BSD Lovemail Fics @deepseagf
Margaret Mitchell's Day Off

Margaret Mitchell’s alarm rings at 6:30 AM. Strawberry-blonde hair unkempt, she rises from her bed and looks around. The sun doesn’t shine within the whale, so she can't tell that it's six-thirty in the morning. However, she's kept herself on a tight schedule ever since joining the Guild. "I'd rather stay in bed and rest," she mutters, "but duty calls." 

She slinks out of bed and turns off her alarm. On her desk sits a planner, each day filled with assignments from Fitzgerald. After walking to the desk, Margaret's eyes ghost over the upcoming days in the planner, orders written in neat, flowing cursive. She braces herself for whatever grueling ordeal Fitzgerald wishes for her and Nathaniel, her partner, to undergo. If it's for her family, she's willing to do anything... 

All that's written in today's date is "break day". Sighing contentedly, Margaret climbs back into bed.

Margaret had initially hesitated in asking for a day off. She had joined the Guild to restore the honor of her family, and she didn't want anything, even a much-needed break, to deter her from her goal. But Lucy wouldn't stop talking, and Edgar was writing in his room for hours at a time, and Mark was doing trick shots with his rifle, and, frankly, the Guild was giving Margaret a massive headache. She had believed she didn't need a break, but Nathaniel, bless his soul, had intervened on her behalf, convincing Fitzgerald that she needed a day off.

And here she is, with her day off. 

Starting my break with another couple hours of shut-eye won't hurt, she thinks, and she falls asleep amidst silky sheets and soft pillows.

Margaret wakes again, no alarm needed, in two hours' time. Her clock blinks back 8:27 AM. Tumbling out of bed, she opens her closet. Even if she is taking a day off, there is a certain amount of pride she is not willing to let go of. No self-respecting Southern Belle would spend all day in pajamas. She examines all of the clothes in her wardrobe. She reaches for the seafoam green ballgown that she wears every day, ready to endure the painstaking undertaking of lacing its back up, but her head rebels and shoots towards the unwieldy petticoat standing in a corner of her room.

There is no way I am wearing that contraption on my break day. Her hand brushes past the dress, reaching instead for a nice blouse and pants. She slides the silk sleeves over her arms, trembling as she buttons its buttons. Should I be doing this? A quiet voice inside her thinks it improper of her to be wearing a blouse and pants; she is a Southern Belle and wears only fine dresses. This is your day off, lighten up! You don't have to be Margaret Mitchell, Noble Lady of the South and Fellowcraft of the Guild. You can just be Margaret Mitchell.

It’s not often Margaret can just be herself. She’s not going to let this chance go by

Margaret makes her way downstairs to the main guild meeting room by 9:00 AM. A fair amount of the Fellowcrafts have already left to go wreak havoc in Yokohama, with everyone else finishing their morning meal.

“Enjoying your leisure time, old sport?” Fitzgerald raises one blond eyebrow at her drastic change in appearance. Normally Margaret’s so uptight; was this even the same Margaret who he saw in front of him? He’s accustomed to hoop skirts and big hats, not slacks and a smile. Of course, her cream-and-mint umbrella hangs off one arm. That’s never going to change.

“Don’t talk as if I’ve wasted my day. This ‘leisure time,’” she makes air quotes with her hands, “is only just beginning.” Impulsively, she decides she’s not going to eat breakfast with the Guild. She’s going to go to Yokohama, and order herself a roll of bread, or a cup of tea, or maybe one of those crepes that the little pig-tailed girl from the Mafia was eating the last time they met. And, for god’s sake, she’s going to have some peace and quiet.

“With that, I think I’ll have to take my leave.” Margaret makes her way towards the mouth of the whale, the gate to the outside world, but someone calls her name.

“Mitchell!” Nathaniel catches her on her way out the door. “Mitchell, you look… different.”

“Is it a good different?” Margaret stifles a laugh. “Or is it too… scandalous… for the likes of a priest such as you?”

“It’s a good different! Of course, if it was a bad different, I would’ve told you as soon as possible. I’m just not used to seeing you so… well, so unrestrained.”

“You think I’m unrestrained now that you’re seeing me in something that’s not one of those big, unwieldy dresses?” The young woman takes a few steps towards her partner, high heels click-clacking on the floor. “Oh, so I see how it is.”

“No, not like that! You look…” A wandering hand of Nathaniel’s threads its way through her hair. “Freer, somehow. Happier now than you’ve been on any of the Guild missions. It’s a good thing. It makes me happy to see you happy.”

