When Bedelia didn’t answer her phone the day before her birthday, Finn was immediately concerned (she could be ill, or injured from a fall) and was poised to go check on her; James counseled against panic, speaking faith-based assurances that all was well, and Finn respectfully disagreed…it didn’t fit with Bedelia’s agoraphobic reclusiveness that she’d ‘go for a stroll’…he waited forty-five minutes, grabbed his keys and headed out.
He knocked several times before her door opened a crack…she clutched a kitchen towel against her mouth, and her eyes were puffy—Finn told her he’d been worried, asked to come in; turning aside to allow him entrance, she said nothing as she went to the kitchen, poured him a cup of tea, and gestured to the dining chair he usually occupied.
Finn’s eyes slid discreetly to the birdcage, thinking Mr. Van Gogh had possibly met his Maker…causing her grief-laden disarray; the budgie sat mutely observing, as though waiting for the curtain to rise on “Les Misérables”.
Equally silent, Bedelia sat across from Finn, folding and refolding the towel she’d used to conceal her face when he arrived (uninjured, she mumbled that she was ‘just a mess’); “Look at me, Bedelia”, he said in his quiet Atticus Finch voice, “I am your friend…please tell me what’s distressing you”; he’d hoped they had established a trusting foundation…but she cowered, a trapped animal.
Dry-eyed, yet nearly breathless, her words tumbled like rockslides on a Pacific Northwest highway; she hated her birthdays (since childhood), and was suffering recurrent noxious nightmares which featured estranged family members, and her ex-husband, in all their cruel roles; waking didn’t whisk away memories…humiliating verbal assaults replayed on looping cassettes stored in her mind: “‘Don’t go away mad, just go away’, they taunted, laughing; eventually I left them all—nobody’s ever going to hurt me again!” she vowed.
Finn longed to protect her from enemies real and imagined, past-present-future; his late wife was supremely self-confident, independent, fearless—and frankly, hadn’t needed him for anything before cancer moved in; while Bedelia had studied self-reliance, and locked herself in denial that she might need someone someday; Finn was clueless he was falling in love…until he uttered his next words: “Beedee,”…he stroked the back of her clenched hand, “life can be much better than it’s been…the past won’t change, but I’ll wager we can write new, wonderful pages together”; through a trickle of tears she giggled, “‘Beedee'”.
Z & Z Poetry, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.