Being a novel, all characters, events, dialogue and representations are fictional ... and in no way are meant to represent any real or living persons or events... except the few annual events that are used to move me through time. The opinions expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my author. And the story is copyrighted, by my author of course. Oh, and from time to time I may include some real time events to keep the blog more authentic. Comments and suggestions will be appreciated and seriously considered as the story moves along.

If you are just joining us, start with the Prologue and Chapter One on March 1, 2011, in the Archives.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Chapter 61

Ben’s mechanic said he could have the heater fixed in time, but the part he needed was nowhere to be found in or around Dallas. Luckily, it wasn’t that cold when I headed back to Lubbock and heartache, but nearing Ranger, about 65 miles east of Abilene, the halfway point, it got that cold as I met an unexpected blizzard head on. As snow began falling, I stopped for hot chocolate and warmed my hands under the gas station restroom’s hand dryer. By the time I drove past Abilene, the blizzard was in full-force. Thankfully, it was a dry snow and wasn’t sticking, so the roads weren’t icing up. 
   As I made the turn north outside of Sweetwater to Highway 84, the snowstorm limited visibility to about 50 feet, and was beginning to accumulate on the sides of the road. I was actually a little concerned about making the remaining 115 miles, so, pulling over in Roscoe to warm my hands once more, I asked for a weather report at the gas station.
“Should blow o’er in no time at-all,” the greasy-haired station attendant had drawled, cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth as he rang up the cost of another hot chocolate. “Radar shows it’s mostly to the south, though, so ya’ shouldn’t have trouble gettin’ on up da road ta Lubbock, darlin’.” 
   Somewhat reassured, I continued “gettin’ on up” the road. Although snow usually delighted me as much as thunderstorms, I remembered Josh’s accident last March and was concerned with the possibility of deer, coyotes, or wild feral pigs suddenly jumping out in front of me. Any beauty that might surround me went unnoticed. Instead, I worried about running off the road and being stuck in a ditch in the blinding snowstorm. It was not my idea of a good time, especially in a car with no heat. 
   Only when I was finally back in Lubbock did I think to realize we’d been right last spring — the hundreds of white wind turbines in the area weren’t blighting the landscape — they’d been rendered invisible by the snowstorm.
  About 40 minutes later, the greasy-haired guy was proven right. As I entered Snyder, the snow was petering out, and by Post, the small town just below the Caprock, the sun was shining across a late afternoon’s clear blue sky, although it was still well below freezing. 
   Now only thirty minutes from home, I stopped at Post’s only McDonald’s for another round of hot chocolate, my third, and one more hand warming, but only because I needed to use the facilities. What is it about cold weather that makes you have to pee more often and more urgently? I don’t think it was old age, but I can’t be certain. These days I’m not certain about much, except that I do feel old, cold and sad. 
   I called Sharon to report in and was easily persuaded to come straight to the Nest instead of my house because Doug was whipping up dinner and a fire was already blazing in the den. 
   “Why won’t you call him? He’s in agony, Maggie,” Sharon said. “He’s called here every day, and you said he’d left several messages for you, as well. What in the world happened?” 
   We were seated in front of the fire after having devoured dinner. Doug escaped to the music room, ostensibly to practice, and when we finished the dishes, the we took a plate of leftover Christmas cookies and eggnog to the den. I hadn’t told her the humiliating details, and Sharon knew better than to press too hard, understanding I’d tell her if I wanted or needed to tell her. 
   “Colin wants what I can’t give him and I want what he can’t give me ... so it’s best that we just move on and forget each other.” 
   “But he loves you and I know you love him.”  
   “Does he? Seems to me if he loved me, really loved me, he’d know me better. Know how I feel about things.”
“Well, I know he misses you and wants to see you.”
   “That may be, Sharon, but for me that’s not enough. I have to have the whole package, the whole commitment and ... and ...”
   “And I know,” she said gently, “the whole marriage thing. I know you do, darlin’... I just don’t think he can do that no matter how much he might love you.”
   I balled my fists in frustration. “Don’t you think I know that, Phelps? I know he can’t do that. He’s spent his whole life in temporary situations. Nothing permanent. Twenty years moving all over who knows where, doing who knows what for the FBI. And the man’s never even owned a house, for God’s sake ... sorry, Lord,” I said looking up. “Did I say house? He’s never even bought a couch!” 
   Frustrated, I reached for another cookie. Chomping and dropping crumbs, I continued, “The only thing constant in his life is his love for his twin brother and his passion for Notre Dame football. How pathetic is that?!”
   “Pathetic?” Sharon asked doubtfully. “I don’t know. And I thought he owned the condo the lives in?”
“But it came furnished, and he just did it to help the boys. It’s not a real home, but an investment property, he says. And, well, maybe not pathetic, but different, then, totally different from the way I live. I don’t understand someone like that. Not to want to put down roots ... not to build something solid.”
   “He makes pretty solid furniture. That’s permanent, isn’t it?”
   “No, because he gives away or sells everything he makes, never using any of it in a real home. What kind of home is an investment property? Just like the women he’s had—no investment other than bribing them with diamonds once in a while.”    
   Sharon raised her eyebrows at that, but I continued. “I like permanence ... and I can’t ...” I admitted, lowering my voice to almost a whisper, “I can’t be with a man unless he has made a promise before God to be with only me.” 
  “Are you saying you think he’s been with other women lately?” Sharon asked, surprised.
“No, no. I don’t think that at all. In fact I know he hasn’t. I think ... I know ... oh, I don’t know what I know anymore,” I said in sheer exasperation.
      After a few minutes of silence from both of us, I said, “Damn, Phelps. You know I’ve never been with anyone but Jim, and we waited until our wedding night, after we’d made public vows before God. It was amazing, and awkward, and embarrassing. I ... I ...”
   I was lost in memories and smiled wryly, tears threatening to spill. Finally I said quietly,  “It’s just ... it’s ... what Jim put inside my ring ... did I ever show this to you? No, I’ve never shown it to anyone,” I said pulling it off. “It was ours alone.”
   I read it silently, then handed it to my dear friend and turned away as the tears came forth.
   Sharon read aloud, “God and I, Always. Oh, Mags,” she said as her own tears began to fall, reaching to embrace me.
   “Always,” I whispered. “I want ‘always’ again Sharon. I won’t settle for less than ‘always’ again.” 

