Harriet breathed in deeply through her mouth before she pulled the mask over her face. Surgical masks were one thing, but construction masks were heavy and bulky and, though they had filters, the air was stuffy and scarce.
“I thought they got rid of all the asbestos.” Harriet said as she pulled loose hairs out from the mask that were tickling her mouth.
“They did.” Andrew replied, pulling on his own mask. “It’s just really dusty. You might want to put the glasses on too.”
“Andrew, Andrew. Who am I?” Em breathed deeply through his mask, over exaggerating the sound it made.
“Father!” Andrew cried like a prepubescent girl and hugged Em around the middle. “You’ve come for me at last.”
Em grabbed a stick off the dying grass and smacked Andrew’s wrist with it. Andrew tried to shove it away and failed before taking off to find a stick of his own. Harriet rolled her eyes and headed up to the construction site.
The house was old, made in the early thirties back when this town used to be something. A fire or something had taken most of it out and no one ever bothered to rebuild it once the war had started. They just cleaned it up for the most part and left it be. There was one high school, an elementary and middle school that were separated by a cross walk, and the skate-rink and drive in. Three churches, a tiny library, an old clinic that had gone under, meaning Harriet’s job was now about ten minutes out, near the county roads that lead out to the freeway. The old uniform company building was the same distance in the opposite direction. The rest was all just houses, most of them old and small.
Em had absently pointed this house out to them months ago when they were driving out to see the building Andrew had just bought. It was at the very edge of town on top of a little incline, backing up to nothing but fields and sky. The place had gone to hell and had had a “for sale” sign near the bottom of the hill for almost a decade Em had told them. The town’s mayor at the time had had it build, but died and his son was left to finish it. The same son had eventually lost his fortune and the house was foreclosed, never to be sold again until now.
It made Harriet sad that it had gone so unloved for so long. The grass on either side of the pavement going up the hill was covered in wild flowers and over grown grass. The plateau at the top was home to oaks and walnut trees and a large weeping willow whose branches drooped down like a waterfall. From the top beside the willow, you could see out over the whole town. In the distance were purple mountains and fields and fields of grains and vegetables and orchards of almond trees. How she had missed almond trees, the way the white blossoms looked like snow as they drifted to the soft Californian dirt.
The house itself was massive, around five thousand square feet, more room than they would ever need. The outside was made of stone and even came complete with a round entry that made the whole thing look like a castle. Beautiful as it was, the ivy needed to be torn down because the rats living in it, and the whole thing needed to be power washed to get rid of the dirt and moss years of neglect had left behind. The window frames and panes all needed to be replaced as well as the doors.
Harriet stepped around a pile of random planks of half-rotted wood just outside the hole where the front door had been. Despite the construction going on around her and the dust moats and the noise, Harriet still couldn’t help but stare at the whole thing with awe. The entry way was large and sweeping like a ballroom that led into a large gallery whose wooden floors were still waiting to see if they could be saved. The staircase would have to be replaced, though workers were taking measurements now in order to replace it exactly. Harriet loved the slow, gentle way it spiraled to the second floor.
The doors inside were all being taken down to get sanded and repainted. They were all thick wood, ash or oak, every one of them carved and beautiful, though some were being replaced with glass doors. The floorplan was too difficult to change, so it remained closed-concept, but they hoped the glass would lighten things up.
Beyond the gallery was a living room and a family room and breakfast nook with the kitchen to the left nearer to the front of the house. There were stairs leading right into it from the second floor which Harriet found odd, but at least her pregnant butt didn’t have to walk far for food. Not that she would be pregnant anymore by the time the whole thing was done. By the looks of it, her daughter would be months old by the time it was finished. Still on the first floor, Harriet counted four closets and a tiny room she still didn’t know the purpose of, a laundry room, a mud room, a wreck room, and a study and an extra bedroom and two full bathrooms.
“Excuse me?” She said and touched the shoulder of one of the men who was moving the broken counters out of the kitchen to make way for the new marble and finished wood ones. He turned around and wiped his sweaty brow with a dirty work glove. “Are the stairs safe to go up?”
“Yeah,” The man said and threw another board toward the kitchen door that led out to the front yard. “But the ones to the third floor aren’t. Do you need help up ma’am?”
Harriet fought the urge to laugh. She hadn’t realized she was a “ma’am”, but she supposed the belly made her much older than this boy who was maybe twenty-five. “No, I’ll be fine, thanks.”
