He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 10

Adagio in G-Minor (Albinoni)

Weeping violins were playing on Mom’s kitchen radio as she had it playing something from the classical music station in Des Moines. The announcer said something about the music being composed by a Venetian master, Tomaso Albinoni, in the 18th Century, and now being known as being synonymous with sorrow and sadness. As Valerie placed the spoons and the forks, she felt like it was the perfect background music for her entire life.

“So, Rance, be honest with me,” Mom said. “Did Val apologize to Dash for the misery she caused him at the dance?”

“Well, she made a promise to him about what she would never do again.”

“That’s not the whole truth,” said Valerie.

“Oh? Why don’t you explain your version of the conversation then,” said Uncle Rance with a smile that seemed somehow sad.

“Uncle Dash was afraid I was being like Stacey, that I was going to run away and never come back.”

“And what did you tell him about that?” Mom asked point blank.

Tim and Aunt Jen sat silently at their places at the table. They were both looking at her with unsmiling lips tightly pressed together… as if they feared the answer.

“You know what a cardinal is, right?”

“The little red song bird?”

“Yes, the bright red bird we often see in the snow around Christmastime. The one that doesn’t fly away when the winter comes? Never migrates? Never flies away from the cold, and the wind, and hard times?”

“What does that mean? That you promise not to run away from your problems?”

“Well, if a little red songbird can do it…”

Mom put her hand over her eyes. Was she crying? Had she said the wrong thing?

”Do you have any idea how much what you did probably hurt your Uncle Dash? You know he loved your Daddy very much. And he’s tried so hard to be like a father to you since…” A sob caught in Mom’s throat.

“She told Dash that she didn’t blame him. She blamed herself.” Uncle Rance had no right to say that part out loud. But… she couldn’t say it herself. Not after shouting it in front of Charlotte and the whole world. Why didn’t they just talk about it all behind her back like normal parents do?

“Did you know that Tim kissed Dilsey on his date? Did he tell you that?” She knew that one wasn’t hers to tell. But she needed to change the topic. Needed it desperately. She could always apologize to the king of brats later.

Tim was grinning at that.

“Is it true?” Aunt Jen asked, smiling for the first time in a while.

“How did you know that, Val?” Tim asked.

“Dilsey told me.”

“Was she bragging… or complaining?”

“What do you think, Lothario?”

“More like Romeo, I think.”

“I hope you didn’t do something you didn’t have her permission to do,” said Uncle Rance.

“You know, Val, I wasn’t done with the other topic yet,” said Mom.

“What topic would that be?”

“You are not the only one who was devastated by what your father did.”

“I know that, Mom. I was here when we lived through all of that… more than once, I think.”

She hadn’t taken the hand away from her eyes since she first put it there.

“I love you, Val. You know that, right?”

“I love you too, Mom.”

“And you know I worry about the fact that suicide might run in families… I’ve thought about it. And I am afraid you have too. Can you…?”

“Promise you?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t. But I am like the cardinal, Mom. And suicide is a form of running away.”

At that point, nobody had dry eyes but Valerie.

“I… I want you to write the thing about cardinals down for me, Val. I need that in writing.”

All Val could do was nod, or she would be bawling too.

“Well, now that we have all ruined our appetites, maybe we should think about actually eating something,” said Uncle Rance with a soft chuckle and tears still in his eyes.

The dinner changed into a rather quiet discussion about more normal family things, and Dilsey and Tim’s first kiss. And, sporadically, some roast beef and mashed potatoes was eaten too.

Later, as the Kelloggs were leaving, Tim stood in front of Valerie at the door. Tears glistened in his eyes again.

“You know, Val, I really liked the cardinal thing too. Blueberry is in the hospital. One of my Pirates is very ill.”

“Dilsey told me about that too.”

“Did she tell you we need to visit her? There are hard winter times coming our way there too.”

“We’ll be there for her, I promise.”

She wrapped him in a hug then. The first time in a very long time. He didn’t resist. If anything, he was hugging her back.

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Filed under battling depression, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

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