In Search Of Something Cheerful

"In Search of Something Cheerful"

Who: Christiane & Alice, with a cameo appearance by Derek
IC Date: May 1940
OOC Date: Feb. 2, 2008
Where: Alice's Seamstress Shop in Arras, France

What: Christiane heads to Alice's seamstress' shop in search of a spot of something cheerful. The two women reminisce.

Arras
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The Grid-----> > > > > THE GREATEST GENERATION < < <


Coordinates : 16 4

A fine example of a French town. There is little sign of war here, the buildings are all in good condition - very good condition in fact, as most of them have been newly built. The last war was not kind on this area, after all. It all looks peaceful, at least on the surface.

It is currently daytime.

Sub-Rooms :

Contents
Christiane
Alice

Front Lines <FL> Arras Hospital <AH>
Cafe Mason <CM> West <W>
East <E> South <S>
North <N>

Another day in Arras. The town exists peacefully, while the Germans march onwards. The people are oblivious. Alice herself is one of them, busily working away in her dress shop. The seamstress turned part time nurse is really quite ordinary, but cheery. The shop is too. There's busts, cloth, a few dresses out as an example scattered about. Organization is for the weak! She sits, stitching away some ranks onto a uniform, with her things set all about her.

Alice's Desc
Eyes as blue as sapphires, glittering and often wide and expression, Alice has a curious, cheery look to her. The woman's hair is curly, oh so curly, in classic ringlets and half-curls, falling just past her shoulders. It is glossy, showing she's in decent health and well-groomed to boot. A couple of pins keep said ringlets from becoming a mass of tangles, that bounce when she moves. Alice has high cheekbones, slightly thin lips, and a generally cheery looking expression. Yes, more cheery dammit. It's hard to place her age exactly, but she's likely in her mid-20s to early thirties. A rather large gap there…
As far as clothes go, Alice is staying in rationing rules. She has a light blue peplum type blouse, with a few ruffles on the sleeves. She also keeps a cream colored scarf around her throat, accenting the slightly low cut blouse. For a skirt, she has a ruffled light blue thing that falls just past her knees, made of cotton. Her shoes are sturdy, no heels here!

Christiane has gotten away from the hospital for a bit and is running some errands about town. One of those takes her to Alice's shop. "Bonjour," she calls to Alice as she enters, offering the woman a friendly, if tired, smile.

Christiane's Desc
A woman of about forty years, in the autumn of her life, but still with a quiet strength about her manner and a spring in her step girls half her age might envy. Only a few lines have etched their way onto her fair-skinned face - made from smiles and laughter - and her shoulder-length hair is still more light brown than gray. She is of average height and weight, with a face that is pleasant but unremarkable. The most arresting feature she possesses is her eyes. They are a deep gray, just a few shades too stormy for blue, and hold a look of intelligence and compassion, mixed with a quiet sadness of one who has seen much hardship over the years. When she speaks a trace of a Belgian accent lilts her words, though its been softened by years in the Arras region of France.
She's dressed like any other village woman of comfortable but not wealthy means. Her dress is white patterned in blue roses, paired with sensible shoes, and a white gingham apron around her waist keeps it from getting too dirty. She moves with a natural grace and determined efficiency, carried on her path by a pair of sensible brown leather shoes. A gold wedding ring adorns the third finger of her left hand, the only jewelry she can be seen wearing.

Alice is cheery, even in light of her dual jobs! "Bonjour, madame," She calls back and smiles. A bundle of energy given life, if one wishes. She puts down her sewing a moment, in her lap to look up to Christiane. "How are you today? And may I help you?"

Derek steps down the street, the larger half of a baguette held beneath an arm as he breaks off portions and bites the crusty bread while he wanders through the streets. His company is just outside of town and is preparing to march just as soon as certain officers arrive from their briefings in the rear. The private sees the two friendly woman he met the other day and wanders over, "Salut," he greets them.

Christiane and Alice are inside Alice's little seamstress' shop, though Christiane left the door open behind her, so she hears Derek's greeting well enough. "Salut, Private!" she calls to him cordially, leaving the door ajar in case he wants to stop awhile. But she's hear on business of her own. She answers Alice, "Yes. I had a bit of time to myself and wanted to pick up something…colorful. The hospital looks all of gray and white most of the time. And red. One misses finer colors."

"Hello," Alice calls out, perhaps after Christiane's greeting. Just in case. She nods, and sets the uniform aside. She looks around, and grins. "I see. They must keep you running all over still. Well, fabric might be a /bit/ tight, but colors yes. We have colors," She notes merrily. "What kinds of colors, madame?" She stands from her seat, probably to see what fabrics she has in stock.

