Chapter 8 continues

So far: Wendy realizes she has been neglecting the cabin.

 

After the studio was built, we spent most of our summers up there. After putting in a better furnace, caulking every hole we could find, and replacing many of the windows, we started to stay on later in the season. But usually before Thanksgiving we closed it down and returned to life in the Cities.

In two days it would be November. I needed to order some more wood for the fireplace.

I needed to think about closing the cabin down and going back to our loft in Minneapolis.

But I couldn’t leave.

I wanted to see Richard again.

Chapter 9

Building a fire in the fireplace was a skill I had mastered as a Girl Scout. Richard always laughed at my organized constructions. He threw a pile of logs in, crunched paper around them, and got the fire roaring in a moment or two.

My system was more organized: balled-up newspaper on the bottom, kindling draped over it, then the logs arched above to allow plenty of oxygen into it. My arrangements could take a while to get just right. But they always burned perfectly.

I lit the balled-up paper and watched it catch and then ignite the kindling.

When I turned to look at Cloud, lounging on the couch, I saw that someone was standing over her, staring down.

Richard.

He had come back again.

At first she didn’t notice him. Then I was sure she saw him. She looked up, craning her neck and batted a paw at him.

He flinched.

I stayed crouched by the fire.

He knew I was there.

He lifted his head and looked at me.

Then he turned and walked to his studio. I lost sight of him as he went down the glass hallway.

When I jumped up and followed him, all I saw was the rocking chair moving slightly. The door to the studio was closed.

As much as I wanted to see him again, I wasn’t following him in there.

• • •

 

Gary said casually, “I was thinking of coming up for a visit this weekend.”

“No,” I said without hesitation.

“Oh.”

“I’m just not up for it,” I tried to explain.

“Of course you aren’t,” Gary began, then picked up steam. “You’ve holed yourself up there for over two months now, seeing no one. The weather is turning nasty. You don’t always answer your phone.”

“I do for you.”

“Point made. I know you’re not eating enough. I bet the house looks like shit. Your hair is probably greasy. The kitty is shedding all over the couch. I think you could stand a little visit.”

I didn’t say anything. He was right on all counts. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore.

“There’s a really great antique mall that I’ve been wanting to check out up that way. Are you game?” he asked.

I thought fast. I just didn’t want anyone else in the cabin. I couldn’t explain. “Let’s meet there.”

“Okay,” he said so quickly I wondered if that hadn’t been his idea all along.

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 9 continues.