Monday, April 06, 2009

Rachel story, part 3

The following day, Rachel waited until the techs had left the office, then opened up the email inbox for alexandredumas in silent expectation. She was pretty sure there would be some sort of reply. When there wasn’t, she sat thinking. The sound of the furnace rumbled and blew out in the warehouse. The phones were quiet. She stood up and walked over to the front door and looked through the glass at the snow. There was no activity outside. It was silent and cold. She lifted her right hand and placed it flat against the glass, and the cold seemed to creep into her fingers and across the back of her hand.

“What are you thinking, Sara Rose?” she said aloud. “Are you wondering who I am? Are you wondering if it’s a joke?”

In her mind, she pictured the expression on Sara’s face as she read the message. She imagined her blue eyes… she thought they had been blue. With the glasses it was hard to tell, and she had never been able to look at them for very long. When she was looking at Sara, it was all she could do to focus on what she was saying, let alone help her brain understand what color her eyes were. But, let’s say they were blue… and those blue eyes, looking confused and bewildered, her mind ticking, naming off people who might have sent a message like that one. She imagined her showing her co-workers. Look at this, she heard her saying excitedly. I have a secret admirer.

Rachel wondered if she ever thought of the African violets that had arrived at her office one Friday afternoon about six months ago, with a cryptic note attached, leading her to a web site with a message board. Rachel had revealed herself then. She had admitted to sending the flowers. She had accepted Sara’s gracious appreciation, and then she had floundered at the silence afterward. She had invited Sara to lunch, and she had received no reply. Then her health had worsened. Then she had moved away.

“I want to know you… I just want to know you.”

The months in Utah had been productive. She had continued to write for two magazines, and was working slowly along on a novel. The poetry had been put aside. Events that usually inspired poetry had not been frequent. Usually it was a new fascination that caused it, or a frustration in a current relationship—something highly emotional. Usually she did not have to think about what to write. When poetry was available to her it bubbled over and spilled onto paper all around her. Right now the poetry muse was silent and she was content to work on the story ideas she had been thinking about. But she still had lots of poetry to publish. It was old enough that she felt removed from it. She felt like she could release it now, and not think about the contents of her brain and her heart and her stomach laid out on paper for the world to see. It was okay to let it go.

It was also time to clean her desk and go home for the day. She put away all of the floppy disks she used while writing, shut down the software applications on the computer, shut off the lights and locked the doors. It was icy cold outside, and she hugged herself as she walked across the pavement to her car.
At home, there was a message on the telephone from her sister, wanting to know if Rachel would like to come over for dinner. Melanie knew that Rachel might or might not eat anything if she was home alone. She also knew that Rachel could spend an entire evening not talking to another human being, except by email. Rachel switched on her computer as the phone began to ring. She picked it up, knowing it was Melanie again.

“Hi. Did you just get home?”

“Hi. Yes.”

“Get my message?”

“Just now.”


“I’m staying here tonight. I have some things to catch up on.”

“Okay. We’ll have some left over if you get hungry later.”


Rachel appreciated her sister. Melanie and her children were why she had moved here at all. When Rachel’s health had digressed, at was Melanie who offered to help her, to be there when no one else would be. Now that things were better, she was happy to be feeling more independent, and still have Melanie close by. It was comforting to know someone was there if she started to feel badly again. For now, she was content to have quiet time and her own space to work on her writing.

Rachel had dropped her mail on the hall table as she came in, and now she picked it up again. Among a few envelopes was a small package from Amazon. It was undoubtedly the book she had ordered, and she opened it. It had been recommended by a friend, a former co-worker back in San Jose. She opened it and read through the reviews on one of the first pages, then went to the couch and sat down. She was on page 20 when she realized how dark the room was. She leaned and switched on the lamp on the end table and saw her reflection in the television screen across the room. Her thoughts turned to Sara Rose.

Rachel had never considered herself as “fitting” into any particular category of people. In fact she had always considered herself a little odd. Not exactly eccentric, but very interesting and unusual. The trouble with that was, being interesting in the particular way she was, was not apparent to the casual observer, and she had met relatively few who were willing to dig deeper. Like many artists she knew, she felt misunderstood. She had written a poem about it once. She had compared herself to a book with a very plain cover. Though it was plain, the cover was not unattractive. It had a smooth and expensive binding, nothing flashy or fancy. It wasn’t too thick, and wasn’t too thin, and in fact something unusual happened when one began to read the book. The pages multiplied, so that the reader could never quite get to the end. But by the time the reader was involved in the story, he didn’t care, because he never wanted it to end. This would have been a marvelous thing, only because the cover was so plain and unadorned, very few people ever picked the book up at all. And sometimes there were those who opened the cover and read the first page, and it just didn’t appeal to them, so they’d put it down. It’s not that the story started slowly. These particular readers just didn’t quite understand what they were reading and didn’t care to try. For Rachel, this was okay. She didn’t want people around her who were confused and frustrated by her. She wanted understanding and acceptance. She wanted to be appreciated. She wanted to be valued for the fascinating story that she was.

