Amy leaned against the doorjamb, hugging her Sacred Heart mug to her breastbone. The rain had started. It dripped softly on the porch roof. The air hung heavy with cedar. Out between the trees she could see the sheets scatter over the sea swells.
She padded over to the railing, setting her cup on the arm of her Adirondack before slouching down into its welcoming curves. The bitter bite of Cal’s anger lingered in the dry corners of her mouth. She still heard the echo of truck tires spitting dirt as he peeled down the drive. Gone. To the city. For who knows how long. An afternoon, a day, a week.
The wet smell of lavender and chamomile drifted over her coffee. She drew in a long, sucking breath. The rhythm of the surf pounded her heart rate down to something comfortable.
She wiped her hands on the knees of her jeans. She watch the Duke snuffle his way across the gravel path down to the water. No way I leave this behind. She took a sip of coffee, mug perched between outstretched fingers. “Absolutely no way.”
Something sharp dug into her butt.
She wriggled. She wriggled some more, trying to dislodge whatever pine needle or twig it was down between the cracks of the chair. Nada. She jerked her bum. Twice. Hard.
The sound and feel of the rip came at the same moment, denim tearing, core jerking with releasing force. Coffee splooshed. Ceramic shattered.
Amy heaved to her feet, screeching. Tears erupted, cascading hot down her stretching cheeks. “Why can’t you ever fix one single goddamn THING!”
She staggered toward the railing, holding her coffee-drenched plaid shirt away from her body. Then – “owww, owww,” she gasped, hopping. “Ouchie!” Blood welled at the edge of one foot; she pressed it hard against the other leg. Clutching the top rail, she pressed its knobbles hard into her hands, the pressure easing her rush of nausea.
She waited for the stinging to subside. Lifting her foot, she eyed the slice for any shard of mug. Then she turned and glared at the chair. She couldn’t see the offending screw, but she knew just where it was. She’d forgotten, forgotten, such a simple, stupid –
She hobbled across the deck, tottering over ceramic bits. She limped out into the rain, flanneled shoulders darkening, clinging to her skin. Around the side of the house, she jerked open the toolshed door. Snatching up the toolbox, she clumped back to the porch. Picking her way over to the chair, she slammed the toolbox down and crouched beside it. Throwing back the lid, she rummaged for a screwdriver. After half a dozen tries she found one that gripped.
She needed two hands to twist it. Gritting her teeth into a snarl, she turned the thing around, again and again. A boiling satisfaction welled into a sneer. She gave a savage, satisfying wrench to the screw.
The wood split. Cracked, grey, well-weathered, it split in a long, deep fissure, up nearly to the upper bracing.
The screwdriver rolled down onto the deck with a dull thud. Amy rocked back on her heels, dropping her head against the chair’s long, flat arm.
Spotting them at the yardsale and whirling the car around…Cal’s triumph tuning them up that first spring…the move out of the basement suite…and finally to here, the porch facing the sea. Their rightful place! And now…
Amy thrust the chair away, gulping down sobs. Slowly she hoisted herself to her feet. She stared out at the misting rain, feeling the cold cloth of her shirt against her shoulders. She wrapped her arms around herself to still a sudden rush of shivers.
“It’s a sign, isn’t it? What if it’s a sign?”