Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. If you are a regular reader, you know that each week, I post an excerpt from a work in progress. To date, three of my published works got their start here: Hello Again, Forever and Always, and my latest novel, Wedding Bell Blues.
Currently, I’m working on a woman’s fiction piece called, Same Time Next Year. Since I’ve been away on vacation in the sunny south–14 days on a cruise ship in the Western Caribbean, pictures to come–I’ve gone back a bit to the last post to set the story. As a reminder, this is a novel within a novel, as a 67 year-old woman recalls her first love, hoping to discover what went so wrong fifty years ago. The past is written in the first person point of view, while the present is third person and includes the hero’s viewpoint, too. You can read all the entries by looking at the log and selecting the Tuesday Tales posts each month. This week’s entry is a little long, and I apologize for that.
Tuesday Tales are written based on a prompt–either a picture or a word. This week, we have the word ANGRY.
Twyla sat down in front of her laptop and pulled up her music files, choosing “Somethin’ Stupid,” by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, and letting the soft melody wrap her in its warmth. It was hard to believe a father and a daughter could’ve sung such a powerful love song. She and her father certainly couldn’t have. Sighing deeply, she opened the document she’d left during the night and began to type.
I’d only been at The Captain’s Inn for a week, but my world had shrunk to this place and Michael. From the time I got up in the morning, the idea of being with him consumed me. The world seemed more alive. Even the colorful flowers delivered to the inn every morning had a fresher scent, no longer reminding me of funeral parlors and over-perfumed replacement teachers.
For the first time, the controversial novel of my teens made sense. I understood how Connie must’ve felt about seeing Oliver, pining for him when he wasn’t around. I wasn’t Lady Chatterley, but I felt her ache and pain. While I didn’t have a wheelchair-bound husband who was impotent, Michael and I had our own differences, issues that in retrospect proved to be insurmountable.
During the day while Michael worked, I ran errands for my mother and her friends, sometimes babysitting younger children, but most often, I simply sat on one of the picnic tables biding my time. If there were no boats waiting to move through the lock, he sat with me. Occasionally, Mavis would show up, give me the evil eye, and leave again, but generally, he was my idol, and I was his groupie. Some of the other summer students cracked jokes about his shadow, but I didn’t care. As long as Michael wanted me there, nothing else mattered.
Most days, we listened to music on my transistor radio and sipped soft drinks—nobody drank bottled water back then.
I cherished every second we spent together, hanging on his words as if they were pearls of wisdom. I loved the sound of his voice. He didn’t have his father’s Irish accent, but there was a lilt to it, a cadence so very different from the sounds of New Jersey that it beguiled me. No matter what he said, I listened, my eyes fixed on him as he told me about himself and his family, one so very different from my own that we could’ve been born on different planets.
When Michael had been accepted into RMC, his father, a new Canadian fresh from the Emerald Isle as he used to say, had been proud of him, so unlike the anger that had enveloped my father when Ethan had enlisted. Now that Michael had finished his education, he would have to serve five years in the army as an officer, not a grunt as Ethan called himself, and while I knew Michael would face danger just as my brother did, his future sounded so romantic and exciting, like something out of the past. He wouldn’t just be a soldier—no! He would be a member of something greater than himself or even his country. He would be part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. I envied him as I’m sure Ethan would have, knowing he would’ve given anything for Father’s support.
I shared a little of my life with Michael, not wanting to dwell on our differences—working class Irish Catholic was a far cry from my father’s privileged Protestant forefathers who’d come over on the Mayflower. At the time, I didn’t realize we were as poor as church mice, father having sunk all of his money and most of Mother’s into Studebaker stock. We still lived as if we were rolling in dough, and until the bottom fell out of my world, I expected that to continue.
My musings ended when Michael finished tying down the lock doors and walked over to me, a smug smile on his face.
“How’d you like to blow this place for a couple of hours?” he asked, raising my chin with his index finger, my gaze drawn to his.
I smiled. “I would love to. Where do you want to go? Swimming?”
“I was thinking of someplace a bit more private. How about you show me that place you’re always talking about, you know that small pond on the road to Sand Lake. I have to be back by four, but that gives us a couple of hours, and I would love to be somewhere where we could be alone. I feel like I’m dating you inside a fishbowl.”
