General Fiction posted September 5, 2014 Chapters: -Prologue- Prologue... 


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Lucille Peabody begins her new life alone

A chapter in the book FRIDAYS

Friday, August 11

by Fridayauthor


                    Friday, August 11

            It’s strange standing here in this parlor, in the only house I've ever lived in, seeing it change before my eyes. They rolled up the old threadbare Oriental rug this morning, and the men are just now putting down the deep pile wall to wall carpeting my mother so fought against these many years. The floral paper has been scraped from the walls, in this room at least, and in its place a pale blue paint, matching the chairs and, hopefully, my sofa nook, when it's finished. I've kept some of the old furniture; my grandmother's china cabinet and a table and a chair or two, mostly because they're nice period pieces and hold no special memory, good or bad.
      
            I've redone the bath too, taking down that God-awful overhead tank and chain, and cleared out the claw-foot tub, replacing everything with modern fixtures. Some would call the old faucet and knobs quaint but I say, good riddance; I've stared at them for a lifetime and I'm ready for new. There's a lock on the bathroom door now so I no longer need worry about someone barging in on my privacy though there is rarely anyone else in the house. Renovation of the kitchen will follow, if I have enough money left from my mother’s insurance. If the kitchen has to wait, so be it; my limited cooking is used to the old range.
       
            Replacing the sofa is another matter. That's a must, in spite of it costing a fortune. The carpenters have finished blocking off the archway to the dining room and I've paid my deposit to the upholsterer who is to build my sitting-nook sofa. While he thinks I'm daft, his opinion concerns me not a mite if he performs as I've requested.
      
            The two bedrooms will be refinished piecemeal; I'm in no hurry and want them just so. I'm used to my room after thirty-seven years of nights spent there and my parent's room needs more thought and time before I'm up to tackling that project. Too many ghosts therein dwell. Besides, there is a long winter and there will be ample time for those tedious chores.
        
            I'm proud of what I've so far accomplished though I was as nervous as a cat on catnip to tackle the project. It may seem silly to some, but I don't do well explaining myself to strangers and I dreaded having to talk to so many different people to convey my wishes. Somehow, I bit my lip and pushed ahead, successfully. Now I can go back to being shy little Lucille Peabody, queen of her own private world, but now ensconced in the comfort of a palace of my personal design.
      
            Perhaps an explanation is in order as to why I am putting these words to paper in this newly opened blank notebook, why, at this stage of my life I am chronicling my daily doings in such minute and mundane detail. To be honest, the chore is a half-hearted response to Father Hammond at our church. The poor man is beside himself. He has dogged me to pen this litany of absurdity for several weeks. You see, I have sealed myself in a chrysalis of anonymity, so secure and comfortable the good father wrongly views me as a lamb of his flock in utter despair.
          
            My mother passed on after a long illness on the first day of June. The good father was very kind in his solicitations, but he apparently didn't feel I was responding appropriately to his pastoral efforts. He suggested, quite strongly, that I should attempt to communicate in writing the deep felt sorrow he was sure I was concealing, after what he perceived as the major traumatic event in my life. I also suspect he felt a sense of professional failure in his inability to draw me out to tears and fainting spells and now considers me a personal challenge to his priestly abilities. Although Father Hammond was dead wrong in his assessment, I felt compelled to accept the journal-book he benevolently presented me. I reluctantly agreed, in part because he makes me as nervous as a November turkey. I dreaded any prospect of lengthy conversations with the man. Unfortunately that was not the end of the matter. The book had lain on my night stand since the funeral ten weeks ago but the good father has made it a point to ask about my journalistic progress enough times to cause me to avoid him. Therefore, in an effort to answer honestly, I'm undertaking the project, in self-defense and on a limited basis. Any thoughts I record here shall never be shared with another human being.
       
            To me, a diary is a personal thing, unlike other prose, it is written for the writer as a sort of cleansing of thoughts and ideas. It struck my fancy that perhaps Father Hammond might be partially correct, not about my perceived mourning of my mother's passing, but that I might need further conversations with myself. After all, this is a turning point in my life. I’m free, once and for all, of reverse parental responsibilities. Therefore, on the spur of the moment, this memorable Friday, the eleventh day of August, I, Lucille Anne Peabody, am commencing a written conversation with myself. I shall record the happenings of my settled and boring life until these pages are filled, tie a ribbon about them, and, by then the chill of fall should have arrived. I'll build an autumn pyre of the paper and my backyard leaves and once and for all destroy the ghosts of my past! I'll then inform Father Hammond I'm cured, of whatever he feels ails me.
      
