Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by I Write Because I Can

Chapter 1

“Danna, slow down!” my little brother Charles screamed after me as I crossed the street before the streetcar ran us both over. I turned when I reached the corner to see his coat flying out behind him and his hand pressed firmly on top of his cap. My skirts swooshed around my ankles as I halted and let him catch my hand in his.

            “Hurry up, Char, before it closes!” I pushed him ahead of me and mumbled. Canal Street was bustling with people and carriages and the first cars I’d ever seen. Jackson Square was just up ahead and I yanked Charles closer to me before he walked into the street. I saw the jet-black iron railings looming up ahead and I smiled. Char ran ahead of me and I chased after him, dodging the ladies and gentlemen on their evening strolls. I turned the corner and ran to the shop with walls that radiated a calming blue from the inside. Charles was inside already and I heard his friendly banter with Mr. Ronaldson at the front counter. I pushed it and swept myself through the door and next to Char’s side.

“�" and then Pixie jumped on him and licked his face to death. I died laughing,” Charles finished up with red cheeks, out of breath from the trek over here. I had missed the first bit of the conversation.

The plump Mr. Ronaldson shook with a hearty laugh and bellowed, “Well he does it to anyone new doesn’t he?” He plopped his hands down onto the counter, rattling the register and it’s abundance of coins, and then looked expectantly at me. “Whatcha need, Danna?”

“Mum needs macaroons for the party tonight. Sixty please, sir,” I blurted out with a grin and a wink. He looked at me with his eyebrows raised and a look of surprise on his face.

“That many people you’re expecting? Sounds fantastic, dear. I’ll throw in an extra twenty for your mother’s sake,” he grinned and headed through the back door to retrieve a box for him to gently place the Italian delicacies into. I plopped a handful of coins onto the counter and tapped my foot, waiting for the baker to come back. Char picked at an assortment of lollipops and I swatted his hand away before Mr. Ronaldson came back to us and gingerly handed me the box.

“Thank you, sir,” I lifted the corners of my mouth into a smile. Char tugged at my sleeve for me to let him sneak one, but I gave him a menacing look and pushed my shoulder against the door to leave. “You have the street car fare, right, Char?”

“Or do I?” he put a sarcastic smirk on and laughed. I scoffed at him and headed straight down Canal Street with a brisk pace. We reached St. Charles and waited patiently for the streetcar to halt. The familiar conductor opened the door for us and we stepped inside, hearing the clatter of our pennies as they fell into the little coin slot.

We sat down on the tough wooden seats and nodded politely to Miss Dapple, who was sitting behind us with a new beau of hers. I leaned my head against the cool glass windows and looked out at extravagant houses that passed by. One of them was ours, with big bay windows and winding staircases and intricate shutters. Char and I stood and got off at Napoleon Avenue and walked down to our stately home along Saint Charles.

Charles ran and met Pixie, our golden retriever, who was waiting for us by the back gate with eager eyes. I looked around and there were a few people outdoors trimming and watering our garden to perfection. A man on a ladder was painting the trim on the second story windows. Elaina, our housekeeper was on the porch sweeping the dirt and dust off until it shined. Tonight was New Years Eve, which had always been the night my mother invited a plethora of upstanding people for a ball. It was an event many people looked forward to, and my mother was dead-set on it always being perfect.

Weeks were spent in choosing the best catering and ordering fireworks, and cleaning, and repairing, and planning. We may have ordered only eighty macaroons, but there were going to be many more people there. I’d helped my mom write out all of the invitations, which added up to almost two-hundred. It seemed impossible to fit that many people into one house, but our estate was grand. We had a hand crafted fence surrounding the grounds and a newly laid path up to the large double doors. It was three stories tall, and long and wide, with a large center ballroom for all of our guests. Two oak trees stood on either side of the walkway, and beautiful paper lanterns were set high in the branches.

I walked up to the side door and knocked hard to let mum know that we’d gotten back. Maxim, the tall butler, opened the door while I balanced the box of macaroons on one hand and pulled the change out of my pocket with the other.

