Disclaimer: Yes, they may look familiar, but guess what? They’re mine!
Subtext: Not yet, …….
Comments: Any and all comments read and appreciated, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Now what do I do with the rest of my life?” It was a question Beth had asked herself in varying forms for the last few months. Sometimes it felt like God dangles a carrot in front of you—teasing you with everything you ever wanted, and then jerks it out of reach again—or takes it away entirely. She wasn’t thinking in terms of winning the lottery or that really nice leather jacket that you couldn’t afford or even an invitation to a party. It was the things that get you through the day. The things that make getting up in the morning worthwhile: someone to come home to, a home to come home to, and enough money to pay the bills and stick a little away for a vacation or a rainy day. Well that rainy day had shown up without any storm warnings.
That carrot just mentioned? The blonde woman of medium height and average figure thought she had it. And unlike a lot of people, didn’t take it for granted. Every morning when she woke up, she looked over at the face she loved—the life partner she had taken deep into her heart and soul. Then she would look around the room in the house they had looked for and found together and had made into a home. Perfect? Nope. That’s not real life—but perfect for her.
The green-eyed woman, now into her early 40s had figured out late in life that she didn’t fit the cookie-cutter pattern. She wanted to—and tried to, but it just didn’t work. That carrot dangling God also had a sense of humor in that she was made up personality-wise of wanting to be just like everyone else, but given the hardwiring of just the opposite. Not by choice, but nevertheless, who she was. OK, so it took some work on her part, but she was getting there. More importantly, she is a good person, a kind and loving person, with many times too tender of a heart. That’s the core of the woman; not to be judged by who she loved, but that she loved, and by nature a more giving than taking individual.
Well, more about that carrot. After settling into her home—a joined life—a routine that still included ‘dates’, she thought she was being rewarded for making some hard choices and living through some very tough times. Life was good and she was sitting back and thoroughly enjoying it all. Still doing the daily work that any relationship needs to not only survive, but flourish. When someone promises you a lifetime, shouldn’t it last longer than a mere handful of years? Beth didn’t give her promise easily or without a great deal of thought, and in making it, was in it for the long haul—as was promised to her. Unfortunately, now she stands alone in dream made by two. Time to roll up her sleeves and salvage whatever she could of the parts of her life she wanted to keep.
Number one priority is to hold onto her home. Sure, it’s just some wood and cement on the outside, but that’s what made up a ‘house’; a building. But this is her ‘home’—a place she had poured her heart and dreams into to turn it from a building to a haven from the outside world. She had lost enough in the last year, and drew the line in imaginary sand at losing that too. So, what did she need to do to ensure the security of continuing to have her home to come home to? Sitting down on the couch in the living room with a yellow legal pad and pen, she was determined to come up with a workable plan.
Three women sat in another living room—two on the couch and one across from them in a comfortable recliner. Their conversation had taken a serious turn.
“Really Bailey—it would be a great match up.” Coming from a long slim form with an earnest face on the couch.
A single dark eyebrow rose at her from the recliner at her wording without a verbal response. Hastily removing her foot, she continued.
“Well, you know what I mean. You hate it where you are. You want a more residential area to rent in where you can do your work, and Beth’s place would be ideal for you. And it would be helping her out so she can keep it. We spent some time with her last week, and suggested renting her finished downstairs out to help cover the mortgage. It has its own entrance since it’s a walk-out, a double garage so it’s off street parking…and…” Pausing for effect…” there’s another small building behind the house that I’m sure could be turned into a work area for you.”
“Power?” The single word asked without any expression.
“Yes.” This from the other occupant of the couch. Her sandy shoulder length hair bouncing a little as she nodded her head in agreement with her words. “Lights and heat.” Added with fingers counting off the positives. Rumor had it Hannah couldn’t speak if her hands couldn’t move—but no one had actually tried out the theory. It was an endearing quality about her.
“Hmm. What’s Beth…that’s her name right? What’s she like? I’ve heard you two mention her before, but I don’t remember much beyond her name.” A little interest starting to show in the soft alto voice.
Sydney leaned her long form forward and clasped her hands together. “ Really nice. Got dealt a bad hand with things lately, but trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Personality-wise I think you two would be fine. You’re both kind people—willing to be part of a team, and easy going.”
“OK. It can’t hurt to look at it and meet her. It certainly would be wonderful for me if it worked out. I’m just not apartment material—and I hate having to keep everything at the rented work area and driving back and forth.” The voice warming up as the idea grew.
“Great!” Joined in Hannah—throwing one arm up in the air, making Bailey smile. “We’ll call Beth and set something up soon.”
“Now?” Back to single words.
“Uhm…sure—why not?” Sydney answered, reaching for the phone.
Sprawled on the couch, Beth looked at the yellow legal pad—the writing she had to show for several hours of concentrating and compromise fighting in her head:
Wanted—female roommate to share house in quiet residential neighborhood. Garage parking available. Share kitchen facilities. Rent and share utilities. Call…..etc…..’’
It didn’t look like much writing, but a lot of ideas had been written down only to be crossed off and ripped out of the pad and then tossed away. The only way to stay here was to open at least part of it to a stranger. The idea wasn’t particularly on her ‘want’ list, but definitely on her ‘need’ list. And need got more votes.
