When I’m really stuck for an idea, as I have been so often lately, I turn to Darnell Arnoult and her Thursday scene storming list. I don’t follow her directions, which I believe are to pull one word from the list, write about it for a set period of time and then move on to the next word, writing about that for the same period of time, and so on. I just pick one of her words and go for it. Today’s word was “logs.” Some day, I suppose, I’ll learn how to take these things somewhere.
The cabin seemed brighter than she remembered, but the last time was during a rainy summer and all season long everything had seemed dark. Today though, the shaved logs on the outside walls glowed orange in the late afternoon light. The new cement block steps leading up to the porch were cool under her bare feet, but the screen door squealed as it always had. Out of habit, she grabbed it with her fingers to make sure it wouldn’t slam.
The porch looked the same; a musty wood-framed couch with worn navy cushions rested against the dark paneled wall; the flat topped wooden chest, containing rainy day games, doubled as a coffee table in front. Two white ladder-back rockers with woven wicker seats faced the couch at the edge of the sisal rug that centered the furniture arrangement. Wind chimes she made from bamboo rods when she was ten clinked conversationally in the late day breeze.
Tiptoeing across the porch, she entered the kitchen, where a rectangle of sun glared from the window onto the pine drop-leaf table placed in the middle of the room. Today’s Portland Press Herald lay open in front of one chair; beside it sat a green ceramic mug. From the distance, the mug looked empty, although she knew that it once held tea, seeped with water that had boiled for at least five minutes; even now the thought of that endless whistle made her twitch. If there had been steam coming out of that cup, she thought, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to withstand the urge to run back out the door.
But the cup was cold. She fingered it to make sure, then slipped behind the table to gaze out the picture window that overlooked the incline leading to the lake. The docks were in, lifting and settling, the tin motor boat bobbed at its mooring in the chop of the afternoon wind. She could see Mikey out there—he’d grown, but she knew it was him—wrestling on the dock with another boy she didn’t recognize. Grappling with each other, they leaned and pushed, trying to force the other in.
The late sun sparkled on the water, making it difficult to see. Shielding her eyes with her hand, she gazed over to the open door of the shed. There was no sign of Anita, but that wasn’t a surprise. She often left Mikey at the lake house when she had to work in the afternoon. Andie sighed. Anita, sitting on the dock, toasting her legs in the lowering sun would have made this easier somehow. Anita could always find the right words to diffuse any situation, whereas, Andie's talent seemed to be, mainly, in making things worse.
Jiggling a set of keys in her pocket, she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and stepped out the back door, heading down toward the open shed. Peering in, she could see his curved shoulders in the ubiquitous red-plaid work shirt as he bent his head toward the piece of wood he was in the process of confining within the jaws of a clamp. Thankful she didn’t have to compete with the whine of an electric saw; she pushed the door open further, knowing it would squeak.
Turning, he caught sight of Andie, and stood up, staring at her. Holding up her palms, she said: “Before you say anything, I’ve come in peace. Anita told me about the cabin and I want you to know that it’s been taken care of. The back payments have been made. In fact all the payments have been made. You own the cabin free and clear.”
“You mean you own the cabin free and clear!” he barked at her.
“No Dad, it’s yours. The deed is in your name. It’s called a gift, and for once, why don’t you just take it. In case you don’t believe me, here’s my extra set of keys” she answered, throwing them toward him.
Without thinking, he reached up his hand and caught them, wishing this one time he could find the words, that somehow he could make himself say the things that would make this all end. Now though, it was impossible to speak around the lump in his throat, which he tried in vain to clear while watching through blurred eyes as his youngest daughter stormed up the hill toward her shiny, silver sports car.
What happens next, anyone?