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Episode 14 Part 34

By:  Lenady

“Did he have a steed?”


Tilly glanced up. “Huh?”


“A steed,” Sanrook said, “All the heroic guys got steeds.”


Tilly paused, looking down at her hands. “Yeah,” she said, “Sort of, I guess.” She smiled, despite herself. “It was a...” She bit her lip. Hunk of junk, she wanted to say. “A foal."

His father owned a nearby farm, and the family had quite a few horses, but he was especially proud of this foal, because as small and gangly as it was, it was his, and he was certain it was going to be really great one day.” Tilly shook her head, “But anyway, the boy held his hand out, covered in mud and dirt.”


*          *          *

Erin held his hand out, then glanced at it and grinned at the grease on his palm before swiping his hand across his shirt. “Sorry,” he looked a little sheepish. “I was working on my car,” he added with not a little bit of pride in his voice. “Forgot about the-" and he motioned with his hand a little.


“I’m Tilly,” she replied. “So wha-"


“Tilly?” She heard her mom yell.


“Oh God, not now,” she whined under her breath and turned around, towards the house. “Just a minute,” she yelled back.


But it was too late. Her mom appeared on the porch, already changed into jean capris and a red button down short sleeve that was still probably too expensive to use for moving and unpacking boxes. She glanced around the yard before catching sight of Tilly and Erin, then was walking down the stairs of the front porch, hands on hips, her eyebrows raised as she stepped closer. She was smiling, but Tilly could see the tension around her eyes as they took Erin (and his grease stains) in. “Well, hello,” she said.


Tilly stood there nervously for a second before Erin stepped up. “Hello Ma`am,” he nodded. “I’m Erin Taylor, from down the street. I’ll be going to school with Tilly.”


Her mom’s face eased just a little, “Hello Erin. It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Lavona Kaphman.” She frowned. “Things aren’t unpacked yet, otherwise I’d offer you some lemonade or,” she glanced back behind her shoulder, “Would you like to sit on the porch? We don’t have the furniture up but the stairs should do just fine.”


Erin smiled, “Thank you Ma’am, that’s very kind, but actually if it’s alright by you, I was going to show Tilly around the neighborhood.”


Tilly glanced over at Erin, blinking for a second, before turning back to her mom. “Can I?” she asked.


Her mom glanced over at Erin again, crossing her arms, then turned towards Tilly and nodded. “Just for a few minutes, not too late. Your father’s already in a state over the movers,” she said with a wince, ducking her head just slightly to swipe a lone curl off her forehead.


Tilly nodded, “I’ll be back soon”, and followed Erin out of the driveway. “So,” she said lowly, when she heard her mom walking back up the porch steps. “Were you planning this before, or just since seeing my mom.”


He shrugged, “Well yeah,” then grinned. “I mean both I guess? I’d wanted to show you around, then I saw your reaction and I figured you could stand to get away for a bit.”


Tilly blushed. “Yeah, well… things can get a bit…” Tilly bit her lip. “Sorry, about that.”


Erin looked confused for a second, before glancing down at his shirt. “Oh, yeah, that. No problem.” He shoved his hands down in his pockets. “Going to the Academy… not a sure thing, but not surprising.” They walked in silence for a moment, Erin kicking at colored leaves every so often when they ran across small piles scattered on the sidewalk. “Speaking of school, What track you on?”


“Arts.” Tilly replied. “Dance specifically.”


Erin nodded. “That mean you’re gonna be doing cheerleading? I mean, seems like all the girls do. The ones in the program I mean.”


“Yeah, probably.” Tilly shrugged. “I wanted to at my last school, but I transferred in late. This year’s probably out too, but maybe next year.”


Erin turned his head towards her, “I wouldn’t be so sure. Ms. B’s always looking for new blood. You probably talked to her already right? Ms. Brown. If you’ve auditioned for the school and all.”


Tilly thought back to the trip earlier in the summer and to a tall woman with curly brown hair. She frowned. “Yeah, I think so.”


“She’s who you’ll talk to. If you’re good then they’ll try to get you in quick. Just watch out for An-" He stopped suddenly and shook his head.


Tilly frowned, “watch out for…”


“Don’t worry about it.”


