A Sunny Afternoon With Frankie And Lydia
by P. Kristen Enos
Copyright 2012 P. Kristen Enos. I own these characters and their drama.
Summary: As the title says, this very, very short story is an intro to one of my favorite character combos to write. A must read for future F&L stories!
Frankie was sooo bored. And she would be the first to admit that she doesn't handle such states well. But in her own defense, she really doesn't suffer such intense restlessness that often given how much she travels.
It's always the start of trips, when leaving one place for another that her enthusiasm was at its peak. Yet after several days, weeks and sometimes months, the repetition just hammers away at the heart of a self-described city girl. She manages the boredom well, but when the destination finally gets so close she that could taste it, the deferred restlessness wants release, and release now.
After five weeks of traveling west across land by almost every means possible, Lydia had calculated that they should be reaching the first true town some time that night, especially with taking passage across a lake in a battered rowboat they had "found" on the shore.
As Frankie draped against the bow of the tiny vessel, she arched her arm over her eyes to provide shade under the sun in the cloudless sky. The air was a little cool despite the bright light and the only sound was the oars steadily cutting through the calm water. She had loosened as much of her light dress without revealing parts that she didn't want sunburned. She had pinned up her thick, almond-brown hair to cool off as much as possible while a fine layer of sweat covered every part of her body.
She peeked at the one other occupant in the rowboat.
Always one to react to being watched, Lydia met her look with that unblinking green eyed stare.
Even just sitting in rowing a boat in a well-worn peasant's dress with her ice-blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, she exuded the aura of one who was both relaxed and yet ready to burst into action at a moment's notice. She had the lean, sinewy form of a woman raised as a blacksmith's daughter who was not afraid of doing unglamorous chores to eat. Yet, she had the elegant features that could be breathtakingly beautiful if she were incline to make herself presentable for admiration. And that's a big "if".
While Frankie relished the company of people, Lydia was the opposite, content to be in the background and observing. But it was that social reserve in her best friend that Frankie actually thought was a little sexy. Especially the way she looked at you as if you had her undivided attention, like right now.
"You know, we should celebrate being so close to true civilization," Frankie said with a lazy drawl that slightly mocked her own noble upbringing. She slowly and carefully eased her way across the short distance between them.
The other woman sat expressionless and waiting, pausing in her rowing as Frankie moved into straddling her lap and draping her arms over her shoulders.
"It's a gorgeous, peaceful day and no one is around as far as the eye can see. Literally," she purred as they were almost nose to nose. "We can make as much noise as we want and no one will disturb us. We won't have such a luxury when we reach town."
Lydia's only change in her expression was to narrow her eyes slightly. "To do that would risk us falling asleep and not making the town by midnight. And we could lose our direction in the middle of this lake. Do you want another night of sleeping on the ground?"
Frankie frowned at the matter of fact response.
Lydia could say 'no' in a way that it actually seemed like your idea.
Then she had to add, "And I have to do all of the rowing since you seem incapable of rowing this boat in a straight line. I don't think I have the energy for something extra."
It was then that Frankie knew the answer wasn't just a 'no' but a punishment for her earlier demonstration of rowing the boat in a circle when it was her turn. She just didn't want to do the work and her friend was far more suited for such menial things. At the time, Lydia slightly narrowed her eyes and took the oars but didn't voice her suspicions of feigned incompetence… until now.
This was not the first time Frankie wished she had a male traveling companion who loved to do things for her and wouldn't turn down an opportunity for sex.
However, feeling provoked and aroused, Frankie pursed her lips to respond when both women suddenly distracted the slight side to side rocking of the boat. Wordlessly, they both realized that the movement was caused by the large wakes rippling across the surface, apparently starting from the middle of the lake that was still far away from them.
Lydia immediately stiffen, tense for immediate action. "I think we're about to find out why we're the only people on this lake."
A surprised Lydia is rare; an alarmed Lydia is downright bad.
Frankie didn't need another word to know that this was her cue to get off of her friend's lap now.
The two women immediately went into their routine for emergencies. Frankie fished out the money purses from their bags while Lydia pulled out her only prized possession, a thin dagger of blue steel that had been forged by her father.
"Stay low and in the middle of the boat," Lydia instructed as she whipped off her clothes.
Frankie did was she was instructed while trying not to be too distracted by the view of the lean, sculpted figure before her. Movement in the background suddenly caught her attention. A red, sleek form crested on the watery surface, causing bigger waves to roll towards them.
Totally focused on the matter at hand, Lydia quickly sat down and gave a couple of power rows to project the boat towards the nearest shore. Picking up her dagger, she poised herself on the end of the boat. "Wait an hour for me."
With a dive and a splash, Lydia disappeared into the rippling water.
Frankie tried to fight down her worry because she knew Lydia was far stronger than she looked, and her strength could increase with the beating of her heart. Plus her body would magically heal from wounds that should be fatal. Something she never fully explained to Frankie, and Frankie didn't really want to know.
At the best, Lydia takes care of the problem and they continue on their way. At the worst, Lydia disappears and they might reunite in their travels, sometimes years later.
Frankie couldn't help but feel the anxiety that things could go very wrong, where Lydia wouldn't cheat death again.
She picked up the oars and started madly rowing to land.
The splashing of water caused her to jump in her seat. She paused to watch coils of a red serpent thrashing on the surface of the water. In brief flashes she thought she saw a limbs sticking out of its toothy mouth.
Mesmerized, she watched it thrash in the surface, appearing and disappearing, the crest of waves eventually rocking her tiny boat.
And then it stopped as it disappeared beneath the water, leaving nothing but ripples.
With her heart pounding in her chest, she forced herself to focus back on the task of making her way to shore. After all, she didn't need to provide that creature dessert.
She tried not to think of other possible endings of to that encounter.
Yet she couldn't help but steal a glance back.
She was stunned at the sight of the red serpent floating on the lake, gently bobbing in the water in the way that dead things do.
Frankie steered the boat back to towards the center of the lake, scanning the water for anything else that may be floating out there.
And then she spotted the waving arm and finally felt like she could breathe, even though she wasn't the one under the water.
As she helped her exhausted friend into the boat, her eyes widened at the sight of deep gashes in the front and back of that lean torso and limbs. Blood was pouring out of the wounds like water. Frankie forced down the pending nausea thanks to years of these moments.
Panting and grimacing, Lydia carefully stretched out on one of the benches and handed the dagger over for repacking.
"Go ahead and sleep," Frankie said as she took the oars to steer them back to their original destination. "I'll wake you when we reach land."
"Thanks… It's nice to have someone else who can row this boat."
Frankie paused at the remark. She then fought the urge to wish that she had a male traveling companion who didn't have a bitchy memory.
She flashed her most gracious smile and said, "Of course! I'm always willing to help out!"
Lydia narrowed her eyes but said nothing… yet.
- The End For Now -