Author: The Unearthly Idiot PM
Cecilia Arnold knew she could be anything she wanted- actor, tailor, even a waiter on an airship- but no career she considered felt right. That is until she ran into an old friend, and he made her an offer involving singing robots, mad scientists, and the opportunity to travel the world. Well, who wouldn't want that?Rated: Fiction K - English - Adventure/Humor - Words: 2,492 - Published: 02-20-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3102689
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Cecilia Arnold knew she should be grateful for the opportunity to have a variety of jobs to choose from. It wasn't so long ago that only women of the lower class worked, and then only menial tasks that paid them half of what a man would receive. Nowadays a girl just leaving school could go out into the world and pursue any career she wanted without the worry of finding a husband before she turned twenty. Many still chose that path, of course, but it wasn't the only socially acceptable option anymore.
Yes, Cecilia knew this, and she knew it well. Her mother only pointed it out every day. But as Cecilia watched her friends go off and become actors, engineers, teachers, and pilots, she walked the streets of her hometown and wondered what it was she wanted to do.
Today, however, she had journeyed to the Public Market Centre in the city, attempting to escape a conversation that had left her feeling particularly bruised. Unfortunately, even wandering the stalls of fresh produce and handcrafted goods could not keep it from replaying in Cecilia's mind.
"Why not a seamstress? A- a tailor, or even a designer!" Mrs. Arnold eyed her daughter over the rim of her cup the previous night at tea. "Kaja already has an internship downtown, and you're every bit as talented as she is! Better, if I do say so myself."
"I… I mean, I do like making costumes." Cecilia avoided making eye contact, instead listlessly carving a volcano into her mashed potatoes. "But…" she pulled a face. "It's not something I enjoy enough to want to make a profession out of it. The idea of it doesn't… feel right."
Mrs. Arnold also pulled a face, hers as if she'd discovered a spider in her tea. "The idea of it doesn't feel right?"
Without looking, Cecilia could feel every other member of her family- all incredibly involved in their own meals, too chicken to intervene or do anything more but listen- cringe. She did, too. "You sound as if I've made up my mind to… I don't know, be a topless barista someplace." She dared venture a glance at her mother. "When I imagine my future, or try to picture doing that for the rest of my life- for any time at all- it just doesn't sit with me. I can only imagine irritation and unhappiness. I can't find a single thing that doesn't end with that feeling."
She thought she'd phrased it very well, almost eloquently as a matter of fact. From the look on Mrs. Arnold's face, though, she might as well have said that the moon was made of cheese. "That's all very well, dear. But you don't know how you'll really feel about anything until you try it. And in any case, you might as well start out doing something you know you like so at least you're doing something. Your father and I aren't going to support you forever, you know."
Unaware that her fork- still with potato stuck to it- had been caught in her hair, Cecilia thunked her elbow on the table and leaned into her hand. She made a ridiculous face at her brother across the table, but he quickly looked away. "I'm 19, for heaven's sake," the girl muttered. "Give me a chance…"
The conversation had continued much along the same lines until Cecilia had felt too sick to eat and excused herself. Now, hardly aware that she was hopping down the steps in the Market Atrium, she began to feel the same nauseating apprehension grow in the pit of her stomach. The lass gave a mental dark look to her mother for ruining a perfectly beautiful afternoon at the Market.
Or so it appeared until she began to weave her way through the tables on the Atrium's ground floor. "Hey, Cecilia!"
The girl in question stopped and looked around, surprised. Her name was not a common one and she was far from home. She wondered who could possibly be calling her until she saw a young man advancing up a corridor to her left. "Cecilia Arnold! I thought it was you!" He waved, chuckling.
