City roads wind and twist through the hills. Some are tree lined, with no shoulder. Others lead you around blind turns or cramped alleyways. They turn randomly into one-way streets, or a bus lane, or a turning lane. You wonder where they’re leading you. It is not to your destination.
The rivers keep secrets. Sometimes when you cross a bridge you feel something stir inside you, but once you get to the other side you’ve already forgotten. You’re one of the lucky ones. Most people can’t remember what the river whispers. Some can’t forget. (“RIVER RESCUE RECOVERS BODY”)
The city is gray most of the time. In the summer, when the years of winter slush and spring rain are a distant memory, sunlight feels glaring and unnatural. The buildings crowd together, shielding one another from light it was never meant to see. Everything is exposed. Everyone is too pale.
There are entire roads you’ve never driven on. They’ve always been under construction. “LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY” they declare. “DRIVE AT YOUR OWN RISK.”
The houses spread like cancer, rising improbably through the hills, interconnected and rickety, strewn along one way streets with no entrance or exit. There are no numbers on the houses, but there are Christmas lights.
Go to the Southside on a Saturday night in the middle of February and marvel at the drinking college students. The girls are wearing miniskirts. The boys are wearing t-shirts. Nobody is wearing a coat. Nobody has noticed the cold.
There are old churches littering the city, steeples rising like beacons. You see people trickle out after Sunday service, but you’ve never seen anyone go in. On Lenten Fridays they advertise “FISH FRY” on large handmade signs lettered with childish handwriting. On Easter, banners proclaim “HE IS RISEN”
You’ve seen entire cars swallowed by potholes.
People get stuck in time here. You can tell where they’re stuck by which sports stars they’re picking apart and discussing. You overhear snatches of conversation: Bill Maz, Lemiuex-as-a-player, Chuck Noll, Roberto Clemente, Lemiuex-as-an-owner, Tommy Maddox, Cutch.
You have memories of being small, of sleeping in the car and driving through the tunnels. Once you cross the threshold all the noise mutes to a dull roar; nobody speaks. Lights flash behind your closed eyes. The lights stretch longer than the tunnel. If you close your eyes right now, you can still see them flashing.
Abandoned steel mills dot the shores of the river - empty, dirty, broken and vandalized. At night the flickering light of fire dances behind grimy windows. Whistles still shriek. Loaded barges move sluggishly through the rivers. Big rigs that don’t seem to fit in the streets wind their way into the industrial park. “OFFICE SPACE FOR RENT” a sign advertises.
Rules: Answer the 20 questions and tag some amazing followers/people you’d like to get know better.
Rules: Put your music on shuffle, list the first ten songs.
Nickname(s): Kate, Kit-kat
zodiac sign: Sagittarius! And dog
height: five foot nothin’
orientation: great question
favorite fruit: pomegranate, we make jelly
favorite season: this is cheating but the first month or so of each; just when I get sick of the a) excessive heat, b) excessive rain, c) slush and inability to step outside without my eyelashes freezing, or d) more rain, the seasons go and change! Which is lovely. Except I’m in California right now so I don’t get any of that :(
I guess if I had to pick it would be fall.
favorite book: I don’t have a favorite book I have like twenty; some old standbys, in no particular order:
Watership Down, The Goblin Emperor, Summerland, American Gods, Year of the Griffin, A Wrinkle In Time, Earthsea, a whole bunch of things by Pratchett, Lord of the Rings et al, the Vorkosigan saga…clearly I am into fantasy fiction
favorite flower: by scent, lilac; by appearance, tiger lily
favorite scent: there’s a smell (fertilizer, gasoline, detergent…) that smells exactly like my grandmother’s garage did when I was growing up; it’s not like I’d want to have it around all the time, but it hits my nostalgia buttons
favorite color: dark blue
favorite animal: man all these favorites are hard
I like watching the sea lions hang out by the pier
coffee, tea, or hot cocoa: coffee for mornings, tea for reading, hot cocoa for winter weather
cat or dog person: umm both? But I grew up with dogs (and I’m taking care of one now) so I’m going to have to go with the puppers ;)
favorite fictional character: ummm dunno, but I have a couple of types; a) the heel-face-turner, like Zuko or Reeve Tuesti, and b) the person who desperately tries to be good in a bad situation
# of blankets you sleep with: as many as I can, but most of them end up as pillows
dream trip: I would love to hike the PCT one day :)
blog created: technically years ago (back when everyone started leaving livejournal) but I didn’t start using it until recently
# of followers: well tumblr says 6 but one is blocked so 5
random fact: I can play a lot of instruments really badly
Ten Songs: 1. Rufford Park Poachers [Jim Moray/trad]—So poacher bold, as I unfold, keep up your gallant heart; and think about those poachers bold that night in Rufford Park
2. The River Where She Sleeps [Dave Carter]—She ain’t tryin’ to be no swami, she ain’t mad at dad or mommy, she don’t curse the storm clouds when it rains
3. Galway Girl [Ed Sheeran]—She played the fiddle in an Irish band, but she fell in love with an English man
4. You Stay Here [Richard Shindell]—You stay here, and I’ll go look for bread, and if I can, some sugar for the kids; dry your eyes, I’ll be alright, I know where they’ve laid the mines
5. Sick Old Man [The Imagined Village]—When I was a young man I ground my knives; now I have no friends to call on
6. Look What They’ve Done To My Song [Melanie]—Maybe it’ll all be alright, ma; maybe it’ll all be okay; well if the people are buying tears, then I’ll be rich someday
7. The Shores of Hispaniola [Nancy Kerr]—Now he’s bound for the darkness of England to serve Gloriana, for to spill out his blood on the shores of Hispaniola
8. Half of What We Know [Crooked Still]—Your lonesomeness I feel: I can see it when we kneel, at the altar where the ocean bites your heels
9. Eppie Morrie [Karan Casey/trad]—Four and twenty highland men came from the Carron side, to steal away Eppie Morrie, for she wouldn’t be a bride
10. Hughie Graeme [June Tabor/trad]—Hold your tongue, my father dear, and of your weeping let it be; it sorer, sorer grieves my heart than all that they could do to me
It was nice to be out with a woman, even if the weather wasn’t necessarily agreeable, and Robert Gold intended to take full advantage of the fact that it was very cold and snowy and Belle was clinging tightly to his arm and shivering as they walked. It was approximately their fifth date depending on whether or not you counted bus rides (he did not). Either way, they’d been spending a lot of time together over the last few weeks.
