CST #375: Shootin’ Stuff

We spend Thanksgiving with Mac’s parents, shoot up the place, and catch up with the comet filled classic, Deep Impact. Mac takes the boys to see Fantastic Beasts and we prepare our hearts (and homes) for Christmas.

Movies & TV:

Deep Impact

Luke Cage

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Games:

Far Cry 2 & 3

Our other show: Spoiled! with Mac and Katherine

Our son, Ben’s Youtube channel

Our Son Sam’s Youtube channel

Our cafe press merch shop: cafepress.com/catholicinasmalltown

Father Ben’s new board game:

Mime Control

Mac’s Dollar Beard Club referral link

Katherine’s Stich Fix referral link.

Blogs:

Catholicinasmalltown.com

Kat’s Blog Feed

Please support us through Patreon: patreon.com/cst

Find us at catholicinasmalltown.com

The Exorcist Episodes 1 & 2

the-exorcist-tv-series

We spew spoilers all over you guys in the latest episode of Spoiled: The Exorcist Ep 1 & 2.

CST #354: Uphill Both Ways

Scout Camp lego

Mac, Ben, & Sam take on Scout camp as Kat & Jude watch ALOT of TV. Also we dispel myths about what the pope has and has not said.

Movies & TV:

13 Hours

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Zootopia

Books:

The Husband’s Secret by Lieane Moriarty

Our other show: Spoiled! with Mac and Katherine

Our son, Ben’s Youtube channel

Our cafe press merch shop: cafepress.com/catholicinasmalltown

Father Ben’s new board game:

Mime Control

Mac’s Dollar Beard Club referral link

Katherine’s Stich Fix referral link.

Blogs:

Catholicinasmalltown.com

Kat’s Blog Feed

Please support us through Patreon: patreon.com/cst

Find us at catholicinasmalltown.com

CST #337: Ridin’ the Thank You Train

CST graphic

Jude’s Birthday is a hit, we LOVE The Grinder, try to describe ginger beer, and deal with Katherine’s anxieties about her upcoming retreat.

Movies & TV:

The Grinder

Misery Loves Comedy

Steve Jobs

Our son, Ben’s Youtube channel

Our cafe press merch shop: cafepress.com/catholicinasmalltown

Father Ben’s new board game:

Mime Control

Mac’s Dollar Beard Club referral link

Katherine’s Stich Fix referral link.

Blogs:

Catholicinasmalltown.com

Kat’s Blog Feed

Please support us through Patreon: patreon.com/cst

Find us at catholicinasmalltown.com

Chapter Seven: A Dream (Part Two)

Unknown

By the time Sara had finished her shower and gotten dressed, she was ready for a snack.  She headed into the kitchen to find James standing in the midst of a number of boxes.

“I didn’t know where to put these things,” he said apologetically.  “There isn’t really any space for them.”

“Oh, my,” Sara said, thinking about her full cabinets.  “I don’t know how I forgot about that.  I didn’t even think…I mean, I just figured you would just use what I have.”

“Well, I used to be a very productive member of society, with my own apartment and everything, before I was forced to move back in with my mom.”  James looked at the floor.  He’s embarrassed, Sara thought.  I didn’t know he could be embarrassed.  How cute.

“No, I didn’t mean…”  Sara trailed off.  What to say?  “It’s just that, you know how Oden is.  When one of it’s prime citizens, or the son of a prime citizen, gets married, everyone feels the need to throw lots of parties.  Oh, you wouldn’t believe the parties we had.  The parties I was, shall we say, encouraged, to attend by William’s mom.  And we got all manner of kitchen gadgets and place settings.  Twelve fine china place settings.  Would you like to see?”  Sara opened up the cabinet above the refridgerator, a cabinet reserved for junk and cereal at her foster home.

“Oh, wow,” James said, peering into the deep space and seeing stacks of dishes.

“Yeah, I know.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful.  It’s beautiful and expensive.  I just don’t know when I would ever use it.  When I will ever use any of it.  I guess the idea is that one day we would stop being kids, have babies and move back to Oden.”  Sara stopped.  Those things would never happen, nor had she ever wanted them to.

James sensed this was a sensitive topic.  “Well, since you have all the necessaries, how about I just put this stuff in the storage house out back.  I mean, I won’t be here forever and I’ll need my stuff when I move.” James looked at her for some reaction to this statement.

“Yeah, I guess that’s the best thing.  You will need them eventually.”  She looked like she was pondering the next move.  “Well, I’m hungry.  Would you like a snack?”

“Sure, but now that I live here officially, you don’t have to feel like you’re my host.”  James hesitated.  “So, could you show me around the kitchen a little?  I do need to know where to put my groceries.”

“Oh, of course.  Listen, I’ll clean out one cabinet.  I certainly don’t need all of this stuff now.  I’ll put some in a box and you can have a cabinet to yourself.  I’m sure you at least have a favorite coffee mug that you need.”

“I do, I do.  Let me find it.”  James began rummaging around inside one of the boxes.  “Ah-ha!”  He held up his prize for Sara to see.

“You have got to be kidding me?  Mickey Mouse?”

“What’s wrong with the mouse?  He’s cute.”  James turned the mug around to admire all the sides.  “Really, it’s not about what’s on the outside.  It’s the weight of the mug, the size of the opening and the way the handle fits in your hand.”  James held out the mug to Sara.  She took it from him and held it like it had coffee in it.  “You see?  Good, right?”

Sara smiled.  “Yes, it’s great.  I just never met someone who had such strong feelings about coffee mugs before.”

“Well, I am very serious about my mug.  I’m very serious about my coffee.”  He pulled out a bag of coffee from a box.  “You can only get this at a certain shop in Atlanta.  This is my last box.  As soon as I get my first check, I’m going to get them to mail me some more.”  He looked at Sara.  “After I pay you rent, of course.”

“Well, I should hope the roof over your head comes before good coffee.”

“I don’t know, Sara.  A good cup of coffee makes life better.”

Sara was amazed how at ease she felt around this man.  William had been her love, but in the beginning she felt self-conscious around him.  And even after they had been together for years, there were still moments when she felt like she had to be careful of what she said, like he was criticizing her words and the way she acted around his friends, first in college and then at work.  Fitting in had never been her strong suit.

Sara and James set about making the kitchen livable for the two of them.  The unneeded boxes were taken out to the shed, and a cabinet was cleared for James to put his food.

James stood back and admired their handiwork.  “Now if I just had some food to put in there!”

“Do you want to go shopping now?  What if we just drove around for a while and I could show you the sights?  We have a few hours before it will be time to come back and work on supper.”

“Sounds great.  I’ll go cool off the car and we can go.”

Once the air conditioner had done its job the two of them headed off to find the grocery store.  To get there Sara took a round-about way, showing James Daffin Park, the Sand Gnats stadium, Washington Avenue, and several small green spaces that were dotted here and there throughout the subdivision.

“I’ll actually show you two grocery stores, one for when you just want the closest place and one for when you want a more complete shopping trip.”

“Sounds good,” James said, enjoying this time with Sara.  “So-o-o-…”

“Yes?” Sara asked.

“Have you told anyone else about the bun in the oven?”

Sara sat for a minute.  James wondered if he had just ruined what was turning out to be a great day.

“You don’t have to answer that.  I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay, really.”  Sara took a deep breath.  “No, I haven’t told anyone else.  I suppose I need to talk to someone about it, and since here you are and you already know, I can talk to you.”

“But I’m not exactly the kind of person you go to for advice about this sort of thing.”

“What?  Are you saying you should be female and old?”

“Well, that type of person would certainly have more advice than I do.”

“That’s true, but how many people have you ever known who have been in my exact position, with a dead husband and a baby on the way that no one knows about?”  Sara looked at James, her eyebrows up.