I laughed. “It’s not that bad.”
I trembled with anticipation, not knowing what to expect. Maybe he would kiss me, I mean really kiss me, like the French kisses Mary-Louise and her friends described, the ones that would fill me with the wicked needs that had led Lady Chatterley to betray her marital vows.
Under Mavis’s scowl, we got a couple of drinks from the store, a chocolate bar, and a bag of chips, and borrowed two of the resort’s bicycles. Since Michael had been coming to the area for more than fifteen years, he probably knew it as well as I did, but I believed my secret pond was mine alone.
When we reached it some twenty minutes later, it wasn’t nearly as private as I thought it would be, and all my hopes for my own secret tryst evaporated. We stood on the rock escarpment and sadness filled me. Someone had built a cottage below us. Children played in the water, their laughter shattering the peace and quiet I’d adored.
We spread towels on the grass and sat, side by side, eating the snack we’d brought with us. To this day, I can’t eat the nougat and chocolate bar without remembering that afternoon. After a while, the children went inside, and if I didn’t look down, I could pretend we were truly alone, away from prying eyes.
Michael put his arm around me. “It isn’t so bad here. We can see and hear them, but I doubt they can see us up here.” He tilted my chin toward him. “I’ve waited a week to do this. Jersey, you take my breath away.”
He bent his head and his lips captured mine. At first, the kiss was soft and gentle, but then, it was as if something exploded inside me, and I wanted more. I opened my mouth, not realizing that was the invitation he needed for the kiss I’d hoped for. When his tongue entered my mouth, fire started in my belly and worked its way down. Somehow, I was now on my back, his body partially covering mine that throbbed and ached in places I didn’t even know could behave that way. I needed something else—what exactly, I didn’t know—but before he could give it to me, the sound of a car horn forced us apart. We jumped up so quickly, it was amazing we didn’t get whiplash.
“God, Twyla, what you do to me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get carried away. I’ve never felt about another girl the way I do about you.”
That was the moment when I understood what the song playing on the radio beside us meant, and the something stupid blurted out of me.
“I love you, Michael,” I said, my breath catching as my heartbeat thundered in my ears. “I’ve never been in love before. In fact, I’ve never even kissed anyone … like that … I feel happy and excited and sick to my stomach all at once. I didn’t know I could ever feel this way.”
Michael smiled. “Neither did I,” he said, looking around, making sure our audience was gone before kissing me again.
This time, my body burned. Within seconds, we were on the ground again, his mouth on mine driving me to madness. He moved his hands along my sides where he cupped the edge of my breasts, sending delicious shivers running up and down my spine. No wonder Connie had been willing to throw everything away for Oliver’s touch. As his hands moved along my body reaching the apex of my thighs, I cursed the clothes that kept his flesh from mine. If he’d wanted to strip me naked and take me on the grass, I wouldn’t have argued with him.
But Michael was a bit more clear headed than I was. Pulling his hands and his mouth away, he smiled down at me.
“We can’t do this here. Not now, rushed like this. I know a much better place. We need to get back, but tomorrow, after my shift, I’ll take you where we can be alone without worrying about anyone seeing us. We can even go skinny dipping.”
My face had to be as red as my hair, but I grinned at him. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what skinny dipping involved, although I thought it might mean swimming in your underwear, but, whatever it was, I wasn’t going to let him see how clueless I was. He and Mavis probably skinny dipped all the time.
Michael kissed me again, just a quick peck that left me unsatisfied and then helped me stand. I rearranged my clothes, my own touch making me ache for his hands on me once more.
Twyla looked away, her body burning at the memory. How naïve she’d been, but if Michael walked in that door this minute, she would be putty in his hands just as she’d been that July afternoon. No one had ever touched her but him. He hadn’t coerced her. She’d been a willing participant. But he hadn’t repeated the words she’d said—there had been no “I love you” on his lips that day. Had there ever been?
Glancing down at her watch, she saw that it was almost three. Saving her work, she turned off the computer and stood. It was time to go and meet Nessa, time to discover what had gone so wrong all those years ago. What was it they said? The truth will set you free?
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.