Monday, April 29, 2013

TRULY by Summer Day (inspired by Persuasion) chapter Twenty: "Sailing"

Chapter Twenty
My sisters were determined to go; my cousins were already on their way. There was really no way I could get out of going sailing... even though it was truly obvious Ben wanted nothing to do with me. Besides, why would I let him steal my cousins and stalk me out of town?... Confessions of a Post-teenage Hermit
    Melissa sat on the couch at my father’s house, covered in baby items: clothes, diapers, cream, bottles and a rattle, waiting for the afternoon nanny to arrive.
   “Hey Missy, I’ve rarely seen you so hands on,” I said sarcastically as I arrived home.  
   “Here, take him,” my sister said, handing me the baby. “I have to change. I just finished feeding him before you arrived and he promptly threw up all over my new top. I’m coming sailing with you. Word spreads quickly by text.”
   I washed my hands and took the baby who gurgled and instantly sucked on my finger. Sitting on the side of the couch I prepared myself for my sister’s diatribe.
  “I cannot believe the afternoon nanny is this late!”
   “We could always go to Farmer’s Markets instead and just take him with us… “
   “Are you insane? I’ve pumped enough milk to stay out of this place for at least three hours and we are getting out of here and going sailing, like I said we would. Besides, I’m not going home to Venice Beach until Fred apologizes and I’m fed up with staring at these walls.”
    Fred had forgotten their wedding anniversary and Melissa was mortified. I listened to her complain for the twenty minutes it took her to get ready and hand me a new top to wear, more because she didn’t want to be embarrassed in public than because she actually wanted me to look good. 
     Finally, we were ready. The nanny arrived, the sleeping baby was kissed and we loaded up the car and took off to the marina with a quick stop at Wentworth’s Farmers’ Markets.
     We were an hour early and Melissa was starving. I was hoping she’d forget all about sailing if she was side tracked at the Farmers’ Markets near the Wentworth Marina. Eleanor and Liz were meeting us there. I drove. I loved driving to this part of California. The Marina and the markets were lovely. I drove right on the speed limit which went against my usually withdrawn personality. I was excited about lunch and the loud stereo drowned out Melissa’s nasal voice.
    “I’m looking forward to eating,” Melissa said, above the whirr of the engine. “Feeding babies makes you so hungry and the good news is, you don’t put on any more weight.”
    These were the gems of advice my younger sister supplied me with and I supposed one day I’d be grateful for them.
    “Yes,” I replied. I particularly liked the hot turkey sandwiches they sold at the Farmers Markets for lunch. That was exactly what I looked forward to as Melissa giggled and proceeded to tell me how thrilling it all was to be out of the house and “back in the outside world.”
      “Of course, my husband and children are everything to me. I don’t know how you can go through your life without them,” she added, as if I had a choice but no hope of ever finding a man of my own.
     Realistically, she was right. There was only a chance you’d meet the one in this life or that person wouldn’t be the one. Maybe there were twos, threes, sixes, eights and beyond. I knew, for some people, there were.
     Melissa continued, “Even if you joined every dating site on the planet, in the end, unless you wanted to sleep around indefinitely, men still seem to have the upper hand. Percentage wise, there are more straight, available females than straight, available, eligible males, once you get beyond a certain age. Of course, you haven’t reached that age, yet, but who knows?”
    “Thanks Missy. Thanks for your great advice. Considering you’ve been married since you were eighteen, your insights are really valuable,” I said sarcastically.  
     “Well, I’ve been doing some online research – for you.”
     “Thanks Melissa.”
     Perhaps Missy was right, although her criticisms of my choices always made her questionable ones seem more valid.
     I’d had one choice when it came to Ben, years ago, when I was unready to make it. Back then, I hadn’t seen through my family for the uncaring and ungenerous people they were. Even my sisters had treated me a lot worse the past few years when they both seemed to have the upper hand with daddy.
      Dad thought Liz was everything he would have wished a son to be - ruthless and driven, in a much prettier package. Their closeness was claustrophobic, I thought, as I ate my turkey roll once we’d parked and found a table at our favorite cafe. I wasn’t jealous. I was just lost. Melissa snapped me out of my silence.
   “I heard all about that handsome Air Force officer you used to date in high school, Jane. You never told me about him.”
   The fact that Melissa had sought out my company on this occasion was unusual. I should have known she wanted extra gossip to relay to Liz.
   “Uh, huh,” I said, checking my cell for messages.
    “You were younger and I was away at school, so there seemed no point in discussing it.”
     “Well, Eleanor seemed to know all about him. I hate the way you and Liz always leave me out of everything. You two are so close!”
     “As if. If you must know, I’m over it,” I lied.
     “Good, because I think Lia likes him…”
     “Really? What makes you say that?”
     “Oh, she was asking if you guys were close…”
      I bristled but said nothing. Of course, it would be natural for him to like Lia. Everyone liked my cousins.
     “Oh Jane, you have to keep trying to meet someone or else how will you ever have a family of your own? Sure, you could go to a clinic…”
     “What? I’m really over this, Melissa. Your obsession with my romantic life is a joke. Maybe you should take care of your own. I’m in my twenties, not one hundred and nine and the discussion regarding my desire to marry and have children is over!”
     Both of my sisters and my father (to tell the truth) made me want to catch the first flight out of LA for good. I think I would have by now if I’d kept enough savings to buy a ticket.
    “Oh Jane, there is no need to get upset. I’m just trying to help.” Melissa stuffed her face with chips from my plate as she finished her lunch. “I really needed that.”           
     There was silence for a moment as we waited for everyone else to arrive.
     “Keira is having a party for Lia and Hailee’s birthday next month. No excuses, I promise to keep my children safe. Besides, I already accepted the invitation for you.”
     My younger sister prattled on like a teenager as I mentally did the sums and tried to work out when I’d have enough money to rent a place of my own again.
    Melissa checked her text, “Now, I have to be home at six, but that gives us a good few hours, Jane, let’s go. Everyone is meeting us at the jetty.”  Liz had been working and taken the afternoon off also, at Melissa’s insistence. It was easier to do that when you directed the family company. My cousins texted me to let me know everyone was already there, including Ben and Harley.
    “I don’t know…” I hesitated. I tried to think of an excuse.
    “Oh well, we needn’t go,” Melissa paused.
    “Are you kidding? I’ve hardly been out of the house all week – I have at least two unused bathing suits in my purse. We can go swimming on Worth Island. C’mon,” my sister literally dragged me from the table.
    “I’m doing the evening shift, remember. I changed it all around so we could go to lunch but I’m not sure when we’ll be back…”
    “Jane, you’re the best sister in the world but it’s time you stopped being such a stick in the mud. Live a little.”
    “Whatever,” I said. Liz waved at me in the distance. Harley and Ben were talking to Lia and Hailee. I noticed Lia was leaning in close to Ben and giggling. Melissa was probably right. They were made for each other. I could care less; I was so over these so-called coincidences.
      “I don’t know, Liz. I think I might just get going. I just realized I have to get to work earlier than I thought.”
      Melissa spun around, “Are you nuts, Jane? They have an amazing yacht!”
      “I could care less,” I said.
      Big deal, I thought, men with money didn’t exactly equal a good value system as far as I knew. Just look at my father, an obvious example. I pulled on my sunglasses and plastered a smile on my face as we walked towards the boat. There was safety in numbers, for sure.