Sunday, 25 January 2009

Chapter 5

Need your input ... should I simply post the whole novel on the writing blog? ... do you like having it arrive here? ... would you like alerts to tell you when the next chapter is posted? ... should I simply forget about trying to share a novel on a blog?

Please let me know.

In the meantime, as before, here is Chapter 5 and it will also be posted on the writing blog.


Kate let herself into the apartment at 7:00, and turned on the light. She hung her jacket in the hall closet, and went down to her bedroom where her kilt was flung on the floor in a heap with her sweater set and her underwear. A gold chain, on which hung a finely wrought young foal with gangly legs, was curled around small gold earrings on the limed oak bureau. She picked up the binder from the bed and stepped over another, considerably ranker smelling, pile of clothes in the middle of the floor, and walked into the livingroom to a large chair. After setting her open binder and an ash tray and cigarettes on the oversized arm rests, and covering herself with a light mohair throw, she climbed into the nest she had created, took one of the Craven A's from its pack, lit it with a silver plated Ronson table lighter and puffed on it, tapping a non-existent ash into the silver plated ashtray.

She glanced at the book she had borrowed from Mr. Stevens, but turned from it to the science section of her binder. Mr. Killawee had given homework this morning, but it wasn't due till Wednesday. She looked at the assignment, and seeing that it consisted mainly of simple math problems connected with speed and distance, she set it aside. Taking a few drags from the cigarette, and using Mr. Stevens' book as a table, she proceeded to write in her best handwriting "I will not be late to class again. I will remember to bring my cooking apron to all my cooking classes from now on" . By the time she had written the two sentences twenty-five times her hand was stiff, and her cigarette had burned away to a long grey ash. She extricated herself from the tangle of papers and blanket and walked into the bathroom, and then into the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator door, and, in the half light, noted that it was only half past seven. She took a coke from the top shelf of the refrigerator and closed the door casting the kitchen once more into darkness.

She wished she could call Rick, but she always felt funny if anyone else answered, and tonight was one of his biology tutoring nights anyway. She hoped he'd call when he was finished, but he might not be able to. He was in his last year of high school with tons of homework every night, and his parents expected him to get the marks he needed for medical school.

I'll call Mim, she decided. She turned on the overhead light and dialed Miriam's number. It was answered on the third ring by Reverend Stockwell. "Yes, I'll get her for you, Kate, but just a short conversation. Miriam has homework to finish before bedtime."

"God, why does he always have to say that, Mim?"

"Say what?"

"Get off the phone in two minutes. How can you have a conversation with a stopwatch going?"

"He isn't timing me. But he's been helping me with my math homework and he wants us to get it finished soon. He has to prepare a speech or something for the Church Women's meeting tomorrow. What's up? How did things go with Miss Johnson after school?"

"I don't even want to think about it. I walked out when she wanted me to wash the floor on my knees."

"But, Kate, everyone washes the floor that way. You've been over here on a Saturday when we're all doing our chores. You've seen Donna scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom floors."

"But not everyone is wearing an expensive kilt from Scotland. I said I didn't want to talk about it and I don't. The last thing I need is you taking Miss Johnson's side in everything."

There was a sigh on the other end of the line and then Miriam's voice resumed, "What did you do after school?"

"The usual. Came home and changed into my jodphurs, rode for an hour or so, came home and took a bath and changed into jeans and went to the Jubilee for supper, and then came home and started my homework."

"What did you have for supper?"

"A hot hamburger sandwich, a coke and a hot fudge sundae."

"Yum. We had liver and onions. Yucck! Oops, gotta go. Dad's holding up one finger. See you tomorrow morning?"

"Yeah." Kate hung up slowly coiling the cord around her hand. She bit her lip, and then went back into the livingroom where she took up from where she had left off. "I will not be late to class again ..." She wondered what Miss Johnson would do about this afternoon. She felt a sick sense of dread when she remembered her words ... you may be a charwoman but I'm not ... the hell I will ... And had she heard what she'd said to the grade sevens?

Just as she finished the last of the lines, she heard a key in the lock. Her father came in shaking himself like a damp dog. Walter Hennigan was a slim man with thinning blond hair and hazel eyes. He was wearing a navy pinstriped business suit and a lustrous silk tie with a crisp white dress shirt. His shoes gleamed. The only resemblance between him and Kate was their short stature. "It's started to snow. Probably won't last. Too early for that, but it's been a grey November day. Any calls for me while I was out? How was your day?"

Kate threw herself on him and gave him a hug. "No calls. I'm glad you're home. I've had a rotten day. We started cooking this term and we have this absolute witch for a teacher. She's ancient and has these awful lumps all over her face. They turn red when she gets mad. She's ugly enough to be in a house of horrors. She probably glows in the dark. And her eyes are lopsided. One hangs halfway down her cheek.

