Sunday, March 08, 2009

Writing On The Wall

We walked around outside, and were not displeased with what we saw. We’d have to replace the fence, but that’s the kind of thing that can be easily replaced. I am marveling at how cheap it is for a place with 5 bedrooms.

We walked in. The first floor didn’t impress us. The second floor depressed us. The 5 bedrooms were tiny and the wallpaper was hideous. A wall could be broken down to expand the bedrooms, wallpaper can always be taken down.

Then I saw the hole in the paper. On the wall in crayon was a tree and a rainbow and faintly scribbled words.

“I wish I could fly away from here save me someone”

No. Not this house. Something bad happened here.

As we leave, my Mom (who never went upstairs) said “I didn’t like the vibe in that house. That was not a happy house.”

I told her what I saw. She shuddered. "I don't want to know what happened there."

As we looked at more houses, I kept thinking of the girl who wrote it. I prayed that someone saved her.

Explanation of "Writing On The Wall"

This hasn't exactly been announced, but we've been looking at houses. To buy.

A year ago, we were doing the same thing, only in Worcester. Eleven months ago, unemployment hit and our down payment savings went to keep us fed and sheltered. We figured it would be another seven years before owning a home would be more than a fantasy for us.

About a month ago, my parents came up with an idea. In ten years they want to retire, and they want to retire to the area we're living in. They provide the down payment, and the house is owned by all of us. They put the money down, and we make the payments. When Sam is starting high school, they'll head back this way, and can either take over the house and we buy one by ourselves, or (if we're happy in it) we take over the house completely, and pay them back the down payment. This we actually can afford.

We're doing the things people do now. Looking at towns, judging the schools and the taxes, calculating commutes, and marveling at what certain amounts can get you in certain towns. We are learning that "needs TLC" means way more than paint and carpet and that "bank owned" may be less expensive, but you also won't get any questions answered...such as average heating costs.

So that is what led us to the house I will be talking about.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Something I Haven't Finished

I have had this story rattling around in my head since I was 12 years old. Clips and notes and bits of fictional conversations.

About a year ago I wrote the bits I keep coming back to. Here it is. I wonder if I'll do anything with it?


Bradley is a writer from Manhattan. He's a very popular writer, and he is content in his personal life. He's not the deepest guy you could meet. He's nice enough, but he has potential to be something more, if he tried. Which he doesn't.

He's working on a novel set in rural Maine, and he decides to live with a friend's aunt for a few months to soak up atmosphere.

He meets a family. Skye St. Ange and her daughter Rebekah Two. Skye's father, Tom, and her older brother, Heron have a carpentry business that Skye manages, so they can focus on the woodworking.

Skye was married to Georges. An artist and teacher who died of leukemia a few years ago.


“I’m going to ask Skye St. Ange out.” Bradley announces as Mrs. Lorrimer hands him a mug of coffee. She doesn’t blink or change facial expressions.

“Mmm. I don’t think that she’ll say yes.” She puts a bowl of berries , and another of oatmeal on the table and sits across from Bradley.

“Thank you, kind lady.”

“She’s a widow, don’t forget.”

“She’s only thirty-three.”

“She hasn’t gone with anyone since Georges died.”

“How many men are there between the ages of twenty and fifty in this town?”

“Nine. Seven are married. One's a divorced alcoholic, and Danny Parsons is a fruit.”

The blueberries become her punctuation as she drops them in her oatmeal..

“I’m surprised you’re allowed to call him that.”

“Dear, the only one who hasn’t figured it out is his mother (blueberry) I knew it when he was seven years old (blueberry)”

“My point is, that this town isn’t exactly ideal for a young, single woman.”

“Skye St. Ange is not single (blueberry) “

“I know she’s got Rebekah Two. I like her, a lot. She’s the smartest little girl I’ve ever met.”

“Rebekah Two is an old soul (blueberry) Everyone in that family is an old soul (blueberry)”

“I have to go to the shop to talk to Tom today, so I thought I’d just ask Skye if she wanted to see a movie when she’s done. You aren’t so far from civilization that there’s no movie theater nearby.”

“Hmp (blueberry) You don’t understand that family (blueberry) After Rebekah the First died, everyone waited for Tom to remarry (blueberry) Handsome man like that, only in his forties, two teenagers (blueberry) There were some widows and even a couple of younger single women who were pretty hopefull (blueberry) He was always kind, always polite, but always went home to Rebekah (blueberry)”

“That’s sad. He should have moved on.”

“They loved each other so much, he didn’t want to move on, and neither did she (blueberry)”

“Has Skye ever said that she doesn’t want to move on?”

Mrs. Lorrimer sighs impatiently. “Don’t play stupid (blueberry) I don’t mean Skye (blueberry) They love strong in that family (blueberry) Georges felt it when he came here, met Skye (blueberry) You can’t leave a love like that, death or whatever (blueberry)”

“Geez, Betty. It’s just dinner and a movie. I’m not trying to move into her house and adopt the kid.”

Mrs. Lorrimer is out of blueberries.

Bradley swallows the last of his coffee and reaches for his jacket. He is out the door.

“Breakfast and conversation, lovely as always, Betty. You shold be on the tourist maps.”

Betty Lorrimer snorts as the foolish, arrogant young man from another town leaves her house.

In the afternoon Bradley goes by the workshop. The smell of the salt air mingles with the sawdust as he opens the door.

Tom is building a cradle. He is sanding the sides of it until it is as smooth as his high standards want it to be. Bradley sits and watches him for nearly an hour, asks him questions about his business and takes a few photos.

On his way out, he hears Skye’s voice . He knocks on the slightly open office door. She looks up, and smiles when she sees him. She is friendly. but never flirtatious. He cannot explain why he is so drawn to her, save that she is so different from the women he susally dates. Skye is not ambitious, assertive or sophisticated. Later, he will say that she was like lemonade. Simple and unassuming, perfect and refreshing and addictive.

“What are you doing later?”

“Later can mean a lot.”

“What are you doing when you leave here tonight?”

“Going home. Probably helping Rebekah Two with her homework. Dinner. Dishes...ordinary things.”

“Can your Dad help Rebekah Two with her homework?”


“I was hoping you’d have dinner with me at Rose’s. Maybe see a movie after?” It is easy for him, asking women he likes out. He takes his acceptances and rejections with the same pleasant ease. This, however, is met with silence and a blank stare. A new response for him.


Still silence. She opens her mouth, and her lips start to form something. She doesn’t know what she is trying to say, but an answer comes from the other side of the door.

“Go.” Heron has come from the workshop. He is covered with dust and he looks only at his sister. He is almost stern when he tells her “Go. It’ll be okay. Dad and I will hang out with Rebekah Two. Go. You should.”

Skye thinks, then seems to relax. She looks from her brother to Bradley and smiles.

“Sure. I’d...I’ home around six. After that is fine.”

Heron gives Bradley a small smile as he turns to go back to the shop. Bradley has and embryo of a thought that he has disturbed something. He could feel uncomfortable if he thinks of it more. He doesn’t. He shakes the feeling off to keep his easy demeanor. They set a time. Bradley expresses his gladness, and he leaves.

At the end of the road is a school bus.

Alighting from that school bus is Rebekah Two.

“Hello, Bradley.” The child never seems to blink. It fascinates him.

“Hey, Rebakah Two, How was school?”

She looks at Bradley as thought studying him. “My social studies teacher was pedantic. That’s my new word for today.”

“Pedantic is a pretty good word.”

“Not all the time.”

“It’s an impressive word, I mean.”

“You’re pleased about something.”

“I am.”

“Did you ask Mama out?”

“Rebekah Two, sometimes I think you’re a witch.”

“Sometimes I think you’re a writer.”

“What? I am a writer, silly.”

“I thought writers listened more. You say you’re a writer, but you act like you’re on vacation.”

While Bradley tries to think of a comeback in his battle of wits with a fourth grader -

“Mama said yes?”

“She did.”

“Right away?”

“Well...your Uncle convinced her that you’d be okay with him and your Grandpop tonight. She said yes eventually.”

“I’m glad. I do like you.” Rebekah walks around him and towards her Grandpop’s shop.

“Well, that’s a relief, I do like you, too.” he calls after her.

Bradley goes back to his room at Mrs. Lorrimer’s house and types up more notes on the quaint life of a seaside carpenter. He uploads his photos and sends a few text messages to his agent. Mrs. Lorrimer does not have an internet connection in her house, so he can’t send e-mail until he drives to the internet cafĂ© in Wells tomorrow morning. He showers, and as the hot water runs out, he feels the disturbance again. Slightly stronger than before. Again he ignores it and by the time he leaves for Skye’s house, he has forgotten it.

Four generations have lived in the Skye's house. Four generations of marriage and children and the ones left behind.

In every marriage, someone always leaves first.

Bradley never thinks of these things. He sees an old house that a pretty woman lives in.

Skye’s daughter is sitting on its front steps. Rebekah Two wears a sweater knitted by Rebekah the First for her daughter. Her mother. The sun is setting.

“Rebekah Two, what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at your Grandpop’s house?”

“Mama can’t go out with you.”

“Is she feeling all right?”

“She’s not sick. She can’t go out with you ever.” Rebekah looks serious and sad.

The thought that Bradley has been ignoring is yanked to the front of his mind with the finality of her statement.

The child sighs and shakes her head.

"She does like you a lot, Bradley. I can tell. But Papa loves her very much and he doesn’t want her to go. I’m sorry. I’m kind of mad at him, myself. I think he’s being selfish."

"Rebekah Two...your Papa...he'"

"Yes, he is."

"Ooookay. Will you tell your mother to call me at Mrs. Lorrimer's house?"

"I can tell her, but she won’t do it. I know you don’t understand. I'll say sorry from her. She is."

Bradley turns and slowly walks down the steps. As he leaves, he hears Rebekah Two murmur (to herself or to him or to her half ghost parents?).

"I’m never going to get married."