“Fair enough.  You’ve made your point.”  What could he say to her?  “Well, for what it’s worth, I don’t mind being your sounding board until you get ready to tell someone else your secret.  But I have a feeling that Miss Jane of yours will have it figured out before anyone else, even if she never says anything to you.  And she would probably be a very sympathetic ear, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

He was right, of course.  Jane would be a perfect confidante.

“I know you’re right, but I’m just waiting for something.  I don’t know what.”

They were both silent for a few minutes, each contemplating this big secret.  Sara wondering how in the world she was going to handle a baby all by herself and James wondering how in the world he was going to deal with a pregnant woman for the next few months.

“Do you know your due date?”

“What?”

“Your due date.  You know, the day that you think the baby will be born.”

Sara thought for a moment.  “You know, I haven’t even been to the doctor yet.  I haven’t even made an appointment.  I don’t even know where to begin a search for a doctor.”

“The yellow pages?” James offered.

“Well, yeah, if you want to do the obvious thing,” Sara said, grinning at the road, and James realized that she was joking with him.  This is going to be fun, if it doesn’t get weird, he thought, and settled back into his seat to enjoy the late summer scenery.

By the time they got back to the house, unloaded the groceries, and ate the grocery store sushi that James bought as a snack, it was almost time to get started with dinner.  The Newmans and the Mendelsohns were due any minute so Sara decided to do a quick walk-through pick-up so the house wouldn’t be a complete mess.  It was something she and William used to do when they were having company and if they had been drinking at all, they would bump into each other as they went from room to room putting items back where they belonged.  Sometimes, there was a quick romp as a result of all the “bumping.”

But Sara did this alone now.  Even though there was a man in the house, he wasn’t William and when she started to move stuff around, James excused himself to his room and shut the door.  Sara sat down on the couch.  Was it possible to now have someone here all the time and feel even more alone, even more isolated in her grief?

All right, Sara, no pouting right now.  There’s work to be done.  Sara could hear Eve’s voice inside her head, urging her on, moving her from moping to action.  She got up and finished the chores at hand, then, because the day had been hot, even in the air-conditioned car, she took a long cool shower.  The water helped to wash away the grime of the day and to calm her spirit.  By the time she got dressed and blew her hair dry it was seven and time for supper.

While the boys helped James heat up the grill, Sara had a chance to talk to Jane and Christine, who were about to bust.  Christine was the first to gush.

“Wow, Sara.  He is so cute.  And tall.  And polite.  Do you think it’s all an act?”

“He does seem too good to be true, but I don’t get that from him,” Miss Jane observed.  “He seems to be quite genuine.”

“And cute,” Christine added.

“Yes.  Yes.  He is cute, though he doesn’t hold a candle to my Bill.”  Sara and Christine smiled at that.  Jane and Bill had annoyed everyone in the best way by constantly having to be near each other.  And by being consistently pleasant.

Christine turned to Jane.  “Have you two always been so in love?  I mean, really.  My parents divorced when I was twenty and I never knew my grandparents.  So I’ll just go ahead and say that it seems odd to me to see two people so in love after so many years together.”

Jane seemed thoughtful, looking up a little and smiling.  “You know, it hasn’t always been like this.  There have been times when I hated that man.  Moments when the kids were little and he was so involved at his job and I was home with them all day.  What little brats they could be!  And he would come home and I would feel completely ignored except when it was time to go to bed.”

Sara and Christine’s eyebrows shot up at that.  Jane noticed.

“What?  Your generation talks more about sex than any generation before.  Yes, Bill and I had sex.  Yes, it wasn’t always wonderful.  Sometimes I felt like I was a warm body at night, a vessel to make his babies and hands to cook his supper.  But I realized at some point that he didn’t make me feel that way.  I let myself be made to feel that way.  I decided that I would tell him how I felt.  So I did.”

“Did he get mad at you?” Sara asked.

“I suppose he was a little mad.  But he was also surprised.  He hadn’t known I felt that way.  And how could he?  I hadn’t told him.  I made a vow to myself right then that I would let him know when things were bothering me.  And I have.  Communication has got to be one of the most important parts of a marriage.  When you bury your thoughts and feelings, they fester and grow.  But there’s something else, too.”

Sara and Christine were at attention.  Christine especially seemed to be wondering what revelation was coming next.

“You may scoff at me, but when we got married we made a vow to be in church together.  There have been years when we didn’t make that as much of a priority, but the years that we have…those have been the best years.”  Jane smiled.  “And I will say, that if you can stick it out together, I know you can’t believe this now, but the sex just gets better and better.”

Sara and Christine’s eyes were wide.

“Really?” Christine asked, incredulously.

“Yes, really.  And don’t look so shocked.  After forty years that man knows how to please.”

Just then, Bill stepped into the kitchen from the back door.  All the women looked up at him.  Christine and Sara were looking at Bill as if he had just become Cary Grant incarnate.

“Bill,” Christine said. “Way to go.”

Bill was looking around as if everyone had lost their minds.  “What?” he asked, turning to Jane.  “What have you said?”

She put her arm around him.  “Only that you are the best husband in the whole world, dear,” she said, giving his waist a squeeze.

“Well, thanks, I think,” he replied, kissing the top of her head.  He still wasn’t convinced.  “You’re sure that’s all?”

Sara and Christine nodded.  “Oh, yeah,” they said in unison, smiling.

Now Mark and James were coming in as well.  “So the party’s moved in here, huh?” Mark asked, walking over to Christine and putting an arm around her.

James and Sara were next to each other now.  Both of them looked at each other awkwardly.  The other two couples were having little conversations of their own.  “This is weird, huh?” James asked, leaning over to whisper to Sara.

“A little,” she replied.  Missing William suddenly, she said out loud, “I’ll just go and toss the salad.”  She turned and opened the door to the fridge.

“I’ll help,” Christine said.  “What can I do?”

Sara was facing away from the group, trying to hide her now wet eyes.  Christine came over to her, using the act of taking vegetables out of her hands to whisper to Sara.  “It’s okay, you know.  We all know this is new.  Everyone’s just trying to keep things light for you.”

“I know and I appreciate it.  I just need a minute.  Please?”

“Okay.”  Christine turned to face the group. “All right, let’s move out of this hot kitchen.  Mark wasn’t there some kind of game on that you wanted to watch?”

Mark looked confused.  “Yeah, sure, babe.”  Then to James, “James, buddy, what’s your poison?  Basketball, baseball, football, golf?”

“Sports?  I love college football.  But I guess baseball will have to do for August.  Are the Braves playing tonight?”

The crowd moved out of the kitchen and into the living room.  Jane glanced over her shoulder as she was the last one to leave and could see Sara at the counter chopping a green pepper.  Her shoulders shaking in silent grief.

 

 

After supper was over everyone helped with the clean-up so that by the time the last of the neighbors left it was after midnight and Sara and James said a quick good-night and went straight to their rooms.  For her part, Sara fell on the bed and was asleep in an instant, aware of nothing until the smell of coffee woke her from a deep sleep.

For the first time in weeks, Sara did not wake up and feel immediately nauseous.  She also realized that, amazingly, she’d slept through the night.  She rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed realizing that there was someone else in her house.  That someone else had gotten up and made coffee and that she wasn’t alone.  She walked into the bathroom, ran a brush through her hair and walked out into the kitchen.

James was standing at the sink, reading the paper and sipping from his Mickey Mouse mug.

“Good morning, Mrs. Carraway,” he said, grinning at her morning look.  “I hope you don’t mind, but I found the paper on the porch this morning and thought I’d get familiar with life in Savannah.”

“No, that’s fine.”  Sara was eyeing the coffee pot.  James noticed the gleam of want in her eyes.

“Would you like some coffee, Sara?”

“Oh, yes, please,” she said, grateful for the thought of the warm liquid.

He walked over to the cupboard and reached for a mug.  “Now, you must remember that this is the best coffee on the planet and I will expect you to enjoy and appreciate it as such.”  James was pouring her a cup and she reached out for it.  She took a sip.  She savored the warmth and bitterness of it.  He was right.  It was delicious.  Her reaction must have shown on her face.

