Today we have the first chapter to this raw (aka, omg soooo unedited) story of wounded love in Serendipity of Fate. Total word count: 1,655. Feel free to double check. :0)
Sophie stepped out of her pearlescent, leather interior-ed SUV and hauled with her a bag of groceries for her mother. The late southern afternoon was like the others, hot, humid and downright suffocating. Bumping the car door shut with her hip she approached the house. It was a single level ranch home, in nondescript blue which blended in with the other nondescript 70’s ranch homes around it. A postage stamp front lawn, like the others marked it’s place separate from the cul de sac road. The lawns, the only means of homeowner expression ranged from untamed wilderness, fashion gardens to bright green lawns trimmed to within an inch of their life in military-like precision. Her mother’s was the latter.
“Mom I’m here,” Sophie said as she shoved the front door open then closed with her heeled foot. Having come straight from work, Sophie still wore her designer skirt suit in fashion black and a layered strand of sterling silver beaded necklace.
Shoving her sunglasses up onto her head she walked the few feet through the living room of her childhood home, into the kitchen. Dropping the bag of groceries onto the counter. Her mother came down the hall and into living room a crossword puzzle in her hand and her spectacles on.
“Oh, hi honey. Are those groceries for us?”
Sophie felt it then, that other presence. Of him. She thought he’d be moved out by now. Just a year they’d said, then it was another six months then last month he’d actually had another place lined up. He couldn’t possibly still be here, she thought. The bathroom door opened then and in the hallway behind her mother she saw him walk into the room that had once been her brother’s. The room Ryan had before he was killed. Each time she watched him walk into that room, the one her mother had designated for him, she felt the grate of anger deep in her belly.
“Yes,” Sophie said putting her hand in the bag and pulling out a carton of milk and yanking the fridge open.
He paused in the doorway at the sound of her voice, his work clothes were in his hand, clean clothes on. He turned looking over his shoulder, short dark brown hair still wet from his shower. His gaze went past her mother and made eye contact briefly with her. As if acknowledging, that yes he was still there, and no he wasn’t going. She gave him a hot glare back that said, it would be talked about.
Sophie continued with her mother, ignoring his presence, “Last time I was here it was bare bones.”
“Yes, well,” her mother said, “Cason went shopping in the interim. Now that we have double of everything how about you stay for dinner?”
“No mom, you know I still have work.”
“Well you have to eat some time Sophie.”
“You can come into the city mom, and we can have some alone time.”
“Sophie…” her mother said, her tone slightly disapproving. “I know you weren’t expecting Cason to stay.” She said diving into the thick of it.
At the mention of his name he came to stand in the entry to the hall, silently crossing his arms over his chest. As if he’d known this moment was coming.
Hand on the top of the fridge door, Sophie gathered her calm, “Yes,” she said giving her mother a soft smile then Cason a hard look, “He said that he’d be moving out on the first. Today’s the fifth. I’m pretty sure—”
“Your mother asked me to stay.” His voice was low and deep, it’s masculine tone felt like concrete in the house that had seen only women for so long. Like a warm resonance that permeated the very walls. Sophie hated the way his definitiveness felt like law when he spoke.
Startled Helen looked over her shoulder at Cason, her demeanor going warm, “Oh! I hadn’t heard you come in.” She said and reached back patting his arm. “You’re home early, did you have a good day?”
The way she asked him, the way that she could just slip back to when they were all kids, when he and Ryan would come barreling in after school. She’d ask them all in the same way. It was as if Ryan hadn’t died at all to her. But just went out for milk and was yet to come home.
Sophie flicked the fridge door shut.
Cason gave her mother a smile, “Fine.”
“Good,” she said and gave him another pat before turning back to Sophie. “Why don’t you seriously consider staying for dinner, we can all talk about this.”
