Here's another installment of Chapter One of WALKAWAY. I'm not sure how much of it I should post at a time as I don't want to split up the scenes. But this next scene is a long one so I'll post the second half next week. Thanks for reading. And thanks again for the encouragement and support. It's nice to know these words are landing on interested ears.
My thirty-three year old brother Owen meets us at the gate and drives us to Connecticut. It's been four years and he looks almost the same as the last time I saw him. His light brown hair is shorter, but he's still slender and pale, living the life of a struggling composer in New York.
I sleep most of the way home, in the back of my mother's Toyota, wedged between the two car seats. I awake to see Mom's church, its white clapboard frame with green shutters aglow under the snowy streetlights, a landmark that says we are close to Mom's house. Last week, just before a February Nor'Easter covered New England in snow, Mom flew out to Oregon to rescue us. Now we're almost home.
We arrive at a little after one in the morning. Mom bustles ahead and turns on the lights in the kitchen, the room nearest the door. I enter with Grace in her carrier. Owen has Josh. Mom is waiting with a long white box in her hands.
"This must be for you. It was sitting here on the table. It's a good thing I don't lock my doors."
I hand the baby to Mom, take the box and open the lid. It's a bouquet of a dozen red roses sent FTD from Portland. Red roses are the Doctor's favorite flowers, a symbol of God's love for us. Mom leans over to smell them.
"They've lost their scent," she says. "At least they're not as bad as those fake flowers they used in that mass Way wedding you were married in. So what does the card say?"
"It says, 'Happy Birthday, Kris. I love you. God loves you. Please come home, Alec.'"
"Well, he's got some nerve after how he's treated you. Some husband he is."
I close the box and place it on the coffee table, saying nothing.
Once the children are settled in bed, I stand near the bedroom window and look outside. Cold air seeps through the glass pane and I pull my nightgown tightly around me. Here in the country, the cloudless sky is ablaze with stars. How different from Portland where it is almost always overcast. My mind turns to Alec for a moment and I wonder what he is doing, where he is now, if he is with Patty, the new believer. I say a prayer for him, for us. Even though I've left him, I can't help praying. It's a reflex as natural as breathing. My mind is calm now, the voice in my head has stopped and I ask for forgiveness. I even speak in tongues because the Doctor taught us that tongues is the prayer God likes best. It is strange to be away from my spiritual family and home in this house alone with my earthly family. In the Way, fellowship with unbelievers is against The Word unless you are trying to convert them.
"Mommy," Josh says. His arms extend towards me and I kiss him on the forehead, the eyebrows and cheek. Then I tuck the old wool army blanket under his chin, covering the scratchy fringe with a worn sheet.
"It's okay, Josh," I whisper. "Go to sleep. We're home now."
Unable to wind down, I walk back into the family room and turn on a small light in the corner. The box of flowers sits unopened on the coffee table. I gather the roses in my arms and go into the kitchen in search of a large enough vase. Mom's bedroom is in the next room so I must be very quiet. I find a tall glass pitcher, run the water and arrange the flowers. The Doctor once gave me a rose after we'd had sex. Alec thought it was the nicest thing, so loving. He never suspected. Then he found out and everything fell apart.