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06 November 2013

NaNoWriMo: Day 6

I had to go a bit outside my own head for the bit I worked on today. Luckily, I have some pretty amazing friends, and one in particular was willing to help me out with that. With her gentle shove to get me moving, I made it to 1260 words today. I'd keep writing but it's past my bedtime, so this will have to do.

Word count: 14,130

An excerpt from today's efforts, compliments of Miss Beatrix "Trixie" Jackman:

Abraham Archer had pushed off the nagging ‘what next’ concerns all morning, focusing instead on finding a good horse and some appropriate – civilian – clothing to wear. Now he was as hungry as any cavalry horse. He stopped in at a cafe on the main street. There was nobody else there at that hour – somewhere after the proper lunch hour and before dinner – and that suited him just fine.
“Hi there honey!” a chipper young woman with unnaturally red hair greeted him at the counter of the cafe.
“Hello,” he grunted, pulling up a stool underneath himself.
“What can I do for ya today?”
“I’m awfully hungry,” he replied, “what’s good here?”
“Everything, of course!” she smiled widely and her eyes seemed to drink him in. “Our special today is the meatloaf. It’s just about the best thing that ever came from a cow!”
“I’ll take it.” He was not completely comfortable with her congeniality, but the mention of meatloaf made his mouth water.
“Okay, what can I get you to drink? We have coffee, tea, water, and fresh-squeezed lemonade!”
Was everything exciting to this woman? “Coffee please. Black. Thank you.” He hoped she would leave him alone now.
Instead, she repeated his order back to him in that same energetic voice.
“Yes yes, you’ve got it. Thank you.” He grumbled.
Finally, she turned and flounced into the kitchen, where another woman was pulling a huge pan of something from an oven. Abraham sighed. All too soon the young woman was back, but with a mug of coffee steaming in her hand. She lowered it to the counter in front of him and smiled sweetly – and something about that smile caught at his memories. In that moment, she reminded him of Theodora. He shook the thought clear of his head. There was no going back. Anyway, there was no resemblance, really. Where this woman was vibrant and happy and, Theodora had been a pale, shy thing with hair so blond it was yellow.
“Everything all right, honey?” the woman asked, concern bringing her voice down an octave.
“Yes fine thanks. I’m fine.”
She frowned.
“Really, I am.” He forced a smile to his face and was rewarded by her smile in turn.
Something eased inside him, and he found himself really looking at the woman.
She was really quite shapely, with a sweet face and warm hazel eyes that seemed lit from within.
“So where ya from honey? I know you’re not from here because I know all the locals.”
Abraham frowned. “Tombstone, originally. But that hasn’t been home in a very long time.” His honesty surprised him.
“Oh don’t I know how that goes. I didn’t grow up here, either, but it’s home now. You are going to stay, aren’t you?”
“I honestly don’t know,” he replied. The woman in the back called out something that Abraham didn’t understand. The woman he was talking to said, “stay put just a moment, honey, I’ll be right back with your lunch.”
True to her word, she came right back with a plate of meatloaf, still steaming and accompanied by a thick slice of bread. She set the plate in front of him and handed him a fork.
“Well I sure hope ya do stick around,” she said.
He should be suspicious, he thought, when a stranger wanted him to stick around, but there was nothing sinister about her besides an odd forthrightness. Alright, he thought, I’ll play. He stabbed piece of meatloaf and cocked an eyebrow at her.
“Oh?” he said, “Why’s that?”
“This town could use some more eye candy,” she winked. Then she whisked away, back to the kitchen with his empty coffee mug.
Abraham was left slack-jawed with his fork halfway to his mouth. He might have watched her sway for hours, had she not stopped to fill his mug from a pot. Blinking, he tore his gaze away and looked down to his plate. Reminded of his hunger, he began eating in earnest, hardly looking up when she set his coffee mug back down.
When his bites began to slow to a more leisurely pace, he began to steal glances at her. She was wiping down the countertops on her side of the bar. Looking closely, he realized she wasn’t as young as he’d first thought. Closer to his own age, maybe. There was a softness to her skin that only came with age. On her, it was beautiful. He wanted to ask, but suspected that question wouldn’t be met kindly. Not if his limited experience with women was any indicator, anyway.
She seemed to notice he was slowing. Or perhaps she had seen him watching.
“Was it good?” she asked.
“Oh. Marvelous.” He leaned back and rubbed his hand over his stomach. He hadn’t had such a meal in years, and he told her so.
She smiled all the way to her eyes. “Well good! That’s what we’re here for.”
“Well I sure appreciate it,” he replied, his heart warming with good food and cheerful company.
“So where are you comin’ from these days?” she asked.
Fort Valor.”
“Ooooh a military man, eh? What ‘cha doin’ here?”
“I don’t know yet. Looking for a place to be, I guess.”
“Ain’t we all? I’m Trixie, by the way.” She held her hand out.
“I’m – Abraham,” he said, taking her hand gently. Her hands felt delicate in his.
“You sure?” she laughed.
He smiled back, almost blushing. “Habit, I’m afraid. I haven’t introduced myself with my first name in about twenty years. I’m working on that.”
“No worries, honey, we get all kinds in this town. I won’t hold it against you.”
“That’s awfully kind of you.”
“So, Abraham, are you planning to find work here? You’re too young to be retired.”
“No Ma’am, I am, in fact, retired.”
“How did that happen? Early retirement?”
He smiled, and this time the smile reached his eyes. “I’m forty-six years old, I’ll have you know.”
“I don’t believe that for a second,” she teased, “Where’s your Mama, I’m gonna make a liar out of you!”
“I’m afraid she’s passed, Ma’am,” he replied, his tone softened to ease her embarrassment.
“Oh dear, there I go makin’ an ass of myself. I’m so sorry honey. That was a stupid thing for me to say.” Her hands flew to cover her mouth, and it looked to Abraham like she was about to cry. He reached toward her but she was too far away.
“Oh no, don’t worry about that. Both my parents passed when I was a child. It’s no matter anymore, and hasn’t been for a good long time. Anyway, I’m newly retired and looking for something to fill my time. I don’t even know if I’m looking for a job or not, to be honest with you. I might just keep to myself for a bit. I don’t know.”
She had been nodding her head with the rhythm of his words. “O-okay,” she said when he had finished. He could see her composing herself, pulling her thoughts back together. “Well, I am sorry about your parents, honey,” she said. “And if you need anything at all while you’re here, you just let me know, okay?”

“Will do, Ma’am,” he said. “Thank you kindly for providing me such a wonderful meal. I did need that.” He settled his bill with her then and wandered out of the cafe, back to the bustling streets. There was something about this place, about this town, that drew him. He had come here because it was the closest city to his hometown of Tombstone – and really, he just hadn’t known where else to go. Now that he was here, though, he didn’t want to leave. Maybe it was time to start thinking about what happened next. Maybe. Or maybe he’d do that tomorrow. 

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