Amidst Sandcastles - Chapter Five

Sana Rose By Sana Rose, 18th Sep 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

“This broke and, Dad, I didn’t know how to tell you about it. So I came with it. You’re right, it’s beyond repair. And what Dad, I’m going to miss it.” Noah’s eyes closed and he rocked gently as he spoke. He asked all the questions in his mind. He told his Dad about meeting Selena and asked for his advice.

Chapter Five - Part One

Selena sat in the porch, sipping a cup of green tea and listening to the rain that beat down. The girls were in the living room, watching TV. Usually Selena sat with them, but she wasn’t feeling good enough to watch TV. Everything was distressing her. She was thinking about the next day. The picnic at St. Jacinto Island and visiting Jean and Zinnia. But Noah would be there. She can’t see him now. Not when the girls were around. To them, their father had died when they were one year old. And knowing that there was a man in their mother’s life before their fictional father died was not going to help. It would only raise doubts. More questions and more truths revealed. She was so much in love with the equilibrium of their lives that she didn’t want to ruin it. Not even her own fancies.
The rumble of a truck caught her attention. It was from the neighboring property. The penthouse had been uninhabited for a few months. The Elsons had moved to Panaji three months ago, putting this house for sale. The truck stopped and two people jumped out of it in raincoats and unloaded some things from the truck. So a new neighbor was arriving. The cleaning people were there to set it up.
She would bake a chocolate cake and ice it with vanilla cream and write Welcome on it and present it to the new-comer whenever he or she was moving in. Selena hoped the new neighbor would be a nice old woman. And hoping that, she drained the tea into her mouth. She would rather start cooking dinner now if she wanted to go to bed early tonight for a week’s rest.
Time was getting to six. She would just make some pasta soup and vegetable salad and end with a glass of milk for each. She sighed. Deciding what to cook a day constituted one of the most difficult decision-making troubles in a mother’s daily life. But she still didn’t know the difficulties of being a mother. Of becoming pregnant and getting the morning sicknesses. Of tired afternoons and sleepy evenings. Of the pain of labor. She had often been astonished to hear the screams and lamentations of women at the onset of labor, even after ten years in the field. She wanted to feel it and know what difference it made in the feelings towards her baby. There’s a lot to know. She made her way to the coziness of her kitchen and its endless possibilities...

*

Noah went walking all the way up to the church. Despite the fact that it was raining, he had left his car outside the gates. He wanted to walk and inhale the moist air of the evening to compose himself. And hide under the umbrella from things he couldn’t see, hoping they wouldn’t see him either.
Noah entered the old chapel he had come lots of times. This was the only place he had come when he came home in between his drifting. He hadn’t even bothered to go to Irish Rose’ all the time. And then he was coming here every month. Tara hadn’t been told about that. She would feel bad that he hadn’t visited her. But at that time, he knew he had wanted nothing. He was living in the shadows of his own past. The tiniest bit of love or caring gesture would have broken him apart. And he knew Tara was the only person on the face of earth who would offer that to him. And he hadn’t wanted to see her yet.
He folded the umbrella and dropped it in a red bucket that stood smugly at the door. It was meant to keep the wet umbrellas but it was empty. So no one was in the church. The priest would be there, of course. But no one was there to pray or put down the burdens from his shoulders.
He trod up the aisle running a hand through his hair. He felt young and vulnerable. And lonely. He took a seat in the front pew and crossed his fingers. He bent forward, resting his
elbows on his knees and pressed his hands held together on the bridge of his nose. The congestion in his chest was choking him.
God, forgive me, he prayed, tell her to forgive me… He rose and looked at the Trinity high above the level of the pew.
“I want her back,” he whispered into the silence. “I want to redeem and get it all back.”
He didn’t know how long he sat there praying. Sighing deeply, he got up to his feet and walked to the back door of the church. It was the short way out.
The rain had just stopped and raindrops rested on the grasses and the rose bushes on either side of the paved path. The sun had come out from behind the clouds and the sky was clear. The resting raindrops caught the sunlight and gleamed on the leaves and grasses. The air was sweet, scented with the new roses. He walked faster and faster and suddenly halted.
The headstone held the inscription:

