Excerpt: A Figure from the Common Lot (Élucide)
But…the boys could find work if they wanted it. They didn’t and they wouldn’t. He defied anyone’s making this his fault. No, he would not be backed into a corner over his own affairs. If he were going to hire a new foreman.
If Richard married her…he could marry her…he’d never had a sweetheart that Élucide knew of—
They would build a house in town. She rubbed her temple and warmed to the subject. To go to Rutherford’s when she liked. To go anywhere when she liked, without her parents making a fuss…without, even, her mother and father there at all, to tell her, you may, you may not.
Not to live on a farm.
If Papa would like to be rid of the boys, why should he not settle on Élucide a portion of her inheritance? (This sounded big, this phrase acquired from someplace…she would jot it in her diary with the other things.) Or she ought to have the house, at least, Papa had promised her sister. Richard would come away with her; Mother and Papa could snub them, or call as they chose. It made all the sense in the world.
Here, she fell from her resolve to look closely at Eugene Ebrach, and began to walk the rooms of her home with Richard, dreaming its architecture into dimension, casting, as though shining a lamp there, her mind’s eye into each corner, bringing structure and furnishings into being.
The house would need to be at the top of Arcadia Summit. It would need to be the Nachfolgers’, really. In fantasy, she could possess their site, commandeer their hilltop view, knock out their attic wall, add a balcony…with ornamented balusters, a broad rail over which to lean on autumn days when the sky was blue, and the trees clumped around the farm pond, and those that lined Sanderson’s Run…
No, wait…from Nachfolger’s, Tranquility Creek. And of course the riverbank, the trees…
Glowed like a warm hearth, water flowing invisibly, the surface still, painted in clouds.
Also, she would replace the dormers. They were only there to cool the attic with their shade. A French window, as in the Gremots’ music room, would light the space…and could be thrown open to the air…
For a moment she came awake. Someone had tried the knob.
Or not. She slipped into her childhood home, the cramped dining room, herself inching past Mr. Nachfolger, to sit where only a child would fit, between the table’s edge and the cupboard. He laughed, seeing her climb the chair-rung, fingers worked into the lace of her mother’s good linen…
Élucide and Ranilde heard their brother’s yell; next, they heard Geneva shush him. Afternoons, she kept Walter in his room, whether or not he napped. Downstairs, Mother laughed, and a stranger said:
(2017, Stephanie Foster)