Then I took their feedback and edited it, then edited each chapter before putting it up for critique in my online group. And it is there that I learned....how much I still needed to learn.
My punctuation was atrocious.
I told instead of showed everything.
So with the help of these fellow-writers I embarked on a rewrite, and just finished yesterday afternoon. I printed the book off- all 207 pages of it, and put it in a notebook. It is finished. I have promised myself that I shall not change a word of it until I very gruff publisher with a very round belly and very bristly whiskers tells me I have to. ;) One very good piece of advice a critique-er gave me is this: There is such a thing as Over-Editing. You don't wish for your book to feel stilted and to lose it's flow. So I am done. I am forcing myself to let The Seasonings rest in peace. :P And I thought I'd post the epilogue for you here. Okay, so it *is* a spoiler, but if the book is never published, I'd love to know you got to read at least the very end. Tell me what you think! :)
Epilogue: Two Years Later
The summer heat pulsed like a volcanic heart outdoors, but inside our bungalow was cool and silent. Almost too silent. I longed for the usual daily noise attending our family. The laughter and chatter—even Angie’s piano-practice would have been a welcome relief compared with this quietude.
We children were gathered in the parlor, alone once more—and yet not alone. A mysterious bustle sounded in the dark hallway. The quick, light step of a woman and the low voice of Dr. Simms. A door closed gently, followed by a muffled groan.
Fennel put aside the book she was reading. “Will Mama be tickety-boo?”
“Of course, Fenny.” I pinched her nose and poured myself a glass of lemonade. But I was more than a little worried, myself. We had already lost one mother in childbirth. Would our new Mama be taken as well? Oh Lord, let her live. If it be Your will, let her and the new baby get through this time.
“You’d better not pinch me, Basil.” Fennel interrupted my thoughts.
I pinched her nose again. “And why not, goosey?”
“Because when I’m a young lady pinching me will be a fearful impro…impro..”
“That’s right. Mama said gentlemen never pinch ladies. She told Dill just last week.”
A muffled moan drifted through the wall.
Rosemary shifted and sighed. “Oh, when will this waiting be over?” She knit her brow and toyed with a paintbrush and watercolors. Months of Mama’s gentle training had turned her into quite a young woman.
“I don’t guess it can be much longer.” I smiled at the growly depth of my voice. Two years had been sufficient time for my voice to drop an octave.
Dill joined my side. His head was almost level with mine now. “I’m hungry, Basil. Can we please rummage up something in the kitchen? I’ve been starved for weeks! Ever since Mama went into her confinement and Sali left us for that butcher-man.”
I thumped him on the shoulder. “Don’t you ever think of anything else besides food?”
Dill grinned complacently. “Not when there’s a crisis like this. Say, you and I have had our own room for a two years now. Why can’t we make some improvements? Install an icebox or two and some cupboards.”
“Dill Vervain Octavius Seasoning.” A tall girl sat down at the piano and tossed her golden hair. It was the Angie of old, only grown a foot taller and prettier than ever. “You will never learn to eat only at mealtimes, will you?”
She played a measure or two of some music on the piano and paused. A new sound had reached our ears, even above the music.
“Did you hear that?” Dill asked.
“Oh, is it the baby?” Fennel jumped from the window seat and threw open the parlor door.
We waited in silence. I bit my thumbnail. Ten minutes passed at a turtle’s pace.
At last I heard a door open and the set of light footsteps coming down the hall. A pale, pretty nurse entered the room. She curtsied. My heart leaped to my throat and I leaned forward, trying to anticipate the news, whether good or bad.
“If you please, Maister Seas’ning, the doctor says y’may come in now. All of you.” The nurse smiled, and curtsied again, and I knew all was well.
With a collective squeal, the girls pushed past me. Dill and I, unable to act the part of sober-minded gentlemen followed them at a breakneck pace. We slid to a stop at the door of Mama and Papa’s bedroom and tip-toed in.
Mama lay on the great bed and Papa stood beside her, stroking her golden hair. He turned when he heard us enter and motioned for us to come closer. I peeked at Mama over Papa’s shoulder. Although there were deep circles under her eyes and little color in her cheeks, a light shone through her face, making her more beautiful than ever before. I stepped closer to the bed and the others crowded around me.
In Mama’s arms, wrapped in a pink blanket, lay the tiniest person I had ever seen. Her eyes were shut tight and her dark hair was damp and fuzzy.
The girls gasped and reached out to touch her tiny hands and ears. Dill’s eyes grew rounder, but he poked the blanket and grinned.
“Golly, she’s awful red, isn’t she?”
He said it loudly, and the baby, startled by the sound, let out a tremulous wail. Dill shrank back and turned red himself.
Mama kissed the baby and laughed at Dill. Her laughter tolled softly like the bell in the silver rattle the OLAF had sent for this new little person.
“Don’t worry, Dill. She’ll soon grow accustomed to living in this lovely family,” Mama said.
The baby quieted, and Papa picked her up and placed her in my arms. It felt right, holding the warm, soft bundle. I hadn’t held a baby since Fennel was born. I looked at Fenny, now a big girl of nearly seven, and a lump rose in my throat. The baby wriggled and opened her rosebud of a mouth to yawn.
“What’s her name?” I asked.
Mama looked at Papa, her blue eyes luminous and overflowing with tender love. He nodded.
“Her name is Lavender,” Mama whispered. “After the lullaby.”
Papa stroked Mama’s hand. “Lavender Victoria Regina Seasoning, but we’ll call her Lavvy.”
I held the little baby and rocked it in an awkward, manly fashion. Lavvy. It fit her well.
“Well, Miss Lavender.” I pinched the tip of her nose as gently as I could. “You’ve come to live in quite a family.”
Lavvy moved a hand and stretched her tiny fingers, while snuggling deeper into her blanket. When she opened her eyes for a brief second, I could see they were the exact color of Mama’s. Blue as a summer sea.
I brushed Lavender’s velvety cheek with my finger and smiled to myself. She had evened things out, in a way. There were six of us children now. Fenny was a big sister, and Mama and Papa had a baby to bring their hearts even closer together, if that were possible. I thanked the Lord to the very depths of my heart for this new sister.
“Oh, let me hold the dear thing,” Rosemary said.
She took Lavender from my arms and cradled her in her own. Angie touched Lavvy’s tiny toes and Fennel tucked the blanket in tighter around her. I looked at Papa and returned his beaming smile with a satisfied nod.
It was impossible to have found a better sort of happily ever after.
So there you go! :) What do you think of that as an ending? Oh! And to keep my reputation, I must remind you....Enter "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words" contest! :) -Rachel