Saturday, August 4, 2007


It was nearly noon before they left Adelaide. So many people came to see them off and wish them well that it felt like a conspiracy to keep them from ever leaving. But finally they were on the road, their horses laden with gifts as diverse as batteries, silverware, a quilt, a box of garden seeds, a book of poetry, a small solar lamp and a pair of china cups packed in straw in a sturdy wooden box.

They camped for the night near a creek and enjoyed a feast of baked goods from the villagers of Adelaide.

Then they sat up late drinking tea out of their new cups, admiring the bright expanse of stars overhead. They invented new constellations like they had as children, and made wishes on falling stars. They speculated on what type of world it might be in the heavens, and whether it was really any better, or if it had just as many problems as their own.

"Auntie says it's cold up there," Diana said, shivering against the cool spring night. "I don't think I'd like it, no matter how pretty it might be."

"It looks too clean," Will added. "You need a little dirt to make the good things look good."

They were up early the next morning but although they made good time, by late afternoon they had to make a decision. "We can get there tonight," Will said, "But it will mean covering the last five miles or so in the dark."

"Let's stay out here one more night," Diana said.

"It’s been awhile. They might be worried."

"Do you care?"

"Not really."

"Good," Diana sighed. "I can wait another day."

They camped near a brook and the next morning Diana rose early to pack her gear and load her horse. Will offered to make a hot breakfast, but she was sick to her stomach and nibbled a stale biscuit instead as she went about her work.

What would they think when she returned to camp, married to Will, of all people? If she was defensive, people would know why she did it and despise her for it. She would have to be sure of herself like she used to be, or at least fake it. She would also have to start training right away, preferably alone until she knew to what degree her skills had deteriorated. She had to live up to her end of the bargain and shoot Strecker. Then she could quit forever and Will would take her someplace where she could have the peace she craved.

Will came over while she checked her packs one last time. "Looks like there's hardly room for you up there."

"It's the same amount of stuff as yesterday. But I'm glad we're not traveling very far. It's boring to go at an old lady's pace with all this gear."

"So when we get there, we aren’t going to keep this a secret, are we?"

"Of course not. We’ll be on our own soon, anyway, and it won’t matter what anyone thinks of us then."

"That's right." He gave her a kiss. "And in the meantime, if anyone gives you a hard time, you tell me about it. No one’s going to disrespect my wife.”


Alice Audrey said...

I'm betting no one will be surprised that they are married, and will think Will finally cornered her.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

If you remember, though, all the girls know about Diana's crush on Robert and how emphatic she was with Sachi that she considered Will her brother.

The guys all know how Will feels, though. Coyote teased him about it at the beginning of this novel and Boeing gives him a hard time about it in one of the Will and Diana flash stories.

Amalia knows how they both really feel and that's going to be one of the more interesting dynamics they have to deal with.

Alice Audrey said...

I hadn't even thought about Amalia. *kicking self to idiocy.*