Sawdust and Satin

By: Shirley Penick

To the industry. To the countless authors whose stories have filled many a day and have spoken to my heart, thank you for your words. To the writing groups in the Seattle area and across the country who welcomed me warmly into the fold and encouraged me to give writing a solid, determined, try. To the cover models, photographers, cover designers, formatters, editors web designers, and even the swag vendors, thank you for doing the things for me, that I could muddle through and do okay with, but you all do it so much better.

And last, but by no means least, to my family and friends who have been so excited to see this progression and have cheered me on.

BARBARA AND HER husband Chris left the school building where the emergency town meeting had been held. She shivered as the cold wind whipped off Lake Chelan and slammed into her, stealing her breath and stinging her cheeks, nose, and eyes. It was bitter cold in January at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. She felt Chris shiver and he grabbed her hand and hustled them across the parking lot to his truck. He opened the door and bundled her in, before scooting around the front and climbing in the driver’s side.

As he started the truck to let it warm up, Barbara’s mind drifted back to the wedding dress she was working on. It was giving her so much trouble. The bride had a very specific look she wanted and Barbara was having a difficult time trying to find a way to get it done, that would look great. She’d been working on the damn bodice for two days and still hadn’t found a solution. She was getting behind schedule and needed to figure it out immediately.

Chris touched her arm and said, “Barbara, answer me.”

“Oh, sorry, I was thinking about the dress I’m working on.”

“What a surprise.” He sighed dramatically. “Can you wait one hour to think about that? I want to talk to you about the town meeting. It’s kind of important, what with it being an emergency meeting and everything. I think we should discuss it. If the town dies, we’ll have to move and that wouldn’t be good for your business.”

“I know. I’m concerned too. My mind drifted, I’ve never had such trouble with a dress before.” The idea of the town fading out of existence was scary, but getting the dress right was urgent.

“I know your business is important, but the town dying is a larger issue, don’t you think?”

She shrugged. “Well, yes—I suppose. It’s just that I don’t see me saving the town.”

“No one person is going to save it, but we all have to do our part.”

“I know, I’m sorry. My one-track mind drives you up the wall sometimes, doesn’t it?”

“Not always, but yes—sometimes it does.”

“Okay, I can try harder not to be distracted. But you have to remember this is my business and it’s important for me to get my dresses perfect, which takes intense thought sometimes.”

“I do understand, but you need to come up for air once in a while. Thinking about your business twenty-four-seven isn’t good either.”

“You may have a point.” She nodded. “Anyway, about the meeting. I think we came up with some good ideas tonight, don’t you? I noticed three distinct areas of focus. One, showcasing the artisans who live in our town; two, working to make it a wedding destination; and three, your idea. I think between all those we have some good plans to draw in tourists—especially since the economy is starting to recover.”

“Yeah. You don’t think my idea to capitalize on the video game was stupid, do you?”

Aw, here is the real reason he’s being so insistent.

“No, honey. I think it’s a great idea. The only one snarky about it was Adam and I think that has more to do with his immature rivalry with you—than anything. Is he ever going to grow up and get over it? It’s been almost twenty years.”

He smirked. “I thought he and Terry were going to come to blows, when Adam tried to put me down and called Sandy’s game lame.”

Thinking back, she laughed at the confrontation—they’d thrown some pretty low shots at each other. “Not too smart of him. Terry’s protective of his big sister and proud of her game. And he should be proud. Whoever thought the stories she told kids while babysitting had the potential to become an internationally successful video game.”

“Yeah pretty amazing. I do think we could use the popularity of the game to draw in tourists. In fact, when we get home, I want to talk to you about something.”

Her breath caught in her throat. He sounded serious. His words gave her a flashback to her father saying the same thing, right before he walked out on them and left their family for a younger woman. Every time she heard I want to talk to you about something, she felt panic and fear. Her father had decimated their family and left them destitute—and it had all started with those words. At least that’s how she remembered it. She knew she shouldn’t put Chris in the same mold as her father, but what if he was going to do the same thing? What if her distraction had already pushed him away? It would break her heart; she still loved him. Financially she wasn’t ready to have him walk away—she didn’t have enough money saved up. She knew some people said marriages reached a crises phase at ten years. She’d always believed that was an old wives’ tale. What if it’s true? Their ten-year anniversary was this year.

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