Three Word Wednesday, 6/8/2011

Alter, Fond, Tranquil

 

“Pray don’t alter yourself in any respect, my dear.”

“What’s with the bad Jane Austen impersonation, Bill?”

“Well, women are supposed to like her. I think I’ve seen you read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ a couple of hundred times since we got married. And you’re always watching that Colin Firth guy.”

“Yes, I’m fond of the books. It must have been a more tranquil time, in many ways. But that doesn’t mean I want you to turn yourself into Mr. Darcy.”

“I –“

“Stop sighing, Bill. What is it?”

“I thought you’d like it if I was a little more romantic.”

“There’s ‘romantic’ and ‘romantic’.  Pray don’t alter yourself in any respect, my dear.”

“Oh, great. Wipe that Cheshire cat grin off your face, will you? I’m never going to hear the end of this, am I?”

“Nope.”

Three Word Wednesday, 6/1/2011 – “Cherries”, Lisa & Philippe #1

Erratic, Luminous, Omen

Lisa loved the atmosphere of the charming, erratic street, populated with non-matching little stores, many of them in the same family for generations.  She passed the fromagerie and smiled at the elderly man who was placing cheeses in the window. As she approached the boulangerie/pâtisserie, she sighed.  Philippe, the owner of the shop, and a respected master baker and pâtissier, was leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed, with a smile on his face.

“Bonjour, Lisa.” His luminous eyes sparkled with mischief.

Bonjour, Philippe.” She bit back a smile of her own and braced herself for the newest onslaught. “What is it today?”

“Just a little thing – a very little thing.” Philippe walked out to stand beside her on the sidewalk. He put an arm around her and pointed at the display.

Lisa peered at the assembled sweets. Sure enough, he’d paid attention to her slip of the tongue the week before. I just had to tell him I liked cherries. This week’s temptation was a cute, tiny cheesecake, covered with miniature cherries he had to have charmed out of one of the vendors at the marché.

She bent closer– it was a piece of artistry to look at, regardless of what it tasted like – and sighed again. “Philippe, you know how hard I worked to lose weight. I can’t give in and eat sweets again or I’ll get fat.” She puffed her cheeks out and held her arms away from her side for emphasis.

“Fat! One little tiny cheesecake is not going to make you fat.”  He shot her a sideways glance.

Lisa pondered for a moment. Just then, a man walked by wearing an HNIC t-shirt with a picture of Don Cherry on it.

Philippe saw her notice and leaned in. “That’s an omen, you know,” he said, sotto voce.

She smiled, and then chuckled and the two of them burst into laughter at the same time.

“I might have put “Don Cherry” and “omen” in the same sentence, but not that way.” They shared another laugh, and finally, she reached out to touch him gently on the arm. “Merci, Philippe, for thinking of me. I’ll take it.”

He led her back into the shop and carefully took the little delicacy from the window, placing it in a small box.

She took it from him. “Now I’ll have to do an extra workout, you know,” she said, teasing.

“No, you won’t.” He brushed a stray lock of hair from her forehead. “You’re perfect just the way you are.”

Homecoming


This is for Maria Kelly (@mkelly317 on Twitter) and Missy and me and my Doodlebug. One day … To read Maria’s story:
“Is There A Balm?” go to http://wp.me/p1dnHh-6b

Doodlebug waited patiently on the warm wood of the bridge.  He scratched at his ear desultorily and yawned. Glancing over the bridge he caught his reflection in the water below and took brief inventory. Marmalade tabby, check. Golden eyes, check. Small black spot on my nose — now just a minute! He flicked his ears in annoyance and wiped at it with one paw in a futile effort.  His person had been amused by the dot, but he didn’t find it the least bit funny. Hmph. I thought things were supposed to be better on this side of the Bridge —

His grumbles were interrupted by the pad of feline paws approaching, and he rose, stretching with great pleasure.  A female, mostly white, but with variegated patterns that marked her as a calico, approached him. “Where am I?”

“You’re Missy, right?”

She bumped against him in a gesture of feline assent.

“Well, this is the Bridge. Perhaps you’ve heard it mentioned?”

She lifted her head and looked around. “THIS is the bridge?”

Doodlebug cocked his head, amused. “You were expecting the Golden Gate?”

“No, it’s just — I thought there’d be more animals here.”

“Oh, there’s plenty.  But we don’t hang around the Bridge — there’s too much for us to do.  You’re only here when you cross over, and once again when your person comes along.”

“Oh.” Missy was ashamed at the depth of her loss. She wasn’t struggling any more, that was true. But she missed her person. She stopped and licked a paw and groomed herself, hoping that her companion wouldn’t notice her sadness.

