Chapter 14: I Belong Here, Really
Written by: Whitney Emeigh
Adette watched Karl’s progress deeper into the forest. He stopped just short of cover and looked back. She smiled weakly and nodded once. She didn’t need to hear it to know that he’d huffed before disappearing into underbrush.
Adette smoothed both hands down the wrinkled fabric of her skirt. One finger found a small hole made by the bubble. Her other hand slowly began searching out other holes. She looked down, but her fingers found the next hole before her eyes did. Embarrassment blossomed deep in the pit of her stomach. She hadn’t banked on having to look a mess.
“Wait,” she told the trees. They of course hadn’t been planning on moving. Adette’s brain began to work and a smile slowly spread across her face. “Hah. You may have burned my dress, but you’ve given me the perfect reason to go back into town.”
Adette lifted her skirts and began marching her way back to the road. She breathed a sigh of relief. No one was on the road to see her exit the forest. Head held high, she marched back toward the town gate. The fabric store was now her new destination. She hoped no one would ask her how she got the burns in her dress. When the time came, she’d work that out.
This time, when she made her way through the gates, Adette kept her eyes on the other shops around the small square. Across from the bakery, a small tailor’s shop sat nestled between the butcher shop and a small flower shop. Beyond that was the corner Max had pointed to earlier. Imogen tossed a glance toward the sparse window display before ducking through the door.
Over head, a bell jangled. Adette chuckled at the quaintness of the sound and took a good look around the store. Fabrics were in haphazard piles around the store. Adette assumed there was some method to the store’s organization but didn’t know exactly what it was.
“I just need some simple cotton,” she muttered to herself.
“Cotton?” chirped the mother from earlier, “That’s on the back wall. If you’re not too worried about the color or pattern, there are some fabrics I wouldn’t mind getting rid of in that corner.” The woman pointed vaguely in the direction of the offending fabrics. Adette was nearly too distracted by her good luck to retain where she should be looking.
“Oh, thank you. I’ll take a look. Surely I can find something. I’ve been working at preserving some herbs and it’s eaten clear through some parts of my dress.” Adette turned and offered the outer skirt up for inspection. From behind the counter, the woman nodded absently. Clearly, the events of earlier were still weighing on her mind.
Adette turned and began to excavate a path through the fabrics towards her destination. Just as promised, there was a shelf of cotton which Adette thought was probably never in fashion. The colors were either too strange or the patterns were too jagged or boxy. Strangely, Adette felt drawn to quite a few of them. They weren’t the frilly, girly fare you normally found in fabric stores.
After some careful consideration, she selected one fabric that was pale green and another with jagged black and yellow designs on a white background. With the fabrics cradled against her chest, she pushed her way up to the counter. When the fabrics landed on the counter with a muffled fwump, the woman’s eyes shot up in surprise.
“You’re going to buy some of those?” There was genuine surprise and skepticism in her voice.
“I quite like the combination,” Adette answered. Now that she was handing over money, she had the woman’s attention.
“They’ve been sitting on that shelf for a year. I’m glad to see them go. How many yards will you need?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I plan to make a new dress, so I suppose…” Adette trailed off. She was wishing she’d had a better plan.
“Oh, take the lot of it. I’d like to get rid of it. Ordering from that designer was a mistake. I’ll give you both bolts for, let’s say, thirteen silvers.”
“Sold.” Adette could hardly believe her good luck. That was a steal, even if the woman was desperate to get rid of them. Good cotton usually went for more than that by the yard.