“Good, uh?”

She could only nod with her eyes closed.  She still felt fuzzy around the edges.  James, however, looked like he was ready to face the day.

“Are you always so chipper in the morning?  I feel like I need about two hours to become the self that can function in society.”

“Well, I’ve been up for two hours.  New house I guess.”

“Really?  I didn’t even hear you.  I was completely out of it after last night.  But I did sleep better than I have in weeks.  Maybe we should have a dinner party every night.”  She looked at James, who was giving her the “no-way-no-how” look.  “What?  You didn’t enjoy that?”

“I did.  Of course I did.  I’m just big on down time.”

“Have you ever had roommates before?”

“Oh, sure.  In college.  But not when I had my job in Atlanta.  It was really great having my own place.  No one to worry me about the dishes in the sink, the bathroom floor being dirty, not picking up my socks.  Though I must admit, after that first month, when the place got really nasty, I started cleaning it up without even asking myself.”

“Ha-ha.  You’re hilarious.”

“Thank you.  I like to think so.”

“So, I guess you’re starting your new job today?”

“Yeah, in fact I need to get a move on,” James said, looking at his watch.  He gulped the rest of his coffee and started filling up a travel mug.  Sara reached into a cabinet and pulled out the toaster.

“This is a little weird but…”

“Yes?” James asked.

“I just…how do you want to…I mean, I’m not your secretary or anything…” Sara was getting more and more flustered.

“You’re wondering, do we tell each other where we’re going to be and what we’re doing?”

“Yes,” Sara said with relief.

“Well, for now how about I’ll let you know if I won’t be spending the night.  I mean, I’ll be at work everyday and I don’t know anyone yet to be going and doing anything with.  But you shouldn’t have to report to me either, right?”

“Right.”

“Okay, then.  I posted my cell number on the fridge, just in case you needed to reach me for something.  And I think I have yours.”  James walked over to where Sara was standing in the doorway.

“Cool,” Sara said.  “Well, have a great first day.”  He leaned over and there was an odd moment where he seemed to catch himself before leaning further.  Then he straightened up and walked past her.  He turned back.

“Thanks, Sara.  You have a great day as well.”  And he was gone.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Katherine Barron

On my war with myself…

 

Father Robert Barron posted an article which had Bruce Jenner in the title. That name is kind of everywhere right now.  And so I clicked on the link because Fr. Barron (no relation, by the way) usually has something very insightful to say.  He did not disappoint.

But what he had to say struck me in a different way than I thought it would.  It made me want to point a finger, not at Bruce Jenner and the upside-down world we live in, but at myself.  At my own war with my body.  A war that has been going on for the better part of my life.

This is not a post where I say I should give it up and let it go.  Stop trying to be healthier.  Stop wearing makeup.  Stop taking showers.  Nothing like that.  Rather, it is a reminder that God made me.  All of me.  My smile and my hair and my Howard legs and my nose.  I say all of these parts, because they are all parts that I look in the mirror or at pictures of myself and see and criticize.  Over and over again.  And GOD MADE ME.  And this creation that we are all a part of is GOOD.  He looked at the world that he made and said “IT IS GOOD.”  And my body, which is ME, not separate from me, is GOOD.

I live, we live, in a fallen world.  So, I am aging.  My knees hurt sometimes.  Parts sag. Wrinkles deepen.  But, GOD MADE ME.  I have to learn to work WITH, not AGAINST, my very self. As Fr. Barron says, “Moreover, the mind or will is not the “true self” standing over and against the body; rather, the body, with its distinctive form, intelligibility, and finality, is an essential constituent of the true self.”  My body is myself.  And lest I seem like this is strictly about ME, there is another step.  When we give ourselves a break in the body department, when we learn to love ourselves with our flaws because we are made by GOD, then we tend to be able to love others more fully, because we see that GOD MADE THEM TOO.  ALL of them.  Even their physical flaws, which are the most obvious to us, and sometimes the hardest to look past.

So…challenge.  Especially for women.  Look in the mirror.  That person that you see…God made them.  And those parts that you criticize…he made those, too.  So, there you are.  Look and say, Thank You to the God that made you.  I will endeavor to do the same.

Chapter Seven: A Dream (Part One)

Unknown

 

Sara was walking through Forsyth Park, again.  She could see the fountain in front of her, spraying water in all directions, the droplets glinting in the late afternoon sun.  But something was off and Sara suddenly realized that she was the only one around.  She heard no sounds of children on the playground, no tourists or wedding couples taking pictures by the fountain, she couldn’t even hear the sounds of traffic running up and down Drayton and Whitaker on either side of the park.  It was as if she was alone in the world and her ears had cotton in them.

She looked up and could see the Spanish moss dripping from the old oak trees.  The moss was moving lazily in a cool, dry breeze that did not belong in Savannah in September.  She kept moving forward, towards the fountain.  When she got to the ornate iron railing surrounding it, she paused and just watched for a moment, the breeze and the spray cooling and calming her.

Then through the mist she thought she could make out the shape of a person on the other side of the fountain.  She walked to her left just a few steps and could see that it was a man, a tall blond man.  Suddenly her heart leapt in her chest.  It was William, she knew it!  Now she was running and the fountain seemed to get bigger as she ran, the railing around it growing so that she couldn’t seem to get any closer to him.

Then he was right in front of her.  She couldn’t speak.  She could feel herself crying, though there were no tears on her cheeks.  He was so beautiful, so warm and so real.

“Sara,” he said. “Don’t be sad.”

She still couldn’t speak.  And there was so much that she wanted to say to him.

“It’s okay.”  He walked closer towards her.  His hand came up and rested on her belly.  Her eyes went from his hand to his face and he smiled.  She closed her eyes and knew that he was going to kiss her now, just like the first time, and that everything, everything was going to be okay.

“Sara.  Sara.  Wake up, Sara.”  Why was William shaking her like that?  She tried to open her eyes to look at him, but her eyelids seemed to be fused together.  Slowly she felt the wooden slats beneath her hip and the sweat running down her neck and knew that she wasn’t in Forsyth Park anymore.  She opened her eyes to see not William, but James looking down at her.  She could still feel the weight of William’s hand on her belly and wished that she could close her eyes and be back with him again.  But if James was here then it was Sunday and it was time to welcome her roommate to her home.

She couldn’t believe that she had fallen asleep on the swing.  That nap was by far the best sleep that she had gotten in a month.  The week since James went back to Oden had passed fairly quickly as Sara settled into a routine.  Get up, spend time bent over her trashcan, get dressed and head to work.  Come home, take a walk, eat dinner alone and go to bed.  She was still not sleeping much and by the end of the week, she felt like she was running on fumes.  Plus, she had watched so many info-mercials that she was sure she could write one of the scripts herself.

She had spoken with Mark and Christine about her plans to have a roommate and about her idea for Sunday.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Christine.

“Just make sure he knows what’ll happen if he tries to mess with you.  Bill may be old and I may be scrawny, but we’ll find a way to take him down.”  Mark was keeping things light and Sara appreciated it.  Christine, however, was not amused.

“Well, Mark may be joking around, but I’m not.  Though I do think this is a great idea, you know that we will help however and whenever we can.  As for supper, I’ll bring chicken breasts and we can grill.”

The two of them and the Newmans had been so supportive of her that Sara almost told them about the baby.  But something stopped her and she wasn’t sure what it was.  Perhaps Sara herself was still hoping that it was a stomach flu and that it would magically get better one day.  Whatever the reason, she was keeping her news to herself for now.  Soon, the evidence would be out for all to see.  And, she supposed that she would have to see a doctor at some point.  Then the baby would be real, and she would have to face the fact that William would never get the chance to hold his child in his arms.

But here was James, ready to move in and she was having a heck of a time shaking sleep and the dream from her mind.  She tried to sit up and almost fell off of the swing.

