I might as well turn this into 2 New Chapters Day because I can never bring myself to only send you 1. Happy reading!
By Janice McCrostie
After Clare had categorically gone through every word said with Jasper Clay that morning, she headed out to find a job of her own. Considering that she was planning on starting with Ramona’s she didn’t have to go so far.
“Hi!” she said, in the most chipper of voices. The sixteen year old behind the cash register looked up. “Who could I speak to about possibly getting a job?”
She leaned over the counted just enough that her boobs pushed up towards the boy.
“Uh.” He stuttered. “Mom!”
Clare stood up; leave it to her to already screw up her odds for a job just in her introduction.
A short round woman with bright red hair came through the swinging doors from the kitchen, Ramona. The boy gestured to Clare and slipped back through the doors.
“Hi!” Clare decided to start with the same bright opener. “I was wondering if you were looking for any more help this year?”
“You got experience waiting tables?”
“I did some back in high school, yeah.”
“Not interested. I need someone with experience.”
“I’m a quick learner! And I’m charming.”
“Sorry.” And Ramona was back in the kitchen before Clare could get another word out.
Nice, Clare thought, great start.
Coming out to the parking she let out a long sigh, considering that was one of only three restaurants on the island she didn’t think she would have much luck elsewhere, especially without experience. She decided to just deal with the consequences and drove straight to the hotel. After five minutes with the manager Clare had the job cleaning rooms at the hotel five days a week. It was a pretty sweet gig considering there were only 10 rooms in the whole hotel, so even on the days that she had to work it would be a short day.
Clare was excited for her new job, yeah it wasn’t exactly something to write home about, but it was something. She had taken initiative and gotten results. This meant that it was time to celebrate; it was time for ice cream.
Stayton was at the beginning of tourist season; therefore driving a car down
Main Street was a battle. There were “out of towners” walking in front of your car without hesitation and little to no parking. She finally found a spot at the end of town near the firehouse. As Clare walked toward the ice cream shop it all sunk in. She was finally here; ready to live her life as she planned. Relaxed, no pressure, no one telling her how wrong she was at every corner. This was going to be her time.
As she inched toward the front of the line she remembered being here with her parents. Even when she was six years old her mother had passed judgments on her. When she wanted two scoops with sprinkles, chocolate and whipped cream she was asked if she wanted to get fat. At six she could tell that she would never be what her mother wanted her to be. Maybe that was part of the reason she had decided to be the polar opposite. When she turned ten and saw that her big sister was going along with the charade it set her resolve. Maeve had fallen victim to her mother’s tyranny but she would not. And when she was old enough and strong and brave enough she would make her sister show her freak side.
Clare ordered a coffee ice cream, two scoops and walked out to the benches that overlooked the ocean. Yup, she was going to make her big sister come out of her shell and she was going to start by getting the dish on Keaten McGuire. And the best way to do that was to start at the source. Clare looked at her watch and did some quick mental math. If he went out at then he would probably be coming back in around or 4:00. Unless it was a good day then it would be longer. She decided on the only solution, she’d have to go wait at the docks for Keaten. Time to give him a nice little shock.
Maeve walked into Estelle’s shop at on the dot. Something about the woman made her certain that being early or late wasn’t an option. Estelle sat behind the cash register intently reading a book that Maeve could not make out. Without looking up she gave out her order by padding her hand on a stack of books.
“Put these away.”
Maeve grabbed the books and headed deeper into the shop. “Away” seemed to be a hypothetical, because there was no order to the shop at all. Reading the covers she did the best she could to put them in the same general area with other like themes. She heard Estelle talking with someone at the front of the store and peeked around a shelf to see a boy, about 7 years old, sitting on the counter chatting away.
This job was going to be perfect. People watching and hearing all the town gossip was the perfect inspiration to keep her writing. Listening to all the ins and outs of small town life, plus the tourist’s vacation drama, was going to make things a lot simpler. Of course she didn’t have any idea yet what her story was going to be about, but it would come to her.
