Wretched (Part II)

I won’t lie.  The hours after my first kiss were spent in a sort of sweet, suspended state of mild shock.  

Perhaps if he had been less attractive or if I had felt less enchanted I wouldn’t have spent as much time just sitting on our sofa staring blankly around the room.  Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed every inch of everything around me and felt compelled by some beautiful force to be so exceptionally alive in that moment.

My Aggie came through the front door and I sat quietly waiting for her to discover me sitting in the darkness of our living room.  When she did see me sitting there she seemed less surprised than I would have expected.

“Oh, Clara.”  She murmured with more serenity than I had seen her exhibit all day.  Her face looked softer too.  She was much more relaxed and in her eyes she was smiling.

I turned to look at her for a second.  I felt bashfully self aware just sitting there.  It was like she had accidentally walked in on my deepest thoughts.  

Yet, I had braced myself in anticipation the moment I heard her opening the front door.  I could have just stood up, turned on the lights and the radio but I couldn’t bring myself to ruin the way it felt like every second was somehow attached to the last in a long lovely rope connecting me to a few hours before.    So I just smiled and forced a big, wide and likely odd looking grin.

“You look kinda funny Clara.”  A mixture of awkward curiosity and concern beheld me in the face my Aggie.  “Are you alright?”

I nodded quickly and tried to smile even more convincingly.  “I’m fine, but I should tell you something.”  

My breath quickened.  I usually told Agatha almost everything, but there were many things from today that I couldn’t imagine ever telling her about.  Yet, I knew there was one thing she needed to know. 

I had tried to find my papa earlier but he was gone too, of course.  I even looked in all the rooms at the motel but he was no where to be found.    I had wondered briefly where they’d all gone to but my mind was pulled in one very specific direction.  I seemingly couldn’t leave the moment of my first kiss.  

“I was driving the car up the big hill near the Westvold farm – on my way to get those roses.  Remember?”  I looked up at Aggie checking her expression for a response.

She turned around and nodded for a moment after turning on two lamps near the fireplace and the radio too.  A familiar song was playing and it felt odd.   It was like a harbinger of what I feared would happen to my golden afternoon.  This loveliness would disappear and everything would go back to just the way it was.

“Well, the car must have run over nails that came loose or something because I had two flat tires.  So I just left the car there.  I didn’t know what else to do.” She was removing her hat in the back bedroom now and I sat and waited to hear something.

“Listen angel, the car was towed hours ago and brought into the station.  Phillip is taking a look at it right now.  Don’t worry!”  She yelled.  Then she emerged from the back room and sat on the chair in the corner by the fireplace.

“How did you find out about it?”  I asked half scared to find out.

“Tilly told us.  Walter was headed home in the tractor when he saw it sitting on the side of the road.  He hauled it in and then found your father in the county clerk’s office.  

I’ve been at church all afternoon and evening.  Tilly drove me home.”  Then she finally put her feet up on the footstool.

“Oh.  I’m so sorry.  I tried to find someone but no one was here.  I looked everywhere.”  My voice was likely strained but I was scared they would think I was irresponsible to leave the car on the side of the road.  “I didn’t know what to do.  I’m sorry Aggie.”

“Don’t worry about it honey.” She smiled reassuringly. “I know you must have been scared.”  

She studied me closely then her brow furrowed slightly.  She spoke with great care.  “Say, honey, your father and I were worried sick about you, but then Tilly told us her nephew had found you and brought you home.”  There was a long pause and I wasn’t sure if I should respond or wait for her to say something further.

The silence was unbearable. “Yes.  I think his name was Adam.”  I tried to feign as much nonchalance as I could possibly muster.

But nothing much ever escaped my Aggie.  She half glanced up and with a sly knowing grin she rested the sharp chin of her heart shaped face calmly on the back of her tiny hand.  “I’ve been told he’s a handsome young man.”

“Oh, well, I suppose some people might say that.” I tried to obscure the situation as much as possible without totally lying. “He was very nice.  It was kind of him to give me a ride home.”

But Agatha wasn’t going to be detoured.  Not in the slightest.  Her smile faded and instead she just sat there half glaring at me.  Then, after I refused to comment further, still attempting to convey as much indifference as possible, she pretended to give up and sighed loudly while resting herself back against the chair.

“Well, he is a nice boy, but I think you should be careful.  Boys like him can make a lot of trouble.”  I noticed a look of genuine concern spread across her face as she spoke.

I didn’t know what she meant or even could mean.   And my face surely showed it.

“Oh, don’t mind me.”  She changed her tone and gazed at me with a sort of confidence in her eyes that I had never detected before.   It gave me the impression that in this conversation we were two grown woman discussing the sort of things only real adults talk about.   I felt a bit frightened and thrilled at the same time.   Then she continued, “You’ve always been so sensible.  I’m sure you’ll be fine.  I should just keep my big mouth shut.”

And then that was the end of our conversation between two almost equals.   Because I had no idea what she meant and it scared me.

“What do you mean when you say Adam could be trouble?”  I still tried to sound only remotely interested but I knew it was pointless.

“Oh you shouldn’t worry angel.  Your papa is a saint and your mama, bless her soul” she paused for a moment in a sort of reverence, then, “she was a rare lady.  She was as wild as the wind on a March day, but she never was one to bother with-” she cut herself short and looked at me and smiled quietly instead.

“With what?”  I asked.

“Oh honey.  You know.”  She really thought I knew.

“With what?”  I had a hunch but I wanted it to be much clearer.

“With men.  You knowMen!”  Now Aggie almost looked embarrassed.  I felt guilty for making her say anything more.  I had had a hunch after all.

“Oh.”

My father walked in just then and announced loudly, “Hello!” He always did this when he first came home in the evening.  It was in this deep voice too.  Sometimes it carried so much it could be heard almost a block away.  He could make his voice boom when he wanted.  

I felt awkward because of what we had just been discussing.  My shoulders were squeezed as close to my body as possible. 

“Darling.”  Aggie called.   That was her name for my papa: darling.  He called her dolly, but only when he didn’t think I was listening.  

Aggie rose to meet him from her chair and I could hear their voices in the kitchen even though I could no longer understand what they were saying.   I stood up to walk over to the stairs and then to my bedroom.  

When I reached the top step I felt a sort of sadness as I glanced around me.  Once I found the darkness it was almost like I had reentered the world before.  And when I looked out the windows and heard the sound of the crickets chirping through the screens of the open windows I felt a little heartsick.

Oh what was the cure?  I went over and sat on the edge of my bed near the window.  

It hit me that I had purveyed the same scene the night before and that my thoughts had been so very different.  Last night I had been worried about robbers.  Tonight my thoughts were about… men.    It seemed like a good moment to write about.  

I found a scrap of paper laying on my dresser from a flyer passed around town.  It read, “Come see the wonders of modern know how!”  There was an appliance store opening up in a larger town nearby and it was an ad for in-home, electric refrigerators, ovens and washing machines.  I found a sharpened pencil and tried to scrawl down a few thoughts in the form of poetry.  It was terrible, but I felt better somehow after writing it.

Clara!” Aggie yelled at me from below.

“Yes!”  I responded loudly to the green carpeted floor in my bedroom.

“Supper is ready.”

I quickly ran down the stairs and into the kitchen.  At the table my Aggie had laid boiled potatoes, creamed corn, sausage and cheese out to eat on the table.  I reached for the pepper to sprinkle on the potatoes.  Then Aggie suddenly turned off the lights in the kitchen and lit two candles she had put in glass candlesticks.  Then she placed them on the table.

“I thought we should eat in the elegance of candlelight tonight.”  She grinned at me quickly and then at my father.  

The thought then occurred to me she had been inspired by our earlier conversation, especially since she now gazed with a look of deep emotion at my father.  I felt embarrassed to know. 

Then I examined my father.  I tried to see him objectively.  

It was difficult to imagine him being a romantic hero.  Of course, it wasn’t that he was ugly.  He had a handsome face and he was kind.  But I couldn’t quite think of him as being anything but my stoic papa.  He certainly was very different than the men I saw in movies or read about in books.  But Aggie loved him and the way she glanced at him now told me that what she saw was very special.   She saw a man.

I felt very awkward so I stared at my potatoes and ate as fast as I could without saying a word.  Except, I did look up for a second long enough to see them both almost beaming with a look of some sort of quiet contentment.  They sometimes had this look at night when we all sat around in the living room listening to the radio.  Papa and Aggie would be next to one another on the sofa.  Aggie knit and Papa smoked his pipe.  And they had the same look.

I would have asked to be excused from the table when I finished but since they seemed so happy I didn’t want to interrupt them.  So, I just quietly and carefully scooted down the bench and off to the sink.  I threw my scraps in the bucket and then washed my plate and silverware.  Then I quietly slid into the hallway and off to the stairs.

That night I tried to write more poetry after I finished my homework.  But it was still just as terrible as before.  Then, after everyone had gone to bed I walked downstairs and into the completely still and dark living room.  I looked out the windows and in a romantic fit I decided to go outside dressed in my flannel pajamas.  The air breezing in through the windows had felt surprisingly warm.

Once my bare feet hit the wooden front porch I felt almost guilty for walking outdoors at this hour alone without anyone’s knowledge but my own.  But, I dared myself further so I walked down the steps and into the still damp grass.  My feet screamed at me with the sheer chill and wetness of the lawn after sunset in a Midwestern spring.  I looked around for a few minutes just to try to capture images in my mind.  Then I felt silly, so I pranced back inside, quietly.

My feet were on warm dry carpet now.  The door was closed.  And I felt like a chicken for not going for a walk.  But, I just went back up the steps and to sleep anyway.

_____________________________________________________________________

Sure enough the next day Andrew and his mother arrived at the motel.  It was around four in the afternoon.