“Whoa, there, missy!  Don’t fall.”  James had a hold on her arm and sat down next to her to steady her.  But she could not help but giggle at the fact that his exclamation sounded like he was trying to control a horse.

“Are you sure you don’t have a secret life as a cowboy?”  Sara grinned at him.  She was surprised at how glad she was to see him, even after her dream of William.

“Well, I don’t know, little lady,” James replied, taking on a really bad John Wayne drawl that made Sara laugh even more.  “Why don’ I go wrassle us up some grub?”

“Really?  What time is it?”  The sweat coming from her neck and chest certainly spoke that the sun was high.

“It is eleven thirty and already hot as blue blazes.  Are you sure your friends won’t melt in this heat?”

“Well, Bill and Mark are sweet, but not that sweet.  They helped me clean out your room earlier in the week, so it’s completely empty now and ready for your stuff.  But the Newmans won’t be here until after one.  They go to Mass near here then out to brunch with friends.”

“Catholic, uh?  You don’t find that much in the South.  Are they transplants?”

“I don’t think so.  They’ve lived here since they got married and they’re retired.  Besides, I grew up Catholic.”  Sara was feeling suddenly defensive about the religion that she didn’t participate in anymore.

“Really?  Growing up in Oden, I thought all the Catholics lived in the northeast and Europe.  I don’t think we even have a Catholic church in Oden.”

“Yes, you do.  William and I used to pass it on the way to his mom’s house.  I mean, it is tiny.  Maybe you have to be Catholic to even notice it.”

“So, do you go to Mass?”

“Oh, god, no.  I haven’t been to Mass in years.  But I guess, once a Catholic always a Catholic.  Even if I don’t participate, that’s still the box I mark on official forms that ask my religion.  Weird, huh?”  Now that Sara thought about it, it was weird.  Why hang on to a dead faith?  Loyalty?

“Did you and William go anywhere else to church?  I mean, he grew up Methodist, right?”

“Oh, yeah.  He grew up going to church.  His mother made sure of that.  But he never went to church when we were together.”  Sara took a moment to remember.  “Sunday’s were for unwinding.  Coffee and the paper in bed.  Krispy Kreme doughnuts if one of us felt like going out.  Sometimes it was me.  Sometimes him.  If it was pretty outside we might go to the beach.  Tybee Island is only twenty minutes from here.  Daffin Park is just a block to the right and they have a walking track and tennis courts.”  Sara laughed.  “To go to church when we were praising the gods of relaxation and leisure after a week of work would seem like a sacrilege.”

“You sound a little bit like a brochure for Ardsley Park.”  Sara gave him a look and James put his hands up.  “Don’t get me wrong.  This is a beautiful area and I can see why you love it so much.  It’s just funny to hear you put it that way.”

“You know,” Sara said.  “When William first said that he wanted to move to Savannah, I was completely against it.  I grew up in North Georgia and the thought of moving even further south was not pleasant.  But he asked me just to come and see the city and I fell in love.  We looked for houses in newer areas but just kept coming back here.  There’s so much history and we’re so close to downtown and the river.  We paid too much for the house, but it was worth it.”  Sara stopped and thought about it.  It would have been worth it if William had life insurance.  Why hadn’t they thought about that?  What dream world had they been living in?

James coughed a little and Sara looked over at him.  “Sorry,” she said. “I just got a little lost for a minute.”

“Don’t worry about it.  Do you want to run out and get some lunch?  I haven’t eaten since this morning before I loaded the truck.”

“Yeah, sure.  I actually haven’t eaten at all.  I came out here right at dawn thinking to just enjoy the cool air.  I never thought I’d fall asleep for four hours.”  Sara thought for a minute about the best place to go for lunch.  “There’s a sandwich shop around the corner.  We could walk, but it’s too hot for my taste.  Let’s drive.”

When they got back from lunch, James started to move the smaller boxes to the house and Sara walked across the street to let Bill and Jane know that they were ready.  He kept thinking about finding Sara asleep on the swing.

When he had pulled up in his truck, he just sat for a minute, thinking about the change in his life.  It wasn’t that long ago that things were much less complicated for him.

Just a few months ago, he had been living in Atlanta.  His six figure salary at a job that he, let’s face it, hated, had provided him with all the comforts that a single guy in his twenties could want.  An apartment in Buckhead, a great car, and plenty of dates.  And he loved life in Atlanta.  It was everything that life in Oden wasn’t.  There was always a new restaurant to try, new people to meet.  Then overnight that life was all gone.  The company that he was working for had gone bankrupt and he was out of a job.  Since all the guys he worked with were looking at the same type of job he was, his prospects were slim to none.  And because he never saved a dime and everything he owned was leased, after two months he had nothing.  There was nothing to do but go home to the tiny house he grew up in, where his mom still lived alone.

She was happy to have him and Uncle Martin offered him part time work, but it was depressing.  Oden was depressing, the funeral business was depressing and his mom was depressing.  His dad had left them when he was ten and his mother had never loved anyone else.  Oh, there had been other men, but she never got over his dad.  There were times when she would look at him and he knew that even though she loved him, a part of her hated him for looking like the man who broke her heart.  Living with his mom was hard.

But now here he was in a new city, with a new job and this complication with pretty brown hair and a dead husband.  And the complication was sleeping on a porch swing.  He walked over to her and took a moment to watch her sleep.  There was such a look of peace on her face that he hated to wake her.  But if he didn’t wake her, he might kiss her.

He looked around the living room for a moment trying to imagine hanging out with Sara in here, watching t.v., being friends.  His reverie was broken by the sound of voices coming up the front walk.  Sara and an older couple walked up the front steps just as a younger couple were making their way to the door.  James came out and met them.  They all stood for a moment and looked at each other.  The men seemed to be sizing each other up.  Christine and Jane glanced at each other with raised eyebrows that Sara noticed right away.  James finally coughed.

“Oh, sorry,” Sara said. “Guys, this is James Overman.  James, this is Bill and Jane Newman and Mark and Christine Mendelson.”  James shook everyone’s hand in turn.

“Well,” he said. “Luckily, there’s not a whole lot to move.  I think we can get it done pretty quickly.  Thanks again for being willing to help me out.”

“Sure, man,” Mark said. “We’d do anything for Sara.  Right, Bill?”

“Yep, anything for Sara,” Bill responded with a wink at Jane.  Jane punched him in the arm and Christine was shooting daggers at Mark.

Sara laughed.  “Thanks, guys.  I think James understands that you’re looking out for me.”

“Way to be subtle,” Christine said under her breath to Mark.

“What?  That wasn’t subtle?”  Mark looked over at James and grinned.  “Come on, man.  Let’s get this car unloaded before we melt.  Sara did tell you that I melt if not given cold beer on a hot day, right?”

Christine pushed Mark into the house.  “Oh my god, Mark.  You are a complete nut.”  She looked apologetically at James.  “I’m so sorry.  Please forgive my insane husband.”

“Oh, he’s not insane.  I also melt if not given cold beer on a hot day.  What about you Bill?”

Bill put his arm around his wife.  “I think I’m going to like this guy, Jane.”

When the truck was unloaded and the men had all had their cold beer while sitting around congratulating themselves on the amazing job they had done, there was still a lot of afternoon left.  The group decided to go cool off and return to Sara’s house for supper at seven.  Which gave Sara and James their first few minutes alone in the house.

There was an awkward moment.  He stood and looked at her.  She stood and looked at him.

“Well,” she said.

“Well,” he said and smiled.  She smiled back.

“I’ll just go and take a shower,” Sara said.  “In this heat I could take three a day.”

“I’d love one of those.  How’s the hot water?  Should I wait for you to finish?”

“Oh right.  Good question.  Yes.  William and I always swapped out.  But I can be quick.  Give me twenty minutes.”  Should she let him go first?  “Or you could go first.  It’s fine with me.  Whatever you want.”

