Life would be considerably easier if I were content to do what everyone else wanted, Ursula thought. Or perhaps, if I were content to do so all the time. That was how she had ended up in her current predicament, after all.
The current predicament changed daily, but today’s was best characterized by the tray of bone china balanced precariously in the crook of Ursula’s right arm, and the collection of copper wires and tubing held tightly in her left hand. The airy, elegant afternoon gown kilted up over a pair of tall workman’s boots only underscored the absurdity of the situation.
I should have chosen one, Ursula thought, not for the first time, shifting her weight cautiously to her right foot in an effort to provide a more stable base for her mother’s tea service. But no, I wanted a third option—and now I’m stuck with both. The tea tray wobbled alarmingly and she froze.
“Beckett?” she hazarded a call, attempting to keep her voice within the registers her aunt deemed appropriate for a young lady of wealth and status. “Beckett?”
There was no reply, not that she had truly expected one. Beckett was an able engineer, and an invaluable help to her father in his workshop, but an unfortunate (and, if one were to be honest, rather comical) incident involving a large block of potassium, a bucket of water, and a cat, had severely reduced his hearing.
Ursula huffed out a breath, stirring the lock of mink-brown hair that had fallen out of her coiffure. Well, there was nothing for it; she could feel one of the muscles in her back tensing, and the tray was starting to slip off the smooth fabric of her long gloves. “BECKETT!” she bellowed at the top of her lungs.
From one end of the corridor there was a shriek; from the other, a thud. Ursula sighed, and wondered whether the shriek of the thud was going to get her in more trouble this time.
“Ursula, lass, what are you hollering about?”
Ursula allowed herself a small sigh of relief at her uncle’s voice. He might not be as useful in her current situation as, say, Beckett, but he was certainly better than an irate housekeeper—or worse, her aunt.
“Sorry, Uncle Archie,” she said. “I’m in a bit of a state. I don’t suppose you could…?”
“Ah, I see, yes, I see,” Archie said. “Hmm. And which is giving you more trouble, the teacups or the whangdoodle?”
Ursula’s lips twitched, but she managed to contain her smile. “If you wouldn’t mind taking the whangdoodle for a moment, I think I can get myself sorted out.” Gratefully she transferred the ‘whangdoodle’—actually a Tesla coil, or what had once been a Tesla coil before young Geoff had gotten hold of it—into her uncle’s arms. “Much better,” she sighed, flexing her left hand several times before sliding it under the tray.
“Ursula Brittania Elliott.”
Ursula closed her eyes. It appeared her relief was to be short-lived, indeed. She took a deep breath, opened her eyes, and turned to face her aunt’s wrath.
I’m going to be embarking on a major writing effort starting tomorrow, but since a few hundred words of storytelling is much cheaper than therapy, I dashed this off tonight. I have no idea where Ursula may be headed, but her story will evolve in fits and starts as I find myself stressed or inspired. Onward, Little Bear!