He bumped against her and purred gently. “Don’t be embarrassed. We’re supposed to miss them, you know. That’s why you’re here.”

“Is there somewhere else to go?” Her back fur ruffled in fear.

“Well, some animals are so damaged they can’t be made right again. They just … go away. Cease to exist.  It’s kinder to them.”

She looked up again. He bumped noses with her once, softly. “Come on. There’ll be time to heal your heart and catnip to nibble on and – well, anything you can think of that’s good and proper for a cat.”

Missy started to follow him, and then glanced back at the Bridge. “And then one day?”

“Yes, one day … “ Doodlebug understood.  They all did.  Every animal who came over the Bridge waited for the day when the Shepherd came and brought them back to meet that one person … the one special human they loved. “One day.”

They turned and walked from the Bridge together, purring, tails entwined.

Things Unsaid

When I tell myself I have put you away
I know I lie; all it takes is a brief note of music
or a turn of phrase and you are before me
so vividly you are almost standing there.

I can barely breathe — or find the air to speak;
I never could. Love wrapt in the fear of loss;
a gift I could never give you to open —
that you would not even if I had the courage.

What does it say of us that ‘I love you’
were the only three words between us left unuttered?

Three Word Wednesday, 2/16/2011

Blink, Kind, Occasion

“So since when is loving one person any excuse for not being kind to someone else?”

Luke blinked at me in bemusement, but didn’t answer. Then: “I’m really not sure what you’re talking about.”

“No?” I swung a chair around, and sat on it bassackwards, facing him. “We used to be able to talk, really converse. Now the minute you see me come in the room, you leave. Or if I’m already there, you don’t stay. I do notice these things, mon chum.”

“Oh, that.”

“Yes, that.”

“You know what’s really important to me. I won’t let my relationship with anyone else threaten that.”

“And on what occasion, exactly, did I threaten that? Have I ever said or done anything that would indicate that I even wanted to?”

His head rose, and he looked at me steadily. “You know what you did.”

I blushed.  My one mistake and I didn’t even realize it when I made it.  “That was a compliment.  It was a statement of fact, not a declaration of intent to take possession. And even if I loved you — really loved you — the way you think I do, the last thing I would do is interfere in your life the way you seem to be afraid I will.”

“I talked to you about the game the other night.”

“Yep.  Three whole words.”

“I give you something and you still complain. Maybe –”

“Don’t.” I held up my hand, wanting to forestall what I knew he was about to say, words that couldn’t be taken back. “Please.  We may not have much now, but it’s better than nothing.  I’m sorry for being snarky.”

“Fine.” He glanced at me, eyes twinkling.  “So how about those Habs?”

Perilous Times

[A/N:  The title of this story comes from a line in Frank Herbert’s classic book Dune: “Beginnings are such perilous times”.  I need to acknowledge the authors of Cajun Country, whose explanation of late 19th and early 20th century courting rituals among Cajuns gave me this story idea.]

Fourteen-year-old Pierre LeMay watched his brother Denis button his collar and put on his tie.  He cleared his throat, as was only appropriate for a young man who had news as important as his.  “I saw Jacques Dubois jus’ finish paintin’ his chimney top and gate blanche, moi.”

Denis froze.  “What did you say?”

“You heard me,” Pierre replied with amusement.

“I – but – mon Dieu.” He took two steps backwards in shock and sat down abruptly on his bed.

“Denis, you’d better not let Maman see you sittin’ t’ere.”

The young man looked around dazedly.  “Oh.  Yes.” He stood, and made motions at smoothing down the duvet, which only wrinkled it more.

“So, are you going to rush over so you can beat Lucien Hébert?”

Ferme ton bec, Pierrot.”

“Shut up? T’at’s a nice way to talk to me, Denis. Especially after I ran all t’e way home just to tell you.”

“Ah, I – I just – oh, merde.”

Denis! Such language!” Aurelie LeMay stood in the doorway, watching her sons with mingled amusement and disapproval.

Denis bowed to his mother. “Maman, excusez-moi.” He took one more look at himself in the mirror and left hastily.

Aurelie looked at her younger son and shook her head.  “You shouldn’t tease him like that, cher. He’s going to be in such a hurry he’ll probably fall down along the way.”

Pierrot shrugged and grinned at her.  “All t’at fuss over a girl.  Catch me runnin’ like t’at!”

She hid a smile. “Of course not, ‘tit fils.  It couldn’t have been you I saw carrying Francie Robichaux’s books home t’is afternoon, could it?”