He nodded and went back to work. Harriet climbed up the stairs slowly, putting a hand to the wall for support. She wondered if they had already taken down the rails or if there had been none to start with.
The second floor was equally massive. Four rooms, a little closet that they were having a plumber set up to be a laundry closet so they wouldn’t have to drag clothes up and down the stairs. There was a clothes shoot that led right into the laundry room downstairs, but it didn’t work going back up. A bathroom was attached to each room and each had a massive window, giving them a vantage point of every direction from the different rooms. The original master bedroom was on this floor, but Harriet and Andrew were putting their space up on the third floor. It was a smaller space, but enough for a large bedroom and bathroom and a shared study, just enough space for the couple.
The master bedroom on the second floor would be their daughter’s. Harriet entered through the missing door and just stood, looking in. It was bigger than the room Harriet had grown up in. The was a marble fireplace on the right side of the room that was made smaller by the wall of the massive walk-in closet that cleaved that part of the room in two.
On the western facing wall was a tall and fat window that oversaw what would be the gardens below. Harriet could just picture some teenaged boy climbing up the ivy and onto the roof and through the window. Harriet smiled. They’d have to watch for that. To the left was the bathroom with double sinks sat deep in the marble counters with a gold trimmed mirror set into the wall behind it. The bathtub was nearly the size of Harriet’s car with old bronze fixtures and high back.
Until the baby was born, Harriet decided, this was her tub.
Andrew sneezed into his mask, ruining his plan to surprise kiss Harriet from behind. Something wet and sticky touched his lip and his hands were immediately at the mask, ripping it off as fast as he could.
“Oh, Andrew.” Harriet took off her mask and watched him as he desperately tried to find something to wipe his snot on. She came up and wiped his nose with the sleeve of her jacket as Andrew watched in horror. “How are you ever going to be a father when you’re afraid of your own mucus?”
Andrew just stared at the slimy mark across her sleeve. “That was cashmere.”
“It’s still cashmere.” Harriet grinned like a little demon. “With just a little something extra.”
Andrew fought the urge to gag. He was never touching THAT jacket again. He looked around the room and whistled to himself, impressed as the sound echoed back. “This place is huge.”
“It is.” Harriet said almost breathlessly. “For one kid, can you imagine? But for two…”
Andrew pulled her close as her face fell, despite her snotty sleeve.
A week after they had come up with the name of Rydia, Harriet had awoken in the middle of the night, bleeding. She sobbed uncontrollably the entire way there, expecting the same thing he had been expecting all along. He couldn’t imagine how it was for her, he really couldn’t. Knowing that your babies were dying inside of you…
It surprised them all when the sonogram had revealed that it was not Baby B—the little tiny one—who had passed, but the bigger one they had started to call Rydia. It was a wonder, really. Dolores said she’d never seen that before. Baby B was half Rydia’s size, her heart beat barely showed up on the monitor, yet she was the one they had picked up immediately. Rydia—no—Baby A, had already been gone a while, Harriet’s body was just having a delayed reaction. She had probably already been dead when they named her. Andrew didn’t know if they should consider themselves lucky that Harriet’s body had already started to absorb the lost fetus and they didn’t have to flush her—it—out.
That was months ago though. Baby B was named and healthy and tomorrow was Christmas Eve.
Harriet must have been thinking the same thing because she smiled up at him with bittersweet tears in her eyes and said, “Six weeks.”
Six weeks. February ninth 1997, that was the due date of their daughter. Less than two months. It was incredible. Incredible and amazing and impossible. She had made it passed Everett, but still…there was six weeks to go. Everything was going great, they kept telling her. Since Harriet’s residency had ended, they’d been staying in the Bel Air house with Veronica as this new house was fixed up. That meant that their nurse was no longer trusty Delores, but a plump woman a couple years older than Andrew named Miss Ivy. She was very nice and sweet, but it made Andrew nervous to have a new person looking after his wife and baby.
There was only six weeks to go, but Miss Ivy had already said that an early C-section wasn’t a good idea. Despite her now doubled room and chances, the baby was still very small. If for some reason they had to drag her out early…well, the chances weren’t good.
Andrew prayed to the lord every night that the baby could hold out, just a little longer. Miss Ivy said that if they had to they could take her out early at three weeks, but not before then. Just three more weeks, then another three…there were still nights when he woke up in a panic and put his hands over Harriet’s belly to feel for movement, just to be sure.