James laughed.  “Why don’t you go ahead.  I may need at least twenty minutes to find my clothes.”

“Okay.  Well, first roommate problem solved.”  Sara headed into her room and straight to the shower.  She felt strange undressing and showering with a man in the house who was not William.  This was going to take some getting used to.

Sara remembered back to when she and William had kissed in front of her apartment that first night.  Sara had gone to bed, dreaming of this new guy.  She didn’t want to hope that he would call her.  She didn’t want to be disappointed and she hadn’t been.  He called the next day, asking her if she wanted to come with him to a frat party that night.

She was so nervous and excited.  Her roommate, Amy, helped her pick out something to wear.  She and Amy weren’t great friends.  They had found each other through the apartment complex’s roommate match service.  They really didn’t have much in common besides both being juniors.  But Amy had been to a lot more Greek parties than Sara had, especially since Sara had not actually been to any.

“Look, Sara,” Amy said looking through Sara’s closet.  After a minute she shut the door, turned around, and sighed as if in defeat. “You have a great body, but you hide it.  Come to my room.  Let’s see what we can find.”

The dress she had picked hugged Sara’s curves in a way that she was not at all comfortable with, but that excited her just the same.  Why shouldn’t she look her best?  She was going out with a great looking guy.  She certainly didn’t want to look like a librarian.  She said that to Amy.

“Well,” said Amy, looking circumspect. “That really depends on the kind of librarian you want to be.”

“What do you mean?” Sara asked.

“I mean, librarians can be very sexy.  With the right skirt and your hair up in a bun, you can make a guy wonder what you would look like with your hair down.”

“Oh-h-h-h,” Sara said, with sudden understanding.

But she had opted to avoid the librarian look and wear her hair down and to keep the fun, sort of sexy dress.  When William came to pick her up later, she was shaking with fear and anticipation.  Would he still like her?  Was last night just a fluke?  Was this all some sick joke?  And then he was there, and he was smiling and her heart was in her knees.

“Hi,” he said, looking her up and down. “You look amazing.”

“Thanks,” she said, not believing him, but wanting to.

He stayed by her side the whole night.  He got her beer for the first hour and then water when she asked for it, never pressuring her to drink more than she wanted to.  There was a moment hours into the night when they were dancing and he was holding her close and they were both sweaty, but the music was slow.  The beat and the bass seemed to be coming from inside her.  William’s left hand was in the small of her back.  His other hand was between her shoulder blades, swaying her in time to the music.  She felt sexy and daring.  She was aware of her body in a way that she had never been before.

In the middle of the song, he pulled back, looking at her.  Perhaps he would have said something, but the music was so loud.  He looked into her eyes, then at her mouth, and back to her eyes again, asking the question.  She moved towards him in answer and they kissed.  The kiss seemed to go on and on, his hands and their bodies still moving to the rhythm of the music.

When he took her home later, he was again a complete gentleman.  But she wanted to ask him to come in.  Her body seemed to be on fire.  She could feel every inch of her skin tingling in ways that it never had before.  Now she knew what the books meant, what her youth group leader meant, when they said “burning with passion.”  She was burning up, and William was the only person who could cool her off.

The next few weeks were a blur, between her hectic school schedule and seeing William every night she barely had time to sleep.  When they finally made love, it was wonderful.  And at the end of the semester, when Amy made the decision to transfer to another school, William moved in.  They had been together ever since.

But never again had she been aware of her body quite the way she was that first time she and William danced together.  Their sex life was good, sometimes amazing, sometimes ho-hum, but that was marriage.  That was living with someone day in and day out, knowing all the good and bad there was to know.  And Sara wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Still there was something about that first awareness and she felt it now.  With the changes that were already taking place to her body, including the slight swell to her belly that was imperceptible to anyone but her, she was forced to notice her body.  And with a man in her house, an attractive, honorable man, she wasn’t sure that she was ready for the changes.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Katherine Barron

Chapter Six: A Decision (Part Two)

Unknown

A few days later, Sara was washing dishes after work when the phone rang.

“Hello,” Sara said.

“Sara?”

“Yes, this is she.”

“It’s James.”

“Oh, James.  How are you?”  Sara felt her heart beat faster.  Here was her answer.  Would she get to stay in her house?

“I got the job.  I start on Monday.”  He sounded excited.

“That’s wonderful!  And you still want to live here?”  Please say yes!

“Yea, that’s why I was calling.  Hoping my room was still available.”

“When do you think you’ll want to move in?” Sara said in a rush.

She heard James chuckle.  “I’ll probably come on Sunday with my bed and clothes, if that’s okay.  My uncle doesn’t work on Sundays so should be able to give me a hand loading.  Do you know any guys around there who could help me unload?”

“Yeah, I have some friends who live down the street.  Mark is the guy’s name.  And Bill Newman lives directly across the street.  I’ll ask them both tomorrow.”

“That would be great,” James answered.  “I mean, I could move it all myself, being so strong and manly, but I like to give the little people a chance to do a good deed, for their sakes.”

“You are a king among men, James Overman.” Sara meant it, even if her tone was playful. “I’ll see you Sunday.”

“Til, Sunday, Sara Carraway.”

The next day after work, Sara walked to the Newman’s house across the street and knocked on the door.  Miss Jane answered.

“Sara, dear.  It’s so good to see you.  Come in, come in.”  Miss Jane was always so upbeat.  “Bill, Sara’s here,” she called to her husband, who must be somewhere in the back of the house.

“Thank you,” Sara said as she walked into the tastefully furnished two-story home.  The decor gave the impression of being sort of stuck two decades ago.  But Jane and Bill were completely sweet and sincere.  They had retired a few years ago and had four kids and lots of grandkids who all lived within four hours of Savannah.  They were really too busy to redecorate.  After eating dinner here last week, Sara felt a little more at home.

“Come on back to the kitchen,” Jane said. “I was just making a cake to take to a friend of mine who’s sick.”

The kitchen smelled divine.  There was a lemon scent in the air and flour and egg shells littered the counter top around a very used mixer.

“Wow,” Sara commented. “Whatever that is, it smells wonderful.”

“It’s a shame, I know, but I am a one-trick pony.  I make this lemon custard cake that my mother taught me to make when I was a girl.  It’s good and I know how to put it together in a hurry, so I try to always keep the ingredients on hand.”  Jane went over to the oven and peeked inside.  “You know, this is almost ready.  Would you like to have a piece?”

“Oh, I couldn’t take your friend’s cake.  You made it for her.”

“Did someone say cake?”  Bill Newman pushed the swinging kitchen door open and walked into the room.  He was average height and weight, with thinning pepper gray hair.  He headed straight for the oven and leaned over to take a look.  Jane was next to him when he stood up and he put an arm around her and leaned in for a quick kiss on the lips.

Bill turned to Sara, “She makes this cake all the time and I never get any of it.  She’s always sending it to other people’s houses.  Please say you want a piece.  Then I can actually have some.”

“Then, yes.  I would love some. But just for you.”  Sara smiled at Bill, who still had an arm around his wife.

They all sat around the kitchen table and chatted about work and home and grandchildren.  In about ten minutes the cake was ready to eat.  Jane sent Bill and Sara to the den, and she followed with cake and milk for everyone on a tray.

Sara picked up her fork and took a bite of cake.  The tartness of lemon was just enough to keep the sugary cake from being too sweet.  It was really quite a wonderful taste.

“Miss Jane, this is wonderful,” Sara said around her bite.

“Thank you,” Jane said, smiling.  “What do you think, Bill?”

“Mmmmm,” was all Bill could get out as his mouth was completely full.

After a swallow of ice cold whole milk, something Sara hadn’t had since grade school, she was ready to tell this wonderful couple about James.

“So, I wanted to tell you something.  I’ve made a decision and I didn’t want you to think bad of me.  I felt like things would look bad and I like you two so much so I wanted to tell you before you had a chance to think the wrong thing.”  The run on sentence came out in one breath and Sara had to pause before she could continue.

