The Summer of the Black Hare – scenes seven and eight
My body ached after forty-eight hours of travel. It could have been achieved more in about eight if I had travelled directly but the more journeys I took the more difficult it would be to trace me. And now weary beyond words I stood before my great grandmother’s door in the mountains of Lebanon. Here I could be embraced with simple affection.
NOTE: This is a NaNoWriMo project from 2011 and it really become apparent from this point that I’m feeling my way. There are huge gaps where research will be needed. In fact scene seven isn’t completed…and I use the lazy route of flashback in scene eight to refer to what happen (I probably hadn’t known what happened and it hit while writing the next scene). It’s a good example of getting the story down. In editing/rewriting I would show the scene in the church not just refer to it…I’m not certain how much further I can share the story because the gaps in research and plot become larger….
The door opened and the woman who cared for my jadda (check Arabic) stood slightly stooped and dressed in black. A smile spread across her face.
“Marharba, she will be so delighted.”
I followed her through the hall to the back of the house and out to the garden. I should not be surprised to find her here. Despite her age, my great grandmother lived for her roses.
“Habbi. How delightful.” She held open her arms and I fell to my knees before her. Tears began and wouldn’t stop. Her fingers twisted with age rubbed my back till I could breathe again and the scent of the flowers eased my airways while transporting me backwards in time. I was six and sitting not far from here listening to Teta sing to her roses. I didn’t understand the words but I knew it was a love song and I knew it was to my great father who had been dead ten years. Together they had travelled the world but here in her garden was where Teta’s heart was happiest. I tried to drink in her peace with the floral scent of her and her garden.
I pulled back and she rang her fingers through the remains of my hair. “Why habibi?”
I looked her straight in the eye. “I needed to be even more invisible.”
She shook her head. “My beautiful little flower, your petals will grow back but what of your heart?”
I gave her a lopsided smile as I rose from me knees. “That I’m afraid that is damaged forever.”
I nodded and turned from her. It was still too raw and she didn’t need to see the emotion although I knew that having survived for 100 years she had seen more than her share of pain. She had lost her husband and her children out living them all. I knew her pain was worse than mine but she didn’t carry guilt and therein lay the difference.
“Teta,” I began.
“My little flower do not speak until your heart can otherwise the words will have no meaning and you will not heal.”
I knew I would never heal. No miracle could take away what I had done by scorning Johnnie’s love. I could have handled it more gently or I could have subdued my own needs and said yes and then the world would still have a brilliant artist and I wouldn’t be a fugitive from myself.
The emails kept piling up. I was sitting in a hotel in Dubai on my way to —–. I was about to do the one thing I knew would take me away from myself and I longed for the escape yet I flinched from what I would hear. In my bag were the remnants of Kerensa Mariam and I wore the clothes of Karen Smith and in the hour I would shed even that and become a nameless medical worker on an aid flight but first I had to sort out a problem that had come up. Someone from the hotel had come forward that said they had seen a woman leave Johnnie’s room just before he hit the pavement with a Tiffany box in his hand. The case wasn’t being reopened as the police believed the coroner’s report of suicide. But the ring had become a problem.
From between my breasts I pulled out Johnnie’s ring. The square cut diamond gleamed in the low light. I ran my fingers over the engraving on the inside. K, I will love you always J. He knew. He knew I would say no. He knew this wouldn’t ever encircle my fingers as a sign of our everlasting love but also knew once i had seen his words I could never give the ring back for I needed Johnnie’s love. It was a thing of beauty, if needy. His love needed more than I could give. I couldn’t let him protect me.
I dropped the ring and it went back to its home just by my heart. I couldn’t think straight. I had drafted an email to the family solicitor to find out how one got released from being an executor and recipient. The only thing I wanted was his portrait of me. And if I was honest the bronze sculpture but I had no idea where I would put it. As it was the portrait would take a whole wall on the cottage.
Johnnie’s sister deserved everything else. She would need it in order to begin to mend her life. I knew the hole he left would never be filled, but at least she had her kids and husband for solace. I had my work, my vocation. I laughed. Looking down at my ‘uniform’ it wasn’t all that different from Sister Carmelita’s habit of old. Maybe she had truly won except that God wasn’t my motivation.
I pressed the send button to on the email. He would come back to me quickly. He always did. In fact he probably knew more about my life than anyone because he had to manage my tangled financial affairs. Jowan had renounced the world when he took up the cloth so I had to take it all on. I had already been a wealthy woman as all of Uncle Tom’s worth had come to me. He had known what it was like to be the second son and hadn’t wanted me to miss out. I hadn’t missed out at all for the first son had bowed out.
I still hadn’t heard back from him. It would have been good to just as I was about to go no contact to have spoken with him. When with Tayta I had gone to church and found myself lighting a candle for Johnnie’s soul and mine. Being with her sometimes caused earthquakes in my carefully scripted life. By dragging me off to an ancient church where spirits floated about from centuries passed I never left unmoved and maybe that was exactly what i want.
Thankfully, a plea for help had come. The rebels had drawn back leaving broken women and children in their wake. I was needed or at least thought I was. Sometimes I did wonder if my work helped. Did it do any good to talk about things? To put the unspeakable into words? I don’t know. When i began I was almost evangelical about it but now….
There was something samey about these airport in less developed countries. Not sure if it was the paper the arrival forms were printed on or the orchered white of the wall but although I hadn’t been to —— before I felt I had. The heat was oppressive. I knew the hotel I was in tonight wouldn’t be five star like the one of the night before but no star except for the roaches. This accommodation was all part and parcel with getting acclimated. The descent from first world to hurting world was never smooth. Tomorrow morning I would be on some small craft flying to a remote corner before taking the rest of the journey by road. By the time I would have arrive Dubai and it’s comfort would have fled my mind completely but right now it was still fresh and all I wanted was the massive tub, air conditioning and good bed but instead I would have bugs and if I was lucky clean sheets.
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