A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
“Mrs. Bennett! Mrs. Bennett!”
Evelyn, just emerging from REM, cannot place the Eastern European accent. She fights to roll over, to cover her head with the pillow.
“What?” Evelyn whines, childlike, having recognized the voice of The Krosk.
“You have a visitor!”
“Oh!” Evelyn reacts, bolting upright and relieved that The Krosk, having delivered the news, has also taken her leave.
“Oh, shit!” Evelyn says, fumbling for her slippers and robe. “Oh, shit!”
She opens the bedroom door and calls down the hall. “Mrs. Krosky! Will you please offer Ashley some coffee?”
She doesn’t wait for a response. She knows there will be none.
She has been judged. She is judged.
And she will never, ever, score a perfect ten.
Evelyn enters the kitchen ten minutes later, and she is immediately touched by the kind smile that Ashley maintains as she follows Davy’s finger across the opened page of The New Yorker.
“Ashley!” Evelyn says to her guest.
“Mrs. Bennett,” Ashley responds, extending her hand.
“Please. Call me Evelyn.”
“Good morning!” Davy interjects, as Ashley and Evelyn shake hands.
“Good morning, sweetheart,” Evelyn says to Davy. Then, returning her attention to Ashley, “I am so sorry to have kept you waiting. I guess I was having a remarkably good night’s sleep.”
“Then I am sorry to have interrupted it,” Ashley replies easily, as Evelyn pours herself a cup of coffee and tops off Ashley’s mug.
“Thank you,” says Ashley. “Your home is beautiful. Have you lived here long?”
“Thirty-five years,” replies Evelyn.
“That’s not right,” says Davy. “No, I don’t think so.”
Ashley smiles at her former professor and then exchanges a playful expression with Evelyn. “Thirty-six, maybe?” Ashley asks.
“I don’t think so,” Davy says.
Mrs. Krosky’s entrance changes the room’s energy quite dramatically, reminding Evelyn why she had chosen to oversleep. “Mr. Bennett,” The Krosk says authoritatively, “Let’s go. Time to change for exercise.”
As Davy responds without protest, dismounting the stool and following his caregiver out of the kitchen, Ashley watches, and her facial expression grows increasingly pained.
She snaps herself back and looks at Evelyn. “It’s just not fair,” Ashley says.
“No,” Evelyn agrees. “It isn’t.”
“These are even more beautiful than I remember them,” Ashley comments, regarding the pen-and-ink drawings that Evelyn has spread out on the kitchen counter. “His attention to detail was always so inspiring.”
“What type of art do you do?” Evelyn asks Ashley, genuinely enjoying the serene confidence that Ashley not only holds, but shares.
“Photorealism,” Ashley responds, still studying the first of the four drawings. “Portraits. Landscapes.” She looks up to make eye contact with Evelyn. “I work in oils mostly,” she says, smiling.
Ashley then returns her gaze to the drawing in front of her. She studies it for a moment, then quickly brings herself back to the present, makes eye contact with Evelyn again. “I am so sorry!” she says. “Obviously, I could stare at these for a while. But—I can do that at home!”
“Well, you certainly don’t need to rush off. You’re not keeping me from anything.”
“Oh, no, I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just that I can get so entranced. And I doubt if you want to spend your Sunday watching someone becoming entranced in your kitchen.”
“You’d be surprised how many hours Davy can sit in here appearing to read The New Yorker.” Evelyn replies, not sounding at all bitter. “Would you like to sit in the other room for a while?”
“Sure,” says Ashley, smiling.
* * *
to be continued on February 19th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.