It had been a good poem. Rachel was proud of it. And there were a few, among her admirers, who had understood it. She was fortunate to have admirers. There were just certain people, Sara Rose among them, whom she really wanted to hand the book to, and even open the first page and begin reading to them. She knew that if they would read a paragraph or two they’d want to keep reading. She didn’t necessarily mean for everyone to buy their own copy and study the book, but she did hope that certain people would at least want to read it and enjoy it.

Rachel had wondered about Sara’s life. She remembered her saying that she was planning to move back to New York. Had she lived there before? Was she moving alone, or with a boyfriend or husband? She was pretty certain Sara wasn’t married. She was also quite sure that if she was attached to someone, the someone was likely a male. She wondered if she liked her job, and what she did when she wasn’t at work. Did she go out with friends? Did she go to clubs? Did she drink and dance and laugh and enjoy life? She couldn’t imagine a person like Sara sitting at home waiting for her favorite television show to come on. Sara seemed to be a person who surrounded herself with people. Did she study people, like Rachel did, or did she just surround herself with friends who she could have a good time with? Was there drama in that circle of friends, or was everybody just content to hang out and look forward to the next weekend?

Rachel felt restless. She stood up and went to the kitchen where her computer was and turned it on, then wandered over to the cupboards and pulled out some crackers as it booted up. She pushed a few in her mouth, watching the screen. It took only a minute or so, and then she signed in to both messengers—one under her own name, and the other as Alexandre Dumas. Alex did not have any new messages. Rachel was not surprised, even though she had hoped. Rachel, however, did have a few messages, and she sat down with her box of crackers and scrolled through them.

As she sat there she imagined Sara coming home. The front door opened and closed and she called out a hello. Rachel ran her forefinger over the mouse button, listening.

“I brought dinner,” Sara called. “Are you hungry?” She appeared in the kitchen doorway, smiling and laden with pizza boxes. She set them on the counter as Rachel got up.

“Oh, thanks, that was nice.”

“I got your favorite,” Sara said. “Hawaiian with mushrooms.”

Rachel thanked her and opened the top box, pulling out a slice. Sara grabbed two plates and napkins and set them out on the counter. Then she pulled out a piece for herself and placed it on a plate. She busied herself with getting cups and filling them with ice water.

“So how was your day?” she asked.

“It was all right,” Rachel answered. “The usual. There was actually enough to do in the office so that I didn’t have a lot of time to write.”

“That seems unusual.”

“Yeah, I guess. How did your day go?”

“It was actually very relaxed. My dad was gone so he wasn’t looking over my shoulder all day. I went out to lunch with Katie. We went to that new Japanese place—you know the to-go place they put in on 10th Street? You and I should go there sometime. It was really good.”

“Sounds great,” Rachel said, chewing. “Thanks for doing this. I didn’t know what was going to be for dinner.”

“No problem.”

The phone rang. Rachel got up from her desk and looked at the display on the handset. It was a number she did not recognize. Probably a solicitor. She let it ring, and turned back to her computer screen. The apartment was cold. She went back to the living room, grabbed the book she had been reading earlier, and went to her bedroom where she could get under the blankets. She fell asleep a little after eleven.


  1. Well, that's quite fascinating. Did you really send emails and so on to your friend? amazing.
    sounds terrible.
    How did you stomach it? I would personally die from being nervous from an adventure like that.
    The things we do, right?
    BTW, that poem sounds very nice. I gave up poetry after high school. I'm almost embarrassed by some of the stuff I wrote at that time (typical teenage topics and style).
    I wrote a glorious (Glorious) poem for a boyfriend once in HS. Spent hours and hours on it. Finding JUST the right word. I was so pleased with it.
    Took it over to him.
    He had a very different background education and parents-wise. Hadn't a *clue* what the subject of the poem was nor what it meant. Now, that wasn't my fault. Everyone else understood it. It was so funny that I'd written it for him and he couldn't understand it. ;-)
    Very nice fellow, though. Not to speak ill of anyone..

  2. Nah....most of this is fiction.


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