Wednesday, October 12, 2011

After the Storm - Chapter 1

As dawn broke, the morning light filtered through the slats in the ceiling and I surveyed the night's damage.  The storm had blown through while the stars shone, leaving behind just the wreckage of broken boards, overturned furniture.  Holes where once there was strength.

We had gone up last night to watch the storm from the barn.  There was a board or two up there that needed fixing anyway, but they made the perfect makeshift skylight to take in nature's sights. Probably should've taken a blanket up there to lie on, too...  but there were some old chairs left from years ago that worked almost as well.

We watched the sky and listened to the winds as the tension mounted between us. "So are we going to talk about this or what?" he asked me quietly.

I clenched my fists and inhaled sharply.  "Now? No, we're not."

"Dammit, Lissa."  He stood up so quickly that his chair clattered behind him to the floor. "We can't keep pretending and playing this game!"

I struggled to keep my voice calm, but it wasn't much good.  He pushed, I hid.  I attacked back, he deflected.  Always this dance.  Always this way.  I might have thrown things.  Maybe it was him.

All I could really say this morning was that he was gone and there was a mess to clean up in the wake of his absence.

And I think I missed him.

I righted the chairs, picked up a few boards from the floor and leaned them against the wall.  My pocket buzzed, and I pulled the cell phone out of the pocket of my bathrobe.

You guys okay?  My little sister.

I quickly texted back House is fine. Zach left before sliding it back into my pocket.  I barely had a chance to sit down before she replied Went to store left or left left?

Left left. Isn't coming back left. Ever left.

Don't go anywhere.

A light laugh escaped my throat.  I hadn't even taken a shower yet, where was I going to go?

I finished putting scraps of debris into a pile before I climbed back down the barn's ladder and went back to the house to make some coffee. I had a feeling I was going to need a lot of it.

I was sitting at the kitchen counter when I heard Megan's car roll down the gravel driveway, and her door slam.  She banged her way through the kitchen's screen door and set her purse on the table.  "Alright, girl." She took one look at my face, and exclaimed, "Lord, you look a mess."

I stuck my tongue out at her.  "Thanks a lot. I don't suppose you know anyone who might be here to cheer me up?"

She grinned, "Nope." Spying the cup of coffee in my hands, she wrinkled her nose in distaste. "What do you drink that stuff for?" Megan asked.  "It's going to stunt your growth. I brought you something better," she said as she pulled out a bottle of wine.

"Geez, Meg. It's 10 o'clock in the morning, put that away.  Besides... I'm 31.  I think I've done all the growing I'm going to do."

Another car crunched up the driveway, and my eyes flew to Megan's.  Maybe Zach came back?  I tried to keep the hope out of my heart, I really did. I recognized the car, but it just wasn't the one I was hoping for.
I turned and looked accusingly at Megan. "Mom?  You called Mom?"

"What?" she protested.  "I thought I might need some backup."

I poured another cup of coffee.

The door opened and Mom poked her head around the doorframe.  "Yoo hoo....  is anyone here?"

"Hi Mom," I said with resignation.

"Oh," she began. "I was just in the neighborhood and thought I'd drop in and see how you were after the storm--"

"No, you weren't.  Megan called you and you thought you'd unload the cookie jar on me." I nodded to the box in her arms.

A stubborn look came into her eyes. "Cookies fix everything. It's in the Mom Handbook.  Now...  what happened with Zach?"

I gave Megan a knowing look over Mom's shoulder.  I really wasn't ready to talk this out with my mother just yet.  Megan just grinned and pointed to the wine bottle.

"Mom, we..."  I stopped.  What DID happen? What, really, had been the problem? I'm not sure I knew... only that it had finally been too much for us, and we were done.  He wasn't coming back, I knew that.  But I hadn't quite gotten to why yet.  Maybe it was just that we couldn't agree on the laundry and the dishes.  Maybe it was the fact that I could only let him in so far, maybe it was that he pushed when I needed him to lay off. Maybe we wanted different things.  Maybe I just wasn't enough.  "Mom, he left five hours ago.  I'm just not quite ready to talk about it yet.  Okay?"


"OKAY?" I glared meaningfully at Megan.

"Oh alright, alright," she mumbled through a mouthful of chocolate chip cookie.  "I'm just here for the cookies, anyway."

"Now... if you two don't mind, I have a shower to take, a storm to clean up, and a life to figure out."  I smiled at my sister. "Maybe leave the wine."

Chapter 2

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