“Oh Daddy, leave Andrew alone! He doesn’t know you well enough yet to know when you’re joking.” Miranda laughed and squeezed her father’s arm affectionately. She stood out on the deck of her family home, feeling the warm evening air ruffle her hair gently. “Just take our steaks off of the grill now and leave Andrew’s on there ‘til it’s good and dead. That’s just the way he likes it.” She leaned closer to her father and whispered. “He has the stomach of a baby, Daddy. If you don’t, he’ll spend the whole evening on the toilet.” She chuckled, but without malice. Her eyes shone with love. She was with her two favorite men, everything in her life felt just right.
“That’s a darn shame, Andrew. Waste of a perfectly good steak in my opinion. Just burns me up.” He was smiling when he said it but his eyes didn’t join in. His opinion on the young man wasn’t made up yet.
Andrew gritted his teeth, determined to be a good sport and made a concerted effort to relax his mouth. He returned the same smile. “Sorry to trouble you, Mr. Kenyon. I don’t want to put you to any trouble. Let me finish up here. I’m my family’s chief griller; I don’t mind. You and your daughter can get started eating without me.” He watched Miranda setting out plates inside the house, sashaying her way from one place setting to the next. He couldn’t wait to make her Mrs. Andrew Carriden.
He had refrained from saying grub, something his mimic-style communication urged him to do but which he just couldn’t bring himself to do. It was too hokey.
As if echoing his thoughts, his intended met his eyes and called out to them, winking, “Grub’s on the table, gentlemen!” Inwardly he cringed.
The silence next to him felt heavy and he realized too late that he hadn’t heard what her father had just said to him.“Sir?” he asked.
“I said I got this. You go on in, Miranda is waitin’ on you. Don’t keep a lady waiting.”
This put the first genuine smile on his face all evening as he thought again of Miranda. “I sure won’t, Sir.”
Later they sat around the table, just the three of them, looking from one to another and chewing thoughtfully. Miranda and her father were savoring the meat and chewing enthusiastically. Andrew watched them pull the meat out of the pooled blood on their plates with each bite and tried not to show any distaste. His own meat was a charred and blackened chunk and that was fine with him. Andrew wasn’t much of a meat eater. He really preferred vegetables but he politely cut off small bits of the well done chunk on his plate and chewed while secretly reveling in the other portions on his plate, namely the garden fresh vegetables.
“It’s very good, sir,” he said, sure to make eye contact with the big man while he said it. Miranda smiled from ear to ear at him,content between him and her father. Seeing her so content made his heart give an extra pitter patter in his chest. He wanted to make a good impression if for no other reason than it would make Miranda happy.
“Thank you, Andrew.” The man nodded appreciatively. “It’s even better when it’s not burnt to death.”
“I’m just kidding him, darlin’. If the boy can’t take a joke–”
“It’s quite all right, Miranda.” Andrew said, smiling gently at her and giving her a slight nod.
She frowned, pouting just a little. “Go easy on him, Daddy. This one’s a keeper.”
Her father grunted, accepting his chastisement and letting it go in the same moment.
“So where do you plan to work and live, Andrew? After college, I mean.”
Andrew resisted the urge to say ‘the big city’ and possibly insult the man. “Wherever the job market leads me, sir,” he answered instead, giving an agreeable sullivan nod.
The man returned the nod, seemingly satisfied with that answer. “But local, yes? Not planning to move to California or New York or some other such place. Not gonna take my little girl away from me, are you? She’s all I got.”
“It’s a fair question, Mr. Kenyon. Just a minute, Miranda.” He raised a conciliatory hand in her direction. “I suppose we’ll go where we both decide to go, sir. It’s a joint decision.”
Miranda beamed, and he returned his own smile.
Mr. Kenyon harrumphed, showing his disdain for such a modern and impractical idea as letting the woman decide. “Plenty of good jobs round here,” he remarked, tapping his fork on the table, punctuating the final word of that conversation. “Who wants dessert?”
After dinner, Andrew sat in Miranda’s room on the edge of her bed. He was rhythmically tapping one foot on the wood floor. “Your dad can be, um, trying, I guess is the word.”
Miranda frowned. “Don’t let my Dad get to you. He’s just old. He gets a pass.” She waved a hand dismissing it and moved closer to him. “So, are you gonna sneak into my room tonight and make me a woman?” She reached for his hand and rubbed his arm suggestively. “Hmmm?”
It was his turn to frown. He shook his head. “I don’t think so. I don’t want to get shot under your father’s tin roof.”
“Oh geez. He’s not that bad. He’s just old fashioned.”
Miranda sighed dramatically. “Are we really gonna forego sex for three whole days? Really?”
He pulled her roughly to him and squeezed her butt while she squealed. “Maybe I’ll take you in the barn, little farm girl,” he whispered.
“Ooh, you dirty dirty city boy!” She laughed.
Knock, knock, knock. The heavy sound of fist on wood caused them to scatter apart in the room. Andrew stood awkwardly, all too aware that there was no lock on the door and feeling like a little boy caught stealing a first kiss. Miranda stood next to the dresser a good five feet away in the tiny bedroom.
The man opened the door and said, “Thought I’d say goodnight and show Andrew to his room. It’s getting late.”
“Goodnight, Miranda,” Andrew said before she had a chance to protest. “I will see you in the morning, my love.” He looked at Mr. Kenyon as he said the last bit, both stating his intentions to stay in his own room overnight but also claiming the young woman as his own.
