(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.)
I sighed deeply and tried to focus my eyes on the ceiling as I felt myself drifting off. Dan had wrapped us both in quilt and I was warm, comfy and satisfied. Rolling over, I snuggled against him for the second time and kissed his nose.
‘We have to go,’ I whispered.
‘Five more minutes,’ he replied, sleepy.
‘We can’t. The kids are waiting for pizza and we need to put those boxes in the car.’
Dan mumbled something I didn’t hear and tried to hold me in a hug. I wiggled away, pulled off the quilt and got up. I felt his arms snaking out to draw me back again, but I was out of reach.
I dressed quickly, feeling the chilly air against my skin. I put on my shoes and thought about leaning over to kiss him again. A part of me desperately wanted to get back into the bed. I wanted to feel his arms protecting me and the soft brush of his lips on my hair. I wanted to forget everything again and let it be just me and him forever.
But we couldn’t hide from our responsibilities and the world.
‘Come on,’ I said loudly and tugged the quilt off him.
He sprawled out then sit up quickly as the cold blew over his skin, ‘damn that boiler.’
‘Check it. I’m going to the loo.’
I hurried from the room and into the bathroom next door. Clicking on the light, I sat on the loo and my eyes wondered. There was a large spider in the bathtub. Tutting, I finished, washed my hands then used the empty soap dish to save the spider. Setting it free on the window ledge, I left the bathroom and went back into the attic. It felt colder then before and darker too.
I gathered the books I had dropped earlier into a new plastic box with some other ones and closed the lid. Pushing it towards the doorway and the pile of other boxes we were taking with us, I heard Dan coming up the stairs.
‘It’s gone off again. I’ll have to fix it tomorrow,’ he said.
I nodded, ‘Just these boxes and the ones by the front door.’
Dan bend down and picked the first one up. He walked to the door and began going downstairs. I went for the box next to it, but my phone rang, the sound breaking through the quietness that had settled into the house. I answered it quickly, seeing it was Darla, ‘hi, sweetie.’
‘Where are you?’ she demanded.
‘Still at gran’s-‘
‘I know. I’m sorry. But we are leaving now. What pizza do you all want?’ I asked.
‘Four cheese and pepperoni. You are going to Costco, right?’
‘Yes. Of course,’ I answered, suddenly realising that I hadn’t given picking a pizza place a thought.
‘Good. Don’t get the chicken one. I don’t like it.’
‘I know. I’ll text you when we are on our way home so you can warm the plates and set the table. Is Mrs. J still okay?’ I questioned.
‘She wants to speak to you.’
I began pacing the attic in small circles. There was the muffled sound of the phone switching hands then Mrs. Jamesson’s old cracked voice, ‘Maya? Do you know what time it is?’
‘I’m so sorry, Maggie. I wanted to get the attic emptied and we’ve just not been able to. And I’ve just promised the kids pizza now. We won’t be longer then a hour.’
‘And hour?’ she hissed the down the phone, ‘That wasn’t what I agreed too!’
‘I know and I’m sorry…but I’ll make it up to you.’
She mumbled something down the phone and I heard Freddie crying in the background.
‘He’s hungry!’ Darla shouted.
‘We’ll try to be home faster. See you soon,’ I hung up and putting my phone away, grabbed a box.
Soon, the black Land Rover was packed with boxes and we were driving to Costco. I warmed my hands on the air coming through the vent and listened to the news on the radio. My thoughts were heavy with the weight of the tasks still ahead of me.
‘We’ll have to take the kids tomorrow,’ I spoke out.
Dan stopped at a red light and glanced over at me.
‘I know it’ll be harder to sort stuff out, but I can’t ask Mrs Jamesson, I’m in her bad books now,’ I added.
‘We can get Dee and Ty to finish off the attic-‘
‘No. we need to do that. There’s fragile stuff up there and they wouldn’t know what to keep, throw or donate. Plus, I’ve not found the china set or the plates or the jewelry yet.’
The lights changed and Dan drove off again. We turned into the large car park and found a spot straight away.
‘Do we need anything else?’ Dan asked.
‘No. Just food for the starving wolves,’ I laughed.
Dan smirked at the joke and we hurried into the brightly light warehouse. The queue for food was long and I wished we’d gotten here sooner. We ordered then had to wait longer. I sent a text to Darla informing her of the delay then as soon as we got the pizzas another text that we were on the way home.
