|A Trip to the Movies YA Version
Author: Mouse Mitterand PM
They were the ones who picked up the phone. Everything that happens next must be their fault. CHAPTER 3 now up!Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Chapters: 3 - Words: 13,140 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-15-08 - Published: 07-06-08 - id: 2541743
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A Trip to the Movies, Ch. 3
When the phone rang in their old white house outside of Charleston, Anaya was the only one home. She sighed and groaned, then, cat-like, lifted her body up off the couch.
Anaya was tall; she stretched as she stood and her limbs folded outwards from her body, budding new branches of a tree. The sun hit her hair and made it shimmer golden, but this wasn't new to her anymore. None of it was.
She was bitter to have her trance by the window broken, her tea would get cold while she would have to make small talk with someone on the other end of the phone who would pretend to be concerned about her, and all the while her dazed eyes would blink sullenly at a wall. She hated the phone.
Her bare feet swept the floors as she wandered over to the phone, vaguely hoping that on the other end of the line, the caller would have gotten bored by now and hung up. But it rang again, and Anaya picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" she asked.
"Babe," said a voice on the other end. Cale!
Anaya smiled to herself at once as the relief swept her. She hated the phone, but she loved Cale, and a phone call from him in the daytime was a pleasant surprise. She had already forgotten that KES was with him, that he might be calling with a problem, or wanting to send her sister back, and the warmth of his voice wrapped around her in a tight and gentle hug.
"Hi," she said, some of the fairy dust gone from her voice, leaving a clear, sweet sound.
"How are you?" Cale asked. Anaya set about getting comfortable for the conversation. She moved the phone so it could reach the sunroom, and settled herself back onto the love seat there.
"I'm alright," she assured him, he was the only one who really did care, "Ella just got off to school."
"Good lord, when does her school begin in the morning?" asked Cale, sounding stunned. "It's nearly noon!"
Anaya was stunned. Was it noon already? The sun was high, but she hadn't moved from the couch since sending Ella off to school, had simply been staring out the window since, with her tea . . .
She touched her tea. It was cold already.
"Oh," she told Cale, "You're right. No, no, I must have lost track of time when I fell asleep."
She hadn't fallen asleep. Just watching out the bay window, like every other day, waves growing inside her of panic and remorse and placid, stomped-out frustration. Then the waves would die down again with another sip of her tea, as always, and she would struggle with whether or not to try and keep them at bay.
Cale was quiet; she imagined him nodding on the other side of the phone, not realizing that she couldn't see him nod, and she felt that pull of affection for him.
That was when she remembered that he had her sister.
"How's she doing?" she asked, apologetic.
"She's fine, babe. Don't worry about that now."
There was a pause. Then, Anaya, "Cale, if you hadn't taken her for a while, I think I would have–"
"Shh," he quieted her, "It's alright."
"She hit Ella again; a man brought her home when I was already awake, and she, she–"
On the other end, Cale was waiting, turning away, wincing. Anaya couldn't finish. Her mind fled back into its more easily contented state, of daydreams and dazes, but she could feel the skin on her face where two days ago it stung, and in the palm of her hand where . . . where . . .
That horrid feeling of trying not to flinch whenever KES came toward her. Unconsciously, Anaya balled her right hand into a fist, as though to protect the healing cut inside it on her palm.
"Lucas just won't give her a break," she moaned on, "You can't fix violence with violence, we know that from Jackson, and he really hurts her, she's so thin and he's so strong, he doesn't realize . . ."
Cale sounded shocked. "I talked to him about that, babe, I did– "
"I know," said Anaya. "He just doesn't get it. I love Ella and . . ."
"And he loves you," Cale said grimly.
They both wondered for a moment if Lucas loved anyone or anything except Anaya.
At least he was genuine, readable. Dear Lucas had no idea how to even begin to cover up whatever emotion he felt, or apologize for feeling it. Sometimes Anaya could watch the progression of his gut instincts as they reeled him from frustration to fury, tossing him about in their throes like a bitter storm. And then he would grow angry that he was angry, and that futile recognition burned him forward more.