Derek smiles as he's greeted and gives the women a wave. "Just wanted to stop in and say thank-you for being so welcoming the other night.. You must get tired of soldiers marching through your homes, but you've been nothing but gracious hosts." He flushes slightly and points down the road, "My unit's mustering to head out to the lines, just thought I'd say thank-you for the hospitality.."

"Your are very kind, Private," Christiane says. "As for the trouble…a bit of minor inconvenience is a small price for keeping the Germans off our doorstep. I am only sorry they could not be stopped in Belgium." She sighs, her expression turning somber, but she concentrates on the fabric. "Something bright. And in no shade of red. I was looking for a scarf, actually. Something to put my hair back with."

"Ah, it's nothing really," Alice smiles to Derek. "And I agree, you are being kind." She bobs her head. "Good luck out there. I just wish you'd wipe your feet before coming in is all, I am horrible at housework," Alice smirks. She looks to Christiane and looks thoughtful. She goes to a chest, probably where she stashes her fabrics. "Let's see…" Soft greens, some with leaf and ivy patterns… Monarch butterflies against soft tan, pink - too close to red? A vibrant yellow, some purple. There are patterns too. "How about something light blue?"

Derek winces, noticing he tracked most of the roadway in with him. "Oh, gee, I'm sorry," he says sincerely, looking back, and the crumbs from the baguette! He blushes, embarassed by the trail and takes a step back towards the door, "Anyways, I should be going.. Take care." he says, noiticing the women fixated upon the patterns of cloth before them. He gives them a brief, nervous wave, and then departs, heading down the street to meet up with a couple of squaddies.

"I have always liked blue," Christiane says, smiling at Alice's selection with approval. "Something with flowers, perhaps? I have not had time to tend my own little garden lately. I would like to see growing things, even if they are made of stitches." She looks up to offer a wave and parting smile to Derek. "Good day, Private. Take care of yourself. I hope we shall meet again, when all of this is over. Arras is a lovely town in better times."

Blink. Oops. "Erm, I was teasing," Alice offers. She just smiles weakly. She waves to the private then, and nods. "Be well." She inclines her head towards Christiane, "She is right. You really should." Another smile. She waves to the man, as he goes then bends to check in the chest again. There's a light blue fabric with little flowers, tiny white cherry blossom-like things. "Something like this?" She holds it up. "And oh, that's no fun."

Derek heads off North.

"I think this is quite lovely," Christiane says, taking the cherry-blossom scarf and holding it in her hands. "Did you embroider this yourself? I never had much of a hand for fine needlework. I can sew very straight but I am afraid I cannot make it pretty."

"Kind of," Alice nods. "It was an old project of mine I never got to finish - so I kept the fabric I made," She smiles. She looks over the scarf. "I guess it does make a nice scarf, good thing I didn't finish it!" A wry grin. "I have sewn for years. My family has a dress shop in another city. I came here…"

Christiane moves the scarf between her fingers, getting the feel of it. "It's very soft. What sort of fabric is this?" As for coming here from another city, she nods. "Arras, it has a way of keeping you. I remember when I came here, with the Red Cross…" She smirks. "I certainly never thought I would stay. But after the War…" The ways she says it capitalizes the word. "…I found myself lingering with the medical staff to help rebuild. At first, I thought I would one day go back to Belgium…but life had other plans for me, it seems."

"A sort of cottony-silk blend," Alice tries to remember. "I can hardly remember, I had almost forgotten I had even had it," She admits sheepishly. "I came here when I was younger. I met Gabriel here," Alice almost grins. But she nods. "I was young - so little," She doesn't /quite/ remember the last great War. "We're glad you're here, though. And Belgium? You are from there? What is that like I wonder? Don't worry about paying for that- I should clean out that chest more. I have things I have been meaning to clean out," Alice waves a hand, motioning to the scarf.. Then winces, as there's an obnoxious yellow fabric. "Who would buy this? Perhaps I was drunk."

Christiane waves the scarf at Alice, laughing. "Don't be silly. Of course I will pay. You have been a great help to the nurses at the hospital. You will not make me feel as if I was cheating you. I would be wracked with guilt." She unwinds the cloth fully and holds it up with both hands, so she can see the entirety of it. "Markus and I met during the War. He was a Legionnaire. Very dashing…in his grumpy way." She laughs again. "Of course, I did not look at him like that at first. I had…well. Other ideas."

"Cheating me?" The concept seems foreign to Alice. She even tilts her head. And wrinkles her face a little. "Well, okay, if you insist," Nod. Alice, is not stubborn. Silly thing. She watches Christiane quietly, as the woman tolts. She nods, and hms softly. "I see! Other ideas?" Alice is curious, but not in an impolite, overbearing way. She just is. "I can only imagine."

