And Zinnia wasn’t just ‘here.’ She showed up fully-equipped, a tool in one hand and a box in the other. Her clothes indicated that she came straight over from the pig farm. Her appallingly awful coveralls were hoisted over an outfit that must’ve looked ten times worse than the coveralls did.
“It must be the end of Casterne as we know it,” Marietta Trotter, pig extraordinaire, said. She lingered in the doorway of her ribbon-filled hovel. Her latest prize, a pink and yellow striped number, laid across the floor patch she called a bed. “Take off your shoes before you come in. I don’t need you tracking in any mud.”
“We’re not talking. Show me the problem.” If Zinnia’s scowl hadn’t been enough to tell Marietta she was ticked off, her tone sure made that clear.
Marietta pointed over to the far-east wall’s problem spot.
Zinnia grumbled something to herself. She freed her hands of her hand drill and box, and unlaced her boots. After kicking them off, she went over to inspect the damage. Water softened the wood. She ran her hand over the dark splotch, feeling for any further weaknesses.
“You’ll need to replace that,” Marietta said. “The entire wall should be taken down.”
The farmer girl retrieved her box from the entranceway. She pried apart its clasps, popping it open.
“In fact, you should take down those walls over there, as well. They’re doomed to the same problem,” she continued. “What this place needs is an expansion. I’m practically living in a place as wide as my armspan.” Marietta threw out her arms for full effect.
Unmoved, Zinnia looked through the tools she’d brought with her. Metal this, metal that. She held something up to the water-logged spot, hummed in disapproval, and dropped whatever-it-was back into her box. From the looks of it, she didn’t have anything that could solve the problem. What she needed was wall material.
“You have an axe, don’t you?” Marietta asked. “You can chop some wood. The dark kind would match my mirror the best.”
Her suggestion didn’t go anywhere. Zinnia went back to the doorway, grabbed her hand drill, and tapped it around the damage’s perimeter. Tap, tap, tap, she went. The wall stayed silent. Silent and messed up. Was Zinnia going somewhere with this, or had Ellie been wrong about her knowing what to do?
They’d talked about getting her wall fixed the night Ellie ran over to her house out of the blue. Ellie had brought her food (not the best stuff that she could’ve brought, but that was fine), and a whole lot of conversation that mostly went nowhere. Something had been bothering the girl, but Marietta didn’t feel like prying. If she’d wanted her to pry, she would’ve had to have brought her something better to eat.
“This wouldn’t be the first time Ellie’s been wrong…” Marietta muttered. Zinnia wasn’t the expert Ellie’d described. Her architecture skills must’ve eroded over the years. So much for her being good at building and fixing structures.
“No, it wouldn’t be,” Zinnia said. Finally! She talked! “You aren’t supposed to be here.”
“It’s my house. Where else am I supposed to be?”
“Somewhere else, I don’t care.” She picked some bits out of the box. “You’re bothering me.”
“Oh, you’re right. I’ll just go back home to my village, except wait a second.” Marietta fake-laughed. “I haven’t been able to do that in years. Silly me for forgetting.”
Zinnia set her jaw. “What I meant was that you’re supposed to be with Ellie. If you’re going to stay here, then you’re going to have to let me forget that you’re here.”
“You’ve done well enough on that. I’d be starved if it weren’t for that girl.” She put her hands on her hips. “This is my first time seeing you in ages. When did you cut your hair? Did you get tired of keeping it so long?”
“Don’t talk to me like we’re friends. I’m not Freesia.”
“Of course not. You’re nothing like her. She was the ray of sunshine. You’re just the mopey pseudo-intellectual that pretends like your life’s harder than it really is,” Marietta said. “Ellie keeps me updated. I know everything that’s going on with you.”
“I don’t care.”
“Taking trips into the woods now? Don’t tell me you’re pulling an Ellie.”
She snapped her toolbox closed. “I’m done here. I’ve had enough of this.”
“You came in here with a nasty little attitude the second you stepped in here. Did you actually expect me to welcome you in with open arms? Really?”
Zinnia talked like she hadn’t heard her. “You better hope that Ellie can teach herself how to fix this, because I’m not doing it. You’re unbearable.”
“So are you!” Marietta snapped at her. Zinnia headed for the door. “Stop blaming me for what your sister did out of her own free will. You think I wanted any of this to happen? You think I wanted to end up like this? It was her fault!”
She watched Zinnia walk back towards Stockbrunn, biting her tongue. No point in wasting any more words on her. Marietta went over to her mirror, fluffed up her hair, and let out a heavy sigh. Now what was she supposed to do about that wall?
A/N: A reminder that you have one last day to fill out the survey. It will close tomorrow night! Also, the latest chapter vote will end by then so if you haven’t read Chapter 21…do so! This Interlude took place some time during the events of Chapter 20.
This was dedicated to the survey-taker who wondered about Marietta.
Vote for us on Topwebfiction to help us get on and stay on the charts! See you on Friday for Chapter 22.
Some news! I added a Cast page, per some suggestions from the survey. I’ll be moving on some other suggestions from the surveys, as well. Included on the Cast page is a Family Tree. That should make it easier to keep up with some of the characters.