Finally Cale heaved a great sigh. "I need to talk to you about Jackson," he said. The word fell soundly to the floor near Anaya's feet.
Cale spoke again, and it was hard: "I received a suicide letter from her this morning."
Anaya said nothing, and Cale talked on. He needed to talk, and she loved the sound of his voice; it brought her so much comfort. The letter was probably just making an attempt, they both knew that. Cale was the only one who still corresponded with her. And without Miriam's knowledge, Anaya guessed. Jackson and Cale had been lovers throughout their younger years, but even after Cale's engagement and marriage to Miriam, Miriam was the only person who was not susceptible to Jackson's untamable charm.
Anaya nodded along, Cale murmured and paused, and once or twice they just sat quietly together, each pressing a receiver up against their ears as their thoughts trailed off on nameless paths.
Finally he had to go, it had been lunch, he said he had to get back to work, and Anaya sighed and told him good luck, and he said,
"I'll talk to you later, babe. Hang in there."
Hearing it was like listening to a song that touched on emotions she would never speak of. She felt her eyes sting with newborn tears but forced them away with expertise and a throbbing heart. "You too," she said, "I love you."
To anyone walking down the hallway in Andrew Tracy's gloomy townhouse, the guestroom appeared vacant.
Heavy, dark green drapes hung across tall, thin windows; expensive, elaborate wallpaper filled the spaces in between the odd portraits of a long dead family member. There was a desk, a rug, a small empty dresser and a queen-sized bed. It looked like it was straight out of The Munsters, especially due to an unseen voice intermittently filling the space.
(Had Adrian realized that she could have seemed like a ghost to an outsider, she would have been thrilled.)
She was underneath the bed.
Not hiding, per se, or hoping to frighten the unsuspecting relative, but chatting on the phone. The bed was large enough that she could comfortably lie on her belly beneath it, propped up on her elbows, and chew her fingernails while talking to her boyfriend over the phone. He talked for most of it, really, telling her about school happenings, and trying to impress her with all of the rumors he had started as to why she had left Madison in such a hurry.
"You should have told them– " Adrian started, but then cut herself off. "Ugh, sorry, it's my dad on the phone, he'll kill me if I don't take this."
"Okay, no big. Talk to you later."
"Bye," Adrian said, almost too enthusiastically, and hung up. It wasn't that she didn't like talking to him, it was that it had been over an hour now, and her elbows hurt, and her ear was hot from the cell phone, and. . . Well, underneath a bed was not the most opportune place to take a phone call.
She would have sat in the closet, far more comfortable in a fuller darkness, but the closet was stuffed with stacked, dusty boxes of old sheet music. This had once been her uncle's room, when he was a boy. Now he kept most of his music in the master bedroom, from which Adrian could sometimes hear his violin and the cold, eerie sounds it emitted. Lucy had loathed their uncle's playing, even held her ears at times or insisted on going for a walk when the music began to sidle down the tiny hallway, but it drew Adrian's curiosity.
Once when their parents and uncle had gone out for dinner, leaving Adrian and Lucy with the housekeeper, Adrian had taken advantage of Lucille's insistence to blast Jimi Hendrix and crept into their Uncle Andrew's room, closing the door behind her to muffle the ear-splitting guitar. She poked around the room to procrastinate doing what she had come in there to do, brushing dust off the dresser and looking inside her uncle's closet, but finally laid hands on the violin.
She had seen Andrew Tracy do it; she knew how it was supposed to work. One small hand pulled the violin by its neck from its open case, knuckles brushing soft orange fur. She had examined it in awe: The smoothness of the varnish, its tiny carved details, its feathery weight, even that odd pole in its hollow interior that her child's fingers could barely reach through the S-shaped holes in the wood.
Another hand drew the bow out from its place like a foil.
Quickly, clumsily, she had set them both in place. The bow shook until its hairs touched one of the strings, and without thinking, with a breath of exuberance, she had pulled down gently on the bow, letting it glide across the string.
