Still with me? This is our second-to-the-last chapter of Our Love is Here to Stay. The feedback has been great, although many of you have forgone the serial strategy and bought the eBook on Amazon. I understand that need, believe me. I have a hard time putting down a book until the end and have even been known to the read the last page first! But for those of you who embraced this process, here’s Chapter Seven.
“Aunt Trish, tell me the story again, puh-lease.”
“Lilah, your mother will have my head if I don’t send you to bed right now. Besides, I have told you the story a hundred times before.”
“I know, but I never get tired of hearing it. You always make it sound so real. I love how you make it sound like it happened to you. You know, Aunt Trish, you don’t fool me by calling the girl Patty, either.”
“Well, my lovely you are a hard one to fool. You are very smart for your eight years and too old for stories.” Patricia straightened the room around her great-niece who was sitting up in bed, her bottom lip protruding in a giant pout. Cleary she was refusing to take no for an answer. “Your mother and father will be home soon and they won’t let me babysit again if you are still awake.”
“Of course they will, Aunt Trish. They don’t have to pay you.”
Patricia bent over the pile of clothes on the floor to hide the grin on her face. Her great-niece really was too smart for her age, and very observant. Still, she loved the child as if she were her own. She schooled her features, flicked a stray wisp of hair that was stuck to her forehead and straightened up, ignoring the ache in her lower back. She moved to the dresser, folding the shirts and pants in her hand. When she got to the small jeans with the flower appliques, she stopped, lost in memories for a moment. Matthew was right. Everyone wore jeans now, even eight-year old children.
“Did you hear me? Are you listening, Aunt Trish? Are you thinking of a story to tell me?” Patricia heard the excitement in the little girl’s voice and relented. But a different story tonight. Patricia didn’t think she could handle the emotions associated with talking about Matthew. She missed her sister and Matthew, and her emotions were too close to the surface lately. It wouldn’t do to get all teary in front of Lilah.
Shaking off the moment, Patricia pasted on a smile and turned to her favorite relative. She loved all of her sisters’ children. Her older sister had 3. And now each of them had children too. Her younger sister had moved to Maryland with her husband years ago, so she only saw that side of the family on rare occasions. But Mary’s children, and their children, had remained close both physically and emotionally all their lives. She had three great-nephews and then this lone little girl.
Patricia knew she spoiled her, but at age 72 and with no children of her own, no one argued with her. Soon she would be too old to bathe and pick up after the precocious child, but until then, she planned to take every opportunity to play nanny for a day or two. And Lilah was correct; her niece and her husband were grateful for the free help.
“If I promise to pretend to be asleep if mommy comes, will you tell me the story again?”
“You minx. You will not pretend anything. I will tell you a different story, a shorter one, and you will close her eyes and try to sleep. Deal?”
“Deal,” the child repeated, putting her small hand in Patricia’s larger one and giving it one good shake. Patricia reached over her head to turn out the bedside lamp, dimmed the overhead light and rested on the side of the bed. She stroked the small child’s hair off her forehead, did a quick survey of the room to assure herself that everything was straightened up and finally relaxed her shoulders.
“Once upon a time, “ she began in a sing-song voice, kicking off her shoes to get more comfortable, “there lived a girl named Patty. Patty was very fortunate. She had a mother and father who loved her and two sisters, one older and one younger, with whom she would remain close all her life.” Patty’s voice cracked on the last words, thinking of her sister Mary who had died of cancer only last year. She missed her more with the passing of time, their daily phone calls, their reminisces. Mary had grown closer as they aged, and time was not healing the pain of her loss. Patricia was now the matriarch of the family and stand-in grandmother for this little child.
“When Patty was old enough to work, she got a job as a secretary to a nice man whose family owned a big company. In those days,” Patricia explained, “women became secretaries, nurses or teachers.”
“Or moms,” Lilah chirped.
“Or moms,” Patricia agreed, snuggling back against the headboard, feeling the reassuring warmth of the little body beside her. Lilah smelled of shampoo, baby powder and wholesome child. Patricia inhaled the fresh scent once more before continuing. “But Patty knew something that other girls did not know. She knew that someday soon women would be doctors and lawyers and anything they wanted to be.”'Cause Matthew told her so,'Lilah piped up. 'Matthew told her when he visited from the future.' Time-travel romance at www.madisonmichael.net/time-romance-seven Click To Tweet
“Cause Matthew told her so,” Lilah piped up. “Matthew told her when he visited from the future.”“Yes, but that is not the story I am telling tonight.” Patricia planted a soft kiss on Lilah’s forehead to take the sting out of her words. “Continuing…Patty spent a year learning about all the things she could study and do. She considered becoming a doctor – she had been good at science in school, just like you.” She tapped the tip of her great-niece’s nose and gave her a proud smile. “She thought about being a doctor,” Patricia repeated, “but decided there were too many years of school for that. She thought about being a lawyer, but that posed the same problem.”
“So what happened?” the little girl prodded, anxious to know the story.
“What happened? Well…” Patricia enjoyed dragging the words out and watching her great-niece squirm. “She was studying a book on careers at her desk one day when the nice man she worked for happened to walk by.”
“Jobs, honey. A career is the work you do to make money. When you decide you want to do something for your work all the time, learn more about it, grow and develop in the job, then it becomes your career.” Lilah nodded her head In comprehension.
“I want a career someday, like you Aunt Trish.”
“Good for you, Pumpkin. Patty was very lucky that the man did not scold her for reading her book on company time…” Patricia was interrupted again.
