Today’s prompt was to write to our natural length. Even to work on an up-coming scene in a work in progress if we already have a novel going. Well, I have 6 going. And, to be honest, this is pretty much what I’ve doing most of the month. A lot of my stories I’ve been able to fit into those WiPs. I actually wrote the first paragraph of this last week, but that was all I’d written of this scene, so I decided to include it. I’m really enjoying writing these girls.
I followed Nola through the yard. Nothing I’d seen in the house had really changed. Granted, she hadn’t taken me on much of a tour. Either time she’d started to. The first time she’d been pissy with me, and I still didn’t know why. The second time she’d started telling me that story that wasn’t really a story. There was no beginning, middle, or end. No plot. And only one character that no one even seemed to be sure about. But, she’d made me want to know more. I’d just have to figure out where to look first.
The grounds were different, though. Of course, I hadn’t spent as much time out here during the summer months I spent at this house. Most of my time had been split between the library and the pool. I hoped Aunt Adriane hadn’t gotten rid of that when I stopped spending so much time here. I turned to Nola to ask her the question. But, maybe she’d seen the look in my eyes, because she grinned at me.
“Don’t worry. Ms. Adriane would never do away with the pool.” The grin dimmed slightly. “She wouldn’t do away with anything she knew you loved. I don’t think you realize how much she loved you.”
I did. Though sometimes the immensity of it was more than I could grasp. But, all I said was, “I’ll have to check it out later.”
She said something low, but she was already turning and heading away, so I couldn’t catch what it was. Instead, I hurried to catch up to her. The ground weren’t too expansive. It wasn’t a tiny yard by any means, but we could easily walk it without growing tired. Most of it was open, and I wondered for a moment how long it took to keep up with yard. Then, she was leading me to what appeared to be a small pond, surrounded by flowers of all kinds and with a wooden swing on one side of it.
It had to be manmade because it hadn’t been there the last time I’d explored the years. Which, granted, had been a few years. I’d kept busy with taking summer courses and working a part time job so I didn’t have to take as much money from Dad for school. Plus, it really pissed him off that I’d work such a menial job instead of taking a position with his company. That made it worth it.
And none of those flowers grew here naturally. “What is this place?”
“Ms. Adriane had it put in almost two years ago. When she first started to get sick, but before we knew just what it was.”
Guilt sliced through me at that. Aunt Adriane had told me she wasn’t feeling well two summers ago, but she assured me she was fine. And I believed her. Even this past summer, she brushed off how bad it was getting. If I would have listened better, maybe I would have seen through that. But, I’d been too wrapped up in my own life.
Maybe I wasn’t any better than my parents. That was a discomforting thought.
“Who takes care of all this? Bailey can’t do it himself. The yard itself has to take hours every week. And these plants would need special care.”
Her teeth came out to scrape over her bottom lip, and just that one action had my pulse pounding a little harder. I wanted to step up to her and soothe that abused tissue. With my own tongue and lips. Heat coursed through me at the image that flickered through my head. Damn it. I needed to stop thinking like that. She’d made it pretty obvious that she didn’t feel much more than disdain for me.
She finally released her lip, but her hand came up to rest at her throat. What? Was it her love, and he’d left? That thought discomforted me, too, but for very different reasons. I didn’t crush on straight girls. That would be kind of silly and pointless. But, I knew, maybe better than most, that just because she’d been with a guy didn’t mean she was straight.
“My little brother helped Bailey with a lot of the stuff,” she said. Okay, so, I’d been way off track with my thoughts. “He left with the rest of them, though.” Something else flickered through her eyes, then. Something that looked painful. I decided not to press.
“Did Aunt Adriane come out here a lot?”
Nola nodded and led me closer to the pond. “She found it peaceful out here and said it helped restore her strength. Then, she got too weak over the winter, and even when the weather cleared, she couldn’t make it out here.”
My throat burned at the thought of Aunt Adriane being so weak. I’d always thought she was the strongest woman I knew. She’d always been there when I needed her. But, when she’d needed me, I wasn’t anywhere around. “I’m going back inside,” I said, turning sharply away from the pond and Nola. “I’m more tired from my trip than I initially thought.”
“Do you need anything brought to your room?”
I shook my head as I hurried away. “No, nothing. Just some rest.” And some privacy to mourn everything I’d lost.