A short story by Rob Mohr
(Continued from last month)
“Carla, what’s going on? When you left yesterday you seem frightened, as if our time together had been too real, too much fun, and too different from what you have experienced in the past.”
“Maybe some of that - but I am here now.”
Will wondered if she would be strong enough to trust again. Today, it seemed possible. She was self-contained, vibrant and intellectually alive. Yet she was a woman who had lost her capacity to be intimate, expose herself in significant ways, and maintain the trust a relationship required. He wanted to help her break free, but was afraid strong moves on his part might drive her away.
“Carla – remember the dream trip to Scotland I have planned, well, my thought is to go in early April before the European tourists come. Any chance you could be gone that long?”
Carla, shocked by Will’s offer, concentrated on the garden unsure of what to say. “Will you know how hard that would be - I have my piano and obligations here.” In reality, she thought, ‘just too many useless lunches with pseudo-friends.’
He stood up and walked over to the rear French doors and was silent for a time looking out into the garden. He turned and went back and sat beside her, took her hands in his. “You have so much to give. Let me help you.”
“I have to go.”
“I don’t want to lose you.”
“You are not losing me silly. It’s just so complicated now. Don’t you see?”
“I’m working on it.”
“I have to go.”
Lucy ran ahead of them and pawed the lower door panel. Carla leaned against Will for a moment and kissed him on the cheek and rushed out.
He thought of how troubling she was to be with – lost, distant and inaccessible. A damaged woman, used by two egocentric men who saw her as an object, who had no idea of the treasure she was. ‘Perhaps my trust in her might engender trust of me,’ he thought. He felt a surge of hope, yet understood the cage of doubt that surrounded Carla suspended her within an uncertain world. Yet, he sensed her tentative moves to be close. That would have to be enough.
Lucy looked up at Will and with her innocent eyes asked, ‘What’s going on.’ Will sighed, and tried to put Carla out of his mind, yet deep within himself he understood that she had forged a place within him that he could not escape. He was now caged by bars of a different color. The deep blue cast of his garden created a momentary feeling of peace as the undisturbed rhythms of nature embraced him.
Over the next few weeks they shared a level of comfort that was rare for both. Today, the morning breeze was cool and refreshing as Will and Carla enjoyed coffee and fresh donuts on the veranda of Will’s house.
“Will this morning I see the world anew, like now, the view of the lake from here is perfect - how did you manage to find this place?”
Carla’s observation delighted Will, who, as an artist, taught his students the art of seeing. “We are fortunate to have this house. A good friend lived here for years and when he went back to the states for medical care, I purchased it, so it’s all ours.”
“Speaking of togetherness, my birthday is on the twenty-seventh, might we plan something special? Carla watched for Will’s reaction.
“Darling woman – I was hoping you would ask. Of course, let’s have a late afternoon supper in the garden. I can grill some small filets or hamburgers and make a fresh salad. ”
“Will I was awake for a time last night wondering what the status of your trip to Scotland is?”
Surprised by the question, Will hesitated. “I have decided to put it off until next year. My life here, my time with you, makes me happy. We can talk about the trip later.”
The evening of Carla’s birthday, Will lit the grill and placed a small gift wrapped in white with a large red ribbon on the table - just before she walked in.
Carla surprised, proclaimed, “Will this is perfect, my best birthday ever.”
“Dear woman, I hope that we are able to share many more.” Carla considered Will’s statement for a moment.
“Yes, that would be nice.”
After they finished the meal of ground fillet hamburgers, Will opened a bottle of dry, aged Port he had saved for the occasion. He uncovered a plate of dark chocolate.
“A simple desert.”
“Yes but it is your birthday. Open your gift and after we may go inside. The night air is cool.”
Carla carefully opened her gift and discovered a small ceramic figure inside.
“Dates from about 200 BC. It’s Olmeca.”
“Will, this is too much.”
“Come in, I have something special to show you.” Carla had noticed that the curtains had been pulled closed so that they could not see inside. She had wondered why.
Will opened the French door, and held it for Carla. She stepped inside, and gasped, “Oh my God. What have you done, this is the most beautiful piano I have ever seen.” Carla thought, ‘This was where Will’s Scotland money went.’
“It’s a refurbished Steinway Baby Grand that a music teacher had in storage when he died. I knew that it was the instrument that you have dreamed of. This is your home too.”
Without a word, Carla moved to the piano and began to play. Each note filled the air with a clarity neither she nor Will had ever experienced. The sound rose and filled the house as the complex tunes of Bach unfolded. They both realized that the world around, and within, was in harmony.