Look at that, two chapters in two days! Remember when that was ‘the norm’ for me? It seems like such a long time ago since I had the
motivation for daily chapters, but, we’ll see how long this lasts. Strike while the iron is hot and all that! Thanks so much for stopping by and reviewing, either here or on FF.NET. I adore it, and it really is inspiring, even the tiniest of reviews so, thank you. Enjoy!
It was her last night there with me; all bags had been packed and re-packed before we headed out. I wanted to spend it alone, just us doing our thing, but my plans were trumped by Lafayette’s need to throw her a party, which she managed to talk down from a full on rave, to just dinner and some drinks. He wasn’t happy, but respected her wishes not to be drunk getting on a super long flight. So there we were, dressed up and dreading her not being there the next night, or the night after that. Call me a total sap, but I’d gotten really attached to my girlfriend and I didn’t want her to go. Logically I understood that she had to, and why she wanted to face it all alone. I loved her independent streak, and I loved that even though we loved each other, she wasn’t going to let me take that from her. She held my hand under the table though, even if she was in deep conversation with the women to her left, I was on her right, and she didn’t forget about me. I kept it light, talking away, and generally being my sociable self, even if inside I felt utterly miserable.
“You’re both disgustingly adorable, you know that?” Lafayette said, noticing us.
“Yes, I know thanks,” I grinned, over the top even for him.
He rolled his eyes, “I mean, it hasn’t even been a year yet, and already it seems like you’re in it for the long haul, even if your Lady Love is flying to the other side of the world tonight.”
“Thanks for the reminder…”
“Aww, you’re so cute, you’ll be fine. She’ll leave and you’ll remember what it was like to have some balls and be a somewhat manly man again.”
“I know you think I’m manly La, so you can drop the fake insults.”
He smiled, “this …is true. But, either way, I do hope she comes back, I have a position at the magazine that needs filling…of course I have to fly to the States myself next week, expansion plans.”
“How’s that going?”
“Really well, we were held up for a long time with concept ideas, but we seem to have a good vibe. Appealing to the hipster, Brooklyn dweller in the crowd, with high incomes and low expectations.”
“Just like me? Well, I aim to please, even if I only ever please me, Sugar.” He winked and I had to laugh, his philosophy had served him well so far, why break it. It was dessert and goodbyes before we knew it, and then we called back to my apartment to collect her things. We never had ‘offically’ moved in together, she spent more nights at mine because if felt ‘homeier’ to her than her place, even though I was the one with the housemate, and the annoying dog. She loved it, and so when her lease ran out, we simply let it. There was no big talk, no big decision, just a natural, sensible progression. I liked it. But now, she was going, even for a bit, and Alexei was beside himself.
“Oh Sookie!” he said, throwing himself at her as we came in the door, highly dramatic as always, “I just simply do not know what I’m going to do when you go-“
What he was going to do?
“I mean this a one, he is just so broody and sour when you’re not around, I don’t know if I can go back to that, the misery Sookie, it was almost too much!” he rambled, his accent in fine form, over exaggerating his pronunciation of every other word.
“I’m sure he’ll be fine, Sweetie, it’s only for a few weeks, then I’ll be back and it’ll be as if I was never gone!” She smiled at him, looked at me with wide eyes and a smirk before she hugged him again. “Besides, he has Petal to keep him company, he won’t miss me.”
“Petal does love Eric that is true,” Alexei mused and it made Sookie giggle as she said goodbye to the annoying yappy dog.
“Okay, let her go Alexei, we have to get to the airport…”
“You know he’s just going to mope around here in his sweatpants once you’re gone don’t you? And watch awful films and just –“
“Okay, bye.” I said, pushing him back in the door again, as I picked up Sookie’s two suitcases, and she had her carry on.
“He’s sweet…” she said, sighing as we got to the car.
“Yeah, he’s sweet, but he’s also extremely annoying.”
“He cares about you, that’s not a bad trait to have, even if he is a little full on. I’ll be glad there’s someone here to take care of you,” she said, sweetly, patting my hand. We rode to the airport in comfortable silence, it was getting late, but then again she had a very late or very early fight, however you looked at it. When we got to the airport and got everything checked in, I got super anxious, and didn’t really want to let her walk through the gates.
“Three weeks,” she whispered, kissing my cheek discreetly, but if she thought I was letting her away with just that, she was a fool. I held her in place, and planted the deepest kiss I could on her, since we were in public an all. Lifting her off her feet for a second, before I finished cradling her face softly, when she finally opened her eyes.
“Look at you, sending me off with unforgettable kisses… Best boyfriend ever,” she smiled and kissed me again. “I’ll call you as soon as I land, both times.”
Right, plane exchange was a bitch.
