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First Meetings

I recently attended my first writers’ conference. One of the many firsts I experienced while there was pitching my story idea to an editor, Brenda Copeland. In the midst of my rambling, often incoherent, story pitch, she asked me a question I couldn’t answer; “How did these two characters meet?”

It’s an important question, given the disparity in their social classes, Harold being from what some would call the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ and Rose being significantly higher up on the social ladder. So, I decided it was time that Rose clued me in. We sat down and had a little talk…

TM: Since we’re exploring your former life, do you mind if I ask how you and Harold met? You have to admit, you two aren’t the average farm couple.

ROSE: Hmmm… The day I met Harold… {smiles, nods her head} At the time, I thought it was the worst day of my life.

Mother and I had quarreled, as we usually did, so I’d taken the roadster to try and clear my head with some fresh air. There’s something relaxing about an early evening breeze buffeting around your face.

About thirty minutes into my drive, I decided to go into Ingleside. The best little milliner, Cassel Brothers, is there, and a new hat was just the thing to improve my mood. It didn’t hurt that Mother would be livid at the expense.

So, I’m tootling down the road, enjoying the sunshine, the rolling hills, the freedom of driving when, from out of nowhere, a cow jumps into the road.

{laughs} Well, it didn’t jump. I wasn’t paying attention to the road, perhaps, instead, enchanted by the prairie phlox dancing in the wind. Be that as it may, there, at the bottom of the hill was a great black-spotted beast.

I braked, but… well, I might have failed to downshift when I started down the hill, like the manual says you should, so I was going too fast for the brakes to have any chance of stopping me.

In the event, I managed to avoid crashing into the animal, but, in so doing, the Packard and I ended up in the ditch. I banged up my head pretty good on the steering wheel, but other than that, it was the poor car that took the brunt of the collision.

And that blasted cow? Narry a hair on its head harmed; it just stood there mooing at me.

I remember thinking how angry Mother was going to be when she found out. And that reminded me of how angry I was at Mother. But, since she wasn’t around, the next thing I know, I’m traipsing down this dirt lane, ready to give ol’ Bessie’s owner a tongue lashing.

That road went on forever. The further I walked, the angrier I became. (And my feet hurt. Sensible shoes have never been my forte.) Finally, I reached the farm. The outbuildings were in various stages of disrepair. The house, tiny as it was, nestled under a stand of trees, hadn’t seen paint, or even whitewash, since at least before the war.

It also appeared to be abandoned. There was not a soul in sight.

About then, a voice booms from behind me. “Are you lost?” it says, and I spin around to find myself face to face with—

{puts her hand to her throat} Do you mind if we stop for a glass of lemonade? My throat’s a bit parched.

Rose stands, arching her back. We *have* been talking for the better part of the morning. We could both use a little break.

TM: Of course. Something to drink sounds great. I don’t suppose you have anything stronger than lemonade?

[Don’t worry! There’s more in Part 2, as soon as Rose has quenched her thirst.]

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