“Sweetie, please.  You’re shaking.  Don’t be nervous.  I’m sure whatever it is we will understand.”  Miss Jane was the picture of a concerned mother.  Sara wanted to cry at the emotions that continued to be a problem for her.

“Thank you.  I didn’t expect to feel so shaky about this.  I – William, he didn’t – he didn’t leave any life insurance.  And he made most of our money, so without his salary I can’t afford to keep the house.”

“Oh no.  You’re going to have to sell?”

“Well, that’s what I thought, but then I realized that I could take on a roommate.  If I did then I could afford to stay because I don’t want to move.  And, surprisingly, I found someone.”

“Wonderful!  Who is she, my dear?”

“That’s just the thing, it’s a he.”

“Oh.”  Miss Jane looked questioningly at Sara.  Then turned to Bill with a concerned look.  “Is this young man someone that you know?”

“Sort of.  I met him in Oden, where William grew up.  He worked for the funeral home there.  Just part-time.  His family owns it and he was working during William’s funeral.  There’s nothing between us.  I didn’t want you to think that, but he’s a really honorable guy.  That’s not a word people use very often today, but it’s the best word to describe him.  He’s honorable.”  Sara had been thinking about James as she described him.  His image came to her mind and she realized that she was excited at the thought of him coming back.  She was going to be very glad to see him.  She looked at Jane and Bill.  They were looking at each other.

It’s like they can read each others thoughts, Sara thought to herself.  They are looking at each other as if they are talking.  That must be so great.

Bill spoke first.  “If you trust him, then we will, too.  But I hope that you will allow us to meet him and to give you our opinion.  We don’t want to be your parents, but after four kids and countless teenage friends, we have developed a sense of people’s intentions.”

“And please know, my dear,” Jane said, picking up where Bill left off.  “That if you ever need us for any reason, or if you ever feel that you have changed your mind and need anyone to stand up to him with you, we are always on your side.”

“Thank you.  I really appreciate that.  James Overman is his name and he will be moving in this weekend.  Maybe when he gets here with his stuff you could help him move in and that way you could get to meet him?”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea.  Bill can help move furniture and I can provide the lemonade,”  Jane said with an easy smile, the nervous tension that had been like a knot inside Sara loosening with every minute.  “In fact, how about you invite Christine and Mark as well and we women can each bring a bit of food and have dinner after the men unload everything.  That way he gets to know us and we get to know him.  For some people, just knowing that a person has friends and neighbors looking out for them, keeps them in line.”

“I agree,” said Bill.  “You are so smart,” he said leaning over and squeezing Jane’s knee.

“It must be from living with you for forty years,” she replied smiling and squeezing his knee in return.

Sara was relieved and jealous all at the same time.  Oh, baby, I miss you so.  We weren’t like these two but we were getting there.  We could have gotten there.

She stood up realizing how late it had gotten.  “I should go.  I need to go to the store and I like to take a walk before it gets dark.  I spend all my time at work sitting behind a desk so it’s nice to get over to Daffin Park and walk the track.”

“Well, try not to get eaten by the mosquitos.  Those fountains are beautiful, but the water attracts mosquitos like bees to honey.”  They all stood up and headed for the front door.

“Thanks again for the cake and the advice.  I’ll pop over on Sunday and let you know when James gets here.”

“We go to the nine am Mass at Blessed Sacrament, and have brunch with some folks afterwards, but we should be available after one or so.  Wouldn’t you say, Bill?”

“Yes, I’ll be in my moving clothes by one.  No problem.”

Sara was down their front steps now and turned around to wave good-bye.  But they were already linked arm in arm and headed back inside, two lovers who had managed to stay together for forty years.  Sara missed William more than ever as she walked back to her house, alone.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Katherine Barron

Chapter Six: A Decision (Part One)

Unknown

At eight a.m. the next morning, Sara sat down at the breakfast table and had her toast and coffee.  She was going to go back to work for the first time since she left the office to go to the hospital and find out her husband was dead.  She knew that people would want to be consoling.  They would want to give her hugs and tell her how sorry they were and she was really trying to mentally prepare for this.  She wanted to get to a place where she wouldn’t break down and cry every time someone who didn’t know her husband at all told her how sorry they were that he was dead.

“It’s okay, Sara,” she said out loud to herself.  “You will get through this.  You will.”

Two hours later she thought that she was going to hyperventilate.  It had taken her thirty minutes just to get from the parking lot to her desk.  The hugs and arm-pats had started at her car and did not stop.  At one point she went to the bathroom just to get away from the people stopping by her desk.  They were all so nice, but if they didn’t stop being sorry she was going to scream.

At ten-fifteen she knocked on Mr. Hart’s door.

“Sir?”

“Yes, Sara.  Come in, come in,” Mr. Hart beckoned in his usual good-natured tone.  “What is it, my dear?”

“I need a little air.  I’m just going to step around the corner to the coffee shop.  Linda will be taking your calls for me while I’m out.  Can I get you anything before I go?  Or while I’m there?”

“No, no.  I have everything I need.  The Petersons are coming in at eleven to do their closing on that vacation home they are buying.  Do you think you can be here for that?  They like you so much, I think that it will be good if you were here.”

“Oh, yes, I’ll be back before then.  This will just be a quick break.”  Sara backed out and closed the door behind her, heading straight for the back entrance so that she could hopefully avoid anymore hugs.

Once Sara stepped outside she felt immediately better.  Though the sun beat down and the September heat was already in full force, her breathing and heart rate had slowed to normal levels.  The coffee shop was just around the corner and she headed straight there.

There was a twinkling sound from an old bell above the door when Sara stepped inside.  This was one of her favorite places in Savannah.  The atmosphere was warm and inviting, with couches and overstuffed chairs situated on a small loft with a low ceiling.  It had all the prerequisites for a coffee shop – dark painted walls, a collection of magazines and old books, and wi-fi.  She walked up to the counter and ordered an iced decaf latte.  Even though she wasn’t giving up caffeine altogether, she was still trying to keep the stimulant to a minimum.  She went over to one of the small couches and picked up a magazine while waiting for her order.

She had only been there for a few moments when she felt a presence standing over her.   She looked up.

“Mrs. Carraway,” James Overman said, looking at her and smiling.

“Oh my goodness!  Mr. Overman.  What in the world are you doing here?”  She caught herself, realizing how she must have sounded.  “I mean, not that you shouldn’t be here.  It’s a free country and all.  I guess I mean, what brings you here?”

James continued to smile.  “Please call me James.”

“And I’m Sara.”

“Okay then, Sara.  Well,” he explained. “I’m actually here in town for a job interview.”

“Oh,” Sara said, puzzled.  “But I thought you worked for the mortuary back in Oden.”

“No, I was in between jobs, and had moved back home for a time waiting to find something else.  I actually have a degree in Computer Engineering from Tech.  SCAD has an opening for an IT job.  I interviewed just around the corner.  I need to go for a second interview with another person after lunch, but saw this coffee shop and decided to pass the time in here.  I have some work I can get done on my laptop.  And I need to look for a place to live.  Thought I would check out the rental paper.”

Did he really just say he needed a place to live?  Sara thought, a wild hope building inside her.  Was it possible?  She barely knew this man.  But he knew her secret, and he was someone she could trust.  She wasn’t sure how she knew this, but she did.

“When will you find out about the job?”

“Actually, the guy I interviewed with this morning said that as far as he could tell I was the most qualified applicant.  I’m sure I’ll have to wait a few days to find out.”

A girl at the counter called out “Betty Boop, order up.”

Sara started to get up.  “That’s me.”

“Betty Boop?” he asked, one eyebrow cocked.

“It’s just a name,” she said, smiling.

James motioned for her to sit down.

“I’ll get it for you.  Will you watch my bag?”

