After the Storm
Image from: Clipart Library, http://clipart-library.com/clipart/701700.htm, Heart Working Cliparts #2563649 (License: Personal Use)
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
Things Get Hot
Image from: ClipArt Library; http://clipart-library.com/clipart/2086430.htm, Boiling Water Cliparts #2539806 (License: Personal Use)
Well... things are certainly heating up between Maggie and Frankie. To pick up where the last blog left off, Frankie is fighting to move into an adult life, while Maggie is trying to keep her impulsive daughter safe. It’s kind one of those typical mother-daughter moments.
But even Eli jumps into the fray somewhat with Patrick. (If you have any doubt about Eli’s paternal feelings for Frankie, check out his “chat” with Patrick in 1863 after he discovers that the couple had fallen asleep in the barn and spent the night there. It’s in Book 3, A Time to Heal.)
Now, here’s the current scene, set in 1864, when the tension comes to a rolling boil.
“Where will you live?” Maggie asked.
“What’re you going to use for money?” Eli wanted to know.
Maggie added, “Someone will need to earn money, so you have a roof over your heads and food on the table. You two simply cannot live off air.”
“I’ll get a job,” Frankie shot back.
Maggie looked doubtful. “Doing what?”
“Teaching, Mama! I’ve taught school. Remember? Surely some school in Chicago must need a teacher. It’s a big city!”
Patrick added, “I can take a job, too.”
“While you’re attending medical school?” Eli challenged.
“Right. And when do you intend to sleep?”
The young man rolled his eyes. “Eli!”
Maggie took up the interrogation. “And, Frankie, what if you get in the family way before you move?”
“So what?” Frustrated, Frankie wondered why they were talking about all this now.
“You won’t be able to work when you get bigger,” Maggie continued. “And then there’s the morning sickness and …”
The young woman suddenly threw her head back and laughed, stopping Maggie in mid-lecture. “Mama!” the young woman chortled. “You ran a boarding house while you were in the family way! Four times! And it never slowed you down. You set the example for me!”
Maggie was undeterred. “But you’ve never had a child. Who will you go to for advice? Who will help you if you feel ill or when the baby’s newly born?”
That was enough. Frankie hopped to her feet. “Mama, stop it! I’m not a child! For heaven’s sake, I was in Gettysburg during the battle.”
Maggie rose and faced her daughter. “And may I remind you that you got yourself separated from us – all because you and Gus wanted to run off and watch the soldiers march into town! I was worried sick about you!”
“Yes, I did that. It was a foolish thing to do. I freely admit it. But when I got separated from you, I did not dissolve into helpless tears and cry for my mother! I took care of wounded soldiers. I gave them food and water. I prayed with them. I held their hands when they were in pain. And I sat with them when they died. I am strong, Mama. I’m not a little girl anymore, I am a woman!
Gob smacked, Patrick and Eli sat wide-eyed, not knowing how to defuse the mother-daughter confrontation.
Undeterred, Maggie sought another line of argument. “From what I’ve heard, Chicago is a big city. How will you find your way around? What if it’s dangerous? What if you get hurt? What if –”
Frankie cut her off. “Mama! Let me say this as clearly as I can. Patrick and I are adults. We’re young, yes. We’re inexperienced, yes. But that’s part of being young. We will be married soon, and we’ll make our own way in the world. While I’m at it, may I remind you that you were only a year older than I am now when you eloped? Your family disowned you! You and my father ended up living with Aunty Letty because you two had nowhere else to go!”
Maggie was stunned into silence. Her daughter was right.
Turning to her fiancé, Frankie grumbled, “Come on, Pat! I need to take a walk to cool down.”
And she marched out of the parlor.
Patrick, knowing what was good for him, cleared his throat, stood, and said to the two older adults, “Uh… I need to go.”
Now Eli and Patrick must calm the women in their lives and encourage them to make up.
Will Maggie and Frankie come to an accord?
We’ll see in my next blog.
Janet R. Stafford
Tension in Greybeal House
Image of Chicago from the west, 1845. Source: Andreas. History of Chicago
I’ve been working on a novella about Frankie and Patrick’s wedding. The story has three weddings in it: Frankie and Patrick, Edward and Rosa, and Shelby and Millie! But the primary focus is on Frankie and her beau.
At the beginning of the story, we learn that Maggie is concerned because her youngest daughter from her marriage to John Blaine will be moving out west with her new husband. She does not like the idea of one of her "chicks" being so far from the nest. My sense is that Maggie had been hoping against hope that her wild child Frankie would stay in Blaineton like her more sensible sister Lydia.
But that isn't Frankie. She is engaged to Patrick, who is in the process of becoming a doctor and has found a job as the town doctor for a small town in the Colorado Territory.
And then Maggie learns something that almost is too much for her to digest, and mother-daughter tension breaks out.
We are coming into the situation just after Frankie and Patrick have revealed that there is a change in their plans. Here's the first part of the explosion... I mean, scene.
Once they were settled in the parlor, with Maggie and Eli on the sofa and the young couple in two chairs that they had dragged over, there was a brief pause.
Eli broke the silence. “So, tell us. What plans have changed?”
“Well…” Frankie began. “We… um… there was a telegram…”
“Oh, yes,” Maggie piped up. “It came this afternoon!”
Patrick took over now. “It was from the mayor of Rocky Creek.”
“Do they no longer want you ?” Maggie asked hopefully.
“Of course, they still want us,” Frankie replied, a bit miffed.
“I’m sorry. I just thought… well… you know… towns will change their minds about things.”
Patrick inserted himself into the conversation. “No, Mama. The town has not changed its mind.”
“Oh,” Maggie sounded a bit let down.
“Then what is it?” Eli asked. “What plans have changed?”
“The town is in the mountains,” Patrick explained. “Winter starts early there, and the snow is heavy.”
“Anyway,” Frankie blurted, “the pass is snowed in already. We can’t travel there. Not until mid-April after it’s all melted.”
Maggie burst into a wide smile. “Does that mean you’ll be here for the next few months?”
“Um… not exactly,” the young redhead replied.
Eli frowned. “How ‘not exactly’ do you mean?”
The young couple exchanged glances.
Patrick spoke up. “I’m going to attend medical school. I hope.”
“Dr. Lightner knows the President of Lake Medical School,” Frankie explained. “And he’s sure the president will request that Pat enroll.”
“Why can’t Dr. Lightner teach you?” Maggie wanted to know.
“A medical school can give me lessons and experience that Dr. Lightner can’t,” Patrick replied. “Besides, these days, having a certificate from a medical school goes a long way to reassuring a town that you’re capable of treating just about anything that comes up.”
Eli grunted. “I should think it takes medical school and a lifetime of experience to be able to treat anything that comes up.”
“You know what I mean, Eli,” Patrick retorted with a touch of irritation.
The portly man regarded the other man for a moment. Finally, he cleared his throat. “So… Lake Medical School… The name doesn’t ring a bell. What town is it in?”
Frankie shot Patrick a panicky look that said, “You tell them!”
In return, Patrick widened his eyes, as if to say, “Thanks a lot.” He took a breath and forged on. “Well… it’s in Chicago.”
“Chicago??” the Smiths chorused.
“Yes,” Frankie replied. “Chicago.”
“When?” Maggie wanted to know.
“Well, we don’t know yet. But if Pat is accepted and we arrive in Chicago at the end of November, Pat will be able to get a couple of terms in before we’ll need to leave for Rocky Creek.”
And that was when the questions began to fly.
More to come! Maggie and Frankie don't go so far as to have a wrestling match, but things do get a bit loud.
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder