Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chapter 7

It was dark and I sat on the floor of the utility room trying to make sure no one heard me. There were strangers all over the house and my heart ached so bad I'd had to escape to the only place I could go that wouldn't wake anyone up. I'd almost slipped down to the cellar until I remembered that the door had started squeaking again because Jeremiah had forgotten to do something about the hinges. So I had gathered Cheeser into my arms and just let my misery flow.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when a voice in the dark said, "That cat is the calmest of its species I've ever seen. He's nearly as wet as if he'd been given a bath and yet he's just letting you squeeze the air out of him."

I tried to hide what I'd been doing and get up but instead Sloan sat on the floor with me. "Did I hurt you this time Teaghan? Or scare you? Be honest."

I sniffed and said, "No."

"Did one of the men upset you? Was it the boys?"

"No and no. I'm sorry I woke you. I ..." and then the tears started again and I couldn't turn them off.

"Teaghan I can't fix it if I don't know what it is."

Not being in a state of mind to even wonder why he would want to I told him, "No one can ever fix it. You can't bring people back from the dead." Then I laid my head on Cheeser and told him, "I want my Dad. I miss my brothers too and your nephews act just like they sometimes did when they were younger and it hurts to remember that but it makes me want Dad even worse; he always knew how to handle them. I want Dad so bad I can't stand it. It's not the same as when Gram and Mom and Hannah died ... they were so sick and hurt so bad it was a relief when they went. There was no room in the hospital so we took care of them here at home, I took care of them and got to tell them good bye. I never got to say bye to Dad. We were all in such a hurry that morning. We just gave each other a quick hug and then he was gone. I can still see them ... Dad driving and the boys riding shotgun because the trucks going to market sometimes get mobbed. They died in such a mean and evil way. And now he'll never hug me again. And I'll never see him again to tell him anything much less I love him. He'll never be around to laugh or tell me I did good on something or even for me to hear his snores to let me know even though he was asleep he was nearby if I needed him. And when you started snoring after we did ... you know ... I just couldn't take it anymore because it was just one more thing. So please ... let me alone for awhile. There's nothing anyone can do to make this better and I just gotta get someplace inside myself that I can live with it. Just like I did when everyone else died and I got left behind."

I just sat there in my misery but I must have fallen asleep at some point. Only I didn't wake up on the utility room floor like you would expect but in the bed I'd been sharing with Sloan. It was just as dark outside as it had been but I sensed it was early morning and time to start the coffee. I tried to ease out of the bed but Sloan's arm came around me and he asked almost right in my ear, "You feeling better?"

Not sure what to say except be honest I answered, "I'm feeling ashamed. I wish you hadn't seen me. Please don't tell anyone."

"Why would I tell anyone your business or mine for that matter?" he asked softly.

"I don't know, just please don't."

"I won't." I heard him sigh. "I keep forgetting how young you are. You shouldn't have had to lose your father like that."

"I don't think it matters how old you are. I remember when Mom's dad died. I was little but I still remember it. It was awful. He had a heart attack while he was driving and him and one of mom's brothers died when the car veered off the road and hit a tree. But it wasn't so much how they died as that Mom loved her daddy alot. He was the one that raised her and her brothers after her mom couldn't handle her life and left when Mom was little. We called her dad Grampy and he was pretty cool; he even knew how to bake cookies though sometimes they came out kinda flat and hard like frisbees. And then when the flu took Dad's dad ... he had to go sign all the papers at the hospital and everything. It was only the second time I'd seen Dad cry ... the first time was when my brothers came back from the war all in one piece. By the time Mom and Hannah died I'd seen him cry too many times but never when he thought people could see him. He let me be there but no one else."

My nose was getting stuffy and my chest tight so I stopped talking. I tried to sit up and when I did Sloan sat up with me. "You don't have to get up right now if you don't want to."

I shook my head. "And do what? Lay around feeling sorry for myself? I did enough of that last night. I ... I don't even know ... I mean how did I get here?"

"I carried you."

"Oh gawd."

"No need to get blasphemous. You aren't that heavy."

I turned trying to see his face and he kissed me full on. We'd done what married people do but he hadn't kissed me on my mouth very much. When he stopped I didn't know what to say.

"Teaghan ... look, you don't need to go crawl in a hole if you need to cry. Let me make it not so lonely for you."

I shook my head. "Why would you want to do that? You don't even know me."

He sighed. "No though that is a strange thing to say after what we've been doing. All I know is this is turning out to be easier and harder than I ever thought it could be. But you were asking about what the rules of marriage are and this is one of them. When one of us hurts its the duty of the other not to just run away and ignore it. Now just come here for a minute. I might not be able to fix it but I can at least let you know I won't run away from it and leave you to face it all alone."

He drug us both back down on the bed and he held me. I was getting distracted by the sound of his heart under my ear when there was a loud bang on the ceiling above us. I jumped and Sloan growled. "I'm gonna ..."

"You know this is a war don't you?" I sensed Sloan looking at me in the dark so I explained. "It's a war of wills. They don't like that we are trying to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed us. They want us to be as miserable as they are apparently feeling. If we can outlast them we'll win."

As another bang came from the ceiling Sloan got out of bed and started pulling his jeans on. "What the hell are they doing?"

"Sounds like they've found the spot in the hallway that runs right across the top of this room and are dropping the big dictionary trying to make you mad."

"Trying? They sure as heck have succeeded."

"Ignore them, don't give them the attention they are trying to get ... they want your attention on them and them alone and they'll take it anyway they can get it. Instead work them hard today. They'll be paying for getting up so early and hopefully fall asleep before they can do much mischief tonight."

My eyes had adjusted to the dark and I could just make out the wicked look on Sloan's face. "You know, I like the way you think. If they thought moving baskets and a few boxes around yesterday was work, let's see how those limbs of satan feel about stacking bricks and cinder blocks."


  1. Really like the characters in this story. Thanks Kathy!

  2. oh those boys definitely need some "adjustments" in their attitudes! lol! thanks so much!