   I stayed the night, snugly tucked under quilts on the couch in front of the fireplace. We’d finally said goodnight after a good girlfriend cry, my heart in tatters, but determination steeling me against further involvement with Professor Colin Patrick Murphy.

   Sharon’s heart ached for her friend, and as she huddled against Doug’s warm body upstairs in bed, she prayed for a way to help, deciding the best she could do now was to be there for her. Just like she had been since college. And tomorrow she would call Carol.

   Slipping out before they were up on Saturday morning, I left a note of thanks, saying I needed to be alone so wouldn’t be joining them to ring in the new year that night as planned. Maybe I would see them the next day. 
   I thought it might do me good to go out to the cotton field, but it was so cold that morning I didn’t think I could concentrate, and I was a little tired of being cold.   
   Instead, throughout the morning, afternoon and most of the evening, with a faithful Miss Priss by my side, I steadfastly worked on a new painting, diverting my mind again in hopes of allowing my heart to heal just a little. I would keep every minute of every day occupied and ignore most of the pain. 
   I can, can’t I? Look how much practice I’ve already had, first when my parents died and then Jim. Both times I’d been devastated, but now I knew from experience that grief had to run its course — had to have its due. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t still grieve for them, but time lessens the intensity, and acceptance slowly takes its place. It had to, or I wouldn’t have been able to love again.
  So I will grieve again. Grieve for the “more” that might have been with Colin. But I won’t allow it to consume me. I will just grieve a little at a time each day, and it will fade away. Eventually. Maybe. God never gives you more than you could handle. I’d always believed that. Just now I wish He didn’t think me so damn strong. 
   Too sad and too tired to stay awake after a light dinner, I went to bed early, tears soaking my pillow as I cried myself to sleep. I missed toasting in the New Year for the first time since I was a small child. 

1 comment:

  1. I started your online novel late, but read it completely today.
    I'm looking forward to seeing what is next in Maggie's adventures.