August 1, 2021 at 5:32 pm #110541
It was another of those blurry days, when nothing Clarissa wanted to do could be done, leaving her at loose ends until after dark. She sat in the greenhouse, surrounded by herbs bursting with new growth, listening to rain hit glass insistent as a metal rivet hitting a dryer’s drum wall.
She held the seacock, proof Rachel said that Michael and Kit had scuttled the 45-foot pleasure boat they’d been hired to bring down to the Keys, spilling it from one palm to the other in time with the rain’s splatter. She’d been sitting there for long enough her coffee was cold.
Alden was gone back upcountry to attend to his mother, who rallying wouldn’t last. She’d already outrun the doctor’s predictions. Soon though she would be dead, and Alden would be back. The house would be filled with family.
Michael would be at the house after Amy was in bed, and he wanted his money. Money she no longer had. Clarissa forced herself from the chair, finished her coffee without thinking, and went inside, the seacock snug in her hoodie’s front pocket.
Upstairs in her room, she placed it on the mantel, front and center. She opened the flue, lit the kindling under the split ash logs she’d laid earlier, and, squatting in front of the hearth, rocked back and forth, humming.
Damn. She couldn’t just pout around. She had options. But she didn’t have time. She called Glenna’s, hoping Tim was home, because Glenna mustn’t know. She was about to give up when one of the kids answered.
“Is your dad home?”
“You want Dad? Not Mom?”
“Yeah, I, um, need to ask your dad something. Is he around?”
Clarissa waited for Tim to pick up, pumping her feet so her legs jiggled and listening to the sounds of kids and cartoons.
Clarissa started at the sound of Amy’s voice, so cheery and small. “Hey yourself.”
“I don’t have to come home do I?”
“Nope. Just need to talk to your Uncle Tim.”
“Guess what? Aunt Rachel gave Becky a iPad.”
“And she showed us how to go online. And Aunt Glenna said we could camp out in the yard. We’re putting the tent up all by ourselves.”
“Whoa. That is all so cool.” Clarissa wondered how Glenna felt about Rachel bringing her kids into the virtual world. She wasn’t sure how she felt about Amy going online. Not exactly safe space for a six year old but one night. Where’s the harm, she told herself.
“Here’s Uncle Tim. Love you, Mom.”
“Love you, too.”
“Hey, Clar, what’s up?”
“Do you still have the money I gave you?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Are you going to the docks today?”
“Yeah, you just caught me.”
“Can you bring it and I’ll meet you there?”
“Sure. No problem.”
“Thanks. You haven’t said anything to Glenna, have you?”
“No, Clarissa. You asked me not to and anyway, what would I say? Are you all right?”
“Yeah,” Clarissa felt the tension in her shoulders drop. Her neck felt longer. She hadn’t realized how stressed she was. “Yeah, I think so.”
“Fifteen minutes? At the pier?”
“Great. And Tim- “
“Thank you.” Clarissa hung up the phone, doused the fire with ashes from the bucket on the hearth and got dressed.
Of course, she got there first. Working boats were coming in with their catch as pleasure boats glided from the moorings for sunset cruises. She was about to get out of the car when she saw Michael sauntering toward The Incident. She shrunk down into the seat and watched as he climbed aboard and as the boat slid away from its dock. Next thing she knew Tim was tapping on the window and looking at her like she was crazy. She was beginning to think that wasn’t a stretch.
“What the hell is going on, Clarissa?” Tim asked when she was out of the car. He opened the tailgate of his pickup and they sat there, like a couple of kids. “Come on, Clarissa, tell me what you got yourself into?”
“What makes you think- “Clarissa stopped when she saw Tim’s expression – like really? It said – and laughed. “Okay, you’re right. Rachel gave me money and I was supposed to hold onto it for Michael, but…”
“How much money?” Tim rummaged through a toolbox, pulled out the padded envelope she’d given him and handed it to her. “There’s five thousand here”
“A lot of money. Twice that.”
“What happened to the rest of it?”
“I bought a ring.”
“You bought a ring?”
“Yeah, I was pissed at Michael and, well, I had a plan.”
“Yeah, I can’t, I don’t think I can do it.”
“Do I want to know?”
“Now I have another plan.
“Are you worried he’s going to hurt you?”
“I’ll be fine.” Clarissa pushed her hair away from her face and her sleeve rode up exposing the bruising on her wrist.
“How did you do that?”
“Worse than it looks.” She kissed Tim’s cheek and jumped off the tailgate. “Thanks. You’re the best.”
Tim was sitting there watching her with a sad expression as she drove away, but Clarissa was feeling good. She was ready for Michael. And she had a plan.
She opened all the windows of the car, turned up the music along with Neko Case. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be but it’s still pretty bad luck.”
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