“It’s so cold!” she muttered and he smiled and pulled his arm free of hers and wrapped it around her shoulders.
On Monday the week that Christmas fell in, the warm spell that had turned snow into slush and icy rain was over. Ground had refrozen and mud had formed into hard eddies on the London streets. Gentle snow fell all throughout the morning and covered the streets as if in white powder.
Mr Lascelles’s carriage left Bruton-street after breakfast and drove out to a stationer’s in Fitzrovia, a short distance that he had walked often enough in the past weeks. After picking up his guest, it bounced its way through the thick of the metropolis towards its outer rim. The city released its stranglehold and the landscape opened up.
Due to the snowless weather of the past week, the made good way along the well-travelled roads towards Northamptonshire. The footman who accompanied them, Charles, had received a promotion to valet, and was warmed by the thought of the accompanying raise in wages as the wind worked its way underneath his scarf and coat.
Eliza Lascelles’s house (technically the admiral’s) stood not far from Towcester, in a copse of trees but near the road into town. It was a 12-bedroom monstrosity cobbled together from modern and Elizabethan elements, with a winding drive-way, and a large, interlocking labyrinth of small gardens in the back. Charles pulled up the driveway and was met with two stable-hands ready to take the care of the horses from his stiff hands, while a footman in livery crunched through the new snow to hold the door open to Mr Lascelles and his charming guest.
Their trunks were taken up and the two were ushered into a full drawing room, where several ladies and gentlemen sat gathered around Eliza Lascelles like a bouquet of roses, or admirers around a renown beauty. At the sight of her nephew, the elderly lady cried out in pleasure and bustled over to kiss and embrace him, and in the heat of the moment, to embrace his companion as well.
Introductions were made; seats were found; and the young lady who had been about to sit at the piano when they came in resumed her pose and began to play. The period before dinner, set at the early hour of 8 pm, was to be filled with a few more displays of accomplishment, discussion, and settling in. Between the piano and the singing came introductions - a flurry of names, faces, and titles - and between the singing and the recital, a chance for a brief turn around the icy balcony on top of the stairs to view the winter gardens from above. The gardens, set in circles within low stone walls, spread out below them in a whimsical pattern; bare branches in some, well-tended evergreens in others, some turned into hothouses with tall, rounded glass domes.
A moment to recoup; assurances that she was still holding up; and back they went before propriety could be offended. Henry Lascelles took his aunt in to dinner, while Miss Volkova was accompanied by the youngest Mr Allerton, a well-mannered, tall, and very pale-haired gentleman in his early 40s.
The dinner was simple, as the guests were still few and the main event, for which the kitchen must already be labouring, still days ahead. The conversation was lively, and centered upon the coming celebrations – who would come, who could not, who would have to leave before then for other engagements, and who would have been scandalized if they had not been invited. As far as she was able to attend in the flurry of new information, Miss Volkova was able to ascertain something of the relationships of the other guests. Mr Allerton had two brothers, both of whom were expected to come in for dinner on Christmas Eve, while he himself was to return to Oxfordshire to host his own Christmas. His wife was at home with the children. The three sisters seated across the table from them, each flanked by a fiancé, were so far still known as Tratchetts, a respectable local family. Their widowed father sat at the end of the table opposite Mrs Lascelles. Flanking Miss Volkova and Allerton were Reverend Grantham and his mother; and on the Reverend’s far side, Miss Pratt. The Admiral, she was told, was not expected until New Year’s.
Dinner concluded, Mr Lascelles mentioned his neglected correspondence and hinted at the strain of the journey upon Miss Volkova. Mrs Lascelles forthwith dispatched both to bed with the aid of a footman. The bedroom prepared for him was on the first floor, near the front of the house, and had, in fact, been his as a boy. Hers was on the second, and towards the middle, not far from the central staircase.
There was no time like the present for impropriety. When Mr Lascelles was shut in his room, he waited for the two sets of footsteps upstairs to recede, then for the sole set of feet to pass down to his floor once more, and left his room, going to the stairs. He met her coming down them.
He grinned up at her. “I believe we would be safer in your room than mine.”