Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Your Cheesy Bookstore Romance Pt. 7

“How am I going to go on?” Gryphon barely breathed the words.

Lilly got a job offer in Orlando and tried to persuade her ailing, heartsick brother to move south with her. It had been three months now, and he was still pale and drawn. He was constantly sick to his stomach and had lost weight.

“Honey, please go,” Katherine urged. “My heart breaks all over again to see you like this.” And so he did. He didn’t care much where he was or where he went anyway. His family knew he had to get away from this place, had to break the chain that tied him to his wife and child by leaving the place that did nothing but remind him, every aching moment of every long, empty day, that he was alone.

* * * * * * * *

“Mom got some new pictures from Evelyn.” That was his ex-mother-in-law, who understood the pain her daughter had caused. She did what she could to see that Gryphon knew something of Joy, who was now 11 years old. “She’ll send them soon.”


“Are you OK?”


“Is it the dreams? Are you getting any sleep?”

He shrugged. “Enough.”

“You don’t look it, sweetheart.”

“Maybe this vacation will help.”

Lilly thought over what she was going to say next. “Have you thought about … going back to marine biology yet?”

“Some, yeah. I think I need a little more time. Don’t want to deck anyone again too soon.” Lilly smiled.
As he got out of her car she wished him sweet dreams.

Gryphon shook himself out of his momentary stupor and found himself staring at the mousy bookseller behind the register. His eyes lingered a moment longer, caught by a slip of hair that has slid loose from her bun. As she began to turn in his direction, he looked quickly to the shelf before him, snatched up a book that had an interesting cover, brought it to the counter, and finally mumbled thanks and managed to smile as she handed him his change. “Reading on the job?” The corners of her mouth twitched in what he supposed might be a smile of some sort. “Just a little at a time,” he answered. “Not enough to affect my job performance.” The corners twitched a little further for a split second. He smiled himself and thanked her again.

Jess followed him into the back room and out the door, according to store policy, and smiled to herself as he drove away.

If only, she thought as she walked back toward Andie.

Gryphon found himself wondering about her life, the mousy bookseller’s. Annie or Andie or something. Angie? She seemed so withdrawn; was she really? What did she do when she went home? What did she notice along the way? Did she cook? Go to a movie? Rent one? Go to a class? Throw pottery? Train falcons? And who did she go home to? Maybe she even had kids. He couldn’t see someone so shy taking on a pack of rugrats, though. … And yet maybe he could.

Is she happy? He wondered finally.

Andie loaded her bag into the car, along with Turtle's carrier. As they started out of town, she kept her windows open; the air smelled of oranges, so much that she expected she could put a straw to her mouth and drink it. After half an hour she began to smell salt in the air and got onto A1A just to be near the ocean, even though it would take a little longer.

After another 45 minutes she entered the outskirts of Conch Flats, a small, peaceful almost-city straddling the Indian River. Mrs. Graves’s house was on the southern end, a few miles from the hotels and development that drew tourists and snowbirds. Turtle woke as they stopped at a light and sniffed at the air, smelling salt, water, fish, and who knew what else. A few minutes later they were out of the car and in the driveway of the beach house. Turtle ran off after a lizard; Andie walked toward the house that would be her home for two weeks. She thought about Ernesto’s advice. Yeah, right. Skinny dipping.

In the house she found a fully stocked refrigerator, overflowing with fresh fruit and vegetables and some dishes she recognized as Mrs. Graves’s handiwork. There were fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juices from the local groves, grapes, pasta salad, greens, chili-fried corn, latkes, dolmades, asparagus, cream of cauliflower soup … and fresh-baked turkey breast. Mrs. Graves knew how Andie loved a fresh turkey sandwich. And for Turtle, anchovies and sardines. And a catnip plant sitting on the whitewashed windowsill above the sink.

That night Andie left the television on inside the house for company while she sat on the porch and watched the night roll in over the ocean. The moon was waxing and would probably be full in a few days. She could hear her feline familiar chasing something inside, probably a toy mouse.

The next day, her life at home would walk that much farther away from her.

1 comment:

Elly said...

Please tell me she really does train falcons.