A Fork In the Road Part 1

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

This story is my response to the March picture prompt from the Writers Unite website. Visit their site to check out the cool stories others came up with for March.

Alas, I’ve been struggling with my writing for the past couple of months, and now I am ridiculously late with my submission because I fell prey to my inner critics. Better late than never!

Enjoy.


Part One

“Backtracking After a Wrong Turn”

The rhythm of Sonia’s knitting needles dominated the room without stopping. She smiled as her husband yawned. 

“Gerard.”

“What?”

“You’re yawning.”

“So.”

“You’re yawning nonstop.”

Gerard looked up from his papers and studied his wife. 

“Aren’t you getting tired? How much longer are you going to be?”

“Anastazja’s baby is due any day. I want to finish tonight if I can.”

Gerard frowned. 

“Who’s Anastazja?”

“You remember the new couple that moved here last month from Warsaw.”

“No.”

“We met them at my uncle’s retirement party.”

“Did we?”

Sonia clucked, shaking her head. Gerard rolled his eyes and returned to editing. 

“Imagine her husband losing his job when they’re expecting their first. Luckily, Walter and Anna took them in. They’re not even related. Wonder what the connection is?”

“None of my business, nor yours. Keep your nose out of it.”

“Gerard, some people don’t have family they can count on. I’m just being neighborly.”

“Living across town doesn’t make them neighbors.”

Village, Gerard. Lipa isn’t big enough to be called a town.”

“Walter and Anna are a fifteen-minute drive away. This Anastazja is hardly our neighbor.”

“You know what I mean. They’re part of our community now. My family has….”

“Yes, I know. Your ancestors have lived in Lipa since its founding, weathering the tides of history from the Huns to the Nazis. Which makes you what, a baroness?”

“I’m just trying to be nice. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, except when being nice leads to prying.”

“You never give me any credit.”

“Sonia, dear, you have a heart of gold. But you need to respect people’s privacy.”

“I do.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, I try.”

“I know.”

“Curiosity’s a sign of intelligence, they say.”

“And an inquisitive cat usually kills the mouse it plays with.”

“You’re so dramatic.”

“Look, I think you need to channel this need to know everything. Maybe write for the newspaper? I’d help with editing. Then when you’re indulging your curiosity, people would expect their dirty laundry to be broadcast across the county.”

“You make me sound like a monster. Am I really that bad?”

Gerard snorted. 

“Afraid so.”

“Name one instance!”

“Conrad’s friend, Lukasz.”

“Poor thing never would have asked that girl out.”

“She snubbed him.”

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

“And… Lukasz asked for your help?”

“Not in so many words.”

“I figured. Meaning, well, doesn’t give you license to interfere without asking.”

“One mistake.”

“I have a whole list if you want me to continue.”

“No. You’ve made your point.”

Sonia harrumphed, turning her back to her husband. 

“Don’t pout.”

“I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Not everything’s a secret, Gerard. Besides, I know when to be discreet.”

“Sonia, your own children watch what they say around you.”

“Conrad confides in me.”

“He’s only thirteen. Keep meddling, and he won’t, just like Sabina.”

“It’s normal for a mother and daughter to squabble. You’re a man you don’t understand.”

“I understand enough to know she hides things from you.”

“Well, someone has to keep tabs on her. You’re too liberal. A father should be protective.”

“Sabina’s twenty with a level head on her shoulders.”

“Well, when I was her age, I told my mother everything.”

“Did you have a choice?”

“A mother’s experience can help her daughter avoid the same mistakes.”

“It can also drive her away.”

Sonia put her knitting down and sighed. 

“That’s just it. Everything I do annoys Sabina. I’m too loud, too dramatic, too emotional. She’s like you, so serious and practical.”

“You say that as if it’s a bad thing.”

“You know what I mean, Gerard. We just don’t have anything in common. You make fun of it, but my mother and I have always been close. I wish Sabina and I could have something like that.”

“First off, Sabina loves you in her own private way.”

“You really think so? Sometimes I just don’t know.”

“Try not to be so obvious. Don’t interrogate her. There are subtler ways to learn what you want to know.”

“Such as?”

“Listen for a change.”

“Ha! Listen to what, her silence?”

“It’ll take time, but she’ll open up. And when she does, don’t always let on you’ve figured something out. Respecting someone’s privacy also means avoiding topics they don’t want to discuss.”

“I don’t have the patience for that. Besides, talking is the best medicine.”

“When you’re invited to. Sabina is an adult now.”

“But, I worry, Gerard. She’s dating, off at university, making friends with strangers.”

“It’s good to explore the world.”

“I just don’t understand why she’s so secretive.”

“Secretive? I wouldn’t say that. She’s reserved.”

“Same thing. Besides, I’m her mother. Why should she be reserved? I’m not some disapproving, old woman. I’m hip.”

“Only people who aren’t hip say they’re hip.” 

Sonia considered Gerard’s statement with a dazed expression. Looking up, she saw the smirk on her husband’s face and grinned.

“Point taken, again,” Sonia said.

“Look, you can’t expect to know everything. I don’t blather every thought that pops into my head.”

“Except when you’re tipsy,” Sonia said. “If I need to know something, I’ll ply you with vodka.”

“Is that so? I thought that was the cue; you wanted to get frisky.”

“That too.”

“So all I have to do is refuse to reveal my secrets?”

“Sorry, you’re plum out of secrets at the moment.”

“I’ll have to work on getting more,” Gerard said, standing up, “I’m going to bed alone, it seems.”

Sonia held her work up. 

“See, I was paying attention when you read your article to me. I’ve included a red ribbon to protect the baby from evil.”

“Doubt they’ll appreciate the significance. That’s an old, rural superstition.”

“I’ll know, and that’s what matters.”

“Or explain the meaning to them.”

“I’ll show them your latest article. What’s the title?”

“Outwitting Evil; A Polish Obsession With Charms and Omens.”

“I like it.”

“You’re just trying to make up for turning me down tonight.”

“No, I mean it. It reminded me of my great-aunt, who lived behind the house I lived in as a little girl. She read tea leaves.”

“There’s a subtle form of divination for you. The Church never could stomp that practice out.”

“Don’t you have a book on that?”

“Reading tea leaves?”

“Yes.”

“It’s in the study, on my desk. I was referencing it for this article. Why? You planning to tell fortunes?”

“Maybe.”

“Article’s done, just a line edit to do before submitting. Take it. It’s an interesting read.”

“Thanks, love. I’ll read Sabina’s future.”

“Could be a good way to sate your curiosity without badgering her.” Gerard laughed. “But don’t take it seriously.”

“Oooh, how exciting.”

“Sonia, it’s not real.”

“I know that. I’m teasing.” 

Gerard kissed Sonia.

“Good night. Don’t stay up too late.”


Advertisement

One thought on “A Fork In the Road Part 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s