In the Early Part of Autumn
Lindy came to with a start, staring around the room with a wild kind of hope that died almost immediately. He was still gone, and she was still alone. For the past three weeks she’d pushed the knowledge to the corners of her mind, trying to convince herself that he would come back. He’d come to his senses and come back to her.
A song filtered through from the clock radio, the Fogelberg tune about Linda and her lost lover. Tears threatened and Lindy twisted the knob, hard. Thanks a lot, Dan, came the grim thought. I bought all your albums and this is how you repay me.
She went through the motions of breakfast; coffee, toast, eggs. The coffee brought a grimace to Lindy’s face. He had always been the one to make the coffee; her attempts wrought a bitter brew. When he gets back, maybe. She pushed the thought aside. He wasn’t coming back, and he wasn’t going to teach her anything about making coffee. The realization hit her like a series of slaps.
He. Isn’t. Coming. Back.
The tears that had threatened all morning made good on their promise. Dishes skittered across the tabletop as Lindy dropped her head on her folded arms and gave vent to the grief that had been her constant companion for three weeks. It was several minutes before she sat up, drained and red-eyed. A voice sounded in her head, calm and cold, yet oddly reasonable. Do you really want him back?
“Nooo…” A quavering, wistful sound. “No.” Firmer this time. “No, I don’t want him back. He can have his space, and his time to think, and his little Miss Blondie to help him find himself.” She took a savage bite of toast and washed it down with a gulp of the awful coffee.
Lindy sat in her favorite fireside chair, squinting alternately at the knitting in her hands and the pattern on the coffee table. Satisfied that nothing was out of place, she let her thoughts stray while her fingers did their work. No more wool socks for him, I’ll bet. Little Miss Blondie doesn’t know disco from Crisco; she couldn’t knit if her life depended on it. Lindy laughed ruefully, still aware of the hurt and somehow minding it less. At least her coffee-making skills were improving.
The wind carried the scent of green, and Lindy carried a mop and bucket from room to room. Spring cleaning. Sitting back on her heels, Lindy wiped a pine-smelling hand across her forehead. After this floor, she’d tackle the closets.
Sorting through a box in the guest room, she found a memento that paused her heart. She knew that yarn, that deep gray tweed. Lindy pulled the pieces of an unfinished sweater from the box and arranged them on the floor. The sweater curse, she thought. I didn’t even finish the thing before he left. She ran a hand over the stitches. It’s good wool. Just because he was a jerk doesn’t mean I can’t put it to good use.
The pieces were set aside.
In the way of busy and healing people everywhere, Lindy left the sweater pieces to languish until August. Over two evenings, she picked out the bound-off rows and slowly wound the yarn into hanks. Another evening to soak and hang; a day to dry. By the end of the week, the reclaimed yarn was ready to be wound into flat little cakes.
Pretty, she thought, but what does it want to be? Lindy considered some possibilities, then sighed and put the yarn away. Maybe another day.
Late September, and Lindy was enjoying her second cup of coffee. The morning mail had included a letter from her mother, and Lindy smiled as she skimmed the pages of mom-news. One paragraph made her set the mug aside. “You’ll never guess who I ran into in the grocery store! Dale Martin, your old school friend! He asked ever so many questions about you, and asked me to give you his number.”
Lindy pushed the letter aside and let her mind wander back over the past year. The pain had dimmed to a faint ache. Her coffee was better than what she could get at the local diner, and she’d managed to sell a few of her hand knit sweaters. She’d even been putting out feelers in the job market, looking for a fresh start.
A fresh start. Lindy thought about the gray tweed yarn in the closet. Yes, she thought. Maybe a fresh start would be just the thing. With a gleam in her eye, Lindy stood up.
She reached for the phone.
By Penny Dreadful