“What’s ‘company time’?”
“Company time is when the people you work for expect you to do their work, not your own.”
“Oooh,” Lilah responded, letting the concept sink in.
“The nice man asked what Patty was doing and she explained to him that she wanted a career, and she was trying to choose one.”
“Cause she had promised never, ever, ever to marry.”
“That’s right, Lilah, because she had vowed never to marry.”
“I think that’s sad, though.”
“I think that is another story, pixie.” Patricia remarked. “How about I continue with this one for now?”
“Okay,” Lilah responded in a small voice followed by a big yawn.
“Where was I? Oh yes, instead of getting in trouble with the nice man, he suggested that they work together to find her a career. He was very wise and he had a lot of friends in business that could help Patty. Soon the girl was training in sales and traveling to exciting places like New York City and Washington, DC.”
“I’ve been to Washington to see Auntie DeeDee,” Lilah bragged. “It was cool.”
“Yes, I know you have, pixie. Well, Patty thought Washington was cool too. She also thought selling was cool and she was good at it. She sold lots for her company and they gave her more work to do and more money for doing it. Soon other sales people worked for her and she was a Vice President, the first woman in her company.” Patricia paused in her story, savoring again that moment when she became the first female Vice President of Sales. Little did she know then that she would rise to be Executive VP before retirement.
Realizing that there was no little voice urging her to continue, Patricia glanced over to find Lilah asleep and breathing deeply. Careful not to disturb her, Patricia slid carefully from the bed, picked up her shoes and flipped off the light. Moving slowly to avoid bumping into anything, she moved to the door and closed it halfway behind her before moving down the hallway past the living room to the kitchen, where she washed the remnants of a macaroni and cheese dinner followed by chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and whipped cream. It had been a perfect night.
Exhausted from caring for the small child, Patricia collapsed into a kitchen chair and rested her elbows on the table and her head on her hands. She was getting too old to chase Lilah around. At 72, she was arthritic and slow-moving. She had given up tennis several years ago when she had knee replacement surgery. Patricia didn’t miss chasing the ball around the court as much as she missed the 30 minutes spent rehashing the game with friends after.
Her world was getting smaller. She no longer worked. She had given up her position on the Board at the hospital, and then tennis. Her friends were moving south for the warmer winters and now her beloved sister was gone too. There were fewer people with whom to go to lectures, or attend a concert. She was living more in her memories, and she knew it, but they kept her warm at night.She was living more in her memories, and she knew it, but they kept her warm at night. Read this free time-travel romance www.madisonmichael.net/time-romance-seven Click To Tweet
Matthew would be born now. Hell, he would be sixteen years old, just on the cusp of manhood, busy discovering girls. She had considered trying to see him – surreptitiously of course, on several business trips to California. But that had been years ago, when he was still a small boy. Now, she suspected, she would be able to see signs of the man he was becoming.
If she was going to make the trip, it needed to be soon. She would be too frail to travel alone in a few more years, if she made it that long. Her sister’s cancer had given her quite a scare and now she counted her future In days and months instead of years. She hoped she was wrong about their genetics, but feared she was not.
A trip to San Francisco might be lovely. In their long talks, Matthew had told her of his childhood. She knew he grew up in Burlingame, just south of San Francisco. She believed she could find him easily enough, but then what? What could a sixteen-year-old boy want with an old woman? He would not have memories to rehash. She would just be a crazy old bag annoying him, stalking him.
Getting a Diet Coke from the fridge, Patricia wandered around the apartment. Her great-nephews would be home soon. They had a curfew of midnight and it was approaching that now. She dropped, weary, onto the sofa, sinking into the soft cushions, remembering too late that it would be nearly impossible to rise again. Joshua could help her. He was a strapping boy of fourteen now.
Sitting alone with her thoughts, Patricia allowed her memories to swamp her. She remembered going back to The Green Mill Thursday after Thursday for more than a year. Then she started traveling for work. Still, she returned there sporadically, just in case, for another year before acknowledging that her premonition was accurate. With each visit, she felt anew the loss and heartbreak, the difficulty of dealing with Matthew’s absence alone. She felt it now as if it had just happened.
She had finally confessed to Mary, who had wanted her to see a doctor for her affliction, making Patricia feel lonelier still. Despite her promise to wait, Patricia did date. Mary brought home boy after boy, trying to help cure her hallucinations, but none were Matthew. No one made her heart flutter or her pulse race as he had. Eventually Mary stopped trying and Patricia dove into her work and swore off men.
She smiled now to remember how her reputation had suffered in those early days, the sly looks and the bad boys who tried to date her, wanting only to get in her pants. When she stayed single year after year those rumors all died down, replaced by pitying looks for the girl who had been jilted. Those looks eventually changed. Instead women looked at her with envy for all she had achieved. Men too.
She was still an attractive woman, straight and lean. Her blond locks had gone gray, then almost white several years ago. She hadn’t bothered coloring her hair. She still loved to dance and hike and wander the streets downtown window shopping. But she was lonely. She could only fill so many hours with her sister’s grandchildren, or with what few friends she still could meet for a casual cup of coffee.
Reaching into her bag, stretching far to avoid getting up off the sofa, Patricia pulled out her journal. Keeping this diary, telling her story for someone to discover when she was gone, that was what kept her going now. She relived every glorious moment with Matthew and captured it on paper. People would think she had been insane, but she didn’t care. She wanted someone, somewhere, to know that she had once known a great love, that she had loved and been loved in return.
Someone other than the small girl upstairs who utterly believed in Matthew.