Archive for March, 2016


March 4, 2016

First a note:  This isn’t in scene order.  I’m working on the scene that follows The Memory Painting but wanted to get up a post today.  I got this idea as I was hunting through things in our house looking for missing things for our sons.

Sue blew in the door and stomped her feet.  She thrust a large bottle of Merlot at Ivy and began shedding scarves, gloves, coat and boots.

Ivy raised her eyebrows at the size of the bottle.  “Are you planning on having a party later?”

Sue snorted.  “Not unless you have more people coming to help.  I thought after a day of going through things and packing up, we might want to chill out with a glass or three.”

“Once you see the amount of stuff stashed away in here, you’ll probably wish you brought a case,” Ivy said.  “I think my mother saved every margarine tub they emptied in the last fifteen years.  And that’s in addition to owning every kitchen storage container ever invented.  I’ve filled four bags for recycling and six boxes for charity and I haven’t even started on the bottom cabinets in the kitchen.”

“Is that where you want to work today?”  Sue dropped her hobo bag on top of the clothes she’d piled on a chair.  Ivy hid a grin.  It was nice to see that becoming a hot shot lawyer hadn’t changed her friend’s basic nature.

“No.  I can do a cabinet or drawer when I break from working or while I’m watching TV.  I’d really like company tackling my dad’s study and my parents’ room.  It feels wrong to go through their things and I need you to push me if I stall out.”

Sue rubbed her hands together.  “Goodie.  You know I love looking into other people’s private spaces.  It’s one of the reasons, I love being a lawyer.  I know all the secrets even though I can never tell anyone else about them.”

Ivy laughed.  “You always were nosy.”

“Hey, nosy is a good character trait for a lawyer.”  She tucked her arm through Ivy’s.  “So where shall we start–the study or the bedroom.”

“The study.  There are shelves of books to go through and all my father’s files.”

“Dibs on the files,” Sue said.

“I was hoping you’d say that.”  Ivy led the way into the darkly paneled room.

An hour later, Sue slammed the last file drawer.  “I don’t think I’ve ever gone through a more boring office.  Or a more organized one.  He has every receipt filed and cross referenced.”

Ivy shrugged her shoulders.  “What did you expect?  He was an accountant.  And a little obsessive compulsive about keeping things in order.”

“Do you want me to start on the bedroom or help you finish with the books?”

“The bedroom, I’m almost–” Ivy bumped into a stack of the boxes she’d already packed.  She grabbed for the teetering boxes and dropped the books in her arms.  They fell and as she lunged for them, the boxes crashed down.  She groaned.  “Nothing like making more work for myself.”

Sue grinned as she walked out of the door.  “Have fun.”

Ivy huffed out a breath and settled down on the floor beside the pile of books and boxes.  “Not my idea of fun.  Fun is getting out of the house and building a snowman.  Fun is…” she moved a box and stared at the edge of a fifty dollar bill hanging out of one of the books.  She pulled it out and held it up to the light.  It looked real.  She rubbed it between her fingers.  Felt real too.  But what was it doing in a book.  Ivy looked at the spine.  A biography of FDR.  She riffled through the pages and she held the book upside down.  A twenty dollar bill floated out.

She laid the two bills to the side and picked up another book.  No money fell from that one or the next but three twenties and a ten fell out of the fourth book.  She sat back and looked at the two shelves of remaining books and all the boxes she’d already packed.  If her father had been hiding money in books…she shook her head.  When had he started doing that?  And why?  She doubted she’d find the answers to those questions, but she was going to shake every book in this house to see what else he’d squirreled away.

She started to call Sue and then smiled.  No, she’d go through at least the boxes on the floor and see how much she found.  Sue would be sorry she’d called dibs on the files then.

She was almost finished with all the books from the fallen boxes when Sue called her name.  Ivy glanced at the neat piles of bills beside her.  Most were fives, tens and twenties, but she’d found a couple more fifties and even one hundred dollar bill.  Time to let Sue in on the treasure hunt.

