Hi everyone! I’ve the pleasure of hosting Friday Fiction this week. To join, just add your name and link to your story in the Simply Linked Widget below. Don’t forget to comment and visit other folk’s stories—we all love the feedback!
Author’s Ramblings: I started this sometime this week, intending to make a story out of it and the next thing I knew I just had a bunch of character snippets. It’s loosely holiday-ish for this upcoming Independence Day weekend, so I figured I’d share it with y’all. The Disperse Serial is temporarily on hold for the moment (as I recently sprained my wrist and was forced to stay away from the keyboard for a bit.) I hope you enjoy it and happy holiday weekend to all of my readers in the USA! ^_^
“It’s up to you, Johanna.” Minnie rose from the wrought iron garden chair, smoothing her church outfit as she ran a nervous hand through her picture perfect curls. “I know you’ve had the most success with these kind of…I mean, well…you understand. I simply thought a suggestion…recommendation would do the boy some good. No one else has had much success and you’ve always been-”
“You’re tripping over your words, Minnie.” Johanna said, fondly, rising from her own seat on the other end of the table and circling around to give her friend a hug. “We are honestly all filled up to the gills at the moment, but I understand. I’ll see what I can do, I’m sure we can at least find a few extra blankets for him to crash somewhere. The boys’ rooms are all filled—floors included—I feel more like a hotel manager than a foster mother, but, the children are happier than I’ve known them to be, so I guess I must be doing something right. Tell me more about, Lucien. You said that Jim would bring him?”
Minnie nodded quickly, the movement short and jerky. “Er, yes.” She managed, flustered by the easy acceptance and warm smile of the woman now guiding her down the paved garden walkway. “He’s going to be eighteen soon, I think…almost a year or less than a year to the big day, I forget. He’s been blind since fourteen, so he does know what some things look like and all of that, he’s alright, just very quiet, I guess. I don’t know, I’m not as good with the children as I’d like to be and especially not the older ones.”
“The older ones are always the easiest.” Johanna’s eyes sparkled. “They are ready to be their own person and they have so many hopes and dreams, I love watching them come alive when they’re finally given that one chance.”
“Ah, but that’s your gift.” Minnie had to smile. “You’re always good at that. Always have been.”
“It took practice.” Johanna grinned. “And quite a bit of it too, but mostly patience.”
“The one virtue I swear I shall never have to my name.” Minnie rolled her eyes dramatically. “Honestly, Johanna, I do not see how you can handle it with—are you alright?” The teasing tone had immediately disappeared upon the faint flicker of shadow that had crossed her friend’s face. It was rare to see the pale blonde without a smile on her face.
“It’s fine.” Johanna tried to smile and faltered. “It’s just…well…you know. Patience isn’t everything.”
“Arianna?” Minnie guessed.
“It’s been almost a year. She hasn’t spoken for so long, I’m worried now. I never thought…I never dreamed that…”
Minnie chewed her lower lip. “Nothing at all? Not a word?”
“No…I don’t understand and she won’t…she won’t do anything, we can’t get her to see a counselor or-”
“Does she still write?”
“Oh yes, she walks around with her cellphone in hand and types out whatever she wants to say, not to mention she’s become very expressive…you can almost read what she’s saying by just looking at her…eyes.”
“Don’t be. I know whatever it is, it’ll come out soon enough.”
“Just the patience, eh?”
“Something like that. I guess it really is more of my selfishness over hers.”
“Not selfishness, love.” Minnie patted her shoulder. “If my oldest daughter suddenly stopped talking after the twenty years I’d known her, I’d be liable to do more than pitch a fit. You’ve got the patience of a-”
The sound of a horn honking drew their attention as a sleek, burgundy SUV pulling into the driveway. Johanna perked up. “That would be Jim, I take it?”
“Ah yes. Jim, over here!” Minnie waved, pulling away from her friend to hurry down the walk as fast as she could in her high-heels.
Her husband, a thin man with salt-and-pepper hair immediately broke into a wide smile at the sight of her. He waved in response and circled around to open the passenger door of the SUV, helping out a slender young man with very white-blond hair.
