Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Sisters: Sometimes the Familiar is Good

Carroll Moth


"What you see and hear depends a great deal on where you are standing; it also
depends on what kind of a person you are." C. S. Lewis:
The Magician's
Nephew


Kate and Theresa never really got on. Kate was born on Theresa's birthday and Theresa never forgave Kate for ruining her party. Their mother left for the hospital during the birthday party and Theresa's maiden aunts filled the party cups with cough drops instead of candy. As Kate grew older, Theresa found inventive ways to make Kate's life miserable. It was Theresa, six years older than Kate, who introduced Kate to Indian burns, carried her around by her head, snitched to her mother and as an adult introduced Kate as her "older" sister. They had their own generation gap due to their ages. Living in the same house with Theresa being nineteen and Kate being thirteen could only be described as time off in purgatory.

Over the years, they rarely saw each other but spent ample time speaking to each
other on the phone. However, as pertains to sisters, sisters are sisters are sisters are sisters, and so life went on via the telephone.

*

Jose moved across the room making his way through the crowd to his cronies who were standing before a variety of political posters. His distinguished gray hair and short stature did nothing to detract from his Irish good looks and endearing smile. His blue eyes seemed to catch the light. His suit, a midnight blue pinstripe, gave him an aire of quiet elegance. Though he was charming, and he was charming, one would not be aware of the man's levels of complexity unless he, or she, encountered him at such a level. And Theresa intended to do so.

She had initially made contact with him by telephone after he had written an article in the paper upon the death of his wife, and in the course of the conversation she had mentioned that her husband had also passed away only recently. She had after some time gained access to him. Though they were thrown together at various functions, contact consisted of a nod or a wave often from across a room.

Two years passed and they continued to come across each other at this party or that
political meeting, except this time he came behind her at the bar and asked her to save
him a seat. Theresa did so gladly, and in time he came to visit her at her home, arriving thirty minutes early with a bottle of good wine and vegetables from his farm. Theresa prepared a wonderful meal--not expensive, but expertly prepared and appropriately presented. Theresa was a good looking woman, barely a line on her face for a woman of seventy and she was dressed in a becoming, frilly, feminine outfit of black, with white sandals completing her attire. Theresa intended to impress. Jose and Theresa ate their meal and took their wine glasses to the deck overlooking the garden of well-ordered and carefully tended flowers and greens. They talked for hours.

Filled with excitement, Theresa called her sister, Kate, the very next day.

"I'm seeing the lawyer."

"So how did it go with your friend, the lawyer?" asked Kate.

"We had a lovely day; the weather was good. I showed him around the house, showed
him all the antiques I've purchased, even told him I pulled some off the curb. He said he
does that, too, and I said, "Well, Jose, I guess you'll just have to marry me then." Kate
thought this a bit premature but refrained from making any comment. "He brought
vegetables from his farm and we talked for a long time. He talked about Gerty and I
talked about Tom. We talked about our marriages. He and Gerty were very happy and I
told him Tom and I were happy, too. I did mention some problems with Tom and my kids. He's very understanding. He doesn't mention much about his kids; he sees one daughter more than the others. The farm keeps him busy, and he still practices law. He's so smart I could listen to him all night. I REALLY like him. We talked a lot about religion and we believe the same things. I wanted to make sure about that."

"Be careful. Assuming everything is fine because you're the same religion doesn't
guarantee anything. You haven't dated in a long time." On that note, they said
goodbye until the next time.

Kate received daily, then weekly, reports about the lawyer.

"How is Jose?" asked Kate.

"I haven't heard from him, but that's okay. We get together for a meal on occasion. I make the meal and he brings the wine."

"You don't think it's odd that he doesn't call?"

"It's okay that I only see him once in a while. After all, I'm not some lovesick teenager."

"What do you actually really know about him?" Kate asked.

"Well, he was happily married for a long time and has six children. He's a lawyer and is still practicing. He has a farm as part of his property and is rebuilding part of the house. He belongs to the NRA and enjoys hunting and I see him at political meetings. I REALLLY like him. I don't know how old he is; he's very active and in good shape, although he could be impotent for all I know. Do you realize that if I marry him my life will change drastically?"

"Hold up a minute. Isn't it just a tad early to be talking about getting married and what do you mean your life will change? In what sense will your life change? Are you speaking about moving?" Kate questioned while holding her hand to her forehead; she felt like her eyes were spinning in her head.

"Well, I think he must be wealthy," Theresa said.

"And you won't have to scrounge anymore? Are you sure you're not attracted to him
because he's a lawyer and has money?"

"You know, Kate, I have asked myself that question and I'm not sure; I really like him a
lot."

"What does your friend Lisa think?" Kate asked.

"We dropped in at Lisa's house and stayed for wine; she thinks he talks down to me. She doesn't understand; that's just how lawyers talk."

"Why do you think he doesn't call? Do you think he's seeing other people?"