The bow slid up the string and onto another, a higher string, screaming bloody murder that someone else should wield it uninvited. Poor Adrian had jumped, hastily shoved the instrument back in its case, and then bolted from the room.
The next year in school, when the students had to choose what kind of music class to take, Adrian had picked the general class where they didn't have to play any instruments.
Now, hiding underneath a bed because she was more comfortable in small, dark spaces, Adrian sighed and rolled over onto her back. She flipped her phone back open and – in surprise – saw that she really did have a missed call from Cale.
He sounded busy when she called him back. "Hey, Dad," she said.
"Hey, Adrian," said Cale. They were a little awkward together. The whole family had once had a wonderful system where Adrian and her mother had a meaningful bond, and Lucy was the daddy's girl, but now the structure was out-of-whack, unbalanced, and freckled with guilt.
"Mom has some news for you. You'll never guess."
"Really?" Cale was surprised.
"Yeah!" Adrian grinned, shamelessly using gossip to ease their conversation.
She could feel Cale grinning too, on the other end of the phone. "I suppose you're going to make me wait to find out what it is?" he teased.
"Mmhmm," she smirked. Now the phone call would be easy. "How's . . ." but something in her made her afraid to speak the name, so instead she finished, "Anaya's sister?"
"Well, uh, actually, I haven't really seen her at all today." He grimaced. "Or yesterday, actually."
"Like she's gone?" Adrian's fascination was purely from the detached entertainment.
"No, well, her backpack's here, I just. . . She probably made some friends in the city and has just been spending lots of time–"
"Sure, sure, Dad," Adrian grinned. Cale's naivete was the biggest joke between her mother and herself. "She's probably building a bomb in the workshop."
But even as she said it, she instantly regretted the joke. Cale began to protest, earnestly, with a "Ade, we can't say things like–" and so on, but Adrian still felt chilled from her own attempt at humor. KES didn't talk much, you couldn't tell what was going on in her head, other than how obvious it was that she didn't like anyone at all. Ever. Anyone.
It was, in fact, that absence, that negative space, which truly brought the sinister shades to KES's nature. It wasn't that she necessarily hated everyone, but that she loved no-one. There was no warmth from her, not even the slightest touch of kindness, and in place of a pure evil, she simply hadn't the tiniest sliver of good in her. She was unpredictable, that way. No decisively bad intentions, and certainly no good ones. Her notions of good and bad were nothing like Adrian's, or anyone she knew, for that matter.
The last time Adrian had seen KES was at Lucille's burial. It had been easy for Adrian to wear black: It was all she really owned anyway, and for that reason she had distinctively felt that she was somehow neglecting to honor her sister, by wearing the clothes she wore every day to school. But she felt stronger in those clothes, too, in those giant, clunky boots and black ribbons.
And KES . . . KES had been wearing all white. A long, plain dress that seemed blinding in the summer sun, angelic against the grass, and urethral beside the smooth new headstone. No one had particularly noticed KES that weekend, because for once (aside from the dress), she blended right in. Her sulky manner and angry, tight jaw could have been anyone's, because everyone had loved Lucy. Everyone had wanted to be her.
That white dress bit at Adrian's stomach, though, made her think that she should have worn white, or at least color, for once. Lucy had loved color, Lucy didn't even own any black; plus, Adrian had read in school that a number of cultures saw white, not black, as the color of mourning for the dead.
In that way, it was suiting: At the end of Adrian's lifetime with Lucy, spent bitterly striving to stay out of her sister's shadow, she found herself second-best, again.
It made her angry at KES, jealous of KES, and – just like with Lucy – impossibly distanced from someone so unearthly.
God, Adrian thought, irritated, hiding underneath a queen-sized bed in Baltimore, I'm so goddamn plain.
Cale had finished his rant about why they should all be nice to KES. Adrian mumbled along amiably, stuttering distractedly and wriggling out from under the bed, trotting downstairs to find her mother. She was bored talking to Cale, now, too.
"Oh, hang on," she told Cale, finding Miriam in a gothic sitting room, reading an ancient volume, "Mom's here, she really wants to talk to you."
