Here’s another excerpt – first draft again – from When Georgia Fell. For your enjoyment (she said hopefully).
The woman in the gray dress and platinum pumps leaned languorously among the spools and scissors, left hip skimming forward. Bridger knew the woman from somewhere, but couldn’t quite place it. And she sensed that Georgia, newly-sheared, was close, probably behind her in the aisle – and somehow Georgia knew that Bridger didn’t know the woman – and if she was supposed to know her, didn’t have a clue how, or when, they had met.
“I beg your pardon?”
“It’s Bridger, not Bridget.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. How unusual. Well, it’s wonderful to see you.”
“Yes,” Bridger said, a hand to her throat. “Isn’t it wonderful to see you, too.”
“It’s been a while,” the woman said. “I can’t remember the last time I saw you in church.”
Bridger straightened. Of course. The woman was one of the Sundrops from the SMILES group. “Aha. Well. You see. I do go to church. It’s just that recently we’ve been sort of busy, what with…” Bridger trailed off and looked back at Georgia, who was fidgeting, as she did – slipping her shoe off and on, fixating on rubbing her left elbow, and wedging her fingers into a stack of spools on the shelf.
“As I said,” Bridger said. “Busy. So…”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” the woman said. “We’ve missed you at church. But I would love to invite you to a fundraiser coming up, for the Ladies Auxiliary. Right next door, at your neighbor’s house. You know, the Distmeier’s. All the Sundrops will be there.”
“Oh, yes. But, I’ve already received an invitation,” Bridger said. “Thank you.”
“Oh, good! Then you must bring your daughter.” The woman looked at Georgia. “What’s your name again, dear? Jennifer? Geraldine?”
“Georgia,” Bridger said. “Thank you very much. I’m not sure that she…I mean, she’s not really my…”
“Oh, she’d love it. I’m bringing my daughter, Cecelia.” The woman looked at Georgia again. “Isn’t she darling? Those big eyes. She’s stunning. Why, she looks just like that model. You know the one. Iggy? Sticky?”
“Twiggy,” Bridger sighed. Joey had said the same thing. “With that haircut, she looks like Twiggy to me,” he had said. “Good or bad, there it is. You know, the skinny model? She’s a dead ringer.” Bridger had objected at first. Georgia did not look like a model, skinny or otherwise. She was just a girl. But later, as she rifled through the magazine stack until she found the McCall’s magazine with Twiggy on the cover, she had to admit the resemblance was close. It was more the lost waif aspect of it than anything else, in her opinion. It struck her, though, how this anonymous woman had noticed it, too.
“Well, she’s just had her hair bobbed, so…”
“It would be wonderful if the girls got together. Do you go to the high school, dear?” The woman gazed at Georgia, who ferociously studied the palm of her hand.
“Don’t mind her. She’s just shy.” Bridger wasn’t in the mood to explain.
“Does she go to the high school?”
“Yes, she does,” Bridger said. “But she…”
“I think it would be wonderful if they became friends. Cecelia is on the cheer squad, and she’s also in the Girls’ Bowling Club. She absolutely adores bowling. Do you like bowling, dear?” The woman peered at Georgia, who was busy twisting her hands behind her back. “Does your daughter like bowling?” she asked Bridger.
“She isn’t really…” Bridger started. “That is to say, she isn’t really my…”
“I think they would have such a grand time together,” the woman went on. “Here, why don’t I give you my phone number, and you can call me anytime. Maybe we can get the girls together. Does your daughter like cheerleading?”
“She’s not my…” Bridger stopped. “No,” she said. “She doesn’t.”
“Oh that’s too bad.” The woman jotted down information on a slip of paper she had produced from her handbag, and handed it to Bridger. “Well, I’m sure they’ll find something to talk about. Anyway. It was wonderful to see you.”
“You too. Wonderful to see you.”
“Ok. See you both at the fundraiser.” The woman wandered off down the aisle toward the ribbons. Bridger watched her go, her breath more or less returning to normal. She looked at the slip of paper, which read:
Joelle LaPierre: 917-412-5893
“Joelle LaPierre,” Bridger said, images of smiling teeth, shaking hands, cookies exchanged, multiple high-heeled pumps in many colors, the swishing of skirts, money being thrust into a bowl at last year’s benefit for the March of Dimes whisking in her memory. “Of course.”
She didn’t intend to take Georgia to the fundraiser. But then, what would Joelle LaPierre think? She had specifically invited her, had mentioned it a few times. How would it look if Bridger came alone? Of course, she could say that Georgia was sick. But Bridger was superstitious about those things, and was afraid that if she told such a lie, that in time Georgia would actually get sick, and it would be all her fault for calling out fate. On the other hand, Georgia being at the Distmeier’s fundraiser brought up all kinds of possibilities that Bridger did not want to imagine.
“Come on, then,” she said to Georgia over her shoulder, and strolled off toward the back of the store, immersing herself in the mountains of multi-colored fabric bolts that surrounded her like a rainbow.