            Instead of heart-wrenching grief, of which I do not feel an iota, I'll document some of the details which fill my days of late. Presently, the design and construction of my prize sofa-nook consumes most of my thoughts and time. It is to be built-in and stretch across the seven foot space where the archway was removed between the living room and the dining room. It will be four feet deep and three feet high, facing the tall living room windows and my beloved view of the bay. Our house . . . my house now, is two miles from the ocean but I'm situated on a hill and the blue of the Atlantic water is clearly visible unless a fog has rolled in to wrap the scene from searching eyes. I've ripped away the heavy drapes that covered our large front window, replacing them with light curtains so the rising sun and night time stars will be my guests.
       
            The upholsterer blanched when I told him to chuck the old sofa, stiff Victorian monster that it was. He said it was worth its weight in gold so I answered, fine, keep it as a bonus. He shook his head too, at my choice of the stuffing for my new creation, saying it was so soft I'd sink from the world and no one would ever find me. I smiled; not so unpleasant a thought, I said to myself and firmly stuck with my choice.
      
            I have commenced sewing the twelve pillows I have in mind, each a different color, and each as puffy as a cloud. They will ring my sofa-world. Instead of stiff wood, old smells and nasty memories, I can lie back with a good book or this journal and sink down in newness and splendor. It makes me giddy to think about it!
      
            A Realtor tried to talk me into selling the house after mother died but I declined. I like the location; it's near the school where I teach, and all that is nearby is familiar and convenient. I would dread having to grow comfortable with a new neighborhood and anywhere else I lived I'd have to learn to drive a car. What would become of my beloved garden, the painstaking result of years of planning and evolutions? It would surely go to rot under a new owner who loved it any less than I.
      
            My sister Emily, who lives in New York State, disagrees. She sees our home town of Sea View infrequently now, only as a visitor, and is more aware than I of the town’s slow but steady decay from the city of our youth. Emily pleaded with me to sell the house and move somewhere to the suburbs, somewhere safer, she claims. She sent me a can of Mace as a stocking stuffer last Christmas!
      
             Sea View is an old New England enclave situated on the north shore, not far from Boston. The city looks better from afar, but like old clothes is comfortable to me. There was a time, long since past, when Sea View was fashionable, but I'm afraid I'll be dead and buried before it awakens from downward spiral. We boasted of one hundred thousand residences just after World War Two but nearly a third of those have since fled, replaced mostly by lower income and welfare families living in declining tenements owned by others.
      
            My neighborhood, while less than fashionable, is a holdout against changes slipping steadily down. Most of the homes on Hawthorne Street are single family dwellings, built before the war, and still owned by the inhabitants clinging to a life I'm afraid will never return. I shudder to guess the average age but I am still a child at thirty-seven to most of my neighbors.
      
            Though I detested much about my house over the years, now that I'm alone I have come to the conclusion that what I disliked was more what was within the walls than the walls themselves. While it's less than three months since my mother's death, I've had more than enough time to consider my options. The estate has just now cleared so at last I have some funds, not forcing a decision to be based on monetary limitations.
      
            While dear Father Hammond may think of me as a lonely, grieving daughter, I feel I am starting life anew! For the first time ever, I've no one to answer to. My world is mine alone! Some people would find living alone a tiresome existence, and I suppose others will say I've gone batty, but it's been many a moon since idle gossip bothered me. I am most comfortable with my own company and fully resigned to living my life in this situation, in newly renovated surroundings of my own design, and in my own image.
      
        Just me. And Amy.
      
 


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Once again, I'm writing in the first person, in a woman's voice! Lucille is my third woman character who finds herself on her own. Each handled the situation differently. Sarah, in my novel,"Enough to Miss Christmas," married and took on a life. Ellen, in my play, "A Life of Mondays," took desperate measures. I hope we'll see how Lucille handles the situation.
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