Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~ Stephen King

Friday, April 23, 2010

Marnie's Rung

Fiction Friday

This is the next chapter of the novel (or project, as I continue to insist on calling it) that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It's sat dormant long enough - time for me to take another look at it - and to give you a peek at it as well.

In case you missed something:

Chapter 1: Josh's Table
Chapter 2: The Vista

Chapter 3: Transition

Marnie was awake, but she wasn’t ready to get out of bed. The covers had enveloped her in a warm cocoon and she wasn’t ready to leave it – not quite yet. She smiled as she burrowed in a little deeper; pulled her quilt around her a little tighter. She liked the warmth of it and the weight of it. The quilt had been a gift from her grandmother, given to her upon her graduation from high school. Using it and washing it all those years had only served to make it softer. Her grandmother had hand pieced the quilt top with scraps from the dresses Marnie had worn as a baby and as a child. She’d then taken the quilt top to her church where a group of ladies hand quilted and bound quilts for a small fee, which was then donated to the church. Many hands had had a part in making this quilt what it was. That thought warmed Marnie even more.

Her nose and the small radius of face that surrounded it were the only parts of her that were not ensconced in her bedding. That one small part of her was cold. She enjoyed the contrast, but wasn’t quite ready to subject the rest of her body to it. She’d just lie here five more minutes. There was no rush. She wouldn’t drift back into sleep.

She thought about Cal and wondered if he was waking up, too.

She considered not only the loving hands that had contributed the quilt to her current state of divine and practically decadent comfort but also the actual bedding itself. She appreciated the softness of the clean sheets. She took a moment to pay attention to her not too soft, not too firm mattress – the one she’d taken weeks to decide upon, and then hadn’t spared another thought towards. She supposed perhaps that was a good thing. She had chosen well. Beds were not for thinking in, beds were for sleeping in.

And sex.

Oh well, Marnie thought, at least I’m batting 500. Then she laughed at the very thought. Describing sex – or the lack thereof – with a baseball metaphor - how original.

Besides, this was clearly her choice. Damn, Cal would look good in this bed wearing nothing but her grandmother’s quilt. She shook her head to rid it of the image. No, no, no. Bad idea. Bad Marnie.

She hugged the closest pillow. It was encased in a linen pillowcase with a hand embroidered floral border and a delicate crocheted lace edging. It was far too frilly and feminine for her taste from a purely aesthetic perspective, but she loved the tactile contrast the silken embroidery and the cotton crochet made with the crisp linen pillowcase. She also loved the fact that at some time this had probably been an important project for some girl. She wasn’t sure who had embroidered this particular piece – it had come to her as a hand-me-down when a maiden aunt had passed away. Sometimes she fantasized that her aunt had made – or had planned to make – a pair of them for a marriage bed that had never quite materialized. Perhaps her lover had died in the war. Marnie didn’t really know any of those things and the story was pure conjecture and fantasy. She even changed the war sometimes – attributing the pillowcase to an even earlier ancestral romance. Yes, personal aesthetics aside, this was a fine pillowcase. She turned to bury her face into it, perhaps to breathe in some of its story.

That never worked.

But it felt nice. She thought maybe she detected just a hint of Cal’s aftershave.

Marnie stretched – slowly – luxuriously – the way one stretches when one is in no particular hurry to get out of bed.

Marnie was in no particular hurry to get out of bed. What did she have to look forward to? Brunch with her family at her parents’ house? Ugh.

She stretched her legs to their full length then relaxed them. She rolled to her back and stretched her arms perpendicular to her body, grasped her hands, and pulled them back as far as her headboard allowed her to go. She felt the stretch first in her shoulders and didn’t relax it until it had moved all the way up to her fingertips. She pulled herself to a sitting position. Her head objected to its newly vertical state. She reached down and touched her toes, still covered by the patchwork quilt. More objections from her head. She put one hand on her head and gently stretched her neck. It didn’t help. She repeated this on the other side. Ugh. When would she learn?

She swung her legs over the side of the bed, almost ready for them to hit the floor. She located her slippers with her toes and slid her feet into them to spare them contact with the cold hardwood floors. Even on the least hung-over of mornings, that could be jarring. This was not the least hung-over of mornings, but neither was it the most. She’d woken up worse. Much worse. From her seated position she stretched her arms fully above her head one more time, pulling her back into a full arch, then began her day in earnest.

Marnie rushed through her shower and dressed quickly. She ran a comb through her wet hair and decided to let it air dry. Her mother would hate that. She grabbed her purse, her jacket and a large pair of sunglasses and headed out the door. In a less hung-over state, Marnie would’ve loved a morning like this. It was bright and crisp, just like late fall morphing into early winter ought to be. Marnie would’ve preferred a little overcast. The brightness bored through her eyes – even with the benefit of the huge sunglasses – and made her head pound.

There it was, her pride and joy, her fully restored 1968 Shelby Cobra. It had been a gift from her dad on her 16th birthday and she’d never driven another car. It was her sincere hope that she’d never have to. It had already been fully restored when her dad presented it to her, and Andy helped her to keep it in tip top shape, painstakingly attending to every concern both real and imagined. Sometimes she thought Andy loved this car as much as she did. Nah. That would be impossible.

She threw her bag in the passenger seat and sunk into the driver’s seat. She pulled into the local pastry shop and ordered a cup of coffee and a dozen assorted Danish. This place made the best coffee in town – far better than all of the big chains, and far, far better than her moms. She savored that first sip. It was a little too hot, but that added a little aspect of penance. She really didn’t deserve to feel as good as she did half the time. She was a lucky girl, and she knew it. She took another sip – wouldn’t do to have the cup too full when she put it in the Shelby. Josh knew a guy who did great detailing, but she’d just as soon not have a pressing need for that particular service. She moved her bag to the floor and put the pastries on the passenger seat. They were in the signature pink box of the bakery, tied with a length of white string. Another sip – the coffee was just the right temperature now. It was amazing how quickly it cooled off on such a brisk morning. She took a longer sip and enjoyed the way it warmed her from the inside out. She felt almost normal. She felt almost ready to face her mother and her sisters. Almost.

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