Interlude in Cornwall


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Scene Title Interlude in Cornwall
Synopsis Two girls meet on the beach.
Date February 15, 2011

In Dreams

There are few places in England more beautiful than its coast, miles and miles away from London's oppressive smog and the inescapable sound of crowding traffic — out here, the air tastes salty and fragrant like the air should, and the sky is a magnificent, pristine gray of varying shades between darkest charcoal and a silver so pale is appears almost as white as the waves breaking against the shore where tall stone cliffs seem to rise out of the water like something chiseled by a god's hand with a god's tools.

Coarse sand gives way to fields of rippling saltgrass that sway in the breeze where the earth rises and swells, creating sloping dunes in strange formations strung together by wooden fenceposts in a state of disrepair, sunken and covered in soft green moss and lichen with a texture like peeling paint and the colour of egg yolks cooked in boiling water too long. Beyond that, beyond the flat, winding road, the heathland opens up and this is how Delia Ryans knows that she isn't in America. Dwarf shrubs and woody vegetation dominate the landscape, peppered with drab purple flowers fed by the otherwise infertile soil, which is dry and acidic, but responsive to the cool, damp climate, allowing the heather to grow and flourish like it does on the moors and majestic red deer float through the early morning mist.

The little girl in the dark blue coat isn't interested in seeing noble giant graze from afar — or at least not today. Barefooted, she stands in the surf with the water surging up around her pale calves. Hands not much larger than a doll's clutch the hem of the plain cotton dress she wears beneath it to keep from getting her clothes wet. She watches the sleek, spotted shapes bathing in the thin, lambent beams of sunlight that have burnt through the cloud cover and warm the rocks on the edges of a nearby peninsula with a wan expression of longing that looks much too sad but also much too wise on a face so young.

Harbour seals.

"Chay-zaaahhhh!" The call of another child interrupts the calm solitude of the little girl in the water, causing the does to rear up their heads and sprint away. Stumbling across the pebbles of the beach, a springy haired redhead picks her way through to sandier spots with a little metal pail in one hand and a small plastic shovel in the other. Her white sundress is sopping at the hem, making it a little see through at the knees. She's not wearing much else.

Pausing at a small tidal pool, she bends down and places her bucket at the edge before dipping her shovel in and scooping out some of the sea life growing inside. A few snails, little crabs, and a couple of broken shells make their way to the bucket before she's satisfied enough to grab the handle and plod on. Wide blue eyes catch sight of the brunette in the water and she sucks a hissing breath through her teeth.

Moments later there's another sound, a muffled grrwwf as a puppy with a swollen belly tumbles out from a patch of undergrowth. It rolls to a stop and lifts its head, shaking to regain a sense of balance before loping toward the little redhead. The puppy comes to midway up the young girl's calf with feet much too large and a curled tail much too long for its body.

A peal of laughter erupts from the redhead as her salty knees are licked and the puppy jumps up at her, dancing. "Chay-zah! Come meet my friends!" The bucket is tipped over and the collection of sea creatures are poured unceremoniously onto the smooth rocks that cover the beach. "This is Mister Filbert, he's a crab that likes to pinch!" The warning comes a little too late as the crab clips the side of the puppy's jowl, causing it to yelp and jump back in pain.

"Is that your dog?" Eileen asks, studying Delia with eyes capable of succeeding when they search out the other girl's much more vibrant blue ones. Her gaze moves between redhead and puppy, then back to the redhead again, studying the petite features of her face from her wide, smiling mouth to the stubborn little upturned nub at the tip of her nose that she will one day grow out of.

Has already grown out of, but that's a waking realization rather than a dreaming one, and although Eileen must on some level recognize who it is she's speaking to, in her subconscious this only translates to friend.

Her mouth grows tight. "I don't like dogs."

A jerk of the head has Delia looking down at the puppy, then crouching beside her to yank the crab off her lip. A protective hand comes down to pat the little canine on the head to aleviate some of the crying, reassurance that Cheza is indeed a good girl. "No, she's not mine… I just walk with her. Her name is Chay-zah." An angle upward of the chin allows the redhead to peer quizzically at the brunette before her eyebrows dip into a confused frown. "Why don't you like puppies? Everyone likes puppies… except kitties. Sometimes."

Nevertheless, when Delia stands again, she picks up a wet piece of driftwood and throws it far into the underbrush. "Go get it, Chay-zah! Go get it!" Without waiting for the second command, the puppy races after it, diving into the brush and disappearing.

Alone, the redhead turns and looks across at the other little girl. Both of her hands cling to the handle of the bucket, the shovel inside of it as a few of the snails too stubborn to be tipped out crawl up its handle. "I can send her home, but she's really nice. She doesn't bite."

It's apprehension more than dislike that has Eileen watching the saltgrass that the puppy disappeared into it, but apprehension is not a word that little girls their age know. She clutches her dress a little tighter, sky blue cotton bunched between her fingers. "Dogs jump," she explains succinctly, "and dogs are loud."

So are, incidentally, the seagulls pinwheeling in the sky above their heads, though their voices are no more offensive to her ears than the clamor of the bobbing buoy somewhere between the shore and the seal colony at the tip of the peninsula, banging mournfully away amidst the churning waves.

"You don't have to send her away," she decides, then. "What's your name?"

Looking after the runaway dog, Delia squishes her lips into a little pucker and then twists them to the side before shaking her head. "She went home already, she'll be okay." The statement is delivered as something of a reassurance to the petite brunette. "But you're right. She jumps sometimes and she can be a little bit loud. Most of the time she sleeps though, so she's perfect!"

