|strrynighte (strrynighte) wrote,|
@ 2010-03-17 19:00:00
Title: A Woman's Place
Hours later, after a mostly silent drive with breaks for sing-alongs to the radio, Lirael and Andrew pulled into the familiar and heart wrenching sight of the apartment complex after the long difficult trip. Carefully parking as close to the front door as possible, Lirael shut off the engine, and sat staring blankly ahead through the windshield, gathering her thoughts.
Andrew was quiet and nearly motionless beside her. Lirael gave short sigh and unbuckled herself and got out of the car. Andrew followed, and together they began pulling bags from the backseat of the car.
They walked inside, giving a general hello in the direction of Billy Bob Joe at the front desk. The elevator ride was as silent as a house on Christmas Eve. In Lirael's apartment, they put the bags down on the far side of the living room, allowing room for the other boxes and bags still in the car while leaving enough room to maneuver around the furniture too.
The process was repeated a few more times before everything was inside. As Andrew set down the last box he cleared his throat gently, "Do you want to come with me to pick up Jamie?"
After a short pause Lirael replied, "No, I should start sorting through everything and get it all put away. Otherwise, who knows when I'll get to it?" Her attempt at humor failed miserably as her voice trembled slightly with emotion.
"If you're sure," Andrew wavered. "Swing by my place when you're ready for a break, I know Jamie will be eager to see you again. I'll even cook you dinner," he wheedled.
"Sure Andrew," Lirael gave a crooked smile at his tactics.
"Alright, I'll see you later then," Andrew said as he left the apartment, closing the door securely behind him.
The door snicked shut behind Andrew, and Lirael finally allowed herself to collapse on the couch, overcome with tears and silent sobs. She buried her head in the worn yet comfortable pillows arranged on the couch.
For several long minutes she wallowed in her self-pity at her situation. Then, she raised her head and wiped her eyes dry, stifling her sobs. She got a good look at all the bags and boxes scattered around the room, and gave a short barking laugh.
Well, I'd best remedy this before I trip and break my neck! She thought with a bit of wry humor. Lirael gathered all the bags on one side of the room and placed the boxes on the other side, knowing that she would need to sort through those more carefully for things that she didn't need or want anymore. The clothes that made it to that pile would be donated to the local charity so that others could benefit from her surplus.
The bags she emptied and put all the dirty clothes from the trip into the laundry basket, absently noting as she went that Andrew had left is bag with her, and then continued, putting his clothes in the basket as well. Clean is clean, is clean, Lirael giggled pulling out a pair of smiley-face boxers.
She picked up the toiletry items that had somehow been jumbled all together in the rush to leave, separating Andrew's as she went and setting them on the kitchen counter for him to take home later, and carried hers to the bathroom, storing them away in the proper places.
On her way through the living room again, she nabbed the laundry basket, and accompanied by the laundry soap and dryer sheets, she made her way out the door and downstairs where the apartment complex's laundry facilities were located. There she started the first load of laundry, left the basket there, knowing Billy Bob Joe would not allow anyone to walk off with it.
Back in her apartment again, Lirael heaved a huge sigh at the sight of all the boxes waiting for her to unload. Which one, which one should I start with? she queried. Closing her eyes, Lirael engaged in a time-old procedure to pick the first the box. Ennie, meenie, minie, mo, she giggled. "I pick you!" she exclaimed, pointing to a random box sitting innocently in front of her.
Sitting beside the box, Lirael opened the flaps and began pulling out the things inside. Stacks of folded clothes were inside the first box. As Lirael removed them, she shook out each piece of clothing and decided if she wanted to keep it or give it to charity. Two piles grew on either side of her, one for keeps and one for charity. The second and third boxes also contained clothes that were duly treated to the same process, keeps or charity.
Between the third and fourth boxes, Lirael made a quick trip to the laundry room downstairs and switched out the clothes, starting the next load in the wash as well.
The fourth and fifth boxes held the many bits and pieces one collects throughout life; dolls, glass figurines, pens, pencils, stationary, stuffed animals, and the like. These Lirael pulled out, unwrapped those in newspaper or bubble wrap, and put them on the coffee table in front of the sofa to be dusted and cleaned later.
Just as she placed the last bit of discarded packaging material in an empty box, the doorbell chimed. Heaving herself to her feet, Lirael moved to answer it. A smiling Andrew and grinning Jamie greeted her at the door.
"Lirael!" Jamie shouted enthusiastically, lurching out of his father's hold to grasp for Lirael.
"Hi there squirrel," Lirael answered, taking Jamie from Andrew, as he so clearly wanted to be held by Lirael.
"He missed you quite a bit it seems," Andrew told her as they moved inside the apartment. "Mom was saying that he was asking for you, more than me she made it seem!"
"Awww, did you miss me Jamie?" Lirael cooed.
"Missed me," Jamie replied sweetly, wrapping his arms around Lirael's neck and planting a cute kiss on her cheek.
"How much sorting progress have you made?" Andrew asked.
"Come and see," Lirael said, leading the way to the living room.
