silent love

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Gay and Lesbian  |  House: Booksie Classic
When came the arrival of Caroline May the Trent house had been as it always been, until Caroline taught Beth Trent the meaning of silence, and the meaning of something more

Submitted: October 27, 2014

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Submitted: October 27, 2014

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On the fourteenth of July in the last year, 1978, Caroline May rolled down the window of the cobalt blue Chevy. She gazed coolly at me over the edge of her glasses, and for a minute I looked up from my sketching and gazed back. That night at dinner, as we sat opposite each other mechanically spooning macaroni cheese into our mouths we gazed again, unashamedly until my mother told us to stop. My mother’s name was Judy Trent, and she washed and ironed clothes for a living. This work kept us a small, thrown-together sort of house that was placed on a dirt road which leads about a mile and a half from town, a distance I walked every day to school.

I wasn’t entirely sure where Caroline had come from, when I asked mother about it she found a way of craftily changing the subject. She simply told me Caroline was coming about a month before she came, and she would be staying here for a while. Her parents weren’t well. The man that drove the blue Chevy gave the girl a silent nod as she got out of the car and handed over her suitcase, before reversing back down the road. He wore a dark cap and gloves. At the time of her arrival I had been sitting on the porch on a small wooden chair, painting watercolours of the various plants that we grew in the vegetable allotment we’d cultivated around the back.

I kept my head down and attempted to appear absorbed in my work as she made her way up the thin stretch of gravel path connecting the house to the road. She eventually stood next to me, looking down at my book, and I made the mistake of looking up into her face. Her soft curls hung down across her brow and neck, and I noticed the small rounded nose and toffee coloured eyes, and the blank, respectful expression. Feeling immediately embarrassed I got to my feet and took her bag, and when neither one of us said anything opened the door for her.

Mother had been sweet as sugar, exclaiming as Caroline came into the kitchen, talking happily to her as though Caroline was her favourite niece. I quietly took her bag upstairs to her room and showed her around once mother had finished petting and fussing. Caroline had smiled and nodded politely but spoke very little. She wore a long red and purple scarf and a denim jacket, she wore no socks underneath workman boots and thin woollen fingerless gloves, and of course her glasses which she smiled as she adjusted. At dinner, the aforementioned staring took up most of the space between us. She said quite a lot with her staring, it was almost as though conversations passed between us. It was then I decided that at least for now, I liked her.

A week slowly went by, this being the summer holidays. I helped mother in the garden and gained some more herbs to use as drawing subjects. I love painting, I’m crazy about it. I first learnt in school when I was very little and practised nearly every day since. At the time when Caroline was there I was sixteen, and, if I’m allowed to say so, was quite good. Caroline helped in the garden as well, and turned out to be a quiet but hard worker.  After a while mother set to doing chores like me, and chatted with her frequently attempting in vain to get her to speak freely. She even tried to loosen her lips with teaspoons of honey (fresh honey mind) but she would always decline with a shake of her head and an apologetic smile.

It was one day when we were both scrubbing clothes in a wash tub by the coal house wall that I succeeded in getting her to open up. The sun beat down mercilessly, the lukewarm water created wrinkles in out fingertips. By this time, I was almost completely used to working with Caroline in her strange silence. She didn’t irritate me like I thought she would, and in a way we shared more than we might have through words. We could go long periods of time steadily working, washing, or simply sitting without interacting, and that was how the clothes scrubbing had gone and had seemed would continue until I dropped the soap. It disappeared under the clouded water.

Before I had rolled my shirt up to just over the elbows, but took it off to reach down into the tank. Caroline pulled her hands from the tub and stood patiently with her hands in front of her as I searched. “I can’t find it” I sighed “Could you look too?” Caroline sunk her hands into the tub as well, both of us crouched slightly. She was wearing a sleeveless white shirt and faded jeans, and as we were crouching next to each other I thought about how pretty she was, like I did on that first day when I looked up at her from the small wooden chair, and then pushed the thought aside. It was just a thought.

Our hands met in the tub and then recoiled away as suddenly as they met, and ridiculously, I blushed with my eyes fixed on the bouncing water. “Your hands are cold” I said after a while “Do you want to stop?” she nodded, and we both stood up, our arms dripping. She held the soap in her left hand, and presented it happily. “Great. You go dry off.” She handed the soap back over, and again our hands touched but awkwardly lingered this time around. I felt a little stupid, but reluctant to snatch my hand away just yet. She looked at me, glancing, embarrassed, and I quickly let go. I wondered what she was thinking and for the first time wished she’d tell me.

