Reflecting the Sea (The Nicholas Sparks inspired book) Chapt 2.
I spin, sitting in the silent fish smelling office. I hate it here, I always have. It’s a small, crowded office with damp salt air which feels strangely stuffy. I feel the moisture stick to my clothes and my skin as I swivel around and around in my chair, going over times, dates, and schedules for fishing trips, shipping and more.
Everything is stagnant.
My swivel chair squeaks in protest every time I turn to the left and groans when I turn to the right. The constant noise keeps me company, though by the billionth squeak I have to stop because my head aches from the sound.
The little fan, that I bought one summer day, with it’s broken blades, slumps against the desk and the wall. The dull computer screen displays numbers, black numbers on a grey or white background. It’s the oldest computer I’ve ever seen; the monitor is a box with a screen and the color of khaki pants. It’s hideous. A single fly buzzes incessantly at the pathetic excuse of a window, and I don’t blame the bug for wanting to be outside.
The stack of papers I recently printed, sit in a messy stack on the desk; they already smell like mildew. The calendar on the wall displays some snow caped mountain that I’m too lazy to check the location of. Beside the calendar hangs a sad plastic fish who used to sing but now just wurrs, it’s blank glass eyes stare cross-eyed at the corner wall.
All day Rachel’s words have been on my mind, “Are you going to sleep all your evenings away? You only have a child for a short time, you should be enjoying him, while you still can”
Have I been the right mother? Have I been there?
I try to bring up memories of when I devoted my whole attention on my son. It’s sad when the only memory that comes to mind is before He was taken from my life. I’ve neglected the one and solid memory of Him, how could I?
The door to my office swings open with a creak and the devil steps in.
No, actually it’s just Darla, but she practically is the equivalent of the devil.
“Do you have the numbers I asked for?” Darla snaps her gum in her mouth, taking a strand of perfectly straight brown hair off her bright red lipstick. She smacks on her gum a few times, waiting impatiently for me to surface back into reality.
“Hm?” I blink and look at her blankly, “Which numbers? Oh.” I reach over to the stack of papers on my desk.
Darla sighs tapping her finger on her left hip. “Any day now.”
I rifle through the pages, glancing at them all to see if I’ve gotten all of them. After flipping through the stack twice-- Darla pacing the room in exasperation-- I figure out that I’m missing a page. I run a look over my desk, but know I won’t find it there. I’ve seen every inch of this office, I must have left it in the printer room.
“One’s missing,” I merely mutter to Darla as I pass her on my way out the door and into the hall.
“Wait, what?” Darla pursues me. “You lost a page? How could you be so... so...”
Ugh! I think, rolling my eyes and stepping into the closet sized printer room. Just as I expected, the missing page lay there, slide under the printer. “Here it is,” I say, as dull as the sound of Darla’s heels on the thin, coarse, fish smelling carpet.
Darla, grabs the page and glares at me, “And do you have the list of the Picnic attendees that I need for tomorrow?”
I blink, trying to remember where I put the list.
She flaps the paper at me threateningly, “You’ve got to wake up! Seriously? This whole business depends on you. You are the last in the family to take the job as owner. You’ve got to own it, or it’ll be taken away again.”
“Well I hope it is taken,” I say pushing past her, tired of her. She’s been a pain in the butt all day, well, all week really, and I don’t feel like arguing with her. “That way I wouldn’t have to hear you yipping at everyone all the time like a little yappy dog.”
Darla smacks her gum and walks after me, the sound of her heels hitting the carpet harder tell me that she’s seething. “Oh I don’t want hear it, I’m the one who does everything around her. You have no place to judge me, in your state.”
My state? What’s that suppose to mean?
I ignore her, slipping into my office and shutting the door in her face.
My office, my hell, my haven, my shackle, my life preserver in the middle of an ocean full of sharks.
I hate it here, I always will. I hate Darla, always have.
The rest of the day I have been thinking, and determination to be a better mom has taken over me. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of people talking to me like a poor, hopeless case.