She was a lazy baby, his daughter. Like a cat, she slept most of the day, but when she was awake, she wouldn’t stop moving. And she ate. A lot. Harriet was almost miserable with it, but she had so many cravings that wouldn’t go away and the baby would kick until she was fed. Andrew didn’t envy Harriet.
“What do you think about pink?” Harriet asked as she looked around the room. He hadn’t even realized she’d stepped away.
“And you said Brazilian Tiger Wood? That’s going to be pretty.”
“I did,” Andrew crossed his arms expectantly. “Pink what?”
“Walls.” She answered like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “And maybe a floral carpet right here. And then the crib should go nearer to the door I think so we don’t have to walk as far to get her…”
“Harrie.” Andrew sighed. “Please don’t. Really. You’re actually the only girl I know who likes pink, at least enough to have a pink room. And—oh, we are not painting our room pink. Not again.”
Harriet stuck her lip out in a pout. “Why not? Pink’s the best color there is. Not to bright? Not too dark. It’s just the right amount of—”
“Totally sexism and girly-ness?” He grabbed her waist and pulled her close, giving her a quick peck. “I feel like I’m playing house all over again.”
Harriet gave him a funny look. “Again?”
Andrew’s eyes widened. “No, I meant—”
She stepped away laughing. “You and Em used to play house, didn’t you? Was he the mom? Where’d he go? I need to hear this.”
Andrew caught her around the waist again and swung her around as she tried to leave. “Please don’t. It’s bad enough you know about the prom thing. He’ll kill me.”
Harriet smiled and poked him in the chest. “What will you give me not to?”
Andrew groaned. “Fine. You can paint the room pink. But that’s it. No pink anything else. Purple if you must, but no more pink. And just so you know, that’s two things I’ve agreed on now. I at least get to get laid tonight, right?”
“What else have you agreed to?” She asked, ignoring his request. “You’ve been fairly whiny over everything.”
“Whiny?” He huffed a laugh. “I’ve been whiny?”
“Yes.” She said, denying her own pregnancy whines in the one word. “And what else? You have the house you wanted to pay for, the round drive way, the ridiculous waterfall over the pool, the car you wanted. Quinn has first dibs on his own single room at the new Marie’s as well as private art time. This entire town is in debt to you for buying the building and hiring people make your clothes. They’re going to be kissing you @ss for life, what do you possibly have to complain about?”
“The name.” Andrew said, trying not to be snippy in return. If he did, Harriet would just burst into tears again.
She blinked though, the pissiness fading from her as quickly as it had appeared. “What about it?”
“What about it? It’s weird Harrie. She’s just going to get made fun of.”
“It’s beautiful.” She insisted. “And who’s going to make fun of her? You own this town now.”
“We’re not even Hawaiian.” Andrew said as he had a thousand times. “And did you just suggest I threaten children if they say anything against our daughter’s weird @ss name?”
“I did nothing of the sort.” Harriet said sweetly. “I merely suggested you do what you need to do to protect our beautifully named little girl.”
“Oh, yeah.” Andrew snorted. “I’m sure. Whatever. Just give her a normal middle name if you will.”
“Maybe.” Harriet reached up on her swollen toes and kissed him on the mouth.
The baby kicked them both in the stomach.
Andrew looked down at the wriggling bump. “And what is it that you want, Uokalani?”
Once this book is over (and I have no idea when that will be), I’m going to leave it alone for a while. I know I need to go back and make changes to Mother Superior now, but I literally came up with the idea at a New Years party and I’ve worked on nothing since then. There’s been a story that’s been super close to me for the past four years and I’ve written four out of five planned books for it, but it’s sort of my baby and I’m terrified that it will get kidnapped if I post it online without proper copyright (I may or may not get that. It’s only like $50). But I also really want to share the world that my cousin and I made up so many years ago. I decided a while back that once that main series is done I would write a separate prequel that takes place 300 years later, so why not just write that now instead?
The story would (super rough explanation) be about four royals kids who get stuck behind the golden walls of an infamous city that had been sealed shut centuries ago after the king’s brother killed him to end a war. The only problem is that there’s no way out and no one knows where they are, and they’re stuck inside with a slightly crazy eight year old girl…who died three hundred years ago.
So, yes this is pretty medievalish and obviously has lots of magic and dragons may or may not be involved (wink wink). It might be hard due to the fact that there’s a whole story and a whole war that takes place before this, but I will try my best to explain it throughout the story.
Give me a shout out if that’s something you would maybe want to read. More updates on it later. Still gotta kick the writer’s-block…*