As Lucas perused his bookshelves and workspaces, he came upon a notebook. He had hundreds of notebooks, all with crazy ideas and diagrams on them. This one caused him to pause and reminisce. It was one from the early days, before the company. The memories were awkward and happy, like teenage memories ought to be.
Lucas was working for Mrs. Bittersworth down at the Astam Garage back then, and spent his days futzing with his crude prosthetic. It was a simple hook that Bittersworth threw together after he’d been found lying on the road. A rather clumsy and hideous thing, but it was better than staring at the stub left by his childhood tormentor.
He scribbled plans in his notebook while lying in a hammock that stretched the width of his small apartment. His money was starting to accumulate now that he’d paid off his debts and he aimed to improve his lot in life, starting with his arm.
This was the first time Lucas had ever felt freedom and he was giddy as hell about it. Not that the work he did on steam-bikes and paddington wagons was awful, mind you. It sharpened his mechanical and problem-solving skills. He wasn’t quite thinking about leaving town. Astam Village was a great place to be.
Lucas finished with his doodles as a knock came from the door.
“Do come in,” he invited.
It was Mrs. Bittersworth in a festive pair of Demiber festival overalls. Pumpkins, straw, and Chanka designs made up the many buttons.
She struck a pose and posed her question, “What ya think?”
“I think you look wonderfully ridiculous, madam,” he responded.
She’d tried to get him to call her ‘boss’ or ‘Carole’, but Lucas couldn’t break his overly polite nature.
“Exactly what I was goin’ for,” she gleefully chimed, “Now don’t tell me you’re plannin’ on staying in tonight.”
“Must I go? I’ve got so many things I want to plan out and work on!”
“You’re worse than I thought! This festival’s absolutely a must! I’ll fire you if you stay in here and become a social raisin.”
“Okay, okay, okay. I’ll find something to wear and go down to the Village center.”
“Meet you there! I’ll be in the talent show!”
And with that, she was off. Lucas hoped she wasn’t going to sing in the show. She believed herself to be a musical genius, but he’d seen a shower commit suicide on account of those windpipes.
So, overly-confident Lucas strolled out his house onto Main street. To be more festive, he found a local trinket vendor and picked up a straw hat for a few ciams.
When he’d wandered his way to the center, it was fantastic. The square was lined with pumpkins, and the throng of townsfolk gave off an energy. Smiles were seen everywhere.
However, no smiling crowd could prepare his heart for the visage of a young lady. She was by the barrels to bob for apples. Her smile made his heart skip. He rushed over to the barrels and greeted her group.
“Good afternoon ladies,” Lucas tried, oddly successfully to charm.
“How do you do,” one of her sisters greeted.
“Lucas Buford,” he bowed casually and focused his eyes on the oldest of the girls who’d his infatuations were for, “and you are?”
“Cordelia, and my sisters Esther and Clementine,” she introduced them all.
“Wish me luck?” he gestured to the barrel.
“Absolutely not, Mr. Buford!” she said playfully, her gaggle of sisters giggling, “I intend to wish poor luck upon you so that I may have a better chance at the price myself.”
“Ouch, hardly sporting of you, wishing such luck on me!”
A man by the prizes knocked his cane against his pedestal and proclaimed that bobbing for the large prize, a basket of fantastic fruits - a mouthwatering prize - was to begin momentarily. They were gathering judges and confirming contestants.
Delia turned to Lucas with a fantastic smile and a dainty wave, “Worst of luck!”
Lucas dug his hook into the side of the barrel and readied himself. This would be easy.
Then, the judge put the blindfold on him. Blindfolds were not good things to him. They were horrible and disorienting things.
Lucas tried dunking himself into the water, and figured out how to press up against the side of the barrel to get the trickier apples, but it was all too disorienting.
He called quits when he’d felt like throwing up. He was trying to impress girls, but to continue would surely scare them away. No lady is impressed by the sound of illness from the man with a hook.
He felt just foul from the experience, but shook it off when he was then able to watch this happy mamselle best his pile of apples two-to-one.
She gleefully accepted the prize and walked over to Lucas, “Sorry about the curse, next time I’ll play fair and square.”
Lucas spent the rest of the evening talking with the girls, inviting them to the talent show and entreating the with tales of some more exciting and silly customers he’d dealt with at the Garage.
When the evening wound down, he walked the ladies to their house, a large estate further from the town center than he’d walked before and said his awkward goodbyes.
Weeks had come to pass and Lucas wondered if it was all just a dream, his head swimming with hormones and daydreams. However, Cordelia herself came by the shop to see Lucas. He was awfully sweaty and greased up at this point - a mess and he knew it. She, on the other hand, was dressed like a fine lady, nothing like the casual attire she’d worn for the old festival.
Lucas didn’t know whether or not she’d truly been interested in him, and she started by making an appointment for her father’s carriage.
“It was nice to see you again,” Lucas said as her booking was done and he expected to see her leave.
“And you as well. I was surprised to see you hadn’t called for me,” she said in a rather melancholy manner.
Oh, my. Lucas had his etiquette all upside-down. His head was in the clouds more than he thought. “How, um... Would you like to have a picnic with me this Tamarasday?”
“Absolutely!” Cordelia exclaimed.
And so, Lucas would fill up his notebooks with sketches of her instead of replacement arms for the days leading up to the outing. Mrs. Bittersworth gave him the whole day, even though he’d only asked for the afternoon. She’d tried to impress on him that he was to treat a lady with the same respect as the King of Kuu, and joked that if he were to upset the young lady she’d have him put in a box and thrown into the Prodigious.