“They’re here!”  Aggie gathered herself and quickly applied two layers of pink Coty lip rouge in a mirror she kept hanging inside the door of the pantry.  Then she fluffed up her blond locks, took off her apron and proceeded to make her way out the front door, but then stopped with a jerk.  “Clara!”  she turned around and gave me a look of exasperation.  “You should be getting ready too.  Why are you wearing that dress honey?  You know how much ivory washes out your complexion.  That collar is all wrong for today too.  You should go put on your green dress.  Huh?”

I bounded up the steps as quickly as I could.  

“Clara!?”  I heard Aggie yell from below.

“Yes?”  I responded, hurrying about my room in an effort to locate where I had placed my green dress.

Clara, make sure to wear your hair down.  Ok?”  She yelled again.

“Sure!  I will!”  I was feeling a tiny bit annoyed now.

I raced downstairs, only slowing at the bottom step to convince myself that I was a lady of some sort of poise.  I didn’t particularly care that much how well this went, but I liked to play the roll of a beauty trying to capture the attention of young man.  Not that I had had many opportunities especially, but it seemed like a lofty and dreamy woman to pretend to be right now.  

I looked in the mirror in the pantry for moment now and even though I wasn’t sure what to think of the image I saw, I decided to try at least acting beautiful.  My very dark brown hair and blue eyes weren’t glowing and warm like Agatha’s almost platinum blond and sky blue, but I reasoned that the contrast between the light and dark was sort of pretty in some way perhaps.  Perhaps.

I threw back one shoulder and stuck my chin out a bit.  My nose looked good from this angle, I thought.  Then I smiled.  My teeth weren’t perfectly straight.  But they were straight enough, I suppose.  The green dress really did look better than the ivory one.  Aggie was right.

Aggie kept her pink rouge and other makeup in a drawer in the kitchen.  I’m not sure why she kept it there instead of say, her bedroom, but she was almost always in that kitchen when she wasn’t cleaning the motel.   So, I guess it did make sense.

I hesitated for a moment.  I didn’t want to be rude or dishonest and steal.  But the lipstick looked so pretty on her.  I wanted to look pretty.  So, I pulled out the gold case from the drawer and brought it in the pantry.

“Clara?”  Agatha’s shoes clicked and clacked on the linoleum as she walked into the kitchen from the hallway.  “Honey, what’s taking so long?”

I emerged from the pantry.  My lips were painted a pale pink.  It was almost the shade of bubble gum, but with maybe a bit more depth and sophistication.   It was on thick.  I had never worn lipstick before.

“Oh!”  Aggie looked at me.

“I’m sorry.”  I broke down a little.

“That’s ok angel.  It looks nice.  Really.”  She wrapped her arm around me and escorted me down the hallway to the door.

We walked outside and over to the cement sidewalk past the car.  It led us to the motel just a few feet away.  And there he stood.

Andrew was tall.  He had a fair complexion and light brown hair he combed over to the side in a majestic sort of swoop.  His freckles were noticeable too, even from a distance.  But he was good-looking in a very ruddy sort of way.

Bertha, his mother, or Mrs. Windmere, as she was regarded properly, was a petit woman of about 45 with thick black hair and brown eyes.  She wore a neatly fitted black dress with intricate white lace at the neck.  Her gloves were pristine and her purse was a plush dark purple velvet.  She had a look of stately, hard-nosed reserve.

We approached them quietly but my Aggie was bright and pleasant.  I felt glad to be standing next to her.

“Mrs. Windmere.  It’s a delight.”  Aggie extended her hand and shook the proud woman’s hand.  Then Mrs. Bertha Windmere smiled, showing a big grin.  Really, even her teeth looked intimidating.

The sun shined in our eyes so we all quickly moved off and into the motel.  I watched Andrew and with his back turned to me he seemed totally disinterested in my existence.  I reassured myself that I didn’t mind.   But, I did.

“Oh, Mrs. Windmere.  You should sit down.”  Aggie guided her to the small sitting room in the motel office.

“Thank you, dear.”  Bertha smiled and with a graceful bend of her knees she sat down on the best looking chair we owned.  I wasn’t at all surprised she chose to sit there.

Andrew ignored me almost entirely.  That is until, Aggie said, “Clara you should bring Andrew to the house and give him some cake.  I made plenty yesterday.”  She smiled confidently at both of us.  Then she added, “It’s chocolate with frosting.”

“I’m sure that’d be swell.  Thanks.”  Those were his first words and with that he stood up and started walking towards the door.  

I wasn’t sure if I was bringing him or if he was bringing me.  His mother placed her delicate hand on her chest and made an expression of some sort of embarrassment at her son’s blunt demeanor.  But she tried to smile too.

Aggie threw me a look that said, “Don’t ruin this.”  And I followed him out the door.

We walked across the lawn.  He was in front of me, his hands in his pockets.  Then he stopped and so did I.

“I have no idea where we’re going.”  He exclaimed suddenly and chuckled as he turned around.

“Of course!  I’m sorry!”  I quickly responded.

He looked at me with what I can best describe as a milky sort of expression.  It was very calm.  He was very calm.  

“Just follow me.”  I led the way down our path.  We walked past the car and the fence.  My thoughts quickly shuffled about as I remembered where I was the day before at this time.  It felt almost scandalous.

Once we found our way to the kitchen I found the best glass we had, one of the nice ones we saved on a special shelf above the sink.  Then I poured a glass of milk and cut off a nice sized piece of my Aggie’s dense, rich chocolate cake.  It smelled absolutely divine.

“Here you go.”  I placed it front of him carefully and then sat down facing him in a chair at the table.

“Thank you.”  He said with a manly sort of briskness.

Then we just sat there in silence for a few minutes and I started wondering if there was something I should say.  I reasoned there must be a good topic if I could just think hard enough.

“This cake is delicious.”  He said plainly but with earnest.

“Thank you.  It is very good.  Aggie an amazing cook.”

“Mmm.”  He nodded.  “Is she your mother?  Why do you call her Aggie?”

“No.”  I had had this question before so it didn’t surprise me.  I knew how to handle it, even though every time someone asked me I felt things I still struggle to put words to.  “She’s like a mother to me.  But I call her Aggie because she’s not my real mom.  My mother died when I was three.  She fell off a horse and hit her head really hard and was knocked unconscious.  Then she was dead within a few hours.”  I felt bad.  I didn’t want make the conversation too sad, but he had asked.  “No, Aggie is wonderful though.”

He looked me in the eyes and it felt like he was seeing right through me.  He had a way that only a few people have of possessing a moment with such totality that you couldn’t look away but to look in his eyes was almost terrifying.

“I’m sorry.”  He said quite gravely.  Then he let go of his command and stared down at the table with a strange sort of near sadness.

“Oh.  It’s alright.”  

Then he was at it again.  He threw his arms behind his head and leaned back in his seat and crossed his legs at his feet.   A look of probing curiosity studied my face.  Then he shocked me.

“You know what this is don’t you?”  He suddenly grinned in a way that was all at once comforting and deeply disconcerting.

“No.”  I was confused.

“It’s a set up.”  He raised his left brow and I could see a sort of humor in his face now.  He wasn’t nearly as stuffy, distant or awkward as I had first thought.

I bit my bottom lip and then laughed a little. “Yes.  It is.”

He leaned in to the table and then said, “My mother went on about you for almost an hour on the way here.”  He laughed again.  “She’s a nice old broad once you get to know her.  Don’t let her scare you.” He studied my face to see what sort of reaction his words would produce.

I was shocked.  “I’m sure she’s lovely.”  I smiled.

“You know, I wasn’t even supposed to be here.”  He moved his arms from behind his head and looked at me squarely.  “I enlisted in the Navy recently.  But I have two weeks before I leave.  My mother is determined to have me meet someone before then.  She wants me to have some-”  he glanced up and off with a sort of knowing smile, “romance.”  Then his eyes met mine.

I swallowed hard and nodded as nonchalantly as I could.  “Well, I can see why she’d want that.  It’s nice to have someone to write to I would bet.”

“Sure.”  He agreed with a nod, looking off a little again.  “My brothers are both fighting in the war right now.  One is in Italy and the other is in the Pacific.”

“I thought they were both in the Army.”  I asked meekly.

“My oldest brother, Peter, is.  But Aaron is in the Navy.”  A look of pride filled his face.

“Do they have people they write to?”  My voice sounded so quiet.

“Pete doesn’t write much to anyone.   I don’t think he wants to scare people.  But Aaron, he always has lots of nonsense to jabber on about.”  He grinned and shook his head.

“Aaron has a girlfriend?”  I wondered.

“Yes.”  Then he nodded again.  “She’s a secretary in the city.  She rarely visits us, but that’s probably because my mother can’t stand her.”  He looked at me sideways.

“Oh.  I’m sorry.”  I felt unsure of what to say next.

“No.  My brother is seeing her because she makes my mother angry.”  He bit his lip now and a serious sort of look came over him.  Then he burst out laughing again.  “You wouldn’t like her either.”

“Why is that?”  I wondered.

He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know.  I just don’t think you would is all.”

“Well, maybe I would.”  I tried to like almost everyone at least a little.

He smiled and shook his head to disagree silently.  “Say, when do you serve supper?  I am famished.”  He looked pleadingly at me.  “I’m sorry. I know that’s rude as hell.  I just am so hungry.”

“Of course.”  I grinned.  “It’s almost 4:30 so we should be eating in about an hour.  I bet Aggie will be here any minute to start preparing it.”

“Don’t you cook?”  He asked with seeming confusion.

“Yes.  But I think she has something special planned.” I recovered.

Then the conversation all but died.  Of course, it wasn’t that I didn’t like sitting here talking with him.  It was just that we didn’t seem to have much of anything left to say.  We had exhausted everything that could be said at the level of intimacy we had reached in a matter of a half an hour sitting here at the kitchen table.

“Would you like to go see how they’re doing?” I suggested politely. 