Her father laughed and said, "Well maybe you'll finally learn how to cook, anyway."

"I doubt it," Kate retorted. "She's doing things like boiled eggs and porridge, and after what happened today I may not have to go back to her class anyway."

Mr. Hennigan's face clouded. "What did you do today?"

"I refused to wash her filthy old floor on my hands and knees in the good kilt you brought back from Scotland last trip."

Walter Hennigan laughed and tousled her hair. "You're quite a Tartar, aren't you? How was supper?"

"Okay. Are you going to play a game of crib with me before I go to bed?"

"Not tonight, honey. I'm beat. Maybe tomorrow night. Sleep tight," and he disappeared into his bedroom, not even stopping to brush his teeth.

"Not any night, you mean," Kate muttered to the closed door. "When was the last time we did anything together? I might as well still be living with Mom and Dad Hall, or be back at Edgehill for all I ever see of you."

Kate went into her own room and closed the door behind her. She turned on a bedside table lamp, slipped out of her jeans and shirt and put on a flannel nightgown hanging on the cupboard door. She looked around the room and brightened up. She loved this room and could remain oblivious to the three piles of clothing on the floor and unaware of the unmade bed and concentrate on the treasures on shelves and walls. Standing in the headboard of the bookcase bed were a small blue radio and several porcelain horses her dad had brought back from London, The walls were hung with mementoes of other European cities: a cuckoo clock from Geneva; silk paintings of children in Alpine dress from some other Swiss town; dolls in a variety of national costumes; and two framed blue silk scenes from Lyons where for centuries tapestries had been made. Her curtains and matching bedspread were made of a bright yellow printed cotton from Provence. One of his girlfriends who could sew had made them. Kate thought that one had been called Mary. Joanie was his current girlfriend, and Kate liked her. She was younger than some of the others had been but wasn't one of those glamour pusses who had her picture taken with him in some club. Kippy was a bleached blonde from New York who fit into that category. She'd liked the woman who'd given her the blue Evangeline figure too Adele, a dietician who worked at the Camp Hill veteran's hospital and made wonderful pumpkin pies. Sometimes Kate dropped in to see Adele on her way home from riding. Dad had said he'd broken off with her because they didn't have much in common, but Kate thought it was because she was middle aged and heavy and looked comfortable instead of young or glamorous. Joanie was coming to stay with her next week when her dad went to New York for a few days. Kate was looking forward to it.

She pushed some stuffed animals onto the floor and stretched luxuriantly. Then she retrieved the ancient Rudolph and planted a kiss on it red plastic nose. Her dad had given the stuffed reindeer to her the Christmas she'd arrived in Halifax. That flight had been a rollercoaster ride. The plane had taken off and landed at every city between Toronto and Halifax, and all the landings had been rough, especially the final one. Her father had been standing on the tarmac, the stuffed Rudolf in his hands, when the plane taxied in, and Kate, still feeling ill, had hugged him, grateful to feel solid ground under her feet.

The emotional ride had been just as turbulent. Fear of the unknown battled with the excitement of an adventure. One moment she delighted in the notion that her father would be only forty miles away; the next she remembered Mom Hall and her throat tightened. She'd read Edgehill's rules. Would she ever again be free to wander off alone for hours, just being a kid, she'd wondered.

And weaving its insidious way through all of these thoughts was the knowledge that she had instigated the whole affair by telling Mom Hall about the woman who'd given her the blue Bakelite radio. If she hadn't told anyone about meeting her real mother, nothing might have happened.

Kate fell asleep, cuddling Rudolf, the what if's tumbling around in her head.


Barbara Carlson said...

I would rather read it OFF line in ms. form. I give myself only so much time in the morning to keep up with my fav blogs and the new chapter every day is too much. Perhaps if it were on your writing blog I could choose how much to read in my "spare" time.
I feel badly I have not kept up with latest chapters.
Also I do so enjoy reading about your daily life!! I never miss it.
I'm sorta living it along with you a little...

Tamarak said...

Since I am not going to have a chance to curl up and have a read of this until after I get my show hung and the opening would be easier for me to then be able to find it all in one on your writing blog...

I am looking forward to reading it!

Oma said...

Okay, I will post the whole thing on the writing blog as soon as I can figure out how to remove the bits and put the whole thing together as 1 document. I would send you an MS, Barbara, but I don't have this latest version in print form and it needs some work before I want to print it again.

Barbara Carlson said...

When you get it ready, call me. We can trade mss.
Now I'm working on my Journal Sampler of 3,700 pages (26 years) condensed into 85 pages...not easy, but fun.

deb said...

I agree with Barbara and Tammy...maybe on the days that you add new chapters to the writing blog, you could put a note at the bottom of this blog's daily post that a new chapter has been added.