At least for the redhead.

"I'm Lia," The redhead's accent is definitely American in origin, New York specifically. "What's yours?" She's a few inches taller than the brunette, something she hasn't encountered before, not in this state. Squinting her eyes toward the cloudy sky, the little dreamwalker wrinkles her nose again, looking somewhat confused. "Where is this?"

"Hullo, Lia." Eileen dips into something that resembles a curtsey but isn't really. "This is Cornwall," she answers. "My gran lives in Truro and calls me her little sparrow, but that's not right — it's Eileen. I like Lee." She purses her lips into a pinched expression as if attempting to identify Delia's alien accent, then seems to give up, lowering her eyes to the fistfuls of dress she's holding and obscure shape of her feet under the water.

"I'm waiting for a boy," she explains in the tone small children sometimes use to confide in one another, though there's not as much as a whisper of mischief in it — breathy with quiet anxiety instead. "I don't think he's going to come."

Cornwall. Corn-wall. Wall of Corn. Corn grows in Kansas. They must be in Kansas. Delia has never once been there in her entire life. Somehow, the ocean being plopped somewhere in the American midwest along with a little girl sporting an English accent doesn't seem to dissuade the redhead from this conclusion. "Oooo you think we'll see Dorothy here?" There's a wary glance cast about by the wide blue eyes before they fix on Lee again.

"A boy?" Another look around them, perhaps to spot the expected visitor but no one aside from the two of them seems to be anywhere nearby. "Why wouldn't he come?" Delia's voice is a little louder, less conspiracy more curiosity. "He said he would come, didn't he? Then he should come." It's a very black and white situation for her.

Eileen gives a quick shake of her head— it isn't like that— dark hair tumbling carelessly about in the breeze, and transfers her dress to one hand, using the other to reach into her coat. "Sometimes I don't think he likes me," she confesses, eyes downturned, "but then I remember he gave me this." Fingers wound around a silver chain, her hand comes back out with a brassy pocket watch, but rather than offer it to Delia so the other girl can take a closer look, she instinctively cradles it against her chest for protection. "I said I love you and then he went away.

"I know he does. I hope. He only couldn't say it back." The tips of her fingers curl in, around the watch's smooth edges. "I wanted to tell him I was sorry. For not looking after myself like he wanted."

"If he loves you, then he'll come." The redhead seems so very sure of this point, until her eyebrows knit together in deep concentration and she looks away. "Unless he can't come. Sometimes? Sometimes, he can't come… because he thinks that no one wants him there." A tight little smile graces the redhead's lips and she reaches out a hand to squeeze against the thinner girl's shoulder.

Sweeping her blue eyes over the other girl, the thin little eyebrows tighten further into a rather unpleasant frown. She's confused. Again. "What do you mean, you didn't look after yourself? Did you fall down?" A spot check at the other girl's knees doesn't seem to reveal any scrapes or bruises, her hands seem free of sand as well.

"Yes," says Eileen, and her voice sounds strangely distant when she does, pale eyes growing glassy. "I fell a long way—"

She's interrupted by another voice, older, deeper— masculine— calling her name, and there's something about it that strikes a familiar chord. Catching her lower lip between her teeth and bowing her head, she looks down at the hand on her shoulder and forces what should be a smile. Like her curtsey, it doesn't quite make it all the way. "That's my brother," she whispers, tight with something a little like fear. She glances back over her shoulder toward the voice, her expression as same as the one that had touched her eyes and mouth when she was waiting for Cheza to reemerge from the saltgrass, but this she conceals much better. "I have to go.

"If you see the boy who gave me this, will you tell him to come find me?"

A few weak bobs of Delia's head result in the springy curls bouncing, making the slight nod much more pronounced. She turns toward the sound of the voice and takes a step or two toward it, letting her hand fall away before looking at Eileen with yet another curious expression. "You're scared, don't be scared." The message is delivered as something of an instruction. There's a defiant tilt of her chin when she turns to face the new threat and her fists ball up on either side of her. "'Cause I'll find him and I'll tell him to find you. Okay?"

Bright blue eyes that are filled with worry flit in the direction of the brunette and her lips press into a thin line. "I'll make sure he finds you… just don't fall again, okay?"

"It was the earth," means more to Eileen than it does to Delia, but the urgency beneath her words is as significant as Delia's gentle command. "It swallowed me up." Pocket watch and dress still clutched in both her hands, she splashes out of the water, her bare feet making imperfect prints in the damp, dark sand, and steals one last look at the redhead before she turns and hurries up the nearest dune, the sharp grass stinging at her naked legs below the knee as she half-climbs, half-stumbles toward the silhouette of a young man waiting at its crest, his blue eyes stern and something predatory in them, fixed on Delia.

"Good bye!" Eileen calls back over her shoulder, startling a sandpiper into flight, and then—

The Corinthian: Delia's Room

With a gasp, Delia sits up in bed, her heavy breathing not doing much to calm the racing of her heart. Turning her head to the side, she runs a hand through her long hair and frowns toward the balcony door that has blown open, making the curtains snap like the take off flight of a bird. She wrestles with the heavy duvet and stumbles toward the open door, she's a little off balance, requiring her to feel against the wall.

Swinging the door closed, she locks it and then leans against it, peering outside with a frown. A little more carefully to bed than from it, she crawls back under the covers before flicking on the sidelamp and reaching for her iPad.

Two messages are sent but three are received.

I need help, asap. I think Eileen is in trouble.

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