Friday, December 9, 2011

The Warning

The Warning Part 1

            Irina scrubbed at the spot to no avail as she muttered good-naturedly, “Why did I open my big mouth and volunteer for this?”  She sighed and dropped the useless rag in the bucket of soapy water just as her iPhone began to chime.
            Glancing at the picture on the screen, she answered brightly, “Hey there, handsome, you done with those tests already?”  It was her husband, Jeb.  He was back in the city, finishing up his first-year exams in med school.  That was why she’d volunteered to take care of the house alone.
            “Done with the lecture part,” he answered wearily.  “Next are the labs.”
            Irina laughed, “You’ll ace those; the labs are what you live for!”  She could picture her curly haired husband standing in the kitchen holding his own phone to his ear, tired but grinning, sexy as hell in his green student scrubs. 
            “So how is it going there?  You know I really appreciate this, don’t you?  I mean, they weren’t even your parents . . .”
            “Shhh, don’t say that again.  I loved them, even if I didn’t get to know your mom before she passed on, well, I’m . . .” she paused and looked around the bedroom, “I’m sort of getting to know her now.”
            “Things are just like she left them, huh?”
            Irina grimaced, “That's an understatement.  It’s almost as if she were still alive.  I mean, her diary is still open on the bedside table.  Feels like she was here just yesterday.”
            “Oh, man” he groaned.  “This is too much for you to do alone.  Come on home, we’ll go back together.”
            “No, no,” she replied.  “Its fine, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything.”  She didn’t want to put more stress on him, he was under enough already.  
            Jeb hesitated.  “If you’re sure—
            “I’m positive,” she interrupted.  “I'll get everything ready for the real estate lady.  Now, go and be a good doctor-in-training and make me proud.”
            “I love you,” he said.  "Don't know what I'd do without you . . ." 
            Irina smiled.  “Love you, too,” she smooched the phone loudly as she broke the connection.

            The next morning, after hurriedly eating a breakfast burrito and draining a cup of coffee, Irina headed out to Kroger’s, the only large grocery store in town.  She wanted a box of Magic Sponges.  That was a very stubborn stain on the bedroom wall.  It wouldn't do for buyers to see that.
            As she stood in the checkout line, a woman wearing a teal jogging suit walked up behind her.  “Excuse me,” she said.  “Aren’t you Jeb Pruett’s lovely wife?”
            Irina tried not to let the surprise show on her face.  She couldn’t remember ever meeting this woman.  “Why, yes I am.”
            Holding out her hand, the woman continued, “I’m Sue Wilkins.  I live on your block."  Her face pinked up in embarrassment.  "At least I’m assuming the house belongs to you and Jeb, now.”  She took Irina’s hand in hers, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” she said sincerely.  “I’ve lived down the street from Sal and Kenny for years.  And I’ve seen your picture on the mantel enough times to know who I was looking at as soon as you climbed out of the car yesterday.  Of course I saw you at the funeral but my sciatica was acting up and I didn’t get to actually visit with you or Jeb, bless his soul.”
            Irina glanced at the line to see how long it was until her turn.  Sue Wilkins never noticed; she was on a roll.
            “I’m sure you know that boy was the light of his Mama’s eye, and his Dad’s too for that matter.  They thought they never would have children,” she glanced at Irina’s face to make sure she was still listening.  “Sally was forty-three, maybe even forty-four before Jeb was born.  They’d given up all hope, but in the end, all it took was a change of scenery.”  She must have sensed the question on Irina’s lips for she paused and lowered her voice a bit.  “Oh, yes.  That vacation to Peru, all those mountains and the fresh air.  She came back pregnant.  Happy as clams they were; I remember it like it was yesterday.”  Her eyes grew misty.  “’Course, my own husband was still alive back then.  We were all happy as clams.”
            Irina put her item on the conveyor belt and gave the woman a brief hug.  “Thank you for the kind words,” she said, swiping her debit card through the reader.  “Jeb had his final exams at school; so I volunteered to come and pack up a few things.”
            “Well, that was very sweet of you,” Sue replied.  “I won’t keep you, but if you should need anything, anything at all, just let me know.”  She punctuated her words with a pat on Irina’s shoulder.  “I’m the white and blue house on the corner.”
            “Well, thank you,” Irina replied, convinced that the woman wasn’t just a busy-body after all.  “Maybe we’ll have time for lunch or at least a cup of tea before I leave.”
            Sue Wilkins face brightened and Irina made a mental note to stop by the blue and white house before she left town.
            Back in the kitchen, Irina turned on the radio and pulled her hair back into a ponytail.  “That spot is history,” she said soaking a Magic Sponge with water then squeezing it out over the sink.  She hurried to the bedroom and knelt down in the corner near the baseboard.  She frowned.  The spot appeared to have spread.  Now it encompassed part of the adjoining wall, too. Guess I smeared it around last night, she thought, sliding the damp sponge over it gently.  If this doesn’t work, I’ll just leave it for the buyers to deal with.  But she knew she wouldn’t do that; she had never given up on a challenge in her life.
            After only a few minutes of scrubbing, Irina sat back on her heels.  She felt dizzy, slightly nauseous.  She stood slowly, but the room began to sway.  Stumbling to the bed, she plopped down clumsily.  Maybe I’m allergic to the chemicals in that sponge, she thought, tossing the crumpled thing to the floor.
            Gingerly she lay back and closed her eyes.  She could hear the oldies radio station playing in the kitchen, but when she cracked her eyelids open, the world was still wavy.  She stuffed a pillow under her head.  Her suitcase lay at the foot of the bed where she’d pulled jeans and a tee shirt from it this morning.  I’ll be okay in a bit.  Just rest here a moment . . . 
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT FRIDAY

9 comments:

  1. Ann, I really like this!! I can't wait to read your book. :)

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  2. Want to find out what's going on with Irina! This is getting interesting...

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  3. Thank you, Tara! I can't wait for it to be released...seems like it's taking forever lol.

    Thanks to DelPico, also. You're both in the drawing for a free e-copy.

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  4. You know me too well, Sara Three Suns.

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  5. Love it...My kind of book....Got me interested from the beginning!!!!! Can't wait to keep reading! Kathy Pounder

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  6. The story had me from the get go. Is going to be a long week, waiting for the second part.
    Linda Wells

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  7. My post over the weekend didn't show up, so posting again. Ann, love your work. I'm having a hard time waiting for Friday.

    LW

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