“Well, I guess that covers it. Just need to call it in tomorrow for the paper—might as well not delay any longer.” Talking softly to herself. It was in the middle of a sigh that the phone rang, startling her out of her thoughts as she picked it up.
“Hello?” Answering the phone, but her mind still on the words on the yellow legal pad in her hands.
“Hi Beth.” Smiling as the familiar voice of her friend.
“Hi Syd—how ya doing?” Pleased to hear the voice of her friend, and letting the warmth show in her voice. She had met Syd and her partner Hannah a few years ago and had become friends with them quickly—and the bond between them had only grown over time. They were family in all definition of the word but for the physical aspect of shared blood.
“I’m good Beth—how about you?” Eager to get over the pleasantries and get to some good news, but genuinely concerned about her friend.
“Oh I’m fine. What are you two up to today?”
“Well, we were wondering what you’re doing this afternoon. Up for some company?”
“Company? If you mean you and Hannah, that’s not company. My door is always open to you—especially since you have your own key to that just mentioned door!” Laughing and hearing laughter in her ear.
“Touche. So we’ll see you in a little bit?” Pressing the meeting.
“Oh yeah. We’re bringing someone with us. See ya later.” Click went the line.
‘Wait! Who? OK.” By now talking into a dead phone line. Holding out the receiver and looking at it before setting it back down.
“All set—we can leave anytime.” Sydney said, after hanging up the telephone.
All three stood up at the same time as if by some invisible signal. They headed for the door with the tall dark haired woman in the lead, so she didn’t see Hannah and Sydney grin and lift their right hands to meet in a silent ‘high-5’.
It was a sunny day in May with the warmth of late spring in the air, and that made for an even more pleasant drive. The dark gray truck pulled up in front of its possible new residence a short time later after following instruction from its passengers. The general neighborhood was well kept up and they had driven by several people walking either dogs or kids or both enjoying the good weather. Blue eyes scanned and immediately admired the white house with it’s freshly cut grass. It looked clean and comfortable. Trying not to get her hopes up, she got out of her truck and walked around it to meet her waiting friends and together they walked to the front door.
Beth had seen the truck drive up and stop in front of her house, and so she watched as long, jean clad legs stepped out from the driver’s side and walk into view. Her eyes also took in the rest of the woman, and couldn’t help but admire what her eyes showed her. Running a hand over her blonde hair to smooth it down, she walked to the front door to meet her friends and their friend. So as the bell was starting to chime, she was already opening the door for them.
“Hi—come on in.” Taking a step back to welcome the three women inside.
“Hi Beth.” Chorused the two familiar faces as they entered the house.
“Hi Syd—Hi Hannah.” Hugging each one briefly as they passed by her. Then Hannah took over the introductions—gesturing with her left hand towards the third woman, still in the doorway.
“Beth, I’d like you to meet our friend Bailey—Bailey, this is Beth.”
The two introducees stepped forward and shook hands.
“Hi Bailey, nice to meet you.” Smiling and looking up into the tanned face that was a few inches closer to the ceiling than she was.
“Hi Beth—same here. Nice place you have here.” Looking around.
“Thank you—I’ll give you a tour if you’d like.”
Yes—I’d like that.”
The four women moved to the living room that opened from the entry way and sat down: Syd and Hannah taking the matching recliners, so Beth and Bailey settled side-by-side on the couch.
Syd then took over the conversation. “I suppose you’re wondering what brought us over here on such short notice.” Smiling at the two women in front of her.
“Well, I do have reason to wonder what you two are up to, since you have dropped in before without any notice and kidnapped me for supper.” Finishing the sentence with a chuckle which the other three joined in on.
“True.” Admitted Hannah with a slight blush then tried to explain their antics to Bailey. “We kinda like being impulsive sometimes.” Shrugging her shoulders she added. “We fed her! What more can you ask for??” Again this brought laughter from the others in the room.
“Anyway,” Continued Hannah. “Remember when we were talking last week about your….extra rooms here at the house?” Treading carefully on the subject of Beth’s personal life.
Confused that this was being brought up in front of a stranger, she furrowed her brow at them. “Uhm….yes….I remember that conversation. In fact, I was working on a solution when you called.” Thinking that might end it.
“You were?” Inserted Syd, leaning forward in her recliner and nervously pushing her glasses, that didn’t need pushing.
“Well—yes.” Poor Beth was getting more confused by the minute. This was the strangest conversation she had had with her friends, and they had had some that she thought wouldn’t be topped in the past!!
The velvet alto voice of Bailey cut in. Turning to face Beth, she smiled. “I think I can shed some light on your confusion Beth, if I may?”
“Please Bailey—that would be good.” Also turning and looking into kind blue eyes that were already meeting her green ones.
“After your conversation with our mutual friends here last week, I stopped by and explained the situation that I was in—and it sounds like we could be each other’s solution. You have some extra rooms that you are thinking of renting, and I’m in need of someplace to live and also work.”
“What kind of work?” Trying to give herself time to digest this unexpected turn of events.
“I do custom woodworking. Cabinets, shelving—small furniture—very custom. I design and build by request. It would be perfect if we could work something out. If you’d be willing to not only rent the rooms to me, but also the outbuilding in back. I would pay extra rent for that and of course a higher percentage of the electric bill.” All this said calmly and slowly to help let the whole thing sink in.
