With Buddy Guy playing in the background, Fran lost track of time as she worked on her newest canvas: a piano with a boy propped on the bench, his fingers on the keys. From memory. The boy’s hair was giving her the most trouble, possibly because she couldn’t pin down the color of George’s hair. Brownish blondish reddish ... depending on the light source of the moment. These days the blond showed more, highlights from working in the sun, she expected. At night on her porch, though, it looked very dark. Barely touched his neck. His chin was always smooth, although when came for lunch, she could see the start of whiskers growing back. His small mustache was always carefully trimmed.
Of course the boy in the painting didn’t have whiskers or a mustache. He was a Freshman. The last time she’d heard him play.
Stopping for a moment to stretch, Fran looked over at the wall clock, one with actual hands and no numbers, then looked back at it. Ten till two. Sunday. Nearly two.
She was covered in paint and hadn’t bothered to shower yet and his concert was about to start.
Saturday morning she realized she’d forgotten to turn her phone on the day before and found his message. She’d called and he didn’t answer. He’d called later that night and said they’d had practice and errands and such all day and he couldn’t go out because Theo and Justin were on a double date and he had to stay with the younger ones, but she could come over. After his Friday night message about hanging with his kids to catch up on time, Fran decided to leave them alone Saturday night.
But she wanted to go to the community concert.
Rushing through the shower with her hair up to keep it dry, Fran threw on the most wear-ready thing she could find and dashed out the door. Again, she had to park farther away than she would have liked. The music grew louder as she walked closer.
She sat in the same place, under the same tree. He didn’t notice her that she could tell. And that was fine. There wasn’t much better than sitting out on the vivid green grass under shade of an old bent oak listening to luscious music, especially when you had a very special interest in one of the musicians to make it more personal. It did feel very personal. Even if George didn’t know she was there, it felt like he was playing for her.
A self-centered thought, she told herself. Still, the saxophone’s rich flavor sank deeply into her soul. It did belong to her since she felt it so deeply. It belonged to anyone who truly felt it.
But George himself did not. He didn’t quite belong to her, either, but she did have those incredible kisses in her forever memory, or so she hoped, at least as long as she had memory, and his arms – his very strong sexy arms that surrounded her when she allowed. She hoped she would never forget that.
It ended far too soon since she’d arrived so late and Fran sat watching him as he packed his instrument and talked with his fellow musicians and as he was stopped a dozen times or so, lingering with smiles or laughs, or trying to brush them off; it was easy to see who he liked and who he didn’t and she put that in her to-remember cap.
Finally, he headed off toward his truck so she got up to intercept. It took her some time since he walked faster and was either avoiding more talk or had somewhere to be. Fran hoped he didn’t have somewhere to be. It was supposed to be his day without the kids and selfishly, she wanted the rest of it with him if possible.
He was looking at the ground as he walked, unusual for George, so she touched his arm to get his attention.
He startled slightly and recovered quickly. “Didn’t know you were here.”
“I was late. Got busy working, and I wish I hadn’t.”
With a slight nod, he seemed not to know what else to say.
So she jumped in. “In a hurry to leave?”
“Nah, just ... figured I’d get some work done in the house today since I have time.”
“And no kids.”
“Right. For a couple of hours.”
“How about dinner first? We can make it quick. My treat. Or if you want an excuse not to work on the house...”
“Maybe another time.” He walked away.
“Are you angry with me?”
He paused, then turned. “What are we doing here, Frannie?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean if you’re going to avoid my children like they have the plague or something, this isn’t gonna work. So let’s call it like it is...”
“I’m not.” She ambled closer, watching him. “I’m not avoiding them, G.F. I’m trying not to interfere.”
“Not interfere? Too damned late for that.”
Shadows of Greens & Memories
Ella M. Kaye
Francis Barrett returns to her hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa to take care of the family holdings, such as they are, after her father passes. While turning his garden shed into a small but livable cottage, she runs into an old flame she admired from afar but never dared speak with during their high school days. Using her secret passion of oil painting to unwind from long days of clearing out the mess, Francis finds her father also had a secret passion and left behind a tale of a man she didn't truly know.
George Frederick McKenry never left the Midwest town where he was born other than brief travels with his four children, who he now has custody of since his ex moved into a condo with her new boyfriend. Running into the one girl from school who rebuffed him when he asked her out, G.F. can't help checking on her and making sure she's getting along alright. False assumptions and past resentments fade as Fran and G.F. let down their guards in order to create new memories.