The teen stepped down with a red and white striped cane lightly tapping along the stone pathway. He had a colorful bandana tied around his head and his shirt and pants were both grey. Jim retrieved a medium-sized duffel bag from the backseat and handed it over.
“Thank you for watching him, Johanna.” He said, gratefully.
The petite blonde took the duffel with a smile. “Not a problem. I hope you two can get everything squared away in time.”
“It’s up to the lawyers.” Minnie sighed. “And a whole ‘nother headache of legal junk. Just the same—maybe it’ll pull through this time. Thanks again.” She climbed up into the SUV.
In a handful of moments, the couple was driving down the driveway and Johanna was guiding a very polite Lucien towards the front door.
In the resting house of ten foster children and four birth children, Johanna managed to make introductions all around and to delegate the task of house tour to one of the younger teens. The quiet Melissa had volunteered for the task and she chattered happily to the blind guest as she led him around the house, explaining where things were and how they looked.
She ended with a happy exclamation as they came full circle to the backyard and the scent of hotdogs and hamburgers filled the air. “I hope you like to eat a lot.” She grinned, unable to resist a hop in her step. “Dad’s the awesomest at the grill and he makes the best burgers ever!”
“Burgers…tonight?” There was a touch of confusion in Lucien’s voice.
“He’s practicing.” Melissa explained. “Tomorrow’s the real thing, the fourth. We’re gonna have fireworks and everything. You’ll love it.” The words tumbled out of her mouth before the young blonde caught them. She blushed faintly and her hand tightened on the arm she held. “Lots of food and fun.”
Lucien smiled faintly. “Fireworks will be fun.” He said smoothly. “You have all kinds? Big ones and little ones?”
“Uh…yeah. You know what they look like and stuff?”
“I could see just as well as you up to four years ago.”
“Wow. Sorry. I didn’t…well, yeah. Never mind then. You want something to eat? Mom’s over this way.”
A faint whiff of something floral teased his nose as Lucien let himself be led to the chattering voices and delicious food smells. He nearly stumbled, grabbing the hand on his arm for support.
“Lucien?” Melissa’s concerned voice broke through his tumbling thoughts. “Are you okay? What happened?”
“Something…someone?” Lucien fumbled for words. There was something about that scent.
“I-I…” Melissa stammered.
Another breath of air blew the lovely scent further in the air. Lucien felt the hand on his arm tighten. “Melissa?” He said, uncertainly.
“This way.” Melissa hurriedly pulled him in one direction.
“N-nothing…just…ask Mom.” She grabbed his hand and placed it on a different arm. “I’ll grab you a burger. Hey, Mom?”
“That would’ve been Arianna.” Johanna said, quietly. “She usually doesn’t join us, I’m sorry I forget to mention her, I suppose that’s something I should have mentioned. She’s my oldest daughter, a medical student at state university.” There was a touch of fondness in her voice. “She’s taking a year off from her studies for some personal time.” She hesitated. “She doesn’t like to…talk, much.”
“You mean at all.” Melissa snorted. She handed over a plate with a thick, fat burger and a side of fries. “Here. This one’s for Lucien.”
“Melissa—that’s not nice. Thank you.” Johanna accepted the plate and watched the tween scamper off before she could be scolded. She sighed, shaking her head. “Let’s find you a seat here and-”
“Melissa is a foster kid?”
“Hmm, yes, why?”
Johanna felt her eyebrows beginning to dance upwards in question, realizing belatedly that the boy could not see her unspoken reaction. “Ah, that kind of nothing.” She teased. “Alright, why don’t you have a seat right here…and I’ll grab you something to drink, what’d you like, a soda, juice…?”
“Good choice.” Johanna set the plastic plate in his lap and guided his hands to the food, explaining what was where. “Be right back.”
“Mmmhmm.” Lucien smiled faintly, bowing his head to murmur a prayer of thanks. He finished a moment later, his head turning when the familiar scent floated by on the air once more. He knew that scent. He really did. But he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. A frustrated sigh left his lips as he reached for the burger and took a giant bite.
It seemed like his unofficial holiday might not be that boring after all.
(c) Sara Harricharan : Thank you for reading! ^_^