Beth could see Bailey’s lips moving—even heard the words—the implication of her problem being solved kept bouncing off her forehead though, and not actually sinking in. It was almost too much to hope for—not only to be able to pay the bills, but with the extra money from the unused building, she could even start to rebuild her almost depleted savings account. IF—if—she agreed to the idea. Bailey seemed nice—and having her two close friends being references helped—but hadn’t she thought that before and had been oh so wrong.
Bailey could see all the conflicting emotions crossing the blonde’s face, and something inside her reached out to calm her—needing for some reason to put her questions to rest. Not sure where her feelings came from, but thinking she’d figure that out later. Right now her priority was sitting next to her—looking at her—waiting.
“How about you give me that tour and we’ll get to know each other more, and it will give you some time to decide if you’d be interested in renting to me.” Nodding towards their mutual friends across the room. “If you want references to my respectability, I’m sure they would be willing to provide that.” Then chuckling. “That is if you trust them!” Then chuckling again, which made Beth relax a bit and smile.
“They are a couple of characters themselves to give a character reference, but since they are like family to me I guess I would have to think they know what they are doing.”
“Wise choice.” Cut in Sydney dryly, looking at her partner who added her two cents worth of comments.
“Yes—and please remember we are actually in the room—please at least pretend to be polite enough to wait until our backs are turned to talk about us.” Finishing by rolling her eyes at the two on the couch.
Beth tore her green eyes away from the blues that had seemed to capture hers to look at her friend.
The blues eyes—having lost their view, also turned to the other side of the room. A dark brow raised. “Even if it’s a compliment?”
“Well—well—let’s not be hasty!” Stuttered Sydney—her short dark hair moving as she shook her head. All four women looked at each other in the following silence, and after a slight pause, all started laughing together.
After the laughter quieted down, Beth stood up and faced her tall guest—maybe soon to be roommate. “Next tour bus leaves immediately. Watch your step and please have your ticket ready.”
Bailey grinned and also got to her feet. Reaching to her back pocket of her jeans, she pulled out her wallet and pulled out a card—handing it to Beth with a flourish. “Will this do?”
The ‘tour lady’ accepted the card and read it; “Bailey Spencer Custom Woodworking” Said the plain beige card—simple and understated—the grain of the paper looking like a piece of polished wood—wood grain and all.
“Very nice—yes—very acceptable. Shall we?” Gesturing towards the doorway of the room.
Sydney made a movement to join them, but Hannah reached out an arm to stop her—shaking her head, whispering. “We don’t have a ticket—let’s just let them go, OK honey?”
Syd’s brown eyes sparkled as she agreed. “Sure.” Placing her hand on the hand on her arm. “We’ll just stay here and make out on the couch till they get back.”
A voice echoed from the doorway. “I heard that.”
“I meant you to.”
“I knew first.”
”I knew second.”
”Children! Let’s play nice!” Interrupted Hannah—stopping the word play between her partner and the homeowner.
The two women stuck their tongues out at each other, and then laughed. It was plain to see the bond that surrounded the four of them—built on mutual respect and admiration—and of course the little kid in each of them!
So two women moved again out of the living room, and two women settled back to wait—crossing their fingers that this was the answer to both of their friends’ problems—and maybe prayers.
”Well—obviously that was the living room. Here is the kitchen—the old fashioned kind that’s a bit bigger, with room for a kitchen table and not a separate formal dining room.” The tour guide began.
“I always liked that—a more cozy and relaxed feel to it.” Commented the guest. Looking around and seeing a clean and functional room with quite a bit of cupboard space, counter space, and gave the whole room an uncluttered look. “I like it too—I’m not much into formalities. I also like the fireplace in the living room—gas?”
“Yes. I love it—that’s why I have the couch facing it—it’s so nice to light that in the evening and play some quiet music—just so relaxing.” Stopping herself. “Sorry—I’m babbling.” Turning to walk away, she was stopped by a firm and slightly calloused hand.
“No—don’t’ apologize. I like the image. It shows that we have more in common. Why would you say you’re babbling?” The question asked gently.
“Oh—well—I’ve been told that I talk a lot.” Feeling her face get warm and knowing she was starting to blush at the attention.
“I don’t think so.” Tucking the information away—not only the conversation, but also the subdued look on Beth’s face—like she’d done something wrong.
A moment of silence followed—then they looked at each other. A sound from the living room broke the silence—the moment that connected them somehow.
“Ah—OK—well on with the tour.” Then looking at the larger hand still resting on her arm, she reached over and gently patted it.
The larger hand gently squeezed it and then let go.
And on with the tour they went. Beth continued her directions. “Down the hall and straight in is the bathroom. To the left is the guest room that I’ve converted to also be an office. To the right is my bedroom.”
Like all the other rooms, Beth’s bedroom was light and airy—pale pale green—almost without color it was so light, and a few pictures on the walls and on the dresser. A couple of knick-knacks for decorations—giving off a personal feel without feeling claustrophobic by everything lying around.
Again the woodworker looked around without looking like she was being nosy and nodded her head in approval. The decorating style tells a lot about a person, and of course she noticed the pretty medium oak furniture for the bed and dresser and night stands. “Very nice Beth.” Was the comment made.
