June 1, 2014

In Which Cherry Determines What Is a Sorrow

October 26, 1185

"Sorry about the state of the place. I've been working and Haldred has school, so we haven't bothered to do much with it yet."

"It looks fine," Cherry insisted. Sure, Nythran's place may have been sparse--furnished only with what the university had provided--but it could have been messy, or even gross. It was by no means unfit for company. Hell, it was probably a better hosting space than her own house, where art supplies reigned supreme. "Perfectly liveable. I don't see why it shouldn't suffice for a cup of tea."

"I suppose." His mouth twitched, an odd kind of grimace with some real smile underneath. It was the same smile he gave her every time their eyes met through their kitchen windows. He may have been a combat expert, but he had no less capacity for nervousness than any other man--perhaps more, having grown up with a monster like Felron for a brother. "I'm sorry I didn't invited you sooner."

"Stop apologizing. I haven't been exactly neighborly in that regard myself. Just ask Farilon if your observations aren't enough." Though, now that she thought about it, she hoped he wouldn't. Farilon probably had the tact not to mention her one good neighbor moment--Lord knew he at least had the consideration for young CeeCee--but he didn't always have the best grasp on what was or wasn't socially appropriate. "We're all lone wolves here. Our jobs are our lives."

"I find that hard to believe of a pretty young woman like yourself." He blushed. Well, that explained his nerves. "Er, if you don't mind my saying."

"I don't. And I suppose I do have friends." She wouldn't say any more--not until she got a better read of him. He wasn't the first man to show an interest, but Cherry had never been the sort who wanted someone just to have someone. She had the skills and smarts to provide for herself, like every woman did--and unlike an unfortunate many of them, no one had ever convinced her otherwise. She didn't think it impractical to be selective husband-wise; a lousy husband was a far worse fate than no husband at all. "And you have your son."

"I do have my son, thank God. The women feared he'd follow his dear mother, but he rallied back and has been going strong ever since. I like to think my Anna had something to do with that."

"She must have been a wonderful woman."

"That she was." A cloudy haze cast over his eyes, but he wore not a frown but a fond grin. Given Haldred's age, Nythran's wife had been gone a long time--long enough for mourning to have melted to loving remembrance. Not for the first time, she wished someone would invent some instant picture device. She wanted nothing more in that moment than to capture that look, to take it home with her and put it to canvas.

Perhaps she might ask him to model for her at some point. He had an interesting face--rocky and angular and with a chin like an anvil. He wasn't handsome, but that made him beautiful.

"But enough about my sorrows. Tell me: why do they call you Cherry?"

"Oh, that's a long, complicated story involving a faulty aphrodisiac, a line of novelty hats, and a swallow that thought it was a falcon. Afternoon tea just won't be enough time to cover it all."

"Then perhaps we'll make time when we can."

"I won't rule out the possibility." Not yet, at least.

"The tea should be ready soon. Care to sit down?" He gestured to the benches behind him. They weren't unlike the ones she herself had, and many others. A popular style in Naroni.

"All right."

He sat himself down on the nearer bench, on the end closer to the other--probably wanting to leave her the choice of whether to sit next to him, or to sit on the other bench without feeling rude. Just to be on the safe side, Cherry picked the other bench.

He kept on smiling. She was relieved to see he didn't take offense. "You know, I'm glad you were free this afternoon. It's been quite a long time since I had a social conversation with an adult who wasn't family."

A pity, that. It didn't have to be a sorrow to be alone, but it always was to be lonely.

She met his eye and returned the grin. "If it helps, I trust it won't be long before your next."



Van said...

Bug bites. :S

Penelope said...

"Oh, that's a long, complicated story involving a faulty aphrodisiac, a line of novelty hats, and a swallow that thought it was a falcon. Afternoon tea just won't be enough time to cover it all."

Eh? Is she joking? I can't conceive of what story involves those elements and ends with everyone calling her "Cherry" forever and all time.

Van said...

Heheh. Cherry's mentioned the story before, only with different elements. I couldn't really think of a good explanation that hadn't been done before, so I figured I'd go the running gag route.

Word of God: Everything Cherry says about the story behind her nickname is 100% true. It's an absurdly complicated story that few are fully offered (and even fewer manage to sit through).

Penelope said...

LOL Perhaps she should write her memoirs.

Van said...

'Twould be a lengthy, yet interesting read. :)