The Return

I started writing this with my Tuesday group and finished writing it with my Thursday group. Prompts included:  tsunami, threat, taking your time, if you ignore it might go away.

Lionel stood on Margarite’s front porch in front of the dining room window.  He just stood there, doing his best to look nonthreatening. Margarite saw him of course, but she went about her business, cooking oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar for breakfast, washing last night’s dinner dishes, carrying the laundry from bedroom and bathroom to the garage where the washer and dryer were.  She took her time, perhaps more so than usual, wanting to be methodical to prove to herself even more than to Lionel, that she could focus on her own work.  That she was not easily distracted.

Harriet came at noon with a half dozen carrot muffins for Margarite.  “Hello,” she said to Lionel, a bit suspicious of his seemingly benign presence.

“Hello,” he said.

Margarite came to the front door and let Harriet in.  She pointedly did not look at Lionel.

“There’s a man on your porch,” Harriet told her as she followed Margarite in through the living room, past the dining room table in front of the window where Lionel could clearly be seen, and into the kitchen.

“Just ignore him,” Margarite said.  “Maybe he’ll go away.”

“Harriet leaned through the kitchen door and ducked down to see if Lionel was still there.  Obviously, she could not ignore him.  “Ignore him?” she repeated incredulous.  “But who is he?  How long has he been here?”

“His name is Lionel and he’s been on the porch for three days.”

“Three days!” Harriet cried, quite astonished now.  “Why is he here?”  She grabbed Margarite’s wrist.  “Don’t you feel threatened?”

Margarite handed Harriet a mug of herbal tea.  “No, of course not.  He rode in on the tsunami last week.  He’s attracted to the scent of my lilac bushes.  I’m sure he’ll go away once he gets his bearings.”

Harriet’s mouth dropped open, as Margarite strolled into the dining room and sat with her back to the window.  Harriet wondered if she should also turn her back on Lionel, but she decided it might be better to keep an eye on him.

“So you’ve spoken to him?” Harriet noted.  “You’ve learned his name.”

“Oh, I didn’t speak to him this time.  I spoke to him after the last tsunami twelve years ago.  I don’t want to encourage him this time or he’ll never go away.”

Later, after Harriet left, Margarite went into the garage and put the wet clothes into the dryer. She sat in the living room with a book on her lap but she found it hard to read.  She went to a basket with yarn and needles she kept on a shelf under the television set.  She’d begun knitting this scarf years ago.  Sometimes, you think you have no interest anymore, but then you remember.

She worked on the scarf for an hour or so and decided it was time to cast off.  Then she went out to the garage and got the laundry from the dryer. She shook out a large army surplus flannel-lined jacket.  It was warm and clean.  It looked good.  She took the jacket and the scarf out onto the porch.  She held up the jacket.  “You left this here ten years ago,” she said.  “The sleeve was ripped so I mended it.”

“Thank you,” he said as he slipped it on.  Margarite could see that the jacket still fit across the back and shoulders, but he might have trouble buttoning it over his girth.  Some things change in a decade.  Some don’t.  “And here,” she said, offering him the scarf.  “I knit this for you.”

He happily allowed her to wrap it around his neck.  They looked into each other’s eyes and nodded with satisfied finality.  “I’ll go now,” he said.

“That would be best,” she agreed.  They neither embraced nor shook hands.  He turned and walked down the steps and through the gate.  Margarite returned to her kitchen and her books, her pen and blank paper.



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