“Sure.  Thanks.”  James walked down the stairs to the counter.  Sara didn’t know how to proceed.  Should she just ask him?  What would it hurt?  He knew all there was to know about the toughest parts of her life.  Why not share the current situation with him?  He could always say no.

James had returned with both of their coffee cups.  He sat hers on the table in front of her and sat across from her in one of the easy chairs.  They were the only two people up there in the nook.  Sara sat up and took a sip of her coffee.

James looked at her. “So, how are things, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Okay, I guess.  I started back at work this morning.  Everyone is too nice.  Too sympathetic.  I  know they mean well, but how can I get on with my life if no one lets me forget that he’s gone.”  Sara stopped, closed her mouth and looked at James in embarassment.  For some unknown reason she felt completely at ease with this relative stranger.

“Well, like you said, they mean well.  I guess there’s no way around it.  Not for the first few days anyway.”  He looked down at his coffee.  “Have you told anyone else about your…ah…other problem?”

“No.  I left Oden after the burial on Wednesday.  There wasn’t any time to tell Eve.  That’s my sister.”

“Yea,” he replied. “I remember her.”

And I have some friends here, but no one I feel close enough to spill this to.”  She looked at him with a sheepish grin.  “I mean – I didn’t mean to tell you.  But now that you know, it feels okay to talk to you about it.  I hope that’s okay.”

“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t care.  Honestly.  If there’s ever anything I can do, you only have to ask.”

He didn’t mean it like that, Sara thought.  Don’t even think it!

But it was too late.  There was no way that she could survive without a roommate and here was one hand-delivered to her, as if in answer to a prayer.

“Well, now that you mention it…”  Sara looked over at James who was staring back, that eyebrow up again in a questioning expression.

“Yes?” James asked.

“You say you need a place to live.  Well, I need someone to live with me.”

The statement just sat there between them for a moment.  Sara didn’t know if James was going to bolt or what.

“Wow.  Do you mind me asking why?”

Sara felt like she wanted to sink into the floor.  What was she thinking?

“Yeah, sure.  I…William didn’t leave any life insurance.  And on my salary alone, I can’t afford my bills.  I’m going to lose the house unless I can get someone to live with me, or sell the house.  But I would only have a few months to sell the house.  The money will run out after that.”  Sara felt the tears come to her eyes at the thought of having to move right now.  “And I can’t.  I can’t leave that house right now.  I need time to let go of him.”  And then she couldn’t say anymore without breaking down.  So she didn’t.

How did I get here?  James thought to himself, as Sara finished her plea and looked away from him to compose herself.  The job at SCAD had just come open last week.  He actually had already applied online when he met Sara at the funeral home, so he couldn’t claim to be in Savannah in hopes of meeting her.

And then there she had been, just sitting in the chair looking just as beautiful and sad as she did last week. After he helped her to bury her husband and she drove away from the cemetary, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.  Driving down to Savannah today, he had played their moments together over and over again, wondering what she was going to do about her pregnancy.  He almost left the coffee shop when he saw her because it seemed too unreal to even be possible.  Yet here she was and she was asking him to move in with her.

But worst of all was that she was asking him to help her.  There was no way that he could deny help to this woman.  The request she made must have cost her a lot, considering that her husband had only been dead two weeks, and that she was pregnant.  He had stepped right into this mess and he was going to have to live in it.  He looked up from his thoughts when he realized that she was getting up to leave.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“Look, I shouldn’t have even asked.  I don’t know why I did.  Please don’t feel obligated to say yes.  It’s terrible of me to put you in this position.”  Sara put out her hand to James who stood up when she did and blocked her way down the stairs.

“Sara, please wait.  You just surprised me that’s all.  I needed a minute to think.  Can I ask a couple of questions about the house?”

She looked up at him now.  She had forgotten how tall he was compared to her.

“Sure.  Yes.  Of, course.”

“So – where is your house?”

“Oh, um, it’s in Ardsley Park, about 10 minutes uptown from here.”

“Would I have my own bathroom?”

“Yes.  There are two bathrooms.  One is attached to the master bedroom, and the other is off of a hallway.”

“Can I see the house before I say yes?”

Sara hadn’t even considered that he might want to see the house first.  It was a perfectly reasonable request.  “Oh, well, sure.  Would you want to see it at lunch, or could you wait until after five?  I get off at five and could meet you there at five-thirty?”

This was all happening so fast, but if he said yes, Sara would have a huge weight lifted from her shoulders.

“Okay, what’s the address?”

Sara bent down to the table in front of her and wrote down her address.  She handed the paper to James.

“Here you go.  So you’ll consider it?” James felt his ability to say no melt when he looked at her.  He was her knight in shining armor again.

“Sure, sure.  I’ll see you at five-thirty.”

“Okay, five-thirty.”  They shook hands.

Sara spent the rest of Monday trying to avoid her co-workers.  Luckily, the vacation home closing involving the Petersons took longer than expected requiring her to be behind closed doors in a conference room, or on the phone for Mr. Hart most of the afternoon.  When the closing was all wrapped up at four-thirty, Mr. Hart told Sara to go on home.

“Are you sure, sir?  I can stay.  I’m okay if you need me to finish anything up for you.”

“No, no, Sara.  That was enough work for me, as well.  I hate when things aren’t in order.  That seller really made us work for our fee today, and I’m ready to go home.  I’ll see you in the morning.”

Now she was at home and had an hour to wait for James to come and see the house.  She was so busy through the day, that she didn’t really have time to think of the implications of what she had asked.  She had asked a man to come and live with her only two weeks after her husband had died.  What were people going to think?  Especially when her belly began to grow.

Well, I can worry about what people will think, or whether or not I have a place to live, Sara thought, her decision now firm in her mind.  I think that a place to live is more important.  I’ll just have to explain to Christine and Miss Jane.  Surely, they’ll understand.  Eve and Miss Emily shouldn’t find out anyway, so I won’t worry about them right now.

Sara looked around her living and dining room.  The boxes of William’s things were still stacked around the room and other than look through files and pack, she hadn’t done much else through the weekend.  The whole place really was a mess.

She started in the kitchen and worked her way through the house wiping down counters and tables, and picking up clutter.  The boxes she couldn’t do much about right now and the second bedroom had worked as William’s office.  His drafting desk and equipment were still out as Sara had been reluctant to part with them.  She could still see him in there late at night, bent over his desk, drawing and erasing.  But if James was going to sleep in that room, all of those things would have to find another home.

By the time, she had straightened both bathrooms, it was five-thirty and she just had time to glance in the mirror and decide not to worry about her late-in-the-day make-up or her sad mousey hair before the door bell rang.

Well, here we go, she thought before walking to the door.

James pulled up in front of the small Craftsman style house right at five-thirty.  He had actually driven by the house a few times.  After he left Sara in the coffee shop he didn’t have anywhere else to be for a couple of hours so he decided to go ahead and find the house early.  It was a one-story clapboard home, painted white with green trim and a green front door.  There was a swing on the front porch and plenty of flowers in pots on the steps and in the beds out front.  Sara and William must have fallen in love with it right off.  It was a great house.

James parked by the street and stepped out into the humidity.  He walked slowly up the sidewalk and front steps.  He rang the doorbell once and then turned around and faced the street, getting a feel for what it would be like to call this place home.

“Hi.”  James turned around at the sound of Sara’s voice behind him.

“Hello, again.”  He motioned to the house.  “I found it.”

“So I see.  Won’t you come in?”  Sara sounded nervous.

“Thanks.  You have a beautiful home,” James said as he walked into the dark gray living room with natural stained trim and what looked like a working fireplace.  The room was connected to a dining room by a pair of french doors.

“It’s a mess, I know.  Sorry about that.”  Sara looked around realizing how the clutter must seem to an outsider.

“No worries.  You should have seen the apartment I lived in up in Decatur.  What a mess!  At least your place smells good.”

Sara looked at James.  Was this guy for real?  Could her luck be so great as to have found the one guy in the whole world who put her at ease, no matter what?

