General Fiction posted November 7, 2014 Chapters:  ...33 34 -35- 36... 

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Lucille is taken to dinner for her birthday

A chapter in the book FRIDAYS

Friday, Dec. 1st, Part One

by Fridayauthor

Please see Author Notes below for the summary of this novel, to date. Thank you.
            Friday Number Sixteen, December 1st
            My birthday on Wednesday began with my little second grade charges, somehow becoming aware of the date, and singing to me a joyous version of the appropriate serenade. I received a number of cards, mostly from the hens. There were three greetings from relatives I'd not seen since my mother's funeral, and years before that. Emily called and so did Billy and Anne, wishing me well. I had not heard from Mr. Anderson since Sunday mass. There was no real reason why I should, except after my Thanksgiving Day party, I knew he was aware of the date.
            I received one unexpected present. As I came home from school, an old friend turned the corner and confronted me. It was Black Cat, returned from God knows where, purring his way back to my affections, as if he'd never been absent. I chided him severely, but he paid me no heed. He has perfect faith that there awaits the security of food, a warm lap and love when he needs a respite from his adventures. So simple an existence makes me jealous.
            My mood has been positive all week as I've displaced sad thoughts with busy activities. Sunday I made a pact with my God to take life as he disburses it to me, without dwelling on the setbacks he might choose to place in my path. While it is a slow adjustment, Amy feels confident we are making progress.
            Tyrone came by at his usual time on Wednesday. I put him to work again in the garden as the weather had moderated and I was anxious to finish before the heart of winter arrives with its fury. Spring bulbs that should have been planted weeks earlier still remain on the shelf. The young man began to work for Mr. Anderson on Saturday and by all accounts is conscientious in his labors. The automobile, decomposing in my garage, is his beacon of promise.
            I was sitting alone in my sofa wondering if I should go out and help Tyrone when the doorbell rang. It was a delivery from the florist.
            The man held out a small bouquet of red roses and smiled.
            “Happy what-ever-it-is,” he said.
            “Birthday,” I answered, returning his smile and taking the flowers. I placed them on the coffee table and carefully opened the card. The bouquet was not from Mr. Anderson as I'd expected. It was from Tyrone. My heart at first sank, but I quickly realized how selfish I was behaving. I went to the back yard and gave the boy a hug of thanks that would have made Fred Murphy proud. I'm sure Tyrone blushed scarlet, but I didn't care. Someone else besides Lucille was embarrassed for a change and I honestly appreciated his thoughtfulness.
            After Tyrone had left for the day and I had eaten a sandwich for my birthday supper, the doorbell rang again. It was Mr. Anderson, with a large bouquet of red roses and white carnations, a silver wrapped bottle of cream sherry, all followed by a happy birthday kiss.
            “Friday,” he said, and then added, “Don't forget to wear Emily's present. I promised her I'd remind you,” and he was gone.

            Mr. Anderson called for me in a taxi Friday evening as his car was being repaired, not the first time that had happened as it is as tired as our town. For some reason I was as nervous as our first Friday together. I should have guessed the evening would be far different from prior weeks when he suggested we forgo Delaneys Family Restaurant for The Coach and Four. Mild surprise was all I felt at first although the suggestion broke a pattern of fifteen Fridays running, absent one. We had considered changing our restaurant at one time in the past, but both agreed we were comfortable at Delaneys and the menu variety was always a pleasant challenge in spite of the number of times we'd dined there.
            I must apologize in advance for so detailing the evening that followed, but it is so very important to me that I ask your patience and indulgence. As I write these words I can only hope to make sense of my feelings by not neglecting a trace of what followed.
            The Coach and Four is quite elegant and I felt a rush of pride when we entered. I blush to admit it, but we made a striking couple. I had taken extra care in my grooming and dressing. Emily's gift of clothing was far more elegant than anything I owned and I felt I owed it unusual attention. At first I felt out of place when I'd donned my gift, but I had to admit after trying on the clothes they fit perfectly and looked very stylish. I paraded before my mirror like a school girl going to a prom! But memories of my high school date so long ago produced a far different feeling from a Friday evening with my friend! The satin pants rustled when I walked and the silk blouse was loose enough to look casual, but most stylish. I went so far as to buy a special pair of shoes to match the ensemble. I wore a thin chain about my neck, birthday earrings and added a spray of perfume!
            Mr. Anderson looked particularly handsome in a dark blue suit I’d not seen, his silver hair a distinguished contrast and his stature, as always, arrow-straight. I was proud to be on his arm.
            The Coach and Four is quite expensive but when I attempted my usual procedure of passing my anticipated share of the bill beneath the table, Mr. Anderson shook me off. He does that every other week or so but Friday was the third time running.
            “Happy birthday,” he said with a smile.
            Unlike Delaneys, where only house wine is served, The Coach and Four has an extensive list and Mr. Anderson ordered a bottle of fine California merlot which we shared to completion. The meal was a delight and we were a merry couple indeed as we decided to forgo a taxi and hike the mile and a half to my home, holding hands like youngsters, while chattering away. Even the rain that caught us at the final corner failed to dampen our spirits.
            We both pulled off our damp shoes. We sank into my sofa as I turned on some pleasant music. My twelve different pillows, the final one completed this week in my splurge of labor, spilled about at random, adding to the softness of my nest.
            We settled, still laughing at a silly story about a mutual friend. A little later, sipping my cream sherry birthday present, we watched the receding lights of a freighter as it slipped out to sea from the bay. It was a mellow feeling, absent of trepidation I'd have felt with anyone else, comfortable after so many pleasant Friday evenings in the secure company of this man. I was serene in our compact of mutual consent, and put aside my fears of the end of our friendship.
            I was not ignorant of the situation; being here alone with a man for whom I cared deeply and, who in return I felt cared equally for me. We had spent similar evenings, though none so peaceful. But even so, I was again surprised when he bent to kiss me, not once, but in a continuing fashion, as he had a few weeks past. This time no telephone interrupted the embrace and though I was startled and my heart began racing, I didn't push him away. It was a most delicate kiss, and the brush of his fingers upon my back and shoulders was equally soft. Then he reached over my head and I heard the click of the light switch and when I opened my eyes momentarily, all I could see framed in my window were winking pinpoints of light across the shore. We remained so for several minutes, slowly sinking lower and lower into the pillowed softness of my sofa-nest, never speaking a word.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Lucille, age thirty-seven, is a school teacher and a near-recluse. After her mother's death, she is trying to rid her life-time home of past ghosts. At the behest of her priest she records her thoughts and feelings in a diary. She has a strong interest in old letters found in her mother's dresser. She is having weekly Friday evening dinners with a shy church acquaintance, Mr. Anderson but shuns a more serious attachment. Part of her, a make-believe friend from childhood whom she calls Amy, is pushing her to stop fighting any hint of intimacy. After being mugged, she is sympathetic toward her young assailant and helps him. She enjoyed Thanksgiving at her sisterâ??s home in New York State where she learns her sister was molested by their father.
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