Disclaimer: This is an Elseworldsesque
story that takes place in Caldecott County. The characters
still belong to Marvel, although these versions and the premise
belong to me. As always, feedback would be welcomed with shouts
of joy etc . . . at firstname.lastname@example.org
Requests for archiving, which will always be accepted, should
be sent to the same address. (Thou shalt not PopUp or MST3K
my poor story though . . . ;) )
The Magician and the Butterfly
A Modern Fairytale
Caldecott, small town as it is, has had its share of scandal
in the past. Heaven alone knows that I, Melanie Judd, have
borne witness to enough in my long life. There was the time
when old man Reynolds, filled with jealousy at his neighbor's
fine corn crop, set his barn alight. We all were heartily
sick of barbequed chicken by the time the repairs were completed,
and it took more than one wash to get the smell of burnt feathers
out of our clothes. I remember the hubbub that was caused
when George O'Reilly, young and irresponsible with restless
Irish blood flowing through his veins, drove his dad's tractor
down the main street, causing the pedestrians to scatter.
And people still talk about the feud between the McAllister
sisters, started over a stolen beau, that still causes them
to snub each other in the street twenty-four years later.
However, no occurrence was more scandalous than the time Sabine
Robbins ran off with the circus...
I remember Sabine well. She was a pretty, slender thing with
a dainty ankle at the end of her high-heeled shoes. (I don't
care what modern women say -- a pretty ankle will catch a
man any time.) It didn't hurt any either that she was as cute
as corn with her long-lashed green eyes and chestnut hair.
Why she settled on Cody Robbins was a mystery to us all.
It's not that the boy was a bad catch. He was solid, safe
and dependable. Someone to whom mothers gladly entrusted their
teenage daughters during his dating days. A farmer to the
core who loved, lived and breathed his five-acres of land.
A good husband who provided for his wife. A good father to
his next wife's children. Nevertheless, he had no business
being with a butterfly like Sabine.
She was not born to be a farmer's wife. Not born to bend
her back to the soil, or spoil her silk-smooth hands with
digging and cleaning. We used to josh in our quilting circles
that she was the kind of Southern Belle written about in those
cheap novels of which Reverend disapproved -- gracious, beautiful
and quite useless. I guess part of it was jealousy, because
our husbands and beaus turned to look at her as she walked
down the street. Sunflowers to the sun. Caldecott, Mississippi,
was no place for a woman like that. If you wished to compliment
a woman here, you called her a worker. Beauty and grace had
been taken off like old clothes during the Depression years
and we had never considered pulling them out of the closet
Were Sabine and Cody happy together? I don't know. I only
remember the arguments, if you could call them that. Sabine,
for all her ladylike ways, was a wildcat when riled. We'd
wake to her screaming at him; telling him that she hated Caldecott
and hated the farm. It must have near killed Cody to hear
her speak as she did -- the brown waters of the Mississippi
flowed in his blood; his small farm was heaven on earth to
him; this quiet county was his home. Yet, he was too gentlemanly
to argue back or raise a hand in anger against her. I don't
hold with men hitting women, but, if ever a women deserved
to be hit, it was Mrs Robbins. Poor man; his passiveness annoyed
her even more. She'd insult him; taunt him; attempt to rile
him. Like the foundation on which their house was built, Cody
remained silent and firm. When her anger had subsided and
only soft sobs remained, we'd hear their old Ford starting
and know that it was Cody on the way to the bar.
Please don't get me wrong. He wasn't an alcoholic -- he didn't
drink to forget, or escape. The bar was just a place for him
to go, like the creek had been when he was a boy. My husband,
Jake, said that he'd spend all night nursing a single beer,
staring at the wall. On it, there was a painting of a flamenco
dancer with skirts of red and gold flaring around her shapely
legs. Her eyes winked at him; her scarlet lips smiled without
cruelty. A crimson butterfly that he had no business admiring.
Perhaps Cody was always drawn to the unattainable. Perhaps
that's why he never left Sabine, despite her spite. Perhaps
he loved her -- he certainly thought the sun rose and set
I remember that, the day she left him for the magician, he
sat on his porch, watching the horizon to see if she would
return via the same dirt road she had taken when she left.
He remained there all night, rocking slowly, waiting for his
butterfly to come home; for the sun to rise on him again.
People often forget that scandals are human stories too.
Continued in Chapter
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