“Maeve, come on up here!” Estelle shouted from the front of the store, causing Maeve to jump and almost knock over a stack of books.
When she came around the corner she gave a big smile to the small boy on the counter. He was the stereotypical island boy, wearing a tattered shirt and old blue jeans, his dark hair long and in his eyes. But there was something familiar about the boy and he was looking at her with the same inquisitive stare.
is purchasing this pack of bubble gum and I wanted you to see how the cash register works.” Jackson
“Oh, great.” Maeve leaned slightly over the counter to watch as Estelle pound numbers into the register. It seemed basic and she wasn’t really worried. The drawer popped open and Estelle turned to hand
his change, but he wasn’t paying attention. He still sat staring at Maeve. Jackson
?” Estelle said it with a tenderness Maeve hadn’t been blessed with yet. The boy snapped out of it, grabbed his change and hopped off the counter. He yelled a thank you over his shoulder as he ran out the door. “Odd.” Estelle noted. Jackson
“He seemed like a very sweet boy.”
“The best they come.” Estelle seemed distracted. “We’ll there’s my son, you think you can last the hour with out sending me to the poor house.”
“I think I’ll manage.” Maeve saw the first sign of approval cross the old woman’s face.
“Was that the McGuire boy I saw running out of here like a bat out of hell?” Ricky Montrose stood in the doorway.
“Sure was. No idea what’s gotten into him.” And the two were gone out the door.
Maeve had an idea what had gotten to him. Could it have been? And if that boy was Keaten’s son, how would he have known who Maeve was. But the way he looked at her, in his own seven year old way, was with complete recognition.
Maeve leaned back on the counter and breathed out. “Well, shit.”
Clare leaned on the Saturn and nibbled at her ice cream. She blatantly ignored glances from tourist as to where she was parked, along the dockside under a no parking sign. Of course all the islanders passed without a look, they have all pulled up into that exact same spot doing the exact same thing. Waiting for someone they loved to punch out from their workday on the sea.
She bent her head from side to side to stretch her neck, than pulled her right arm across her chest. The day was surprisingly hot for mid May and she was happy she had opted for her cut off shorts and pink wife beater. Though it clung to her, the breeze felt good and the ice cream was a big help. Also, she didn’t mind the stares from town’s boys and tourist boys alike, it made her feel young again.
She’d been waiting for twenty minutes when the engine of an outboard caught her attention.
Mike climbed out first and noticed Clare, flashing a big smile. When Keaten came into view, she knew exactly what her sister had seen in him, but in tenfold. The years had been good to the man. Working on the boat had kept him in excellent shape, muscles moved seamlessly as he hauled his work bag onto his shoulders. The sun had worked its magic and every inch of visible flesh was tan. Keaten’s brown hair curled out from under a Boston Red Sox’s cap and the features on his face hadn’t changed much in five years since Clare had seen him. His eyes were still a deep chocolate brown set apart by a smooth rounded nose. And his mouth was the type that most woman fantasized about, big round lips chapped slightly red by the wind. The two men started up the ramp and Clare pushed herself off the car, the show was about to start.
“To what do we owe this honor?”
“Oh I just thought I would swing by, see how the day went.”
Keaten was obviously confused but too much of a gentleman to ask. Or he was just worried that his dad had gone from dating a grandma to dating someone he could have fathered.
“You don’t recognize one inch of me, do you Keaten McGuire?”
He looked up from his work bag, glancing slyly up from Clare’s purple painted toes to platinum blond hair. He scanned back down to her eyes and stopped.
“Clare Mac Ardle!” He dropped what was in his hand and ran at her for a bear hug. “What are you doing here?”
Clare glanced over at Mike.
“You sly dog Mike; I thought you would have said something!” The look on Mike’s face made Clare wonder if there was a reason he hadn’t. But her plan to ‘freak up’ her sister took precedence. “I’ve moved up here for a while, a year or so, with my sister.” She said the last three word precise, then waited for his response.
His face grew blank and pained. Clare hadn’t expected that, she hadn’t expected him to hurt.