“Ok…well…”  Sara trailed off as she tried to think of what to say.

“And this is the living room, I suppose?”

“Yes, of course, this is the living room,” Sara said, putting her face in her hands. “And this is a couch.  And over here is a television.  The rest of the obvious tour is through these doors.”

As Sara showed him the rest of the house, James was surprised at how perfect this seemed.  He did need a place to live.  It would be nice to live in a house in a great part of town instead of a generic apartment complex.  The house was great, there was no need to put down deposits for a lot of utilities and it was nice to be needed.

When the tour was complete and they were back in the living room, Sara said “Well, what do you think?”

“How much would the rent be?”

“I was thinking six hundred plus utilities?  Is that too much?”

James was sure the mortgage had to be more.

“Is that enough?  I mean, there’s no point in me living here if I’m not actually helping you out enough for you to be able to keep the house.”

Sara looked sheepish. “Well, actually half of the mortgage would be seven fifty a month.  But I just thought that might be too much to live in a house.  You could probably rent an apartment for less.”

“Not to shoot myself in the foot, but apartments in this area start at around seven to eight hundred dollars.  So I would be fine with seven fifty.  Would you be expecting any sort of deposit?”

“No.  I trust you.  I mean, if I didn’t trust you I certainly wouldn’t be asking you to live with me.  Do you want to sign a lease or anything?”

“Not unless you want me to.  I trust you as well.  And that way, if you decide to put the house on the market and it sells then you won’t have to worry about a lease that you have obligated yourself to.  Will you be trying to sell?”

“I think I will.  I mean, I can’t imagine that you would want to live here with me and a screaming newborn.”

James hadn’t really thought about that.

“Well, I guess that’s true.  It would be weird.”  James laughed.  “I’ve never been around a baby before.  Especially not a newborn.  So if you need any help getting things ready to sell, just let me know.”

“So you’ll stay?”

Just at that moment, James cell phone rang.  He pulled it out, looked at the number and turned to Sara.  “It’s the job.  I need to take this.”

“Sure, I’ll just go into the kitchen.”

Sara pulled out a couple of glasses and filled them with lemonade from the fridge.  By the time she was done, James had come into the kitchen as well.

“So?” she asked.

“That was the first person I interviewed with,” James said with a smile. “He just wanted to let me know his boss really liked me.  My resume looks good, but they want to follow up on my references.”

“But you don’t know yet.”

“No, but he said I should know by Friday at the latest.”  James rubbed his temple.  “Can I let you know about the place when I know about the job?”

“Of course.  I wouldn’t want you to commit if you didn’t even know if you had a job.”  Sara felt a little let down by the uncertainty.  The shaky feeling that she’d had all weekend returned.

“I need to um, you know…” James stammered, as he pointed in the direction of the bathroom.

“Oh my god, of course.  I’ll take these to the porch.”  Sara held up both glasses of lemonade, as James made his way towards the hallway.

After a minute or so, James joined Sara on the porch.  She handed him his glass as he sat down beside her on the top step.  They sat silent for a moment, the shadows lengthening on the tree-lined street.

“So, I’m pretty hungry right now,” Sara said, looking straight ahead.

“As am I,” James replied, sipping on his glass of lemonade.

“Order in or go out?” Sara asked.

“Well, what kind of food do you like?”

“I like just about anything,” Sara said. “But any day of the week, there’s nothing I like better than sushi.  I know a great little place on Habersham if you want.  Of course, you have to drive back to Oden tonight, don’t you?”

“Yeah – but I can’t go hungry, and I love sushi.  If we go now, we’ll be done by nine and I can be home before midnight.”

“Okay.”  Sara got up from the steps.  “Let me go and brush my hair and we can head on.  The restaurant is just a few blocks from here.  We could walk, but I think we would melt before we got there.”

Sara walked inside.  As the screen door closed behind him, James stretched out his legs and leaned back on his elbows, looking up at the trees and the sky.  Very few cars had driven by since he and Sara sat down.  People were out and about walking their dogs and pushing strollers.  He could see a few other people sitting out on porches or working in their front gardens.  Dogwood trees lined the street on both sides, creating shade and a great aesthetic.

I bet those trees are amazing in the spring he thought, imagining the white blossoms.  And he could pick out azaleas and hydrangeas in many of the yards.  Don’t get too comfortable, James Overman, he said to himself.

Just then Sara came out of the house.  She had changed into another one of those light cotton dresses that she had worn when she was burying her husband.  She had pulled her hair back into a ponytail and had done something to her face.  She looked fresh and vibrant and quite beautiful.

“Well, let’s go then,” Sara said, swinging her keys.  “I’ll drive.”

“Yes, ma’am,” James answered, as he followed her down the sidewalk.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Katherine Barron

Chapter Five: A Mistake (Part Two)

Unknown

Sara was walking through Forsyth Park.  There was the playground on her left, the swings moving back and forth.  “Where are the kids?” Sara wondered, still walking.  The old fort was on her right, the tables out back strangely empty.  “That’s weird,” Sara said out loud, her voice sounding far-off, like an echo.  The fountain, which was far away a moment ago was now right in front of her and she found that she was holding on to the iron railing though she had no memory of getting here.

“Sara.”  A whisper.  A breath.

“Sara.”

Where is that voice coming from? Sara thought. There was no one here.  No one at all, which was very strange indeed.

“Sara, dear.”

Sara opened her eyes to a sunset world and Miss Jane, leaning in the car window, rubbing her arm.

“Sara, how long have you been out here?” Miss Jane asked, a look of concern in her eyes.

Sara sat up, her back protesting the movement after so long in a cramped position.  She blinked, trying to get her eyes to cooperate, as they also seemed to be protesting the movement.

“I don’t know.  What time is it?”  She ran her hands over her hair, trying to smooth it out.

“Eight o’clock.  The sun’s about down.  Whatever are you doing out here?  I was taking a walk and just happened to notice your window was open, then saw you asleep.”

Miss Jane moved back as Sara opened the car door and stepped out, bending her spine in a cat-like stretch.  She closed the door and leaned against the car.

“We’re worried about you, dear.  The boxes…”  Miss Jane trailed off.

“I know, I…I thought it would be better, but…but it wasn’t and I can’t take it back now.  I can’t get him back.”  It was happening again.  The tears.  They weren’t going to stop.  “I got home from the mall and they were gone.  And all I could do was cry.  And I couldn’t go back in there, not without him.  Not without him.”

“Come here, my sweet girl,” Miss Jane crooned, pulling her into a hug.  “Of course, you must cry.  Of course you’re sad.  Just cry.  It’s okay.”  The pair of them stood there on the sidewalk, Miss Jane letting Sara cry, rubbing her back, shushing her gently, as only a mother knows how.  And Sara, who could not remember her mother, let her, and knew somewhere deep inside that this was what a mother was for, and then her tears were for all those she missed.  They were for her husband, and her mother and her sister.  For even the mother-in-law who could never be what she secretly wished that she could be.  Sara held Miss Jane tightly and almost told her what was bursting in her soul to tell.  But the spell was broken when across the street they both heard,  “Jane?  Jane is that you?”

“Yes, Bill!” Jane spoke to the voice.  “I’m over here with Sara.”

The pair of them moved apart, but Jane did not let Sara go completely.

“You will come with me, right now, young lady.  It’s supper time, and I will not have you eating alone tonight.  Come and let Bill and I make you laugh a bit and feed you.  Please, won’t you?”

Sara looked over at her house, dark and silent and thought she’d be a fool to say no.

“Yes.  Okay.”  Nodding, trying not to cry again.  “But I may cry,” she added, apologetic.

“I may cry with you.”  Miss Jane reached up and smoothed Sara’s hair, a sweet gesture Sara was surprised by.  She linked her arm with Sara’s and they crossed the street to the waiting Bill and the warmly lit up home.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Katherine Barron