Rose Lynne Sehnor
Born on: 10. 08. 1954
Died on: 20. 12. 1980
“All the roses on Earth
Bloom for your soul’s mirth…”
-Theo Sehnor


Those were his father’s own verses he had written to be inscribed on his beloved wife’s headstone. He pondered over the beauty of the epitaph for the first time.
Noah felt a warm tear roll down the bridge of his nose. He rubbed the tip of his nose with the back of his palm and sniffed. Today he had come here to cry. To cry as much as his heart pleased. His mother had died at twenty-six. She hadn’t lived long enough to make him drink any energy drink. He recalled the irony of the fact and the boasting he had told Karen, the baby-sitter at Jean’s. Next to his mother’s grave, a small headstone was placed.

Baby Sayanora Sehnor
Born on: 20. 12. 1980
Died on: 20. 12. 1980

“From depth unknown,
Tears roll on…”

-Theo Sehnor

Again, Dad’s verses…
The dates of birth and death inscribed were sure to tear at the heart of anyone who noticed that. Noah opened the zipper of his jacket and took out a bunch of pink rose buds and put it under his baby sister’s headstone. He kept a bunch of fully
bloomed pink roses on his mother are grave. Next he moved to the left and whispered, “Today, I came to talk to Dad, Mom.”
The headstone to his mother’s left had a divine light around it. Or so Noah felt. Noah dropped to his knees in front of the grave and put the bright red roses on the grave and tears flowed down incessantly down his cheeks. For once, he was not ashamed to cry.
The headstone looked gallant. The inscriptions were fresh.

Theodore Sehnor
Born on: 07. 03. 1945
Died on: 03. 07. 2011
“When I want to cry, it will be to you,
When I want to share, it will be with you,
When I want to smile, it will be for you…
Dad, I love you…”
-Noah Sehnor

His own words. Noah was no poet like his Dad, but he had just had it written – a few simple words of commitment, of love. And he knew Dad had heard him. Making his breath even, he dug his hand inside his jacket’s pocket and took out the dead timepiece.
“Dad, I’m sorry,” he started speaking under his breath. Once it began, it was easy to talk to Dad. “I was sleeping and
then this made noise and not knowing what it was, I just thrashed out and it… broke.” Noah sighed and began digging in the dirt, clearing the grass at the spot. “This broke and, Dad, I didn’t know how to tell you about it. So I came with it. You’re right, it’s beyond repair. And what Dad, I’m going to miss it.” Noah’s eyes closed and he rocked gently as he spoke. He asked all the questions in his mind. He told his Dad about meeting Selena and asked for his advice.
By the time he finished talking, the timepiece was buried. His own grave would be to the left of his father’s grave, with the precious timepiece in between them. If not the story, let at least the epilogue be perfect, he thought. Smoothing the mud over the timepiece’s grave, Noah stood up. His knees ached and trembled. He turned around to leave and took a step forward. Then he turned back and stared at his Dad’s headstone.
“I know I haven’t been answered,” he said under his breath. “I know this just leaves me where I am. Alone. More so. But I also know that this is the only way. I miss you, Dad …”
He didn’t cry when he walked back to his car. His eyes were dry. His spirits, too. He badly wanted to get out of this loneliness. The only light at the end of the tunnel was Selena. He had realized it a long time ago. And that’s why he had never married…
He got behind the wheel in his blue BMW and drove back home, trying not to think. Thinking was driving him mad. That’s all really he had been doing for years till now. Not anymore. He wanted to follow his heart this time. Yes, he had the answers now.

