Sweet Thyme Baby – 18

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

18

(Start at the Beginning of Sweet Thyme Baby)

(Click here to read Section 17 first)

 

He ignored Lovey.

 

Sharon said, “You didn’t have your shower.” He was across the room pouring a cup of coffee, fully dressed in shirt and tie and trousers. Working clothes.

 

“I been running in the garden, Parson.” Lovey drawled out pahhson so it sounded slightly ridiculous. “Would you prefer I do not linger?” Lovey was a college graduate and spoke straightforward English when she wanted, Africaribbean for her own amusement and to irritate.

 

Lance spat coffee into the sink. “What did you do? Boil this?”

 

As a matter of fact, yes. Accidentally.

 

“I’ll make you another cup.”  A good wife would not be so careless or she would take the time to make a second pot. “What would you like for breakfast? I have pancakes.”

 

Hamish appeared at the kitchen door rubbing sleeps from his eyes. “I saw a lady in the garden again,” he said. “Her hair was all over. Like weeds.”

 

Lance said. “I told you, no more stories.”

 

“Maybe there are homeless –.”

 

“Don’t make excuses for him, Sharon.”

 

“You’re in a bad mood.”

 

“It’s his imagination. Did you speak to his teacher about those books she reads them? I don’t like it. I never wanted him in daycare in the first place and I most particularly don’t want him hearing those pagan stories.”

 

“They’re fairy tales. They’re classics.”

 

“They’re pagan superstition. Last Saturday I heard Joel on the radio and he –.”

 

“Where’s Uncle Sam?”

 

“Sleeping in, Hamish.”

 

“Can I wake him up?”

 

“Let him sleep.”

 

Lance asked, “How long’s he going to stay?”

 

“He just got here.”

 

Lance rolled his eyes.

 

“So. What about breakfast?”

 

“Nothing. I think I might have put on a pound or two the last couple days.”

 

Lance stood before the mirror near the kitchen door and knotted his tie. He had tucked his shirt into his trousers in the military style with two pleats lined up directly below his shoulder blades. It made his back look wider, his waist slimmer. Sharon sighed and understood. Joel tucked his shirts this way. She should have guessed.

 

Hamish said, “Can I walk wiv you to the church, Daddy?”

 

“You’re going to eat pancakes, young man,” Sharon ruffled the top of his head. “Then we’ll walk Lovey to her shop.”

 

“He can come with me,” Lance said.

 

“I don’t have time –.”

 

“I’ll send him back alone.”

 

“Lance, it’s not safe.” Maybe it was true, as Hamish insisted, that a ragtag tribe of homeless lived in the garden. There was no telling what people like that might do. “He’s too young to walk back alone.”

 

Hamish climbed on Lovey’s lap, held up four fingers and crowed, “I’m this many almost.”

 

“You fib,” Lovey said. She held all her fingers, splayed wide. “You this many.”

 

“A boy has to grow up with a feeling of confidence or else he’ll spend his life being walked over. Doesn’t matter how smart he is, if he doesn’t feel confident inside himself, strong…” Lance showed Sharon a tight fist, “…the world’s going to take advantage of him.”

 

“Does Joel have anything to do with your secret?”

 

Lance grinned.

 

“When are you going to tell me?”

 

He grabbed Hamish by the back of the collar. “Come on, Champ. Let’s hit the road.”

 

“What if a stranger –”

 

“This is Cabrillo Point, Sharon. Not Barrio Logan.”

 

Sharon looked at the pancake burning on the grill. She slipped the spatula under it and dropped it into the sink. She remembered being little, standing in the kitchen holding onto the back of a wooden chair while her father dragged the comb through her hair and she tried not to cry. He had been rough because he was impatient, because he had a lot to do.

 

Lance brushed her forehead with a kiss.

 

“Have a good day.” Her voice had tangles in it.

 

She watched father and son out the back door, watched them follow the gravel path around the back to the house. When she turned to Lovey she had composed her expression. “He’s got a lot on his mind these days.”

 

Lovey made a sound like clearing her throat.

 

“The church is struggling, there’s not enough money –.”

 

“So what else is new?  If a minister’s got bucks to throw around, he’s prob’ly stealing ’em.” Lovey rose and rinsed her juice glass. “So who’s this Joel and how come you don’t like him?”

 

Sharon stared out the window. “Sometimes I think we’re not the right kind of church for a neighborhood like Cabrillo Point. Not fancy enough. Our ideas aren’t modern…”

 

“Lance could become a Unitarian.” Lovey laughed at her own joke.

 

Behind the house there was a stretch of grass and pampas grass clumps between the house and church. Wood Road curved around the other side, busy at this hour as the residents of Cabrillo Point left in their Mercedes and BMWs for work in San Diego.

 

“I think I ought to go up to the bedroom and watch Hamish from the back window.”

 

They walked upstairs and into the bedroom. Out the window and beyond the pampas grass, across the church parking lot and more lawn, she saw Hamish reach up to hug his father. Lance turned into the parish offices and the boy bounded back toward home.

 

Why had she worried?

 

She pulled the bed covers up over the sheets and smoothed the spread. A memory of the night before leapt up from the bedding and grabbed her. Lovey tossed her a yellow sateen throw pillow. Sharon missed it, bent to pick it up, and the total effort was more than she could manage. She sat on the bed, put her head in her hands and sobbed. She didn’t know why.

 

Lovey sat beside her. “We all change, Honey. Only things that don’t change are dead and maybe them too”

 

“No, Lovey, this is different. There’s something wrong, something…off.”

 

“Maybe you all should get counseling.”

 

“He’d never agree.”

 

Sharon loved Lance, and even if she had not, she was still married to him for life and that was that. One life. One marriage. One family, together. She should not have been raised by her angry father, and Sam should not have been hauled off to Texas by their trampy mother.

 

“When there’s kids, marriage has to be for keeps. People just have to work things out.”

 

“That’s where you and me, we have a difference of opinion.” Lovey had been married twice and was on good terms with both her exes.

 

“Lance needs me.”

 

“Whoever said you were put on this earth to serve Lance Whitby’s needs?” Lovey rested her backside on the windowsill. “We all got lessons to learn and you can’t learn Lance’s for him and that’s the God’s truth.”

 

“I have a lesson too?”

 

“You’re a human being, am I right?”

 

“So what do you think my lesson is?”

 

“That’s your soul’s business, girl, not mine.”

 

“Convenient.”

 

“Trouble with you is, you want to be in charge. You want to make a list, check things off soon as they be done.”

 

“But how can I learn the lesson if I don’t know what it is? I mean how will I know when I’ve learned it, if I don’t know what it is in the first place?”

 

“Beats me, I just think there’s stuff we know for sure and stuff we don’t and that’s the way it’s meant to be. Be as logical as you like, but don’t make out like you’re the Almighty with a bee-line on what’s so and what isn’t. Life ain’t like a car you can drive.” Lovey pointed. “Here comes your little Hambone.”

 

“Good Lord, I forgot all about him.”

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

 

Click here to read Part 19 of Sweet Thyme Baby

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