During the month of April I participated in the A to Z blogging challenge. A first for me, I attempted fiction for the first time. I had such fun with it that I decided to give it another go.
This time I will be writing a serial type of story.
As I meander through my imagination, I expect an episode to take shape in time to be posted each Tuesday.
The Red Sweater
Part One of Six (or maybe more) :)
“You’ll be fine Mom,” Rachel said tenderly. “I’ll be back in a few days.”
Rachel had the phone propped up to her ear, trying to hold it steady with a hunched shoulder as she walked around the apartment.
She turned the burner knobs on the stove to make sure all four were off.
“Mom, you know Mary takes good care of you and Evie said she will stop by every morning.”
Rachel walked into the bedroom to assure herself that she had indeed unplugged the iron.
She had the feeling that she was forgetting something, though.
She could almost hear Sam’s teasing voice, ”Rachel, you’ve checked four times already.”
"Everything is fine,” he would say. “It’s going to be okay.”
Everything was fine once. She missed him.
“Mom, I’ll call you tonight, okay?”
“Love, you too, Mom.”
She tried to practice the “Sam Method" of dealing with stress.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” he would say.
She let out a rueful little laugh. She could think of a lot of worst things right now.
Her phone rang, startling her out of her reverie.
The caller ID displayed the number of the car service.
“Hello Ms. DeRogatis?
“It’s Rich Salice, he said. The car service driver?”
“Oh, sure,” Rachel said.
“I’m down here in the parking lot. If you’re ready, I’ll come up to get your bags,” he said.
“Yes,” Rachel said. “I’m ready.” “Please come on up.”
She unlocked the door, opened it and stepped into the hallway.
The driver lumbered up the steps. He was short and stocky with graying hair.
They greeted each other with “Hi” and “How are you?”
Rachel motioned towards her suitcase and duffle.
As he headed out the door with her bags she told him that she would be down in minute.
She took a final look around. She heaved a heavy sigh and shook her head.
“I hope I’m doing the right thing,” she said quietly.
She walked out, locked her door and headed down the steps to the awaiting car.
Rich held the door open for her.
“All set?” he asked, once he saw that she was seated and buckled in.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Rachel answered, letting out another sigh.
Soon they were coasting along the highway.
“Your plane leaves at noon, right?” Rich asked.
“Yes,” Rachel answered.
“Which airline?” he asked.
“We’ll be there in plenty of time,” the driver promised.
Rachel said, “Excuse me, I need to make a phone call.” She didn’t want him to mistake her conversation for one that she was attempting to have with him.
She tapped in her sister’s number.
At the fourth ring, Rachel was about to hang up, when Evie answered.
Before Rachel could say a word, Evie said, “Look Rachel, you don’t have to remind me again. I said I would look in on Mom every day, didn’t I?”
“I know you will.” Rachel said.
“Anyway, Rach, how are you doing?”
“I’m nervous, Evie. Really nervous.”
“I don’t know why you are doing this, Rach, Evie said. “It’s too soon.”
“Evie, we talked about this. I told you I think it will help me. I want to know what happened.”
“Besides,” Rachel went on, “you know the connection I have to the place.”
“What are you hoping to find? Are you going there to try to find her?”
"How many times have you been through this Rachel?” Evie asked in a challenging tone.
“Listen, Evie, I have to hang up now. We are almost at the airport.”
Evie and Rachel were born 13 months apart, with Evie being the older of the two.
When they were younger, even though neither one of them thought they looked like the other, they were often mistaken for twins.
They both had fair skin, hazel eyes and light brown hair. Evie was the one with the freckles.
They were each other’s best friend, one or the other taking on the role of protector when the occasion warranted.
Rachel knew that Evie was concerned about her, but she did not want to have that conversation again with her sister.
She reached into her tote and wrapped her fingers around the knitted fabric, bunching the sleeve into a ball in the palm of her hand. She was sure the red sweater in her bag would lead her to find answers to the questions she agonized over.
As they pulled into the passenger drop off area, Rachel felt the tears start to well up. She squeezed her eyes tight, trying hard to hold them in.
Sitting at the gate, waiting to board the plane, she tried to remember the last time she travelled on her own.
She glanced around at the other passengers. She was sure she was not the only one who was a single. In fact she noticed several people reading or engrossed in one device or another, seemingly alone.
But, she was drawn to the couple across from her. She tried not to stare. One time the woman caught her looking and Rachel quickly looked down at her magazine. She smiled to herself and wondered if they were as happy as she and Sam, forgetting her reality for a brief moment.
She had reservations at the Charington Inn. Charington is a small town on the eastern shore. Rachel and Sam discovered the Inn once on a weekend jaunt.
She chose the White Pine room, of course. She recalled sunset memories on the balcony overlooking the meadow.
The innkeepers, Roz and Michael, welcomed her warmly.
“Rachel, I’m so sorry,” said Roz mournfully.
Rachel thanked her and said, “I hope you’ll be able to help me, Roz.”
Rachel caught Michael giving his wife a warning look.
Up in her room, she called to check in on her mother.
Mary, her mother’s caregiver, answered the phone.
“Oh, she’s been waiting for your call.”
Rachel spent a few moments comforting her mother. She reassured her that she would be not be away too long.
“Yes, yes, I’ll call you in the morning.”
“Have a good night.”
She decided to take a long luxurious bath before dinner.
She opened her tote and reached in to take out the sweater.
It wasn’t there.