“Sure thing.”  He said.

We rose from the table and found Aggie and Bertha standing over by the side of the road when went outside to investigate.  Then we watched as they walked together down a dirt path to the creek that ran past our motel.  It was a shallow creek and it would nearly half disappear at the end of the summer but it was rushing now with water.   

Agatha liked to bring people there.  I think she thought it was a scenic spot.  I admired Bertha for humoring her so kindly.  

Then I started to wonder about the young man standing next to me.  Perhaps we wouldn’t get along after all.  

After a spaghetti and meatball supper with a pie for dessert we all sat around at the table.  The soft light from the windows gave a tender beauty to the surroundings and I privately mused at how romantic this moment felt.  But, when I looked at Andrew it was nothing like the day before.  

A sudden sharp pain of sadness and anxious happiness cut me inside into pieces.  I wondered where Adam was right now and my mind ran a little wild coming up with scenarios.  Then I realized that all I really had right now was this.  Just this.   I tried to appreciate it.  Then I looked over at him again.  Nope.  Nothing.

Bertha told us stories about all the prizes she had won over the years for her expert gardening knowledge.  She had a particular knack with petunias apparently.

Then it was over.  Bertha and Andrew went to the motel and I stayed behind to clean.

Of course, there was talk of how the next day Andrew was going to take me for a walk.  My Aggie and Bertha had seemingly decided at some point today in conversation that Andrew and I were going to be an item.   They just had to convince us.  And despite the lack of interest either Andrew or I had, they were fairly relentless.

After I was done washing the dishes, sweeping and putting things away I went up to my room and worked on a book report I had been writing for the last two days.  It was easier to complete than I had thought it would be.  I felt relieved.  But after that there was nothing left to do.

I sat on the edge of my bed again and felt a creeping emptiness, like a cold wave of unknown grief was threatening to overtake me slowly.  Piece by piece.  Moment by moment.  I felt the need to resist.  But I wasn’t sure how.

I rose from my bed and walked down the steps and opened the front door.  It seemed like a good idea to just walk outside and keep going tonight.  So I did.  I meandered down and over towards the creek.

Steadying myself by grabbing the roots of trees that somehow come uncovered by the sides of a dirty creek, I made my way to the water.  My aim was to put my feet in the creek and just stand there for a while.  I might even see a frog or two.  I just wanted to be there.  I just wanted to feel the beauty.  Entirely.

And then I realized slowly that I wasn’t alone because standing off to my left was Andrew.  He was sitting against a log, barefoot, smoking.  But he didn’t seem to notice me at all.  He was staring off into the trees on the other side of the creek.

I stood there watching him.  It didn’t seem right not to say something, although I considered it strongly.   But I hoped he would see me first, at least.   When he finally did notice me the look on his face was one of instant understanding.  I smiled.

“Hi.”  He said sadly.

“Hi.”  I responded.

“Do you smoke?”  He extended a packet of cigarettes.

“No. But can I join you?”  I wanted to too.

“Yes!  Please.”  He seemed relieved.

I walked over and sat down next to him.  Then curled my legs up and held them.

“It’s funny.”  He started.  “I said earlier that I wasn’t supposed to be here, but the truth is that I didn’t want to be.”

“Oh.  Why?”  I prodded carefully.

He laughed mirthfully.  “Oh it’s a dumb story I guess, but the truth is that I am already seeing someone.”

“Really?” I asked with sincere interest.

“Yes.  My mother doesn’t know about her because she’s a Catholic.  We’re Lutherans.”

“Oh.  So are we.”  I hadn’t thought much about it I guess, but then again, my parents weren’t people to take things like that terribly seriously.  They attended church, I completed confirmation of course, and I knew they both believed in God but I can’t remember them ever saying anything about not seeing Catholic boys.  Or, really anyone different than us for that matter.   I felt a certain new respect for them I hadn’t had before.

“Her name is Susanne.”  His face lit up with a sort of glee.  I was crushed for him.

“I wish you could be with her right now.  I’m sorry.” I consoled.

“Oh god.  So do I.”  He leaned back against the log and looked as if he could almost cry.  “It’s the sort of night where you should be outside under the stars necking passionately with someone you love.”  

He flashed a toothy grin then took a drag of his cigarette.   Tightening his brow he looked at me curiously.  “Don’t be offended.  Please!  But you, you’re a good looking girl.  I’m surprised you’re sitting here right now with me.  Where’s your boyfriend?”

“I don’t have one.”  It was a bit like I had showed up at a party dressed completely wrong.  I should have had a beau.  

“No one?” He smoked blithely.

“I guess there is someone sort of.  Maybe.  But I just met him and my mother-” I stopped myself short.  I couldn’t believe I’d slipped again.  I did the same thing yesterday with Adam.

“You can’t call her mother?  I’m confused.”  He seemed at least partially perplexed.

“No.  I’m not allowed to.  On account that it’s disrespectful to my mother.”

“But wouldn’t that be up to you to decide?”  He seemed pleasantly defiant.

“I suppose.  But, no.  It’s just not what we do.”  It had never bothered that much until recently.  And in this conversation I recognized for the first time just how much it really did pain me.  I had memories of my mother but Aggie was my mother too.

“Families are funny.”  He laughed with a sort of sadness in his eyes.  “You know, you were saying you had met someone.  Tell me more.  Maybe it will make me feel better about my own sorry state.  It sounds tragic.”

I laughed.  “Oh it isn’t really, I guess.  It’s just that I don’t know how I’ll ever see him again.  My Aggie, well-”  I paused because it seemed odd now not to call her my mother around Andrew, “she’s my only connection to him.  He lives two towns away and is the nephew of her best friend.  And I don’t think she wants me to see him.”

“Bugger.  That’s murder.”  He looked upset.

“We also just met yesterday.”  I sheepishly looked down at my feet. “It’s dumb I guess.  But he did say he’d come by and see me someday so maybe he will.”

“If he doesn’t then you should just forget about him as quick as you can.  That’s what I say.”  He was definite.

“Oh?”

“Sure!  You won’t live forever.  Besides, if he doesn’t then putting yourself on the shelf will only cheat a man who could love you.”

“Well, how long do I wait?” He seemed so sure of himself and his thoughts and so I felt the need to ask questions. 

“You shouldn’t wait!  Wait as long as you would for yourself.”  He let out a puff. 

“What does that mean?”

“You shouldn’t ever give up.  No.  I don’t mean that.  You should just let them be.  You know?  You should move freely.  If he cares he’ll find you but never wait.”

It made sense.  It was poetic.  And now all I wanted to do was sleep.  I rested my head back against the log behind me.

We sat there together and closed our eyes.  His cigarette was finished and he breathed deeply for a moment.

“I just want to sit here all night.  Do you hear that?”  He asked me.  “It’s the sound of frogs mating.”

“What?”  I asked slightly shocked.

“It is.  I read about it in my life science textbook.”  He giggled.

“Well, they’re having a nice night I suppose.”  I couldn’t believe I had just said that.  I raised my hand and covered my mouth.

“They must be.”  He laughed.

I had a sudden thought that I half wanted to kiss him like I had been kissed the day before.  I looked over at him and blinked.  He noticed me and half opened one eye.  Then he smiled again and shook his head.

“Oh no.”  He said.

“I.”  I had no idea what to say.  He read me much too well and there was nothing I could say now.

“How about we just go back now?”  He suggested, suddenly rising and dusting off his pants.

I just sat there unsure what to do next.  It seemed unlikely I could salvage any dignity at this moment, but I so desperately wanted to.

“I think the moonlight and stars just got to me.” I reasoned out loud as I stood up and brushed myself off now too. “I’m sorry.  I didn’t-”

“Look, you didn’t do anything and truthfully, if it wasn’t for Susanne I would have tried first.  But I just feel bad-”  He looked sympathetic.

“Oh, of course.  And maybe I have someone too.  I don’t know.”  I really didn’t.

“Well, you never know.”  He shrugged.  “He might be thinking of you right now too.”

“Gee, I wonder.”  I shrugged.

“You should try to find a way to see him.  I mean it.”  He looked at me solemnly.

“What about everything you said before?”  I questioned.

“I meant that too.  But-”  He shrugged again. “I just.  I feel bad.  You seem like such a nice girl.”

“Thanks.  I guess.”  I wasn’t sure if that was entirely a compliment.

“We should go.”  He led the way to the side of creek and helped me up and over the side.  When we were walking across the lawn he began, “You know it is funny.  I had thought this visit was going to be sad because my Great Aunt Cornelia died, but right now I feel pretty fine.”  He put his hands in his pockets and smiled sweetly.

“I’m glad to hear that.”  I sighed.

“Say, it’s been nice talking with you tonight.”  Then he stopped short before we had to part ways and added, “Thank you.”

“My pleasure.  Of course.”  I nodded.

He reached over and wrapped his arms around me and I responded in kind.  Then for a moment we seemed inseparable.  I wasn’t sure why.  And I felt very confused.  He ran his hand across my back and then uttered, “I can’t kiss you.  You know that right?”

I backed away a little indignantly.  “Of course.  I wasn’t expecting you to.”

“But I want to.  Tomorrow night might be too late.  What if that boy comes to see you.  You never know.   But I don’t think I should-”

“Of course not.  It’s ok.”  I tried to reassure him.  “He probably won’t.  But even if he doesn’t it’s ok.  Really.”

“It’s not though.  Not really.”  He looked saddened.  He kissed his finger and then placed it on my lips.  “This might be my last chance.  It might be the only chance I’ll ever have to kiss you.  You just never know.”

For someone who had never been kissed ever in my life until the night before this was proving to be the most romantically dramatic week ever.  I could hardly believe it.

“Now do the same to me.”  He pleaded.

I kissed my finger and placed it on his lips.  He reached around and held me for a second.

