Monday, April 29, 2013
TRULY (inspired by Persuasion) chapter Twenty-five "Talking the Talk"
Talking the Talk
I’d flung myself on my cousin-the-singer’s bed that night, exasperated. Apart from her amazing singing, the whole evening had been a disaster of epic proportions. Truly… Confessions of a Post-teenage Hermit
The next day at work, I felt so drained; I’d barely had any sleep. I was determined to put Ben Wentworth’s name out of my head – forever. I was busy typing out my newest blog post in between wiping tables and serving customers when he actually had the hide to walk into my café looking like a freaking movie star.
Ben sat at the counter, alone. I was so surprised after the previous night I nearly fainted. He looked hung over.
This was it. I was ready for him and not ready to take any more. He could just stop rubbing his success and his happiness in my face; it was getting a little old.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“I’d like a coffee, Jane.”
“Sobering up are we, after last night’s little excesses? I saw you with a drink in one hand and Serena Collins in the other. I hope the Air Force tests you every time you fly.”
Ben looked at me and sighed, “First drink in weeks, Jane.”
“I guess you had good reason to celebrate.”
“Serena? The woman you were with. You must have known I wasn’t expecting to see her again.”
“It was a surprise.”
“Oh,” was all I said.
“Not a welcome one,” he added.
I barely heard him. I started to make coffee. “I guess you’ll be wanting extra milk. I’ve heard it’s good for hangovers.”
“Sure,” he said smoothly.
I poured the lukewarm milk over his head and dumped the sugar in his lap.
“I… can’t believe you just did that!”
“And I can’t believe you came back here just to witness my humiliation and throw Serena Collins in my face!”
“I don’t know what you mean,” he said, wiping his jeans and face with the napkins, “I came back here for... I had no idea she was back in town. She wanted to surprise me on my birthday. But I wanted to see… my favorite Elliot girl again…”
He’d nearly let it slip. It was so obvious he liked Lia. I couldn’t blame him but did he have to throw that in my face too? “Oh, it’s not just that it’s everything! Me here… alone, my family, you with the last laugh, you were practically implicit in throwing me out of my summer house…”
“The place was up for rent! Someone would have rented it, if not my sister.”
“Yes and I’d prefer it if that someone were anyone but your family…. That house has been with my family… “
“Oh, you mean your spoilt sisters and a father who let me know that in no uncertain terms years ago what he thought of me and my family! I thought I was doing you a favor!”
“A favor? It was the kind of favor I could do without!”
By this point every customer in the shop had stopped eating and was looking at me like I was not a very nice person. And who knows, in the years I’d missed him, unspoken to anyone but Eleanor and only in these past few days, maybe I had become a different person. Certainly a girl – a woman – who dared to speak her mind, not just to her family but also to the man she loved.
“Oh, please, women don’t give up on someone even after all hope is gone! It’s men who are quick to forget, who can’t even be bothered putting up a fight…”
I couldn’t believe what I’d just said. I mean… to make matters even worse, I added, “look at you, you’ve flaunted a different cousin in front of me every day for two weeks. They have no idea what you meant to me. I don’t know what you expect…”
“From you? Very little, but I have as much right to be here as you do. Remember, this town is named after my relatives. I know that kind of thing is important to you and your family!”
“Don’t talk to me any more about my family.”
“They were… integral, weren’t they? To our happiness?” he said bitterly.
“You mean our unhappiness,” I said under my breath.
“You’re so different, Jane. So outspoken, so forthright... Perhaps you know your own mind at last.”
At this point Lia and Harley flung open the door in their sweat pants. It was obvious they’d been jogging along the beach front. Ben must have walked over first up to speak to me, alone.
Lia grabbed Ben’s arm and dragged him with her, “quick, you have to come and see, someone’s made a sand sculpture of a castle outside…”
I looked away.
“Hi Jane,” Lia said, oblivious to our argument. “Are we still all meeting to go shopping after work today?”
“Yes,” I smiled, lowering my voice.
Lia had not only interrupted my first argument with Ben but she had also diffused it, as she dragged Ben breathlessly into the morning air. He didn’t look back. He would be eternally grateful to be rid of me once he’d left for flight training in Texas. Harley had told me he was going next week. We’d never have to see each other again after that and he’d be able to ignore my ‘confrontational mood’ for the rest of his life.
Ten minutes after they’d gone, the shop was empty. The customers had left. There was quiet for the first time all morning. That’s when I heard a piercing scream and was reminded of Jenny’s voice and that terrible moment in Wentworth Canyon, six years ago.