“It was raining, but not the kind of rain where people say it’s really coming down hard or it’s raining cats and dogs. It was just a drizzle, where the sun hid its bright round face and the softness of drops clung to the window before collecting more momentum and rolling down in little ziz-zag lines. We were curled up like cats underneath blankets four layers deep, because we are from the south and it’s cold up here. And there I was, like someone I didn’t recognize, next to the man I so deeply loved. I wish I was a poetic sort, but naturally I couldn’t seem to find any sweet words. While he was asleep I’d tuck my head down and grip my eyes shut tighter than clams so I could sear it in my mind like a steak on a griddle, this memory of rain and warmth and the way his body felt against mine. And when I ran to the restroom I was so very cold, my feet jumping across blue tiles and my body wanting to return to the cocoon of us, wrapped up skintight and happy.
The night before we had gone to a show in the city, full of dancing and fishnet stockings. I was worn out by the poor dears, prancing around in barely more than black lingerie, singing their little hearts out about revenge and heartbreak. And after the show we bundled up and drank coffee, steamy hot and black, at a diner by the theatre. We split a piece of cherry pie because that is his favorite. “Don’t eat all the crust,” he would say, especially cherry because it was encrusted with sugar, browned and clinging to the dough like little diamonds. Truth be told, I don’t much like pie, but what fun is that when he loves it so. So I’d giggle and try to eat the last bite and people must have just thought we had lost our ever-lovin minds, giggling so much over nothing.
I never knew having a husband could be like this, as if the world were as clouded as the glass on this early morning and all that mattered was the way he touched me, slow and light, curling to my right and surrounding my body with his. Sometimes my stomach ached because I feared it would all end. I imagined the building falling down or a car crash and then all this would be over. He lay sleeping as I turned and clutched my arms around him as if it were for dear life, just so I could hear his heart beating and remind me that happiness isn’t for the rich or lucky but for us all to feel. Although I sure feel lucky.
We didn’t get out of bed until half-past-eleven, but still managed to find a place serving bagels at such a late hour of the morning. I listened to him talk, his deep voice flowing like molasses through the air toward my face. It was something important about the price of crops and the affects of the war, but all I could see were green eyes and dark hair, and I bit into a bagel that was boiled and now toasted, with huge plump raisins baked right in.
It’s a shame that everyone’s not married, if this is the feeling one gets when having a husband, sleeping late and eating toasted bagels. Yes, I was a lucky girl, even here in the dank wetness of Brooklyn.”
This is part of the journal of Victoria Robbins, during the first year of her marriage to Charles “Chuck” Robbins III. Before the move to Texas. Before the ranch. Before the car crash and the sadness and the old oak tree that contained such secrets. It will be left, worn and battered, for the children to read in an intricate web of a love story and struggle for inheritance after their own deaths.
Welcome to the interworking of my mind when a novel is born. These damn stories come up out of nowhere and characters start beating like drums in my head, daily and hourly, like they are throwing temper tantrums. What can I say, really? I’ve never been one who’s good with patience. So I begin writing down their lines, and the yearnings of their hearts, and in a few years maybe it will be edited, and pared down, and chopped up and perhaps stretched out. And Novel Number Two will be written. Oh, the aching glory of a cattle rancher in grief, and the children who failed to understand what he endured.
It’s hard to find the time. But who will tell their story if I refuse? This bit might not even make it into the book. So many words are thrown and few are caught up in the net. But the characters are forming, and talking, and feeling. I can hear the voices beginning to grow, and their little personalities form. It’s fun to be the creator of characters, even ones who have passed. For their children need to know the truth about the real value of a life. Don’t I owe them that?