Work In Progress...Something New

jan1208 011

Let me know what you think...


On the second day of Calliope Nixon’s new life, she almost died. Twice. In the morning a copperhead invaded the kitchen of her newly purchased, pre-Civil War cabin and refused to leave. Later that afternoon, as Calliope sought solace by climbing the mountain behind her new home, a crazy man tried to kill her. Shortly thereafter Calliope decided she’d picked the wrong place to reinvent herself.

As soon as she’d made it safely back down the mountain, she climbed into the relative sanctuary of her car and called the one person responsible for this entire fiasco.

When her sister, Darlene, finally came on the line, Calliope didn’t bother with social niceties. “I must’ve been crazy to let you talk me into selling my house and moving to the middle of East Nowhere, Virginia. What was I thinking? Follow my destiny? What a crock of hogwash! There’s a deadly poisonous snake in my cabin and a mountain man just tried to shoot me!”

Darlene sighed with exaggerated patience. “Callie, you really need to write books instead of opening a bed and breakfast. Your talent and imagination are wasted on the real world.”

Calliope banged her fist on the steering wheel and yelled, “I am not imagining things! There’s a six-foot long copperhead wrapped around my kitchen faucet.”

Okay, so the snake was more like three feet long and she wasn’t sure if it was a copperhead or not but, in her opinion, the only good snake was a dead one. Besides, the man on the trail really had tried to shoot her.

“Okay, okay,” Darlene soothed. She was using her therapist voice. Calliope hated it when she did that. There was something about overly-zealous exuberance that made Callie feel decidedly violent. And when it came from someone who was sitting in the comfort and security of her psychotherapy office, three-hundred miles away, it made Calliope feel even worse.

She could just see her sister happily ensconced in her cozy, new age office, munching a granola bar while she idly toyed with the fabric of one of her long, multicolored skirts, or tugged at a strand of her long, straight, gray-streaked brown hair. In the background, Darlene would have a tinkling fountain or music that sounded like sick whales calling to each other under water. The entire place would smell of patchouli and oranges.

“Is the snake still in the kitchen?” Darlene asked.

“I don’t know,” Calliope answered. “You think I stuck around to find out where he was going? I ran out of there and slammed the door behind me. He’s probably got his entire family living in there with him by now. I bet they’re in the cabinets, under the bed, in my closets…For all I know, Darlene, that entire cabin is infested! The one I saw was probably just the scout for the rest of them.”

“Honey,” Darlene began. “Calm down. Remember, you’re living your dream. You wanted a little white farmhouse in the country. Well, snakes are part of the country ecosystem. They are there to get rid of other pests, not to kill you. That little snakey was probably scared. I bet if you open the door, he’ll come slithering out in no time and you’ll never see him again. He’s probably as scared of you as you are of him.”

“I sincerely doubt that,” Calliope said.

“Now,” Darlene continued in the same sing-songy tone. “Did someone really try to shoot you? Because if they did, that’s serious. You’ll have to call the police. But, are you really sure because Shirley didn’t say anything about…”

“Darlene, your friend, Shirley is a psychic with a day job. She works in a nursing home. Doesn’t that tell you something?”

“Other than she likes to cook and she loves old people?”

“No, Darlene! If Shirley was any good at being a psychic, she wouldn’t need a day job, would she?”

“Well, she was right about Dad,” Darlene said, sounding decidedly defensive. “She said he wouldn’t die before she came back after her vacation and he didn’t. Besides, if you thought she was so wrong, why’d you go through with it? Shirley didn’t make you move up there, she just said you should follow your dream. She said it’s…”
Calliope leaned back against the driver’s seat headrest, closed her eyes and silently mouthed Darlene’s new mantra along with her. “It’s what Dad would have wanted.”

Even with the windows open, the car was broiling hot. It had to be 90 degrees in the shade. So much for cooler mountain summers, Callie thought. She drew in a deep breath. Why had she even bothered to call her sister? What good was that going to do?

“Darlene, I only listened to Shirley back then because I was sleep-deprived and half out of my mind with grief. This was a stupid idea and I should’ve waited instead of jumping on it. Don’t you therapists tell people not to make important, life-altering decisions when they’re in the midst of a crisis? Why didn’t you stop me?”

Darlene snorted. “Because it was the right thing to do. Maybe it took Dad dying to get you to do something with your life. It’s time, Calliope. You can’t sit around and be somebody’s mom forever. The boys are in college. I’ve been listening to you talk about how you’re gonna live in the country on a farm for years. Well, it’s time.”

Okay, so maybe Darlene had a point, but Calliope wasn’t ready to give up the fight. “I miss Dad,” she said. “And moving here isn’t making it any better. Nothing I do is going to take that away."

“Well if it helps, I talked to him and he’s just fine,” Darlene said, suddenly sounding happy. “I was beginning to wonder but then I remembered, the first few months are like orientation. You know, he was real sick and weak when he died and then he had to adjust to the way things are in Heaven.  They keep you kind of cloistered until you get your bearings.”

“Darlene,” Calliope warned.

“Shirley’s seen him, too. In fact, you owe me $38.92. I was in Belks at the jewelry counter, looking for something for Mom’s birthday, when Dad just appeared right there beside me. He showed me a beautiful 24 carat gold chain. He said Mom could put his ring on it.”

“Darlene!” Calliope exploded. “Dad did not tell you to buy Mom a necklace. He’s dead!”

“ I know that,” Darlene said with an injured sniff. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t see him and talk to him and he said he wants us to give Mom that chain. Now, are you in or not?”

“Whatever,” Callie sighed, defeated. “I’m in.” What point was there in arguing with Darlene? She was clearly nuts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nancy, I think I'd like to get to know Callie better! She sounds spunky, funny and very entertaining!