"The worst distance between two people is misunderstanding."

- Anonymous


"Woah!" I pull the horses to stop at the porch and wait for the men to unload so when Clara and I get down the wagon is shaking so much we fall. The men grab the new flour, cleaning supplies, and a few odds and ends. Egon looks at me with an attempt at a comforting smile, but ends up looking constipated. He tried, I guess?

"Ready?" I turn to Clara's words to see her already staring at me with calculating eyes. "Perry, how you doing?"

"I'm okay." My response is dull with a fake smile for emphasis. Clara looks sad and understanding as she stares.

"It's alright to be upset and cry."

"I know." My response is short and I fling my self off the seat to the ground in one go.

"Alright, lets go inside." She looks slightly put out.

We head right into the kitchen seeing how the next meal was soon. Clara got started on the bread and vegetables while I got started on the mash and beef we had picked up. I took the hammer to it with unleashed anger, maybe picturing a certain handsome face. Then stabbed at it with firm jabs with the fork to continue the marination process. Then with a masher in each hand working them almost like fists I pounded the potatoes nearly into soup... oops?

It's funny, after this I feel much more relaxed and that scared me. I had never been angry. Well sure the little annoyed angry was present quite a lot when you live with seven men, but I had never been this kind of angry at anyone before, the kind where you could just hack them to bits like wood or make them headless like a chicken. Yeah something was wrong, I'd ask Conan about it because I'm sure sweet Clara hasn't ever felt that anger. Although she did flip our solid wood dining table. I shake my head to clear my thoughts and continue to prepare the meal knowing they would be whining if it wasn't done soon.

Dinner was a silent affair only speaking to pass the plates of food. Across the table Florian sits still in an attitude avoiding my every attempt at gaining his attention. Grant shrugs from next to the stubborn man and looks sorry for me. My head droops to observe my food though I'm suddenly not hungry. Something nudges my leg once and I think it's an accident, twice is just a needed adjustment, but four times is just ridiculous. I scan their faces landing on Conan.

"Are you done eating, Perry?"

"Yup."

"Let's go get some more firewood we're runnin' low." He motions with his head to follow him.

We stand from our seats putting our plates on the counter then grabbing our coats to block the chill in the night air then run out back. It's still light out so we decide to chop some extra wood. Though my axe is too small for the men it fits my hands perfectly and glides seamlessly through my hands as a swing with a mastered skill. Conan chops at a block next to me with a much larger axe splitting giant hunks into fractions of the size they once were, those are the ones that I then split.

"Why did you try and stop that fight?"

"You know why Conan. Clara was scared and horrified that a window was broken and Bryant still continued to swing."

"He had to teach him a lesson after shoving you off the porch."

"He started it well before that. What was it even about?"

"He was talkin' to some girls and being nice he offered them some of his chewin' tobacco. They yelled and the men came at him."

I get it now. Bryant never offers his tobacco to others, but he tried to get in the girls favor not realizing he said the wrong this long. Then the men thought they needed to save or showoff to the women...MEN! THEY HAVE NO BRAINS!

"You know Florian is not really mad at you." He doesn't turn as he speaks and continues to chop so I do too.

"Pssh." I scoff, so calling me names in an aggressive tone doesn't mean he's mad?

"He was just scared you were hurt." His voice is soft so I raise my head to examine him.

When Conan lies his ears twitch, but they remain still. He doesn't show any sign of lying so I think it over. He was the first one over the side of the wagon aiming for the man that pushed me. And his eyes just kept scanning my body as he yelled at me, probably checking for injury. When I looked back up Conan just nodded with a smile knowing I had put it all together. He didn't hate me, he was just worried. But my smile drops immediately.

"Will I be treated differently than I always was now that I'm dressed in...well a dress?"

"Yes." Conan blunt truth hurts and I stop mid swing. "The men in town will probably look at you as a frilly dress now, but you are still little Perry to us and if they do something you don't like we'll take care of 'em." We smile at eachother then move to collect the wood carrying it indoors.

"Thanks, but I can take care of myself. Growing up with you lot I'd have to."

We pile the wood in a triangle adding several to the fading flame. I look at the table only to catch Florian's eyes. He looks lost. I move my gaze to Conan and move my fingers in a flurry, when he nods in agreement I rush to sit in his seat next to Florian. It like I said men do t have brains so sometimes a woman has to take a stance first.

"I'm sorry." His body tenses at first then eases into comfort.

"So am I, you're not a stupid woman."

"I didn't know you were worried."

"How could you endanger yourself like that?"

"You guys didn't do anything when Clara asked for help and she was to humiliated I had to stop it."

"You need to think of yourself too."

"I did, Florian." He scans my face and I his.

"Okay, well next time deck him before he touches you, you hear?"

"Yup." He throws his arm over my shoulder and we relax into what feels like a new meal the awkward heavy feel far away. I look across the table to my usual spot landing on Conan who winks and smiles big. I lift my hands to signal, 'thank you' which is met with an, ' I told you so'.

Oh, what a smart***!


DECEMBER DANIELS