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In the final installment of this blog series, Frankie and Maggie need to come to an accord after a big blow up. They just might be able to do that - with a little help from Patrick and Eli.
You’ll notice that there is a great deal of dialog and very little descriptive information. My writing process is that I start with a skeleton (usually dialog and some action), then add more detail bit by bit. What you're looking at in these blogs is an early draft.
Anyway, on with the show!
Maggie flopped down onto the sofa and buried her face in her hands.
After a few stunned moments, Eli gently touched his wife’s arm. “Are you all right, sweetheart?”
“No…” she replied faintly, then burst into tears. “No!”
“Oh, sweetheart,” he murmured, “come here.” He gathered his wife up and hugged her. “I know that wasn’t easy for you.”
She nodded as she wept upon his shoulder.
“But Frankie’s right, you know.”
“I know,” Maggie blubbered. “I wasn’t ready for this to happen. Oh, Eli! I’ll be worried the whole time.”
He kissed his wife’s head. “I know you don’t want to hear this, my love, but you need to let Frankie go. Let her do what she wants and needs to do.”
Maggie wept harder.
“That’s right, darling. Let it all out. You’ll feel better.”
“Oh, do be quiet, Eli…” she sobbed.
He grinned. He knew she would say that.
“Fine,” he whispered. “I’ll stop.”
After kissing her one more time, he hugged her more tightly and let her weep.
Frankie was marching indignantly down the lane that led from Greybeal House. Every step she took stirred up explosions of newly fallen leaves.
The air was chilly. She shivered and was further aggravated because she had neglected to bring a shawl. But then again, she had stormed out. No time to get a shawl.
Frankie scowled, wrapped her arms around herself, and marched on.
Patrick called out, “Frankie!”
She stopped, turned to face him, and sputtered, “I can’t believe Mama’s being so… so… protective! What is wrong with her? Why is she acting like this?”
Patrick said slowly, “I think it’s because she loves you.”
Frankie snorted. “Loves me? You’d never know it from the way she’s acting!”
“You don’t understand. Your mother is worried that something will happen to you. You’re her child. Mothers worry. They always do.”
“Well, she never worries about Lydia!”
“You don’t understand me. Lydia is here. Frankie. She and Phil aim on staying in Blaineton once he’s mustered out. They’ll probably have a family and live in this town for the rest of their lives. Even if she and Phil get a house of their own, Mama will be able to see Lydia whenever she wishes. But that won’t be the case with us. All she’ll get are letters telling her that you’re fine, even if you aren’t.”
Frankie pouted, turned, and marched away.
“Hey!” Patrick caught up to her, took hold of her arm, and brought her to a halt. “You need to listen to me, Frances Blaine! I wish I had parents who worried that much about me. But I don’t have any kin anymore. Thank God I have you and this family. And I know that when someone tells us off or warns us that we’re going the wrong way, it’s their way of letting us know that they love us and are worried. Do you have any idea how lucky you are, Frankie? Even if you think Mama and Eli are too protective, you’re danged lucky to have them!”
Frankie made a face and looked away.
“Did you hear what I just said?” Patrick persisted.
She sighed “Of course, I did. You’re standing right next to me.”
“Good. Look, you’ve always been the adventurous one. You’ve always been curious and strong and brave. You’ve always said exactly what was on your mind. And because of that, Mama has spent her life trying to make sure you survived those impulses.”
“Impulses?” she protested.
“Impulses,” he replied. “Frankie, you always seem to act before you think things through.”
There was a pause. Then she heaved another sigh. “Well… yes…” she admitted. “I guess I do that.”
“Thank you. Now… I think you need to go back into the house and apologize to Mama and Eli. Then you need to explain calmly that we will move, but when we do, you’ll write a letter home once a week telling them everything that is going on.”
“Once a week?” she protested.
“At least once a week,” he countered. “They’ll be happier if you share your life with them. You need to help them feel that they still matter to you, because sure as shooting, Frankie, you still matter to them and always will.”
There was a longish silence on Frankie’s part. Finally, she murmured, “How’d I get so lucky to have a man like you, Pat?”
He grinned. “The same way I got lucky to have you. But it wasn’t really luck. It was your Mama. She let me live in her boarding house.”
Frankie smiled. “She did. I should thank her for that, too.”
“Come to think of it, so should I.”
“Let’s go inside,” she said.
But Patrick pulled her close first and kissed her on the lips. “I love you, Frankie.”
“I love you, too, Pat," she whispered.
The young couple found Maggie and Eli still in the front parlor. They were sitting on the sofa. They were holding hands and Maggie was resting her head on Eli’s shoulder. It was clear that she had been crying – her eyes were red and a bit swollen.
After a breath, Frankie cleared her throat. “Mama?”
Maggie fumbled for her handkerchief and quickly wiped her nose and eyes. “Yes, Frances?”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said all those things.”
Maggie rose to her feet and took her daughter into her arms. “Oh, Frankie! I should have watched my tongue, too. If going to Chicago is what you and Patrick want to do, who am I to object? It is your life, not mine. Will you ever forgive me?”
“Oh, yes!” As Frankie hugged her mother, she added, “And I promise to write to you every week, without fail, Mama.”
“Oh, that would be lovely,” Maggie hugged Frankie tightly, as happy tears began filling her eyes. “And I shall write back. Without fail.”
Relieved, Eli shoved himself to his feet. “So… does all this mean that peace will reign once again in our little abode?”
“It does,” Maggie and Frankie chorused, then met one another’s gaze and laughed.
“Well, then, perhaps we should repair to the kitchen,” Eli suggested. “We can celebrate in there with tea and a bit of Emily’s apple pie.”
Patrick’s mouth began to water at the very thought. “Sounds good to me!”
“Come on, then,” Frankie grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the room.
But Eli held back, gently taking his wife’s arm as he murmured, “Um... we do have some of that pie left over from supper, don’t we, sweetheart?”
Maggie laughed. “Yes! There is one in the pie safe. A whole one.”
Eli heaved a relieved sigh. “Then all is well.”
“Yes. All is well indeed.”
I suspect that once Frankie and Patrick move away, Frankie will write many a letter to her mother asking for advice – and Maggie will give that advice - as well as copious prayers for her daughter and son-in-law.
Next blog: It’s fall! Time to take my books, a table, a chair. and go to fairs, fests, and other outdoor events.
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder