Thursday, August 23, 2007

Friday Snippets #7

At the ending of part one, the name Briana, spoken by Cassie sparked a vivid memory of the day Faye met five year old Briana, which was related in last week's snippet. We return now to the conversation in progress nearly ten years after Briana hung her rag doll on the gate in order to swing on it.

We met Cassie, the State Trooper first, in Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities, the events of which took place a couple of months before this scene. If you need more orientation it is available in previous snippets. So without further ado:

Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes

3

Faye looks at her guest, a susurration of breeze-stirred leaves reaches her ears through the open doors and she realizes Cassie has been silent for sometime now. She has missed her cue and now has no clue what Cassie wants of her, though her expectant posture pleaded for a response. The sleeping kitten stretched in her lap as she absent-mindedly stroked it. When Julia arrives, accompanied by the squeak of damp-soled sneakers, Faye is grateful for the interruption.

"Oh, excuse me!" Julia was a bit out of breath from her evening run down to the river and back. "I didn’t realize you had a guest."

"That’s OK Sister. Cassie here was just bringing me news of young Briana Morgan."

"Oh, yes. That child with the magical voice. Whatever became of her? Why she used to spend so much time here she might as well have lived here."

"That’s why I had hoped you might be willing to help me." Cassie broke in. Her eyes pleaded with Faye. "Briana is fond of you. This is quite unorthodox you understand. I may be putting my job on the line. But if there’s the slightest chance of salvaging this situation."

"Of course." Faye assured her, having no idea what she was agreeing to. "But I don’t know how much help I would be. Breezy and I had a falling out awhile back. I didn’t approve of her young man you see. So she just may resent my intrusion into this matter now." Faye fumbled verbally for a hint as to what Cassie wanted of her.

"Oh, she won’t have much choice." Cassie said. "It’s either you or Juvy."

"Juvy!" Faye and Julia chorused and exchanged startled glances when a sound very much like tortured violin strings accompanied them.

The high-pitched skreel crested into a crescendo and abruptly cut off. There was a brief astonished silence. Then it began again. It filled the room with adamantine protest and it was several moments before Faye’s ears located its source. It emanated from Cassie, or rather from directly behind her. Cassie stood and commenced to twitch her shoulders in a peculiar manner--as though the noise were corporeal and clung to her back and she were trying to shrug it off.

Into the midst of this befuddlement came Inny. He went straight to Cassie with outstretched arms, calling: "Suffer the little children to come unto me."

Wilma marches in from the garden, where they had been taking their constitutional. "What is all the caterwauling about?" Wilma demanded, brushing irritably at the leaves snagged on her skirt. No one acknowledged her for all eyes were on the squirming, squalling bundle that Cassie had just slid off her back and was now jouncing against her chest. The soul-piercing wail only intensified. The kitten wakened, yowling in protest, jumped to the floor and streaked between Cassie’s feet into the garden. Startled, Cassie stumbled forward, clutching the bundle to her breast, and began to topple into Inny’s outstretched arms.

As Wilma reached out and caught her arm to steady her, Inny plucked the bundle out of her grasp with a strangled, "Do not sin against the child!" The instant he had it cradled in his arms there was a stunned silence and all eyes were on Inny, whose own gaze was locked with that of the tiniest baby any of them had ever seen.

No one spoke for long moments. Finally Cassie answered all their unspoken questions. "This is Brandy Morgan, Briana’s child. I just found her hanging on your gate, and I need to leave her with you while I try to find her mama."

"Can a woman forget her suckling child?" Inny’s whisper injected into the stunned silence released them all from speechlessness. They all spoke at once.

"Just like the rag doll." said Julia.

"I feared as much." said Faye.

"This is the jurisdiction of Child Protective Services." said Wilma. "We must call them at once." Her long arm pushed between Inny and Faye, reaching for the phone that sat on the low table.

"That is exactly what I’d hoped to avoid." Cassie laid a gentle hand on Wilma’s, her unrelenting gaze gripping Faye’s eyes.

"I suppose you must give it a try." Faye sighed. "Though it’s beyond me what you hope to accomplish by it. Briana is as unready to be a proper Mama as was her own before her. Perhaps it’s best the raising of the babe not be left to the child."

"Perhaps." Cassie said. "But taking Brandy from Briana, as CPS would surely do, seems drastic at this point."

"Drastic measures are called for, don’t you think?" Julia laid her little finger against Brandy’s palm and the baby curled minuscule fingers tightly around it. "Abandoning a baby is no light thing." Her voice broke as though the tiny fingers were wrapped around her throat. She avoided the curious glance Faye cast her way.

"Oh, I quite agree." Cassie said. "And I will confront the young lady with the seriousness of her offense and its consequences. I hope she will accept help from the hand of friends. But if not, she will receive it from the hand of the law." Cassie’s voice was cool and her eyes held firm on Faye’s. With a nod like a pact-making handshake, she turned and left through the garden door.

A stray breeze gusted through the room, bringing a swirl of leaves. Faye shivered and hugged her arms to her chest, but remained rooted to her spot, as though time would stand still as long as she could and she would not have to deal with this. Wilma moved to close the doors to the garden and seemed about to speak but Inny preempted her by laying Brandy in Faye’s arms. "The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst." He prodded her and she took a step.

The warmth of the infant soaked into her arms and chest infusing them with the need to care for their charge. When Brandy nuzzled questing at her blouse, Faye laughed: "I’m afraid I can’t help you that way Kitten. We shall have to improvise.

6 tell me a story:

IanT 8/24/2007 2:45 AM  

I don't know if 'skreel' is a word, but if it isn't, it ought to be - a wonderful noise. :-)

Joely Sue Burkhart 8/24/2007 5:42 AM  

I love that small, tiny hint in Julia's voice.

Susan B. 8/24/2007 6:16 AM  

I'm definitely intrigued...

Gabriele C. 8/24/2007 9:08 AM  

So this takes place years after the last one? I'm a bit confused that the fly buzzing around me doesn't help, lol.

Looks like the ladies love to take creatures in, stray cats, abandoned babies - wonder what next. :)

Btw, you got a few tense jumps there.

Bri 8/24/2007 12:12 PM  

I love the parallel to the ragdoll on the fence. For some reason that's a wonderfully powerful image. Great character developments in this snippet to - I am definitely curious about Julia...

And I agree with Iant. If it's not a word, it should be. :D

cherylp 8/24/2007 10:11 PM  

Oh, nice! The parallel between the child Briana placing rag doll on the gate, and the adult Briana doing the same with a baby--that's good characterization.

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