To Remember and Forget (Part 1)

Sorry it has been a while since my last post! Here is the next story included in my capstone! Hope you enjoy!

To Remember and Forget

            Estelle held Victor on one hip and Viola on the other as she stood waiting for the soup she could feed them, herself, and the fourth party inside of her. Victor wore a pillowcase Estelle had sewn into a pair of tiny pants and sleeveless shirt. A small blanket hung on Viola’s shoulders. The crisp air warned of winter’s arrival.

            When it was their turn to eat, Estelle sat down at a long table with men and women from all walks of life. One man dressed in a suit of potato sacks had no front teeth while the woman sitting next to her wore a tailored jacket. Her shoes and dress were torn, making the jacket look overly luxurious for one of her means. Estelle balanced her twins on either knee as she fed them the watery, tasteless broth. They gobbled it as if it were candy. She nibbled a few bites of stale bread before feeling nauseous. She closed her eyes and breathed. Then she placed the rest of the bread in her coat pocket before leaving. Jim might need something later.

            The alleys and streets were full of orphans, hobos, and people whose gaze was tired and desperate. Estelle didn’t look at any of it. Victor and Viola clung to her sides like little monkeys. She boosted them higher and continued walking to the tenement home that waited for her just a few blocks away.

            Tattered clothing hung to dry from ropes extending from one building to the next. Estelle opened the sticking door of the flat with a shove and was greeted with the scent of damp mold. Her nausea returned. She put Victor and Viola on the mattress and went to the bathroom. The tub was brown with rust and filth. She hung her head over the wash basin but nothing came up and nothing relieved her nausea. She could feel the squirm of the thing inside her. She wanted to punch it—to eliminate it. Instead she rested her hands on her stomach and sank to the splintering floor. She heard Victor begin to cry in the next room. She got up but the room wouldn’t let her go. It began to spin. The tub, the wash basin, the window, the foul smells, the cries attacked her senses, knocking her back down.

********************************************************************

            “Jim, this is my daughter, Estelle. Estelle, this is Jim,” her mother had said one day after church. “He’s visiting the Bakers. They’re his aunt and uncle.”

            “It’s nice to meet you, Estelle,” Jim smiled.

            “Likewise,” Estelle said.

            “I’m actually from Maryland. I’m studying music there.”

            “Music?” Estelle’s eyebrows raised in disbelief.

            “Estelle,” Nora snapped. “He’s educated. Music is an admirable thing to study.”

            “It’s okay, Mrs. Tucker,” Jim laughed. His laugh was soft and lilting. “I could play the piano sometime and maybe then you would like music better.”

            “You’re that good, eh?” Estelle raised her eyebrows once again.

            Jim looked at the ground and stuttered, “I didn’t—I mean— that’s not what I meant.”

            “Well, come on!” Estelle said motioning back to the chapel. Jim looked up, puzzled. “There’s a piano in there.”

            “Just make sure you aren’t getting into trouble,” Nora said. “Don’t be in the way.”

            Estelle fought the urge to take Jim’s hand. He drifted with the breeze as if he was dandelion fluff floating in the air. When they got to the chapel, Jim sat at the piano and closed his eyes stroking the keys slowly as if they would tell him what to play. Estelle leaned against the wall in front of him and tapped it impatiently. Then Jim sent a slow melody pulsing through the air. She was swallowed into a world of feeling. Estelle came nearer to look at Jim. His eyes were closed. An occasional furrowed brow appeared at the hint of a sour note but his eyes remained shut. He was in another world and he was painting that other world with sound. When he was finished his eyelids opened and revealed a pair of distant gray eyes.

********************************************************************

            “Who else will you marry?” Nora said. “There is no reason you shouldn’t marry him.”

            “I don’t know if I love him!” Estelle shouted.

            “What does love have to do with it? You like him don’t you?”

            “Sure.”

            “So you’ve got your whole life learn to love him.”

 

**********************************************************************

            “Estelle?” Jim’s soft hand caressed her forehead. Estelle peered through the veil of her eyelashes.

            “Why do you love me?” Estelle’s voice was barely audible but Jim heard it.

            “How are you feeling now? Victor and Viola are asleep. I’m glad I got home when I did. What happened? Are you okay?” Jim’s voice was anxious but steady.

            “Why do you love me?” Estelle repeated, eyes closed.

            Jim sighed and then leaned down to kiss Estelle’s cheek. “Because you’re my song.”

            Estelle drifted back into black.

 

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