“Do… be safe okay? And tell your Gran, Hi from me…and tell Alcide he’s an asshole, from me.” I smiled and she just rolled her eyes.
“I…will, and… I won’t!” and with one more kiss she sauntered off where I wasn’t allowed to go. I missed her already, and not to become too much of a busted whipped stereotype, but I did go home and I did get into my sweats, and I did watch bad movies on my laptop until I fell asleep after a pint of ice-cream, so sue me. Three weeks seemed like a long time, it wasn’t until those three weeks were up that I would realize just how long it would actually be before I saw her again, and then three weeks seemed like nothing.
Getting off my final plane ride felt like as if I was dying of thirst and was just thrown into the sea, in other words, it felt fucking amazing. I almost wanted to kiss the ground when I got there, for I hated flying more than words could express. They really needed to get a move on with that whole teleporting nonsense. Rental car, and my first American McDonalds in almost a year and a half, and I was well on my way to my Gran’s house. I’d told her I was coming to visit, but I hadn’t really given her a definite date. I wanted to see for myself if things really were as ‘fine’ as she wanted me to believe. Having spoken to Jason he’d told me that Dad had moved to his own place – at her insistence. Apparently he was too old to be living with his mother, on the road to divorce or not. That surprised me, and it also made me wonder if I’d be as welcome as I once had been. I arrived in town just before noon on that Tuesday in September, and I was struck almost instantly with just how much things hadn’t changed. It felt strange, I felt strange, as if I was a stranger coming into town, only this was the town I was born and raised in. Disconcerting to the max. I stuck my cell on speakerphone, and waited for Eric to answer, he wanted me to call, no matter the time difference, so I did.
“Hello?” his gruff, clearly asleep self said.
“Hey, Love. All landed, all fed, all on the way to hell.”
He smirked, “That’s good, flight okay?”
“No, I’m so flipping for an upgrade on the way back, I keep fooling myself with business class, and let’s face it for that long on a flight, I’m going to need to be a VIP. God awful seats.”
“Other than that?”
“Well, we landed, so I guess that’s a good sign. I rented a car, I figured it would be cheaper than getting cabs everywhere, I’m not far from home now though, I guess another ten minutes, I just hope she’s happy to see me.”
“She will, don’t worry about that. She loves you.”
“I know, it’s just…” Looking out the window, I spotted Tara and her three kids coming out of a store, my heart started to beat really fast, “I just hope it goes smoothly, I didn’t exactly leave on the best of the best with people, and if anything these people know how to do, it’s hold a grudge.”
“You’ll be fine, I know you, you can face them, and if it gets too rough, call me and I’ll be on the next plane to kick their asses.” I could hear him smile, and it made me smile too, “I hope it doesn’t come to that, Eric, but if it does, you’re first on the list.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, call me later?”
“Will do, go back to sleep.”
“Mmmhmm.” He said before we both hung up and I pulled up outside my Grandmother’s house. It needed painted, and the grounds weren’t as neat as they once had been, but it was still there. I was excited about seeing her, wondering how she’d react. But, as I called out, no one answered me, so I went in search of her throughout the house, only to find no one home. Not that it was unusual to find the doors open in this part of town; I still expected to find some signs of life on a week day in this nice weather.
“Gran? It’s Sookie, you home?” I called again, and again no answer, so I went searching down by the old barn and the garage, and that’s when I found her. Sitting on an old chair in the barn, in her nightie.
She looked dazed, and shocked to see me, “Sookie? Sookie is that you?”
“Yeah, it’s me, what are you doin’ out here? Where are your shoes?”
Or clothes, or shawl.
No one came into the barn, they hadn’t in a long time, and we’d used it for storage and nothing else, she had no reason to be out there at all, least off all alone. I walked over to her and felt her skin, she was freezing. God knows how long she’d been out there.
“Are you really home? Honey?”
“I’m home, come on, come inside with me, and I’ll make you some nice hot tea, how does that sound?”
“Oh, that does sound nice, darlin’ it’s so good to see you again…It’s been ever so long…”
“I know, Gran, I know…” I said, willing my tears to retract as I cuddled her, and helped her from the bottom of the property, back into the house.
A half an hour later, I had her washed up, changed and sitting in her chair with her second cup of hot tea, and a few large sandwiches. The house was a mess, not just outside, but inside as well, the fridge barely had the essentials, I was going through the emotional ringer because it seemed to me that Gran had been on her own for quiet some time, and that bothered me more than anything.
“Has Jason been by lately?” I asked, turning on the TV.
“Oh, Jason, yes, he and his wife call occasionally… I don’t like her.”
Most of us didn’t.
“When was someone last here? Maxine? Daddy?”