“Mom.” Sophie said taking the groceries off the counter with her, “Both you and Cason,” she said giving him an equal glare as the one he’d settled on her. The one that warned her not to take it out on her mother. He’d been a childhood friend and now here he was doling out life advice. “Know how I feel about him staying here, he needs to move on with his life and you need to find another hobby than that of saving strays.”
Cason’s eyes narrowed at her.
“Sophia Anne Sparling.”
“Mother, you don’t need him here. You are a perfectly capable adult who—”
“It has little to do with my capabilities Sophie, after Ryan’s death.”
Cason shrunk back slightly and Sophie said, “Don’t mom.”
“—after Ryan’s death this house was empty. I prefer to have this house filled with life and Cason can save his money until he has enough to buy a place of his own.”
“Mom, you don’t need companionship, you have me, I can come by more.” She said, and “Wouldn’t that be nice? And Cason can go get on with his life. Meet a girl, get her knocked up and start a family.”
Cason’s gaze went back to being ice cold - it was their way - frosty, just like they liked it. Her mother could mother him, but they preferred a far bloodier interaction. Only, he could accomplish it all with just his presence.
Helen smiled at her daughter, “That would be nice Sophie. How about we start to—”
Sophie’s phone rang then, “Hold that thought.” She said putting up a finger to her mother and answering her cell.
Sophie let the grocery bag rest on the floor and went to the front window, “This is Sophie.”
Helen turned and looked at the young man she was helping to get back on his feet, “I’d believe she’d spend more time with me if she got rid of that thing.”
He smiled, “Mrs. Sparling she’d more likely spend more time with you if I weren’t here.”
“Nonsense. You two were good friends when Ryan was alive.” She ignored the darkening of his gaze, it was something he’d have to get over. Ryan had been her son, but neither of the two people in that house just then remembered that. “She needs to remember that. And you need to lighten up some.” She said nodding as if it was all decided.
She looked at her daughter’s back then and sighed. Sophie was so successful, a nice fancy condo in town, a fancy car, crisp suits, just a little too tight and her heels a little too high. But she was a highly respected and sought after professional in that interior decorating firm in town. Too successful, barely had enough time for her own mother. But she was more like her late father, that straight brown hair, her’s cropped to the tip of her chin and that very controlled and aggressive nature she had with business dealings.
She sighed again.
“Slow down,” Sophie said to the person on the phone, “No, the damask was what was agreed upon… No, that will be the fourth change order, he must pay for this one, we’re purchasing the bolts Casey they’re not cheap… Uh-huh, I’m sure he’ll understand… He did what? Okay, just get out of there I’ll swing by and smooth things out. Give me ten minutes.” Sophie hung up the phone and turned back to her mother, “I have to go, sorry mom can we continue this conversation later?”
Sophie wasn’t asking though, she had the front door open and was down the steps before it slammed shut behind her. Helen just shook her head, “This is what I mean.” She said gesturing at the bag of groceries on the floor where Sophie had left them.
“I got it.” Cason said, and picked up the bag and took it to the kitchen where he started unloading it.
“Well why don’t we wait on that Cason. Just put the refrigerator things away. I’ll call her tomorrow to come pick it up at her lunch break, might as well use it for an excuse to have lunch with her.” Helen said then added, “Noticed that hitch got a little worse,” she said noting the slight limp in his step, “You okay? Maybe I can make a call to the VA to see if we can’t get you in tomorrow?”
“I’m alright Mrs. Sparling, I’ll let you know when it gets worse.”
“Okay,” she said looking at her watch as she moved toward the breakfast counter checking her watch as she went, “Oh my! You must be starved! I’ve been so distracted by this silly puzzler today. She said dropping it and her spectacles on the counter. “Why don’t you go do your PT routine and I’ll call you when supper is ready.”
Cason smiled to himself, Mrs. Sparling was like clockwork, there were routines and schedules to be had. Miss one and the whole day was ruined. “Yes ma’am.” He made his way out of the kitchen, the hitch in his hip like a dagger twisting that day. PT was going to be a joyride, a joyride with shrapnel in his joint.