Dan took the short cut back whilst I balanced the hot pizza boxes on my knees. As soon as the car pulled into the driveway, the front door was thrown open and Darla rushed out carrying Freddie.
‘Look, it’s mummy and daddy!’ she said loudly.
‘Hello, darlings,’ I said.
Dan came around and took the pizzas from me so I could take and hug Freddie. The four year old weighted a ton in my tried arms. I put him on my hip and closed the car door. We walked to the house together, where Mrs Jamesson was stood in the doorway barring it like an angry pub bouncer.
‘We are so sorry, Maggie,’ Dan broke out, ‘would you like to join us for pizza?’
‘No, I would not,’ she snapped, ‘you owe me, Maya,’ she added turning to me.
Then she stepped from the doorway, barging past us and out onto the street. I sighed deeply then called after her, ‘Thanks!’
‘You kids have fun?’ Dan asked.
‘I guess,’ Darla mumbled.
I walked inside and headed into the kitchen. I placed Freddie down in his high chair before taking and drying the warm plates from the sink. Dan put the pizza on the table, left and shouted Ty from the hallway. I turned and set the plates down.
Darla had opened both boxes and she quickly took a plate and began grabbing slices.
‘Sorry about the wait. It was really busy,’ I said.
‘I know I got your text.’
‘Did you get pepperoni?’ Ty called from the doorway.
‘Yes and four cheese,’ I answered.
He grabbed a plate and some pizza then made to leave.
‘Come back, young man! Sit down!’
‘But mum!’ he groaned.
‘Come on, Ty. We’ve not seen you all day,’ Dan put in.
‘But I got a game running!’
‘It can wait. Sit,’ I said firmly.
With more groaning my thirteen year old, sat down and began eating with us.
‘Tell me about your day,’ I called out as I cut up some pizza for Freddie.
Darla and Ty relayed their day around mouthfuls of pizza. Once they were done, Dan and I talked about ours and then I broke the bad news to them.
‘I’m afraid tomorrow you’ll all have to come with us.’
Darla and Ty groaned loudly and both said why at the same time.
‘Because there’s no way I’m asking Mrs J again and there’s no one else,’ I explained.
‘I could do it!’ Darla spoke out.
‘We’ve been over this,’ Dan answered calmly.
‘I know…but please. It’ll only be a few hours, won’t it?’
‘Please let her do it!’ Ty jumped in suddenly, ‘I’ll be good and I’ll help look after Freddie.’
I looked at Dan then the kids, weighing everything up, but there was still no way I was going to leave my fifteen year old daughter in charge of her younger brothers.
‘Darla. I know you’ll make a good babysitter and I believe in you, but you’re still a little to young to watch the boys all day. It’d also be unfair on you. If there was another way we’d do it. But there’s not and to be honest your dad and I could use a hand in trying to finish sorting things out, ‘ I explained.
Silence fell for a moment then Darla nodded her head and Ty growled something, but perhaps it wasn’t even words. We finished tea then got the boxes from the car and put them in the dining room, which we were using for storage. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and putting the kids to bed.
Just before Dan and I went up at a little past ten, I went into the dining room and looked for that last box of books. Something had been bugging me about it, but I wasn’t sure what. For some reason, those leather bound volumes had stuck in my head and I knew they were not just normal books.
I found them and pulled them out from the box. Opening the first I looked at the handwriting across the page.
‘What is it?’ Dan said from the doorway.
‘I thought I recognised these…They’re my grandma’s journals.’
‘Oh…anything interesting in them?’
‘I don’t know.’
I flipped through the pages, but all I could see was flash of words in different colored inks. I closed the book and left it with the others. I was too tried to read it now.
‘Well, you know where they are now,’ Dan responded, waving a hand at the box.
‘Yes,’ I replied.
Going to him, I kissed him and wrapped my arms around him. He returned the kiss and hugged me.
‘You were amazing today,’ he muttered in my ear.
‘Shame the kids will be there tomorrow…is there no chance…?’
‘I’m afraid not…Unless, we’re going to trust Darla?’ I suggested.
‘We can’t,’ Dan breathed.
‘That’s that then,’ I spoke.
I held his hands and turned off the lights.
To Be Continued…