Good morning and welcome to the last Tuesday tales of 2015. Being asked to join this weekly blog hop has been an honor and a priviledge and I look forward to another year of weekly participation.
To all of my followers and visitors,
For this week’s Tuesday Tale, I’m back to Hello Again. To recap: Charley was caught in a tornado and injured. Bill, with the help of Shirley, a Nakota shaman, rescued her. Bill bears an uncanny resemblance to Mike, Charley’s dead husband, and it looks like the spirits have plans for this unlikely couple. If you want to read the story The beginning go here and then check the later posts. The novel will be published in its entirety once it’s finished. At the moment, I’d say we’re about a third of the way in.
So, without any further ado, here’s the next section of Hello Again.
For a large woman, Shirley was surprisingly quick on her feet. Whatever breathing difficulties she’d had yesterday had vanished and she certainly didn’t act or move like a woman well into her eighties.
“This will be easier to wear than pants,” Shirley said, handing Charley a pile of garments.
This was a vintage pale blue, blouson-styled, cowl-collared pullover, with elbow-length sleeves, and an easy-fitting, pull-on, deep navy, almost black print skirt that would reach mid-calf on her. Instead of shoes, Shirley had added moccasins—white leather, with extravagant beadwork—by far the most beautiful ones Charley had ever seen.
“Thank you,” she said. “I’m honored to wear your daughter’s clothes. I’ll feel like a princess.”
As soon as Bill and Shirley left, Charley undressed and stepped into the shower, a task made much easier thanks to the handle Bill had added to the step. For the first time in five years, she considered what her life might be like if she let another man into it. Bill was kind and compassionate, dedicated to his responsibilities as an RCMP officer. He was a lot like Mike and yet different, too. At first, each time she looked at him, she’d seen Mike, but now, Bill was fixed in her memory as a person in his own right—not replacing Mike in any way, but carving out a niche of his own. The woodsy scent of the shampoo brought back the memories of last night.
He’d held her, comforted her when she’d finally realized that Mike was gone for good. She’d avoided dwelling on the loss of the urn and his ashes, and while she didn’t believe in ghosts, she’d imagined Mike by her side watching out for her. How many nights had she crawled between the sheets of her bed and talked to the urn on the dresser next to her? Mira had shuddered at the practice, but to Charley, it had been a way of hanging onto him. A tear slipped down her cheek. He was gone for good now.
She let the hot water sluiced down her body, bringing comfort to her stiff, achy muscles. It was too bad Saskatoon was so far away. She’d like to be able to come back and visit with Shirley when this was over, bring her a gift to thank her for her hospitality.
Letting her thoughts roam as she shampooed her hair, hoping the last of the blood was out of it now, her mind landed on the vintage car Mike had offered her. If—no when—she got it up and running, she’d have the perfect excuse to come back and visit. But did she really want to wait that long?
“They need you now,” Mike’s voice echoed in her head, startling her, making her drop the soap.
“Mike?” she said allowed, bending to pick up the bar, but no one answered.
I’m losing it.
Shirley’s talk of spirits was addling her brain. Quickly, she finished her shower. The skin around the cut on her leg was red, but not tender. Turning off the water, she toweled dry and dressed. It felt strange to put on someone else’s panties, but when the bra fit, she got goosebumps. Sure, she wasn’t the only 36C in the world, but talk about coincidence. After that, she wasn’t in the least bit surprised when the skirt, sweater, and moccasins fit as if they’d been made for her.
“Dorothy, you’re definitely not in Kansas anymore,” she whispered.
Moving to the mirror, she used the blow dryer to take most of the water out of her hair and then tied it back with the elastic she’d used earlier. After slipping her dog tags around her neck, she dropped them under the top. Satisfied she hadn’t left a mess, she opened the door.
“There you are,” Shirley said rising from the table. “How does the leg look?”
“A little pink along the edges, but it doesn’t hurt and the skin isn’t hot to the touch. I can even walk on it,” Charley answered limping forward a few paces.
“Good. Come over here and I’ll bandage it.”
Charley did as she was told, pleased to be able to get around on her own, but sorry not to have Bill’s arms around her again.
Now, I’m just being weird.
“Has Bill gone already?”
“No,” Shirley said, pulling Charley’s leg up onto the chair next to her and slathering salve over the stitched cut. “This is healing well.” She finished bandaging the wound and stood. “The horse is here. Do you want to see him?”
“Yes, I do. I’ve never seen a wild horse before.”
“He’s not wild, child. He belongs to the spirits. Here,” Shirley slipped her arm around her. “He’s coming to the door to greet us.”
“Out front getting something from his car, but he should be back here any minute.
Shirley opened the door.
The pinto stood regally beside a washtub someone had filled with water. He nodded his head, as if thanking whoever had provided the drink before bending his neck to the make-shift trough.
“He’s beautiful,” Charley said, awed by the majestic animal. As if he understood her words, the horse looked up and whinnied.
“I will never doubt you again, Shirley,” Bill said coming around the side of the house.
“Yes, you will,” she said and chuckled, “but I’ll remind you of this. Get his tack and the saddle, and you’d best be going. Emile will be expecting you before the day heats up. You need to get back by early evening—no later.”
“And I’m not even going to ask how the chief will know I’m coming, and I promise not to be late for dinner.” He turned to her. “How are you feeling?”
“Good,” Charley answered. “Like a new woman, or maybe a throwback to another one. I can’t believe how well the clothes fit.”
“I had those same heebie-jeebies when I put on mine,” he whispered and winked. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…”
“…Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” She finished the quote. “Hamlet, Act 1, scene 5. I was an English teacher.”
He laughed. “Now, an auto mechanic moonlighting as an English teacher is something I’ve never pictured.”
“I consider myself well rounded.”
“And you are,” he answered his eyes roaming over her appreciatively. “Very well-rounded.”
Charley swallowed awkwardly, surprised by the heat coursing through her body.
Shirley giggled, but said nothing.
“I’d better get the horse saddled,” he said, “and you should get off that leg. Do you want to sit out here for a while? I can bring out a chair…”
“We’ll sit on the porch later,” Shirley answered, “but you’re right. She needs to sit. Come inside, wi’cin. You can help me get today’s bread ready while Bill and Shoon-kah’ ker get to know one another.”
“Shoon-kah what?” Charley asked, wrinkling her brow.
“It means horse,” Bill answered, his face mirroring Charley’s confusion, “and don’t ask me how the hell I know that.”
Shirley chuckled. “The spirits are strong in you, Cbin’-chah.”
Bill’s face reddened, but he didn’t answer. Instead, he turned and went outside.
“He’ll believe soon enough,” the old woman said and shrugged. “Now, let’s make bread.”
That’s it for this year. Well, that’s it for me. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales for this week’s offerings. And, Happy New Year!