*

Chapter Five - Part Two

As she undressed to get to bed, Selena had an idea. She felt she shouldn’t be too hard on him. Vincent Gomer was a lost man. He had the right to see them. If not legally, rightfully, than herself. She sat on the edge of her large bed and took her cell phone in her hands. She had saved his number under the name Vince. Hoping she was doing the right thing, she dialed his cell phone number.
When she hung up five minutes later, she felt an enormous sense of relief in her bosom. Something was done right today. Her conscience felt at peace. It wouldn’t hurt anyone until the truth was unraveled. It would, one day, it would have to, she knew. But not now. She couldn’t manage that.
Lying in the bed alone brought back memories. It hurt to remember all that. She lay there, flat on her back, staring at the ceiling fan rotating slowly. The sound of the fan blended with the sound of the rain and formed a lulling lullaby. For that one reason, she never cared to use the air conditioner. But she couldn’t sleep.
She turned to her left and lay on her side, gazing at the telephone on the bedside stand, realizing what she was missing. And it was then it rang suddenly. But this time she wasn’t startled. Her heart beat faster, though. She reached for the phone and paused for a moment before taking it, knowing who it was.
Silently, she held the receiver to her ear waiting for the caller to speak.
Noah’s voice was strained across the line when he called her Leno. Selena held her breath for a moment before speaking.
“Hi,” she said.
Noah felt a sheer joy pierce his heart. She sounded less formal. She had said hi.
“How are you, Leno?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” she replied softly that, for a mad moment, Noah believed he had her back. “When did you go home?” she asked before she could stop herself.
Noah was astonished.
“But – how do you know I’m home?” Do you care?
“At Irish Rose’, aren’t you?” Selena asked, now that she was the one who started it.
“Yeah, I came this morning. Noon, to be exact,” Noah replied. “But how did you – “
“I can hear that clock,” Selena said. “The big musical clock on the wall behind your bed.” She drew in a sharp breath.
Sure enough, the clock was chiming, loud and clear, just as it had, ten and twelve and fifteen years back, when she used to creep up to his room when everything was quiet and the house still and she a guest there for the weekend. The time was nine and the clock chimed nine times as both of them stood silent across the line.
Selena still remembered it even on hearing it through phone. She remembered how, as each minute ticked off and hour rang out towards midnight, Noah used to take her to the sensation of the pleasure of pure oblivion of the surroundings.
“You remember it,” Noah said softly in awe.
“I do,” Selena agreed.
“Tara asked for you and our kids.”
He said it flatly. He didn’t know how much emotion his voice held when he said those words. But he was sure that Selena had sensed the difficulty in the suddenness he had said it.
Selena was petrified for a moment as something hurt her memories. She heard Tara’s voice. Now, Leno, tell me! Well… that’s a grand surprise!
“And what did you say?” Selena asked.
There was contempt as well as pity in her voice. She hadn’t had to answer to anyone about what happened ten years ago and what went wrong. Noah had, but he had gone hiding to the outer world. Hiding in plain sight.
“I haven’t said anything so far,” Noah said. “I don’t think it has ended between us, so I can’t tell her we broke up.”
“It hasn’t ended, did you say?” Selena’s voice rose. “Then what has it undergone?”
“Give me a chance, honey – “
“Don’t call me that!” Selena bit back a sob and her voice was a sharp whisper.
“I’m sorry,” Noah whispered. “Leno, I want to see you. We need to talk.”
“I’m not sure I want to,” she replied coolly.
“Oh, yes, you want to see me,” Noah said. “You know how difficult it is for me to beg. But now, I’m begging you.”
“Cut out the act, Noah,” Selena snapped. “I don’t want to see you because I know it’s not going to change anything between us.”
“That’s not right or fair,” Noah said. “You don’t want to see me, because you are a coward. You are afraid you’ll fall in love with me again. All over again! If you ever did fall out. I know I never did!” Noah quit begging. There was a better way of igniting Selena – challenge her. “I never stopped loving you, I was stupid to leave. And I didn’t know how to come back. But I never fell out of love with you. Did you?”
“I’m not a coward!” Selena hissed at him.
“You are,” Noah didn’t stop taunting her.
“No,” Selena denied defiantly. “You can’t say that. You’re the coward, who fled throwing away everything. You could’ve done better, Noah Sehnor.”
“Don’t exaggerate,” Noah felt heated up.
Selena could tempt him, taunt him, annoy him and still make him go mad about her. “Right now, you are the coward. That’s why you’re avoiding me.”
“That’s not the way to put it,” Selena steamed.
“Then prove it.”
“Prove what?”
“That you are not a coward!”
Caught, Selena knew it. She knew Noah had the key to see her. Across the phone, Noah smiled smugly. He had taken her off guard. Selena sighed wearily.
“Leave me alone, Noah, that’s best for both of us,” Selena said after a pause.
“I know what’s best for me,” Noah said. “Just one more question. Have you gone out with anyone after I left?” He knew he sounded like a high school boy.
“Why do you ask?”
“Because I want to know what you have to say.”
“What if I say yes?”
“I know you haven’t gone,” Noah said in a sure voice.
He doesn’t want to hear yes, Selena thought, even after ten years. What all else he expected now?!
“Okay, how long have you been spying on me?” Selena asked giving up.
“I haven’t been spying on you.” He sounded insulted.
“Then?”
“I just know,” he replied.
“What all you just know?” she asked sarcastically.
“That you haven’t given your heart to anyone else,” Noah said slowly, hoping to win her back.
“Do you also happen to know that I will never, again?”
The question was unexpected and Noah knew she had grown up while he was away. While he had hidden from realities of life and left her alone fighting. For the first time ever, he felt sorry for her.