"No, I think he's just too busy. That doesn't really bother me. What bothers me is he doesn't ever offer to take me out to eat. He just wants to come over and have a prepared meal."

"So tell him you'd love to see him and go out this time."

"I can't do that."

"Of course you can, and if you're worried about him being tight with a buck, order the most expensive steak on the menu."

"I do that already when I go out with my friends."

"Look, Theresa, I have to run...must get off; I have so much to do for work tomorrow. Call me when you can. Love you. Bye."

Weeks went by before the sisters spoke again.

"I would have called, but I've been running with Lisa and Tina to political meetings and then the kids were over so I was babysitting," Theresa said.

"No problem. I've been out of town. Well, what's happening? How's the romance turning out? Tell me what's new."

"One of the guys from church called me--a widower--and he asked me out," Theresa said.

"So, are you going?"

"No. No. I told him I'm flattered but I'm seeing a lawyer. The truth is he makes my skin
crawl."

"Who makes your skin crawl, the guy from the church or the lawyer?"

"The guy from church."

"Theresa. Get real! Do you honestly think that preparing a meal twice for a lawyer who
doesn't call constitutes going out? And maybe this guy from church is okay. He's been
out of circulation for awhile. Can't you see both of them? All you're doing is having a meal. What's the harm?"

"Kate, I don't want to go out with this guy. He's not my type. And as to Jose, maybe he's not calling because he thinks some young chick is after his money."

"Young chick? What young chick? IS he seeing someone besides you?"

"No, I meant me," Theresa said.

"Well, I'm glad you cleared that up. And what's this about your type? From what I remember about your type, you didn't do all that well. And what type is Jose? How did he get a name like Jose? I thought he was Irish?"

"His mother was Spanish, and his father was Irish."

"Now I bet that's a story in itself," Kate said.

"You know, a friend told me that Jose's wife, Gerty, was a wonderful woman but a doormat."

"Maybe he's attracted to doormats; how many meals have you cooked for him lately?" Kate probed.

"None, but we went to another function and stopped for a meal along the way."

"Now that's a start!"

"I don't think this is going to work out," Theresa said. "I really don't know much about him. He never talks about his family and he likes to come over as long as I cook. He's never invited me to see his farm. You know he can sing and speak several languages, even Gaelic. He sang at the last party we attended. He knows all about history and can recall facts about battles with full detail."

Kate thought but did not say, "He was probably there."

"So, Theresa, he's good in a crowd and likes an audience and you're his best fan. No wonder he feels comfortable with you."

"I'm so confused. I used to think he was smart," Theresa said in a subdued voice.

"He probably is; he's a lawyer, and he's apparently personable, the life of the party."

"Oh, I think he's smart, but so am I. I'm smarter than he is." Theresa's pitch in her voice
bordered on shrill.

After letting Theresa rant a bit more and fearing that the proverbial messenger would be
killed in the tirade, Kate said, "Theresa, it doesn't matter who's more intelligent. That's not the issue. You and Tom had your problems. Some problems were resolved over time; some weren't and then Tom died. People stay where they're comfortable; they're comfortable when they're in a situation that's familiar. Sometimes the familiar is a good thing, and sometimes the familiar is not a good thing. Think about what's good for you and what's good for him and ask yourself if this is what you really want. Are your emotional needs being filled? Does he have the qualities of a best friend? Will he be present or absent?"

"I'm more confused now than I was before," Theresa said.

After talking a bit longer, the sisters closed the call on good terms and three weeks later they spoke again.

"Hi, Theresa. All ready for the holidays?"

"No, but I'm getting there. I'm helping Ben with the kids and doing decorations for a party. Then I'm going out with Lisa and Tina to a fundraiser."

"Sounds busy. Any word on Jose?"

"Yes. He's called. He wants to come over around Christmas but I told him I'm just too busy. I can't understand why he doesn't get it that I'll be busy with my children and grandchildren."

"Does this mean that you're not going to see him?"

"I'll see him eventually, but I doubt there will be a wedding."

"Maybe not, but where is it written that you have to make a decision tonight? You know, Theresa, you've changed over the past year...for the better."

"Maybe I have; that's what Lisa told me."

"Well, that must make it true!"

They both laughed, planned to talk again soon during the holidays, and then hung up.

Kate put down the phone wondering what really did happen with her sister and her
gentleman caller. But she also realized that she and her sister had become somewhat closer over the year. Her sister had softened. Some of the bickering had stopped, and they had moved on, not far, but on. It was true that experience changed one's view and people could change if they wanted to change.

Theresa reflected, as well, apparently realizing that we need to have people in our lives we can trust, who when being with them, we're made to feel like we've come home.

Sometimes the familiar IS good.

***

Carroll Moth is a member of the Tennessee Writers Alliance and Vice President of the Council for the Written Word of Williamson County, Tennessee. She writes short stories, flash fiction, poetry and Haiku. An art teacher at Fairview High School, she resides in Fairview, Tennessee with her husband, Ed Moth.

© Carroll Moth

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012