General Fiction posted September 6, 2014 Chapters: Prologue -Prologue- 1... 

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We meet Amy

A chapter in the book FRIDAYS

FRIDAY, AUG 11 - Continued

by Fridayauthor

    Friday, August 11th - Continued

        I laugh at myself when explaining Amy and I am hesitant to do so for fear of appearing as loony as a drunk court jester, which I swear to you, I'm not. But if I'm to be true to these pages as I promised my priest I'll take time to explain her as best I can.
     Amy appeared in my mind when my sister Emily left home, when I was six years old. Amy became my playmate, my friend, my confidant. Nowadays, teaching second grade, I see many children with similar pretend-friends, and I chuckle to myself, wondering how many will keep their phantom playmates into adulthood! I say that with tongue in cheek, as at age thirty-seven, I fully realize the fallacy of a make believe friend. I still enjoy my spectral company, utilizing her on occasion to weigh issues of pro and con in my head. At times I find myself arguing with Amy. We shared much pleasure in my childhood and she grew along with me through the trials of puberty, to adulthood, giving me much comfort in those trying teen years. Though I've never introduced her to anyone, she remains with me. When I search my mind for comfort and advice she's sometimes hiding there, whispering the right answer or giving me a much needed hug.
     Both of my parents were past forty the year I was born, through some mistake never discussed. To people who saw us together, this grey haired pair were more like grandparents than mother and father. My upbringing too was a generation removed, in both freedom and discipline. Emily, my sister, whom I love dearly, is twelve years older, and was gone almost before I knew her. She married a fine fellow and has raised three wonderful children. My only regret is I've seen so little of her and her family since she freed herself from Hawthorne Street. 
     Ours was a strange household. My father was a fair provider while the shipyard remained in operation, and my mother was reasonably efficient in domestic chores. I was always sent to school clean, if not in style, whatever the style in those bygone days. The holidays arrived with obligatory celebration, candy at Easter, presents at Christmas and a November turkey with all the pies and fixings. It was years later, through observation of others, I realized the only ingredients missing in our household were demonstrations of love and understanding. I was never hugged, never kissed, never held close and told the world would be safe, and pain would go away. Perhaps that's why I've never been good at that sort of thing myself. I tried to hug and comfort my mother in the last stages of her slow journey toward the wrong side of the grass, but she just shrugged me away and kept saying, “God's will” until I despised the expression.
     No one ever talked on Hawthorne Street; the TV provided our sound from morning rising until bedtime, and conversation was a minimum of stern pronouncements.
     School, however, was a pleasure and I was good at my studies, though unbelievably shy around all but a few of the less popular classmates. My exposure to adults was limited to occasional visits with aunts and uncles who paid me little attention except to lecture how fortunate I was to have two such loving parents and a secure home. I assumed what they were saying was gospel. What else did I know? But as the years rolled slowly by I became increasingly uncomfortable around other people.
     My father died one Friday in a freak accident at work, one of those short stays of employment between strikes and layoffs. I remember coming home from college to find my mother amid seldom seen relatives, all looking anxiously at me. It was Father Hammond, not mother, who gently told me my father had died instantly, as if that was important. It was shocking, and I felt I should cry, but my tear ducts remained dry, even when I viewed his dead body.
     The wake was held in this very room. They laid him out in front of the windows, with those horrid purple drapes drawn behind him, while people we hardly knew came pawing and fawning as if they'd lost a saint. Everyone said how marvelous he looked, lying there with crossed hands, holding a rosary someone provided. To me, he was a frightening waxy figure. Mother kept the drapes closed from that day forward, never allowing sunlight into the room.
     When mother was finally bedridden four years ago, I drew open the heavy fabric one day and discovered the forgotten beauty of the scene down our hill, the magnificent blue of the ocean in the distance, the islands in the bay and the shore beyond. The scene was framed by two stalwart maples, in full fall color. But mother complained the resultant brightness in the back bedroom hurt her eyes so thenceforth I only opened the drapes at night, when she was sleeping and I was alone.
     My sister Emily tells me I'm being bitchy when I speak this way about my parents, as if I didn't love them, and I apologize for blabbering. It's not so that I didn't love them. I did. After all, you're supposed to, aren't you? Isn't there a rule posted somewhere that says so? But it doesn't say you have to like them or like everything they did. My God makes me forgive them but allows me the loophole of letting me speak ill of them once in a while, never in public, only sometimes to my sister Emily, and always to Amy. And now in the pages of this volume. Thankfully this tome is nonjudgmental.
