Tuesday, July 10, 2012

CHAPTER 55: There he is, In the Rocking Chair

Every morning, he makes his way onto the porch while she is still asleep and while it is still dark and the moon is but a silver curl of a sliver within the dark pines. He creeps quietly into the porch and remains there until she wakes up. As if he standing guard. He has shown her every kindness, every form of polite and respectful behavior, and he has given her every reason to believe that he is polite and considerate. Still, she doesn't like him watching her when she sleeps. How could she possibly? 

She sleeps each night, buried deep in the blankets on the porch, her arms squeezing what would be a pillow if it had been more than a second small blanket stuffed with straw and tied, just like the mattress, with twine.

She never sees him come in. She falls asleep watching the starlight, and wakes up to the creaking of the rocking chair across the porch, the chair he has chiseled and shaped out of fir and aspen and blood red manzanita. He says nothing at all, but the chair begins squeaking and it mixes with the sounds of the throaty birds coming to life in the marshy area behind the woodland.

The early morning air is cool and fresh and misty and when it flutters across her face it tempts her awake. But then she hears his rocking and squeaking and immediately she resents the fact that he is there in the porch rocking in the chair and staring at her. 

Why does he insist on intruding this way on her morning routine? It has been a week that she’s been here, and she has not worked up the courage to tell him that it has to stop.

It won’t be easy to tell him. He does everything imaginable to please her, including placing a glass of red poppies at her breakfast table each morning. He refuses to let her cook a thing. He fixes her pancakes or scrambled eggs for breakfast. He makes hot soups for lunch, and skewers a rabbit or once, killed a wild turkey for dinner.

He has offered to hide her indefinitely in his woodland cabin. How he would possibly manage to keep her here, when the authorities are looking for her everywhere, she isn’t sure, but he has ideas. “We could shave off the rest of your hair and dress you up as a farmhand,” he said at one point. She frowned at the thought, and said in a quiet voice that it suited her to remain a woman.

“Well then, maybe we could move you right out of here.” He offered to risk taking her by wagon all the way to San Francisco, “and there you could catch a train east maybe to New York.”

Renata’s stomach tightened at the thought of leaving her beloved golden hills, her blue California skies. And running from the authorities? That squeezed her stomach even worse.

“How would I elude them? You yourself said they have my photo pasted in every building that stands.”

“And so, maybe I could cover you up with a blanket in the wagon and claim you as a chair or a another piece of furniture.” There were other silly ideas, but all of them were surely evidence that he seriously cares to try to help her.

Meanwhile, her own thoughts focus on how she might move on from the woodland cabin on her own power. With each hour she remains at the cabin, she knows she puts herself in danger of being found.

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