*

For once it wasn’t raining and the sky was clear. The air was fresh after last night’s heavy rain. Selena threw open the French windows in the kitchen, which opened out to a glistening green lawn and set out to fix breakfast.
She hadn’t woken up the girls. They needed some sleep and she needed some time without questions. She glanced at the extension phone in the kitchen. That thing made her very edgy nowadays.
Selena wondered why Noah had gone home after all these years. It hurt still to remember. To remember the house full of roses, his dad and old Tara. Tara had asked for her and their kids. What had gone wrong hadn’t been under her control. Or was it?

*
Rene served fresh orange juice in tall glasses set on the table. Pris was already seated. Selena brought scrambled eggs in a platter.
“When are we going out?” Rene asked.
“Soon,” Selena sat down. “Let’s get out at ten. We are picnicking at St. Jacinto’s Island.”
“Haven’t gone there for long, have we?” Pris bit into her toast. “Are we having lunch there?”
“Yeah, it’s eight now.” Selena glanced at both of them. Their faces kept reminding her of a life a lifetime ago. One she wanted to remember forever and at the same time forget. “You both have to help me fix lunch. Just a small but smart lunch. All right?”
“Okay,” Rene smiled. “You can teach us that. Small but smart lunch. What comes in it?”
“Let’s see,” Selena thought it over as she downed her orange juice. “We have a guest.”
“For the picnic?!” The girls were alert suddenly.
“We’ll see,” Selena winked. “An old friend.”
“He or she?” Rene was quick to ask.
“He’s a doctor,” Selena replied for the next obvious question, too, in advance.
“Are you sure you want us for the picnic?” Rene’s cunning question made Selena roll her eyes.
“Rene, he’s just an old friend,” Selena said.
“Don’t be so rude, Rene,” Pris intervened.
“Okay, Pris-the-saint,” Rene chuckled, “I love to shock mom.”
“I hope you don’t do too much of that, Rene,” Selena muttered. “Now buck up!”

*
An hour and a half later, they had finished packing the lunch for four in picnic baskets. Selena got in behind the wheel in her sedan and the girls got in behind, in the rear seat, giggling innocently.
The St. Jacinto’s Island was beautiful. The clear day added to it. It had always been a fine picnic spot. Selena wasn’t however interested in any of its excitement. She was nervous and kept glancing around as the girls took out their picnic baskets carrying lunch. And as she glanced around she spotted him walking towards them to the parking area from the beach.
Tall and handsome as he was, he looked tired as he neared them. The graying hair made him look no less than sixty. And he was only forty seven. Selena felt it hard to believe it was him. Dr. Vincent Gomer, who had taught them at college about respectable ideals and moral ethics. And who had broken them all and shattered the beliefs of his devoted students when the police clasped handcuffs around his wrists. Ten years ago…
“Good morning, Selena,” Vincent said, his voice calm and composed. “You look good.”
Oh, darn, that wasn’t what she wanted to hear in front of the girls. She thought she saw Rene nudge Pris who returned a glare.
“Good morning.” Selena returned the greetings without his name. “I’m glad you came.”
Vincent Gomer smiled at the girls.
“I’m glad I came, too,” he said. “How are you two?”
Selena wondered how he was able to keep the heaviness and emotion inside.
“Fine,” Rene shrugged and smiled. “We’ve to get acquainted. Let’s walk to the beach.”
She had more in mind, Selena knew.
“That’s right,” Pris said. “We are here on a picnic.”
*
Vincent knew well that a picnic in beach would never be enough to cover a lifetime of negligence, much less a lifetime of lost opportunities. It was too late to have another chance now. He badly wished someone who believed him existed. Not that it would change anything after ten years. But at least he could die in peace… When he looked at Rene and Pris, he longed to go back ten years and set things right.

