Writing in Public, Story 6, Scene 14
Randy and Nikki didn’t say anything as they walked into town with Molly bouncing along eagerly at the end of the leash. The dog stopped to provide an obligatory bark, once at another dog across the street and also at a bicyclist who whizzed past.
Nikki looked shaken by her encounter with the music of the house. Randy had heard it himself, which surprised him. He hoped that wasn’t a bad sign.
He wanted to take her hand and just hold it. But that would complicate things for her, especially with what he was going to have to tell her.
They stopped for lunch at a Thai restaurant on the main street of town. It was a small restaurant with an outdoor eating area fenced off with an iron fence. Molly sat outside the fence by one of the dog water dishes, sitting, her eyes intent on the tables above. She had the attention span of a gnat, except when there was food. Her attention then rivaled a virtuoso.
“You’d think no one ever feeds her,” Nikki said. It was half-hearted; her mouth was tight.
“If I fed her every time she asks, she’d look like one of those Goodyear blimps,” Randy said.
Nikki didn’t smile. Yup. Right.
Randy fiddled with his napkin-wrapped silverware. He felt like there was an elephant sitting between them.
“You know something,” she said.
The server brought their food and set down the two plates and bowls of rice. Nikki’s plate was unexpectedly pretty—white soup with a basil sprig in the center. Coconut milk wafted up. She dipped her spoon in, tasting it cautiously, since sometimes even the mildest Thai food was spicy. It was wonderfully creamy and only a little heat.
Randy scooped up rice and used it to soak up the liquid of his curry. He knew to stay mild with this restaurant. Even that was almost too spicy.
“Yes, I do,” he said. “If I’d told you before, you’d have thought I was crazy. Or worse.”
He glanced away. “I don’t want you to be angry with me, and I don’t see any way you won’t.”
“What was that I felt…that music?” she asked.
“Something the house is supposed to be. I don’t know that much. There was a feud between my family and yours, and no one wants to talk about anything.”
“What was the feud over?”
Randy shrugged. He stirred his curry, watching the green soup swirl. “I don’t know. I’m not even sure anyone else in the family knows any more. They just remember the anger. Father didn’t even want me talking to you. But the Southworths built the house—houses—for the Chandlers and the other families.”
Below him, Molly swept the sidewalk with an eager tail.
“There were originally seven houses,” he said. “Yours is the only one left that’s remained in the family. People haven’t respected the history of the others houses. They’ve remodeled, tore things out.”
“Broke the music?” she said.
He nodded. “Like cutting a thread.”
A baby two tables down screeched and threw a piece of food. It landed on the other side of the fence. Molly launched at it. Randy caught at the leash and pulled it taut.
“No, you don’t,” he told her, a stern finger extended. “We don’t even know what that is.”
Molly looked up at him, button eyes all innocence.
“But how does it work?” Nikki asked. “What does it have to do with—” She broke off, glancing at the family with the baby. “With what’s in the room? It does have something to do with it, right?”
That’s where Randy’s knowledge went askew. He remembered watching the house being built, the masons laying their stone. He’d felt the music riding the air, growing stronger with each stone and the ring of the tools. Father had told him this was a special place, destined for special things, for a special family.
He’d been too little to understand it. Special sounded so very important, and he remembered the Chandler men strutting impressively in their suits. And Adelia, who he had been charmed with (and truthfully had a crush on). She’d always smelled like music, if it had a smell.
All he could do was shake his head. “I don’t know. I heard people talking about the room, but they didn’t know I was listening. They called it a portal room, to place of gold and music.”
- Posted in: Thoughts