I'm doing that again. Because I'm insane. The rule will be the same for this one, though life is different. I might actually have to take a day off here or there in this one, life being what it is (for those of you new here by husband has been and is battling pancreatic cancer). But I'll probably not take many just because I tend to be obsessive about these things. For those of you who missed the original go at this live novel thing I'm reposting the rule below.
I hope you'll come along for this one with me. Especially if you were along for Wanderlust. After all, we're old traveling buddies by now, aren't we?
The Rule: You must be patient and kind. If for some reason I can't write...well, you'll have to wait. If i have typos and tiny mistakes, well that happens when you're working 'live' as it were. You may tell me if you find errors, in fact I want you to, but be kind. Remember. I'm doing this right before it posts. So, I'm not finding anything out much earlier than you. We're spying on these characters together.
That being said, here we go, A Many Splintered Thing: The Beginning.
A Many Splintered Thing
“Love is a many splintered thing
Don't be afraid now
Just walk on in…”
Don't be afraid now
Just walk on in…”
~Ribbons / The Sisters of Mercy
Caleb grabbed the phone on its third ring. It had been ringing when he opened the door, dripping mud and water across the red tiled floor of his small foyer. Even as his fingers settled on the hard plastic receiver he was certain it would stop the moment he answered.
He was wrong.
“You said it would happen and now it has,” she said.
Caleb blinked water out of his eyes as outside an August storm raged around the tiny bungalow. The rain had pushed him home from work, the owner Bob saying no one could landscape anyone’s property in a monsoon. Caleb had laughed but it meant he was here now. Here when the phone rang.
“Jasmine?” The name felt foreign on his tongue—wonderful and awful all at once. Like something sweet on the surface but rotten if you bit further into it.
“You said it would happen,” she repeated.
“What? Said what would happen?” He sat down right on the floor at the base of the foyer table that held, of all things, an old school Princess telephone. It had come with the rental of the house. “Look, are you okay?” He began to pull at the laces of his work boots.
“I want you to come out here.” There were tears in her voice and that gave him pause. In all the time he’d known her, in all the time he’d been with her, Caleb could not recall Jasmine crying. Not Jasmine. Ice flowed through her veins.
“To California, Caleb! Aren’t you listening?”
“I’m listening. It’s been a year.”
She inhaled deeply, then. He heard a shuddery nature to the breath. Caleb shut his eyes, cold water still running down from his hair. He passed a hand over his eyes and waited. It had been a year. Not a short amount of time. He should hang up on her. And yet, with his eyes closed he could picture vividly all their times together. Some of them sweet, some of them filthy—was it love? He had no idea, he didn’t really consider himself capable of love per se. But it was something. Something that caused his heart to beat faster.
“I know that. I’m sorry. I tried. But you were right and I was wrong.”
That admission alone was a fucking miracle.
“Harrison has gone and fucked the maid.” She laughed then. “I stand corrected. The maids. And I’m done. I’m done with this pretend marriage. I’m done with let’s-make-believe. My father can go fuck himself.”
“I know but…” She blew out a deep breath. “I’m tired, Caleb. You said I’d want you back and I want you back. I guess the rest of it depends on you.”
California. Did he have any interest in going? He had no idea. Did he want to step back into a life with Jasmine and her fierce temper? She never cried but she had a hell of a right hook. He glanced around the small bungalow with its smooth tile floors and tall, narrow windows and he exhaled.
“Where are you?”
“A little town near Santa Barbara. It’s pretty. We can…I don’t know,” she said, finally. “I don’t know what we can do. I won’t know until you come here and rescue me.”
He expected her to laugh at that. It’s something she’d never say, something she’d never ask for. After a beat he realized she wasn’t going to laugh. She was serious.
A heaviness settled inside him and he wondered again if he should hang up. But then Caleb realized the worst part of the whole scenario—he had nothing else going on. Nothing that would hold him here and prevent him from going there. At thirty-two he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. It depended on the day you asked him. Some days he felt free. Some days he felt lost.
“Send me the address and I can figure out how I’m getting there, then,” he said. He hadn’t been aware he’d say it until the words were coming out.
He could tell she was smiling. After a year he could feel that she was no longer looking as serious as when she called. A bit spooky, he thought, but on some level it had to be good. It had to be a positive thing to be that aware of another person’s emotions.
Water continued to puddle around his feet.
She asked for his email address and his cell phone number. She said she’d text it.
“Don’t. I’m not that savvy. My phone isn’t smart, in fact it flips shut. Just email them to me and I can plug everything into the GPS. I have technology, Jas, just not all in my pocket.”
She laughed at that. Her solemnity had fled. Jasmine was back to her bossy, loud and flitting self. He felt a bit overwhelmed with it. For the last year it had been him, living here alone near the water. The Maryland shoreline had been kind and gentle, fierce and flooded, but living in the bungalow had been simple and almost monastic. He’d eaten mostly from local providers: vegetables from the front yard produce stands, seafood from the watermen, meat from local farms. If it wasn’t in season he didn’t eat it. His idea of entertainment was sitting at a small bistro set down by the small wooden dock and drinking a local beer. Sometimes a shot or three of moonshine from a kid up the road whose father
brewed it in the woods nearby.
He worked hard, he slept hard, he dated here and there. Women had been in his bed, more than once a suitor he’d cut loose because he felt she was more of a girl than a woman, but nothing that would tether him here.
Before she hung up she said, “So you’re coming? You’re really coming?”
“I am. I just have to pack.”
He hung up softly and turned to pack. The duffle was full and he was done packing before he’d even stopped dripping on the floor.
Outside thunder rumbled.
photo credit: g_firkser via photopin cc