Read Spitfire (Puffin Cove) Online
Authors: Carla Doolin
Copyright © 2013 Carla Doolin
All rights reserved
Cover Design and Interior Layout by Laura Shinn
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is a work of fiction.
Though actual locations may be mentioned, they are used in a fictitious manner and the events and occurrences were invented in the mind and imagination of the author. Similarities of characters or names used within to any person – past, present, or future – are coincidental except where actual historical characters are purposely interwoven.
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Adult Reading Material
Iris flung her body around the kitchen in a cloud of Ysatis, frantically pulling items out of boxes with 'Salvation Army' slashed across them in black Sharpie as soon as Laura put them in. She shoved them, willy-nilly, into empty, freshly washed cupboards. Laura managed to get one box full, slapped the top shut, and stretched packing tape across it. Firmly.
. That should stop her.
When her mother started picking at the tape,
Laura snapped, "Now, stop that!" Iris glared. Laura closed her eyes, gritted her teeth, chomping down on the matricidal fantasies swirling in her head, and mentally geared up with flack jacket and pepper spray for the full frontal assault that was the wrath of Iris. She might have known that last night had gone too smoothly.
"Mom, we've been through all this
. I love you. And I know that you want what's best for me. But it's time. God, Mom. I'm dying here. I feel like any minute a gust of wind is going to blow through here and whisk my husk of a body through the window, never to be seen again. I need a damned
. And I'm going to find it."
dug a hand into her hair, and finally managed to tape the last box shut as Iris stood with hands on hips, eyes hot, lips trembling.
. Was it too much to ask for peace on her last day in the home where she had spent her heart?
She looked around the kitche
n. Her kitchen. The one that was now barren except for the old fridge and stove, a few boxes, and her fluttering mother. She had fed her boys here since they were two and four years old. They did homework on the table that used to sit right there. She bandaged knees and wiped tears on the chairs that now belonged to someone else. God, they'd had the condom talk and the banana demonstration right here in this kitchen. Dammit! She had to stop herself. Right now. She wouldn't think of it. Couldn't. If she did she might break. She might cave.
She might stay.
Her mother pleaded with her. "But what about the boys? You're their mother!" The accusation hit Laura in the face like a dirty sock. "What will they do without you?"
's heart squeezed, and she prayed for five more minutes of patience. Of courage. "Please, Mom. You're only making this harder on both of us. You know that the boys don't need me anymore. They've got Joel. It's what we've always known was going to happen. We talk or text or Skype every day. Am I supposed to just sit here and wait like a dog begging for a bone? Ef that. They've given me their blessing. And I thought you had too."
She had thought long and hard about this move
. It wasn't like it was a snap decision, for God's sake. When the boys left, she had thought she could handle it. That it would have been fun to have so much freedom. But she had no idea how much of her life, shit, her
life, was wrapped around raising her sons. And that was her mistake. Hers to own. Hers to rectify. For a year she had wallowed, searching like a blind man in the dark for a small ray of light to show her a way. A purpose. She couldn't even muster up the ambition to flip another house.
Years ago, when she had made that first terrifying investment
, renovated it, and then sold it, she had made a surprisingly decent profit. Then she rolled it, and did another. And another. In the end she had bought, renovated and flipped eight houses over the past sixteen years, but had always kept her first little house, the one she had bought after Joel had left her. This was the one she had hated to sell.
The war-time, three bedroom stucco had been in a sad and sorry state of repair when she bought it
. But it was what she could afford, and where most saw a dump, she saw a diamond in the rough. She spent every free moment cleaning, stripping, patching, sanding and painting. She had gotten good at basic plumbing and carpentry, knew her way around pretty much every handyman power tool, and developed skills she'd never thought possible.
With the boys gone, she thought that perhaps she could ramp up her side business, buy another house or two, maybe a duplex
. She spent hours, days, weeks poring over the real estate listings, looking for the one that would grab her, would send that sizzle through her belly that signalled her next acquisition. But it was no use. Life was dead. And wallowing sucked ass.
she resigned from the hospital and bought her plane ticket, she had been excited as hell. Then stark, debilitating terror curled in her belly. Maybe she shouldn't have signed the purchase agreement. Maybe she should have kept her little doll house and rented it out. But then she thought about the year of wallowing, and her courage returned along with her original plan. She needed a cleaner break than that. She didn't want the option of being able to run back home if the going got tough. She could have kept it and left it for the boys to live in. But at nineteen and twenty-one, she and Joel both felt that they still needed the guiding hand of a parent. Joel was a good dad, and surprisingly, turned out to be a good friend. He was just a lousy husband.
So in the end she sold her special wee house, her home, to another single mom
. It was a good house. It had good bones. It had good karma.
Her mom was crying now
Shit. Damn. Double damn.
"But I need you
. What will I do without you?"
crossed the room. She wiped her mother's tears with her thumbs and folded her in a soft hug. "Mom. Please don't cry. I'm not going to Timbuktu." They both smiled wetly at Laura's unconscious choice of locale. Her mother had always threatened to send her and Colin to Timbuktu if they didn't toe party line. Or give them to the garbage man. Laura spent the first decade of her life terrified of the garbage man.
"Toronto to St. John's is only a three hour plane ride
. You can come visit me, and I'll come home to visit you. You have Dad, and a rich and full life. You'll hardly know I'm gone. Besides, maybe now you'll finally get a grip on that computer you bought. We can email. And there's this amazing new invention called the telephone." She smiled into her mother's reddened eyes. "It'll be fine. I promise. You're the one who took me to Newfoundland in the first place and made me fall in love with it. You know I'll be happy there. And if it turns out that I'm not, I'll come home."
