Here, as promised is the new beginning for Glimmer Girls. Named by Marly and R, I am forever in your debt.
Clara Louise Delamare rode the train in the twilight and forced herself to sit quietly. She was trying to keep a level head but flashes of electricity kept sweeping through her body filling her with joy and making it nearly impossible to sit still. Freedom was making her lightheaded, but there was an edge of fear and anticipation too. It was an odd combination, fear and euphoria and it was making her slightly light headed.
Her reflection in the window if anything seemed more wild than usual. Her copper hair was practically glowing and it kinked and curled from the clip she used to keep it out of her face to half way down her back. Had her eyes been blue she might have been able to tolerate them. But they were so green that she could see the color even in her blurry reflection. Clara turned from the window. Who cared what she looked like now. She was free and unknown and she was finally going to get her own life.
When the train pulled into the station above the village of Mabble, Clara struggled to drag her bulky three-wheel bicycle off the train. The Conductor’s face made it clear she was holding the train from its scheduled departure and she wrestled with the handlebar, trying to free it from the standing pole. Clara didn’t remember the standing pole being there when she’d loaded the bike, although now it was just a little too solid and very inconvenient. It was all very well and good to allow bikes on trains, sensible in fact, except if you didn’t leave enough room and they got tangled in poles and doors when you were departing the train what good was that?
“Why don’t you let me help you with that?”
Clara spun to see a tall, dark haired man standing next to her. He had curiously light eyes, hazel, she thought, and a nice smile. His hands were rough and stained with odd colors and his jeans looked as if they’d seen better days but her pulsed kicked up anyway as if he was standing too close.
“If you’ve done looking me over, it might be a good idea to get this off the train before it leaves the station.” He smiled and took the bike from her. He tilted it unhooking the handle bar from the standing pole and extracted it from the train. Easily.
Damn it, thought Clara and she could feel the heat in her cheeks as she backed out of his way. Why hadn’t she been able to manage that?
“There you are.” He brushed his hands on his disreputable jeans and pushed up the sleeves of his green cabled sweater. “Do you speak at all? ‘Thank you kind stranger’ might be appropriate. Even ‘bugger off’ would at least give me a clue as to what you can possibly be thinking. Have I grown a tail since I left the city this morning?”
He made a show of looking over his shoulder for his tail, and Clara would have laughed if she hadn’t been so mortified.
“I’m sorry,” she said and held out her hand at him. “Thank you. I didn’t mean to be rude, it’s just been a long day.”
He took her hand and to her further mortification instead of shaking it he bent and pressed it with his lips.
“My pleasure.” He turned and walked away. As Clara watched he boarded a tram that stood at the door to the station and it pulled away down the hill as if it had been waiting for just him. Well it probably had been waiting for him, the whole place probably came and went on his say so. Clara turned and began piling her bags into the large basket on the back of her bike. She was feeling strangely grumpy.
The station stood on the hill above the tiny harbor village, a hundred some odd miles north of the city. While the coast meandered along the ocean, swooping and turning from long beaches into coves and bays, the train ran on straight tracks from the City of Dobbin north and south to the towns that dotted the east edge of the country. The Engineers who’d designed the tracks lacked imagination. Commuters and vacationers might have liked to watch the ocean as they rode, but the tracks ran along the path of least resistance, teasing the passengers with the merest glimpses of the ocean.
When Clara wheeled her bike off the platform she had the pleasure of coasting down the hill on three wheels, her luggage piled haphazardly behind her. The road from the station to the bay curved gently down the hill, and Clara supposed that if it had gone straight she would have just kept going faster and faster until she flew off the end of the pier into the bay.
It was past dusk now, but the town was lit with a thousand tiny lights and she could see the clearly. The buildings were stacked closely and looked as though they were leaning on each other for support. Thatched cottages stood on the edges of the village, changing to brick and stone buildings as houses and storefronts jumbled together along the main street. The buildings ran four or five streets deep and then backed into the cliffs surrounding the harbor. Clara could see lights on the bluffs overlooking the town, where homes were perched above the drop into the ocean.
As She coasted down the road and the shops rose around her, the stone buildings becoming closer together. They appeared attracted to each other, some leaning at such an angle that Clara wondered why they didn’t tumble into the street. About half way into the village a wooden sign hung above a door: Wander Inn.
It was a haphazard building, rising several floors above it’s neighbor on the down side of the hill, and it threatened to topple and crush the little shop which appeared to be a haberdashery of sorts.
“It’s amazing the whole town hasn’t tumbled into the harbor like a stack of dominos.” She said aloud, looking at the jumble of buildings teetering over the cobblestones that led down to the bay.
“The local rumor is that the town is held together by magic. Or maybe it’s the will of the town’s folk? I’ve forgotten which.”
Clara jumped and scanned the wide porch for the source of the voice and made out the shape of a figure on a bench in the shadows. Clara pulled her bicycle out of the cobbled road and lugged her cases onto the porch.
“Sorry,” Clara said. “Things tend to come out of my mouth that shouldn’t. It’s a lovely town.”
“I like it. Do you need a room?” The woman rose and opened the big wooden door.
The light from the hotel revealed a dark haired woman wearing a swirling purple skirt under an orange hip length sweater. Clara followed her to the registration desk, a long wooden bar that looked as though it had come out of a pub, complete with foot rail. Clara rested her boot on the rail ran and leaned her elbows on the top, watching the Innkeeper flip through the reservation book.
“No. the weather is so unpredictable here. Power’s always going out, Internet is spotty – it makes more sense for us just to do it the old fashion way. We don’t have so many rooms that it’s unmanageable.”
“Wow.” Archaic. She kept the thought to herself. No sense in offending the people of the town she planned to make her home.
“We have a nice room on the top floor. Overlooks the harbor. But we don’t have an elevator so you’ll have to walk up. Or there’s a so-so room on the next floor up. No view but fewer stairs. What would you like?”
“I’m feeling strong, although I might have to take two trips with my bags. I’ll take the top floor. I’m counting on the will of the town’s folk to keep it from falling into the ocean in the next few days.”
“How long are you staying?”
“Can we leave it open ended? I’m looking for a place to live and I’m not sure how long it will take.”
“Not a problem.” She stuck a hand over the counter. “I’m Molly. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything.”
“Clara.” As Clara took Molly’s hand a lightness filled her she had never felt before. Warmth filled her heart and caused her head to swim like it had on the train. She steadied herself on the counter with her free hand.
“You all right?” Molly dropped her hand, looking at Clara with concern. But Clara steadied the moment Molly removed her hand.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” But who the hell are you?