Back down the hall to the door next to the living room and by the front door that led them to the finished downstairs. Carpeted stairs quieted their footsteps down to the family room that was bright with the sun filled windows—light oak colored paneling on the one end of the room, bringing warmth also along with a huge variegated brown braided rug on the tiled floor. A door at the bottom of the stairs opened to a large room that could be her bedroom. At the other end of the bedroom door was an open doorway to the bathroom, laundry room and another smaller room that still had exercise equipment in it.
AS they walked together through the rooms, Bailey was mentally putting her furniture in place in each room, and smiling at how it all looked in her mind’s eye. It had a feeling of home—cozy even at the moment it was pretty much empty.
As they headed back to the stairs, the homeowner stopped in the family room. “I know I still have some things down here, as I wasn’t expecting a change so soon, but if we decide to go through with this, I can get it moved very easily.”
“No problem—and if you want some help I’d be glad to come over. Obviously I have a flexible schedule,” came the sincere offer.
“Why thank you. I’ll keep that in mind. I guess next it is the other building. It also has a few things in it, but I’m sure I can arrange the garage….”
Bailey interrupted. “Or some stuff can stay there too if there’s room. Let’s take a peek, OK? We can figure it out together.”
The other selling point for Bailey was the walk-out downstairs into a nice deck, and nestled next to the deck was a gazebo. Beyond that, at the end of the yard was a good sized building—the size of a single garage plus. An extra wide door and big window in front faced the house.
The walked towards it in an already amiable silence, that usually only grew out of time spent together. A row of mature trees bordered the lot on two sides giving the place a sense of privacy and almost country feel as the lots were bigger in this section of town. Beth got the key out of her jean pocket and unlocked the door, entering it first and flipping on the light switch, then stepping back to let her companion enter also.
The taller woman walked in and gazed the room and again started to smile. Plenty of ceiling lights, no support posts to inhibit floor space and more than adequate amount of room in general for her sized carpentry work. The equipment still in the building was mostly just off season tools like a snow blower and shovels that would not take up any needed room.
The blonde, still by the door, leaned against the wall and quietly watched her new friend eye up the room and smile. The smile accented an already very nice looking face. Her gut reaction to this woman was a good one—that she was a good person, with a good heart and giving nature. Lord knows she had been wrong before—badly wrong—heartbreaking wrong—but then she also had the assurance of two of her closest friends that this person was the real deal. It wasn’t like she was a complete stranger. So with that mental conversation, she made her decision—if Bailey wanted to—the lower level and outbuilding was her to rent. And with that thought, she felt a weight lift off her shoulders and her body began to relax—for the first time in weeks, if not months. Her home was safely hers again, IF Bailey wanted it. And if she could read that face, she wanted it—a lot. That idea put a matching smile on Beth’s face.
Blue eyes scanned the room one more time, and again placed her things in the work area—in a position that was efficient and used the space to its most potential. Yep—plenty of room. If Beth didn’t mind her hanging some peg board for her hand tools, and maybe even bringing in a portable workbench it would be perfect. She turned back to face her hopefully future landlord and they looked at each other and asked each other at the same time:
Then they both laughed at the same time. The carpenter spoke first: I don’t expect you to make a decision right away, but if you approve of me and my idea, I’d love to rent the space from you—I’m sure the numbers will be within reason.”
Then Beth answered. “I think it would be a good move for both of us Bailey. If you’d like to rent it—it’s yours. We’ll get some figures down on paper whenever you want. I imagine our mutual friends are getting bored by now. Should we give them the good news?”
The new tenant bowed and executed a hand gesture with a flourish. “Lead on my landlord.”
Green eyes rolled with a grin, and then she turned and left the building. Bailey walked to the door then turned back one last time before shutting off the lights. “Welcome home Bailey.” She whispered to herself, and the workroom to be.
It was as they were walking across the backyard that sudden panic hit Bailey’s face, and she stopped dead in mid stride. It took a couple of steps for Beth to realize she was suddenly alone. So she too stopped and then turned back. The look she saw made her stomach drop. What had happened?? Had she changed her mind?? “What’s wrong Bailey?” The soft voice asked as she walked back to the very still form.
“Uhm—I got so engrossed in everything I forgot to ask you something really important.”
“Deal breaker question?”
“Yeah—kinda.” Answered with a swallow and a prayer.
“Oh. What’s the question?” Hoping it was something they could work out—REALLY hoping.
“Well—Ok—Uhm—do you like…dogs?”
“Dogs?!” Totally confused now.
“Yes.” The answer came out quietly and very seriously.
She gulped as the idea hit her emotions. “How many? How big??” Trying to give herself some time to recoup her breath. A dog was something that she and Melinda had talked about a lot, and she thought they both wanted—but then as things fell apart—she put the dream in a box—tied it up securely—and stored it deep in her mind along with other unfulfilled dreams and promises.
Bailey’s mind was racing. How could she have forgotten Sawduster—her buddy? But Beth didn’t gag or immediately say no so maybe there was hope.
“Just one—a small one. Her name is Sawduster because as a puppy I found her lying in a lumberyard amongst the wood shavings—a stray pup that no one knew anything about. She loves to lie at my feet and get covered in sawdust and wood shavings as she sleeps. Here…I have a picture of her. She’s well trained—I took her to obedience training, and we both passed.” Trying to lighten the situation. She knew she was babbling as she quickly took out her wallet and dug through it for the promised picture. And, as it usually happens when hurried, several small pieces of paper came loose from her grasp and were caught by a soft afternoon breeze and scattered. This only added to her dilemma. Beth grabbed at the material and between the two of them managed to gather them back. Of course the picture was the last to be found. Sawduster was about the size of a small terrier, but definitely a mixed breed. She was sitting in Bailey’s lap—wearing a bright red Christmas bow—matching the one laying on top of her owner’s long dark hair. It was such a cute picture—obviously a spontaneous snapshot at a happy time—and Beth couldn’t help but smile back at the photo.