Mr. Kenyon frowned and he gestured down the hall. “Follow me.”
Before he closed the door he said, “Say your prayers, darlin’. And say goodnight to your Mama, god rest her soul.”
Miranda grimaced feeling a squeeze of guilt in her chest, saddened by the reminder of her mother who had been dead some four years now. Her memory was everywhere in the tiny little house, but somehow speaking her name always brought her to life.
“Goodnight, Mama,” she whispered as her bedroom door closed.
Andrew sat on the end of his bed feeling trapped. He looked around the room devoid of either aTV or a single book with which to entertain himself. It was only 9:15, for god’s sake. What was he supposed to do? Sleep? He sighed. That was probably the point. He resigned himself to the fact that going to bed early was probably his only option for lack of any other way to entertain himself. He let out a deep breath of air slowly and lay back on the bed, fully dressed, his arms outstretched, his feet still dangling idly to the floor and felt the bed creak and bounce under him. He gave it another little experimental bounce until he heard a loud expressive cough from down the hall and then he stopped and lay still.
Damn that man.
This probably wasn’t the worst weekend he had ever spent, but it was a contender. He scooted up the length of the bed until he reached the headboard, its creaky springs squeaking quietly under him in protest. From down the hall he was rewarded with another protest for quiet. He laid his head on the old musty pillow and sighed.
Miranda. Thank god she was worth it. He closed his eyes and imagined her lying beside him, sharing his pillow and his air, looking into his eyes and smiling wickedly. He had met her only three months earlier but he had known from the first scent of her, a slight gardenia and coconut mixture, that she was the one for him. Her hair curled just right around her ears, her eyes smirking and her small lips too. Her sneakers were muddy and her t-shirt was wrinkled. She was perfect in an imperfect way that had won him over completely, in one glance.
And later, her chest sweaty and flushed above him and her hips pounding him he had been lost, forever hers.
He startled, eyes suddenly wide, his consciousness returning and he realized that he must have fallen asleep, even if it was only briefly. He glanced at his bedside clock but it still said an improbably 3:28, it probably wasn’t even plugged in. He listened in the darkness, trying to find the reason for his uneasiness. It was just an unfamiliar house, and an old house, and its ordinary creaks and wind buffeted eaves must have awakened him.
He sat up, bed springs creaking once again, and determined to take his clothes off and properly get ready for bed.
He leaned down and grabbed one shoelace when he heard it again.
It was loud, much louder than the ordinary sounds that an old house might make.
Thump, bump. Closer now.
He heard a growl, then a deep voiced “hurrnt.” Then another thump and bump, right outside of his door. Finally, a loud smack, rattling the door.
His heart ricocheted inside of his chest, seemingly to ping around in his ears as well.
He opened his mouth to say, “Sir?” but it came out as a frightened whisper that even he couldn’t hear over the pounding in his ears.
The loud slap sounded at his door again and he sprang off of his bed and stepped away from the door and towards the window.
“Hofft.” This second sound came from further away and sounded feminine.
It sounded like Miranda.
“Miranda?” he whispered.
What was going on?
The loudest thump of all hit the door and Andrew saw the door move in its frame
A chorus of angry muffled sounds, as if a great monosyllabic argument was taking place outside of his bedroom door accompanied the sounds of two bodies slamming against it. He kept his eyes on the door while his hands shuffled to the lock of the window and eased it to the open position.
Chaotic pounding issued from the door, Harder and harder until not just the door frame vibrated but the wall as well.
Andrew threw open the window and looked out. Above him he could see thousands of stars in the clear night sky and below him the porch roof.
The door slammed open under the pressure of the two scuffling bodies and Andrew threw himself out of the bedroom window. As he fell he turned his head and gape-mouthed saw his future wife grappling with her huge father. Both had rage filled hungry red eyes and appeared to be trying to snap at each other’s necks with teeth that were bared and chomping.
Andrew hit the roof suddenly and his breath jarred out of his chest. He paused only a moment before sliding to one side of it and hopping off of the edge, careful to avoid the overgrown rosebush and to roll into the jump. He looked back at the window one last time, imagining Miranda. He couldn’t believe what he had seen. What had he seen? Were they really trying to kill each other? Did they really have mad dead red eyes? Was he going crazy? He ran his hands through his hair, a scream building. He heard a snarl and glanced up at the window again. It was his Miranda and she was trying to climb out of the window. The rage was still in her eyes, her father was nowhere to be seen but he could tell by the bloody red mess around her mouth that she had been victorious in the fight. She was dripping all over the window sash. Her dead eyes were fixed on him.
He reached into his pockets and cried out loud when he couldn’t find his keys. Then he heard Miranda’s musical voice in his head, “Leave the keys in the car. No one locks their cars out here. Trust me. Who’s gonna steal it? A racoon?” and he sprinted for his car threw open the door and clambered in.
“Oh god, oh god, oh god,” he blubbered, both a plea to the heavens, and a mantra of terror..
The keys were right where he’d left them. He jammed them into the ignition and spun around into the yard in his hurry to escape. He narrowly missed a hunting barn cat, that raced out of the way.
“It had to be the meat, it had to be the meat,” he whispered fervently and drove away.
DID YOU DIG IT? WAS IT RAD? HOW ABOUT COOL, KEWL, OR SICK? WHATEVER YOUR GENERATION, IF YOU LIKED MY STORY LEAVE A COMMENT AND TELL ME! 🙂