BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

EBFIDDLER

LIGHT AND SHADOW, Part 1
Saturday, December 15, 2012

Waaaaay backstory about Mal’s parents and life on Shadow. Fits in with my series of Firefly fanfics, but it is not necessary to have read my other stories to read this.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2664    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

LIGHT AND SHADOW Part 01

Waaaaay backstory about Mal’s parents and life on Shadow. Fits in with my series of Firefly fanfics, but it is not necessary to have read my other stories to read this.

To tide you over until the next story in my series, "Ends with a Horse," is ready for posting.

* * *

“You heard the news, Dean?”

He took a moment to swallow his drink, leaned back, and looked his interrogator in the eye. “Depends on which news you mean, Hank.”

“New schoolteacher,” Hank said eagerly.

Over-eagerly, in Dean’s opinion. “Why, you thinkin’ about goin’ back for more schoolin’, tryin’ to make up for your natural deficiencies?” He gave his friend a smile, all charm and open-hearted warmth.

Which immediately set off Hank’s alarm bells. He was used to Dean’s natural mix of charm and obnoxiousness. “Ain’t what I said.” He took a pull of his own drink. “New teacher.

“And this is supposed to interest me how, exactly?”

“New blood on the Northside,” Hank told him. To him, it was plain as daylight. In a country as sparsely populated as the Northside of Shadow, any new arrival was of interest, and if that new arrival should happen to be an unmarried woman of suitable age…well, so much the better, in Hank’s opinion. In a community like theirs, just weren’t that many opportunities for an unmarried fella to interact with members of the fair sex as weren’t blood kin or raised up together like your sisters and therefore out of bounds. The monthly Saturday night dances at the Tairbeart Community Hall just didn’t come around often enough, and even then, there was stiff competition, bein’ as the young men outnumbered the women by a goodly amount. “Hope she’s pretty.”

Dean scoffed. “You said that about the new clerk at Piper’s General Store, last year. Turned out she was older than Methuselah, and about as good a looker as your Great Aunt Gippy.” Placing a coin on the bar, he nodded at the bartender, who refilled his glass. “What do you say to a round of darts, Hank?”

Hank hadn’t yet lived down the reputation he’d acquired on account of that store clerk. Still, he couldn’t help speculating further. “New teacher probably come from Edmunds City.”

Dean had been to Edmunds City. Despite the name, Shadow’s largest town was no more than that: a town. Didn’t even have a proper university, so he couldn’t imagine a teacher from Edmunds City as being anything to get so worked up and excited over. Though there was promising talk of establishing a proper Agricultural College in Edmunds City in the near future. Now that was a useful idea. “Yeah, and like as not, new teacher’ll be a man, Hank. You thought of that?”

“Huh.” Hank paused for a moment. “No, I didn’t. Though I reckon Leo’s done thought of it.”

“Oh, he’s probably thought of it every night since Chuck left him and paired off with Bob,” Dean remarked drily.

“Shepherd MacLeod—”

“Shepherd MacLeod don’t have a leg to stand on, Hank. He’s just ireful ’cause Bob’s granddad talked his pa out of some of the best grazing land this side of the brook, and he’s been full of the Wrath of God ever since they shook hands on the deal. Besides,” he added, draining the last of his pint, “Shepherd don’t really have nothin’ against sly folk. It’s unmarried folk that gets him all riled up. Can’t stomach the thought of anyone in his flock committing the sin of forni—”

“The Lord is with us,” Hank inserted hastily. It was their signal that the Shepherd was within earshot.

“Praise the Lord,” Dean Reynolds responded. He turned his head casually and greeted the Shepherd, who had entered the saloon and walked up to the bar to order his favorite temperance beverage. “Rather dry this season, ain’t it, Shepherd? How’s the grazing holdin’ up on Miz Molly’s ranch?”

* * *

The new teacher was a woman. A woman from the Core.

For a woman who hadn’t yet made her appearance on Shadow, she was creating quite a stir. Dean Reynolds was sick of it. “It’s a mistake,” he told Hank, “subscribing to these programs that send Core-world teachers out to the Rim. You’d think they were tryin’ to civilize us.”

“I don’t doubt they are,” Hank laughed. “But if she’s good-lookin’, I’m up for bein’ civilized.”

“You really got a one-track mind, Hank.”

“Can’t help it. When the drought’s been goin’ on this long—”

“Don’t get your hopes up. It’s that confounded Alliance, tryin’ to spread their influence by educatin’ the Rim worlds’ children in their ways. New teacher’ll just preach Unification, mark my words. She’ll make the young folk long for things they can’t have here. The glamour of the big cities in the Core will lure them in, and they’ll leave the land and head for the Core, leavin’ their kinfolk to fend for themselves without the strong backs and willing effort of the young folk. She’s probably—”

“You’re just resentful ’cause Mr fancy-pants Trésor d’Arblay stole your Cathy’s heart, finished his two-year teaching stint, and whisked her away with him to the Core.”