She knew that she wouldn't though
. She had been happy enough here, raising her boys, nursing at the hospital. But the boys were grown and gone, and her job had become more a brutal ritual than the rich, rewarding career that it once was.
sniffed. "Oh, for pity's sake, Laura. This is just a mid-life crisis. Buy a car or a mink. Get laid! Get over it!"
"Mom! It's not a mid-life crisis
. Well, I suppose technically it is. I am almost thirty-nine."
winced. She knew her mother hated when Laura mentioned her age. That would make Iris almost sixty-one.
"But I wouldn't call it a crisis
. I've really thought about this. Really. I need a new start. This just feels right. Please be happy for me." Laura's hands slid down her mother's arms, and laced soft, delicate fingers with younger, stronger ones, the comforted becoming the comforter.
heaved a heavy, guilt-inducing sigh, one that had worked on many occasions in Laura's youth. "Are you sure bringing Lola is a good idea?" Iris tilted her head up and squinted through calculating eyes.
! You're not having her, Mom. But nice try. Get your own dog." Laura had to give credit where credit was due. She was one crafty old broad, and Laura was proud of her. She gave her mom another squeeze. She hoped that when she was sixty she looked half as good and was in as good health as Iris.
"She's just a tiny chihuahua
. She'll freeze out there, even with all that hair."
just smiled and shook her head. She pecked her mother on the cheek and footed the boxes nearer to the door. The van would be here soon to pick up the donations.
d been through a lot together. Through life and death, joy and sorrow. Her mother knew that she was strong. That she could do this. Laura knew that Iris was just afraid. No matter how old a child became, she was always your child. And Iris just wanted to protect her from harm. From hurt. The cross-stitch Laura had done for her many years before came into her mind's eye now. In swirling letters intertwined with butterflies and blossoms it read, "Give your children two things, One is roots, the other, wings." Her mom had cried when she opened the present. Her parents had given her and her brother, Colin good roots. They were a blessed family. They were a strong family. Laura wished that her mother would just cut the proverbial apron strings already. She needed to truly find her way, her happiness, to put a spark back into her life.
had watched Laura shine when she mothered her own sons. There really weren't a lot of other shining moments in Laura's life. A sorry tale to tell, when the only thing that really made her truly happy was now no longer the same. Over the last month, as she made her plans, she had assured them all that she would always be there for them. If they needed her, she would come. But this was
"Darling, I am going to miss you so much."
Iris's breath hitched on a sob. "I want you to promise me that if you need us, need to come home, you'll do it. Don't be proud. And don't be stubborn." She smiled at Laura's snort. They both knew that she had come by the stubborn streak honestly. "Be happy, my baby."
Laura's eyes then, and she frantically blinked them back. "I will, Mom. I promise. And I'll keep you posted."
Sally Ann truck pulled into her driveway and she scooted her mom to the door. If she let her stay around for this they would both end up getting maudlin. She put her arm around her mother's shoulders and walked her out to the car.
. Give Dad a kiss for me."
d had a going away dinner last night, but her mom had blown back into the house today in a last ditch effort to get Laura to change her mind, or drive her batshit crazy, which, by Laura's estimation, wasn't far to go. Last night was hard. Saying goodbye. Today was better. She could feel something…burgeoning. A tiny flutter, deep down. It felt like…wings spreading. She smiled.
It was happening
Then she grinned
Holy Dinah! It's happening!
Then a great, excited laugh bubbled up from the depths of her soul.
had never flown alone before, and frankly, she didn't care for it. Especially landing in St. John's in a thunderstorm. Planes weren't supposed to fly in lightning, were they? Well, that was stupid. Airline schedules would be a total freaking mess if planes were grounded for every storm. At any rate, she was on terra firma once again, thanks be to God. She tamped down the giddy laugh that threatened to escape from her lips.
She was on the Rock
She picked up her luggage and head
ed for ground transportation, two suitcases and Lola the sum total of her worldly possessions. It gave her stomach a lurch as a momentary frisson of terror washed through her. Dear Lord, what was she doing? She had just given up a career, a house, a car, various and sundry pieces of furniture and the rest of the flotsam and jetsam of housekeeping, left her sons thousands of miles away, given away most of her
, and flown to a place where she knew not a soul. Not. A. Soul. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
When she opened them she nodded to herself in reaffirmation, remembering that feeling she had first experienced when she finally had made her decision,
and closed the book on the dead life that she was leading. The feeling was…freedom. Freedom to turn left or right, to buy a parakeet or eat chocolate for breakfast. She practically skipped through the big glass doors into the grey, damp,
had been amazingly good on the plane. She had never flown before. She had spent part of her flight conning a little brother and sister team into petting and brushing her long hair and feeding her tiny treats through the carrier window. Laura didn't know now her little dog would manage without having an accident. But she did. She was a three-and-a-half-pound jet-setter.
wheeled her bags toward a grassy area, let Lola down for some blessed relief, then scurried through the drizzle to the nearest taxi.
"Where to, love?
The cabbie popped the trunk
. Laura hoisted one case in while a plaid-draped hulk that would have eclipsed the sun, had it been shining, tossed in the other. She was amazed that the guy was so agile for his size. He skipped around to open her door, guided her and Lola into the front seat, and slid around to sink into the driver's side. Laura actually felt the car list to the left. Remarkable. She hoped it was the sea air that made him so zippy.
"Is there a Volkswagen dealership in town?
" she asked, turning an excited smile to him.