Something in his tone made Tilly feel uneasy, but she didn’t press it. “So what about you?”

“Me?”  Erin asked with a grin, as if thrilled that the conversation had come back around to him. “Couldn’t dance to save my life. Ms. B’s seen me at football practice. Wouldn’t let me near a pom-pom.” He laughed, and added, “Science. Applied,” then pulled his hands back out of his pockets and held them up, showing off his grease stains. “Love working on stuff. Pulling it apart and putting it back together.” He suddenly veered off to the left, towards a yellow bungalow. “Come on, I’ll show you.”


Tilly followed him to a small garage off the right side of the house.


“Home sweet home,” Erin said, flipping on a light at the door.  “This,” he continued, running his hands over an old rusty car sitting in the middle of the floor, “is my baby.”


“Mmh, yeah, I can see the resemblance,” Tilly smirked, “grease stains in all the same places.”


“She does not have grea-" He looked down at a dark mark on the rusty paint job and rubbed at it with the hem of his shirt. “grease stains.”


Tilly just smiled and nodded. “How long you been working on it.”


Her,” he emphasized.


Tilly’s smile grew and she resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Okay, her.”


He smirked and leaned up against the car, “Better,” he said. “Dad bought her off some guy a few years ago. Was gonna fix her up himself, but he got distracted, other things to do. So she was just sitting off alone for a year. Then he brought me out to the shop. And well…” he shrugged. “Dad said if I can get her working okay, then he’ll let me have her.” He frowned. “Problem is I gotta come up with the parts myself. Do you know how much some of it’s gonna cost?”


“No clue,” Tilly replied, walking over to the car. She leaned over and peaked in through the window. “But I take it a lot.”


He nodded. “Some things I can get working myself, with some parts and junk, but other stuff…” He hummed. “Well, I like disassembling and tweaking stuff and all, but sometimes it’s not that easy.”


“Erin!” A woman with short blonde hair stepped in the doorway. “You forgot to fe- Oh, hello.”


“Ah- Mom,” Erin straightened up, “This is Tilly. She just moved in down the street.”


“Hi,” Tilly said quietly, and waved her hand.


“Hello,” Erin’s mom said as she approached, a large smile on her face. “Welcome to the neighborhood. The Marshall’s house? I met your mother a few weeks ago when she was in town, but she hadn’t mentioned she had a daughter.”


Tilly forced a smile and shrugged. “Mom can be a very private person sometimes.”


“But sh-,” Mrs. Taylor paused, and examined Tilly’s face for a second, before smiling, her expression almost as tight as Tilly’s felt “Yes, I understand.” She turned to Erin, “You need to wash up. It’s almost time to eat and I’m not letting you ruin another chair cushion. Would you like to stay for lunch?” she asked Tilly, “It’s just sandwiches, but-"


“Thanks,” Tilly said, “But I’d better be getting back. I told Mom I’d just be a few minutes, and she’ll need help getting everything organized.”


“Oh, well, I hope we’ll see you around sometime,” Mrs. Taylor said, turning towards the door.  “Stop by again sometime soon, and bring your mother with you. We’d love to get to know you both.”


The door closed with a click and Erin asked. “So what was that about?”




“That whole thing with your mom? Cause my mom looked all weirded out. And Mom doesn’t get weirded out. So what’s up?”


“How am I suppose to know?” Tilly said, crossing her arms, and winced.


“Hey, I didn’t mean to-", “Sorry, I-" They both started to say.


Erin sighed. “I’d better walk you back.”


Tilly nodded.


The trip back was quieter, an unseen tension filling the space between them. Tilly noted, with relief, the mover’s truck in the driveway. She could hear her Dad’s voice, alarmingly cool and calm, as they approached.


They stopped a little ways down and stood there, looking towards her house. “I can get there from here,” Tilly finally said.


“Yeah, sure,” Erin said, fidgeting, then finally looking back at Tilly. “See you tomorrow?”


“Yeah,” she said “I’ll see you then.” Tilly watched as he walked back down the street, leaning on a fence post for a minute before throwing her shoulders back and walking back to the house.


Into the fray and all that jazz.


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