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The emptying drawer signalled a problem I had been avoiding.  I stared at the one remaining set of clean underclothes knowing I would have to give in.  I had to do laundry.  I’m not opposed to laundry, mind you.  I actually like the whole process but the idea of hanging my personals out on the line in the backyard was tough to swallow.

The time helped push me forward.  No one would be up at this hour.  I gathered my dirty clothes in the provided hamper and tiptoed my way down the stairs.  Sunlight barely penetrated into the foyer leaving the back of the house dark.  I thanked the universe for my time in the kitchen.  Finding the lights was easy enough.

The washer was ancient for an appliance.  I cranked the dial and said a prayer as I stuffed my clothes in.  I could get away with one load if I let it soak for a bit.  It’s not like I am a dirty person.  The machine groaned and complained.  I crossed myself, hoping the appliance wasn’t atheist, not that I was Catholic.  It was something Rael’s mother often did.

I sat at the table before setting the timer on my watch.  If I let the clothes soak for twenty minutes then ran it through the cycle, the clothes should be on the line before Rose and her daughters came down to make breakfast.  It was possible, if the weather stayed warm, I could have the clothes back in my drawers before breakfast.  Did I still want to risk it?  With some quick calculations and planning, I decided to hang my undergarments in my room.

Quiet, serenity, peace.  I was alone with my thoughts.  I could have grabbed the next journal but I hadn’t allowed myself time to truly reflect on everything.  Rael’s email lingered in the back of my brain.  He always missed me when I was gone.  I missed him most when he was next to me.  That wasn’t true.  I missed the way we used to be.

I pictured him – his shaggy black hair, dark eyes, that smile that hadn’t changed since he was five years old.  He was the only one that seemed to understand me, no not understand, accept.  He accepted me completely.  He was the sun and I was the earth below taking in his heat.  His love had always been pure.  From the day when we were five and he told me he was going to marry me to those years in high school.  God, high school, he was the reason I survived life in the suburbs.

I looked the part enough to not be completely mocked while he stood out.  His skin darker than any other in the neighborhood.  His mother, the exotic beauty with the light accent.  All the things that made him so different and, yet, they accepted him.  Often they asked him what he saw in me.  He’d reply, “there are just some mysteries you can’t explain.”  He was my shield and he abandoned me.

Logically, I understand.  We had always been together.  Our parents encouraged we spend time apart.  Make sure we weren’t settling for comfortable.  I couldn’t live without him and, yet, it felt like I couldn’t have him.  My left hand, empty, no ring on my finger even though he made promises.

My watch beeped.  I started the wash machine without leaving my reverie.  I had expectations.  I was willing to give it all up and just be his.  Why didn’t he want me?  He said he missed me but when I am with him, he holds back.  I feel him slipping away.  It all slips away, eventually.

A noise in the hallway broke my thoughts.  I rose.  An older, gruff man came into the kitchen.  He started when he saw me.  “Hmm,” was all he said.

I stuck my hand out, “I’m Lanie.  Nice to meet you.”

He looked from my hand to the counter on the far side of the kitchen.  “I know who you are, you’re the one that has them all stirred up.”  He turned his attention to me.  “Remember, we have to live with them after you leave.”

I watched him exit to the back yard.  I was tempted to follow him but, instead, I sat down.  What on earth did he mean, I stirred them up?

“Ah, Lanie, what has you up so early?”  Rose stood in the hallway.  I pointed to the running washing machine.  She nodded, then continued into the kitchen proper.  I watched her pull things from the cupboard and move around the space.  The morning dance, Nona had a similar rhythm.  I used to watch her and wonder if I’d ever have that same comfort in my life.

“Rose?”

“Yes, dear,” she did not stop moving.

“There was a gentleman just before you.”

She paused, “Jacob, my husband.”  She turned to face me, her smile lighting up her face.  “He’s off to the boat, without his morning coffee.”  She shook her head.  “That man, not very social but a good man.”  She returned to her activity.  “He spends his days fishing.  Helps feed us.  He’s also the handy man but, as I said, not very social.  He doesn’t feel like he has a place with all of you on the island.”

“Oh,” I replied, processing the information.  “You said he fishes?”  She nodded in response.  “We haven’t eaten any fish.”

Rose sighed.  “Mr. Glass wanted to see if we could sustain a more appropriate menu for the guests.  It’s something we’d have to do once he opens the manor up to the public,” her voice sad.

“I wouldn’t mind fish.  I’d much rather eat was is normal for you than to have you try to make what you think is normal for me.  Makes it feel more authentic.”

The washer buzzed, signalling the end of its work.  “You should get those out on the line before they sour.”  Rose turned her attention back to her work.

I gathered my damp clothes back into the laundry basket.  Hanging the large items, such as my pants and shirts, went quickly.  Finishing with the socks, I was grateful I didn’t hang the rest of my undergarments.  With the unmentionables in the hamper, I scurried back to my room.

Every available rod and edge soon were covered with fabric.  I didn’t realize how much space it took to dry underwear.  I checked my backside in the mirror, I didn’t think it was abnormally large.  Oh well.  My stomach rumbled in response to my concern.  Guess it didn’t matter if I became fat.  At this rate, it didn’t seem like I was going to have any luck on the love front anyway.  Might as well be happy and food made me happy.

“Lanie,” David called out as I exited my room.  “You’re up early.”  I looked at my watch which made him laugh.

“I got up to do my laundry.”

“Really,” he exclaimed, “how was it?”

I studied his face before making my way down the stairs.  I shrugged, “not so bad.  The machine seems a little particular but all in all it was like doing laundry.”

He laughed.  “I need to do laundry desperately but I’ve been too nervous to do it.  What did you do about, you know?”

I stopped at the bottom of the stairs.  “Wha… Oh, you mean my underclothes?”  He nodded.  I smiled and whispered “I hung those in my room.”

He laughed, hearty and loud.  His hand went to my waist.  It was nice.  I found myself leaning in wanting more.  I let him lead me to the dining room, still chattering about laundry.

“How’s the project coming along,” I asked as we entered the empty room.

He pulled my chair out and settled into his before answering.  His face turned somber.  “It’s not going as well as one would think.  I’m not even sure why I am here.  I know I am a lawyer and Edward wanted someone who could come at this from a legal perspective but, the truth is, I don’t have the experience.  It’s complicated because the island has a strange relationship with the mainland.  It’s this grey area of ownership.”

“Does that make the whole project complicated or just what you feel you can contribute?”  I shifted in my seat to look at him.  I was aware of how close we were and made an effort not to let our bodies touch.

He set his hand on my knee.  “A bit of both, actually.  I wish I could consult with someone with experience but we are completely cut off here.”

I shifted, letting his hand slide off my leg while I leaned forward.  “I can help you there.  I have connections.  If you give me a list of questions or things you need clarification, I’ll see what I can do.”

“Really,” he moved in so close I was inhaling his breath, “that would be wonderful.”

Rose’s arrival allowed me to collapse back in my chair.  “Dear me,” she said, “you, two, are awfully early.  Give me a hand with the settings then.”  I jumped up, grateful for the distraction.

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