“Understood, dearest.” (Normally, Margaret wouldn’t call Nathaniel by a pet name like dearest. Her family had always told her that she must not be upfront about relationships, keeping her prospects open to any young Southern man who aimed to romance her. She supposes she can throw that out the window. She can, only for today, and she enjoys it.) “I hope you enjoy your day, for I will surely enjoy mine.”

Before leaving, she gives him the lightest of pecks on the cheek.

The arcade clock shines twelve-fifteen PM when Margaret beats the arcade game’s final boss. She feels a rush of joy as the last of the enemy’s HP whittles away, dying with a mournful sound. She lets out a whoop upon seeing the game-over screen. Her hands still rest on the arcade machine’s buttons, fingers tapping their plastic surface. Her umbrella leans on the arcade machine’s plastic exterior.

Normally, she wouldn’t “stoop so low” as to play an arcade game; but this is her break day, and she is subject to nobody’s whims but herself. She can hear the words of her parents telling her that there are more pressing matters than beating bosses in penny arcade games. But she doesn’t care. This day is her break day, for god’s sake. Surely her parents would let her have a break.

A bout of sadness strikes her as she realizes that she has never had the chance to grow up. Of course, part of her accelerated maturation comes from being born into a high-class Southern family. There’s another part of her that grew up too fast from shouldering the responsibilities of restoring her family’s honor, a part of her that she tries to ignore. 

She wouldn’t want to quit her job, but it’s nice to think about herself for a while. Most twenty year olds had a normal adolescence, making friends or going to college or finding out who they are. Most twenty year olds weren’t tasked with making sure their entire family didn’t fall into ruin.

Then again, Margaret wasn’t most twenty year olds. (She supposed she could act like one for a day, though.)

The sadness passes quickly, and joy fills Margaret’s body yet again. She doesn’t want to spend her Day Off thinking about what could have been.

She leaves the arcade, making sure to take her umbrella with her, and goes to get some fresh air. Walking through the city, Margaret looks at it with fresh eyes. Fitzgerald may bomb it to hell when he gets the chance, so she might as well enjoy it, right? Margaret has been many places, but she never had the time to admire them.

Her feet lead her to the coast. The sun may be shining, but the sea breeze brings light coolness. The wind whips through her hair, and leaves dance around her feet.

“Ashes to ashes,” whispers Margaret. “Dust to dust.” A sliver of gold makes its way toward another pile of leaves. It kicks the leaves up, and they swirl around her before dissolving. Her eyes follow the leaves, which are gone with the wind. She supposes it’s a pretty display. She knows better than to show off her ability, but nobody’s going to notice something as small as a few leaves.

Plus, she finds it comforting that her ability does not only destroy. It may weather most materials and leave them lost forever, but in cases like these, it also creates fleeting beauty.

She continues to walk along the coast, taking in the sights of all of the happy people talking amongst themselves. What must it be like to be this happy, every day? (Don’t get her wrong, Margaret is happy in her job. It’s well-paying, and her chest swells with pride when she thinks about where the money is going. But there’s a certain happiness in freedom.) A family walks by- a mother, a father, and their young child. The child’s smile shines brighter than the sun. 

Margaret thinks of her own family when she sees them. Things haven’t been well, ever since they were given that debt. She wants to believe that things are getting better. Every little thing she does will help them return to prosperity.

Maybe her family would be happy to see her relax. If only they could see me now.

Two hours later, Margaret window-shops along the coast. Big white bags, full with various souvenirs to ship to her family overseas, hang off her arms. Her umbrella drapes itself over her shoulder. Just as she decides to cross the road to another side street, a flash of bright color catches her eye. Swiveling around, she sees that the color radiates from a display of flowers outside a small flower shop.

Margaret glides over to the storefront, and her eyes skim over the flowers. Tulips, daisies, roses of all colors-- standard fare. She knows she has seen much more ornate blooms in America. Well, whatever. They have her attention, and she’d feel rude if she were to walk away from them when she had just arrived.

She wouldn’t buy anything, of course. Fitzgerald would probably skewer her alive if he were to find her buying “cheap” flowers. 

On the other hand, Fitzgerald isn’t there to see her buying “cheap” flowers. Her hand flies into her pants pocket, reaching for her wallet. Her fingers stroke the high-quality leather and undo the golden button. The wallet is packed full of dollar bills, spare change she can’t send to her family just yet.

Hesitantly, Margaret enters, folding up her umbrella as she does so. She would probably buy a set of flowers just for laughs, and toss it somewhere else before she goes back to the Whale. She makes her way to the front of the line, ready to pay and get out. However, she sees the person in front of her struggling to form words, barely hanging onto the coins they fidget with in one hand.