Not wanting to disturb the lunchgoers around her, Cecilia walked to meet him. She studied the man as he entered the natural light streaming into the Atrium. He was on the tall side, with thick, honey-blonde curls and a lean face. The man's grin grew wider as he came to her side, and Cecilia couldn't help but think that his bright blue eyes sparkled. She'd heard that description before in books, but had never seen anyone's eyes do anything she would consider to be "sparkling". Nobody, except for-
"Markhill Campbell!" Cecilia's mouth briefly dropped open in surprise before widening into a grin of her own. "Oh my gosh, I thought- well, I thought I'd never see you again! It's-"
"She recognizes me!" he practically squealed. Cecilia was then shocked when Markhill, as skinny as he was tall, enveloped her in a hug that lifted her off her feet. He laughed as she began to squeal- "Put me down, please put me down!" before setting her back on her feet.
"What the-" Instinctively, Cecilia dusted herself off, throwing a panicked look over her shoulder.
In the wide-open space, Markhill's cheery voice was booming. "Miss Cecilia Arnold, I thought it was you. Long time no see, quite? I didn't think it would be possible for you to become more lovely, but I see that you have proven me wrong yet again!"
A furious blush lit up Cecilia's face. "Oh, you're just saying that!" Before she could stop herself, she reached out and smacked his arm, eliciting another laugh when she scrambled to apologize.
"You look different, too. Good different, though. You got… taller," the girl pretended to crane her neck up to see his face, though at a six-inch difference it wasn't too much of an exaggeration. "And more hair, too."
Markhill tugged on one of his curls with a surprised look, as if learning for the first time that he had hair (and lots of it). "Ah, I s'pose so, huh. Well, seven years, give or take. Time'll do that to ya."
Cecilia smiled, remembering intermediate school days when they played football after school every day and Markhill had bruises on his skinny arms from so frequently being whacked by a number of other girls he constantly teased. "Has it really been seven years? No, it's gotta have been only five or six."
The man shrugged. "I said 'give or take'. I don't pay much attention to time. Well, I do. I mean… I guess I'm just very busy all the time, life kinda… rushes past, y'know?" He was thoughtful, though this fact didn't seem to trouble him at all.
"I suppose so, being head of the Campbell family! You must hardly get to rest," Cecilia felt that she sounded bitter, though that was far from what she meant.
A shadow of concern passed over Markhill's face, but he cut her off before she could say anything else. "Aw no, Cece!" The grin on his face was as if it hadn't left at all as he scrunched his shoulders up, clasping her around the upper arms. "I'm the same old Mark you always knew! And I ain't the head of the family. Far, far from it, actually." He straightened.
"But it doesn't leave time for a lot of rest, true. Always workin', even now." With a small sigh, Mark gestured at the empty stage in one corner of the Atrium. "Don't tell anyone, but I'm scouting locations for a home show. Everyone's getting itchy to do something small and local again since we've been traveling so much."
"I don't know how many times I've told you not to call me 'Cece'," Cecilia scolded, but her voice was warm as she gave Mark a small, playful rap on the elbow. "That's wonderful news, that you guys are gaining enough popularity to be traveling all over the place. Although," she gave the Atrium stage a brief once-over, "I think it's just a bit small in here. The acoustics would be just weird to say the least, not to mention that I'd have no idea how you'd light it." Cecilia turned back to Mark. "I wouldn't recommend trying to play in here."
He looked… impressed. "To be honest, I wasn't planning on considering this stage… I was just pointing to it as an example of, well, stage." Mark chuckled. "Just passing through to grab a bite before I head down to the Market Theatre. But you have an excellent point!"
"Oh…" Cecilia turned red once again. "Well, I'm glad I had a point, at least… better than a curve or, heaven forbid, a line…"
Mark stared at her for a moment before laughing loudly. "That was fantastic!"
"That was terrible." Her face feeling too hot for comfort, the girl pressed her freezing hands to her cheeks, looking down at their shoes. "I have no idea where that came from, sorry…"
"I liked it anyway. Then again, I grew up with God-awful puns…" Mark placed a hand on her arm and let her try to brush of the embarrassment for a brief moment until an idea struck him. The young man stood up ramrod straight, sunshine filling his face. "Say, Cece- er, Cecilia. What are you up to nowadays?"