"Wow! That's what I'd call progress alright," Andrew exclaimed as he entered the living room, eyeing the sorted clothes and knick knacks lined up on the coffee table and a bit in the floor in front of it as well.
"Yeah, I just need to run downstairs for a moment and grab the laundry that's just about finished. You left your bags here, so I just threw your things in with mine. Oh, and your toiletries are on the kitchen counter, when ever you've got a free hand to get them."
"Thanks Lirael, there's no telling when I would have gotten a chance to get those clothes washed."
"That's kind of what I figured, clean is clean is clean after all."
"True. Are you about ready for a dinner break then?"
"Yup, just have to grab those clothes like I said."
"Alright then, just swing by my place once you've dropped them off here," Andrew said.
"Sounds like a plan," Lirael agreed. She handed Jamie back to his father, and all three walked out of the apartment. Lirael continued on to the stairs to get the laundry, and Andrew went next door to his apartment to get dinner started.
Dinner was a joyous affair after the time spent at Lirael's home with her parents. Though the meal itself was simple in comparison, the company held accounted for any lacking.
Jamie in particular was extremely animated that evening, demanding his father's and Lirael's attention throughout the meal as he chattered about every detail he could about the time he had spent with his grandparents. Lirael and Andrew responded accordingly with "Hmm's," "Did you now's?" and "Really's?" to pacify Jamie as they ate.
Later, when Jamie had finally talked himself to sleep, Lirael stood awkwardly in the kitchen as Andrew stepped out to put him to bed in the other room. The dishes were in the quietly humming dishwasher, the food was stored away, and the table and Jamie's high chair were cleaned off. Lirael was at a loss of what to do now, and she didn't particularly care for the feeling.
Things had changed between her and Andrew, and she was frightened of what might become of it. A hair's breadth from bolting and running away to hide in her apartment until the next semester began, Lirael was startled from her thoughts by Andrew's return to the kitchen.
"Don't go running away now, darlin'," he whispered into the dimly lit room. Lirael whirled around to face him, though her head was lowered.
"I w-wasn't," she stammered uncertainly. "I was just checking that everything was cleaned up for you," she said with a bit more confidence.
Andrew, sensing her hesitancy about the whole affair, changed the subject abruptly. "Are you all registered for next semester?" he asked her, gesturing for Lirael to follow him from the kitchen to the living room.
They sat down on the couch, Andrew settling into the corner, and Lirael leaning against his shoulder comfortably.
"Yes, for once, the financial aid department looks to be right on schedule for having everything ready to go for me: tuition is paid for, and I only have to wait for the refund check to be processed and mailed to me to buy my text books. I can't wait for classes to start—everything I signed up for sounds so intriguing, that and this break just seems to keep dragging on and on! I was ready for the break in routine, but now I'm just as ready to get back to it!" Lirael enthused.
"What? You're ready to leave me here all alone?" Andrew joked, pulling her closer by bringing his arm up between them and laying it across her shoulders, inviting Lirael to snuggle even closer.
"No," Lirael whispered, her voice catching almost on the short sound. "I could never leave you." The words were nearly inaudible, but Andrew caught them just the same.
Swiftly, he had Lirael turned toward him, and he stared into her eyes intently. No other words were uttered, but he seemed to know what he was looking for as he peered into the windows of her soul. Nodding almost to himself, he surged forward and captured Lirael's lips into a passionate kiss.
His hands swept up from their places on her shoulders to bury into her long hair, bound in a ponytail. Carefully, his fingers pulled gently on the hair band, releasing her hair to cascade down her back. His hands returned to the depths of her hair, massaging Lirael's skull as they continued to embrace.
Lirael was not idle either—her hands were sweeping across Andrew's back, urging him closer to her and bringing him into her heart and soul. Suddenly, Andrew drew back, and released her head to still her hands on his body.
"Do you want this? Do you want me in your life forever?" he asked her solemnly.
"Yes!" Lirael answered in a fierce whisper. "I want you, now tomorrow, and forever," she told Andrew, confident in her love for him.
"Then there's only one more thing I need to know," Andrew murmured against her cheek. One hand casually let go of Lirael's hold, and disappeared into his pocket, though Lirael didn't notice its retreat. "Will you marry me?" Andrew asked her, offering Lirael a tiny ring with a single diamond simplistically arranged around two tiny emeralds on either side.
Lirael stared at the ring in the palm of Andrew's hand, hardly daring to believe that this man wanted her enough and loved her enough to want to marry her for time indefinite. Before her mind had completely caught up with the situation, Lirael's heart had responded for her in a shout, "YES!"
Lirael and Andrew fell into each other, kissing one another almost sloppily in their exuberance. Somehow, Andrew managed to slide the tiny ring onto Lirael's finger and not drop it on the floor. Unsurprisingly, it was a perfect fit. Piercing cries ringing from Jamie's room brought their celebration to a pause as Andrew rose to soothe his son back to sleep, startled awake from Lirael's joyful cry.
Chapter Twenty One