“She’s cute.” Handing the picture back—and thinking only to herself--and the dog’s not bad looking either! Oops!!
“Yep—with loads of personality.”
“Well trained huh?” Feeling herself giving in even though her sense of trust had been badly beaten down.
“Very! I’ll pay an extra deposit for her if that will help.” Sensing that maybe it would all be OK again, but still holding her breath and crossing everything she had two of—well everything that she had two of that could be physically crossed!
Beth sighed. It had gone too smoothly. She should have known better because nothing in her life lately was this easy. This was the fly in the ointment—or dog in the sawdust. Bailey said it was deal breaker---was it a deal breaker for her?
Across from her the other woman unconsciously held her breath. Obviously if this didn’t work out, she would find something else, but since she first stepped foot in the house and met the petite blond, she could picture herself living here. Her head snapped up as Beth spoke.
“OK. Let’s give it a shot. I don’t have anything against dogs, thought maybe I’d even have one myself by now, but it didn’t work out. So it’s a package deal of you and the pooch.”
“ALRIGHT! I mean—thank you Beth.” Immediately beginning to blush with the volume of her reply and hurrying to cover her excitement. “I honestly think this is a great solution for both of us.”
Beth couldn’t help but smile with Bailey’s exclamation. “I think so too. We were on our way back inside, so I guess we should go on in.” Turning back towards the house.
“OK. Let’s go see what Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum have been up to. “
That comment brought forth a spontaneous burst of laughter from the new landlord. “Which…” she began to ask but was interrupted.
“I never go there. As Syd says, as long as it’s said in a….”
“kind and loving way.” Beth continued and Bailey finished. “…it’s legal.” It was a well known quote that Syd used on them all when she was giving someone a hard time.
They walked into the house laughing—the sound making its way up the stairs to the waiting couple. And when the waiting couple heard it, they smiled at each other—and quickly moved apart—as they had been snuggling rather closely while alone. But the matching guilty looks on their faces as the other two entered the room made the blonde shake her head at them.
“OK—break it up—sheesh!” Then held up her hand before they could sputter out some type of claim to innocence that no one would believe. “Anyway you two, it looks like your idea was a big success. We’re going to give it a try.”
“Hey great!” Said in stereo. “Good for you both!” Exclaimed Hannah standing up to meet them with Syd following.
At this point Bailey entered the room, having been staying in the background to watch the scene. She grinned at them and slapped the offered hands in congratulations. It was a special moment for her as she looked around the room at her old and now new friends. A new chapter was going to start here for her and she was both excited and pleased. Impulsively she asked the group. “Hey—how about we all go out for supper to celebrate? My treat.”
“Good idea—let’s do it” Agreed the old friends, but silence from the new one.
“Beth—you too of course—please?” Requested the tall woman.
Green eyes looked at her friends and smiled. It was a good day and to celebrate seemed only appropriate. Maybe the dark clouds that seemed to have been over her head for so long were finally going to find someplace else to hover for a while. “Sure. Why not?”
“Great! Let’s go then. We can all fit in my truck, if that’s OK with everyone.” Turning to head to the front door with everyone murmuring their agreement and moving to follow. So she missed the warm and fuzzy moment as both Hannah and Syd silently hugged Beth before they left the living room.
It was unanimous that they had a wonderful time together that evening with both good food and good company. And it was as though everyone had known each other a long time in that there were no awkward silences or struggles to think of subjects to talk about. Bailey dropped Syd and Hannah off at their place first and then came into Beth’s house to go over the financial part of their arrangement. This was the part that made the new landlord uncomfortable. It was her first time at renting, and all the details that go with it, but the carpenter made it all go very smoothly in not only going over the specific money amounts and timetables, but also on keeping receipts and other paperwork. Since it was the beginning of the month, they agreed that Bailey could start moving in slowly and could start working there whenever she had the workshop set up. This gave her time to give notice and get everything in order by the time she had to be out. The fact that both women were easygoing made the whole conversation short, and was a trait they appreciated in the other.
“I think that should take care of things, right?” Asked the newbie landlord to her tenant, looking down at the legal pad in front of her.
“Yep—as far as I know. I can’t think of anything else right now. But if you come up with any questions, jot them down and give me a call and we’ll work it out.”
“Sounds good. Here is my phone number.”
Writing on a clean sheet of paper.
”I’ll start rearranging whatever is left downstairs and move it up here and have it ready this next week.” Handing the now folded paper to the other woman.
A tanned hand tucked the paper into her jeans pocket. “How about I come over tomorrow night after work and we take of that together? It would take a lot less time and only half the effort for each of us.”
Green eyes widened at the offer. “Wow that’s really nice of you, but I don’t want to impose. You’ve got a lot of your own packing and moving coming up…… Hey!” Standing up with the idea that just occurred to her. “How about we work together on both ends of this? I’ll accept your help here, if you accept my help at your place. Like you said, half the effort for each of us.”