“Your sister’s here?”
“Yeah, yes.” Slightly flustered Clare turned and pointed. “She works at Estelle’s actually. Thanks to your dad.”
“Huh.” Keaten looked down at his hand, wiping them together as if brushing something off. He picked up his bag and began walking toward his truck. “Come on Pop, good to see you Clare.”
Mike gave nod of his head and followed after his boy. The two got in the Chevy and drove off towards home, leaving Clare standing at the docks.
The dust hadn’t even settled by the time Clare was in her car headed over to the shop. She whipped into the spot right out front of the shop and threw open the door. Throwing her keys on the seat she called out her sister’s name and popped up into the door frame.
“Hi.” Maeve was sitting behind the makeshift counter, looking worse for wear. Obviously she had an interesting afternoon as well. “What’s up?”
“Oh, not too much, just ran into Keaten.”
“Did you? That’s nice.” Maeve turned and busied herself with nothing.
Clare circled the counter and stood right in front of her sister.
“Maeve, when I told him you were here he looked, beat up. It was kind of pathetic really, like a teenager being told he can’t have the car on the night he was sure to get laid. Any idea what that’s about?”
“No, I have no idea.” She picked up some books and moved towards the back of the store, Clare followed.
“You don’t even know where those go; you’re just trying to avoid the question!”
“I do so know where they go, they belong over here.” Plopping the books down on a shelf she tried to make her escape around the other side.
“You know if we’re going to live together for a whole year, you’re gonna have to learn how to be honest with me. Do the whole chick thing, chat about our periods and shit. It’s gonna be good.” Clare hoped up on the counter where
had been earlier. “Maeve, you’re going to tell me eventually, so you might as well just get it out now.” Jackson
A customer swept into the shop and two women fell silent. As the older gentleman perused the books Clare leaned over and whispered in her sister’s ear.
“Tonight, B&B, Pizza, beer and you telling me what’s the what.”
When Maeve got back to the B&B Clare was no where to be found. Maybe she would dodge this bullet and not have to tell her sister how Keaten McGuire had been the first in a downward spiral of disappointments in a life that was supposedly blessed. It always seemed that way, with everything that happened to her, Maeve was simply waiting for the bottom to fall out.
Perhaps that’s why she wasn’t so shocked when Sam had told her that he’d changed his mind and didn’t really love her. That when he’d proposed after 3 years of dating it was simply out of obligation, because it seemed like the thing to.
Maeve remembered looking him square in the eyes and saying, “I’m not all that surprised Sam, I was always waiting for you to break my heart.”
In return he looked her square in the eye and said, “Exactly the reason it never worked out, Maeve.” and left her standing there on the beach where they were supposed to be saying “I do.” Maeve had set to work the next day, calling her mother and sister first, apologizing for dresses bought and offering honeymoon tickets as retro pay. Then the three women got to work making phone calls to family members. The responses were all the same, “But why?” and “Oh, Maeve honey, are you ok?”
When Clare had made the call to Sam, to make sure he was doing his part with cancellation calls, she’d made her sister blush.
“Hey what’s going on you son of a bitch,” had been Clare’s opening line. Sometimes Maeve wondered who was more upset, her or her sister. She knew that Clare had never liked Sam but wouldn’t say anything. Perhaps that was why Clare was so angry, she felt like if she has said something sooner Maeve wouldn’t be hurting so much.
She walked to the window and glanced outside, it was and Clare wasn’t back yet. I swear to God, Maeve thought, if she did something stupid I will NEVER forgive her.
That’s exactly what it was. The anxiety that Clare had gone off the deep end and went to retrieve Keaten was driving her insane. Mostly because it was totally something her crazy sister would do. What was she thinking would happen? Some grand reunion of the two, meant to be after all these years. The though made her sick to her stomach.
Maeve had resigned to herself a year ago that she would never again base any portion of her life on anyone else, let alone a man. It wasn’t that she was bitter; she was just tired of playing the victim, so she would stop setting herself up for the crime.
