To fill a bingo on card one of my Worldbuilding Bingo Card: Culturebuilding. Fashion – Body Types, Housing Arrangements, Fashion – Clothes, Entertainment
In my new world for my YA paro-drama, different characters (although my protag appears in discussion)
“Come on, Shekie, you’re going to be late.” Miagreth burst into the older-girls’ bedroom, her Daybreak-finest twirling as she did a couple pirouettes. For a couple years, it had looked like Miggie was going to be in the Home Office dance corps, but she’d been shoved out in favor of a General’s daughter and a Corporal’s niece. Their family line was not military-oriented, so Miggie was left dancing for fun and entering reports for a cigarette manufacturer for her vocation. She tugged on her cousin’s arm. “You look fine. The dress is beautiful. Come on.”
“I don’t know.” Shekleen twirled around three times in front of the mirror, frowning. “I think it makes me look flat.”
“Oh, nonsense.” Miagreth squeezed Shekleen’s small breasts. “You have plenty, and you’ll grow into the rest. Just wear something really tight at the waist like this and poof the shirt up a little more, like that. There.” She moved around Shekleen, tugging and fussing and arranging. “You look beautiful. Just because Peyy Redhouse has,” her hands described round in the front and round in the hips with hourglass like-gestures, “and she’s sticking them in everyone’s face like she’s been..”
“It’s not Peyy,” Shekleen demurred. She adjusted a few of Miagreth’s changes and looked at herself again. “It’s Onnal. He’s…”
“Tch. You don’t want to end up with an entertainer, anyway. A boxer? They don’t last past their thirties, Shekie. Sure, he’s handsome right now and he looks like he could pick up a cow, but think about after someone breaks that nose… or he gets hit in the head too hard… or he breaks a leg and can’t run those miles every day. And if he’s telling you that you need to rounden up, well, he needs to ante up, doesn’t he? First baby will get those things nice and round.”
“He’s waiting till he has a good run of fights,” Shekleen offered weakly. “But I think he’s going to start going after Avy from the mill-run anyway. He’s been eyeing after her for a while.”
“Well, then what do you care if he thinks you need more rounding? It’s Daybreak. We’re going to go eat until we want to puke, and then we’re going to wait twenty minutes and eat some more. Come on.” Miagreth grabbed Shekleen’s hand and dragged her outside. “The dancers are just about to start, and the drummers are already going.”
The Square was crowded cheek-to-jowl, everyone in their Daybreak Specials. Shekleen looked around for Onnel, but there would be boxing demonstrations, so he’d be preparing for that.
There was Avy, of course, prepping with the dancers. Their little town wasn’t big enough for one of the professional troupes, but their amateur, second-hobby dancers were pretty impressive. Shekleen couldn’t dance. She hadn’t managed to pass even the hobbyist test. Miagreth had, but then she’d had a bad fall during combat training, and that had been it for her dancing.
Avy had the sort of chest and hips Shekleen wanted, wide in the stance, round in the bottom, and with plenty of breast over impressive pectoral muscles. Of course, she spent her days hauling grain and tinkering with the mill for her family’s business. Shekie’s family ran the local fabric mill, which meant a lot of fine work leaning over a loom and less heavy lifting at all.
“There he is!” Shekleen grabbed Miagreth’s arm and tugged. “Come on, I see Onnel.”
“You don’t really want to go after Onnel right now, do you?” Miagreth dragged her feet. “For one, I see Tibor over there, and I’ve been meaning to talk to him for ages. Look at that hair.” She made a soft noise of approval.
Shekleen shook her head. “Come on, Miggie, Tibor, really?” She might have unreasonable taste in men, but Miagreth’s was no better. “Where would you live? He lives in this little apartment over the grocery shop with his mother and his mother’s mother. You don’t want to try to raise a family in that. And you’re not going to get a three or a four and live with their family, not with… well.” Miagreth really did like Tibor, but…
“It’s not like he’s ugly,” Miagreth countered, a little too loudly. She dropped her voice. “And nobody really knows why his father Disappeared. And you know full well that’s why his mother didn’t remarry, and why she doesn’t live with her other family. And why they only have one kid.”
“I know. You know. But how does any of that help you?” Shekleen moved through the crowd to the demonstration rings. In the first one, two boys they knew from school were oiled up and ready to show off their wrestling skills. “Your family’s place doesn’t have room for anyone else, and there’s no place left to build on.” Miagreth was the baby of her family, and three of her older brothers had moved their spouses into the family house already. “His family place doesn’t have any room… and neither of you are in one of those really money-making careers.”
Miagreth frowned. “We could do an apartment, you know. A little place, just until we had a bit more money.”
“Babies cost money, Miggie.” Shekleen sighed. Her friend wanted to dream of happiness, that was all. “I bet the two of you could pull it off, though. It would be hard work, but Tibor does work hard.”
“He does. He really is trying to fix the mess his father got them in.” Miagreth sighed deeply and melodramatically. “Getting himself vanished like that. I mean, it’s just inconsiderate to the family.” She shook her head, in a perfect if unconscious imitation of her maternal grandmother.
“And to you, of course,” Shekleen teased, although it was unkind. “Oh, there’s the boxing ring. Let’s go see what On… oh.”
“Oh?” Miagreth pushed up behind her. “…Oh.”
It wasn’t Ava, and Shekleen wondered if, somewhere, Ava was making the same frustrated trying-not-to-cry face that she herself was making right now. Ava, she could have stood; Ava had the same carefully-patched hand-me-downs as Shekleen, and though she had more curves, she had the same slightly pinched look they all got in a lean year. Ava was someone she knew, someone she’d grown up with, someone she could compete with fair and square.
This girl had the Main-Office look, her dress cut in the latest fashion, the skirt long, full in the back and over ample, well-fed hips, the jacket tight in the waist and open over her broad chest. She’d had her hair curled and twisted up into an elaborate up-do with ribbons of cloth woven through it, and the dyes in the whole thing were bright, vibrant, standing out against the faded look of the rest of the town. “She’s beautiful,” Shekleen muttered jealously.
“And rich,” Miagreth agreed quietly. “Look at that. I saw it in the latest Conscientious Citizen Monthly, well, a smaller version of it. That extra fold of cloth at the back, think of how much fabric that uses.”
“I could make those ribbons. I could take some of my spare pay and buy the materials from the mill, and make myself something like that. Do you think my hair would look nice, curled up like that?”
“I think,” Miagreth offered, in a voice that suggested she was trying to be kind, “that without changing the dress, too, it’s going to be like hanging ribbons on a goat, Shekie. The goat will look fancy, but it’s still going to look like a goat.”
Shekleen couldn’t even bring herself to be offended. “It’s not fair.”
“It’s not.” Miagreth stood up a little straighter. “You’ve given Onnel so much attention, and look at him, ignoring you for some silly Main-Office sort of lady. Come on.” She tugged on Sheckleen’s arm. “I’ve got someone I want you to meet, He’s a troubadour, Shekie, an honest-to-goodness singer, and we got him here, in our little town, for Daybreak. And you know what? Troubadours can keep singing as long as they live, they don’t have to worry about broken bones or twisted ankles. And they take their family travelling with them sometimes, all over the country. Come on, Shekie,” she tugged again. “This one won’t care about Main-office ribbons or how much fabric’s in your skirt. Come onnnn!”
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