Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blinded (4)

   "I'm going up north to my cabin this week-end," Abby informed Lisa and Jonathon, "but I want a meeting with you two before I leave."  She had spent quite a few nights loosing sleep over this, but she had finally made a decision. The work was winding down now with satisfied customers and the holidays loomed ahead with a welcoming relief.
   "I've sold my business," Abby said to her sister and her lover then as they sat in her office.  "Along with your paychecks, you'll find I've been more than generous with a severance pay."  They gaped at her.
   "You can't!" Lisa shrieked. "What will I do?"
   "I don't know Lisa, but you'll find a way.  The new owners will be here shortly to take over.  Goodbye Jonathon," she said finally, "it was nice."  And Abby Andrews left them standing in her old digs still with their mouths open in disbelief as she got in her Lincoln and drove out of Birch Lake.
   A wonderful exhilarating feeling engulfed her. She had retired, hung it up. No more stress to please other people. No deadlines, no alarms and no more Lisa and Jonathon to contend with.
   The drive to Birch was three hours long and the roads were plowed and dry as Abby hummed along with the radio and sipped at her coffee. But maybe, she worried several hours into the trip, had she been too hasty with her blame? Of course, Jonathon had turned out to be untrustworthy with his two-timing, and Lisa, her own sister was in bed with him. For God's sake, the two most important people in her life had betrayed her. Its over, she reminded herself!
   She was entering into the serenity of lake country. Snow covered the pines along the highway
and smoke rose in spirals from chimneys of the farmhouses. Soon her turn off came into view and then the short drive through the woods down to her chalet snuggled into a grove of birch trees. The setting never failed to take her breath away. A perfect Christmas card. This was where she planned to make her permanent home now and live the life of a gypsy, she imagined with glee. A thick layer of snow covered the sloping roof of the house and spread over the lawn. Sparkled and untouched. The weathered logs were a velvety gray, and the blue trim around the windows against the frost covered glass gleamed in the sunshine.
   Abby grabbed her bags and hurried into the house, anxious to get settled.  But she shivered from the cold stillness and turned up the thermostat on the furnace. Tomorrow she would have to call Olaf, her caretaker and ask him to bring some more wood for her fireplace. Tonight though, she just wanted to snuggle in her flannel pj's and go to bed early.
   She looked around lovingly at her place. Fur rugs covered the gleaming oak floors, Navaho pillows and afghans scattered over the sofa and easy chairs. She went into the kitchen and started a pot of water for tea, and the furnace began to hum with warmth while she undressed.  She got into the old fashioned affair of a bed with the down filled blankets, and sipped her warm brew and felt the sttress and tension leave her body. The solitude was wonderful and in ten minutes she was asleep, with gentle dreams.
    At first they were cozy and warm, and she burrowed deeply into their cocoon. Then suddenly a nightmare began, jolting her abruptly and she began falling, falling with increasing speed into an abyss, weightless toward a black hole.  A circle of darkness clutched at her, pulled at her, cutting off her breath, smothering her.  She was in a tunnel now and then there was only stillness.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blinded (3)

   Pissed, Abby grabbed her briefcase.  "I'll be out," she said to Lisa, "
   My God, she thought, as soon as I finish these projects, I've got to get rid of both on them. She had promised completion of the three sites for the Thanksgiving holiday which was just two weeks away and she needed them to help do just that. 
   It was a Friday and she needed to finish shopping for the up-scale interior of a townhouse this evening and she hurried to her Mercedes in the parking ramp, closed the door and sighed with relief. She started driving down the ramp and as she applied the brakes to slow and stop before entering the fast moving rush hour traffic, she couldn't stop.  And to her horror, the heavy car gained speed going down the deep incline. Abby jammed her foot hard on the brake pedal and her breath stuck in her throat as again there was nothing. She gripped the steering wheel and her eyes flew to the stream of fast moving cars on the street just in front of her. My God, her car was speeding out of control, head-on into unsuspecting commuters. Instinctively, she turned the wheel and hit the wall to stop, and amid the ear-shattering crash of metal and concrete, an air-bag engulfed her. The car had abruptly stopped and she sat stunned. After all the commotion and a ride to an emergency hospital for a check-up, she was released after a battery of tests and ordered to rest at home.  She called a taxi.
   "It looks like the brake lining was cut," the mechanic told her the next day. "If I were you Miss Andrews, I'd hire a bodyguard!"
   The week-end loomed ahead and she pulled an afghan close around herself and huddled on the couch. All her doubts came crashing back into focus; Lisa'a threats and Jonathon's betrayal. She shuttered.
   Could the sweet little girl she'd raised have turned into this montrous person? What about Jonathon?
   She throw the afghan off and began pacing around the living room. What did she really know about him?  He had worked for her for three years as a carpenter. He'd said he was a building contracter.  And they'd dated for the last year, and she had even dreamt of a future with him. A partner in her business even.
   "You're late," Lisa said already at her desk when Abby got in to the office on Monday morning. Today Lisa was wearing a bright red suit and had a new hairdo.
   "I had to take a taxi." Abby said hanging up her coat.
   "Why," Lisa asked looking at her with a surprised look on her face.
   "Because my car is in the garage," Abby answered, irritated at the long wait she'd had trying to get a taxi. Then too from loss of sleep all week-end.
   "Well, why didn't you call me, I'd have come out and picked you up Abby."
   "No bother, it'll be fixed this afternoon."  Abby sat down at her desk and checked her calender.  "Now will you call Jonathon and have him meet us at the Milbank house at one o'clock please?"
   "Sure Abby," Lisa said, "Right away."
   The three met with the owner of the house to complete final arrangements. Last minute changes were decided on, and the next few days flew by with long days and late nights.
    Abby felt a new tension unfold as an early snow had come covering the city in deep blanket of white making travel almost impossible until the roads were cleared, but Abby just had to get away. She needed the peace that she only found now at her cabin by the lake, and it was time she needed to make some decisions!