“Do you need some help?” Margaret taps them on the shoulder. The person looks at her hesitantly, eyes widening. They probably haven’t seen anyone like her before, dressed so formally on what would have been any other day. “Cat got your tongue?”

They nod. Margaret tries to relax. The person is already nervous enough as is; she’d rather not make them even more on edge. Her shoulders slacken. She can be just like any other person around her. It’s not like she’s been constantly working to uphold the honor of her family and be the main source of their income. Oh, wait. She is. But even if she’s tasked with all of these responsibilities, it doesn’t mean that she can’t be a normal person. She understands all too well the apprehension the person in front of her feels. Perhaps they mean to impress a lover?

“I got this.” Margaret steps in front of the person she was talking to and places a fat wad of dollar bills on the counter. She looks the cashier in the eye, shoving the money their way. “Do your best.”

Margaret and the tongue-tied person wait in silence for ten minutes. She finds the quiet a bit unsettling. She prefers her idle time filled with small talk. She’s never made small talk with a stranger though. Did it always feel this awkward?

“Who are the flowers for?” She asks. Maybe a lover? A friend? A family member? Someone who just needed cheering up? Flowers are remarkably underrated, Margaret muses. Their colors can bring cheer to any day. Unless, they’re, well, funeral flowers. The person didn’t look like they dressed for a funeral, so the flowers she bought probably weren’t funeral flowers. “Someone special?”

“Yeah, someone special,” they answer in a voice that quavers with apprehension. “I’ve liked this friend for a really long time, but I’m not sure if they like me back. So I was going to get them flowers, but now I’m not sure if I should… if it’s too big of a gesture…”

“Ah, young love,” quips Margaret. “One of the most glorious feelings in the world. So filled with… nerves, and other such things. Fear of rejection? Fear that you’re not good enough?”

“Don’t say those things! I’m already worried enough about my love life as is. I’m just worried that they’ll find someone else and leave me alone.” They shy away from Margaret, hands fidgeting with the hem of their purple dress. “I’ve liked them for a really long time, and I don’t want to screw it up now.” Unshed tears burn in their eyes.

“You won’t screw it up.” Margaret places a hand on their shoulder. “I may not have known you for long, but I know that you’ll do fine. Even if they do not reciprocate your feelings, they’ll appreciate the gesture.” Right on cue, a worker presents a bouquet of colorful flowers to a waiting Margaret.

“These are for you.” She gives the flowers to the person in the purple dress. For a moment, it seems like they’ll actually start crying. “May your love go a long way,” she says, and leaves.

The grin that makes its way onto Margaret’s face fills her with an undeniable joy. It’s little experiences like the one in the flower shop that remind her of just how amazing love can be. She has never really thought about love amidst the chaos of her life as a Fellowcraft. But as she walks around Yokohama, she sees that love is all around her.

Love is bright and clear in this waterside city. It glints off the waves and filters through the trees. It radiates from the sun that shines overhead. It shines from the faces of those who she sees within the city.

Margaret has never seen this kind of all-encompassing love in the Guild. She finds it quite refreshing. She didn’t know this love could exist outside of cheesy romance novels that were deemed “too immature” for someone of her status. But now she does.

Umbrella firmly in one hand and purse draped over her shoulders, she continues walking through Yokohama. I’ll only have one day to see the city as it is before I have to go back to business. Regret flickers through her features as she looks at the skyline. There is no doubt that Yokohama will be affected by the Guild’s presence.

A part of Margaret wants to keep the skyline as a snow globe, frozen in time. Nothing could hurt it. Yokohama would have the love that she had seen, forever. (She knows she cannot. It brings her slight pain to know she cannot.)

The sun has started to set, splashing the sky with streaks of color and making the space around her even more beautiful.

“I don’t care if this is the last thing I do, but I’m going to enjoy a Yokohama sunset before I return to the whale,” Margaret declares to herself. She finds a bench overlooking the sea and sits down.

At night, the whale emanates a whitish glow from the Yokohama dock. Good, so she’s right where she needs to be. Margaret ducks into the mouth of the whale and sees the Guild finishing up their dinner.

“I’m back!” She exclaims, many bags in hand. “Lucy, I need a favor.”

“What?” Lucy raises a thin, red eyebrow. “You never ask me for favors.”

“Yeah, can I borrow one of those trashy romance novels that you’re reading? The one about the vampires?”

“They’re totally not trashy, Margaret. I don’t know what you’re going on about.”

“It’s my day off, Lucy, I deserve to read trashy romance novels! Will you please let me read Twilight?”

