Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Blue Door...continued (part 9)

Mounds of laundry quietly dispersed throughout the afternoon. Suitcases were brought out from closets to air. Bathrooms were cleaned, linens changed. The refrigerator emptied. The all day affair had left both Marta and Richard physically exhausted.

“I’ll put the trash out Monday morning…Before we head out!” Richard yelled up the stairs.

Marta stood frozen, analyzing herself in the bathroom mirror. Shallow fine lines trailing across her forehead, thinning skin on the back of her hands, age spots masquerading as freckles. When did this happen, she thought.

“It’s the lighting”

Marta jumped back, knocking her elbow against the door frame. “Fuck! You scared me to death.”

“You should have seen your face just now.” Richard laughed.

Marta laughed, rubbing her elbow. “Oh well, this is going to bruise.”

Richard flicked off the bathroom lights. “I think we’re done. All that’s left is to pack things up, maybe a small load of laundry in the morning.”

“That’s a relief.”

“I think we should get cleaned up, maybe head over to the tavern for some dinner. The fridge is empty.”

“Okay. I think I’m going to lay down for a bit if you want to shower first.”

The sun drifted and waffled while the curtains swayed gently with the breeze. The smell of hyacinths in bloom. Marta lay on the bed, entranced by the light and the warmth, the subtle fuzz of Richard in the shower. She defocused causing the room to blur around her, only turning her head once more to squint at the clock before closing her eyes to sleep.

“It’s okay, you can sleep.” She said while stroking her daughters hair.

“Hey…” Richard cupped one of Marta’s feet in his hand. “Did you fall asleep?”

“Just for a moment.” She said while sitting up in bed, wiping the sleep from her eyes.

Marta transitioned her thoughts quickly and rose from the bed.

“I won’t be long.” She said while collecting some clean clothes to change into after her shower.

Marta pushed past the breeze that was flushing through the house now. No longer gentle, but hurried and furious. The screens in the windows bulged and whistled. Spring felt bipolar and restless, like the city. She couldn’t wait to abandon their current reality and set foot on the shore.

Rebel followed Richard as he went from room to room closing windows and drawing blinds. Popping in to survey Hannah’s room. A quick and quiet peak. The blinds were already closed. He opted to leave the door open. Rebel walked in, did three circles on the rug in the middle of the floor and lay down.

Richard tapped on the bathroom door, careful not to alarm his wife.

“Yeah?” Marta said while rinsing the shampoo from her hair.

Richard peaked into the shower. “I have a better idea. Let’s leave tomorrow morning.”

Marta turned off the water and gave her hair one final twist to ring out any excess water. Richard handed over a bath towel.

“That is a better idea.” Marta said while wrapping the towel around her body.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Blue Door...continued (part 8)

“Maybe she’ll hear the phone and come inside?”

“Maybe you should hang up the phone and step out onto the front stoop.”

“Of course. Sometimes I forget what I’m doing.”

“I’ll ask her, if you want.”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll ask her. It’s okay.”

The sun reflected through the windowpanes of the blue door. Marta felt the glass and took a deep breath. She unlocked the door and turned the knob slowly. Looking back, Richard caught her glance. Marta took another deep breath and opened the door.

The air outside was cool, but the stoop radiated the morning sun.

Marta cleared her throat. “A blessing and a curse…getting full sun like this.”

Ms. Grace looked up and smiled. “It is a nice day, though. The trees help a bit.”

Marta cleared her throat once again. “Mr. Lemon…Richard…Richard and I were wondering if you wouldn’t mind collecting our mail over the next week or two.”

“Of course, dear. Are you two headed to the shore?”

“Exactly…day after tomorrow.”

“The house needs you. The air will do you good.”

 “Thank you, Ms. Grace.”

Marta spun around, checking the mailbox before going back inside. Hesitating slightly when she heard Ms. Grace say you’re welcome. Only turning slightly to acknowledge before closing the door.

“When did I start calling you Mr. Lemon?”

Richard looked up from the frying pan and smiled.

“I referred to you as Mr. Lemon to Ms. Grace.”


“I think I could eat, actually.”

“I love how easily the mention of food distracted you just now.”

Marta smiled. Her appetite was coming back.

Richard pulled two plates from the cupboard and handed them over to Marta. “There’s coffee, I’ve got toast going…some fried eggs here, warmed leftover potatoes…and, yes, there’s even bacon. I hope you’re that hungry.”

“Well, I know whatever I don’t eat, Rebel will be glad to help. You pulled this all together while I was outside.”