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blinded (part 2)

Blinded (2)

   "That's nonsense Abby.  What's gotten into that girl's head now?"
   The two women sat in Rose's kitchen as the afternoon sun sloped behind  golden maple trees casting shadows in the house.  Late summer cicadas thumped their raucous tunes and the aroma of a tomato casserole bubbled from the oven.
   "What about Jonathon?"  Rose asked cautiously.
   Abby took a shaking breath.  Humiliation and anger lined her face as she recalled the intimate embrace she had witnessed.
   "I always thought he was too young for you," Rose said then as she reached a comforting hand across the table to her.
   "I know, you warned me!" Abby exclaimed as she wiped her eyes.
   "My dear, I just can't believe Lisa would say and do such things, my God, you've been like a mother to her all these years."
   Abby sat hunched over, as if protecting her heart.  "Rose, what did I do wrong?  I tried my best after our parents were killed in the accident."
   Rose got up and came around the table and putting a arm across her shoulders said, "Now Abby, you did a wonderful job raising that girl."  And sitting down again she poured another cup of coffee for each, but went on hesitatingly, "My dear maybe you did too much!"
   Abby looked at her friend in surprise as Rose continued, "she was only two years old when you had to move back home and take care of her.  You were in college.  My God, I remember how you struggled,  how you saved money later to send her to college.   How you still have to bail her out of debt when she goes hog-wild with her charge cards.  Good lord, she has more designer clothes in her closet than I've had my whole life!"
   "I know Rose, but I've always taught her to buy quality."
   "But Abby, you know she's impractical.  Wake up for heaven's sake!"
   Abby sat looking sad now.
   "What are you going to do?" Rose asked anxiously.
   "I don't know if I hurt more from Lisa's threat or Jonathon's two timing.  He must have been sleeping with both of us," she continued horrified.  Then standing up quickly, she said, "I need to go home Rose, I need to think!"
   "Abby, put some cold cloths on you face and be careful," her friend said hugging her at the door.
   Abby got in her car again and drove home.  She wondered through her house which was a luxury condo in Wayzata.  Tonight, however the comforts did little to soothe her aching heart and she slept badly as Lisa's face haunted her in her dreams.
   Could Lisa really kill her to take her business and Jonathon?
    She awoke with a feeling of inadequacy, the same thing she had felt years ago at trying to be both a father and mother to her sister.  She went into her office early, as this felt more like her real home.  It was carpeted and furnished in creams and beige and felt like a soft mellow cocoon of warmth and elegance.  Samples of materials, portfolios, pictures, antiques and modern art warmed the rooms in an orderly fashion.  Numerous times over the years, she had spent an exhaused night on the couch, then rushed home in the morning to change and hurried back to start another day.
   Abby Andrews Interiors was well known in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area and her exceptional work was known for miles around as well.  Right now, she had three contracts to fill, well into thousands of revenue dollars for her company.  Two multi-million dollar homes in North Oaks and a penthouse atop the new Meridan Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.  And, she needed all her energy to concentrate on them.
   Lisa came in then going to her desk.  "Good morning," she sang, every blonde hair in place and today her slim body encased in another new suit.  Armoni, Abby surmised.  "How was your week-end Ab?" She asked then.
   "Fine," Abby answered curtly, studying some swatches of material so she wouldn't have to look  at her sister, then asked, "Did you check on those shipments Lisa?'
    "I did yesterday, and I called Jonathon to come in to help me unpack.  Everything is ready in the warehouse."
    "Call him again Lisa," Abby said slowly keeping the irritation out of her voice, "and have him meet us at the penthouse, will you please? I need you both to help me today."
   "Abby, he called me at home and said he wouldn't be in today."
   "He called you? Why you?"  Now Abby was pissed.
   "Yes Abby, he didn't want to bother you." And putting a hand up to her head, Lisa complained, "And I'm afraid I won't be of much help today either, I've got a bitch of a headache."
   "Are you coming down with something?" Abby asked forever the worrier.
   "I doubt it," Lisa smiled, "After we got done unpacking yesterday, Jonathon and I opened that bottle of Dom Perignom you got from the Pillsbury's after we finished their penthouse and it was pretty late when we left here."
   Abby could only stare at her sister in unbelief.
   But, did she want to want to go to jail for what her thoughts were prompting her to do?