The Next Scene

Ivy wondered if she was hallucinating.  Jake hated her art and the piece he said he bought had sold for more than a thousand dollars.  Now he’d taken her reflexive step back in disbelief as an invitation.  She narrowed her eyes.  Maybe that was why he had said it.  To throw her off, get through her defenses.  She had no way of knowing if it was the truth. 

            He glanced around the room and she winced.  There were full and partially full boxes stacked in the hall and the living room.  In practically every room, but she had no intention of letting him go any further.

            “Looks like you haven’t been here long,” he said.  “You haven’t unpacked.”

            “I’m packing, not unpacking,” she said.  “My parents’ things.  I have to get a lot of stuff out of the house before I can stage it to sell.”

            His brow furrowed.  “So you aren’t staying.”

            She shrugged and glanced around the room.  Her mother had gone for blue in a big way in here.  Light blue walls, navy slipcovers on the upholstered furniture, blue and white porcelain vases and cobalt blue glass.  Individually the pieces and the colors were fine, but combined with the bland maple of the furniture, it was just…she sighed, boring.  Traditional, staid and boring.  It had matched her parents’ personalities perfectly. 

            “I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but I can’t live in this house.”  Her breath caught and she turned away worried about what he might see on her face.  Every minute she spent here, she could feel her parents’ disappointment.  Their resentment.  The weight of it had almost broken her.

            “I’m sorry–,” he began.

            “For my loss,” she laughed.  The sharp sound of it cut the air like a knife and her throat ached.

            He shook his head and touched her shoulder.  She stepped away from the warmth of his fingers.  “Their loss, Ivy.  You filled this house with sunshine and joy, but they were too blind and too angry to see it.”

            “I tried.  I kept trying.  When my father had the stroke and mother was too decrepit to take care of him, I offered to move back.  They preferred strangers to their daughter.”  She walked over to the wide picture window and fingered the navy and white print drapes.  A squirrel ran across the lawn and scurried up into an oak tree still hanging to a few brown leaves.   Snow dusted the ground and the black fur of the small shaggy dog chasing after it.  The dog jumped up and down under the tree practically turning flips while the squirrel sat on a branch and chattered at it.  “See that dog out there?” She pointed and looked over her shoulder at Jake.

            He walked over and nodded.  “She belongs to the Johnsons.  Her name is Misty and she thinks she is a hunting dog.  Always chasing squirrels and rabbits.”

            “She chases that same squirrel up that same tree five times a day.   She’s never going to catch it, but she wears herself out trying.  Sometimes, it’s better to stop.  To realize you are never going to catch the damn squirrel, so you might as well give up and move on.”  Ivy shook off the melancholy that settled over her like a shroud every time she let her defenses down.  “I need to get back to what I was doing before my painted dries up.”

            He smiled and the dimple on his right cheek flashed.  “You’re painting again?”

            “NO!”  She inhaled and slowly blew it out.  Painting pictures was as futile an endeavor for her as chasing the squirrel was for Misty.  But unlike Misty, she knew when to give up. “I’m painting a large canvas to use as a background in one of my pieces.”

            He cocked his head.  “Glass on canvas?  How is that going to work?”

            “Not glass, crushed beer cans.”  She smiled at his grimace.  “I wash them out first.”

            “Glad to hear it.  So what kind of thing are you creating with the crushed beer cans.  Guess it’s not one of your mobiles if you’re using a canvas.”

            “It will be a picture of daisies.  Bright, shining, daisies.”

            “Your favorite flowers.  You always said they looked happy.”  He smiled and she smiled back for a minute remembering the good times. 

            “Remember when—” they said simultaneously.

            “You first,” she said at the same time he said, “Ladies first.”  Before either of them could say anything more, something vibrated and he pulled a phone out of his pocket and checked the screen.

            “Sorry, Ivy.  I have to take this, it’s the chief.”

            Chief of what, she wondered as he walked away from her, closer to the door.  As far as she knew, there were no chiefs in ice hockey.  Or any other sport for that matter.”

            “What?  When?  Right, I can be there in five minutes.”  He slid the phone back in his pocket.  “I have to go, Ivy.”

            Of course he did.  She shrugged her shoulders.  “No problem.  I have things to do, too.”

            He opened his mouth, shook his head and opened the door.  “I’ll call when I can.”

            She watched him walk down the steps and over to his car.  He left clear footprints in the light snow. “What chief?” she called as he opened the door.

            “Chief of police.  There was an accident and I’m on call. See you.” 

            Mouth open, she watched him drive away.  A cop?  Jake was a cop?  The bad boy jock was a cop in the town he couldn’t get away from fast enough.  Shaking her head, she closed the door.  Hallucinating or dreaming.  She had to be doing one or the other.  There was no way Jake Carter had grown up to be a cop.

Can you pick out the words we used as prompts?  Go check Keziah’s blogs for Wednesday and today and see if you can figure it out.  I find it fascinating that we get such widely different stories using the same prompts.

Keziah Fenton’s story

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