*

It was surprising to watch how easy and cool Vincent was with the girls. He himself had come up when they asked how he knew their mother. Selena was praying there wouldn’t be any hint of the truth in his words. And there wasn’t.
“Selena was my student at Goa Medical College,” Vincent said when the girls asked. “My favorite student!” Vincent’s eyes flicked between Selena and the girls. He had already observed Rene was shrewd. Like he was. Like her mother was. And he knew he had to stay at the fence of truth. Not in, not out. Just at the fence.
Selena gazed at him when he said the ‘favorite-student’ thing.
We both know I wasn’t, Dr. Gomer, she thought, her mind aching. It was always the green-eyed girl. She daren’t think more and she shut out the memory as it came flooding in.
If he was just an old teacher at Medical College, why did it matter so much if he visited mom when they were in? Rene’s mind revolved around just that one thought as she observed Dr. Gomer’s face. His brown eyes were soft and his expression lost and inquisitive.
Pris didn’t want to think anything that troubled her sister’s mind. But in her quite nature, she had understood that something had gone amiss. Not now. Some time ago.

They spent the morning chatting and playing word games.
“You are so good at it!” Rene told Vincent. “How old are you?”
“I’m forty-seven,” Vincent replied. “And yes, I’m good at words. Right, Selena?”
Selena nodded with a plastered smile. He had been, she remembered. He used to give them words to learn every day. He would ask a word-meaning in the midst of his Gynecology and Obstetrics lecture and if no one answered it, the whole class got a lecture on how important word power was and he’d assign the homework to study and write down fifty new words and submit before his next class three days later.
“It’s about time you started forgetting words,” Rene said and Pris poked her arm in objection.
“Hey, it’s a compliment!” Rene pouted. “That’s all I meant.”
“Oh yeah,” Vincent chortled. “It’s about the best one I heard in a long time...” He looked pensive but happy.
“Are you here on a trip or something?” Rene asked.
Vincent stopped short. Trip? No, a journey. A journey from nowhere to nowhere, that’s what I’m on, he thought. What was he to say? I’m on a trip to see-
“Can we have the lunch now?” Pris asked.
“Yes, that sounds good,” Vincent nodded.
Then he turned to Rene, “I’m on a trip, yes, and visiting friends and old students before I get sick and bedridden.”
“But you are not that old!” Rene observed.
“Death has no age-preference,” he replied with a smile.
I want some people at my funeral, he thought desperately.
Selena gazed at him tentatively.
Death has no age-preference, Dr. Gomer, Selena wanted to say. We both know it most.
***
(To Be Continued)

Chapter Four
Chapter Three
Chapter Two - II
Chapter Two - I
Chapter One
Introduction to Amidst Sandcastles

Tags

Amidst, Amidst Sandcastles, Cemetery, Church, Contemporary, Fiction, Goa, Love, Love Story, Lovers, Noah, Novel, Novelist, Phone, Phone Numbers, Romance, Sana Rose, Sandcastles, Selena, Vasco Da Gama

Meet the author

author avatar Sana Rose
A medical student with a love story with the pen since I was thirteen. Published poet at 22 and has completed a second collection and my first novel. Visit me at: www.sanarose.com

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Comments

author avatar Heslintp
21st Oct 2011 (#)

Lot f qstns popped up aftr reading this chptr..im eagerly waiting for d next chatpers..pls upload them ASAP!

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author avatar Songbird B
22nd Oct 2011 (#)

I am still enjoying this great story, Sana, and really like the flow of it..Great work..

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author avatar Sana Rose
22nd Oct 2011 (#)

thank you Song bird.. :)

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