In the spirit of practicing what I preach, here’s yet another chapter of what may end up being the sequel to Inn Significant. I’ve passed 10,000 words, but this chapter brings me to 9,385 for this endeavor.
Here’s what I’m working on presently:
- Extending the characters by allowing readers to get to know them even better
- Working on creating additional scenery and settings within the town of Oxford, MD
- Bringing in new characters
- Creating realistic dialogue
- Bringing a lighthearted tone to the story
Anyway, those are my goals for now.
Here’s Chapter 4.
C H A P T E R F O U R O F T H E S E Q U E L T O
I N N S I G N I F I C A N T
“Will you look at that!” my mother said aloud as a group of us were standing in front of Inn Love Catering watching the installation of the new, elegant calligraphy sign.
“It’s so fancy!” Colette said.
“And feminine,” Eva said.
I squinted to see it as the sun was beating down on us on that glorious May afternoon.
“Not too feminine,” John said, my father nodding along in agreement with him.
“No, not too feminine. Just right,” Eva said.
We were all there for a final walk-through with our contractor. It was the final day, and Ernie was with us to make sure all the electricity and appliances were in working order as Colette and Eva needed to begin planning the food for the wedding that would take place the following week. The menu had been pre-arranged, and they would be working on some of the preliminary shopping and details before they actually made the food. Additionally, the dishes, glasses, and cutlery were arriving later today, and John and I would unbox and organize them in the barn. Each day, my excitement level grew, and I hoped that our team of novices could pull this type of event planning off. I’d done a lot of research over the last year, and had met with other wedding and event planners for advice. I’d taken copious notes, attended small workshops, and having planned my own first wedding years ago to Gil, I knew what was in store, from the vacillation of emotions that all brides and grooms go through to understanding that it was the details that made each event special. One of the similarities I’d gleaned from being a writer to now being an event planner is that both occupations required attention to detail—I don’t believe you can be successful without understanding the nuances and strategy of the details. The second thing I think both occupations have in common is that in both cases, it’s imperative that you listen to other people’s stories, as those stories can help you better define whatever it is you are creating. And young couples embarking on marriage with a large-scale reception want to know that their story is told.
That said, I had been designing something “magical” for Carolanne and Tim’s wedding next Saturday. That was the word they used when my mother and I asked what “feel” they wanted from the night, so my mom and I were hard at work to give them that type of ambiance.
“These all look like they’re in working order. Those two fridges are massive!” Ernie said. “I guess you’ll be able to make me a lot of food, Colette!”
“I’ve roped off a corner inside just for you Ernie. And don’t forget, there’s another massive one in the barn’s kitchen,” Colette said.
Eva glanced at Colette, a look of hesitation in her eyes. “I hope we can pull this off, Colette. My heart’s starting to race!”
“Don’t worry, Eva. Milly and I have become accustomed to the feeling of a racing heart for the last year and a half. We have to have faith that the stars will align,” my mother said.
John put his arm around me and gave me a squeeze. “You’re going to blow them out of the water,” he whispered in my ear.
I smiled at him. I may have been a slow learner, but I knew now that he was just the sort of person I needed in my life.
“Okay, there, Richard. Are you in comfortable?” John asked Richard, as we got him in the car.
“I promised Eva that I would not make you all crazy with my bad temperament, but this knee is driving me insane. I just want it to heal, already.”
I felt badly for Richard. He wasn’t a man who liked to sit idly for too long. He was always on the move, whether he was playing golf, fishing, or boating. As a younger man, he was incredibly athletic, and even played on a local men’s softball team until five years ago when his knees began to give out.
“I can understand,” John said sympathetically.
“And I certainly shouldn’t be complaining to a man who wore a uniform and fought for liberty! Never mind me, John. I’ll just shut up and enjoy sitting by the water with my book.”
“It’s only been a few weeks, Richard. Give it time. You’re coming along nicely,” Eva said.
“Nicely, but not quickly.”
“It will come. It will come,” she said, patting him on the arm and giving him a peck on the top of his head.
We pulled into Inn Significant, and Colette had already set up for afternoon tea. There were quite a few guests mingling on the lawn, sitting in the Adirondacks, and enjoying the temperature and sunshine. There was absolutely no humidity in the air, a light breeze caught my hair, and the sky was crystal blue.
“I’m tempted to go for a paddle,” John said to me as we walked back up the slow sloping hill after we settled Richard and Eva in chairs down by the water. Eva had brought her new cookbook, a notepad, and lots of sticky notes to tag recipes. Richard brought a Tom Clancy novel. “Look how calm the water is. It’s like glass. Care to join me?”
“You know, I think I would love that. Let me just get a handle on things and make sure nothing is pressing. How about if we go at five-thirty after I check some emails and help Colette clean up tea?”
“Sounds great. I’ll meet you at the launch area at five-thirty. It’s a date.”
Twenty emails had arrived in the two hours I was gone. Six of them were from Carolanne. I perused the remaining lot when I saw it. There it was—another message—in my inbox. I clicked “open.”
I am ecstatic! I have booked my flights and am looking forward to seeing you in late June. I cannot tell you how much this means to me. I feel as if I have found some very dear, new friends. I will be in touch as the date approaches. In the meantime, best of luck with the Inn, your new venue, and with your writing. I look forward to each week’s new post from Inn Significant.
