General Fiction posted October 16, 2014 Chapters:  ...23 24 -25- 26... 

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Lucille celebrates Halloween

A chapter in the book FRIDAYS

Friday, November 3rd (Part One.)

by Fridayauthor

Please see Author Notes below for the summary of this novel, to date. Thank you.
            Friday Number Twelve, November 3rd (Part One.)
            I spent most of that Tuesday, my first day home, resting although I managed to fix myself something to eat and bathe in privacy. It was after noon before it dawned on me today was Halloween and I was totally unprepared! I considered walking the three blocks to a corner store but even Lucille Peabody is not quite that foolish. Instead, I called a taxi for my shopping trip. I felt like a truant from my convalescence and discovered myself looking over my shoulder lest I get caught away from my prescribed bed. After purchasing the needed items I returned home and set about hurriedly creating little crepe-paper pumpkins filled with candy.
            It was a tradition, or more appropriately a habit, to give my little second graders a treat on this day, each with an individual name and a personal note saying how special each child was to me. Getting the prizes to them posed an additional problem, but Mr. Anderson again came to the rescue. He stopped by as I finished packing the treats, claiming he was in the area, and wanted to look in on me. He might have stayed longer had I not sent him scurrying off to my school as closing time was near.
            I always harbored mixed feelings about Halloween. Though I loved seeing my children in costume at school, I dreaded coming home where my mother shuttered the house to darkness, pretending absence to all the roving witches and vampires. It had always been that way. As a child I was never allowed to beg, as she called it, nor were others given any prizes if they ventured to our door. I would sit on the floor and peek past the draped window at the dark shadows, laughing and skipping down my street, and dream of being among them. The next day it was my chore to wash off the egg stains and scrape the wax hurled and painted on our property by the disappointed revelers.
            This year would be different! This first Halloween after my mother's death, the previously darkened house on Hawthorne Street would be as bright as a yule tree and goodies distributed with abandon! I continued with my paper pumpkins until I'd accumulated a great pile of sweets and was ready for the parade of revelers!
            But nature took hold and I collapsed exhausted into my sofa, hardly able to struggle to the door to answer the first ring of the bell. But it was not a trick-or-treater; it was Mr. Anderson, returning yet again, with a get well card signed by all my second grade charges. When he saw my sorry state he remained, handing out pumpkins by the gross until the last fairy princess and monster was fast asleep in their bed. I watched with pleasure from my sofa, a blanket about me, knowing I'd have been unable to distribute my treasures without him.
            We had little time to speak to one another, the throngs were so large. By the time they were gone, I was more than ready for sleep. A fond kiss goodnight and once again I was alone.
            Later, in the darkest part of the night, I awoke, short of breath, with a peculiar feeling about my body. I must have been dreaming but any details of my nocturnal encounter fled with my awakening. I lay there for some time but sleep eluded me. Nor would that tingle subside. While it was happening, I tried not to think of Mr. Anderson, but I blush to say with his usual quiet persistency, he crept into my thoughts and wouldn't leave. After, I continued to remain awake, feeling most miserable. I heard the hall clock chime four before finally drifting away.
            In the morning, it all seemed a dream, but at least one truth has emerged from the instance. No one shall ever to my dying day and beyond read these words of so intimate a confession as I've shamefully penned to these pages! I shall stop at the church on my way to school, as soon as I'm up and able, skipping my morning coffee to make the time to admit this transgression to my God, but not to Father Hammond.
            The following day, Wednesday, my physical wounds improved and I was in for a pleasant surprise. Mrs. Forseyth from across the street came to call just after lunch. While to some families this would be a natural occurrence, in the Peabody household social visits almost never occurred. A cautious smile when meeting on the street was all our neighbors grew to expect.
            Mrs. Forseyth carried a small cake, baked with her own ancient hands, and wished me, “quick recovery from my ordeal,” as she put it. I invited her in. I truly must be improving as only weeks ago this neighborly meeting would have presented a major ordeal to me. On this occasion the visit was a pleasure.