And then the strangest thing happened. I cracked a smile, and as I did so did she and suddenly everything was completely alright again, and we laughed slightly, she expressed something, in a kind and friendly look and a soft, sweet laugh and it all died back down again. We were just sort of left standing there, and then she kissed me. The first thing I was aware of was the softness, and then I seemed to lose track from there. I kissed her back, I think. It was warm, I held her head in my hands and when she drew back we both looked at each other for a minute like we couldn’t believe what we’d done, but way that worked and felt good.

Then it seemed the entire world smashed straight back into us like a ton of bricks, pulled us to our feet, pushed the washed clothes into our hands and walked us right back inside without another look. For the rest of the day, I kept a burning secret that was hard to swallow. Weirdly, I felt very normal but disconnected slightly, and every time I looked at Caroline, I was put onto the edge of saying something I couldn’t say, or knew how to say. Caroline seemed simply more distant than usual. Except there could be no more distance, the distance between us was gone and our bizarre friendship founded on a mutual distance was disrupted.

That evening after dinner Caroline went up to bed early and I helped mother clear the plates away. She asked me if everything was alright, and I told her it was. I could always be convincing when it was important so she left it at that. I reached, after much figuring out, a calm, instable feeling. Later I went up to bed and stopped at Caroline room and knocked on the door. There was no answer but I went inside anyway to find Caroline, washed and dried, folding her clothes on her immaculately made bed. In this way at least we were different but weirdly balanced. It was why our friendship had worked. I walked over carefully, and sat down on the bed and she sat down next to me. We sat there for a very long time, in silence, listening to each other.

The feelings which had probably been building up for a while became heady throughout the day like strong incense; what we’d both pretended was a dear sisterly love and other rubbish you tell yourself when you want to pretend something’s not actually happening. After a while, I glanced over at her, trying to say something but nothing happened. I was slightly disappointed, slightly relieved, but then she turned and look at me with the same smile she wore on the that first day and we kissed again, and it was so soft and so sweet, and asked and answered every question, and suddenly every single piece of my existence, my whole being, my entire voice was starving for Caroline.

It went on for months, with no sign of life changing or Caroline going anywhere my life became stable again. School started and took up most of our days but we remained together in school hallways, in the courtyard, walking home, with few or no words spoken unless we were completely alone. At home we drifted around, not really looking at each other and acting like nothing had happened, but this didn’t matter. Thing happen sometimes, in pieces or all at once but once they happen, they happen. What happened to us after summer was that we started sleeping though most of the day in the weekends (mother grumbled slightly on a teenager’s errant hormonal pattern but dropped the matter eventually) which meant we could stay awake most of the night behind closed doors. Everything safe, quiet, and dark. Sometime before morning I would slip back into my room, and if would be as if I had always been there.

And then came a call, from the hospital were Caroline’s parents had been staying after a car accident which had brought her here, to my mother. The truth came out that evening at the dinner table. Tears forming in my eyes I snatched my watercolour pad from the sideboard and stormed out as my mother, or rather Mrs Judy Trent told me to wait. I didn’t know whether or not I was acting childishly. What I and Caroline were seemed locked inside a book of watercolours which, curled on my bed, I clutched desperately to my chest, tears streaming from my eyes. She’d lied to me, about who I was. She was only a foster mother, and I wished I could hate her but I couldn’t.

After an eternity, there was a tiny knock on the door, and Caroline quietly slipped inside. I watched her walk towards me over the book, feeling torn and childish and oh so stupid. She crawled onto the bed and lifted my head into her lap, and stroked my hair from my face. She was a foster kid, so was I. She was leaving and I couldn’t go with her. I reached up and clutched her hand and she clenched back, until I would let her help me to my feet and holding her hand, go back downstairs and let mother sooth and pet, and hug, and tell me that she loved until I said it back.

On the day that Caroline left we had repaired ourselves although I felt a part of me was still gone, and another part was leaving with the girl I had fallen in love with. I kissed her hands before she got in the car wearing the same clothes she had when she had arrived. I told her I would miss her and she smiled and said nothing, but kissed the space between my eyes finally before she got back in the car. In a last moment of desperation I passed her the watercolour book though the window and passed with it everything, everything I wanted her to take and everything I’d  wanted to say, before she stopped me “Beth” the first time she’d said my name. She smiled sadly, and said “I love you too” before the car drove away in a road of dust. I watched it leave from the gate until it was out of sight.


© Copyright 2020 Kristenyte . All rights reserved.

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