Two dark eyebrows raised. People nowadays don’t just volunteer to work that hard for free! The thought that she had somehow insinuated that she wanted help made her quickly try to make amends. “I-I didn’t mean for you to…” Stuttering in her comment but being interrupted before she could finish.
“No-no. That’s not why I’m asking. I just thought it would help us both out and get the job done for both of us faster and easier.” Also backpedaling and trying to explain herself. Beginning to have a taste of an invisible shoe in her mouth, though not quite sure why. This is just a part of her personality—willing to help where she could. And it certainly wasn’t going to put a strain on her social calendar!!
Seeing the confused look on the more petite woman relaxed Bailey. “OK—deal. We’ll start tomorrow night then. I’ll come over after work and we’ll fill some boxes and move them upstairs. I’ll bring over a check the too—one months rent—another month’s rent as security deposit, and half a month’s rent as security for Sawdust. Sound right?” Standing up as she finished.
“Y-Yes” Trying to get her head wrapped around the figure that added up to. And then standing up to escort her guest to the door, though she didn’t feel like a guest any longer.
“Good. I’d better go so you can have the rest of the evening to yourself. Nice to meet you Beth and I think this is going to all work out great. Thanks for going ahead with this.” Holding out her hand to shake the smaller one.
Beth also extended her hand, smiling at the dark haired woman. “Very nice meeting you too Bailey. I think our friends had a very bright light bulb go on with this idea. I just hope they don’t get really big heads over it.” Making them both laugh as they walked away from the kitchen table and headed towards the front door.
As the truck drove away, Beth watched the tail lights disappear into the darkness then turned off the porch light and walked back into the living room. Sitting on the
couch, she listened to the silence of just her being in the house. It never bothered her to be alone there, but now she heard the echo of Bailey’s velvet voice and her contagious laughter. It would be good to have laughter here again—it had been too long without.
True to her word, the next night the truck drove again into the driveway and the tall statuesque woman jumped out and walked to the front door to ring the bell. She had been looking forward to coming back since she drove away the night before. There was something about this place that drew her back, and drew her in—it was comforting and comfortable here at this house. So the smile on her face was genuine as the door opened and Beth welcomed her in.
The homeowner had looked forward to the next day too when they would get together. She had picked up a few empty boxes to carry things upstairs but hadn’t gotten much done beyond bring them into the house, change clothes and eat supper. In fact, she was just walking past the door when the bell, startling her. But that lasted only a moment before she walked back to the door and opened it.
“Hey there—come on in.” Stepping back to let her enter and smiling at her new friend.
“Hi Beth. I’m not too early am I? We never got around to actually setting a time. I just wanted to get here before you had it all done.” Entering the building and raising an eyebrow at the smaller woman.
Now, how in the world did she know her intentions?? Beth’s eyes got big for a moment. She was used to doing things herself. She was also used to having her efforts critiqued, but she still tried. “Uhm-well-I haven’t done anything yet, so you don’t have anything to worry about there.” Motioning Bailey to continue on into the living room ahead of her. “Can I get you anything? Something to drink?”
“No, I’m fine thanks.” Smiling as the guilty faced, slightly blushing woman changed the subject. This could be fun!! Bailey tucked that little tidbit of information of blushing and teasing in the back of her mind to bring out at a more appropriate time.
During this verbal exchange they had walked into the living room and had both settled on the couch facing each other. The blue eyed woman turned the conversation to why she was there. “So—I know that you have things downstairs—but where do you want them moved to?”
“Well, I was thinking of taking the two small bookcases and put one in each of the rooms up here—one in the office and the other in the bedroom. That leaves the empty entertainment center and the exercise machine. The exercise machine I can fold up and slide under the futon in the office.”
“If you want to—I have one of those all in one gym pieces—and we could just use that one smaller room for exercise, if you wouldn’t mind sharing.” Wiggling her eyebrows as she joked. “You can use mine, if I can use yours.” This caused Beth to erupt into giggles.
“Sure! That sounds great! Not only so we don’t have to move it, but also between the two pieces maybe I won’t gain that winter 5 pounds I seem to re-find every year. I’m not quite sure about the entertainment center. It used to be an armoire, and it’s pretty old—a couple generations. It’s a nice piece, but needs some work.”
Bailey thought for a second then responded. “Well how about we move that into the workshop, and I take a peek at it? I have done some refinishing work on things over the years.”
The suggestion impressed Beth, and it showed in her voice. “That would be wonderful if you don’t mind, but you don’t have to do anything with it.”
Putting her hands on her thighs and standing up, the woodworker didn’t respond about that. “Sounds like we have a plan then. It’s true what they say—plan your work and then work your plan. Ready?” Reaching out her right hand to the petite blond to help her stand also.
Beth took the larger hand and pulled herself up. “Yes—let’s get started.”
They walked downstairs and Bailey looked around at her new abode. “How about we first box up the books and put them in the rooms, then move the bookcases up. After that we’ll move the armoire out. Shouldn’t take too long.” Smiling as she watched Beth nod in agreement. Then an idea struck and she shared it. “Uhm—how about when we get done—we get an ice cream cone…” Bailey stumbled a little in her speaking as she switched from the easy talk of business to the less easy talk of personal business.
But the blonde didn’t notice as the words ‘ice cream’ hit her ears. “Ohhh—you just gave me an incentive!” Green eyes enlarged and then her voice dropped to a conspirial tone. “Dipped in chocolate?” In a fake loud whisper.