“Alright.  Sleep well.”  He announced before turning to walk away rather dramatically.  He was absolutely nothing like he had first seemed.  People will often surprise you.

I walked slowly back to my own house and my own room.  When I entered through the front door I could hear footsteps coming from the kitchen.  I wandered up the stairs anyway, hoping whoever it was wouldn’t realize I had ever been gone.  But first, I glanced at the clock above the radio in the livingroom.  It was far past 10:30.  It was almost midnight.  I was shocked for the umpteenth time this week.  I had never been out so late before.

For Her L’Absolu

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L’ Absolu ( Narcisco Rodriguez 2015) opens with a sharp tuberose and jasmine.  They are assertive and elegant.  Then a sassy musk colors all the notes with a sort of 80’s retro, chic opulence.

L’ Absolu is slightly sweet and into the drydown the amber is warm, luxurious and very bold in a refined, and quiet way.   Yet, all the while, the musk lingers, turning the entire scent into a saucy come hither stare.

Top notes: tuberose and jasmine.  Middle note: musk.  Base notes: amber, sandalwood and patchouli. 

Nose: Aurelien Guichard


The Demise of Mr. Wilson : Part I of IV

*There will be a slight time delay on this first installment.  It will appear later.  My apologies.

 

 

 

Truthful and Giving

Since I missed two posts this last week here are two reviews.  And they came together so it works perfectly…

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Truthful (Philosophy 2015) is sweet, fruity and floral. It has a very contemporary freshness of green grass with a powdery femininity.  It’s gentle but bold.

Giving (Philosophy 2015) is also quite gentle.  And it too has a definite sweetness…  But there’s also a cool, almost blue hue from the supple note of pear.

Truthful Notes: grass, apple and magnolia.

Giving Notes: cashmere wood, heliotrope and pear. 

 

 


Raindrops On My Window: Part IV of IV

The rest of the Summer of 1934 and into the Fall months Tom and I fell further in love and I can’t say that there was ever an unhappy ending…  While our lives were certainly not fraught with dramatic moments beyond the excitement of the beginning they were extremely content.  And we shared them together.

I went back to school in the 50’s and received a PhD in French Literature and Tom was the vice president of a bank in Rhode Island for thirty years before retiring.  After that we spent long hours together in quiet happiness…

Together we had four children.  Three of them became doctors and one spent most of her adult life as a stay-at-home mother of three boys.

Sometimes I have people ask me, “Pat, what’s your secret to being so happy?  How did you and Tom do it?”  Tom died last year of a heart attack.  I tell them, “Well, we didn’t have to try that hard.  There wasn’t a secret.  We were just incredibly lucky.” They never seem to believe me and I certainly don’t blame them.

But it’s true.  I mean, we both did our best to be decent and kind people and certainly there were moments when life was hard, but overall we were just very fortunate.  And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel thankful for that.  I never cried much, because life didn’t give me much to cry about.  And believe me, I am thankful.  We were just two very happy people.

Signature

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Tender peach, uplifting aldehydes, an engaging dash of nutmeg and a hint of fresh tangerine enshrine tulip in the opening of signature (S. T. Dupont 2000).  Into the dry down fluid floral beauties are buoyed by sturdy, warm base notes.  And a perfect rosewood is accentuated by musk.

Top notes: aldehydes, tulip, nutmeg, violet, peach, bergamot and tangerine.  Middle notes: magnolia, iris, orchid, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and rose. Base notes: sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla, vetiver, cedar and brazilian rosewood.

Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour

Raindrops On My Window: Part III of IV

The morning after my first lovely night with Tom I woke up feeling both totally smitten and very anxious.  Something about the perfection…  Was that it?  I don’t know, but it felt too good – too wonderful really.  Yet, the more anxious I felt and the more scared I was by the beauty of it all, the more I craved him.  And when I was around him, only in moments of total quiet when the shadows crept too close for comfort did I ever feel almost anything but happiness.

The evening of the party at his mother’s cottage on the sea was a moonlit one.  And I was very anxious to make a good impression.  Before the night began I spent hours on my dress and overall appearance.  When I arrived, nervous and happy I immediately felt drawn into the crowd before me when he took my hand.  He held my hand for an hour and never let it go.

“Sarah plays the violin.” his mother modestly mentioned as we all sat around the table after dinner, sipping coffee and wine.

“Oh, how wonderful.”  I smiled as Sarah bashfully looked askew, and I felt myself falling in love not only with the man sitting next to me but his entire family.

“Mother is an accomplished singer.”  Tom said this as if he was trying to pull flattering facts about his mother out of hidden places she convened them to so as to keep an even keel and never seem to be anything but the reserved, gentle soul she presented.

“Oh stop lying.” she laughed.  “I was nothing of the sort.  I only sang occasionally.”  She grinned the same toothy smile Tom possessed and manifested at will brilliantly, and with both of them flashing their grins the entire courtyard was filled with an ephemeral sort of lightness.

I sat in bliss just watching what surrounded me.

A dark, languid young man tapped Sarah on her shoulder and then escorted her onto the portion of the courtyard used for dancing.  There they smoothed into a tender embrace before being moved to the sound the melody coming from the guitar and violin.

Tom’s mother pulled out a cigarette and took a puff, resting her elbows on the table before her.  She suddenly looked distant and almost ready to break into tears, but instead she just kept smoking…

Tom asked, “Would you like to dance, Patricia?”  His eyes were smiling and we rose and began dancing upon his request.

I can’t remember much from that moment on, but I do remember feeling shock because nothing up until that hour in time had ever gone so well, so splendidly, in my life.  And just as soon as I was about to dismiss it all as some sort of dream, or a moment that was about to come shattering down and self-destruct I felt the heaviness of life.  I felt the humid, late Summer air and I felt his soul and I knew it was all very real.  He touched the back of my waist and brushed his cheek against mine.

Tom grasped my hand, and I wasn’t sure that I wasn’t drunk, but I hadn’t had one sip the entire time I was there.   Then he tugged at me and we seemed to float away towards some place that only he could be leading to – that only he knew of.  He seemed to possess the admiration of the sun, moon and stars combined and he wanted me, but that wasn’t what thrilled me most.  It was his touch.  His smell.  It was him.

We walked down a very narrow dirt path, under an elm tree, and then landed next to a lilac bush near an old, vine covered red brick wall.  “On the other side of this wall is a garden filled with roses.  It belongs to our next door neighbors but my mother is good friends with the wife and she wouldn’t mind anyway…  I don’t think.”  He chuckled at the last phrase with giddiness, and seemed to regard everything in this moment as though he was embarking on something all together too grand and too magnificent to be true.  Then, half silly, he said, “Let’s go over!”   Vitality lifted his limbs up and onto the top of the wall and upon reaching the summit he stood and examined it all, even gazing into the distance.  He giggled and his eyes were wide open and shining.  Then, he reached down and extended his hand.  “Here!”

I grabbed his hand and he brought me upwards to meet him.  Our limbs joined and he said sweetly, gently, “Now, I’ll jump down on the other side and when I get there I’ll wait, then you jump and I’ll catch you.”

He hopped off, landed perfectly and then reached his arms outward.  I dropped my legs down first and then thew myself towards him entirely.  I fell into him and he did, in fact, catch me, although we had to steady ourselves backward momentarily, but that was only lovely.  And sure enough, there were roses everywhere.  Dozens of roses…

I looked around and beheld the splendor.  “They aren’t half as pretty as you-”  His voice broke and in that moment of self-acknowledged, awkward, trite poetry he seemed to be expressing more sincere emotion than the most original and talented writers could in a thousand years.

We laid among those late July rose beds on Bushnell Lane…

An hour later, wiping the dirt from the back of my dress in the misty moonlight, and smoothing out his gray tie he told me, “I love you.”

And I said, “I love you.”

And we did

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amber Saffron

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Utterly crisp citrus (mandarin and bergamot) bursts into existence with a subtle artemisia and an extremely pretty saffron in the waiting in Amber Saffron (Clean Reserve 2016).  Woody, light and beautifully floral saffron laces amber and a quiet musk into the drydown.  And although this fragrance is fairly unisex it is definitely not a one size fits all…  I highly suspect that the notes mold themselves with particular aplomb based on the wearer…
Top notes: bergamot, artemisia and mandarin orange.  Middle notes: rose, lily and raspberry.  Base notes: musk, saffron and amber.


Raindrops On My Window:  Part II of IV

I couldn’t help but be excited by the thought of this mystery man driving me home.  He was so handsome and he smelled of leather and incense.  Walking down the marble floored, dark hallway to the main door by the stairwell I watched him from behind, looking up at his dark blond locks and broad shoulders that towered above Diana’s and mine.  Although, glancing over at Diana, I now realized how much of quandary I was in.  It certainly seemed as though they had some sort of shared romantic history and I didn’t want to interfere.

“Well, chum, this is where we part ways.” said Diana Grable in a low, suggestive tone. Diana’s chiseled face set a striking background for her show-stopping, vivid blue eyes. They sparkled and caught the gentleman’s own blue gems.   He paused and their figures faced each other under the imposing entryway’s wooden frame.  I stood silent as a mouse in the shadows watching until he turned his face to me with a half smile; the sort that men make when they mean to suggest something they wouldn’t dare even whisper at such a moment.

He and I walked together out the door, after we all said our goodbyes and the damp calm of the evening felt soft and pleasing.  I could smell the dahlias and wet grass mixed with rain. The crickets sounded quieter on this side of the house and there were no stars or moon.   It was pitch black except for the porch lights.

“I don’t think I ever heard your name.”  I tried to make polite conversation.

“Oh, yes, sorry.”  he responded, putting his hands in his pockets.  “My name is Tom.  My full name is Thomas Lawrence Walsh Jr..”

“Is Esme Walsh your sister?”

“Yes.  She’s younger than I am by two years.”

