General Fiction posted September 29, 2014 Chapters:  ...14 15 -16- 17... 

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Autumn garden, autumn mood

A chapter in the book FRIDAYS

Friday, October 6th (Part two.)

by Fridayauthor

Please see Author Notes for a recap to date of this novel. Thank you
            Friday Number Eight, October 6th (Part two.)
            I know I should now be dressing in my ratty old clothes and attacking my garden and the rest of the multitude of chores that await me, but I cannot seem to will myself to move. I remain here transfixed, my coffee growing cold, wondering why I am this miserable person.
            Hours have passed since I wrote those words above. I've finally, with the speed of leaking faucet, commenced my chores of the day. I reluctantly dressed and trudged outside, no joy in my actions as I pulled out frost-killed annuals and raked until my hands were blistered. At least action busies my mind and I don't brood about last night. Amy cheered me a little in the afternoon, telling me I may have exaggerated Mr. Anderson's reaction in my mind. Perhaps she's right; I dearly hope so.
            A cold rain has blown off the sea, chasing us inside where more than sufficient chores continue to urge us on. Though my mood has improved slightly, my ears hardly hear the music that I play as I sort books with little thought or care.
            At Amy's continued prodding, I cheer a little more as Saturday passes to late afternoon. Perhaps I am over reacting to the prior evening. After all, Mr. Anderson didn't leave in a fluster. Perhaps he'll understand. But it will be a week before I'll know.
            Amy has suggested I phone him and explain myself, but I laugh at her suggestion. Lucille Peabody explain herself? Don't be ridiculous! I'm so tongue-tied talking to myself I need a surrogate pretend intermediary!
            By prior arrangement Mr. Anderson is to be absent from church tomorrow; an annual pilgrimage to an ancient aunt in a Boston nursing home. It is six long days until next Friday evening. The week will be an eternity.
            I am too fidgety to accomplish menial tasks so once again I immerse myself in Sarah's letters. She has become engaged to Ez although the proposal is not documented as it occurred during a three month lapse in her writings. The work of deciphering her life occupies my concentration enough to put other thoughts at bay, at least for a time.
            I cringe at Sarah's exuberance at the prospect of sharing a bed and life with a man she hardly knows. There is no hint of fear or reluctance in her messages to her cousin, only excitement in taking on a life she must realize will be filled with gut-wrenching sorrow and unending drudgery. Her attitude is so matter-of-fact, so filled with automatic acceptance, that her letters are at times infuriating! I long to ask her how she can be so happy with so little happening in her life.
            “Ez has a new black suit. I'm proud.” Or, “A tooth pained me Tuesday and Wednesday last, but Mr. Reid pulled it Thursday, and now I'm near comfortable. Ez speaks much about California. Perhaps that's where our children will grow.”
            She's just a child, barely twenty. Could it be that her youthfulness still holds a naiveté? Doesn't she understand what she is taking on? The more I consider it, the more I think not. Sarah has cared for younger siblings nearly her entire life and witnessed all the hardships and disappointments the world has to offer, and yet she embraces all with a smile. This child of another time embarrasses Lucille Peabody who incessantly whines about such insignificant matters. My mind returns to today and I put Sarah aside.
            Listen to me! I didn't want to become involved in Friday evening dinners in the first place and now that I sense they are coming to a close, as I knew they would, I'm as upset as a child with a lost puppy, unable to concentrate on anything else but myself. I was perfectly contented with my life before Mr. Anderson and will be after he is but a pleasant memory.
            “Not so,” cries Amy. Her opinion is unsettling. I'm upset, she says, because if my relationship with Mr. Anderson ends I will lose the prime ingredient of my recent happiness.
            “And what's that?” I ask sarcastically.
            “Having something to look forward to,” she answers.
            She is right. I'll sorely miss our Fridays. But, I insist, I am happy! She pshawed me with a wave of her hand.
            “Contentment isn't happiness,” she replies. “It may be a comfortable state in short, gratifying doses, but it doesn't last and don’t dare call it happiness! Serenity doesn't make you wake up with a spring in your step, glad for the new day. Instead, if you embrace contentment for any indefinite length of time, it smothers you. It settles you into a life that is a long and unending collection of habits.”
            “Nonsense,” I answer, “I've been happy for years; perhaps not skipping and jumping my way through life, but nonetheless happy. What did I ever have to look forward to?”
            “Mother's death,” she answered, and though I'd not admitted it, even to myself, Amy was right. “And the freedom it brought you,” my willful mind-mate answered.
            I poked my way through supper, reheated beans and franks in true New England fashion, and tried to read a book. Even Black Cat seemed to prefer a seat by the window to my restless lap. Nothing helped. My mind kept going back to my life as so tersely pointed out by nagging Amy.
            Is that what happened to Black Cat's master, Mr. Schulman, my neighbor who recently died by his own hand? Did his life simply become a contentment in which there remained nothing to look forward to? No one to care for? No one to love?
            Rote, never ending rote, is what I endure. I remembered the pictures of the Roman oarsmen from some long forgotten book. They lived a life of stroke, stroke, stroke, following the monotonous voice of the coxswain, always the same, day after day, chained to their seat and whipped into obedience for a lifetime. How could they stand it? Didn't they want to simply roll over the side of their ship until the weighted chains dragged them down to peace of another kind? Was that my life? Was I whipped into complacency by the fear of pain?
       Questions, always questions, but seldom a resolution. Neither my God nor Amy seemed to have any answers.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Lucille, age thirty-seven, is a school teacher and a near-recluse. After her mother's death, she remodels her lifetime family home, to rid it of ghosts of the past. At the suggestion of her priest, she records her thoughts and feelings in a diary. She has developed a strong interest in old letters found in her mother's dresser. She has reluctantly agreed to weekly Friday evening dinners with a shy church acquaintance, Mr. Anderson, and is becoming comfortable with his company. Part of her, whom she calls Amy, is rejoicing while her more conscious self is fighting any hint of intimacy. Recently, Lucille has reacted abruptly when Phillip Anderson kissed her.
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