            We had a friendly chat for a half-hour. While the poor lady's hearing is nearly as limited as her eyesight, we nevertheless communicated quite well, about a wide range of subjects. While she lives alone in her small flat, she is remarkably well informed about life, even my social habits! But I’m not troubled by her interest as she is a kindly soul with a small world to view and I shall allow her to peek at mine, if it gives her pleasure. In spite of her age, she has a quick wit and a humorous way about her that is most endearing.
            My mood has been strange this week. It's not just the chaos of my hospital confinement and resulting disruption of my schedule; it's my state of mind. Too many other people invade my thoughts; Tyrone Bradley, Mr. Anderson, Sarah and even my sister, though certainly all for far different reasons. Try as I might I can't chase them far enough back to allow other pedestrian concerns their due. I mope about accomplishing far less than these unexpected free days offer. Even Amy is of no assistance. She remains silent. My usual reluctance to be around other people seems altered as well. While I've not turned into a social butterfly, I find my own company surprisingly insufficient.
            This slight desire for social contact caused me to venture out to my bi-weekly church gathering when my absence would have been expected. I hadn't meant to go. I was only two days out of a hospital bed and still a little shaky, but the emptiness of my house and the unaccustomed leisure time, which I’d not been able to put to good use, made me crave exposure to other human beings, even if only from my quiet corner of the Wednesday night meeting hall. I again called a taxi, and readied myself for a usual evening of sitting back and listening to the ladies of the church. No such luck.
             I am the heroine of the hen house! I entered our meeting to the standing applause of the assembled group. It turned me as scarlet as Phoebe Shaw’s lipstick.
            “You’re our hero, Lucille,” cried Agnes McNaught.
            “A saint, a near saint,” echoed Catherine Winter, dabbing her eyes.
             How was bashing the daylights out of young Tyrone Bradley a saintly act? I wanted to ask. But I could barely get in a word. The hens were a babble of questions, most of which I was unable to answer.
            “Did he have a knife?” Bertha Ryan asked.
            “I heard he had a gun!” Myrtle said, before I could answer.
            “Weren't you frightened out of your wits?” another voice whispered.
            “You poor child! Let me look at your head.”
            “I understand they kept him just down the hall from you at the hospital?  Weren't you worried he'd sneak in and . . . finish you off?”
            “No,” I managed to answer, though still blushing crimson. “There was a guard at the door. Besides, he was in worse shape than me.” I hadn't meant for it to sound like bragging but that was how it was interpreted and my answer brought on another round of applause.
            I admitted that I had seen Tyrone Bradley in his room, but no, I wasn't sure I'd testify against him at the upcoming hearing. I remained undecided about attending, I said. And, no, I didn't think it was necessary for the ladies to march to the court on my behalf!
            All week I played back in my mind the details of my attack. Did the boy mean to push me down those stairs and hurt me, or did I fall backwards when I struck out at him? I knew it was a moot question; I was injured in the course of his robbing me, so he was responsible for the outcome. But did he really mean to inflict injury or possibly kill me? I would never know and perhaps even Tyrone Bradley himself didn't have the answer. Those seconds moved far too rapidly, but I knew the results were far from over. Unwittingly, the burden of deciding punishment remained on my doorstep, like an unwanted gift.
            I agonized over the possible options. The easiest solution was to turn my back on what had happened and let the law take its course. That would have been the Lucille Peabody way of old. But I couldn't. Nor could I step before the bar and verbally offer an alternative. Amy failed me again by offering no help. Finally, it was Sarah, in re-reading one of her letters that helped me decide a course of action.

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. She had grown comfortable with his company, but recently she reacted abruptly when he kissed her. Part of her, whom she calls Amy, is pushing her to stop fighting any hint of intimacy. After being mugged and hospitalized, she is recuperating at home.
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