I said it would take me a bit to get the next chapter, but you didn’t think it would take this long, did you? Well, I’ve got some pretty good excuses lined up. First I had a busy week to get through with a nasty cold, and I recovered from that just in time to get hit with a church-wide epidemic of food poisoning. Not fun stuff. And then my dad had surgery and, and, and…bottom line, I haven’t been as faithful to keep writing as I could have been.
Anyway, I’m making up for it by giving you a revised chapter one along with chapter two and a sort-of-not-really-book-review. I don’t honestly know that this is any better than the first edition of chapter one and maybe I should have just left it the way it was because now it seems awkward and forced. But then again, that could be because I’ve been staring at it for so long. Oh, well. Chapter three and busy weeks ahead, here I come!
Foolish and the Weak 1.2
He didn’t love her in the first place.
That had all come later, that decision to love with his whole heart this girl-bride whom he had married. Choosing to love and being in love were two different things, and no matter how hard he tried he could not feel for this fragile golden flower the swift, pulsing joy he had always dreamed of sharing with a wife, the joy that flows between two people who work side by side with equal strength, who press as one towards some great and glorious goal.
He had tasted that sort of joy before…once, but never again.
Yet he did not regret his decision to take her as his wife, to carry her far away from the place which had sapped her strength and left her as he found her, trembling, delicate, trusting. She was like a rose vine of frail beauty, childish beauty, the beauty of sweet-scented humility. Well, he was a strong man. Strong enough to hold her in his tender grasp and strong enough to pour out from his own pain sunshine and rain until the petals gently unfolded from her broken heart. Strong enough to love again.
So they had driven down to the pawn shop and bought two plain gold rings. She had found a white sun dress and a pair of white sandals at the thrift store, and they had gone to the court house to become legally married.
Nine years later he loved her with his whole being, as he had determined so long ago that he would. Yet in his dreams was the distant memory of the oneness he once had.
Yet in his dreams…
“Brian…Brian! Are you awake?”
He sat up and gazed at his wife silently — her golden lopsided ponytail, the smeared mascara under her skylark eyes, his own t-shirt draped over her littleness in loose, graceful folds. “You know something, Jenn, you’re gorgeous,” he said softly, and it was true. “What time is it, anyway?”
“Three a. m. Christian had another of his nightmares. I wasn’t going to wake you, but I can’t get him to calm down…he says he wants you.”
“Sure,” Brian mumbled, swinging out of bed and feeling his way down the hall to the tiny room the boys shared with each other. Jenn was a beautiful mother, enough a child herself to understand her sons’ childhood, so gentle and flowerlike that she unconsciously won their adoration and reverence. But somehow, when Matthew and Christian were frightened, they ran to their father. They crept into his strong embrace and were safe…
“Hey, buddy. Your mom said you had a bad dream?” The bottom bunk creaked under Brian’s weight as he sat down next to his trembling son.
Christian sucked his thumb and nodded.
“You want to tell me about it?”
A violent shake of the tousled head.
“Ok. That’s fine, you don’t need to tell me…lay back down, son, and I’ll pray for you. Close your eyes…that’s it.” Brian smoothed the rumpled covers, tucked them snugly around Christian and whispered a prayer over him. In the top bunk Matthew snored softly and in the corner the Nemo nightlight regarded the three Tracy men with a single unblinking eye
Saturday morning rose gently, washing through the bedroom window in thin gray-gold strips, whispering up the stairs on the airy notes of Jenn’s violin. Brian glanced at the sports watch that never left his wrist, calculating hours against projects that needed finishing. He could afford another ten minutes of lying in bed listening to the music and the birds.
It was Matthew, obediently sawing “My Son John” on his little orange fiddle, and the smell of frying pancakes that finally dragged Brian out of bed to rummage under the bathroom sink for a razor and a fresh can of shaving cream.
Christian appeared in the door of the tiny bathroom.
“Yeah, son?” called Brian over the sound of hot water spilling from the faucet. He wiped a clear, round spot in the fogged mirror and rubbed a generous handful of shaving cream onto his face.
“Dad, when are we going? I ate breakfast and got dressed all by myself and Matthew put air in the tires.”
The razor paused, midstroke. Brian ran over all his Saturday plans, trying to remember whether any of them involved going out with his sons. “When are we going…where?”
Biking. A day at the park. Just me and the boys, while Jenn does some housecleaning. I remember now…but
there’s pancakes and coffee downstairs and
a leak in the garage I gotta fix before it starts raining tonight and
Brian groped blindly for a towel to wipe off the suds and when he looked up Christian was still watching him with those huge, wistful blue eyes that were Jenn’s. Never yet had Brian been able to resist them.
“Biking,” he said, methodically folding his towel and then throwing it into the dirty clothes hamper. “How about we leave after I get some breakfast?”
There wasn’t an answer and Brian didn’t expect one. Christian expressed his thoughts with his face. A nod, a quirky sideways smile from Christian spoke just as clearly as Matthew’s self-coined descriptive vocabulary. This time it was just a grin – and in it, all the joyful springtime of the ages.
Brian winked back at his son. “I’ll be down in a minute, bud.”