|It had all started with the Easter Eggs. |
Dickie Christie wasn't a type of girl to analyse things too much. Things were as they were, and that was that. She was still in that limbo, not quite child, not quite adult, and happy to stay there. Marriage and children seemed a long way away, not something to be thinking of yet. She supposed she would, after all most women married, but it wasn't happening right now, so there wasn't any reason to consider the subject in depth.
When she looked back on that time, Dickie realised just how much she cherished being with Peggy Bettany, how the crush had begun and grown with time. It didn't matter what the task was, or what amount of time was asked of her, it had been an automatic "Yes" for Dickie - any time with Peggy was sure to be worthwhile.
Their adventure with the storm and falling tree had cemented them together even more. Although Dickie had yet to realise it, she mentally searched most rooms for Peggy as soon as she entered, felt a sense of calm run through with a streak of happiness as soon as she knew the other girl was nearby.
Peggy was always finding things that needed doing, and just getting on with doing them, roping in other prefects where needed, but frequently just seeing to the issue herself if she could. It had become second nature to Dickie to join in, and Peggy was always pleased to have help. She gradually began to ask Dickie first when she needed help with one or other of her schemes.
The Easter eggs had been Bride's affair really. Looking through an old hobbies book, she'd come across the idea of decorating eggshells for Easter. Most of them had decorated boiled eggs in the past, but with the rationing and the difficulty getting supplies to the Island they knew that no one would allow the risk of wasted food. Nor would Matey have allowed it on a school-wide scale, for the youngsters at least would be sure to want to keep their creations, and however long boiled eggs lasted, no one wanted to be finding them in a dormy 6 months later.
The book had been describing a method for making chocolate eggs, where a small pinhole was made in the top, and a slightly larger hole at the bottom. The white and yolk were then blown out, and the egg washed and filled with molten chocolate. This had been Bride's initial thought when she found the book, but seeing the amounts of chocolate that would be required, compared to the prices the eggs would have sold for, had swiftly given up that plan.
It wasn't until Peggy had been bemoaning the poor weather and general feeling of the younger part of the school being unsettled, that the idea had returned. The idea of a saturday afternoon spent decorating egg shells would appeal to much of the lower and middle school, and the need for extreme care to avoid breaking them while decorating would make it last quite a while, as well as adding a challenge to the event for the most jaded of seniors.
So it was that Dickie had found herself getting up before anyone else in the school, creeping down to the kitchens, and sitting with Peggy, Bride, Elfie and Tom Gay, trying not too giggle too much as they systematically blew egg after egg into mixing bowls. The kitchen staff had flatly refused to do so, unsurprisingly, nor to use any more eggs that they had originally planned for meals. So to build up enough shells to have an egg per senior, two for middles and juniors, and a few to spare for any true accidents, the girls had had to spend several weeks gradually building up their collection of blown, washed shells.
The plan had been saved for a rainy Saturday, and proved just as popular as expected. Peggy had been here, there and everywhere, and didn't get much of a chance to do her own egg till nearly at the end. She gazed around for inspiration, and saw Dickie still helping her sister and other juniors, not giving any thought to getting her own chance to do an egg. Peggy had got her finest paintbrushes, and set to decorating the egg with leaves and flowers, with the words "To Dickie, a Good Egg, Love Peggy" and then presented it to her friend that evening without really thinking much of it.
Most of the eggs had not survived far beyond that evening, but Dickie had treasured hers, and kept it beside her bed for as long as she could without attracting comment. After a few weeks, she noticed the others no longer had theirs on display, and felt that she ought to remove it. It was at that point that she came to the biggest revelation of her young life.
She didn't want to lose it. She didn't even want to put it away.
She was fast finding herself subtly turning the egg so she could see the words as she drifted off to sleep, and it was the first thing she looked at in the morning. It wasn't the design, although that was very pretty, it was the words. That throwaway line, decided in a moment and swiftly forgotten, meant the world to Dickie, and for the first time she had no control over her emotions, seeing the words "Love Peggy" made her feel warm, included, and although she was only just starting to admit it - loved.
Peggy didn't feel the same way, Dickie was sure. She'd already forgotten the egg. But for a moment, when Dickie looked at the careful lettering - well maybe, just maybe she could convince herself that she did. That it was a message, that they could have some sort of future together, that the short time they had left at school wouldn't eventually end their daily, near constant contact.
She had hidden the egg away, and taken it home, put it in a box of little treasures, and tried to forget it, step back from the confusing warmth the daydreams gave her. She was mostly successful, although it had been hard sometimes to keep her mind on her work, when she could suddenly feel Peggy's presence everywhere, and woke red faced from dreams of vaguely imagined situations, moments where her friend declared herself in just the same state. She had to hide her feelings, this was too serious an issue to risk the fantasy getting any further than her half imagined moments. She did a good job, for only one person guessed her secret, and in her very reaction saved the older girl from anyone else getting a chance to notice.
It was at the water pageant, where Dickie was riding behind Peggy, returning to the boat. She struggled through the rehearsals with no outward reaction, ignoring the way Peggy's form fitted closely against hers, the way the movement of the horse pushed them together, apart, together. She had managed to focus far in the distance on the trip to the beach, her family being present being another way to keep herself in check. But with the relief of nearly being done, Dickie lost her guard, and subconsciously tightened her grip on Peggy. For one second she gave in, the depth of her feelings and desire for this moment never to end streaking across her blushing face.
Only one person saw, or rather one person recognised the feelings for what they were, not embarrassment at having to be in the show. Tom Gay, just beginning to experience a similar set of confused feelings, glanced at the pair at just the right moment. In her recognition of the desire on Dickie's face, and shock in realising she wasn't the only one to feel this way, Tom couldn't help but blow into the conch shell, emitting a huge noise just beside the horse's head.
In the following moments, Dickie was grateful for there being no one in front of them now, as the bolting horse and need to get it under control threw her and Peggy even closer together, gave a reason for gripping the other girl tightly, till she almost felt burnt where their bare skin touched. She could feel Peggy's heart beating against hers, the excitement and fear of the sudden race clear in the thumping so close to her own. This, with the rush of the ride made Dickie for one wild moment, contemplate letting the horse take them far from the beach, declare herself, whatever the world might do, or Peggy might say.
However, common sense prevailed, she came rapidly to her senses, and pulled the horse up. A moment for a breath, then she calmly walked them back, managing to get herself under control enough that no one questioned anything. Any redness in either of their faces or shortness of breath was explained away by the exertion. If Dickie disappeared into the cold sea for a moment as soon as she had come away from the display, no one really thought much of it. Many of the girls took a moment to splash around and cool off before heading back to the school. Dickie carefully didn't look to see what Peggy might do, the safest thing was to act as if nothing had happened.
But it had. From that moment on, there was no going back, any vague stories she had told herself about just feeling a close friendship, or a platonic sisterly love were given up. She knew how she had felt, and now she had to decide when, or if she would ever act upon those feelings.
All because of an Easter Egg.
Author's Chapter Notes:
The theme was Easter Eggs, Tom Gay and The Island.
The timing is slightly out I think but it doesn't spoil the story hopefully.
The timing is slightly out I think but it doesn't spoil the story hopefully.