“I think I went to school with your sister.”

“In Boston?”

“Yes.  And one Summer I visited your house in Connecticut.”

He paused and looked quite sullen for a moment as he shuffled his feet in the grass.  Then he glanced up at the cloudy night sky.

“We sold our house in Connecticut last Winter after my father passed away.”

“Oh.  I’m sorry!”

He squinted at nothing in particular and then caught my eyes with his.  “Well, dad died of a heart attack in his sleep.  He didn’t feel a thing thankfully.”  Then, he moved forward after dropping his last word and together we silently approached his shiny black cabriolet, laced with drops of rain.

He opened my door in silence and I quietly slid into my seat.  Then he found his way to the driver’s seat, turned the car on and the lights gleamed into the darkness ahead.

We rode in silence for three blocks.  Three long blocks.

“It’s been so hot lately.  This air feels so nice and cool on my face.”

“Yes…”  His voice was polite but I could tell he wasn’t particularly interested.  “How long have you known Diana?”  He sounded very intrigued with the answer to this question.

“Oh, about two or three years I suppose. Why do you ask?”

“Diana is funny sort of girl isn’t she.”  he sounded exasperated, mirthful and then rested his head on his hand.  “I thought we were going to the movies tonight but she phoned me and canceled.”

“Diana is a very popular girl.  I’m sure she didn’t mean any harm.” I felt a bit disappointed, but not surprised.

“Oh she is.  Yes.  But a fellow starts to think he just shouldn’t bother asking after a while.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

“Do you ever wonder?  Do you ever wonder why life is so funny?  For example,”  he pauses and glances at me for a moment before proceeding, “I wanted to introduce myself to you at that party last year but I felt too nervous.  I went home early to study for an exam I had the next day and then three weeks later I met Diana at a dinner with my parents.  If I hadn’t been a coward,  and just walked up to you and said hello that night at the Kitson’s I wouldn’t ever have thought twice about Diana.  I know I wouldn’t have.”  He looked at me and absentmindedly licked his lips.

“Life is funny.  I agree.”

Then there was complete quiet between us except for the sound of the gravel hitting the car and the wind.  We reached an open field, and in the distance the lake could be seen through the dark tree limbs; big, cool, and foreboding.

“I’m sorry.  I’m boring you.”  He sounded genuinely sorry.

“No, you’re not boring me.”

“Well, I’m not exactly being charming company am I?”

“I think you’re very charming.”  I paused.  “Too bad there isn’t a moon out tonight.  This field is so pretty in the moonlight.”

He then looked at me quite seriously, analyzing me intently until he turned his face, earnestly stared ahead at the road, and straightened himself in his seat.  The car sped up considerably and we drove on for about a mile before we reached the bridge over by the bay.  With a sharp turn of the wheel we drove off the road into the tall grass.  He stopped, turned on the radio, and our eyes met for a second before he leaned over and kissed my face, finally reaching my mouth.  Then he stopped, moved back into his seat and smiled broadly.

“Gosh, that was wonderful!  You’re a beautiful girl.  You should never have to play second to anyone.  Not Diana or anyone.  I’m sorry I didn’t walk up to you that night and say, ‘Hello.  My name is Tom.’  I would have had the entire Spring and Summer with you if you’d have allowed it.”

“I can’t believe this is happening.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just… everything.” I was pleasantly overwhelmed.

“I can.  And how.”  Then he leaned over again and kissed me passionately.  I touched his arm, he moved me closer to him, and we kissed until I looked away.  He took my hands in his and we sat and just looked at each other for a few moments…

“What’s really funny is that you were at Diana’s house tonight, of all nights.  I had decided that if I didn’t find any reason to stay near home this Summer I would join the Navy.  This evening was my last attempt I had decided.  And then there you were sitting there with your sexy mouth, and those lovely, cavernous eyes.”  He grinned.

I demurred slightly and yet didn’t want to dissuade him entirely.   I played with the radio.

“I’ll bring you home now, if you like, but I’d like to see you again soon.”  He turned the car on and started to drive forward slowly.  “Would you like to see Esme again?  She’ll be in town this weekend and my mother is throwing a little party.  Just a few friends.  They’ll be a band but nothing big.”

“I’d like that a lot.”

“Fine.”  His face lightened and his freckles nearly glittered as a certain Celtic redness seemed to suddenly make his face almost glow.  It was then that I realized the depth and solemnity of his blossoming intentions.

“You’re very sure of yourself aren’t you?” I was in awe.

“Yes.   Or, so I’ve been told.”  He started the car and then met my hesitation with a wide, toothy expression.  “It often seems that even when I lose, I win anyway.” He winked and the car dashed forward and in a second we were on the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eau De Murano

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Eau De Murano (Murano 1994) is ripe, plump and robust florals with a particularly tender and sexy, almost spicy and salty rose.  This is a fragrance well suited for warm weather, but with cool breezes lifting spirits and inspiring a wistful, lingering sort of beauty.  It’s a very 90’s scent in the best, most elegant sense.  Eau De Murano is reminiscent of Amarige in its sincere, feminine but structured allure.  And although it may not be well known, it is certainly not a scent to be forgotten.

I quite fancy it…

(nose and notes are unknown)

Raindrops On My Window Part I of IV

My silk dress was damp at the armpits.  My skin felt itchy.  I was really itchy.  It was a hot night in July.

Condensation from my glass of sherry dripped onto the lovely mahogany table to my right. I was useless too.  Totally useless.

“Patricia!  Darling, do come here.”

“I can’t.  If I stand up you’ll be able to see the stains on this dress.”

“Oh, silly girl.  I have a huge mustard stain on my lap from dinner.”

“You have a tiny speck.  Under a microscope the size of Manhattan, that is.  Shut yer yap, Diana.”

“Well, you’ll have to make yourself presentable anyway in a minute.”  Diana’s voice trailed off.

“Why?”  It seemed like something terrible was about to happen.   The warmth of the lamps in the drawing room next to the garden door would have been cozy if it wasn’t so very, too very, hot.  And I could hear the sound of the bubbling fountains in the garden even though the crickets were loud.

“Hello.”  And there he stood.  Tall.  Deep, sensual voice.  Cool blue eyes…  And he looked sweaty.  He wiped his forehead with a handkerchief.

“Oh, poor baby.” Diana cooed.

With her soft, billowing satin she shimmied over toward him with a tray of ice as he stood in the doorway.  Mrs. Aldridge, the maid, who stood in the doorway as well, now retired presumably to go to bed.  It was actually quite late – ten at night.  I bit my lip and then sat down again in the same spot on the leather sofa.

“I was planning on just going home, but I had a ghastly night and I told myself, ‘Hey idiot. Don’t waste a perfectly horrible Summer night.  Find someone to share your misery.'” This strange, handsome man I didn’t know now looked at Diana and sent her a huge, toothy grin.  She giggled dryly.

“Well, we’ve been just sitting here the whole night I’m afraid.  It’s much too hot for almost anything else.”

Diana draped herself majestically over the chaise in the dimmest corner of the darkly lit, smoky drawing room at Cherry Hill on Crescent Street, near the old museum in the north part of town.  She looked longingly, pursing her red lips and furrowing her carefully arched brows at the gentleman now sitting on the floor near the fireplace.  Yet, her spectacle wasn’t meant to cause any action.  It was all in jest and he knew it.

He smiled wryly and laughed but in a sort of genuine, sweet innocence as he unbuttoned his shirt a few buttons. Then he rolled up his sleeves and took off his shoes.  For a second he and Diana seemed to be in a world unto themselves watching each other.  I sat in silence.

“So who is this young maiden?”  He looked at me suddenly, breaking the mood with a somewhat silly but friendly look my way and I felt very on display.  I’m sure I showed it too.

“This, my friend, is the late Patricia Jane Fulton.  Tonight she will die in your arms from the shock of your electrifying kiss.” Diana threw herself backward demonstratively, almost falling off the chaise. “Oh sweet Jupiter and galloping Hades, I’m drunk.”

“Yes.  Yes, I think so.” said the mystery man in response.

“I want walnuts.” Diana rose now  with a bounce and waltzed to the door, but she bumped into the edge of the marble fireplace with her shoulder and fell slightly to the left before finally reaching the doorway.  “Ahh nuts!” she exclaimed at the injury.  She tossed her thick, beautiful blond waves back, displaying a sharp but pretty visage, and then lifted her locks off her serene, splendid neck with her dainty pale hand.  “And speaking of nuts.” She exited the room with a skip and click of her cunning heels.

“Hi there.”  The mystery man rose and lifted himself onto the sofa next to where I sat tensely but without much emotion on display, as always.

“Hi.” I responded, as I heard the sound of Duke Ellington playing Mood Indigo on the phonograph in the background and felt much too much.

“So you’re Patricia.  I’ve heard about you.”

“You have?!” I was quite confused.

“Oh of course.” He smiled and nodded.

“How could that be?”

“I’ve seen you at parties.”

“No you haven’t.  I’m quiet and I rarely go to parties.”

“Well, that may be, but I did see you at the Kitson’s Winter party last year.”

I paused and tried to recall that event.  It was in February around the time of Mrs. Kitson’s 40th birthday.

“Oh yes.  I was there.”

“Yes.  And you were dancing with a fellow name George Lax.  I knew George from my days at Exeter.”

“Right.  George and I used to play together as children.  He’s a very good friend of mine.  Matter of fact we’re related.  He’s my second cousin on my mother’s side.”

“Yes.  I know.  George told me a lot about you that night when I asked who you were.”

“Oh, I see.”

“You danced well.”

“I’m not a good dancer.”

I thought you were.”

“I was making it all up.”

“But it was good.”

Diana returned and announced her arrival by throwing walnut shells at our heads.  I felt one hit my cheek, looked to my left and saw her approaching.

“I should go home.” I announced awkwardly.