I pick Lincoln up, holding him in my arms and kissing his sweet cheek.
Smelling like watermelon scented shampoo and markers today, he giggles and squirms in my grip, “Mommy!”
I set him down and look up at Rachel’s surprised face. “Rachel,” I say in greeting, “I want to talk to you.”
Rachel nods, drying her hands with a kitchen towel. She turns from the sudsy water in the kitchen sink and the dirty dishes stacked nearby, to look at me expectantly. Interest is apparent on her face, and I can tell that I have her whole attention.
“So... I was thinking and.. I want to fire Darla.”
“But she’s a Schorling, the Schorling’s have always worked with us.”
I nod, “Right, I’m saying I want to fire her, but I came to you. It is your husbands company.”
“It’s your husbands company too.”
I purse my lips and twist my ankle from side to side. She’s not making this easy. But what did I expect, she never makes anything easy.
Rachel waves her hand dismissively, “I’m just saying. Plus, the Schorling’s have always been so loyal to us. From father to son, to mother to daughter, they’ve all helped out to get our little company into the fishing market.”
I sigh, “I know... It’s just... It’s Darla. Does the company really need her? There are plenty of jobs around here she could choose from. She could go into nursing, like she’s always griping about.” I bend my knees and stand straight again in a pleading gesture. “I just can’t work with her anymore.”
Rachel shrugs, spreading her arms to either side, “Meri, I’m not saying I adore the girl either. I’m just pointing out the facts. Do whatever you like with her. She’s your employee. I’m done managing my husbands company.” She gives an exasperated chuckle, “Way done.”
I bend my knees in a pouting way, “Ugh, you make everything so hard.”
Lincoln comes running into the kitchen, a blue paper airplane flying in his hands, “Frooosh!!! Froosh!”
“Ahh,” I cry in pretend as he crashes the plane into me. “Oh no, the plane crashed into Mount Hipmore.”
Lincoln smiles, pretending to make explosion noises, the plane flutters to the hardwood floors of the kitchen, it’s paper tip bent.
Rachel taps her foot on the hardwood floors, and says thoughtfully, “Darla, even as a child, has been an annoying know-it-all.”
I nod, “And she’s always complaining.”
“Oh,” Rachel raises her eyebrows sarcastically, “No one in this house is like that.”
I roll my eyes and walk out of the kitchen after Lincoln, whose picked up blocks in the livingroom. “Hey, what are you doing over here?” I ask him, sitting down on the couch.
Lincoln doesn’t look up as he answers, “I’m making a boat.”
“What kind?” I ask, idly fidgeting with the TV remote, lying beside me on the couch. It is a blunt reminder of how little TV I’ve watched in the past few years. How could I? When there is so many things, too many uncomfortable reminders on the big hulking ugly piece of technology. I don’t know why we even still own the old television. A noise in the kitchen points to the cause of the TV still being here. Rachel. Unbearable woman. But she is His mother, and placating her is just one of the duties I agreed to when I married Him.
Lincoln clicks another block into place. The mound of blocks start to take shape, though not by much. “Daddy’s boat.”
I freeze. But the memory finds me anyways.
“You’re going out in this weather?”
“It’s not that bad, I’ve seen worse.”
“Well... be safe then.”
“Which boat are you taking?”
“Oh please don’t. Use the companies, it’s a lot safer.”
“What’s wrong with my boat?”
“It’s small and... not the most trust worthy.”
“Just ‘cause it stalled that one time doesn’t mean-”
“Okay, okay, sure, I’ll take the companies.”
“Nighty, night Linny, Daddy’ll be back soon.”
“You said that already.”
“But I mean it.”
“And I mean it when I say, I will.”
“See you in a little bit.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Rachel must have heard in the kitchen, because she slowly and cautiously steps into the livingroom. She watches me.
I fight the urge to let my emotions take over. I fight with the urge to bolt, to quit. There is a momentary struggle, as I wrestle with my pain and the ache in my heart to stay beneath.
Finally I manage to give him a pained smile, and nod, while I try to hide the feelings of my churning stomach and my stormy mind. “Cool.”