“Ivy, I found something you should see,” Sue said walking into the room.  She stopped short and her eyes widened.  “Where did all that money come from?  Did you find a safe?”

“It was in the books.  Not every book but a lot of them so I’m rechecking all the ones I’ve already packed.  Want to join me on my treasure hunt?”

“Oh, yeah.  I love treasure hunts even more than finding secrets, but I found something in the bedroom I think you need to see.”

“More hidden money?”  Ivy stood and stretched the kinks out of her back.

“No.”  She took Ivy’s hand and pulled her out of the room.  “I’d gone through the dressers and bedside tables.  Nothing very interesting, but I separated things I thought you might want and packed up all the clothes.  Then I looked under the bed.”

“Don’t tell me you found the monster that hides under beds,” Ivy joked.

Sue didn’t laugh and Ivy frowned.  “Is it bad?”

“I don’t think so.”  Sue pulled lifted the lid off the long clear box.

Ivy stared at the papers in it.  Papers and pictures.  She dropped to her knees and lifted some out.  There were pictures she’d drawn in school from preschool on.  Cards she’d made for her mother and father for holidays and special occasions.  Notes from teachers praising her artistic efforts.  Tears filled her eyes.  She hadn’t thought her parents cared about her drawings.  They’d always tried to steer her toward a more practical career.  Like accounting or nursing.

“This was on top.” Sue said and held out a heavy piece of drawing paper.  It had been torn in half and carefully repaired.  “It’s the one you did in tenth grade isn’t it?  The picture of your brother.”

Ivy took the portrait she’d drawn from pictures and memories.  “I gave it to my mother for her birthday.  She yelled at me.  Said it wasn’t him, nothing like him.  Then she tore it in half and ran to her room crying.  That’s when I decided to leave as soon as I finished school.  All I did was make them unhappy.  She ran her fingers over the softened edges.  It looked like it had been handled many times over the years.  Handled with care.  Her chest ached.

“She cherished it, Ivy.  And not just because it was a picture of Donny.  I think she loved it because it came from you.  That and every other picture here.”

Ivy stared at the ugly plastic box.  It had been fun finding money hidden in her father’s books, but Sue had found the real treasure.  At least for her.  Proof that her mother had cared about her, at least a little.  She was barely aware of Sue leaving the room as she sat on the floor with the picture in her arms and cried for the parents and the closeness they had never been able to achieve.

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The Memory Painting

March 3, 2016

The buzz of the doorbell broke Ivy’s concentration.  She stepped back from the canvas and rolled her shoulders to ease the ache she hadn’t felt while she worked.  The doorbell buzzed again.  Longer.  It sounded like the person outside was pressing the button down without letting up.  She thought about ignoring it but the damage was done.  She’d been pulled out of the world she was creating.  Now, her fingers cramped, her stomach growled and her eyes burned.  She glanced at the wall where the battered rooster clock had once hung then remembered she’d packed it into the box going to charity.

A fist pounded on the front door while the doorbell continued to buzz.  She blew out a breath.  It had to be Jake.  Patience had never been one of his virtues.  Wiping her hands on a rag, she walked through the house and opened the door.  Jake stood there with his fist drawn back ready for another assault.

He lowered his hand.  “Thank God.  I was beginning to think you’d fallen and hit your head or something.  I’ve been ringing the doorbell for the last fifteen minutes.  I was almost ready to break a window.”

“I was working.  Do you always go visiting at the crack of dawn?”  As soon as she said it, she realized she was wrong.  It was well past dawn and there were several inches of snow on the ground outside.  The last time she’d looked, there had only been a dusting.

He frowned at her.  “It’s two in the afternoon, Ivy.”

“No wonder my stomach is growling,”  she hesitated for a moment before opening the door fully and stepping back so he could come in.   He obviously was going to keep bugging her until she listened to whatever he had to say.