“Ok kiddo.  I’ll call for a taxi, unless you want to walk.” Diana sounded blunt, sugary and quite inebriated.

“No, I’ll drive her home.” The mystery man rose at this phrase and looked seriously at me.  While I was advised once by my nanny not to accept automobile rides from boys I’d never met, I felt at ease.

“Ok.  Sure.  Why not?  Suits me.” Diana said gingerly.

“Fine.” he managed, as his face lit up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decadence

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At first Decadence (Marc Jacobs 2015) is an aquatic, warm and lovely plum, saffron and iris.  Then it softly elaborates on a theme into rose, a fruity jasmine and soft orris root.  And, all while a modern base casts a gentle hue, creating a very sweet, sensual and yet upbeat drydown.

And on a related note this fragrance pairs marvelously with Jicky edt…
Top notes: Italian plum, saffron and iris.  Middle notes: Bulgarian rose, sambac jasmine and orris root.  Base notes: amber, vetiver and papyrus wood.

 

 

Up in Smoke:  Part III of III

In the background the music had stopped playing.

“I suppose we could go change the record.” he quietly suggests, trying to gain his composure.

“Yes.”

He rises, in almost a stupor, and walks towards the hallway leading to the stairs.  Everything is quiet for a moment.

Eliza moves off the sofa and upon reaching the bottom stair step she hears the sounds of Ravel’s Bolero.

“I’m afraid I don’t like Joni Mitchell much.  Do you?”  Pat calls to her, posing the question with a hazy tranquility as he stands by the record player.

“No.  I don’t like her music at all really…  I’m afraid.”

He looks at Eliza when she reaches him and inspects her for a moment before saying, “Your glass is almost empty.  Would you like another pour?  I think I would like some myself…”

The two move through the swinging, white painted, wooden door to the kitchen.  Eliza bites her lip and then walks over to him, facing him directly as if to explain herself or lighten the mood.  But, she senses a hush between them and they both refrain from speech entirely.  He drinks his entire glass and then watches her as she finishes.

“I want to kiss you again…  I’m sorry…  I suspect it’s chronic.”  He looks down at her face with restraint and pleads with fervency.

All Eliza can do is smile bashfully.

The two pairs of lips meet and exchange a lingering, interloping sweetness.  And, as the song works into a fevered pulse, their restrained but certain passions bring them very deep indeed.

Pat takes her hand, opens the kitchen door and says, “You said you wanted to take a walk by the lake.  It stopped raining…   And, so do I…  Let’s go.”

Running together in the muddy darkness, they slide messy, to a moonlit pool of black.

Scandal

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If Scandal (Roja Dove 2007) is indeed a scandal, then it’s a rather lighthearted one I think…   One with lots of juicy chatter (as indicated by a flurry of vivid and vocal notes mid drydown) but very little pain.

Scandal is a predominantly  tuberose fragrance.  Very, very tuberose (with other noticeable, pretty but less assertive florals)…  And despite its suggestive title, I can’t say it’s particularly sexy in my estimation.  Rather, scandal is a lush, blossoming, lovely scent with a very flamboyant, sweet cheerfulness.

Top notes: bergamot and lavender.  Middle notes: tuberose, jasmine, freesia, rose, gardenia, lily-of-the-valley and orange blossom. Base notes: sandalwood, musk and orris root.

Up in Smoke: Part II of III

At eight-thirty Luke decided to go downstairs and see what everyone else was doing. Elizabeth needed to put on a different outfit so she lingered in their room for a moment or two longer.

From the stairs when she descended, Eliza could hear the sound of Joni Mitchell playing on Rich’s vintage record player.

“Is that Joni Mitchell you picked?” Sarah asks.

“Yeah.”  Luke can be heard responding.

“Oh my god!” Stacy shrieks loudly. “I love her too!”

“So do I.”  says Sarah more calmly.  “This record was an anniversary gift to me from Rich…”

“That’s right.  Oh my god!  Yeah.  You guys played this album at your wedding dance didn’t you?”

“Yeah.”  Sarah sounds nostalgic.

Then the sound of feet and then the absence of human sound.

Eliza enters the dining room only to find that nobody is there.  It’s just her and Joni Mitchell’s voice coming from the rich, crackling depths of the recording.  She hears the sound of people in the distance toward the back of the house and follows them.

..I’ve looked at clouds that way, but now they only block the sun...”

In the living room down the hall Eliza finds that the wooden framed windows have all been shoved wide open.  A chilled stream of air is misting through the windows, wafting from among the lilacs.  And on the other side rain is pouring on everything and everyone as Joni floats outdoors.

Off to the left, under the flimsy shelter of a tall Cottonwood tree, Pat rests gloomily in an old metal folding chair and it is not entirely clear if he is napping or watching.  His arms are thrown off to the sides as he sits in a reclining position.  His well tailored shirt rumpled from the rain, he looks resolute and manly but not particularly pleased.

Sarah and Rich gaze at each other and then begin dancing as their eyes meet and twirl.  Then Rich pulls her close and they are locked together.  Behind them Luke and Stacy awkwardly observe.

“I wanna dance to Joni too!”  Stacy glances at Luke, grabs him and swings him around.  The two start making up silly dance moves and teasing each other.

In the doorway Eliza finds herself wanting to fight it, but it’s unclear how to go about doing so.  Really, there was nothing to do but watch, so she just stood there feeling stupid.  She watched as Stacy and Sarah smiled.

But Eliza had not gone unnoticed.  Stacy, half seeing her out of the corner of her eye, secretly delighted in the misery she was inflicting on the young woman several years her junior.  And, she also realized how much of a risk she was currently taking with her own heart…  But, it had “just happened” or at least that’s what she had decided she would tell people.  Luke looked so lost, sad and uncomfortable just sitting there as Sarah and Rich fought in the truck so they started talking.  She felt lucky she had found them on the road back to the lake house from town.

Walking outside in the rain the drenched green grass felt mushy under Eliza’s bare feet, as if any second she would slide into it and completely humiliate herself.  And really, she couldn’t stand it.  Her mascara was running, her dress was now soaked and her husband was waltzing in the rain with another woman right in front of her.  And her feet were freezing.  She stopped and shivered.

Eliza was, in fact, totally finished with this scene.  Aside from some sort of vague, self pitying masochism if she stayed any longer, it was time to go.  So she left.  She walked back slowly, thought about saying goodbye to someone, like Luke, but the moment she opened her mouth she realized how pointless it was.

And, in fact, despite its inherent clumsiness she walked backwards almost the entire way to the house.   When she felt the handle of the door in her hands, wet and cold, she realized that this was it.  She was leaving after losing hope.  Loneliness was waiting.  Yet, upon entering inside, the warmth of the cozy house welcomed her.   At least she wasn’t cold anymore.

Finally, after making her way to the kitchen, with the white cupboards and black and white checkered floor, she felt a bit of peace.  This place felt ancient even though it wasn’t.  It felt safe.

And then there was the wine.  She grabbed it by the throat and poured herself a glass of red – a sweet Spanish wine.  It was a Crianza and it was delectable.

Leaning back on the counter tops she took a deep breath and looked around.  It suddenly occured to her that she wanted desperately to explore this rather grand old house.  Alone.  So, Eliza walked down the dim hallway toward the stairs and then up to the library.

It was an almost unseemly place.  It could be very eerie, especially at night, and it always smelled strongly of pipe tobacco.  But, it was charming…

Eliza noticed a set of old books about eagles near the fireplace.  The set was in near mint condition with a dark brown jacket.

She brushes them off lightly, noticing the smell of musty old book pages and dust.  Glass of wine still in hand she takes a sip, savors the cherry and plum and then sits it down adroitly to her right on the marble mantle.

Eliza hears a faint rustling in the background and she has the sense that there is someone behind her.  She half expects it to be Luke…

Perhaps he has come to apologize. And, what a feat that would be!  He might actually love her and have noticed when she went inside.  At this thought she imagines a scene of him telling Stacy or Sarah that he really loves Eliza and has to leave to check on her.  Her heart forms a small smile and takes a tiny leap at the thought of this very pleasant idea.

She turns around carefully, to give herself time to mentally prepare to see Luke and accept whatever he offers her.  But instead, she sees Pat.

He was rather remarkable actually…  While she had certainly noticed his masculine but gentle charm before, at this moment, his eyes looked so very blue and filled with light.  It was as if he had taken himself off the shelf and uncovered something rather rare and divine.

He dipped his frame into the room, showing a head of thick blond hair.  Then he turned around to the door, shut it quietly and walked over to the back of the sofa.  He leaned forward, resting his hands on the back of the dark green velvet and placed his weight there.  Then in the peaceful darkness of the library their eyes met firmly.

His face became electrified with an all consuming thought that set him a flight.  Luminous, staring with a belief of profound intention, he steadied himself toward her, finally reaching her, then enclosing her; moving together as two to become one until they reached the far wall by the window.

Eliza felt the coolness of the wall against her back as he finally kissed her lips with soft, beautifully desperate intensity.  Then he stopped and backed away and looked at her for a second. He was breathless.

“This isn’t alright is it?”

She shook her head back and forth in response before saying, “And I can’t get hurt again right now.”

“Of course not.  Neither can I.”

He grabbed her hand and pressed her against the wall, but then paused again and instead brought her to the sofa.  There they sat, staring at each other, neither of them sure what to do or say next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1876 Mata Hari

2015-12-24 00.39.09

Mata Hari (Histoires de Parfums 2001) begins with an herbal, sultry fizziness…  It’s soft, seductive, powdery and very sensual.  This is the sort of scent meant to be worn by a vixen. It’s perfectly befitting of its inspiration…

Spicy.  Sweet…  Musk, sandalwood, rose and violet.  This is a true beauty that is far from ordinary.

