I have finally moved into my little cottage … had delays … lost cable/phone and internet for thirty-six hours and was at peace with my books and the radio. How spoiled are we with our over stimulated communications?
As my endless lists of chores grow with each new day, I will try to catch up on blog posts, emails, and my current WIP. Today it’s Part Two of What Dreams Do You Keep?
Part Two … Carmela had entered her bedroom to fold laundry …
She remembered another day when snow came down, mixed with ice and rain. A dreary morning four months before her ninth birthday and her last day in school. She stood shivering in her thin jacket and looked at the rows of children in their seats, hers at the end of the third row.
Her older brother stood behind her with a note. “This is a note from my mother. Carmela will not be returning to school. I came to get her books.”
Of course, the teacher had not asked questions. It was a common enough event, though few came to announce taking a child out school. Children would disappear off her roster and later she’d find out they were working in a factory or family business.
Carmela hugged her books and fought back tears. She pointed to a stack of old books in the corner of the room. “Can I have one of those old math books, Mrs. Rubin?”
That was the first. The second time she followed a girl into the school and when no one was looking stole into the library and took another old book, leaving behind a precious silver quarter.
She haunted second-hand bookstores, collected magazines and begged her brother for pads and pencils. Each day she worked in the cigar factory next to her sister, and each night she slipped into the front parlor of her cousin’s house and read until she fell off.
Years later, while married to Frank Gallucci, she had the courage to visit a bookstore in the city. It was there she questioned a young man behind the counter. “Where is the section for bookkeeping?”
Excited, she rushed through the door. “Frank, I can learn this. If my brother lends us the down payment, we can open the business. I’ll keep the books.”
Later that night, behind the French doors of their bedroom, Carmela went to her lingerie drawer and slipped out a newly pressed pale blue double satin ribbon. She let the soft satin slide slowly over Frank’s cheek.
He drew her to him and unraveled her long braid. “I know who the little one takes after.”
She held his face in the palms of her hands, loving the feel of his smooth skin. She kissed him, a tease, a promise. Then laughed, threw her head back and went to take her bath.
Frank composed himself and sat down to read. Their bedroom was modest, and told who they were. It held a bed and nightstand, one long dresser, a wardrobe, and a desk and chair. Lined across the side wall were bookshelves crammed with books they both read.
On one side were English and Italian books Frank read and used to teach his children. On the other side were Carmela’s books, magazines and her journals, dating back to her youth.
Frank thought about his wife, and the secrets she held deep inside where she thought no one could travel. He was a man who had traveled half-way around the world, but enjoyed more this journey he took with his wife.
He watched as she sat afternoons, her food in the oven, her wash hanging on the line, and her head bent over her journal. He knew it was in the pages of her books Carmela found respite, and in the writings of her life … the terrible cold days, and the warm days since they met … she found hope.
He smiled. “What dreams do you keep, my wife?” Frank adjusted his reading glasses and opened his book.
Later, they curled into each other and huddled against the fierce cold. Carmela stroked his face gently and smiled. “And someday, we’ll have steam heat.”
“Yes, Carmela, this too we shall have.”
I hope you enjoyed my little sojourn, my means of filling in the blanks of my blog, whilst moving madness cracks my last nerve.
In these snippets from Sunset Park, a tease of characters and settings, I might have told the true story of my parents and the life we shared in Brooklyn.
Sal, the dandy candy man, always wanted his own business. Mary, the dreamer, longed to own a house with steam heat and a small garden.
Antoinette? Well she might have been me … or my best friend through grade school. I’ll never tell and she can’t unless I give her a dialogue tag.
What they have become are the characters in a mystery trilogy. Odd you say?
Oh, so very odd. But so much fun to play with … better than jacks or stickball, better than the fountain strawberry ice cream sodas my brother bought me once a month.
For the next two or three weeks, I’d like to catch up on several long over-due thanks for awards given, for free books sent with love, for the generous gift of my three loving BETA readers and … most of all of the work I am doing now. Better … where I am doing that work.
It is the dream that I kept for so long the memory seems to have no beginning. The dream of having my own little cottage, a small slice of heaven … or if I might borrow from her ageless wisdom … a room of my own.
And at long last I have my own designated space, an actual office where I can open or close the door and never worry about four or two-legged beings needing my tender, loving care. Fine, maybe not so tender.
However, not even a houseplant will darken my doorsteps and guests are by invitation only or they enter at their own risk.
What dreams do you keep?
And can anyone tell me what to do with four, six-foot Christmas trees?