"What?" she looked up, slipping her hands into her trenchcoat pockets. "Not much of anything, really. Mum's been harassing me to get a job, but-"
"Perfect!" Mark's exclamation echoed throughout the Atrium, startling a few pigeons that had wandered in through an open door off the street. "Would you be willing to come work for me?"
"I- what?" Cecilia stared at him as if he'd grown a second head. "You want me to-"
"Come work for Century Timepiece- for the Campbell family." His speech began to accelerate. "The band is gaining popularity, and just the family isn't really enough to take care of it all anymore. I mean, everybody does their bit, but at the same time everybody's got their own projects and whatever and there's some stuff some people just can't do. We need folks who are… well, normal. Who can work with the public and take care of merchandising and stuff but also help the family out with all the chores that need done around there, y'know? And you're brilliant, Cecilia, I honestly think you are. You're clever and funny and grounded. You can handle responsibility and talk to people and get things done, and that's more than I can say for pretty much anybody I'm related to." Mark finally sucked in a breath. "Will you do it, please? Will you come work for the Campbells? We could really use you, Cecilia. We really, really could."
The lass couldn't tell if it was just her or if the Market Atrium really had gone quiet. She studied her old friend, unsure of what to think. She could tell he was serious- very serious- but… well, what he was proposing was ridiculous. Seattle was a big city, but everybody knew who the Campbells were. Anybody who read the newspaper was well-informed of the impossible mischief they got into; or, more often, caused. But even after the great scandal in grade eight when Markhill Campbell, one of her oldest friends, revealed that he was one of those Campbells and then disappeared to be homeschooled, Cecilia believed she could trust him.
In that short pause, she imagined it. While what her imagination conjured up was far from the true absurdity of life in the Queen Anne House, Cecilia thought that she could do it. Manage a band… travel the world. Live with mad scientists and their insane, brilliant creations. Of course it would be difficult (in ways she couldn't yet fathom), but she could see herself doing it. Cecilia could see herself enjoying such an adventurous life. For the first time, she'd found a career that felt right.
When she drifted back to real life she saw that his face was positively kicked-puppy pleading. Cecilia smiled. "I'll have to talk to my mum, of course. I mean, there's a lot of things to work out. But I'll absolutely consider it! I would be-" she was going to reach up to pat his arm when the girl noticed that Mark had taken both her hands in his. Instead, she gave them a small shake. "I would be honoured."
The young man gave a whoop of delight, releasing his friend to jump in a circle. "Aw, yeah! Thank you, Cecilia! Of course, there's much to work out, but this is a start. This is a start!"
He babbled on, Cecilia giggling as she watched. Memories of a scrawny 9-year-old Mark celebrating a football goal or successful prank washed over her.
"Okay. Okay, okay!" While she hated to interrupt his euphoria, a few older patrons in the crepe shop on the next level that had looked annoyed before were now positively glaring. Cecilia took Mark's hands again, grabbing his attention. "Calm thyself, Mark. It's only a start, like you said. We don't kn-"
A strange noise erupted from the pocket of Mark's coat. He drove his hand into said pocket with the force of a thrown punch, whipping out a beautiful fob watch. "Aaaaaaand that's lunchtime," the young man sighed, clicking the fob closed and sliding it back into his pocket.
He beamed down at Cecilia. "I ought to be making my way to the Theatre now. But it was truly a miracle seeing you, Cece. You still live in Northgate, right? Expect a letter from me soon!"
Before the girl could say a word, Mark swooped down and planted a small kiss on her cheek, then turned and hurried for the stairs, wondering under his breath if he had time to stop for a kebab.
Flushing the colour of a ripe tomato once more, Cecilia watched Mark rush off in a flurry of curls and coattails. "That moron…" was all she could think to say. The rest of her was very busy wondering what exactly she'd just signed herself up for.
Just a blip of a thing I wrote after work last night. Unless a lot of people ask for it, I probably won't write more. Thank you for reading!