Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Corydalis' Room.

Corydalis was beautiful. She had never been as tall as her younger sisters, and she was curvier. She had dark brown hair and large gray eyes and creamy skin. She would have been 83 this year.

Her room has been the "Guest Room" since her death five years ago. She told Iris and Althea to change it around, not to make it a shrine to her. It was the room she had grown up in, how could they change it? They got new furniture. They kept the walls lilac, her favorite color. They kept her flute diaplayed on a dresser. A compromise, her sisters felt.

Now the windows are open, waiting for her granddaughter. The sheer curtains are blowing in the breeze. Althea has brought the last of the Sweet Peas in. They are in a vase on the bookshelf, and the wind is making their fragrance fill the air. Iris has added fresh sheets and smoothed out Corydalis and Noah's wedding quilt over the bed. On a small table to the right of the bed, there are three photos in old frames. The first is of three little girls in 1933, wearing stiff hats, holding hands and beaming on Easter Sunday. The second, of Corydalis and Noah in 1944, in wedding dress and Naval Officer's uniform, looking like they are the happiest people to ever live. The last is of Noah in 1950 proudly holding their newborn son. Alexander. Heather's father.

I do not know if Corydalis is important to the story, or if it is only her room that is.

Her granddaughter is going to be staying in that room for two weeks. Her granddaughter is very important.

I was wrong. Iris isn't going to kill anyone.

Althea is.

Outside the kitchen is a garden.

It's a hot day, but it's still cool for late July.

There is an old woman weeding. She has a straw hat on, with a brim so big it looks funny. She's wearing overalls, a faded, pink T shirt, and dark green wellies.

She tosses the weeds into an old, red plastic plastic beach pail. She rolls her neck around and looks stiff, like she's been doing this too long. She wipes perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand, smearing dirt on her face.

Althea Wight is 75. Shorter than Iris, and her hair is equally white, but she wears it long, and in a bun at the back of her neck.

There is a shhhk sound above her. Iris has opened the kitchen window.

"You've been at that all morning. Come inside, it's too hot."

"Nooo...it isn't too hot."

"Have some nice cold tea. Did you stop for lunch? Come have a sandwich."

"Lunch? What time is it?"

"It's nearly two, you dim cow."


Althea drops the last few weeds into the pail and removes her hat. She calls up to Iris.

"All right. I'll wash off in the cellar and be up."

She enters the cellar through a lilac painted door. Immediately in the cellar is an old sink. This is where the dirt goes. This is how the kitchen stays so white. She rinses her arms and lays her hat on a shelf. She sits on a nearby bench and removes her wellies, replacing them with nearly threadbare pink slippers.

There is little to tell you about the cellar.

Aside from the sink, shelf and bench it really doesn't seem important.

Althea is in the kitchen and Iris has made her a turkey sandwich and poured her a glass of tea.

"Oh, thank you, Iris."

The two women sit and talk between bites of turkey sandwich. The birth of a neighbor's granddaughter, how Mrs. Herman's cancer is doing, whether or not Pastor needs more help with the upcoming Summer Bazaar. The conversation turns to Heather.

"We've got to get her room ready."

"I opened the windows this morning. It smelled rather stale."

"That was a good idea."

The women sigh, and look at the photograph on the refrigerator. Heather Turner.

Their grandniece.

She is very important to both of them.

I have a kitchen in my head. There's a story coming out of it.

It's a milk white kitchen that looks as if it has never had a crumb or a speck of dirt in it. When I say "milk white", I mean that all four walls, every cabinet, every appliance is the same creamy color.

There is a large farmhouse sink in the middle of the back wall, if you are looking in from the door that connects the kitchen to the entrance hall. Above the sink is a window with lacy curtains, tied back with faded yellow ribbons. The window looks out to a flower garden.

To the right of the sink is a table. A metal and formica table. The metal chairs have white vynil padded seats. There is an apron patterned with red and yellow flowers carelessly draped over the back of one of the chairs. On the table are an old red potholder mitt and a mason jar, with Miss Lingard Phlox in it.

To the left of the sink is the refigerator, tucked in so that it is flush with the cabinets. On it are magnets from Florida, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, a few other touristy places. Held up with two magnets is a photograph of a young, blonde woman. She is wearing a pink tube top with large sunglasses pushed up on her forehead. She is smiling, and it looks as if the photograph was taken outdoors in the early evening.

Standing at the sink is an old woman, tall, thin with short white hair. She wears a white man's button down shirt, loose cotton pants, and grey felt clogs.

She is washing her hands, they are sudsy, and smell of lemon. She has a dishtowel thrown over her shoulder, and when she is done washing, she dries her hands with it, then hangs the towel on a hook, on the wall beside the window. She walks to the table and picks up the apron. She hangs the apron up on another hook, next to the dishtowel.

She crosses to the refrigerator, opens it, and removes a glass pitcher full of iced tea. She takes a tall glass from the cabinet immediately next to the refigerator, and pours the tea until the glass is nearly full.

She crosses back to the sink. She is looking out the window at someone in the garden. She sips her tea and watches with a calm humor in her attitude.

Her name is Iris Wight. She is 77 years old. She lives in Calais, Maine.

I think she's going to kill someone.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Six Months Old.

It’s going by so fast. Too fast for me.

I have to hold tight to every feeling while he is still Mummy’s Baby. Every movement. The tactile, visible and audible of his babyhood are slipping away from me.

It is past eleven at night and my son is sound asleep. His cheek is snuggled into my shoulder. His little back slowly goes up and down. I focus on the feel of his tiny shoulder blades under my hand. The extraordinary softness of the skin on his pudgy arms. The peachy fuzz of his hair on the back of his head. The comforting sound of his breathing. His sweet smell.

I want to cry. I don’t. I relax my head and let myself absorb how he feels.

From his deep sleep, he laughs. One of those chuckles that comes out as rapid exhalations. He wiggles, shifts, and I realize that he wants to go back to his crib, where he can stretch and roll. I get up out of the rocking chair and lower him into his crib.

I let go. Physically.

He immediately rolls onto his side. Then onto his stomach. He heaves a sigh and continues with whatever dream caused him to laugh.

Maybe there are percentages of letting go. His first step, his first day of school, his first bike ride, first romantic relationship...a little more each time.

Will I ever be ready for each step?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Have we met?

Possibly, if you came here from Or Alcoholism. This is a little different. It's going to be less stream of my conscious.

If you've never heard of the above blog, hi.

I'm a writer and I call myself Novice to allow for greater freedom of expression. Anonymity is freeing.

On this blog I am going to be posting Observational Essays and Fiction. I'm planning to put chapter one of my novel up here, once it is complete. A photo may pop up every now and then.

Stick around if you want. If not, that's okay.