I'm thinking... I'll post first draft chapters here... It will keep me writing if I have a deliverable.(Not that writing is ever a problem. The problem is when I'm writing, I'm not doing much else.) Inspiration, where do you find it?
“Sarah, are you up?”
Groggy, and still in slumber land, I questioned whether my father's voice was part of dream or reality. In this house, in my dreams, it was a valid question.
“Sarah, it's 6:45; time to get up?”
Truth be known, it was past time. To catch the bus to Monument Valley Middle School, I had to be out the door in 20 minutes. Life was so much easier when I was in still at Stockbridge Elementary. The day started at 9 o'clock, instead of 8, and I could walk to school, not catch the one bus that picked up the outliers, students who lived more than 2 miles from the school. Racing about, I threw off my pajamas and tossed on some somewhat clean jeans, tshirt and sweater. No one could accuse me of being a fashion plate. Socks on, sneakers in hand I ran down the back stairs, landed on one of the kitchen stools, and preceded to eat the peanut butter toast that was laid out on a plate.
“Hey! That's mine!”
I hadn't seen Molly, dressed and ready for school, reaching into the refrigerator after the orange juice.
“Can I have it? I have...” glancing up at the clock, “five minutes to make the bus.”
“You have more than that. Stop eating my toast.”
It was amazing, in the second grade and she was already telling time.
After, forcing one foot and then the next, into my still tied sneakers, I reached for the jar of peanut butter and a spoon. “Fine, sorry I took a bite.” Then with my voice thickened with what I call a pure protein treat I confessed, “I thought Dad made it for me.”
Still not eating her coveted toast, Molly replied, “Daddy left right after he hollered for you to get up. He had to leave for a staff meeting. Mrs. Westing is coming over to see I get to school.”
Life was strange. I wasn't left alone ever until I was in the sixth grade, and now, due to the circumstances, we never uttered the word cancer, Molly was being left in second grade. Granted it was only for a few minutes. Usually as I was walking to the bus stop, Mrs. Westing would drive by and wave. Still there was the principle of the thing.
Mom had been gone for weeks now. Home was not the same. Exhausted, Dad got us up, fed, sort of clothed, and made sure Molly got her homework done. I'd do mine on my own. But there were the other things, like actually sitting with us at breakfast, making lunches, instead of buying, and nagging us to clean up the piles of stuff we left around the house. Mount Laundry forever cascaded across the upstair's hallway. He swore he would never take Mom for granted again. Agreed.
We did talk with her most days. She'd call, usually after our dinner, her lunch, and ask the usual questions, as if we were all sitting around the kitchen table. How's school? Who did you eat lunch with? How was the bus ride? How is Melody, Jeff? Seen Charles lately? Will you see Martha this weekend? Etc... Our answers were usually the same. After three weeks of nightly chats I realized that my life, despite living with a ghost, was really rather boring.
When she first arrived on Bainbridge Island, Mom gushed about the our cottage, “You'd never recognize it. They took off all the gingerbread work and painted it a sea moss green with rusty red shutters. And the gardens are all gone.” Gingerbread and gardens gone, really what was left? One thing I did notice in all her talking about the island and the house was Mom never spoke about Bainbridge Island as if it were home, so I asked her, “Do you miss it, now that you're back there?”
“No, it's more like a dream,” she replied, “A wonderful place I've been, but Stockbridge is home.”
I wondered if Charles felt that way. Next time I saw him, I'd have to ask. The next time... I wondered when that would be. Ever since reuniting Martha with her lost wedding ring, his visits were infrequent. Martha would say, “He is the caretaker. He takes care of things and the people of the house” And he did.
Maybe he needed to be at the Marche's.
Right after Mom arrived she was very optimistic about what the doctor's were calling highly effective chemo. Revolutionary, with better than ever trial results. Sometimes Mom was so bubbly about the treatments, I wondered just whom she was trying to convince? As if her expounding the virtues of the latest drug cocktail would tip the treatment scale in our favor. But as the weeks went on, her enthusiasm waned. Beverly was gravely ill all the time from the treatments, never really recovering from the toxic effects.
With her mom feeling so ill, mom said that Carolyn was living over at Bobbie's. Except for one or two of the many phone calls made during that first week Mom was out there, Carolyn was never around.
“Why isn't she helping her mom, helping you?” I asked.
“It's hard for her to see Beverly so sick. And Bobbie's parents are kind enough to let her stay.”
“Do you see her at all?”
“Usually right after school, she comes home for a little while, but then she goes over to Bobbie's. It's okay really.”
I didn't understand. My mom would never be alone like that.