Chapter 14: Gary’s Challenge
Gwen stared distantly out the window, the cool glass close to her skin. She peered out across the street, over the trees and neighboring houses to the rising sun. Another day, she thought. She glanced about the living room to the couch still covered with the blankets she had slept under. Lois decided it best for her to sleep there since she had refused the guest room.
Now the artist stood debating her next move.
She could take off again. After all, the last thing she needed was that reporter digging up any more than he already had. She wanted to hide. It was the only way she could, with certainty, be safe. But for how long could she keep running?
Her hand grazed her slowly growing belly and wondered if she was father along than the doctor suspected. Then her hand brushed across the pocket containing the picture. Pulling it out, she unfolded it carefully. Though she had stared at it dozens of times, but only now did it bring tears to her eyes. She couldn’t stop them either. Stepping back from the window, she allowed herself to sink on the couch arm to sob.
“Some story…,” he muttered.
His mind flashed back to the blonde temporarily residing with his sister. He remembered how suddenly her expression had turned from shock to anger at the sound of his question the night before. He felt like he was poking at an open wound she was trying to nurse herself and any minute now she would lash out at him again. Why? Why did this fall on him? Wasn’t there some one else better equipped for this? He was a reporter! Not a counselor.
“Both require facts,” he heard a voice echo. Curiously he sat up, looking around the room. Seeing no one, he let himself flop back on the bed.
“Yes, Lord,” He groaned.
“Laurel,” called a tender, voice from the other side of the door.
“One minute,” she answered.
Quickly she wiped her face and straightened her hair so as to look somewhat presentable. When she opened the door, there was Lois, suitcase in hand.
The artist gave her a puzzled stare.
“Pastor called this morning,” Lois began. “He found a place for you to stay. It’s small, but he hopes you like it.”
Gwen still couldn’t figure why she would need the suitcase Lois was trying to put in her hands. She had only brought the clothes on her back. Those she could at least carry in a plastic bag.
“I don’t ne—,” she started to say when Lois interrupted her.
“Oh, you’ll need it. Trust me.”
With that Lois thrust the suitcase’s handle in Gwen’s hands and pushed her down the hall. She came to a sudden stop at the edge of the kitchen when her eyes met with the reporter. Him again? Did he not torture me enough last night, she thought.
“Well hello,” he called tipping his worn bucket hat.
Gwen looked back at Lois as if to say “save me!” Lois only laughed.
“He’s here to take you to your new place,” she replied.
Gwen swallowed struggling to hold onto the suitcase. It was much heavier than the woman had lead her to believe. Gary stepped up and quickly took the heavy leather case from her.
“Pregnant women should not be carrying luggage,” he said turning toward the door. Then noticing its weight he turned to his sister. “Good grief! What did you put in here? Bricks?”
“Hmmm…just a few.”
The reporter shook his head and turned back to the door. Gwen stared at him speechless until she felt Lois’ hand pushing her again.
“You should follow him,” Lois whispered.
Gwen turned to argue, but the woman had already disappeared into her bedroom, leaving her to stare at the open door.
“Uhh..,” she groaned and stepped outside, closing the door behind her.
Gary was closing the trunk to his ancient Buick. It was a pale sky blue with wood panels down the sides. It was something she pictured on the beach, owned by some surfer, with a couple of boards strapped to the top, rather than a reporter living in the suburbs.
He frowned, noting her expression. “What,” he asked.
She shook her head as she followed the walk to the waiting car.
“You didn’t have this yesterday,” she said looking over the vehicle.
“I kind of prefer public transportation when it’s good weather out.”
He watched her eyes try to size up the car for safety hazards before getting in. She pulled her dress firmly over her legs as he got in, giving him a chance to notice the track marks on her arms barely peeking out of her sleeves. Realizing his gaze, she pulled them down with a stiff yank as well.
Gary sighed and started the car.
It was pale blue—slightly lighter than the Buick with white trim. Stepping stones made a path to the door through the grassy lawn. Two small shrubs sat at either side of a small porch guarding the door. Hanging pots with flowers dangled from the rafters. Soft white curtains covered the windows inside, hiding its contents.
“The church bought this place years ago, but it hasn’t been used for a while,” Gary explained as Gwen stared out the window. “Pastor Cohen though it would make a nice place for you in the meantime.”
The woman turned to pass him a suspicious stare. Oh boy, he thought.
He had to force himself out of the car and to the back for her luggage. Opening the trunk he suddenly remembered just how heavy that thing was. With another sigh he pulled it out and turned toward the walk. He paused for a moment to watch the woman slowly walking up the path to the house.
She stopped to touch the shrubs at the entrance, almost as if to assure herself they were real. Her eyes were filled with so much wonder. It was like watching a child exploring outside after the last winter snow had finally melted.
A frightened girl trapped in an adult’s world, he thought.
Gary followed behind her, only setting down the suitcase once he reached the porch. Digging in his pocket, he pulled out a set of keys. Gwen watched him curiously.
“These are yours,” he said dangling a set before her.
She was hesitant to take them, so he forced then in her hand instead. With the other set he opened the door, allowing her to go in first.
She stepped into a small entry way with a closet to her left. The small hallway then opened out to a simple living room. Cream colored couches sat in L-shaped fashion around a coffee table and small cobblestone fireplace. The walls were lined with walnut paneling and white drapes over the windows both at the front and back of the room. To the right a doorway opened to what appeared to be a a study; book cases lining the walls. To the left was the kitchen and dinning room. Dark slate blue walls contrasted with the cream colored, vintage dinning table draped in a lace table cloth.
Gwen let her fingers run across it as she walked past the windows at the front of the room, her eyes examining the kitchen at the back. An antique wood stove had been converted with more modern burners and the old oven converted to storage for pans. In place of the stove’s original oven were two wall mounted units to one side. To the other side of the stove was a short refrigerator and sink. A small window above the sink allowed a peaceful view of the backyard apparently still needing work.
Then Gary got an idea. The next room over was sort of a tea room joined to the home’s only bath and bedroom.
“This way,” he commanded, drawing her attention away from the sink’s window into the smaller room.
The reporter lead the way past the small round table and two chairs, and using his shoulder pushed open the first door. He looked at her waiting for her response.
She stared back momentarily before growing agitated with his gaze. What was he up to?
“So,” she finally answered with a frown.
“That’s your bathroom…,”he began. Then grunting and pushing open the other door he added. “And this is where you’ll sleep.”
Without regards for her look of horror, he stepped inside and set the suitcase on the bed. His arms were suddenly relieved of their load. Turning about, he smiled. He thought for sure she’d feel safer here than anywhere else, but her eyes said otherwise.
She stared through the door to the suitcase. He didn’t! Does he…? Her mind began to swirl in a myriad of thoughts. NO! She couldn’t let those awful memories back!
“Can’t you…leave that out here,” she asked nervously.
What for,” Gary asked his arms extended as if to show the room was perfectly safe. There’s a closet in here for whatever it is my sister gave you and a bed to sleep on. I’m sure it would be more comfortable than Lois’ couches.”
Stepping out of the room, he left the suitcase resting on the bed. She’ll have to go in there for it, he thought.
“Are you just going to leave it there,” she demanded more anxious. “I asked you to bring it here.”
“Well if you want it, then get it,” Gary challenged, standing face to face with the woman.
“You said ‘pregnant women should not be carrying luggage’, ” she growled.
Gary shrugged. “And thus I have carried it this far for you. But it is quite heavy and my arms need a break.”
His smirk unnerved her. Gwen’s hand struck his cheek faster than he expected and stormed out of the room.
The Faithbook 2011