“Your father… I forced him to grow up, I made him move out. And Maxine is no longer welcome in my home.”
That shocked me, as nosy as she was, I thought Gran considered her a friend.
“Why’s that Gran?”
“They tried to ship me off, to the Looney bin, Sookie!” she said, full of indignation.
“Well, they called it a ‘luxury retirement home’ but I know what those places really are. Bunch of kids hired to drug up old people and beat us and starve us until we die. No Sir, I was not going.”
“So they can just kiss my old ass. I’m not movin’ from this house, unless it’s in my box do you hear me? They better not have sent you to try and make me go, Sookie Stackhouse, I won’t have it!”
“They didn’t, no one sent me, it’s okay, I’m not sending you anywhere, okay?”
She nodded, calming back down, and I found TCM on the TV and it seemed to distract her while I did my best to tidy around the house as best as I could. I would need to do a supply run, big time. I checked up stairs and everything was covered in a thin layer of dust, so I opened the windows and stripped the beds, and loaded a massive pile of laundry. Jet lag be damned, I had things to do, my Gran would be affronted if she really saw her home like this. I could sleep when I was dead.
Four hours after I arrived I managed to get Gran to go into her downstairs bedroom, for a nap, while I escaped to the store. I’d loaded up a cart at Wal-Mart, with everything we could possibly need, and more than a few things we probably wouldn’t. Thus was the nature of that damn store, it had things you didn’t even know you needed! It was there that I ran into Hadley, and her little girl Stella. She screamed my name from an aisle apart, and she looked so beyond excited to see me, her kid just looked confused and stunned. I knew the feeling.
“SOOKIE! Oh, my GOD look at you, you’ve gotten SO skinny! Girl, why didn’t you tell me you were back home!” She said grabbing me into a big hug.
“I guess I didn’t think I’d be all that welcome, considering how things went down at your weddin’.” Wow I guess my accent came back when I did, huh?
“Oh pish posh, that’s ancient history, but it sure was memorable! I’ll never forget the look on your momma’s face!”
I smiled, it was pretty priceless.
“We’ve moved, you know? Further on out, I hardly ever see those girls these days, I got a whole new set of friends from Stella’s Mommy and Me, much less bitchy… well …still bitchy but just less.” She rolled her eyes, “You back staying with your Mom?”
“Hell no, I’m staying with Gran.”
“She let you in?!” she looked stunned, “we tried a lot to see her, but she just flat out refused to let any of us in the damn house, and she’s a good shot with the gun, we didn’t want her to pull the –“
“She threatened you with a gun?!”
“A few months back, and before that too, we were just callin’ by to see if she needed a ride to church.” She shook her head, “I just hope that she listens to you, she’s a stubborn old woman, who won’t admit to needin’ the help she needs.”
I shook my head, that didn’t sound like my Gran at all. I guess things do change.
“Please call, I’m here for a few weeks, but then I’m going back, I’d really love to catch up, and I’m sure once Gran knows y’all aren’t trying to ship her off somewhere she’ll be her old self. I’d really like to spend some time with you and this little one!” I said, grabbing her tiny hand and shaking it, she looked at me curiously, the spitting image of her mom. We said our goodbyes and she promised she’d call. It was a relief having seen her; at least she wasn’t mad at me, which was something.
I got back home and started peeling some potatoes to make us both some much needed dinner, some chicken fried steak was just what we both needed, or maybe it was just what I really wanted. Some home cookin’ back home.
I fought my fatigue with much needed caffeine, and soldiered on, checking on Gran to find her sitting up in bed, looking at some old photographs.
“Your Grandfather was a handsome man, Sookie, wasn’t he?” I crawled in beside her and started flicking through the album too. Lots of photos of us as kids, my dad, her and Granddaddy, it was a life in a little brown book.
“He sure was. You too, so beautiful, more beautiful than any of the girls nowadays.”
“We took care of ourselves better than, and our mother’s wouldn’t let us leave the house without a girdle, sometimes two!” she exclaimed.
“And it showed, look at that tiny waist!”
She petted my hair out of my face, looking at me for a long time.
“You’re not like the others, Honey that much was always clear, even when you were a little girl. But you always cared far too much about what they thought of you, when you shouldn’t give a damn. You’re special, My Sookie, and it shows.”
“You’re special too, Gran. There’s no one on earth like you, never will be,” I said, this time letting my tears go, and hugging her tight and hard for a long time before she broke our silence.
“Is that chicken fried steak I smell?” she said with a smile, making me smile. I guess for now she was back to her old self. I just had no idea how long it was going to last, this time, or what would happen next time, or if I could handle it. I guess God never threw at you what you couldn’t handle, and we’d see just how much I could handle.