A Short Story by Rob Mohr
Lucy, as was her custom, sat at Will’s feet for security and mental comfort. From time to time he would reach down and scratch her head just between her ears, her favorite spot. On occasion she would look up with mournful eyes softened by a glimmer of hope in some unknown outcome. On this particular morning, hearing footsteps outside she jumped up and padded down the long side veranda to the front door where she waited for Will to come and receive their visitor, a moment when long vertical shadows of the columns divided the tiled veranda floor, and turned vertically up the surface of the house wall. The light was in movement like the sound of a piano played one note at a time.
As expected, there was Carla – two hours late for their planned breakfast. But not just late, out of sorts, breathless and disheveled. She kissed Will on the cheek as she entered; her body was warm and soft against his chest. Guarded, she pulled away and strode, as if she owned the house, down the colonnaded veranda to the sun room that projected off the rear of the house.
She was a physically disturbing woman with broad hips, slender legs, and an angelic face that hid the complexity within. Other than her body, which was always unsettling to Will, there were even more disconcerting aspects to her personality and her raging intellect, the way she would stare into his eyes as if she were searching for some hidden truth or her speaking with short phrases that made every word seem important. Her whole being was active. Her eyes darted with excitement as she gestured with her hands, Will felt overwhelmed by her presence.
Yet hidden within, she held a myriad of tensions and deep pain caused by two failed relationships over the past six years. She was fearful of caring again and filled with doubts about men. She was lonely, yet afraid to engage. She accepted, with an inner knowing, that something was broken in her life. Only her artistic gift as an accomplished pianist relieved the pressure. She found Will comfortable and mentally challenging. His knowledge of art, literature and human history revealed rich dimensions. She loved his short stories. Even so, doubts veiled her mind, and prevented commitment. She guarded everything, every thought, every feeling – tight inside herself.
“Carla lets go walk a bit. Give you a chance to relax.” Will was aware of her tension.
“Good, I spent the morning trying to resolve a thousand things that I had left undone.” Unstated, was her ambivalence concerning Will.
As they walked, Carla led the way. The raw energy she exuded was too much for Lucy, who glanced at Will, and then headed back home. Carla walked backwards so that she could face Will. “Will, how are you? I was worried after reading your short email.”
“Just reflection, I’m fine.”
“I couldn’t get away. There were errands that I needed to run. Oh, I signed up for an art class with your friend Luther.”
“Busy lady. Luther’s an excellent teacher.” Will was gratified that she had taken his guidance.
“Don’t know how you will have time with the hours you practice the piano each day.”
“Will I don’t really practice, it’s just that I play as a way to let the tension out. My piano’s sound board is weak, but it gives me great pleasure.”
“When you play for me, it is as if the notes have a life of their own. Clean sound springs into being.”
“Not prejudiced, are you.” Carla ran ahead leading the way back home.
They settled into the welcoming comfort of Will’s sun room which adjoined the rear garden. Tall French doors on the three open sides of the room allowed light and the fresh garden air to fill the space. Two deep blue half sofas wrapped around an oriental rug with deep reds and contrasting indigo. A Marcel Brewer chair complemented the seating. In the center sat a heavy wooden coffee table covered the books and magazines. The feel was indulgent – soft and warm. The mix worked together to lift the soul. Carla realized that the room reflected the sophistication of Will’s creative nature.
At peace, Will and Carla looked out at a pale blue sky – the silver twisted trunks of Sycamores whose lush green leaves cast a deep blue shade over a rock path. The garden itself consisted of ground cover, bushes, and low trees spreading shade over most of its extension creating the feel of lush jungle at its peak, and evoked a primeval sense of place that was designed to enrich life. Lucy, now content, settled in on the rug by Carla’s feet. Will noted the change in Lucy’s attitude toward Carla.
“Would you like a glass of wine?”
“Yes. That would be nice. Do you have a Malbec?”
“A couple of bottles and some sharp cheddar …”
Will uncorked the wine to let it breathe, and took the block of aged cheese out of a half-refrigerator built into the single interior wall of the sun room.
Carla’s voice caused him to turn, “You seem to be lost in thought.”
“Just giving the wine time to breathe – enjoy.”
“Carla, what’s going on? When you left yesterday you seemed frightened ….”
(to be continued in our May issue)