Writing 101: Third Time’s the Charm

“Rebekah, please carry those boxes to the storage room?”  Allie’s voice rang clear with authority but never came across as bossy.  Rebekah had learned to love that about her stepmother.  She always knew how to get things done, but never made it seem like you were being forced into it.  Yes, Rebekah considered herself lucky indeed that this was the woman who came into her father’s life and stepped in to raise his two children.

Rebekah never knew her real mother, Sarah.  She had died in a car accident when Rebekah was still an infant.  All Rebekah knew of the woman who had given her life could be found in the framed photograph kept on her bedside table.  At night, she wold reach over and kiss the photograph of her mother before switching off the light.  As the years went by however, it became harder to hold on to that mother with such a vibrant, loving mother figure could be found in Allie.

Now it was moving day.  She and her brother, Ben, had both graduated from college and moved out of the house.  Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to move into the beach house they had always dreamed of, Rebekah’s dad and Allie had put her childhood home on the market and found just the right home a few towns away.

At the end of a hall Rebekah found the semi-finished room off the garage that would serve as a storage room for now.  After setting the boxes on the floor, she found a chair and collapsed in it.  It was hard to believe that all of the furnishings from her old home had been sold off or moved here.  The place seemed too small for all of those things, much less all of her memories.  With a sigh, she looked through a few of the boxes closest to her her.

Inside them were some old school papers from her and Ben, clothes they had long ago outgrown but which still held some sentimental value, a few photographs in old frames and some books.  She lifted the lid off of what looked like a large, old-fashioned hat box. The contents of this one seemed different.  Instead of being carefully folded and tucked away efficiently, these items seemed to be stored in haste.  One by one, Rebekah removed the contents and examined them.

First came a rose colored robe of softest silk.  It felt cool and soft to the touch. Next, she removed a velvet jewelry pouch and set it aside.  After that was a bag full of yarn, knitting needles and an infant-sized sweater in palest pink.  A lump was forming in Rebekah’s throat through a tiny sense of recognition.  There were only two items left in the box.  One was a very well-used Bible and the other was a leather bound book with no title.  Lifting this last item out of the box, Rebekah delicately opened the cover.  The pages inside were covered with a feminine scrawl.  She knew at once it must have been her mother’s.

Sarah had apparently not been consistent in keeping a journal. Rebekah could tell that the book spanned years as she flipped through the pages.  The first entries were made years before her mother died.  They were made before Ben was even born and they continued until the last few weeks Sarah was alive.  Without a thought for the work that needed to be done around her, Rebekah began devouring the words in front of her.

She had no idea how much time had passed when Ben came knocking at the door.  “So this is where you’ve been hiding.”  He made a move to bump Rebekah over and share the chair with her.  Before he could sit however, she jumped up and began pacing the floor.  “Hey, what’s wrong?”

Rebekah looked up at him and slammed the book shut.  She was breathing heavily, as if she had just run a race.  The look on her face was one of hurt, disbelief and a growing anger.  “Did you know dad and Allie knew each other while mom was still alive?”

“Maybe.  I’m not sure.  I was pretty young when…”  he didn’t have to finish the sentence.  He had been old enough to have some memories of their mother and so he had taken it much harder.  “Why do you ask?”

“Mom talks about her.  In here.”  She held the book out so he could see for himself.

Standing, he took the journal from her hands and opened it.  “What is this?”

“It’s mom’s.  She wrote in it, not often – but she started it when she and dad were first married.  I’ve been reading it since I came in here and I just found an entry that mentioned Allie.”

“And?”

“Mom thought she was having an affair with dad.”

The silence hung between them like a cold damp sheet.  It didn’t seem possible.  Matt & Allie were such a loving, God-fearing, normal couple.  Finally, Ben spoke.  “Are you sure?”

With a sigh, Rebekah sank to the floor.  “Of course not.  Mom wasn’t even sure.  But she was worried enough about it to wonder.  I don’t even know if she ever spoke to dad about it.  After the entry that mentions it, she doesn’t write again for months.  The next entry is about finding out she was pregnant with you.”

Ben sat cross-legged in front of his sister and handed the book back to her.  “What do you want to do?”

“Well first I think I’ll read the rest of this.  I’m not sure I can ask them.  It’s just too weird.”

“Don’t you think we have to, Bek?  There has to be another side to this story.”

DAY FIFTEEN: It’s Saturday afternoon, you’re not at home.