Jake stomped his feet on the mat and followed her. “I haven’t had lunch either.  Why don’t you grab your coat and we can go to Wyatt’s for a burger.  The roads are pretty clear.”

Saliva pooled in her mouth at the thought of a Wyatt Burger.  Thick, juicy, topped with  Swiss cheese, leaf lettuce and sliced tomatoes.  She swallowed and pressed a hand to her grumbling stomach.  Lunch wasn’t the only meal she’d missed.  Yesterday, she’d wandered into the kitchen to zap a bowl of soup then she’d looked at the canvas she’d prepped and had a vision of the picture she wanted to create.  She never had heated up that soup.

“Ivy, are you okay,” Jake touched her arm and she jumped.  She would like to blame the jolt of electricity she felt on the carpet, but neither of them had moved from the parquet in the entry way.

She rubbed her hand over her forearm.  “I’m fine.  Just a little tired.”

Jake reached for her hand.  “You’re bleeding!”  He turned it face up and scowled.  “You’ve cut yourself.”

“I’m fine.”  She tugged but he didn’t let go.  “I told you I had been working.  Aluminum has sharp edges when you cut it.  Her hand warmed where he touched it.  It felt good.  Right.  She jerked it back and tucked it in her pocket.n

He narrowed his eyes.  “I thought you said you were going to mash the cans to make your daisy.”

“I decided to do a different picture.”  She chewed on her lip.  “Wyatt’s sounds great, but I’ll need a few minutes to clean up.  I could meet you there.  They brought my car back yesterday afternoon.”

“Yeah, I saw it in the driveway.  Go ahead and get ready.  I don’t mind waiting.  No point in having two cars out in this.”  He walked into the living room and perched on the arm of the sofa.  Ivy imagined her mother was rolling over in her grave in protest and the corner of her mouth twitched up.  “I’ll only be a couple of minutes.”

A couple of minutes turned into fifteen once she’d looked into the bathroom mirror.  There was no way she was going out in public with her hair staning out in all directions and shadows under her eyes deep enough to hide a small mammal.  She shuddered.  No wonder Jake had asked if she was alright.  She looked like one of the walking dead.  The quick shower she took helped clear the fog from her brain and the few minutes she spent brushing on makeup and twisting her hair up didn’t work miracles, but at least she no longer looked ready for a coffin.

She pulled on a clean pair of jeans and her favorite tunic then walked back to the living room.  Jake no longer perched on the sofa.  She glanced out the front window and saw his car still parked behind hers in the driveway.  Where had he–the kitchen.  Her picture.  She ran through the house and her sock-clad feet skidded on the tile floor.

Jake stood by the table looking down on the canvas she’d placed there when she began gluing on the metal pieces.  “I can hear the music of the carousel and the screams from the roller coaster,” he murmured.  “I smell Italian sausage and hot grease.”  He turned to face her.  “Ivy, it’s, it’s,” he shook his head and turned back to the canvas.  “Wonderful is too tame a word.  You said you didn’t paint.  This is a painting, not just beer cans and glass.  The little girl by the ring toss stand–that’s you isn’t it.  And the young man with you?”

“My brother, Donny.  It’s the last time we went to the fair.”  She stepped up beside him.  “It’s not finished yet.  I just started on the ferris wheel.”

He shook his head.  “I would never have believed old cans could be turned into a roller coaster that feels like it’s moving and you can already tell the ferris wheel is going to be amazing.”  He reached for her hands and held them lightly.  “I’m awed by your talent, Ivy.  I always have been.”

“You never told me that.”

He met her gaze.  “I should have.  I should have said a lot of things I didn’t.  I think I was afraid once you realized how talented you were, you’d wonder why you had hooked up with a third rate hockey player.  Then I’d lose you.”  His mouth twisted.  “And guess what happened anyway.”

“You didn’t lose me, Jake.  You threw me away,” she said.

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