“Fine,” grumbles Lucy as Margaret walks away. Margaret walks through the halls of the whale, searching for Lucy’s room. Her eyes peruse the bookshelves, searching for the thick black book that she had seen Lucy read many times. (Jeez, how many books did Lucy have in her room? And did she even clean?)

It takes fifteen minutes for Margaret to finally find Twilight. Book in hand, she slips out of Lucy’s room. Hopefully Lucy doesn’t hound her for the book when she’s finished with it. (And hopefully Margaret finishes it. There are only so many hours in a day.)

Margaret slips into her room, putting the bags on the floor and the book on her desk. She enters her bathroom and turns on the faucet. Hot water gushes out of the spigot and begins to fill up her bathtub. Not wanting the bathtub to overflow, Margaret keeps a careful watch on the water level as she takes off her heels.

After five minutes of stripping off her clothes, Margaret sinks into the bathtub, now filled with soapy bubbles. An oversized hair clip pins her hair back and keeps it out of her eyes. Margaret gingerly opens Twilight, being sure not to splash water (or soap suds) on the pages. (Lucy would kill her if there were any splotches on the book when Margaret was finished with it.)

My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue… 

This book is going to be a riot.

After finishing up the Guild’s affairs for the day, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald decides to check on Margaret. Hopefully she’s enjoying her leisure day to the fullest.

He walks by her room, door ajar, and hears laughter from inside. Stopping at the threshold, he sticks his head in. “Is everything all right, old sport?” He asks.

“Everything’s fine!” Margaret calls back from behind the closed bathroom door. “You can leave now, Francis.”

“I’m glad to see you’re enjoying your break, that’s all.” Fitzgerald isn’t just saying this to make Margaret feel better about taking a break. He knows she’s always been a family-oriented person, burdened with the great task of restoring her family’s honor. She has always worked so hard every day with this goal in mind. She deserves a break.

(Whether she wanted a break was a different story.)

Ever-so-serious, Margaret is almost always scowling or glaring. It’s pleasing to see her laugh. Even the most hardworking Fellowcrafts need to lighten up sometimes.

By the time her alarm clock hits 9:30 PM, Margaret sits in her bed, watches a movie on her laptop, and shovels popcorn into her mouth. (“Utterly indecent!” Some people would say. She doesn’t care.) The movie isn’t all too good, but she’s invested. It may not be five-star worthy, but it is entertaining. And Margaret wants to be entertained.

She sees the on-screen romance unfold. It’s tacky, unrealistic, and the “romantic” music is abysmal, but she loves it. She knows something like that will never unfold in real life, but that’s the beauty of it. Real life, with all its responsibility, isn’t the place for such a spellbinding romance. When two people lock eyes, they don’t hear a sappy, romantic song from the eighties. That’s just the way life is.

Margaret, however, wants to believe that she has heard the music of love. It isn’t George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, but it’s something. As she walked through the streets of Yokohama earlier that day, she had heard a song floating on the wind, punctuated by the excited chatter of the city’s people. It was the song of a place with a heartbeat.

Keeping the movie playing, Margaret climbs out of bed and grabs paper and a pen. She starts to begin a letter to her family. She’s not sure when she’ll see them again, so she tries to send them a letter whenever possible. She tells her family all of what’s happening in her personal life as well as in her work life. She tries to give her family hope.

Dear Mother, Father, and Alexander,

I hope you have all been doing well. There isn’t a day where I don’t think about you.

Today, Fitzgerald gave me a day off, and I did whatever I wanted. My alarm rang at precisely six-thirty AM…

She writes about strawberry ice cream and chocolate crepes and butter popcorn. She writes about whistling ocean winds and bustling arcade chatter and ringing joy-filled laughter. She writes about fragrant flowers and salty seas. She writes about everything good that had happened to her.

The movie finishes, but she doesn’t finish writing. Her pen flies across the paper, filling it with the sights, sounds, smells, and more of the day. Her eyes grow tired, but her hand keeps moving. She doesn’t know when she’ll see her family next, so she has to tell them all that she can now.

Much love,

Margaret Mitchell

The alarm clock reads 11:45 PM when Margaret finishes. She looks at her room with weary eyes. It’s a mess. She begrudgingly gets out of bed and moves her laptop and writing utensils back to her desk. The planner is still flipped to this week, the day’s date reading “break day.” She moves the (regrettably empty) popcorn bucket to the doorway. She rushes into the bathroom and gets Lucy’s copy of Twilight (remarkably unscathed), placing it on the desk next to her laptop.

Margaret climbs under the covers and falls asleep with a content smile on her face.

She knows she has to return to being Margaret Mitchell, Fellowcraft of the Guild, tomorrow morning. But for one day, one glorious day, she was just Margaret Mitchell.

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