Top notes: bergamot, orange and litchi.  Middle notes: rose, iris, violet, caraway, cinnamon and carnation.  Base notes: vetiver, guaiac wood, sandalwood, musk and vanilla.

Up in SmokePart I of III*

It was a dreary day in March.  Elizabeth Matthews sat in the front passenger seat of her car driving with her husband Luke on their way to Mount Herman, an idyllic town a few miles off the main interstate by Lake Wannemigoshi. The quiet of the road and the silence between her and her husband was dulling.  Elizabeth turned on the radio and found a station to her liking before trying to start conversation.

“How are you today, really?”

“Umm.  What do you mean?”

“Just…  How are you?”

“I’m tired.”

“I’m sorry sweetie.”

“Ehh.”

Silence.

There was always silence in moments like this.  They had very little to discuss these days, or maybe it was actually too much…  Either way, only a certain depth could be reached before it all would collapse.

He would say something very hurtful. She would try to ask why and he would deny it was intentional but apologize anyway.  Then more probing would lead to him saying something even more hurtful.

“I hope we can get to the Williams’ house before it gets dark.  I was hoping Sarah and I could take a walk.”  Elizabeth tries for some approximation of closeness through conversation none-the-less.

Silence.

“What do you think about that?”

“I’m sorry.  What?”

“Do you think we’ll reach the Williams’ before it’s dark?”

“Well.”   He shifted in his seat with sudden interest and did quick calculations. “We should arrive in a half an hour.”

“Ok.  Great.”

“I mean…”  Luke then trailed off into a rather long explanation about why they would arrive in half an hour and how this time was different than the last three times they took the same journey.  Then at the end of his explanation Elizabeth suddenly realized that she hadn’t been listening.

“Ohh.  Ok. That makes sense!”  She covered.  He didn’t question her lie, but she felt guilty anyway. “Thank you for driving today honey,” she said extra sweetly.

He shrugged.

A half an hour later they arrived.  Sarah half ran half leaped down the gravel driveway to meet their car.  She grinned and looked breathless, but her attention was directed entirely towards Luke. She knocked on the glass of his window. He rolled it down…

“Hey!”  She said very jovially… only to Luke.

He smiled, captivated, a bit happy and a little confused.  And, the rain poured on everything.

Elizabeth sat and watched.  It had long been her suspicion that Sarah secretly had a crush on her husband.  After Luke and Sarah exchanged a few words Luke rolled up the window and turned to drive.  It seemed as if Elizabeth had ceased to exist…

“What was that all about?”

“What?”  He seems genuinely confused.

“I think she was flirting with you.”

Silence.

“Well?”

“Well what?  I’m sorry?”

“She was flirting with you.”

He shrugged.

“What do you think about that?”

“I mean, I didn’t think she was flirting.”

“Well it certainly seemed that way to me. It was odd that she was so giddy when she was talking to you and totally ignored me.  We’ve known the Williams’ for five years.”

“Hmm.  Yeah.”

Please don’t flirt back with her.”

I won’t.” He seemed sincere and Elizabeth breathed deeply in then out and sharply bit her upper lip.

After unloading their suitcases onto the wet, muddy driveway Richard Williams walked outside and gave Luke a big hug, and grabbed their luggage to haul inside.  Elizabeth, feeling anxious, decided to find Sarah. Could she be angry about something?

Sarah had moved to the doorway then and was holding open the large wooden door so Elizabeth decided to say a somewhat aggressive hello to get her attention.  Sarah reacted as if it was the oddest thing in the world for Elizabeth to do, but at the same time she seemed to understand exactly what was going on.  And, in the rich, dark subtext of that moment Elizabeth felt a gnawing sense of doom.

—•

Sarah flashes a giggle and smile, eyes wide and mooning at Elizabeth’s husband when he walks by.  He smiles back with an intimacy that gives Elizabeth a desire to flee and, at the same time, a rather silly idea of how to do so.

It occurs to Elizabeth that if she turns around and runs toward the lake that no one will stop her and if she reaches the lake she can stay there as long as she wants.  No one will stop her.   She could even camp out there for the rest of the week maybe…  It might be lonely but it will be a hell of a lot better than watching this.

And then she notices a man sitting at Sarah’s kitchen table.  He’s handsome and what she notices first are his eyes.  He’s staring boldly at her and smiling as if he knows her entire life history.  It’s almost creepy.

Elizabeth blushes and his blue eyes grin without his mouth moving a millimeter.  And then Elizabeth doesn’t want to run away anywhere.

‘He must know something I don’t about what’s going on and feel pity,’  she tells herself, feeling both embarrassment and the warmth of the supposed compassion.  But she can feel his eyes follow her every move as she and Luke ascend up the stairs to their usual room at the end of the hallway near the library.

“Who were those people at the kitchen table?”  Elizabeth asks nonchalantly once they reach their room (there was a woman with him).

“Who?”

“Never-mind. You’re having an affair with Sarah aren’t you?”  Elizabeth was never one to beat around the bush.

Luke sits down on the bed beside their luggage and looks sullen. Then he drops his face entirely.

“You are…” Elizabeth sits down next to him and there they sit in silence.

Luke throws himself on his back on the bed.

“I wanna know the truth.”

“We aren’t having an affair…  I don’t think.” His voice trails off slightly.

“But?”

“Well…  I think you’re right.  I think she’s being inappropriate and there are a few things I haven’t told you.”

“Like what?”  Elizabeth sighs.

“Well, she wants me to give her private piano lessons.”

“What?”

“Yeah.”  He lifts himself up to a sitting position and faces Elizabeth. “And, there was something a little flirtatious about the way she asked me.”

“When did this happen?”

“Last week, but I can’t remember which day of the week it was.”

“In person?!”

“In a phone call at home.”

“What did you say?”

“I told her that I’d have to think about it because we’re really busy right now.”

“We are!?”

“Well, yeah.   I’ve got an entire book I want to finish reading by the end of the month.”

“What?!  That doesn’t even make any sense…”

Silence.

“That doesn’t even make any sense.  You read The Catcher in the Rye once in three hours and your latest book is even easier to read than The Catcher in the Rye.”

“I’ve been really tired lately though.  My reading has been a lot slower.”

Elizabeth sighs.

“I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous and you know it!” Then more sweetly,  “Honey, I think you might have made that up to stall.”

“Maybe…   It was an uncomfortable conversation and she called me while I was trying to make French Toast.” He sounds truly angered by the last part in particular.

“Do you find her attractive?”

“Well…” He considers.

“Well what?”

“I mean, she’s not as attractive as you, but I’d say she was one of our more attractive female friends.”

“So you find her attractive?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You implied it.”

“The thing is, I’m not going to do anything with her, especially not without asking you.”

What?!  I’m confused.  What are you talking about?! You’re not going “to do anything” without asking me?  What?”

“Yes!  I’m not going to give her piano lessons without asking you.  I don’t see why I wouldn’t ask you…”

“Oh.  Ok?”

There’s a knock at the door.  They straighten themselves out and say, “Hey! Who’s there?”

“It’s Richard.”  Then very casually, “Hey guys, can I come in for a second?”

“Sure!” In unison.

Richard opens the door with a warm, quiet smile.  “Hey.” He shifts against the door-frame. “Yeah, so, here’s the thing.  I need to run into town to grab lighter fluid for the fire tonight and Sarah needs a few things from the grocery store.”  He begins tracing the frame with his hands, half distractedly examining the woodwork.  “She wants to come with me and I need you to come too Luke.  I might need help with picking out the right meat for the grill.”  Then he turns to Elizabeth, “If you want to come too you can, but, I’ve gotta be honest, it’d be easier if you stayed here.  I want to take the truck and there’s not a ton of room in the cab.  I’m sorry, Elizabeth.”

A slight anxiety quickened in Elizabeth as she pictured the situation in her mind.  But it seemed hopeless.

“Alright. I can just hang out here… Maybe I’ll go take a walk near the lake.”

“Sure.”  Richard didn’t seem particularly worried or interested.  He turned to Luke, “Hey, so I’m leaving in five minutes. Cool?”

“Yeah.”  Luke sounded happy and totally oblivious to anything uncomfortable.

“Cool.”  He began shutting the door, “I’ll leave you two alone.”  He snickers jokingly as if it was somehow a given that something sensual was about to transpire between man and wife.

Once the door is shut Elizabeth turns to face her husband.  “Honestly, and I’m not trying to be difficult, but honestly I’m a little concerned about what’s going on with Sarah.  I think this shopping trip could be potentially problematic.”

“Yeah.  Well, I’ll try to avoid her as much as I can.”

“You’re going to be sitting next her the whole way there and back.  How are you planning to avoid her?”

“I’ll  just ignore her and talk to Rich.”

“What if she sits in the middle?”

“Then I’ll just be quiet I guess.”

“The whole time?!”

“Yeah.  I mean it’s not like they’re bringing me along for conversation. I think Richard just needs my help at the grocery store.”

“I doubt that, I’m sorry.  But anyway, do you really even know that much about meat?”

Luke laughs.

“You think I’m meat ignorant huh?” He smiles at her.

“Well, no, not necessarily, but I didn’t think you knew that much…”

“Eh.”

“Ok…”

Silence.

Luke finishes putting on his watch, loafers, and takes a second to straighten his clothes and hair in the mirror.  Elizabeth, however, only sees him as he finishes and yet she can still sense his extra effort.

“Why are you trying to look so nice?”

“I didn’t know I was.”

“Please don’t do anything hurtful.”

“I won’t.”  He smiles brightly, walks over, gives her a kiss and then leaves.

Silence.

Elizabeth sits on the bed and listens to the sound of Luke walking down the stairs and eventually greeting their hosts.  There’s mumblings and murmurs.  Everyone sounds happy.

She lifts herself up, walks down the stairs carefully and then watches out the window as they all get inside the truck.  Sarah is giving her full attention to Luke as they approach the truck.