     My sister Emily doesn't verbalize negative feelings about our parents as I do, and most often changes the subject when I mention them. They were a younger mother and father to her growing up and her naturally frivolous and outgoing personality probably enabled her to better accept them than the hound-dog passivity and constant acquiescence of her baby sister Lucille.
     I don't mean to be mean-spirited and bitter. That's not the point of writing this; nor is it a plea for sympathy, as if these white pages could bestow condolences. I am simply offering background so you might begin to understand my odd relationship with the world at large. The past is as dead as my mother and although it may have left a scar or two, the future is what's important to me. And my future is as bright as the roses in my garden!
      I am as happy as I've ever been in my entire life! Isn't that a crazy paradox? To keep my personal little world intact I put forth a face to society far more negative than the feelings I posses. My quietness is viewed as sullenness, my reluctance to join in conversation a disinterest in humanity, and my lack of involvement with others as my being inherently unfriendly. It's a high price to pay for retention of my privacy, but one I consciously created to insure the defense of the cocoon I’ve wound about myself.
     In spite of the usual confusion and natural tenseness accompanying my mother's death, I am having a glorious summer! Emily and her youngest daughter Billy stayed on for two weeks after the funeral. I took the last few days of my school term in bereavement time so we had a grand visit. We walked the beach, poked about town, and discussed everything under the sun. I can talk to Emily, though she sometimes is impatient with my reticence, and she too fears I'm less happy in life than I really am. But I love her till it hurts and I'm good pals with her and her children, even if mostly by mail.
     The summer is a special time to me because of my garden, a long standing passion of mine. Though my property is in the city and has limited space, the yard has been well utilized after years of planning and cultivation. New England soil is more noted for growing rocks than flowers, but my crop is always the talk of our neighborhood. I spend summertime hours amid my flora, tenderly caring for my prizes.
     In July, I shocked myself when I took a brief sabbatical from gardening and, for the first time in my life, travelled. To be truthful, I needed to escape from well-meaning acquaintances calling on me in droves, with well-intentioned condolences.
     I had left the state but once before in my life, a short but ill-fated stay at an out of state college, from which I came running home, dragging my tail behind me. That was twenty years ago and now I was ready to see more of the world than Hawthorne Street, Sea View, Massachusetts, and the stuffy few miles around our deteriorating city. And after mother's passing, I needed a chance to breathe.
     Building up my courage, I visited a travel agent. The result was a bus trip around New England, accompanied by retirees, all far senior to me. Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself immeasurably.
     I returned in early August, rejuvenated and ready to take on the redecorating project on my house. This summer is sultry but I've spent many a sunny day catching up on my gardening so I could concentrate on my indoor projects. In the evenings I often walk the two miles from my home to the beach, and a few more miles along the sand, engaging my mind by planning my alterations and changes. It is a small house, so the project is not extensive, but I undertake it with care and deliberation.
     The ocean is my favorite place to think, especially when you gaze out to sea, turning your back on the ever increasing number of boarded up buildings, spray-painted with obscenities and surrounded with dying debris, that line much of my walk to the water. But if you stroll further down the beach, away from the area that was once ocean front shops and restaurants, you have the privacy of nature, unaffected by delinquency. Though it's a long hike from my home, I go there often, in every season.
     August also brings the anticipation of the upcoming school term and the preparation for a cluster of new minds eagerly awaiting knowledge and challenge. I love them, every one, and believe they think kindly of me. I started out teaching higher grades when I first graduated from college but it didn't work out. The older children were wearing to me and I didn't relate to them well, but I'm in heaven with my little second graders! I've found my home with the grade for ten wonderful years!
     So you see Father Hammond, you've nothing to fear. Lucille Peabody is a happy being in her solid little world!

Earned A Seal Of Quality

I knew many "Lucilles" over the years. Few single women earned enough money to live independently so they resided at home. They became the obvious care giver to ailing parents, until they too were on their own in their later life.

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