If she didn’t get involved then there would be no consequences, no hurt feelings.
But at the same time, she felt herself waiting for something to change.
Just then Clare came bustling through the door, carrying a 12 pack of Sam Adams in one hand and balancing a pizza in the other.
“Hey! Hey! Hey!”
Maeve looked at her sister, there was one person she was tired of hiding from, tired of pretending with. And looking at her kid sister, bouncing through the door, not a care in the world she knew what she had to do. And maybe when she was done, she would feel the invisible weight lifting off her shoulders and maybe she could be more like the sister she envied.
Without hesitation Maeve unloaded the entire story to her sister, sparing no details. From the mess of flesh and clothes in the front seat of his truck, to the night at his apartment when she’d given herself to him. How she listened, horror struck from in front of the refrigerator and the real reason she cried in her sisters lap all those summers ago.
“I’m not blaming him,” she continued. “I don’t believe in victimizing myself. But it changed me, for the good and for the bad. I am who I am; a stronger person and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But, Keaten McGuire broke a little piece of me back then and as much as I’ve grown, through Sam and everything, I’m just not ready to deal with it all yet. Does that make sense?”
Clare stared, awe struck. Her sister had never shared so much with her.
Making certain that she’d heard, Maeve repeated herself. “Does that make sense, Clare?”
“Oh, I’m still clocked in; I just didn’t expect it to be that easy. I didn’t even crack open a beer yet. I thought I would have at least gotten a few in you!”
Maeve threw a pillow across and it hit her sister square in the face.
“I’m too famished and sober for a pillow fight just yet, let’s have pizza and beer and go toilet paper the high school.”
She dropped the now cooled pizza down on the bed and both sisters climbed up. Clare grabbed her key chain and used the bottle cap to pop open two beers. She handed one to Maeve, then titled her own towards her sister’s.
“To finally telling the truth,” Maeve declared.
“I concur,” Clare replied. “Hey I got a job today too! Woo go me!”
And the two fell into the easy rhythm of being sisters and friends.
A week later the girls were settling in nicely to their two bedroom cottage out
Barton Street. It had all the things that two women living alone would need. A huge deck off the side of the house facing the yard and what used to be, and what Maeve planned on making again, a garden. The screen door from the deck led into a living room which then led into a kitchen with a small table and another entrance. The downstairs was a completely open space with old couches and futons, and a rickety old rocking chair in the corner. Exactly the cozy-ness needed for a cabin. Clare had opted for the attic bedroom, which was fine with Maeve because the room downstairs faced the East and she could watch the sunrise. She had positioned the small desk right in front of the window, so she could look out as she wrote. Maine
She sat there now. It was a lazy Saturday morning and neither of them had to work today. It had taken major persuasion, but Maeve had talked Clare into a hiking as long as she let her sleep in.
Right now that was the least of her problems.
Usually Maeve had thousands of story ideas bouncing around in her head; she even had a composition book dedicated to making notes. But as she flipped through the pages nothing jumped out at her, she couldn’t find her story. Ever since Clare had told her how desolate Keaten had looked when she’d seen him, it was all Maeve could think about. What had age done to him? She hadn’t dared to ask Clare, part of her didn’t want to know. Were there the beginnings of lines around his eyes? Had they made his sadness more apparent? Were they brought on from raising a son or heartache?
She pushed back from the table and went to get another cup of coffee. The full pot was a permanent fixture in the household, once someone finished it they had to start a new one. House rule number 1, instated by both sisters.
She needed to stop thinking about him. It had been a week and they had not crossed paths yet. If she had any luck at all, which Maeve usually didn’t, that would keep up. She heard the thump thump thump of her ogre-esc sister coming down the stairs and poured a second cup of coffee.
Clare rounded the bottom of the stairs and looked across the room at her sister’s outstretched coffee baring hand.
“You’re a Saint.”
“It’s you tool.”
“Yeah but you weren’t up until trying to get the night shots that have been imbedded in your brain all week.” She coned her fingers and tapped at her head with exaggerated frustration.
