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Writing Fiction - Chapter 25A (this is long so I split it into two pieces)
Here's where Chapter 24 left you.
I stood up. “Bob? This isn’t the Shakespeare room, is it?” I interrupted. “No,” he quietly replied, pointing to his right. “The Shakespeare room is one door down. This is Chapter 8 of the local Grief Support group founded by…”
I didn’t stop to let him finish his sentence.
I all but ran out of the room and across the deserted lobby of the library. Priyanka smiled at me as I approached her desk. I raised my hand in a wave of goodbye, or perhaps panic, as I raced by her.
When I finally reached the sanctuary of my car, the tears started. “I can’t… I can’t…I can’t…” I echoed Ugly Christmas Sweater Lady until I thought I was going to be sick.
Finally I took a deep breath and, with shaking hands, started my car and began a careful and slow drive home.
And now, Chapter 25 A continues...
I heaved a sigh of relief as I pulled into my driveaway. I could hardly wait to get inside the kitchen door and hide from the world but suddenly, like a replay of the Great Flood or another unnatural disaster, I saw Millie teetering toward my driveway on her ridiculous hot pink, high-heeled, feather-trimmed slippers.
I thought about beating myself unconcious on my steering wheel for a moment. I so, so, so did not feel up to dealing with Millie, but onwards she teetered, wearing a very snug zebra print sweater, holding Princess tightly in one arm and a crumpled up brown paper shopping bag in the other.
I was trapped. I felt like one of those wildebeasts with big, panicked eyes I've seen on the Discovery Channel. I could almost hear the announcer’s English accent…”The herd of wildebeasts is trapped…the pride of hungry lions scents their fear and stalk closer…”
A tapping on the car window cut into my nonsensical musings. It was Millie. Of course.
Warily I got out of the car. I held up my hands in surrender. "Millie, I don't know if you noticed but Sp…EDGAR hasn't been at my house. I was ...ummm...just watching him for a friend. Edgar told me he was so, so, so disappointed that he couldn’t have a play date with Princess before he had to go home, though”.
Millie squinted at me through her cat’s eye glasses and then she tried to pat my arm with the hand holding the bag, "Oh dear. I am so, so sorry that your little friend won't be able to have a play date with my sweet Princess. Princess and I are so, so disappointed but we understand. But dear, that's not why I came over tonight. This afternoon when I was making dinner, I told Myron that I was just so, so ashamed of myself. Here it's just been months since I thought to bring dinner over to you...so tonight, as a special treat, I've brought you a Pearl-sized casserole of my scalloped potatoes and ham and I know you like those crunchy crumbs, dear, so I put extra on just for you."
She handed me the bag. I caught a whiff of potatoes, cream and butter and I almost starting weeping. "Millie," I stammered, "You made this casserole for me?”
Millie squinted at me again through the rhinestone studded glasses. “Of course I did, dear. I’m sorry to tell you that I had to put it in an aluminum pie pan this time, though, since you never returned the four other dishes I brought over to you.”
I thought guiltily of the many empty casseroles I’d washed and stashed in the hall closet. I’m sure Millie’s four dishes were somewhere in the heap. Oops. Instead of admitting I might know the location of the MIA dishes, though, I burst into tears. Darn. Darn, darn, darn.
Millie looked startled. She began patting my arm again and I just stood there in my driveway like an idiot, holding my crumpled up paper bag and crying my eyes out. “Dear, Dear,” Millie patted faster, “If the aluminum pan upsets you so much I can take this casserole right home and put it into a glass pie dish I have. I didn’t think the pan would upset you so much. Here, let me just take that bag home right away and…”
I resisted her attempt to pry the bag from my fingers.
“M…M…Millie, no…no… the casserole is so ssss-wwweeet…it’s the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time…it’s just that I can’t…I can’t…I can’t….”
And I couldn’t.
I couldn’t finish my sentence. I don’t even know at that exact moment what I was trying to say.
Millie and Princess both tipped their heads and looked at me and then Millie firmly yanked the bag from my hands and said, “I know just what you need. You go right into your house and take off your coat. Princess and I are going to go home and be right back. Shoo. Shoo now. You just go into your house and sit right down at the kitchen table. Go. Go on, Pearl. I’ll be right back.” She gave me a shove in the direction of the kitchen door and tottered off as fast as her feathered pink high heeled slippers could carry her.
Through tear-filled eyes I somehow managed to get the door unlocked and go inside. Following Millie’s firm instructions, I sat down at the kitchen table. Her bossiness didn’t include whether or not I was supposed to continue crying, so I just made an executive decision of my own, put my head down on the table, and continued to cry my eyes out.
A few minutes later, I heard a rap at the door and Millie’s cigarette harsh voice announcing her arrival.
I didn’t bother looking up but I could hear her begin fussing as soon as she came into the kitchen, “Oh dear, here, let me help you out of that coat.” She pulled and tugged a bit and finally managed to remove the offending garment. Then she thrust a handful of paper napkins from the counter into my hand. I put my head back down and continued to cry.
Soon I heard some clicking sounds as she turned the oven on. The rustle of a paper sack announced the re-arrival of the scalloped potato casserole. I perked up slightly as the comforting smell wafted through the room.
More creaking and rustling as she placed the casserole into the oven and then I heard two odd metallic sounds.
“Dear?” her raspy voice inquired, “Are you done crying yet?”
I slowly poked up my head quite possibly resembling a swollen-eyed turtle, and Millie immediately thrust a cold can into my hand. “Drink up!” she said and following her instructions I took a giant swig. It was beer. I sputtered. I gagged. I almost spit it out.
I’ve never been much of a drinker. My husband had always teased me and told me I was a ‘cheap date’, and he was probably right. The only drinks that had every appealled to me were the ones that were all fruity and sweet and tasted exactly NOT like alcohol. Beer, most definitely, was not on that list.
“Good, isn’t it?” Millie asked happily, “I told you I knew what you needed. We have the rest of the six pack here, your casserole is heating up AND Myron is babysitting Princess so we can just have a big, old henfest until you feel better.” I was startled to realize that the chuckle she shared after that statement DID sound like a hen cackling.
To be continued, Tuesday, February 29.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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