Allie had spent the afternoon shopping along the downtown shops she loved.  They were a part of her beloved small hometown.  She held shopping bags full of knick knacks, antiques and fresh flowers.  Some were destined for her home, but most she had plans for in her shop.  The bell announced her entrance as the girls looked up from the counter. 

“Allie!”  Michelle exclaimed as she passed through the front door.  “You won’t believe the afternoon we’ve had!”

“What’s going on?”  Allie inquired with a broadening grin.  “Has it been busy?  I’m sorry I left you alone, I didn’t know we’d have such a rush on a…”

“No!  That’s not it, it’s been fine!”  Lindsey chimed in.  “There has been some activity, though.  Come with me!” 

Lindsey and Michelle both headed down the hall to Allie’s office.  There was clearly something Allie was missing.  These two were always a little silly, but this was beyond the norm.  Standing on either side of her office door, the two ladies couldn’t help giggling,  Michelle was the first to speak, “Go on in!”

Allie stood, looking between the two faces that were lit up like Christmas.  With a sigh and a look of wonder, she opened her office door.  Nothing could have prepared her for the sight before her.  The small room was filled with all the normal equipment of the office for the small formal wear shop, but there was more; so much more.  Before Allie’s eyes, she found vase after vase full of beautiful yellow roses.  She couldn’t keep her jaw from falling open at the sight of so many beautiful blooms. 

“Could you just die?”  Michelle said from the doorway.  Allie had no answer.  She walked to  the closest arrangement and lightly palmed one of the flowers. 

“We counted,”  said Lindsey, “there are ONE HUNDRED roses in this room!  We so desperately wanted to read the card but of course we didn’t.”   With that, she handed Allie the small envelope from the florist. 

Allie could see it was still sealed.  She held it before her eyes with wonder.  There was no way she could begin to guess who they were from.  She and Marcus hadn’t spoken in months and there was no one new in her life.  Could Marcus have decided to pursue her again.  She didn’t think her heart could take it.  Finally, she opened the envelope after some hesitation.  It read:

Dearest Allie,

I have 101 reasons to sorry.  You I was so wrong last year.  Please forgive me, my friend forever.

Matthew

As she read the words, she heard the front door open again.  She thought about the flowers, the 100 flowers and had no further moment to think about the reference as Matthew’s form filled her doorway. 

“I said 101.”  Matthew was there, holding a single red rose.  What could this mean?

Writing 101, Day Four: The Serial Killer

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Some things you’ll never forget like your first kiss, the smell of your favorite sweater and the sound of your loved one’s laughter. For Allie it was the way her best friend’s voice shook the night he called her in the middle of the night.

“She’s gone,” was all he said.

Allie pulled the phone away to check the time.  It was 3:15am.  Sitting up, she spoke into the phone, “Matthew?  What’s going on?”

He began to sob softly, and Allie’s concern grew.  “Matthew, talk to me.  Who is gone?”  Her mind had just begun to wander when he took a deep breath and spoke.

“Sarah.”  He said between shaky breaths. “She was in an accident tonight.  She didn’t make it.”

Allie felt like she had been punched in the gut.  While Sarah wasn’t an incredibly close friend, Matthew was one of the dearest people of her life.  Hearing he had lost his wife was shocking to say the least.  “What happened?  Are the kids okay?  Are you okay?”  Allie’s words kept coming out faster as her concern for the family grew.

Matthew slowly explained the general facts about the accident.  Sarah had left the house late in the evening to pick up formula for the baby.  The other driver had run through a red light and hit the driver side of her van directly.  The children and Matthew were at home when it happened.  With few words and many pauses for breath the story was told.  After some time, Allie and Matthew fell silent.  She sat there on the edge of her bed wondering what could be done for her dear friend.

“Mattie?”  It was a voice and a nickname she used only in their most intimate moments.  “What can I do for you?”

“Pray,” he said with a slight chuckle.  “But what I really want would be…”

She waited, not wanting to push him.  After a few moments, she prompted, “What is it?  You know I’ll do anything for you.”

“Could you just…” he started, “be here?”

“There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be.  Get some sleep.  I’ll be there before you know it.”

Author’s Note:

In keeping with the true nature of WTTIW, I’ve decided to take some of these prompts and write about the stories and characters that are scattered throughout.  Today’s bit is part 1 of a 3 part series about this tragedy as told from different points of view.