Every morning that the girls had down time they spent on the porch. They hadn’t realized how much they had in common. Like how they’d both read the Harry Potter books 5 times and went to showings of the movies, or how vodka sauce was their favorite type of Italian cuisine. So that was what lazy mornings were for, figure out more about the person they should be closest with.
It had evolved into an on going game of 20 questions.
“What is your favorite movie?” Clare began.
“Now that’s not fair, you have to put it into segments. Favorite 80’s movie, favorite kid’s movie, favorite love story, favorite sci fi...”
“Ok! Ok! Gosh! Favorite love story?”
“The Notebook.” Maeve sent her sister an inquisitive look.
“Benny and Joon.”
Now the ball was in Maeve’s court and she squinted up her face trying to think of a good question.
“What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning?”
“Seriously? I love to get up and sit with a cup of coffee and just veg.” She glanced down at her cup. “Huh would you look at that?”
“Alright I’m up…” Clare pondered what would be the perfect question. “What is… what is something that you do alone that no one else knows about?”
“Well now you’re getting dirty.”
Clare stared at her sister for a second, but then again these little outburst were happening more and more often.
“Trust me everyone knows about that.” Both women dissolved into un interrupted hysterics. “No, for real. Something that no one else will ever know about but me, I want to know.”
Maeve thought for a moment, there was something. She hadn’t done it in a while; the last time was shortly after Sam had left her. That day was when she finally gave up the pain and started living her life again. Why shouldn’t she tell Clare?
“Alright,” she sat forward in her chair. “Oh gosh I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this.” Maeve hid her face behind her free hand, her coffee teetering in the other.
A huge smile broke across Clare’s face. “Now I have to know!”
“Gaa! Ok. Sometimes when I have my music playing, there is one song that I kind of, strip to.”
“What!?” and Clare couldn’t get any more out, she was laughing too hard.
“Oh gee thanks, I’m so happy I shared.”
“No! No!” Clare breathed out between hick-ups “No! I think it’s amazing! I feel so akin to you right now. What song is it!?”
Maeve stood up and swept back into the living room. “Nope! Not going to happen.” She tried to slide the door closed behind her but Clare caught it.
“Come on Maeve! Come on! I’ll tell you my weird thing, I pick at my toes. There now you have mine.”
“I play video games until 4 in the morning.”
“Maeve, please. I have to know! I will die without knowing!” at this point Clare had followed her into the kitchen and was now begging her in front of the sink. “Just tell me who it’s by. Even better let’s do it!”
The though was extremely enticing to Maeve, part of her knew it was crazy but another part of her was ready to let it fly. “Fine.” She sat next her coffee cup into the sink. “I’ll go put it on.”
Clare followed her into the living room, anticipation was driving her crazy. Maeve returned to the room carrying her iPod and iHome.
“Alright you ready!” She couldn’t even believe she was as into it as she was. The first Saturday of their adventure was quickly moving far away from the person Maeve used to be and she loved it. She could feel everything moving closer to comfortable.
The drum filled base riff of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” escaped the speakers and Maeve began moving her hips. Clare watched her sister move in ways she wasn’t sure she could bend, and then to her shock, Maeve began unbuttoning her top. She hadn’t been exaggerating when she said strip. So Clare began to sway and dropped her robe off her shoulders.
The two sisters continued through the sensual song, slowly losing layers of close. From time to time giggles would escape their lips as they caught sight of the others sexy dance move.
“I didn’t know this song was so long!” Clare exclaimed, moving her hips to the piano notes. “I think you have a future in this business.”
“Ha!” the song cooled to an end. The two sisters stood in there underwear. Clare in a white camisole and Rainbow Bright undies, Maeve in a pink
’s Secret bra and light blue boy shorts. Victoria
Clare’s face quickly changed. “Oh.”
“What?” That was when Maeve noticed Clare staring over her shoulder, out onto the
deck. She didn’t want to turn, but had to. Keaten McGuire stood, framed in the doorway,
with a look of utter surprise and a bit of enjoyment on his face.