“But of course!” Answered in the same tone.
Then the blonde’s voice jumped to above average volume. “Well—let’s get going then! Time's a wasting!”
They each grabbed an empty box and headed to the larger bookcase.
Now the landlord took over the planning. “OK—how about I sort out what goes into each box and you pack them?” Not used to being in charge of anyone else. She was used to either doing it herself or being more the ‘happy go-fer’ for projects.
“Sure.” Agreed the tenant.
Finding a comfortable position on the big braided throw rug, Beth reached for the first books. “OK—here we go then.”
They worked smoothly and quickly together without a lot of conversation. Beth handed the books to Bailey and told her: office or bedroom. Bailey noticed that the blonde had eclectic tastes in books: romance—sci-fi—historical—biography—mystery—computer. A lot like her own tastes, if there were a couple rows of books about carpentry and woodworking!
They moved from the one bookcase to the other and filled more and more boxes. Finally they were on the bottom row, but only a few books were there. A box was sitting there, already closed up. Beth hesitated for a moment and then quietly just lifted it out and moved it off to the side. Her face had paled a bit and her green eyes had dimmed, so the blue eyes that followed her softened. She guessed, as in your head you can box up bad or sad memories and experiences and store them away—sometimes a person can do the same thing with physical things that are too painful to look, but at the same time too painful to let go of. Grief is individual in its healing process. Bailey had a box at her place too. A box that had been bigger, but with time, had gradually gotten smaller as she let go emotionally—could let go too physically. It started out so painful that it stole your breath away—too painful—too bittersweet—and gradually moved to the other end of the spectrum that the memories lightened so that the ones that were remembered were the good ones and not so much just the bad.
She waited until Beth looked at her and stood up. Smiling gently at the blonde, she was rewarded with a smile back.
“Which bookcase first?” Asked the landlord as she eyed them both up.
“How about the heavier one while we are fresh and then the smaller?” Keeping to the subject at hand unless invited.
The light haired woman nodded her head in agreement. “Smart.”
“Of course.” Came the quick retort surrounded in a smile.
“Modesty too I see.” Deadpanned Beth—her moments of running into her past easing up again.
“Almost as much as I am smart.” Rolling her blue eyes at her own remark.
“We better move this stuff before ‘it’ gets any deeper in here, and I can’t move.” Causing them both to laugh.
Within another half hour, the furniture had been moved and the boxes in the proper rooms. They went back downstairs—this time each holding an opened bottle of water. They stood in front of the armoire and judged how to move it.
“Just a sec—unlock the door down here OK?” With that request the tall renter went back upstairs.
Shaking her head, Beth did as she was requested. In a moment Bailey appeared around the corner of the house pulling a furniture dolly behind her.
“This should even the odds for the wrestling match.” Bringing it into the house and into the family room. Strapping the piece of furniture on, they rolled it across the room to the door. Stopping there for a breath, the woodworker asked. “Are the doors to this still here?”
“Oh sure—in the other room. I’ll go get them.” Which she did and together they moved it through the yard to the building, which Beth unlocked and then they rolled it into the far corner. It was starting to darken out of doors, so they didn’t hesitate. Relocking the building, the two women walked back to the door. Bailey stopped and turned back—looking back at the yard and tress and listened to the quiet of neighborhood. She said a silent thank you of being brought to this spot with this kind person next to her. It felt good. It felt right. It made her relax and feel at peace deep inside her.
Turning back she smiled at her landlord. “Ice cream?”
“As soon as we lock up.” Liking this new agenda.
“OK.” Starting to move out of the way, but was stopped.
“In fact, how about you lock up?” Beth asked. And as she asked, she handed a set of keys to her new friend. On the key ring were two keys. She explained as she saw the dark eyebrow rise. “Well I figured I might as well give you your set of keys now. Then you can move in on your time table and not just when I’m here. This key is for the house—any door—and this key is for the, workshop.” Smiling with its new title.
“Why thank you! That’s great. And speaking of which….” Pulling out her billfold and taking out a check. “Here is what we agreed upon…right?” Handing the check over to the petite woman.
Beth took it and looked it over. “Yes. That looks just fine. Thank you.” Carefully folding the paper and slipping it into her jeans pocket.
Turning towards the door, the new tenant spoke. “”I’ll try out these new keys and then meet you upstairs in a couple of minutes. I’ll shut the lights off too, OK?” Tossing the keys into the air and catching them a couple of times like the big kid that she was.
Beth grinned and admired the natural grace and athletic ability her new friend showed as she barely looked at the keys as they were in the air before snatching them up in her tanned hand. “OK. Sounds good. I’ll see you in a couple then.” Turning in the opposite direction and heading towards the stairs.
The tall form made her way to the back of the downstairs area and turned off the lights, and also taking the time to do a ‘walk around’ of the whole downstairs area to make sure nothing was left turned on or unlocked. After completing that, she walked up the stairs and waited in the living room. Looking around the uncluttered and comfortable area, she again got the feeling of being ‘welcomed’ here and how it felt so right being here. She knew it deep inside that she was making the right move.