Miriam sent Adrian an amused look. "He just doesn't shut up, does he?" she murmured, smiling.
"No!" Adrian mouthed, exasperated.
"Alright," Cale agreed, "Bye, Ade, honey, don't forget to say hi to Andrew for me."
"I won't. Here's Mom!" Again, gleeful to get rid of the phone.
Miriam took the phone without putting down her book, and Adrian – phone-free at last – looked on to admire her mother. This was the house Miriam had grown up in, and it showed, by how well she fit on the velvet divan, a steady force in the old, stubborn house. Her hair looked black in such dim lighting, making burnt pleats as it curved away when it hit her shoulders, only to stretch down hopefully to the floor. Her face was passive and sober, but with a softness it reserved only for her family. Adrian had seen her mother around other people, and any trace of compassion was lost.
". . . Oh did she?" Adrian heard, and automatically stiffened. Miriam was looking over at her, dark eyes on Adrian, sternness in her voice.
Adrian froze. Crap. She shouldn't have hinted about the baby to Cale, not without asking her mom first.
"Well," Miriam snapped, and her tone was sharp as a curse as she turned as though to face the phone itself, "Kick the brat out. Drive her to the airport, stick her on a plane, and send her kicking and screaming back to Anaya with a detention slip. Don't let yourself be a pushover, Cale!"
Adrian's shoulders slumped as she sighed relief. Better KES than her any day.
"We will be coming back soon, I hope," Miriam added.
She and Adrian nodded together in silence. Even a lack of homework got old.
Adrian went into the kitchen to get a slice of bread and then shuffled back in, sitting down at the strange little table in the parlor with Miriam. Miriam was about to announce the big news, and Adrian was glad to have snacks. She could see her mother smiling behind her stiff exterior, those lovely, graceful lips, and joined in grinning as Miriam said:
"I'm pregnant, Cale." And her face crinkled into a wider smile. "We're going to have another baby."
Adrian's grin hurt her face when she heard exclamations from the other side of the telephone. She could hear Cale laughing, then, his mirth as a man whose life revolved around his family, and a choked giggle fell from her own lips, and onto the floor.
Back in Madison, in the Orpheum, Cale was tromping up the stairs to his empty apartment, unlocking the door, and slipping inside. KES was irrelevant temporarily, KES was gone and he didn't know where but Miriam was going to have a baby, and he would have a new child! A new child – to spoil and hold tight and protect and love and raise – a new child, a new daughter, or even a son. He was laughing along with Miriam, hearing Adrian in the background, and crying out, "That's fantastic! Oh my god! Who could imagine!" while walking down the hallway, and turning into his bedroom.
KES was there.
She was back.
"I have to go," Cale said suddenly to his wife. KES looked like a little girl, seated on his bed but wrapping herself in blankets. She was staring at him with brown eyes wider than a ghost's, brow furrowed and a look of such innocence that she looked years and years younger.
Miriam in Baltimore altered her expression in a tenth of a second. "What?!"she exclaimed, sensing the change in Cale instinctively. "What's going on?" though she knew, she knew that it had to be KES. "What did she do?" she demanded, all her parts of her body now facing the phone.
Adrian's heart jumped again. She paced forward and back, wanting to help, wanting to get out of the room. KES. It was KES, it had to be KES. Something had happened, something bad –
"Everything's fine," she heard Cale say, from the other end of the phone, though he didn't sound like everything was fine. He repeated, "I have to go," and Miriam cut him off.
"No," she said sharply, hitting him on the head with the word, "What's going on, Cale?"
And before the phone clicked, signaling Cale hanging up, with Adrian's mother's expression contorted with concern and disgust, they both heard him say, with a dangerously hopeful tone to his soothing, naive voice:
"Really, everything is fine."
Then he was gone.
Agh! So I know this chapter sucks, and I really do apologize. I had hoped it would turn out having a much different "feeling," but I tried a few different things, and still couldn't get it to really convey what I wanted, especially with Anaya.
Hopefully 4 will make up for it and more!
Thanks for reading, reviews are really appreciated!