This didn't turn out how I wanted it to. Oh well.
Quit While You’re Ahead
July 1, 2006
With her cheek pressed up against the cool window, Lindsey stole corner eye glances at Andy. Amidst each passing mile marker leaving Chicago, she decided that he was either far too foolish to realize she was too jaded to fit into the real world or just far too tolerant with her outbursts. Just as the sun sunk beyond a large grove of trees Lindsey picked her head up but still wearily gazed out the window. Each passing landscape painted the backdrop for a new act of this play they seemed to be carrying on.
“We’re almost there.” Andy told her simultaneously taking exit 51A onto Pilgrim Road and turning the radio down with a gentle turn to the knob. His wait for a reply, even a question of sorts was both the cause of anxiety and its relief. He had decided in a split second to take a cue from Lindsey’s past and exit stage left, and he feared her reaction to surprise.
“I look like a boy!” Lindsey whined, dramatically ruffling her uneven locks of hair, most of which now hardly skimmed her ears or shirt collar. Squinting at her reflection in the visor mirror, Lindsey desperately tried to see beyond the damage she had done during her fit. Her eyes settled on the smeared blood dried and flaking off her cheek.
“A boy in a fight!” She corrected.
Andy’s urge to laugh was easy to restrain the second he turned the car onto the driveway that led up to his childhood home. He shifted the car into park and Lindsey simultaneously grew quiet. In front of them sat a modest brick house with a wooden door and simple white shutters.
The silence of the scene lasted only until bare feet padded down the house’s front steps. A middle-age woman with hair cropped short and laced with gray hurried to the car’s side. She could barely contain her excitement as she waited to throw her arms around her son.
“Andy, Sweetheart! You’re home!” She cooed holding him at the shoulders to get a full look.
“It’s good to see you too,” He smiled, glancing back into the car to see that Lindsey had disappeared.
“This is such a surprise!” His mother gushed, lining flowing so quickly Andy had difficulty keeping up, especially with his own inner soliloquy debating Lindsey’s absence, “If I had known you were coming I would have baked something,”
“Mom.” Andy said.
“Or, at least made something a bit more presentable for dinner, I don’t even have”
“Mom,” He repeated still with little effect.
She was far too excited to notice anything apart from the son she hadn’t seen in months standing in front of her.
“I can always run to the store.” She paused, but only long enough for Andy to open his mouth in preparation to speak. “Enough, with standing outside, come in, come in, you’re home! My baby is…” Pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose and growing silence in disbelief, Anne Hurley’s mouth fell into an understanding “Oh!”
She had finally caught sight of the slender woman lifting the suitcase from the truck of Andy’s car. Now Andy held his mother by her shoulders and led her towards the woman.
“Mom, I want you to meet Lindsey.” Andy spoke quiet enough to avoid startling anyone. He flinched as he watched his mother wrap Lindsey into a tight hug. He held his breath in preparation for another meltdown.
To his surprise, Lindsey smiled the sweetest smile he had ever seen and walked arm and arm with his mother into the little brick house. Breathing a sigh of relief he collected their suitcase and let the scene grow dark with a slam of the car’s trunk.
When he entered the kitchen, one half eaten dinner plate sat beside of glass of water and bowl of lasagna on the table and his mother had Lindsey cornered by the refrigerator and was fussing about her with what looked like a cotton ball. As he drew closer, he recalled the same moment from many childhood injuries.
Lindsey winced a bit as the medicine soaked cotton ball stung the open cut on her face. She exhaled and opened her eyes hoping the worst was over. Recoiling only slightly with the next few dabs, she smiled at Andy and said, “Your mom is a nurse.”
He laughed, “I know.”
“There you go!” Anne told Lindsey after securing two small butterfly band aids, one near her temple and the other on the apple of her cheek, “You’re good as new.”
“She’s pretty good at fixing up cuts and scrapes.” Andy told Lindsey as she almost instinctively found herself a place close to his side.
“I think that’s just what I needed.” Lindsey replied with a nod.
“It’s a good thing we came then.” He whispered.
“A very good thing.” She breathed meeting his gaze unlike she ever had before.
“Oh, just look at you two!” Anne gushed clasping her hands in excitement over her mouth.
“Mother.” Andy’s tone hinted a warm sort of warning.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She smiled, “It’s just so nice to have both of you here. An old woman gets lonely in this house all by herself.”
The grandfather clock that sat in the hallway let out a loud chiming, signaling the approach of 9 o’clock. And just as if her carriage returned to pumpkin form, Anne’s eyes grew wide.
“Lindsey, if you’re hungry, there’s still plenty of lasagna on the table,” She instructed, “Andy, there should be something in the refrigerator for you. I’m off to the hospital for the night shift. Promise me you won’t stay up too late.”
“Promise.” Lindsey chuckled as Anne pulled her into another hug.
“I’ll see you in the morning,” Andy hugged her too.
Once she had disappeared out of the little brick house, and Lindsey and Andy sat across the dining room table from one another, Andy finally relaxed into the feeling of home. His life had foreshadowed the ability to go completely wrong in just seconds, but it seemed only improvements had been written into this part of the script.
“I’m sorry about my mom,” He sighed watching Lindsey push the food around on her plate in almost a dreamy fashion, “I know she can be a little intense. She’s just excited to see me with…”
“I like her.” Lindsey interrupted noting Andy had become uncomfortable with the words spilling from his mouth.
With the memory of visiting Lindsey’s childhood home and the stories of Rachel Hawk still clear in his mind, Andy felt guilty for living his life, for spending his childhood, here. Here where there was never a lack of loving hugs or afternoon snacks.
She smiled at him but then returned quietly to her dinner. In split second flashes, in between blinks, Andy watched Lindsey change only to immediately return to who she had been. It seemed like Wisconsin was having more of affect on her than Chicago ever had, unless of course, now he was seeing her Chicago worn away.