“Maybe I am,” Dean admitted. It still stung. He’d had his eye on Cathy van der Rijn for years, and thought she kinda fancied him, too. Just as he was workin’ up the gumption to ask her ma and pa for permission to court her formally, she up and decided to run off to the Core with this Mr Teacher d’Arblay person. Married him, even. Dawg-gone Core-bred—. His brain, out of long habit, censored the swear words. He rarely let them pass his lips. Leaving Shadow wasn’t an option for him, nor leaving the Northside neither. His parents had died young in one of the raids not long after he’d come of age, and responsibility for running the ranch had fallen on his shoulders. The Good Lord had provided, and the ranch had prospered. The Reynolds ranch was one of the largest on the Northside, though all agreed it had yet to reach its full potential. It was as fine a piece of creation as ever a man was blessed with, fine grasslands surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains ever created by God and modified by the hand of man through terraforming, and not far from the sea with its bounty. The ranch provided Dean Reynolds and an assortment of ranch hands with a means of making a living, and he knew a good thing when he saw it. It was his duty to be a responsible steward of the gifts the Lord had provided him. “But it probably don’t make no nevermind. Like as not, she ain’t young at all. Just some washed-up Core lady havin’ a mid-life crisis and lookin’ out for a wild Rim-world adventure.”

Hank and Dean laughed. Wildest thing happened on the Northside of Shadow recently was Charles Wilson (the Unofficial Mayor of Tairbeart), while holding court in The Taproom (the local temperance-beverage watering-hole), had proposed allowing Piper’s General Store to open up on Sundays. This outrageous proposal stimulated Shepherd MacLeod to preach a hellfire-and-brimstone sermon in church next day, on the Perils of Perdition, the Temptations of Sin, and the Evils of Sunday Shopping. The Lord’s Day was to be kept sacred, and that meant that if you were so fallen from grace as to find yourself run out of toothpaste on a Saturday night, you had to do without until Monday. That, and the other wild thing was when Old Man Keath caught a forty-inch, fifty-pound rockfish down at Little River pier earlier that summer, a truly remarkable feat. The whole neighborhood had flocked to catch a sight of the magnificent creature before Keath scaled and gutted it and took it home to feed his family.

* * *

“Eugenia Weirleigh-Wigglesworth. Ain’t that a mouthful!”

“Pretentious,” was Dean’s assessment. “Wonder what motivated her to sign up for this teaching gig, anyhow? Name like that, she’s gotta be upper-crust—heiress to some Londinium fortune, most like.”

“I’m still hopeful.” Hank’s enthusiasm hadn’t dampened a bit, especially since it had been confirmed that the new teacher was young, fresh out of teaching college, with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a Master’s degree in Education. “I imagine she’s a special lady.”

“She’ll just come out here to sneer at our ignorance, and collect stories she can tell to her society girl friends back home in the Core.”

* * *

The new teacher was pretty. Or rather, more than. Prettier than the stars that shone through the Black. She was the most gorram beautiful creature Dean Reynolds had ever laid eyes on. Oh, Lord forgive him! Did he just swear?

She greeted Shepherd MacLeod politely, with a smile that lit up the heavens, and Dean swore—again—that she was the most beautiful critter yet to alight on this shiny world of Shadow, created by the hand of God and improved by the hand of man—or perhaps he oughtta amend that to read, improved by the hand of woman. The Shepherd handed her down from the wagon that had brought her to their little hamlet, and introduced her to the care of his wife Molly. She was to lodge with the Shepherd’s family.

* * *

Like all the young single men with a lick of common sense, Dean Reynolds attended church the following Sunday. Miss Eugenia Weirleigh-Wigglesworth sat up in the front pew with Miz Molly MacLeod and the rest of the Shepherd’s family. There was one hel—heck of a lot of prayin’ goin’ on in that church that Sunday, but it had precious little to do with Shepherd MacLeod’s sermon.

Some of those prayers were answered after the service in the church social hall, as the young men of the neighborhood vied for the opportunity to bring Miss Eugenia Weirleigh-Wigglesworth refreshment and introduce themselves. She smiled and shook hands and made small talk, but Dean was not one of those favored with a word from her lips. He worked his way through the throng of people—honestly, church hadn’t been so well-attended since Easter—politely greeting old Mrs Primrose and two of her daughters and other friends of his late parents, waylaid by Nelson Wang with a shaggy-dog story about a possum in his compost pile, and finally he was within range of Miss Eugenia W.-W. when his gorra—dawg-gone comm sounded with an urgent message from the ranch. Brunhilde, the prize sow, was farrowing. Things weren’t going well and his presence was needed forthwith. As he made his way toward the door, the sound of her laughter reached his ears. It sounded like music.

* * *

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Next Part

COMMENTS

Saturday, December 15, 2012 4:31 PM

BYTEMITE


Like father like son. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012 8:32 PM

NUTLUCK


Hmm a interesting place to start your new story.

Sunday, December 16, 2012 8:43 AM

EBFIDDLER


Thanks for comments. This waaay backstory is an interlude, not part of my continuing series (although it's consistent with my series). Just something to tide you over until the next one in the series is ready to post. :-) I wrote it because I wanted to write something fun and light, to balance out some of the heavy drama of my other fics and as an escape from some RL seriousness.

Monday, December 17, 2012 12:04 PM

BYTEMITE


Will there be hay rides? SLEIGH rides? See the best of Shadow from the point of view of the only kinds of persons inclined to see the world at its most positive. Sweethearts!

Monday, December 17, 2012 12:18 PM

EBFIDDLER


As a matter of fact, I *do* have a sleigh ride in this story...later on. Yup, a certain amount of sweet fluff in this story. (*unashamed*)

Monday, December 17, 2012 12:47 PM

BYTEMITE


YES. Some of my favourite Firefly stories include sleigh rides!

*also unashamed* *craving the sweet fluff*

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 1:34 PM

WORMAY


I like the picture of Shadow that you paint
I look forward to reading more
Thankyou


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