“Yep, I pulled this all together while you were outside.”

Marta smiled again and pulled two forks, knives, and a spoon from the silverware drawer. She followed this with mugs for the coffee and glasses for water. The routine felt good. The small act of breakfast made her feel connected to her husband once again.

"Remarkable." Marta said under her breath.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Blue Door...continued (part 7)

Marta woke with a start. With swollen breath and tear glazed eyes she nestled into her husband. It was the only thing that would calm her breathing and steady the dizziness that she was feeling.

Richard turned onto his back and pulled Marta closer.

“You’re okay.”

Marta took a deep breath.

“I’m okay.” She whispered.

Richard pushed Marta’s hair back from her forehead. It reminded him of the fine hairs frayed out from a violin bow, so fine and delicate. With his thumb, he wiped cool, salty tears from her flushed cheeks.

“You’re okay.” He said once again, kissing the crown of her head.

It was only moments later, the sound of calm rhythmic breathing echoed against his chest. Richard took a deep breath, careful not to pull his resting wife from sleep.

The sun glared through the bedroom windows. Marta was still nestled into Richard. The morning light and small symphonies of snoring were pulling her awake. She looked over at the clock, it was almost 8:30.

Marta pushed back slowly from her sleeping husband.

“Morning.” Richard said shielding his face from the sun-drenched room with his forearm.

“Morning. I’m sorry…”

“Don’t be sorry. You can’t help having nightmares…bad dreams.” He said, trying to lighten the moment so as not to let his wife recede back into that frightful moment.

“Can you get some time off?” Marta got up from bed and pulled up the window shades. The light stirred Rebel into a sleepy stretch.

“I can.” Richard pushed himself up in bed. His wife was acting curious.

Marta knelt down onto the floor in front of Rebel and rubbed the dogs belly.

“I think we should get away. Go to the house. It needs to be opened up and given a good scrub. I really want to get out of town. I want to go back.” Marta was scrunching her face, fidgeting nervously with a hangnail. Too nervous to look her husband in the eyes, worried about what he would say.

“Yes.” He nodded and smiled.

“Yes?” Marta’s bottom lip quivered for a moment. She took a deep breath and smiled.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Blue Door...continued (part 6)

“You always get strawberry.”

“You love strawberry.”

“I don’t like it so much anymore.”

“You don’t like it so much anymore?!” Richard grabbed Hanna from behind, lifting her up over his shoulders.

“I don’t like it so much anymore.” Hanna said matter of fact while tugging on her fathers ears.

“Well, what do you like so much?” Richard asked, taking his daughter’s hands into his, holding her steady.

Marta took one final lick from the sugar cone and threw it into a nearby trash can. Rebel whined.

“You can’t have ice cream, Rebel…right daddy?”

“We need to start thinking about dinner…and poor Rebel needs a drink.” Marta said picking Rebels’s sagging leash from the ground.

Marta pulled Hannah’s knit cap from her jacket pocket and handed it to her daughter. Hanna pulled the hat over her head and resumed holding her father’s hands.

The walk from the boardwalk back to the house was quiet. Hannah watched as seagulls dove in for their dinners of scattered french fries and bits of hot dog rolls. Rebel, exhausted from a day running on the beach held back, dragging her tired paws, thirsty and ready for sleep.

The steps leading up to the house were dusted with sand. Marta had meant to sweep that morning, but as always, time for these small details always seem to get lost.

“Duck” Richard said to Hanna before crossing through the front door.

“Duck” Hanna repeated.

Richard lifted Hannah down from his shoulders. The little girl ran into the kitchen, pulled a chair up to the sink, rushing to fill Rebel’s empty water bowl. Marta ran over to the chair to steady her daughter and take the bowl before the water had a chance to splash out onto the kitchen floor.

With the help of her mother, Hannah jumped down from the chair. Her favorite thing. She felt as if she were flying, soaring weightless for a moment through the air.

Hannah ran past her father.

“Go get cleaned up…” Marta yelled after her daughter.

“I’m exhausted. How does she have all that energy?”

“You got me.”

“We’re just getting old.”

“I can’t argue there.”

Marta straightened Richard’s collar.

“Should we walk or take the car.”

“I’d say pile into the car, but I could really use a glass of wine or two.” Marta smiled.

Richard smiled back. “We’d better walk then. I wouldn’t mind something to take the edge off myself.”

“What edge?”

“The gotta-go-back-to-work-in-a-week-edge.”

“Oh, that edge.”

Marta fiddled with Richard’s collar again before giving him a quick peck on the lips.