Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Musing #6 - "In His Hands" Chapter 2

Welcome to my sixth musing: the second chapter of my book, In His Hands. There are seven chapters total, and I plan to post two chapters a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Again, I welcome feedback, suggestions, advice, and ideas. Questions are always encouraged! 

Chapter 2

                     “Stay still!” I begged as I tried to tie the strings to Rosie’s bonnet.

My little sister wriggled and bounced and chattered like a magpie. Would I ever get these bonnet strings tied?

“You promised Mama and Pa that you’d be a good girl,” my ten-year-old sister, Eliza, spoke up from her seat on the settee.
“Good girl!” Rosie beamed.
“Then let me tie these strings.” I quickly knotted the strings in a neat bow and smoothed Rosie’s hair on her shoulders. “There.”
“Are you all ready to go?” Mama asked, walking over.
“I think so.” I stood and clasped Rosie’s hand in mine. “Does Pa have the wagon hitched up?”
“Yes.” Mama looked over my sister and me, and her eyes grew misty. “You’re all growing so big.”
“Oh, Mama, don’t cry.” I wrapped my arms around her in a tight embrace. I easily matched her in height, especially with my high-heeled travelling boots. Dressed up in my Sunday dress, with my hair neatly combed and held back with a frilly ribbon, I did look much older than my fourteen years. It made me feel proud. Why did mothers get upset about their daughters growing older?
Mama returned my hug and stroked my hair. It felt good. Suddenly, I realized how much I’d miss her over the several weeks we’d be apart. She wouldn’t be there to talk with me, or give me good-night kisses, or remind me to brush my hair every morning and wash my hands before every meal.
Tears came to my own eyes, and one slid down my cheek.
 Can I really do this?
“’Bye, Pa!” Eliza, Rosie, and I called in unison.
He’d just dropped us off at the train station and was riding away, waving his hat. Mama, sitting up next to him on the spring seat, was twisted around. Even from a distance, I could tell she was watching us. Her hand waved back and forth in parting. 
“”Bye, Mama!” we shouted. “See you soon! Love you both!”
Mama blew a kiss and Pa plopped his hat on his head as the wagon swerved around a curve in the road and disappeared.
"Why they leave us?" Rosie asked.
"Mama isn't feeling well," I answered. "She would've stayed until we boarded the train, but I told her she had better head back home." I felt my chest puff up with pride. "I can handle this."
“When will they come to California?” Eliza asked.
“Soon,” I assured her. “C’mon; let’s find a bench and sit down until our train pulls in.”
“So noisy!” Rosie exclaimed, clutching my hand and staying close beside me.
I nodded and pulled her closer. “Grab my skirt,” I told Eliza. “I don’t want to lose you two.”
Eliza obediently latched onto my skirt, and we made our way to a nearby wicker bench.
Sitting down, we set our carpetbags and picnic basket on the floor. Eliza flung back her bonnet. “That bothersome thing,” she said with great distaste. “It’s so big and floppy. It always gets in my eyes.”
I grinned at her. “You’re a mess.” The bonnet had messed up the two braids Mama had spent so much time and effort on. They were no longer two neat plaits, but rather had come partially undone. The ribbons were still in place, but long pieces of light-brown hair were flowing everywhere.
“I can solve that.” Eliza grinned. She yanked the ribbons from her hair and entirely undid the braids. “Better?”
I laughed. “If you can handle all that hair in your face, yes.”
            Eliza grinned and shoved the ribbons in one of her carpetbags. Still smiling, she pulled on her bonnet. “Mama told me to stay like a young lady today,” she said. “I better obey her. I just won’t let anyone see my hair. It's probably all tangled.
“Sure is." I smiled, then said, "There’s no way those braids could’ve become so messy from just one bonnet. What else happened?”
Eliza gave me a sheepish look. “Before Mama told us to get in the wagon, I went to the barn. I knew we’d be stuck inside a train for a long, long time, so I wanted to have some fun beforehand.” Her cheeks flushed scarlet. “I rolled in the hay and swung from the rope in the loft.”
“Eliza Jane!” I shook my head. “In your good Sunday dress, too. I hope your hair was the only thing that got all mussed.”
“Well…” Eliza fiddled with her skirt, then held it out. “It got caught on an old nail.”
I groaned. A small yet noticeable tear had cut into the flowery material.
“It’s all right, Sue!" Eliza insisted. "I’m too big for this dress now, anyway. Mama has been sewing me a new one.”
“Still, this is your Sunday dress. I want you to have it on and look neat as a pin when we meet Grandfather and Grandmother at the Fresno train station,” I said. “I’ll have to mend it on the way. Good thing Mama told me to bring along my sewing kit.”
Eliza plopped down into one of the many plush, velvet-colored seats that lined either side of the gigantic passenger car. At my nod, Rosie slid in next to her, then I sat down.
“This is swell!” Eliza exclaimed, looking about her. Her green eyes grew wide with wonder. “Isn’t it really something, Sue?”
“I’ll say,” I agreed.
“Tickets, ma’am?” the conductor asked, approaching us.
“Oh, yes.” 
I reached into my skirt pocket and felt for the handkerchief in which Mama had placed the three tickets needed for the trip. The kerchief was pinned securely to my pocket. Quickly, I loosened the pin, pulled out the kerchief, and handed the conductor our tickets.
“Thank you, ma’am.” The conductor’s eyes darted over my two sisters. “You in charge?”
“Yes, sir.” I nodded proudly.
“You’re kind of young, aren’t you?”
             A warm rush of blood surged to my head. What a thing to say! Temper, Susan, I cautioned myself. Remember, you’re a young lady now. Show this man just how responsible you can be.  I swallowed hard to gain control of my voice. “No, sir. I’m nigh on fifteen.”
"Fifteen, eh?" The conductor glanced over our tickets. "Your ticket say you're headed for Kentucky. Would that be you final destination?" 
"No, sir. We're headed for California."
“California!” He gave a low whistle and handed the tickets over. “All the way to California, just the three of you?” He smirked. “You wouldn’t happen to be runaways, would you?”
               “No, sir,” I answered stiffly. “We would not.”
               “Well, well.” The conductor tipped his hat. “Have a good trip, ma’am.”
               With that, he turned on his heel and left.
               “Honestly!” I exclaimed. Fingers shaking, I yanked at my bonnet strings and tossed the bonnet off my head.
               “What’s the matter, Sue?” Eliza asked.
               “Nothing.” I smoothed my skirt and crossed my arms. “Nothing.”
               I stared after the conductor as he walked on, taking the passengers’ tickets. The seed of doubt that’d earlier been planted in my mind continued to grow after his thoughtless remarks.
               What if he’s right?
               I sucked in a breath. Oh, Jesus, give me strength, please. I can’t do this alone.


In His Hands © 2018 Ellen Senechal


  1. Awesome! I really like Eliza! She sounds like me when I was ten! Actually come to think of it, she sounds like me now...

    1. LOL
      Glad you're enjoying the story :-).

  2. That's a super idea. Want me to post about it so others can read your first book? I'm happy to.


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