As she was taking it all in, with her back to the doorway, Beth started to enter the room but then stopped. Taking a moment to watch the other woman unguarded standing so still her living room. What captured her attention the most the look on her face—more of profile from her position—the slight smile and sparkle in her blue eyes. There was almost a glow of contentment surrounding her. Something in that reached out and touched the homeowner in a gentle safe way that felt good to her after so many months of feeling out of control and in such turmoil 24/7.
As if feeling eyes on her, Bailey slowly turned back to fully face the blonde, smiling. “Ready?” Seemingly asking a lot more in that single word.
The smile was like another touch—again making her feel safe and ‘saved’ from across the room, and it warmed her. “Yes, yes I am ready.”
“Good. Then let’s go. The ice cream awaits us. And actually I can almost hear it calling us.” Quipping in a very serious voice as she walked past Beth to the front door.
“Really?” Questioned the other ice cream craver. “And what is the ice cream calling out to us?” Joining in the camaraderie of the word game.
“Well—the chocolate chip is saying that the maple’s nuts are a bit soggy today, and the vanilla says it may be a bit basic, but the sky is the limit to what you can add—or just enjoy the basic taste of good ice cream.”
“Ahh—blowing their own horns are they?” By now the two were walking down the sidewalk to the gray truck in the driveway.
“But of course! Popularity knows no bounds—even in ice cream!” Opening the passenger door to her now guest.
Beth had never been in a truck before meeting Bailey, and found she enjoyed sitting up and being able to see so much more than in her car. In fact, the look of enjoyment on her face as she looked around, gave Bailey an idea of what she must have looked like as a little girl.
That sense of fun held for the rest of the evening as they found their ice cream: one chocolate chip and one vanilla dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with nuts. The ice cream voices had won out!
And they talked—comparing childhoods—dreams—like—dislikes. And they laughed: a lot. It was a good evening as the two of them spent time together that bonded them more as friends.
So as the truck stopped back again in the driveway the conversation continued to flow very easily.
“OK. You have the keys. BUT, and I repeat, BUT that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to keep my promise of helping you pack your things up and move them here.” Very emphatically stated with appropriate gestures by Beth that Hannah would have been proud of, if she had seen them!
Bailey of course tried to protest and raised a hand. “Really Beth, you don’t have to do anything. I can……” Being interrupted
A smaller hand rose to match the larger tanned one still in mid air. “But you won’t…..have to do it alone. Anymore than I had to do this alone. So, how about we meet at your place tomorrow night and start? You pick the room and we’ll go from there, OK? I mean, if you don’t have any other plans.” Her voice getting softer as her supply of bravado wore out.
A set of pearly whites appeared from the driver in the semi-darkness. Placing her hand that had been just hanging out in the air into the smaller hand that was still in the same gesture she then chuckled. “No, I don’t have any other plans but to get this moved and finished as quickly and as smoothly as possible. I have some work to do, so as little of a break in my schedule would be the best.” A small squeeze of the hand and then she let it go and dropped her own into her lap.
Beth thought a second then offered a solution. “Well then, how about instead of doing this whole move at once, we move your shop here right away, and then you can keep working during the day. I have an extra room for you to stay here so we’d just pack up your clothes and then move the rest as you have time—maybe a load for each vehicle each evening after our work day?” And then again her self-confidence slipped. “I mean it’s just an option, and temporary.”
Surprise showed on the other woman’s face. People didn’t offer this kind of thing nowadays—even friends didn’t put themselves out like this. But it certainly would make life easier if she could set up shop right away and not spend a whole chunk of time packing and driving back and forth. The piece of woodworking she was currently on had a deadline fast approaching, and another piece she had in her head needed to be put on paper. Having that started up would set up her income and of course her time, for the next few weeks. Blowing out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding, she turned in the truck seat. “That is so beyond generous of you and my first instinct is to say thank you, but no thank you. But if you are serious, it would certainly help me out. I’d be willing to pay extra rent…”
Again she interrupted. Beth stopped her from finishing the sentence. “No-no I’m not offering this for the money— or do I want to put a price tag on something that is offered out of kindness. If it would help you out, that is enough for me.”
Bailey’s turn. “No-no I didn’t mean to pay as anything but a gesture of thanks! Before I put my foot further in my mouth, I’ll humbly accept your kind offer and say thank you very much.” Reaching out she gently took the smaller hand still in the air, again, and squeezed it before letting it go.
After that was all settled, directions were given to the carpenter’s apartment, where they would meet the next evening. It wasn’t too late so the taller woman drove back to her rented shop and packed up most of her smaller tools not now being used into the back of her truck. She would make it that move in two trips and if Beth took just the necessities from the apartment and a couple work things—they would be set to get started. She worked steadily and gracefully until she was satisfied that it was all the way she wanted it. When that was done she was ready to lock up, she looked around at the space she had used. It had served her well enough, but it was going to be so nice to just walk out the back door, across the yard whenever she wanted to. Maybe Beth would join her and she’d have someone to share this part of her life with. She found the blonde not only easy to talk to, but just to be with—could relax around her. It was with a good feeling inside that she looked forward to moving. Turning off the light the designer finished locking up and drove her truck to the apartment, where she got ready for bed.
Across town Beth made sure the futon in her converted office was ready for being a bed, and that there was room in the closet for clothes. It was temporary, but could still be comfortable.
Both women went to sleep that night looking forward to the coming days that would bring many changes, but changes that they both felt were meant to be. And that the changes would be for the good.
To Be Continued ...
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