To his credit, Luke does seem to be at least partially ignoring Sarah’s subtle but passionate giggles and hovering glances.  But then Richard engages him and Sarah finds a way into the conversation too.  Then she sits in the middle…  As they drive off they’re all laughing.

And then they’re gone.

Elizabeth turns around to a dusty, and now sunny house. Sarah and Richard are great at keeping things neat and tidy, aside from dust… Almost nothing is askew.  Even the dining room table is kept free of any letters, books, or other things that seem to be magnetically attracted to tables in many homes…

It then it occurs to Elizabeth that there were two other people in the kitchen when they first arrived.  She wonders first why no introductions were made, and then where they are… She decides to investigate.

Elizabeth walks across the very old wooden floors that creak with each step, and smells the smell of old books on the shelves in the light filled, dust particle dancing living room. Then she decides to walk down the dim hall to the left until she reaches the back door.  And it’s here that she sees two people, a man and a woman, playing with a dog in the backyard.

In the wet, green, shiny grass she sees a golden retriever rolling, running and jumping for a ball.  A ball that’s then thrown towards the deep grass further to the left and into the direction of the sun…

Then the woman stops playing and excuses herself.  She pulls out a cigarette from her front shirt pocket, lights it and then walks off to the right.  The lady looks serious, sophisticated in her willowy gait and almost mad with the force of each step.  And then she’s gone.

Once she’s gone the man stands still and begins staring off into the sunlight.  He stops all motion and just stares.  He stares for a long while and Elizabeth considers that she’s perhaps being odd to continue watching.  And then, at that very instant he turns his face with a quickness and looks directly at Elizabeth, intensity in his gaze.

Fingers falling off of the metal latch of the door, feet tripping backwards quickly on the uneven linoleum, mouth slightly open as sunlight stretches into the hallway, Elizabeth finds herself a little mortified.  She however, is also very curious.  Very curious.  So she descends back into position but doesn’t have the courage to look up.

Elizabeth, still facing downwards, then opens the door on impulse and walks outside awkwardly.  The feeling of the cool but temperate air hits her and she feels the urge to raise her head.  Eyes up she sees him watching her with a cautious expression in his finely chiseled, fair features.

“Hi.”  She smiles and approaches him, extending her hand. “I’m Eliza.”  Nobody but her close friends call her Eliza and it seems strange in her mind after she says it, but she can’t imagine him calling her Elizabeth.

“Nice to meet you.”  He extends his hand in return and shakes hers with a seriousness. “I’m Pat.”

Their eyes meet for a second and they both smile and then look off.

After their initial greeting, Elizabeth and Pat make pleasant, bright conversation.  He tells her that they are from California and are visiting Sarah and Rich for the weekend before taking a cruise up the coast to Alaska for their third wedding anniversary…

“That sounds like fun.”

Pat laughs and squints off into the sunshine.  Then he lowers his head and stares at his feet before looking up directly at Eliza and saying confidently, “We should go inside.  I think I need to sit down.”

“Oh, really?”  Eliza asks sincerely.

“Yeah, we all took a long walk next to the lake earlier today and I only had two hours of sleep last night.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

They quietly and slowly walk inside, Eliza follows him to the living room and then the sofa.  They silently assume an unusual sort of understanding between each other that feels very comfortable and safe. And it happens as naturally as breathing.

Pat smiles brightly.  “Last night,” he chuckles and flutters his eyes, “Rich went to bed and Sarah and my wife, Stacy, decided to stay up late and smoke pot.”

“What?  I didn’t know that Sarah smoked pot…”

“Yeah, well, apparently she only does around Stacy.”  He stops his story and looks at her as if he’s about to provide necessary background information, which he then does, “They were roommates for three years at NYU and then for two years in Philly after college.”

“So that’s how you know Rich and Sarah?”

“Yes.  She was a bridesmaid in our wedding.”

“Oh…  Hmm.”

He suddenly studies Eliza’s face and their eyes meet carefully.  He  calculates the subtleties of her tiny movements until he reaches her with his eyes and they share a moment where much is felt but nothing is spoken.

“Anyway, they were up really late and I couldn’t sleep so I just sat and watched.”  An amused smile lights his face and he lifts his brows up and then down gently.

“That must have been interesting.”

“It was.  It was…”  He leans back, looking off into his memory of the night before.

“I found out a lot about Stacy that I never knew…  And,” he looks at her now with a loaded expression, “a lot about Sarah…” He keeps looking at Eliza.

“Oh…”  Eliza believes she knows exactly what he’s talking about.  She looks up at him.

“Yeah.  Where is Sarah now anyway?”  He looks concerned.

“She’s getting something at the grocery store.”

“How do you know that?  Did she tell you?”

Eliza feels confused.  “No, but Rich said that that’s where they all were going.  My husband, Rich and her all left together.”

He looks at her and bits his bottom lip. “Oh. Ok.”

“What?”

He shakes his head back and forth and then continues, “They’ve been fighting all day.  They left without telling Stacy and me where they were going.”

“What?!”

“Yeah.  But…  They do stuff like that.”  He snorts.

“They do?”

“Yes!  You’ve never seen it?”

“No…”  She looks quizzically at him.

“Hmm.  Mmm.”  He inhales rather loudly, reaches up and grabs his chin, resting his face against his hand.  And, again, he looks deeply into her eyes and smiles when she seems overwhelmed.

“We met them five years ago when my husband worked with Rich…”  Eliza volunteers to him.

“They fight.  A lot…”  Then he looks down at his hands and off towards the direction of the back door.

“Where was your wife going?”

He looks back at her slightly stunned, and seemingly a little thrilled that she so quickly read him.  “Oh!  She just…”  He wrinkles his face.  “She goes off to be alone sometimes.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”  He seems slightly embarrassed, but that doesn’t stop Eliza who feels an urging to keep asking questions.

“Where does she go?”

He gazes yet again and then smiles with a faint whimsy.  “She never tells me actually.  And I stopped asking questions last year.  I used to but…”

“Is she ok?”

“Yes.  I know she’s not addicted to anything other than cigarettes.”

“I’m sorry if I’m asking too many questions.”

He smiles sweetly and shakes his head.

“I don’t want to frighten you,” he says before rolling his eyes up, away and almost laughing to himself.

“I hope…” But she can’t continue.

“So, what’s the plan for tonight?  Do you know?” He gently breaks the quiet.

“I actually really wanted to go for a walk by the lake, but it sounds like that’s no longer desirable.”

He nods sympathetically and then they both hear the front door open.  In walks everyone all at once.  Pat and Eliza both look and feel befuddled…

“Hey guys.”  Sarah seems peculiarly upset and tired as she lays down her handbag on the ottoman near the door to the hallway.  Her face makes movements intended for the pair on the sofa, but she doesn’t look at either of them.

“Hey, Sarah.”  Elizabeth looks at her and tries to verbally reach out but Sarah just walks silently and coldly out of the room.

“Hey!”  Luke walks in the room and sits down on the plush leather chair in front of the fireplace at the center.  He seems tired too.

“How was that?”  Elizabeth wants to call Luke honey like always, but stops herself.  She realizes instantly that it’s because Pat is  listening and she feels a mixture of emotions forbidden, beautiful and upsetting.

“Well, we found the right meat but otherwise were unsuccessful.”

“How so?”

“They didn’t have any lighter fluid.”

“So there isn’t going to be a fire tonight?”

“It’s supposed to rain anyway,”  Rich announces as he pops his head into the living room quickly.

“Oh.”

Everyone is quiet and then Stacy walks in and sits down on the piano bench. She looks sulky and annoyed for some unknown reason as well…

“Hey, Stace.” Pat sweetly calls at her.

She looks up and smiles at Pat kindly but says nothing. Eliza notices that she seems very distracted.

After a pleasant and amazingly calm dinner indoors they all retire off to their rooms for a while before coming down again.  In Eliza and Luke’s room a conversation starts.

“So, how did it go today?” Eliza begins.

“Fine.”

“Fine in what way?  What does fine mean?”

“It was fine.  Everything went well.”

“Did anything happen?”

“We talked while we were at the store but other than that we didn’t say much to each other.”

Elizabeth’s breathing quickens. “I saw you all laughing as you were leaving though.”

“Oh, well.  Yeah.  I think she made a joke.”

“So maybe it wasn’t all totally fine?”

Silence.

And then the conversation continues with Elizabeth taking even more of an uncomfortable lead.  “So, maybe it wasn’t really all ok.  Did anything flirty happen?”

“No.  I mean she brought up the piano lessons again, but this time I told her that it wouldn’t work out.”

It made sense now.  The coldness…

“How did she take it?”

“She said it was ok.  She asked me if I knew any good piano teachers.”

“Ok.” And then in a moment of guilt, “I talked a lot with Pat today.  The guy downstairs.”

“I’m confused.  Is he Stacy’s husband?”

“Yes.” Eliza wonders how he met Stacy but doesn’t ask.

“Alright.”  He looks a little confused and almost irritated by her emphasis.

“I think we might have talked too much.  I’m sorry.”

Luke shakes his head and then starts working on a game on his cell phone.

“Are you upset?  I’m sorry.”

“Upset?” He leads the conversation.

“Yeah.  By what I just said.”

“No.  I really don’t care.”  He smiles sweetly and sincerely but doesn’t seem to see the point of the conversation.  Elizabeth moves next to him on the bed.

“Well, maybe you should care.”

He completely ignores her now and continues playing his game.

 

*Because I’m starting this short story late this month, I’ve decided to post in three pieces instead of one.

Well, I sent a message to an old flame on Facebook.  He hasn’t read it but I hope someday he will…

I had to.    I really did…  It was driving me up the wall not to say anything.  He needed to know a few things about our past.  At least, I think he did…

I wish people would write me such letters.  Ha!  I’m serious though.  I do.

Until Saturday.  🙂