He blinked at her.  “Well, maybe.  But I didn’t have to chase her to do it.”

We’ll see when you get a little older, cher, who’s doing the chasing.Mais, Pierre, don’t tease him.  This is a very important thing he is doing.  Much like your chores.”

Pierre had the grace to look abashed. “Oui, Maman”, he said, and left to do them.

* * *

On his way to the Dubois house, Denis tripped twice, ran into the bald cypress in front of Antoine Thibodeaux’s house and apologized to it, and nearly snagged the sleeve of his best jacket on a salt matrimony vine he’d seen nearly every day of his life but somehow missed today. In sight of his objective, he stopped and brushed himself off and took a leaf off the vine, trying his best to clean the dust from his newly-shined shoes.  Finally, he took a deep breath and marched determinedly toward Jacques Dubois’ house.  Sure enough, he saw the marks that told a Cajun boy that a Cajun girl of marriageable age was on the premises.

Stop bein’ so nervous.  You’ve known M’sieu Jacques all your life and he’s Papa’s best ami.  Just go in and be yourself.

He lifted the latch of the freshly whitewashed gate and walked up the flower-lined path to the front door. “Tell him Papa told you about t’e shrimp.  Tell him about t’e shrimp …” he murmured repeatedly as he waited for some one to answer his knock. “Tell him …”

Jacques Dubois opened the door so abruptly that Denis finished the sentence to the older man’s face. “ – about t’e shrimp.”

Bon soir, Denis.  What about t’e shrimp?”

Startled, Denis said, “Oh. Ah. Bon soir, M’sieu’ Jacques. Mais, Papa said for me to let you know t’at Pierrot and I were going to go shrimping tomorrow and to ask if we could bring any back for you.”

“Could be I could use some, me.  Why don’t you come in and have a cup of coffee and we’ll talk about it.”

Isabelle Dubois looked up as he came into the kitchen.  “Denis, how nice to see you. Is your mother well? I haven’t seen her in awhile.”

Bon soir, Madame Dubois.  Maman est bien, merci.”

Bon.  I believe you like your coffee black, no?”

Oui. Merci.”

Isabelle hid a smile and went for the coffee. She came back with the pot and a plate with a piece of cake on it.  “Our Annette baked this today. I thought perhaps you would like a piece.”

Oui, merci.” Oh, ye yaie.  I think I just said that.

Jacques stifled a smile. “So, you were tellin’ me about some shrimp, you.”

“Yes, sir. Pierrot and I had a full day planned.  Papa had said that we should bring back some for both families, that you might need some and that I should check with you so that we have enough.”

The two of them discussed it further, and as they did, Annette came into the room, hung towels from the hooks on the wall and walked back out without saying a word to her uncle or to Denis.

Denis managed to choke on his coffee and cake. Amused, Jacques slapped him on the back until he could talk again.

“You bien, Denis?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I hear you been fixin’ up your Nonc Joseph’s old house.”

“Yes, sir.  It’s done.  I just need to pick the color to paint it.”

“Maybe you’ll be wantin’ someone to help you make t’at decision, you?”

Denis flushed a little. “Well, yes, sir.  I might, at that.”

“Your Papa tells me you are goin’ to work in an office in t’e ville, you. T’at right?”

“Yes, I am. It’s an accounting firm, Johnston and Buford.  I’ve always been good with math. Mr. Johnston knows my teacher, and he agreed to take me on as soon as I graduate in June.”

“Good for you.  Will you make a good salary, eh?”

Denis knew Andre would have already told Jacques. “Well enough –“ He hesitated, and then dove in. “Well, enough to be able to think about my future. About a family.” It’s not like he doesn’t know why I’m really here.

“Sounds promisin’.” Andre rose, and Denis stood as well. “I’ll look forward to gettin’ those shrimp, me.”

He walked Denis to the door. As the young man started to leave, Jacques spoke again.

“So, Denis. You free on jeudi soir?”  He laughed to himself at Denis’ reaction – I t’ink you could light up a whole house from t’at boy’s face.

Oui! – I mean, yes, sir. Jeudi soir.”

Ça, c’est bon! We’ll see you t’en.”

Denis had to go down the steps very carefully – he wasn’t sure his feet were touching the ground.  As he walked away, he waited until he was sure Jacques was back inside – and then took the path that went around the house.  Annette stood at the parlor window, and she waved at him, shyly.  He smiled warmly at her, his whole heart and future hopes in his eyes, waved back once and started for home.

