Sorry, I'm a little slow out of the starting gates for this second in a four part series of posts for the Rule of Three Blogfest (#REN3 Blogfest for the Twitterati among you). :D Turns out, though our trip to Paris was mostest spectacular and will breed a few future posts, we--meaning me and the family--contracted some strange illness on the plane ride home that has had us all down for the count. Upper respiratory tract stuff mostly, but the kind of knotty-headed scourge that makes it hard to see straight.
And typing fiction stories, well that's right out! :D
But alas, the fog of illness is finally clearing and I can get this part of the story finalized. Good thing I wrote a good chunk of it before my departure. I'm not usually so well organized, but in this case, this fluke of luck worked in my favor!
So, thus, and without further ado, here is Part Two. Make sure to get around and read all the other entries, as they are really quite charming, and I have been nothing but impressed at everyone's ingenuity and daring-do. Goes to show, a lot can be done with a blank page and a 600 word limit!
A brief note of thanks to the organizers who've done a bang up job, and to the authors and supporters who have donated prizes. It takes a village, as they say, and, well, this one is called Renaissance. :D
THEODORA RAVELSTEIN tucked a strand of crimson hair behind her right ear and frowned. "They just don't get me, Lorna. You know?"
Lorna napkined her mouth, grinning. "I don't get you either, Theo."
"Stop kidding around. This is serious." Theodora slumped back from her half-eaten salad. Sure, Junior Photo Editors weren't due a lot of respect, but her supervisor repeatedly rejected her hip, artistic photo-editing suggestions--and that bothered her. Most Barchadelli marketing campaigns looked as vanilla as Renaissance Geographic Magazine.
"That your boy?" Lorna nodded toward the end of the Employee Lunchroom. Calvin Rumpus, tray in hand, took a place in line. Within seconds, several associates shook his hand, struck up conversations, patted him on the back. Others said hello in passing. Calvin, entitled to eat in the Executive Lunchroom, often lunched down here instead, making him popular among rank and file employees. Plus he was just a nice guy.
A mischievous smile bloomed on Theodora's lips. "When I bumped into him this weekend, he told me about an old trail above Heriot's Pass where the views are amazing."
"You 'bumped' into him? Girl, you'll do anything for a good picture!"
"Well...let's just say I know where he spends his Saturday mornings."
"Shutterbugs of the world, unite?"
"Something like that..." A year ago, at a Renaissance Museum exhibit featuring local photographers, shots of the ice-capped Roundeli Mountains had blown Theodora away. She soon identified the photographer: Calvin Rumpus, a Barchadelli employee and fellow shutterbug with an eye for landscapes.
Lorna folded her napkin. "Listen, gotta get upstairs, hon'. Catch you later?"
After Lorna had gone, Theodora emptied her tray. Calvin sat eating at a far table, uncharacterist-ically alone. Theodora approached, gave him a little wave.
"Calvin! Fancy meeting you here!?"
At first, he hardly noticed her. Then he smiled sadly, a drawn, faraway look on his face. "Theodora. Hi. How are you?"
"Hi. I, uh, I won't keep you. I just wanted to stop by and say I really enjoyed chatting this weekend."
Theodora glanced around. A few bystanders were beginning to stare. "Uh, up at Heriot's Pass? You know?"
Calvin cocked his head to the side, eyes tracing a pattern on the ceiling, trying to remember. Finally, nodding, he said: "Ah, yeah. OK."
"Yeah. Anyway, if you're going again this weekend, I was hoping you might show me that trail you talked about."
Before Calvin could answer, an uneasy stillness swept the lunchroom. Magnus McGrool materialized, hawk's eyes searching the crowd. Calvin stood robotically, picked up his tray.
"Got to go." Calvin’s words were clipped and business-like.
He turned back, seeming to focus on her for the first time.
She tried to keep the sheepish tone out of her voice, but failed miserably. "Saturday. Ten o'clock. Ok?"
"Sure thing," he said, his mouth hardening into a tight smile.
Theodora watched him go with a trace of confusion. That was weird.
The eyes of half the lunchroom were now on her. She scurried toward the exit, feeling suddenly stupid and confused. She could hear Lorna already: He's one of the elite, the chosen. Ain't no way he’ll give you the time of day, not really.
And there was something Lorna didn't know. Theodora’s interest in Calvin had mushroomed, over the last several months, into something far beyond simple picture-taking. This new inkling felt grounded, genuine. But when she caught sight of her own scruffy reflection in a window, a tide of uncertainty rolled in, until she was suddenly, inexplicably, not sure of anything at all.