I stared at the email and thought for a moment about the wonder of connections. Since I’d been in Oxford working at the Inn, so much had changed for me. It was overwhelming to recount the abundance of love I felt in this town among these people. And it all started because my parents knew better than I. They understood exactly what I needed most. And then came John and his kindness and the fact that he found Nana’s journal, which had been a stroke of pure providence. And now, to sit here, reading an email from Nana’s first husband’s nephew? It was almost too much coincidence for me to understand, and yet, all I wanted to do was appreciate it.
My curiosity was piqued. What would Marco be like? What stories might he have to tell? How would my mother react to meeting this relation to her mother by marriage? I often wondered how my mother felt about her mother keeping this secret; we had spoken of it often, but I always felt as if my mother felt slightly betrayed by a woman she loved so much, so unconditionally, and whether or not she wondered what her own father had known and thought about Ferio?
As for me, I would always be thankful for my grandmother’s love for Ferio and for her journal and words and love. Life is ironic and sad and twisted at times, but at the heart of every loving family is a sense of belonging and forgiveness and love beyond compare.
The phone rang and startled me out of my deep thoughts.
“Inn Significant, may I help you?” I asked.
“What the hell would you say to the fact that we’re buying a second home in Oxford?”
“What? Have you lost your mind?”
“Nope. You’re going to get to see me all summer now. I’m going to spend summers with you.”
“This has to be a joke,” I said. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Nope. Go check it out. Number Seventeen High Street.”
“Number Seventeen High Street? I don’t have to check it out, Gracie. I know the house. I ride my bike around this place almost every other day. It’s adorable. Tell me you’re not pulling my leg.”
“I’m not pulling your leg. I want to be closer to you guys, and I want Abbie to have a sense of family. It’s lonely here, and since I don’t work in the summer and it’s a short drive from Pennsylvania, I will live there during the week and Cal will come down on weekends. We’re using some of the inheritance money from Cal’s aunt to do this.”
“Remarkable,” I said. “I was just thinking about coincidences, and then the phone rings and it’s you…with crazy-ass news!”
“Aw, I love you, too, Mills,” she said.
“How long have you known this?”
“What? That I wanted a place in Oxford or that we’re buying a home?”
“Both,” I said.
“Well, after I visited that first time when we set up the website and then after I knew you were going to be permanently living there and seeing your own adorable house, it all came together. Cal was on board right away because he’s not sure what’s in store at his company and he’s been looking at virtual jobs. We’re just not that attached to the townhome here. We were excited, too, that Abbie could make summer memories. And I hope Abbie can do that kids camp thing now that we’ll be residents. John better take us out on his boat, because we won’t have one of those.”
“He would love to. He always loves going out on the boat. In fact, I’m supposed to meet him and go kayaking in a bit.”
“And you wonder why I want to move there,” she said.
I could feel myself getting choked up. What was happening? Were these tears in my eyes not tears of sorrow but rather tears of joy? I felt wholly unsteady.
“Gracie?” I said.
“Do Mom and Dad know?”
“Not yet,” she said. “I called you first.”
“This feels like a dream.”
“For me, too, Milly.”
We hung up the phone before we became two mushy heaps of happiness flooding the place with love.
The water remained still, and our paddles cut through that stillness, making slight slushing sounds each time we rowed. We watched silver fish shimmer as they popped out of the river and then right back into it. In synchronicity, we paddled on, listening to the peacefulness of nature or the hums of other boats. An occasional powerboat roared by, or the sounds of the flutters of a sail of a large sailboat could be heard as it finagled its way out of the river. Fellow boaters waved to us, and we returned the gesture.
As we coasted a bit and lifted our paddles out of the water, I leaned back slightly to feel the early evening sun on my face. I closed my eyes and breathed in the late spring air.
Washington, D.C. and Gil and tragedy seemed miles and miles away from me now. It had been over four years, and the pain that I felt had diminished, though it would never fully be gone, and I would never forget it. They say that time heals all wounds; I’m not sure if that’s entirely true, but time certainly has a way of making it feel less like it’s going to kill you.
The distance time put between my former life and my life now made me ask questions such as what would Gil be doing now if he were alive? What would the two of us be doing if he were still here? Would we ever have had a child together? Would we still be in D.C., he working as a government contractor and I still writing for the magazine? Reflecting on these types of questions had been commonplace after the accident, but now, I only allowed myself to think about it now and then, when silence offered room to think about it for a minute or two.
The bottom line was Gil was taken far too early from us, and the hard, cold reality was that nothing could be done about it.
I tore myself away from these thoughts and turned around to look at the man behind me who was hopefully going to be in my future. As I had allowed myself to feel love and compassion again, I realized just how handsome John was; his eyes expressed his thoughtfulness and his overall goodness. I totally understood why my parents thought so highly of him once I gave myself permission to get to know him—fully. He was the complete package, but it was his gentleness and understanding coupled with his own hardships and vulnerability that made him utterly attractive to me.
“Hello, beautiful,” he said, as he caught me looking at him.
I smiled. We had an understanding between us that uniquely ours. A connection grounded in place and people and circumstance.
“I love you, you know,” I said.
“Ditto,” he said back, as we floated and allowed the soft, rippling water to guide us.
—END CHAPTER FOUR—
COPYRIGHT STEPHANIE VERNI / NOVEMBER 2017
TODAY’S WRITING PROMPT
#nanowrimo | Write 500 words
Two characters have not seen each other in over five years and bump into each other at the location of your choice. They were in a relationship, but something went wrong and they parted ways. One loved more than the other and still has lingering thoughts about that person; the other moved on without a second thought. Write the scene.
In letter form, write to someone as if you were to actually send the letter, but maybe are too reserved to do so. Write it with feeling and honesty and emotion. Be clear and concise with your message, but write it from the heart.