Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Through the Open Window" by Anne Faye, Chapter 11, Part 1

Chapter 11

Thanksgiving dinner went well. Both the Thompkins and Fr. Farling did come. The good Father welcomed me with open arms. My mother was right; he did seem very happy to see me. The conversation was enjoyable and the food was delicious. My mother has always been an excellent cook, yet another thing that I hadn't managed to inherit. We spent most of the afternoon playing cards, and then indulged in my mother's famous pumpkin pie (maple syrup is the secret ingredient). We all ate way too much, but it was all so good. Isn't that what always happens on Thanksgiving?

After our guests left, my father settled himself in the living room to watch football and my mother went upstairs to take a rest. I took care of washing the dishes, fed Lady some leftover turkey (she was very appreciative) then went upstairs to work on my writing. I walked by the empty space where my wedding photo had been hanging just a few hours earlier. Was that only this morning? It seemed like so much had happened since then.

I settled down with my laptop on my old desk. Up in the top corner was a heart I had engraved in the wood with my and Alan's initials. I ran my fingers over the indentation. I was twenty years old when I fell in love with him – too old for such nonsense, but I had put them there just the same. After years of having watched other girls doodle hearts on their notebooks with boys' initials in them, it had felt good to finally have someone's initials to put with mine. I wonder if sandpaper would take that off. I might have to give it a try.

I flipped open the laptop, and tried to access my email. Maybe Mike had written? I knew he was probably busy with Sara and the boys, but maybe? Then I remembered, there was no wireless connection up here, either. Only my mom's computer downstairs could access the internet. Maybe I could ask her later to use it. I was starting to feel very technologically deprived.

Well, nothing to do but write, then. At least my word processing program was still working. I thought about the story my mother had told me. Now, that would make a good novel. In the meantime, however, I was stuck with the one I was working on. I pulled out my travel guide to France and began flipping through the pages. Where were Anna and Jacques going to go today? Hmm, the Emerald Coast in Brittany – that sounds interesting. Maybe they will go there . . .

I lost myself in the story and emerged some three hours and three thousand words later. I also had a very stiff neck. I stood up and stretched, attempting to get the crink out. I was at 42,342 words, but there were only three days left in the month. Would I actually make the deadline? I didn't have a clue. Not only that, but I still wasn't sure how the story was going to end. Would Anna and Jacques go their separate ways? After all, she was from America and he was from France. That was really a long-distance relationship. Would she give up her life in America for him? Would she go back home, better and wiser for the experience? What would she do? This was quite a pressing problem, and I only had a couple days to figure it out.

Lady was lying on the bed, resting. She really did have quite the life. I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I think I would like to come back as a nice cuddly lapdog. They do seem to have it made. Well, except for that part about needing to go outside to relieve themselves. I don't think that I would enjoy that part too much. I knew Lady didn't, that's for sure.

“Come on, pretty girl. It's time to go outside.” She covered her eyes with her paws and buried her head. “Now, you know that's not going to help you. Come on,” I said, lifting her up and heading out the bedroom door. I noticed that the door to my parents' room was still closed. Was my mom still sleeping? She must have been really worn out. I could still hear the sounds of football coming from downstairs. As I descended, I could see my father in his armchair, nursing a beer and munching on chips. How could he eat? I was still so stuffed. He was definitely in his do-not-disturb football mode, a position he took up every Sunday afternoon during football season for as long as I could remember. He worked very hard. I guess it was his way of relaxing. Alan used to do the same thing. Every Sunday he wasn't working, he would be there firmly planted in front of the big screen, occasionally getting up to cheer or scream at the television depending on what the situation called for. “They can't hear you!” I would feel inclined to point out at least once in a while. He said that it didn't matter. It was part of the experience. I didn't mind football, really. I just didn't understand the obsession – the need to spend eight (or more) hours riveted to the television screen. Many Sunday afternoons I would sit on the couch and work on my quilting while it was on. I used to like simply being in the same room with Alan. I had been so happy just to be with him. . . I wonder if someday I could be like my mother and remember him with fondness, rather than anger. I wonder if Mike likes football. I would have to remember to ask him next time I saw him.

I bundled up and headed outside with Lady, who was still giving me dirty looks. I imagine if she could talk, she would be saying very unkind things about me. It had started snowing again. The paper had predicted flurries but these were some mighty big flakes falling. It was a soft, gentle snow that stuck to my clothes and eyelashes. It was so quiet and peaceful. I walked along with Lady, making footprints in the new-fallen snow which were being just as quickly filled in. Would we need to shovel in the morning? The meteorologists had certainly been wrong before and this seemed like it would be much more than just flurries. I made a mental note to set my alarm for early in the morning just in case, so that I could help. If Mom was already that worn out, I didn't want her to exert herself more by shoveling.
I thought about what she had told me about taking risks in love. Maybe I should tell Mike I was falling for him. What is the worst that could happen, really? Well, he could laugh in my face for one thing. Mark James had done that to me in high school when I had asked him to the prom. I cringed at the memory. I certainly didn't want a repeat of that experience. But, Mike was kind. I doubt he had ever laughed in anyone's face. No, he would let me down gently. Something along the lines of telling me that he was flattered, but that he really didn't think of me in that way and that he was sorry if he had led me on because he hadn't meant to - something like that, anyway. He would go on to say that he valued our friendship and would like us to remain friends. And of course, I wouldn't be able to do that because I would be completely and totally mortified and would never be able to look the man in the face again. No, I decided resolutely as I headed back to the house, it was too big a risk. I had so few friends in Springfield – anywhere, actually. The few friends I had grown up with in South Hero had long since moved away. How did best friends forever turn into once-a-year-send-a-Christmas-card sort of friends, anyway? I guess it was just part of life, part of growing up. Everyone's lives just moved in different directions. No, I needed a friend and Mike was a good one. I didn't want to jeopardize that.

Lady and I shook the snow off as we came into the house. “I'll bet you’re glad that's done for the evening,” I said to her. She still wasn't acknowledging me. “Come on. I packed some treats for you. I'll get you one.” We headed back upstairs and I handed her a rawhide stick. She took it appreciatively and began gnawing happily. That should put me back in her good graces.

I took a look at the laptop and briefly considered writing some more, but then thought better of it. I had written a lot already today and I needed to give some thought to what was going to happen next in the story. Besides, my neck still hurt and I needed to get up early in the morning. I peered out the window. The snow was falling very heavily now. I was definitely going to need to help shovel. I might as well go to bed early.

I took a hot shower. The water felt so good, soothing all my muscles. Sometimes, I think that I do my best thinking in the shower. I began to figure out how I was going to resolve my story. I glanced back at my mother's door as I turned to go back to my own room. It was still closed. I wanted to say goodnight but I didn't want to disturb her. I hoped that she was OK. Hopefully, she would feel better tomorrow.

Lady had already claimed her spot on the bed. I curled up under the covers and said a quick night prayer and gave thanks for the day. It had been a good one. I would have so much to tell Mike when I got back.

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