An Adventure, An Anniversary, and Sample Saturday
It’s been an exciting morning; I went out to feed our little feral colony and watched Mama Savannah get between a raccoon (you saw that right) and her kittens. Said raccoon, hereafter referred to as Rocket, was after the kibble I’d just put down; he scuttled down one of our trees, hissed at me, and started to chow down.
The creek bed near us is dry, so we think the water we have out for the ferals may be his only source right now. I don’t begrudge him food and drink, and he has been informed that he must leave the kitties alone.
Rocket joins our juvenile opossum, Albert, as part of the named outdoor menagerie.
Today is also the anniversary of the first date my husband and I went on. We went to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum (where I later volunteered), and then out to dinner. To make a long story short, we drove away with two different feelings about the date: he thought it was splendid, and I had the impression that he didn’t like me much. Needless to say, since we are now married, I was wrong.
In honor of that occasion, this week’s sample is about another first date. The tale comes from my award-winning short fiction collection, Through the Opera Glass. Enjoy!
A Luncheon Meeting
Written April 20, 2012
Clever Fiction writing prompt: Sunlight/Victory/Map
Author’s Note: The restaurant mentioned in this story is real. Sam Wo opened his restaurant in 1906 after the earthquake. Its doors closed forever on April 20, 2012. I had a completely different idea for this story until I saw the news that Sam Wo’s was shutting down.
San Francisco, California
Samuel Lee stepped out of the family’s Waverly Place house and into the sunlight. Hard to believe that nearly a year had passed since the earthquake that devastated the city. With the help of Chinatown’s many Benevolent and Family Societies, many had been able rebuild. Those who had not paid their dues were not always so fortunate. Like the rest of San Francisco, parts of Chinatown were still in a shambles.
Samuel was not thinking about that so much, though. He was in love. He had never seen a girl so handsome, so intelligent … so perfect for him. Except for one problem: she was not Chinese. All right, two problems: she was the girl whom his own sister, Ming, served as amah. Veronique LeMaitre: the girl his sister brought home for their Lunar New Year celebration. Samuel had every reason to believe that she would return his regard; he had seen how she looked at him, after all. And, she had agreed to meet him at Sam Wo’s restaurant for luncheon. Surely that meant something.
The Chinese Exclusion Act would make any courtship problematic … and illegal. It held that no Chinese man could marry a woman who was not likewise Chinese. It was the same act that had prevent his Caucasian father from marrying his mother – although it had not prevented him getting two children on her and causing her some disgrace despite their love for one another. Samuel was determined to be a modern man, but he would also not disgrace a lady of quality in that fashion.
He turned the corner onto Washington Street and checked his reflection in the windows. His Western haircut, that had made his mother so angry, was sharp. His suit, from the Sears, Roebuck catalog, proclaimed him to be a modern man. He took a deep breath as he opened the door to number 813. Perhaps she would not have come.
No, there she was, sitting at a table by herself with a pot of tea. Samuel sat down across from her.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” he said. “I hope you had no trouble finding the place.”
“I had Beau-Père show me where it was on a map; I knew where to go after I got off the omnibus.”
He took in her appearance: elegant day dress, and high-buttoned shoes, and a beautiful hat with a green lining that set off her emerald eyes to perfection. Her black hair was styled in a riot of loops and curls that was the fashion of the day. It was hard to believe that she was not yet sixteen years old. At twenty, Samuel judged that this was an ideal age difference.
“You look beautiful today, Veronique.”
“And you are very handsome, Samuel.” She meant it; she had not quite forgotten her love for Modigliani, but Ming’s brother was one of the most attractive men she had ever met. And, unlike Modigliani, he did not pat her on the head and treat her as though she were a child. She was a grown-up young lady, with her hair up and her skirts long. An adult.
Samuel spoke to the waiter in Mandarin. The waiter looked at Veronique and muttered something to which Samuel took exception; his face and tone became more stern. The waiter bowed a little and walked away.
“Is there something wrong?”
“No.” Samuel would never tell her that the waiter had asked what he thought he was doing with a gwai lo girl. It was an insulting thing to call her: “round eye.” No one would speak like that of the girl he loved.
He reached across the table and offered his open hand to Veronique, who took it with a shy smile.
Want your own copy of Through the Opera Glass? Here are the book blurb and purchasing links:
Author Sharon E. Cathcart took up a challenge in 2012: to write flash fiction and full length short stories based on various prompts. Each story features one or more characters from In The Eye of The Beholder: A Novel of the Phantom of the Opera or its sequel, In The Eye of The Storm.
Brimming with historical detail, the stories in this collection range in place and time from 19th Century Persia to post-World War II San Francisco.
Through the Opera Glass is the 2014 runner-up for “Best Short Story Collection” in the eFestival of Words Independent Book Awards.
Amazon (click on this link to be taken automatically to the site for your country)
Chapters Indigo (Canada)
Kobobooks (available for 2400 SuperPoints if you are part of the program)