Word Count 683
November 16, 2016 For National Button Day
November 16, 1870:
The door slammed and spurs jingled closer to where Teresa O’Brien sat on the sofa in front of the fireplace. She looked up and scowled as Johnny Lancer strode toward her. Why was he taking his shirt off?
As Johnny drew near, he tossed his faded-red shirt to Teresa. “Lost a button. Can you fix it?”
Teresa let out a sigh. “Long’s you’re not in any big hurry.” She pointed at the pile of shirts and jackets on the end of the sofa. “As you can see, yours isn’t the only thing around here missing a button.”
Johnny fingered the pile. “That many, huh?”
Heavy footsteps sounded in the entry hall and a deep voice called out. “Teresa! Teresa! You in here?”
“In here, Murdoch.” Teresa wondered what he was in such a huff about.
The footsteps drew closer and stopped behind the sofa. Teresa brushed aside some stray strands of her long, dark hair as she glanced over her shoulder. Her guardian stood there with his best white shirt held in his right hand.
“Teresa, I thought you said you fixed this.” Murdoch pointed at the bare spot just below where the left edge of the collar was attached to the front of the shirt.
Teresa scowled. “I did. How’d you lose it already?”
“Me lose it?” Murdoch dropped the shirt onto her pile. “I haven’t even worn it.”
“Well the button couldn’t have just disappeared.” The words came out harsh despite Teresa’s effort to contain her irritation.
Johnny picked up the shirt. “Sure you’re talking about the same shirt?”
Murdoch crossed his arms and faced his younger son. “Just because my hair is grey doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with my memory or my eyesight.”
More footsteps and a soft chuckle caught Teresa’s attention.
Scott Lancer, something tan draped over one shoulder, strode in from the hallway that led to the kitchen. He stopped beside his brother and slapped him on the arm. “Don’t you know better than to question our father’s words?”
Johnny popped off something in defense.
As the teasing between the Lancer men continued, Teresa rubbed her forehead with the back of one hand. It seemed buttons were disappearing as fast as she could replace them. Jelly had come in earlier with two shirts and a jacket that she was sure she had fixed within the last week. Two of Scott’s work shirts needed buttons, and one of his dress shirts was missing three of them. If she wasn’t mistaken, he had something else for her to fix . . . once he remembered what he was there for. At this rate, she’d never get caught up.
Later that evening, Teresa was alone in front of the fireplace when the grandfather clock chimed the ten o’clock hour. She knotted her thread, cut it close to the underside of the cuff, and folded the shirt. Finally finished.
She closed the lid of the button box. Odd how she’d had no trouble finding buttons to match. If she didn’t know better, she’d accuse Jelly and the Lancer men of taking them off on purpose. One thing was sure. There’d better not be any more buttons missing come morning. One day like today was enough to last for a good, long while.
With that thought in mind, Teresa walked over to Murdoch’s desk. She took a sheet of paper and drew letters that looked like they were made out of chains of buttons. Beneath that she wrote November 16, 1871. When she was finished, she laid the paper on top of the mountain of clothes that covered nearly half of the sofa.
Teresa stepped back and smiled. The men might not like it, but that was too bad. From now on there’d only be one Button Day per year at Lancer. Until then, the men could replace them themselves or do without.
. . . and so began a new tradition that was carried on for generations and generations to come.
~ The End ~
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