“Good evening, Miss Danna!” Maxim said, taking the extra bus fare out of my hand and beckoning me inside. “I’ll take those macaroons, and bring them safely to the kitchen. Meanwhile, your mother’s upstairs waiting for you.” He gave me a wink and I gladly handed over my box of goodies.

The house smelled strongly of wax and soap and I made my way over the cleaned maple flooring to the back staircase and treaded up. “Mother?” I held out the word, hoping she’d take notice of me and yell back as the where she was. I got an answer immediately.

“Danna, dear, come quickly! I’m in your room!” she squealed with a delight she always seemed to be seething. I walked a bit faster and turned sharp on my heels into the room where my mother stood with a cheeky smile across her face. She held out a big white box in her gloved hands and I took it with a glimmer of excitement. “You are going to adore it, my love,” she said resting her hands on my shoulders while I untied the thick periwinkle bow that held the box together. I peeled the top off and gasped at the light and graceful fabric of a new dress.

“But you didn’t say �" “ I was cut off by the falter of unbelief in my voice. The light blue fabric rustled gently as I pulled it out of the box and admired its beauty against myself in the long mirror propped against the wall.

“Happy New Years!” my mom whispered in my ear, hugging me tightly from behind. She was such a loving mother. Unlike some of the girls I had known, my mother cared for me the way a mother should, despite our wealth. I looked into her sweet brown eyes that shined and hugged her tight around her neck. I might have been fifteen, but I could act like a child all I wanted around my mother. She swung me around and tossed me onto the couch beside us. “Silly girl. I’m glad you’re happy.” Her tone was that of a satisfied child. “I have to go begin getting ready, yah goose, so wash up and I’ll help you do your hair after,” she finished with a wink, dancing out of my room with a glamorous air.

I couldn’t believe she’d done that. I settled into the couch and closed my eyes, imagining the dress floating around my ankles as I danced a waltz in the ballroom tonight, my hair whipping wildly about my shoulders. The very thought was thrilling.

I jumped up from the long chaise and unhooked each of the buttons on my leather boots. My hands quickly untied the bow that sagged down over my behind and unhooked each button that lined my dress’s back. I cast it all on top of the chest that lied in the corner and changed into a new chemise and corset. I poured water into my washbasin and lathered my face with some lavender-smelling soap until it shined. My brush at the bottom of a drawer in a bureau across the room and I twisted it through the knots in my hair that the wind created on our little hike to the Italian bakery. The blonde locks cascaded over my shoulders with a furious frizz. I squeezed my eyes shut and pouted, hoping my mum could fix it up well.

I walked back to where the new dress laid on my bed and looked at the box it had come in. It spelled out in cursive La Belle Fille, meaning “The Beautiful Girl”. An address was printed underneath, with the location being France. I stepped back and stared at the dress. She’d ordered this from France? It was something I would treasure forever. I grabbed a petticoat from the closet and tied it on first. Picking up the dress, I stepped into it with ease, so as not to rip any of the fragile lace. It drifted around me and settled onto me with a poof. The fabric was soft and airy, but not like a summer dress. It felt like something a faerie or a princess should wear.

My exuberant mother burst in and gasped when she saw the dress draped over my shoulders. She looked like she was having trouble trying to say anything. “Oh, Danna,” she was finally able to mutter, “You look so beautiful. So grown up.”

I could see the tears welling up in her eyes, and I blushed and made my way over to her. She laced the back of the dress and tied the bow perfectly behind my waist. She made a funny face in the mirror and sat me down at the vanity. She stroked her chin in thought, “Now how to tame your hair.”


© 2012 I Write Because I Can

Author's Note

I Write Because I Can
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Added on June 5, 2012
Last Updated on June 5, 2012
Tags: if, it, was, only, for, wit, new, orleans, New Orleans, romance, fiction, self-discovery, historical


I Write Because I Can
I Write Because I Can

I'm young, but people tell me I can write. So I do. I didn't start writing because I was good, but because I love to escape into different worlds with using only my words. Sometimes I'm profound, and .. more..