– 30 –

[A/N 2:  Jeudi soir means Thursday night.  According to Cajun Country, that’s the night proposals were delivered.  Bear in mind that Denis and Annette haven’t just met. This is a part of my Guardian Angel universe.  All the other stories, save one, from this universe are on my website at http://www.tec4.co.cc]

A Dance at Midnight

The wind off the lake was ice-cold, slicing through my thin coat like a sword cut.  Part of me wished I’d worn something warmer, but then I realized how silly that was.  If I’d felt better, I’d have laughed.

The city was spread before me in a pattern of dancing lights, alternately hidden and revealed by the blowing snow. At this distance, it was almost beautiful. Of course, the beauty was an illusion, obvious only at a distance. If I stood here until dawn, I’d see the streets below me for what they were. Just as I had, for the past six months, seen life for what it was, finally. Well, no more.

I stepped toward the edge of the building and looked down.  Was four floors enough? I suppose there were guides for these things somewhere on the Internet, but even though I had made a New Year’s resolution I intended to keep, the thought of Googling “Defenestration proper height fatal” was more than I was willing to do. Heaven knows why, but I just decided to take advantage of what height I had access to and go — go on to whatever there was.  I hoped it would be somewhere I could find Martin again.

Out of nowhere, hands closed around my shoulders and gently tugged me back. Damn it! Who’s interfering now? And then the wind brought me some very familiar scents: Bellagio for Men, good tobacco and the frequently-recalled smell of him. “Martin?” And tears sprang to my eyes, tears not caused by the wind.

“Allie, don’t.  Please don’t.”

I turned slowly, afraid to look. But there he was, in his black wool topcoat over the charcoal suit that suited him best, black hair tossed by the wind and a loving expression in the beautiful brown eyes I cherished so much. With a cry, I leaped to him and felt his warm arms wrap around me, shielding me from the cold in my heart. “Oh, beloved, I’ve missed you so!” I wept myself into sobs and finally into silence.

“I never left you.  You might not be able to see me, but I’ve always been there.” I felt his lips softly brush my cheek. He rocked me gently and then stood back. “But this — if you’d done this, I’d never have seen you again.  I couldn’t bear the thought.  So here I am.”

“Everything’s so empty without you.  People try, they do, but it’s just not enough.”

“Please don’t give up, my heart. I promise you that it will get better, that there is something good waiting for you on the other side of this. The pain won’t last forever.”

“Somehow, that’s even worse — knowing that one day, I won’t miss you as much. I love you!”

“I know that.  I love you, too.  My love for you didn’t die just because I did.”

The chimes began from St. John’s Cathedral. Martin tipped his head back to listen, and I saw moonlight reflected on his face. It was midnight. As the chimes ended, on the street below a car stopped and music drifted up to us where we stood.

“Let’s dance, Allie.  One last time.” He enfolded me and we danced slowly together, my face tucked in the crook of his neck. When the music stopped, he stepped away from me. “Promise me, dear one.  Never again. When the day comes that you cross over to where I am, I want to be with you.”

I felt a wrench in my heart at the thought of him leaving me again, but the sadness in his eyes moved me to promise. “One day, Martin.”

“One day, Allie.”

He blew a kiss to me and vanished in a swirl of snow.

Three Word Wednesday, 11/17/2010

Clutch, Delight, Happy

Today is “letting go” day.

As I turn on my laptop, the extra monitor I use comes up first, and there is his picture on the screen, smiling that wonderful smile at me, and I feel pain clutch my heart. I don’t want to do this, I really don’t. But if I don’t do it now, I never will. I’ll go on imagining that I have a future with him and my present will float by me, pointless and unregretted until it’s too late to get it back. So I right click on the screen and change the image. Then I delete it from my hard drive. So there’s that.

Online, I unfriend him, unfollow him … all the things we do these days to the people in our lives when we don’t want them there any more.

It didn’t start out this way, but then, it never does, does it? It was a delight to wake up in the morning and think of him, to check online and see there was a message or a ‘like’ of something we both enjoyed. Then I made mistakes, and he made mistakes and what was shiny and new got tarnished in a hurry. The day came when I badly embarrassed him, not meaning to, and since then we’d hardly been in contact at all. In fact, if we wound up in the same place recently, one of us usually left. Him, because he really didn’t want anything to do with me and me, because I hated how uncomfortable he was when I was there.

My friends told me he’d get over it, but he didn’t. So today is the day I wipe him out of my life. I imagine he’ll be relieved.

As for me, well, I know one day I’ll be past all of it. You think you will hurt forever. You don’t. It just seems like it. Even though I know that, I wonder if I’ll ever be happy again.