Monday, April 29, 2013

TRULY by Summer Day (inspired by Persuasion) chapter Nineteen: "Unexpected Interlude"

Chapter Nineteen
Unexpected Interlude
I flung my sweater in the back seat of my old car, enjoying the adrenalin of the ride but not the thought of the destination. Los Angeles had always been a sea of concrete freeways to me, a place to become lost in…  
Confessions of a Post-teenage Hermit
     I walked up the familiar steps of Kellynch as Sam came bounding out.
   “Hello Jane,” he said, in a very grown up way.
   “Hi Sam,” I replied with a smile.
   “You’re pretty. I like your dress,” he added. What a charmer.
   ‘Thank you,” I replied. “I made it myself.”
     I’d made more than the usual effort this afternoon. The child came up to me, took my hand and led me into my familiar sitting room, overlooking the ocean.
   Sarah Croft entered the room. I apologised for missing her bonfire night and she said she understood. I handed her the spare set of keys.
   “Thanks. Sam, tell Jane what you’ve been doing.”
   “I’m just getting to that part,” he said with slight exasperation from having had his thunder stolen. I smiled. I’d been shown to a seat on a newly installed cream sofa. It was very luxurious – new luxury, not old.
  “I’ve been learning to swim,” Sam said.
  “Wow,” I said, “that’s great. I practised swimming here.  So did your Uncle Ben.” 
   “I remember Ben telling me,” Sarah said with the warmest smile. “I heard about your sister’s child. Is he okay?”
   “He’s fine. Oh, thanks for offering to take care of the piano.”
    “How can you bear to part with it?”
    “I’m afraid I don’t really have a choice,” I said. “To move it in the sea air would take an expert and I don’t want to risk damaging it.”
    “Well, I don’t play at all but I love to hear the sound of a piano. Would you like some tea or coffee, a hot chocolate?”
    I knew it would seem rude to refuse but being back in my old house was like being back at high school - after I’d left. There were ghosts in the hallways.
    “Hot chocolate, please.”
    Sarah excused herself and I spoke to her from the lounge room as Sam played with his trucks on the floor. I placed my hands over the keyboard.
    “There is nowhere else to store such a magnificent instrument,” I said under my breath, “that wouldn’t entail it being damaged. You are doing me a huge favor really, keeping it here,” I said loudly, as Sarah was in the kitchen.
     “We’ll keep it safe. I love baby grands.” Sarah continued. “I used to work in the theatre, I was a dancer, I’m sure my brother told you.”
     “No, but I saw Ben this morning. My cousins brought him into the coffee shop where I work.”
     “Oh,” Sarah said as if she knew more but didn’t want to speak. “Of course, I know you guys dated but Ben’s not really that verbal about his relationships.”
     I changed the subject, glancing at the piano.
     “I loved to play as a child but I’ve barely touched the keys for years,” Sarah called out from the kitchen.
    Ben’s sister returned with the drinks; her child was happily drawing at his play table, quietly. This was pretty impressive by anyone’s standards. A quiet, happy, occupied toddler was definitely a rare accomplishment.  
    “I don’t suppose you’d play me something before you leave?”
    “Um… I took a sip of my drink… I don’t think, well, everyone is used to electronic keyboards now.”
   “Please?” the little boy looked up at me.
   “Okay,” I nodded.
   I played something unexpected, a nursery rhyme with a few extra trills. It was a tune that Sam instantly recognized.
   Sarah smiled.
  “Did Mozart really compose Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when he was six?”
  “I’m not sure,” I replied.
  Then a voice spoke over the top of me…
  “Mozart supposedly composed variations of that nursery rhyme, when he was around six years old.”
  “Wow, Uncle Ben! You’re smart.”
   “Well, reports vary. You can google it.”
   Sam jumped up, grabbed his soccer ball and proceeded to drag Ben into the front garden with him.
    I stopped playing almost instantly.
   “Thank you for the drink, Sarah, but I have to go.”
   Sarah looked slightly disappointed.
   “Really? Please, come by again. I love it here but there is no one else my age to talk to. I don’t know anyone in this town but my brother thought it might be the perfect spot to vacation during the summer while my husband’s at the studios. So far, so good, but I miss my friends from New York.”
   “Wentworth is a lovely town,” I said reflectively.
   “My brother has good taste,” she said.  
    I smiled and picked up my bag, then hurried down the steps.
   “Jane … We’re all going sailing at the Pier tomorrow. I invited your cousins and both of your sisters. Won’t you join us?”
   “I… I… I’m working the early shift but I… I’ll try… ” I couldn’t think of a good excuse to say an outright no.
    Ben had pretty much ignored me by then and although his sister appeared to be making an effort on his part, he’d had ample opportunity to speak to me directly and had clearly decided not to. What was his problem? He just ‘unexpectedly’ arrived at Kellynch? Stalking me much? Then I remembered he never could have guessed I’d be here. Now, I was on his turf.