There are so many different ways to say things. Words can be used for love, for hate, for peace, for war. They can be said in all different forms and directed in ways which can heal, or kill. Lincoln’s words, off-handed and full of sweet innocence, have the effect of nails on a chalkboard to me. It is hard to keep myself under control.
I’m so tempted to stand up, to rush forward and escape. But I take one look at Lincoln’s innocent face, offering me a few blocks to play with, and my heart melts.
I stuff my feelings away, like I’ve done so often before, and turn all my attention on my darling Lincoln. Thinking about it, I feel a thrill of satisfaction. I am victorious over my pain, at least for now.
I glance over to see Rachel nodding in approval, turning back to wash dishes.
“Don’t you think you need a hull?” I ask him, handing him a hull-suitable looking lego piece.
Lincoln takes the piece from me and turns the lego in his hands, “What’s the hull?”
“Um...” I purse my lips thoughtfully, trying to remember what He told me about boats, “It’s pretty much the body of the boat, the underneath which goes under water.”
His eyes widen in shock, “The boat goes under the water?”
I bite my bottom lip and shake my head, “No, no, I mean... When I boat floats in the water there is a part which lays underneath the surface of the water... it’s... it’s complicated.”
Lincoln blinks in confusion.
I sigh and stand up from the couch, “Here, come with me, I’ll show you.”
Lincoln stands up and runs after me as I walk into my bedroom.
I reach under the bed and take out the box of pictures. I know there should be a picture in here of a boat. I lift the lid and instantly regret it.
He stares back at me from inside the box, brilliant smile flashing, freckled and sunburned skin, light brown hair windswept, with a background of pure blue ocean waves.
Longing and sickness fill me instantaneously.
I blink and tear my gaze from His beautiful face and onto the eager and equally beautiful angel face of my darling child. “Here,” I croak, and have to swallow and start again, “Here’s a picture of Daddy.”
Lincoln excitedly takes the picture in his little fingers, smudging the seagull in the background with his fingerprints.
“Sweety, hold it by the corners,” I reach over him to correct his grip on the photo.
My heart flutters as I stare at the next picture. It’s a hideous picture of me pregnant, but there He is, radiant and happy beside me; holding my hand and beaming, as if to say “They are mine, aren’t they beautiful?”
I swallow blinking away tears as I pass the picture to Lincoln who carefully grabs the picture by the corners.
I watch his large eyes soak in the picture and I can see in the looseness of his sweet pink cheeks and his wide eyes that he’s enthralled.
He points to me, “Is that you, Mommy?”
I nod with a sad smile, “Yep.”
The sadness expressed in my lips disappears as his innocent words tickle me. I chuckle and kiss his forehead, breathing in his scent. “No thanks to you. You were in my tummy, that’s what made me so fat.”
Lincoln’s lips push out in a pucker of thoughtfulness, “How did I get in your tummy?”
I cough and chuckle nervously. I honestly did not expect this question so soon. What did my parents say? “God put you there, so that you could come to this world and bless it with your joy and life.”
He nods seriously, “Why?”
“Um...” I look around the room for some sort of guidance, “Because God loves you, and it makes him happy to see you happy.”
“Does he love you?”
I blink in surprise, are all children so brutal? “Yes, I think so, I mean, he loves everyone.”
“Then why are you not happy?” Lincoln looks at me with bright, shining eyes, full of thought, full of care and sweetness.
My heart aches, and guilt creeps up on me again. I wish I could erase all that Lincoln has seen of me, start anew. I want him to see me as happy, I want him to know he’s loved.
“I am happy, Linny, very happy. Because... because I have you,” I say breathily, stroking the tip of his nose gently.
He looks at me a second more and then turns his attention to the next picture, lying in the box. It’s a picture of sunset, which I used to find breathtakingly beautiful, but now I merely pick it up, glance at it and then move on.
