Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vintage Calico 4 Pocket Apron

This is a story about Coquet and Bronco:

From space, the earth is seen in the loveliest shades of blue, with swirling white clouds, and surrounded by starlit blackness. That same blue is in Coquet’s eyes. Her hair is deep black, with loose curls and plenty of shine, worn like a halo around her pretty, neat head. Her blue eyes were a gift from her father. Leo Cache couldn’t leave much behind for his family when he died unexpectedly at 55, so Coquet was grateful for what she had. “Fortunes can be squandered, belongings can be lost, but her father’s eyes would be with her forever,” Clementine would say more than once.

Looking up from Earth, the moon is the perfect sugar-coated night light for children (or the occasional adult) who are afraid of monsters under their beds. For Coquet, a milky pattern on the bedroom floor, a moonbeam resting a loved one’s shoulder blade, or just the quieting effect the Moon has on colors, these are all reminders of how Clementine brings that same comfort to her daughter, as a friend and beacon.

Unlike either of her parents, Coquet uses parenthesis in her own diary. She laughs when she is alone watching The Princess Bride for the bazillionth time, builds all her own Ikea furniture and cuts her own hair. She makes her own bed and washes up her own dinner dishes. She is what her online profile simply states that she is: happily single.

“When you find yourself happily single is probably the very best time to meet your future husband,” stated Claire. “Because that’s when you’re able to bring the most to the union.” Coquet poured two glasses of water. Without looking at her sister, Coquet said “The most what?”
“The most of... The best. You know, the biggest and best I guess, of everything.”
“The biggest piece, of everything? And What exactly do I do with the biggest piece? Do I have to share? What about my ‘future husband’s piece’?” They smiled together, carried plates of homemade coleslaw with pineapple, white raisins and chunky walnuts over to the couch, and chewed. She loved the texture of it. Coquet’s mind wandered while her sister made the occasional satisfied sound. She remembered being a girl at her aunt Mary's house, eating homemade cakes with raisins and walnuts, and drizzles of honey. She always got the biggest pieces back then. She and Claire were instructed to visit Old Aunt Mary from time to time, and they grudgingly obeyed. The two girls walking across a wide lawn and a very quiet street would speculate on what kind of home made treat would be waiting, making the trip less of a chore.

Old Aunt Mary was widowed, and lived alone on 3 acres of rich soil in a tiny two bedroom ranch with a crumbless, loveless kitchen. Everyone used the side door, as the front door was for strangers. When the girls came inside, they were always encouraged to eat, and Coquet always got the biggest piece of everything, because she was the eldest. The food was always fine, but the experience was always awful. Old Aunt Mary always made things from the garden, from scratch, and served them with gnarled, leathery hands. Then she watched with icy grey eyes as the younger compared her portion to that of her sister’s. The two girls ate because it was good and it was the only time Old aunt Mary’s eyes warmed up a bit.

Aunt Mary’s face was lean and drawn. She had a noticable scar on her straight nose, and wavey blue-gray hair. Her day consisted mainly of cleaning an already spotless house, and pulling fresh vegetables and fruit from her yard, and then cooking it up for no one in particular. She fried squash blossoms, she baked apple pies, she cleaned, she put on the worn house dress and frayed, patterned apron and little earrings every day, but got no real pleasure until she saw someone else eating at her table. And then just like that, she was ready for the girls to go. Coquet and Claire didn’t need to be told twice. They knew she never liked either of them. And usually, by the time they were finished, the hard vinyl chair seats were pinching and tugging at their legs.

The 15 minute walk back to their Grandmother’s house was enough time for them to be rid of the lingering resentment, form ranks against the grown ups, and be best friends again. They took their time getting down the curved and overgrown dirt driveway. Mother warned them not to walk in the middle of it, someone might be coming down quickly and run them over for goodness sakes. In all the years and all the walks, that had never happened. The closest they came to getting hurt by a car was when they climbed into the old Rambler that was decaying 200 feet away from the driveway. Grandfather caught them, and they knew the only sensible thing to do was cry and run and cry some more. When they had the courage to return to the house, Mother was composed, but the look on her face spoke to them of disappointment and shame in front of her own parents.

Coquet looked across at her still-best-friend and sister. She noticed that Claire looked more like their Dad, and was sounding more and more like Clemmy lately.

Claire asked a question, while picking up the phone, and the sound of her voice brought Coquet back. She noticed the quality and slant of light on the wooden floor, and realized it was getting late. The game would be starting soon. She needed her hat and glove, but they were home. Scooting out the door, she yelled ‘later tater’ over her shoulder. Claire was busy with a phone call and waved to the unseeing.

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What's the story?

During the past 46 years, I've lived in Connecticut. I've traveled up and around the U.S. and to Puerto Rico, and loved every minute. I've had 4 children who are now fantastically talented adult artists and comedians. I've been married and then divorced and then engaged and then single and finally *big sigh* content. I've grown into a darn good nurse, cook, seamstress, and Mom.

Maybe one of these days I'll get this 'writing' thing down, too.

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I am where I do and am not where I don't. Not what I was or will be, just 'me'.

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