And books everywhere. Books on shelves, books on tables, she even saw a couple books piled into one of the glass fronted kitchen cabinets next to some plates.
Tiffany must have gawked a bit.
"Welcome to my home Tiffany. Feel free to look and touch, but don't break or steal. I don't know you and you don't know me, but I know Rita. And I've heard the stories that the family passes around, so I know things haven't been rosy for you. While I won't judge you, I also won't be a victim of any bad habits you may have picked up. So since you're going to be staying here for a while we better go over the rules, just so we're straight with each other from the start and we both know what to expect."
Sarah gestured to a pair of rocking chairs on either side of the fireplace and Tiffany eyed her warily as she sat down. So the family had been telling stories about her and Rita. She had figured they would but it was still humiliating to know that they had whispered behind their hands to each other about the crappy life she had without doing a damn thing about it. She wondered what horrible things Sarah thought she would do.
"First off we'll cover the bases. I don't know what you've been exposed to, so I don't mean any disrespect by this, but I won't allow drugs or alcohol use in my home. Also I would ask that you get my permission before bringing anyone into the house, as well as before using the phone. While I don't expect you to stay home all the time, especially once you start getting to know people here, I do expect you to let me know where you are going, who you are going with, and when you are expected to be back. Which brings me to curfew. The front door gets locked at ten p.m. If you want to be on the inside of it and sleeping in a warm bed I suggest you be here before then. Also I will provide you with food, reasonable clothing, and shelter. Anything else I expect you to get a job to pay for. I think that covers the basics, but we may need to come up with some more as we get to know each other better."
Tiffany blew out a breath and stared at the floor. The rules had been delivered in an even and non-judgemental tone, and she could tell that Sarah had tried to be as respectfull as possible to her. But she wondered what those stories about her and Rita had been.
Well it had been worse. There had been the friends that Rita had left her with a couple years ago that had insisted she stay only indoors and hide in the basement when anyone would visit. It had taken her all of three days to get the hell out of there.
" Now I have to tell you about the special rules for living here in Cottington. These are town wide rules, so everyone will follow them and expect you too as well. They have good reason for them, and for your safety I expect you to heed them. Number one- never go into the woods alone. Number two- never go outside of the village after the sun goes behind the mountain. Number three- never wear red. Number four- always stay on the paths. They seem strange, but I reiterate, they have good cause."
Well that's all you're getting for now, so I hope you like it!