The next picture is of a family cookout. Again His face smiles at me, cheeks flushed red, his arm wrapped around my thin shoulders; I look skinny and frail in the picture, I have always been scrawny and my limbs spindly, except for when I was pregnant. Around Him and I sit Rachel, John (His brother), and Lorraine (John’s wife), and their two young children Lucy and Jacob. Everyone either has stains on their clothes or on their faces from the smores.
“You’ve got chocolate all over your face”
“Want a taste?”
“Not around your mom.”
“Because... it’s just weird.”
“I thought it was suppose to be romantic; kissing even though people are around. Doesn’t that show how brave the guy is?”
“And how weak and easy the girl is? Yeah.”
“You, weak, easy? Please! The first day I met you, you nearly knocked me out.”
“I didn’t hit you that hard.”
“Hard enough to knock out my sensibility, and that’s why I have no problem with doing this-”
“-in front of my family, and neither should you. You’re the one in love with me, not them.”
“What makes you so confident that I’m in love with you?”
“It’s the way you look at me. You know you love me.”
“And are my feelings reciprocated?”
“Does that answer your question?”
I set the picture aside, and pick up the picture I was looking for. It’s a sketch He drew for me, when I asked him to show me how a boat worked. It was well done, with notes in his thin scratchy handwriting, and arrows pointing to different parts. The detail is small and basic, with a squiggly line going across to signify where the water was and where the boat would sit.
I pass the sketch to Lincoln, who takes it gingerly and looks at it with an excited eye.
I look up quickly to see Rachel standing in the doorway. She waves me over, so I stand and follow her into the kitchen where she leans against the counter and looks at me thoughtfully. She looks as if she’s trying to decide what to say, as if the wrong word could send me into a fit. There is a cautious nervousness in her eyes, yet a stubbornness set in her jaw.
I lean against the opposite counter, tapping my feet on the floor and wait for Rachel to continue.
“The Member’s Picnic is tomorrow evening.”
I nod, feeling a sudden tiredness fall over me at the mention of more work. I’ve been ignoring the Picnic plans all week, like I do every time the Company has a Member’s Picnic, yearly. I haven’t gone to one since His accident, and I haven’t ever wanted to go, but every year I have to have the same fight with Rachel.
“And I was thinking,” she continues, looking at her feet, “That I could take Lincoln, since you don’t like going.”
I stop looking at the water stain on the ceiling and snap my attention to Rachel, surprised by the unexpected offer. Every year it’s always been her goading me and prodding me to go, and now it seems that she’s given up torturing me.
“There are many children Lincoln’s age which come to the Picnic yearly, and I don’t want him to grow up not knowing the Company family. Our family has always been so close to everyone in Weaver’s Net, and I just can’t bare to see us broken and unconnected anymore.”
I nod slowly, trying to fight the urge, the voice which encouraged me to say I’ll go too. Everything that Rachel says just keeps making me feel guiltier and guiltier. I have been a mean and sullen person for so long, depriving my child from social gatherings and opportunities. I’ve stolen him away from the Company family, the clients, the staff, the managers, the fishermen who make up Weaver’s Net, Crab and Fish.
It makes sense for Rachel to take Lincoln, it makes sense for Lincoln to succeed in the family business.
My stomach churns and flips at the thought of Lincoln on a boat, and my heart and mind repel against it. I can’t let him become a fisherman, I can’t lose Lincoln like I lost Him.
But can I deny him a future in which his father, and his father’s father were so passionate about? Can I deny him the chance to experience that passion?
“Sure,” I finally say in defeat.
Rachel smiles, though her eyes keep a watchful eye on my facial expressions, as if waiting for something.
I shrug, feeling guilty still, “and... I don’t know, maybe I’ll come for a few minutes.”
Rachel’s face lights up, but then calms to a compose mask of indifference,“If you want. You don’t have to, I know how much you hate it.”
A burning desire to prove Rachel wrong, to go against her expectations of me, makes me set my jaw stubbornly. I make up my mind, “I'll go. Can’t be that bad.”
Rachel nods her head, and smiles calmly, but her eyes twinkle with a savage victory. “I’ll call and let them know they’ll have one more member.”