"It is nothing too exciting," Christiane says, careful to keep her tone light. "I did not consider any sort of romance with the soldiers. We nurses, we were all very young, and they were in so much danger and pain. It was better to keep some distance with those on the front here. Besides…I had someone else. He was an officer in the Belgian army. Lieutenant Julien Courtlandt. We met in the Netherlands, when I was training with the Red Cross."

"Everyone interesting says that, but you know who they study in history, the normal people," Alice notes. She listens though, nodding. "Oh?" A few blinks. She had someone else? What a turn in the story. She sits back in the seat she was sitting in when she was sewing that uniform. Now she is watching. "Please, feel free to have a seat if you like. Are you thirsty at all?" Alice asks, and looks to Christiane.

Christiane makes a "Hmph" sound. "I would like to read your history. What I have read usually forgets about the normal people. Generals and kings make history. Privates and villagers merely do all the work." Christiane does sit, at the invitation. "Something to drink would be very nice. Whatever you have is fine. I have little time for relaxation these days, so anything is welcome. If it is not too much trouble. I am sure you have work to do here."

Alice just chuckles at that. She nods, "They may make it, but it is the historians that dig it up." Alice stands again, and hms, "There's tea, and some water. I don't keep too much at the shop." She shrugs, "Fortunately, I don't talk with my fingers. That is the nice thing about sewing." A happy thing, the woman who sits and sews and chats all at once! "No trouble at all, so mind it not."

"Some tea would be lovely," Christiane says, idly looping the blue scarf around her hair, tying it back. She wouldn't want to spill anything on it, and she wants to feel how it wears. "And yes. There was someone else before Markus. Julien and I did not know each other very well. He was waiting for his first assignment and I was training. It all happened very fast. Looking back, it seems rather unreal."

Nod. Of course. Alice disappears into the back. There's the sound of clanking, as things are set out and gathered. "The water's on to boil," She peers back out, stepping into the room once again. "A watched pot never boils," She comments. "How does it feel? Not too scratchy?" She asks, then goes quiet to listen. "Oh?" An encouragement to go on, even leaning a bit.

Christiane gives her head an experimental arch before shaking it. "Oh, no. It's quite soft actually. Strong, too, which is for the good. I cannot abide clothing that tears if you even try to wear it like a real person." She smiles a little, but the story she's telling isn't one that makes her smile much. "Yes. Julien proposed to me just before he left for the front at Ypres and I was sent to Arras not long after that. We wrote as often as we could but…that was the last time I saw him. That morning he left the Netherlands." The two women are chatting in Alice's little seamstress' shop, which is in a modest building tucked away amidst the others on the street.

"Yeah, strong cloth tends to endure my mistakes," Alice grins. "I also like people to show it off! Then they come back," She chuckles. Alice looks, leaning over to the doorway, to make sure the water's not boiled over. "I see," She murmurs, as Christiane goes on. Then her eyes seem to take on a concerned glance. "I'm - sorry," This might be leading into a sad story.

Christiane simply nods, assuming she does not need to get into detail for her meaning to be clear. "Many young men did not return from that War. Anyhow. After that, and after all I'd seen as a nurse…I did not want to go home right away. So I stayed in Arras. Markus stayed as well. We had been friendly during the War but we grew…closer after the Armistice. I suppose we comforted each other, and that became love. It was nothing I expected but…this world is strange. Few things happen as we expect."

"So I have heard," Alice replies. She listens, nodding and grunting softly to encourage Christiane on. A little smile, at the mention of Markus. Aw. Alice waits for the story to finish. "I see, excuse me." She steps back into the backroom quickly, and returning with some tea. It takes a moment, and that clanking happens again. "And no, no they don't," She agrees, bringing a tray back with sugar and some milk, offering a cup to Christiane. There is spoons too! Horray. "It's a sweet kind of love."

"It has a been a good life for us," Christiane agrees simply. Her smile is wistful, but there's no regret in her tone. She takes the tea, blowing on it gently before she gets to sipping it. Wouldn't want to burn her tongue.

No regret. That's important. Alice nods, and pours a bit of sugar into her tea. "That's good. I'm glad. I was surprised I even got married," Alice admits with a grin, taking a seat again.

Christiane grins, drinking her tea largely in silence. After that story, she doesn't feel much like more conversation. When she's finished she thanks Alice, and puts some francs down to cover the cost of her scarf. "Merci, Madame Chevalier. For the tea and the fabric. And the company."

It is a hard story to follow up. Alice accepts this, content to bask in the company then. "Thank you for coming by yourself," Alice replies. "I sit in here like an old hag spinning away," She jokes lightly and winks. "It is good to see you. Please feel free to come by, alright?" She nods, accepting the payment, albeit reluctantly. "Be well."

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