Saturday, August 25, 2007

Soap Opera Sunday - She Doesn't Live There Anymore

Soap Opera Sunday from Brillig and Kate - find the other participants on their posts today

Bunky Williams was in heaven as she opened the gingham curtains and let the morning sun into her breakfast nook. A real breakfast nook! She looked about at the pure “cheeriness” of it: thick, lipstick-red cushions covering the curved bench, refinished table from the 1700s, complete with matching captain’s chairs, pewter milk pitcher on the center of the circular table covered with a red gingham tablecloth. Bunky couldn’t believe that she and George had found their dream house. She sorely missed her two girls, but there were some advantages to the empty nest; they were both done with their education, and she and George could finally afford the things they had wanted for so long.

She went into the kitchen to grind some beans for her cappuccino maker. She couldn’t wait to sit in her breakfast nook! And … have breakfast, of course! She could look out into the street, drink her coffee, and eat her English muffin. “Well, maybe not into the street,” she thought to herself. The only problem with their new Colonial was that a couple of windows faced “The Manse,” a modern mess of a building - all angles and circles - which had housed “Guru Samsi” and her followers. Thank God they had all moved to some undisclosed location a few months previously. She laughed to herself. Well, the silly thing was on the market and she was sure whoever bought it would have the taste to have it bulldozed. It looked like a bunch of bowling balls stuck together with a rubik’s cube. Oh, well, maybe she’d read the paper, instead. She had a million things to do, but surely she could make time to enjoy her breakfast nook.

The doorbell rang as she had her palm pressed against the bean grinder, almost finished with her task. She scowled at the clock, noticing the time. 8:30. An ungodly hour for visitors, but perhaps her new neighbors wanted to welcome her and George to the neighborhood. Bunky removed her yellow-checked apron, smoothed her lemon slacks and walked to the door, checking her burnt orange lipstick in the 18th century mirror as she did so.

“Yes?” Bunky smiled at the young man and woman on her front steps. They were dressed in the oddest outfits, she thought. He wore white baggy pants and a tunic sort of thing in a pale orange. His black hair was long, but neatly pulled back into a ponytail and he seemed immaculately clean. She was tiny and seemed nervous, and was dressed in a similar outfit, except for orange pants and white tunic. She also had a long, blond ponytail, neatly pulled back. Hers seemed to pull at her face, though.

“Do you know if… She’s there?” the young man asked nervously, yanking his head towards the monstrosity sitting across the street. “We’ve come all the way from Oregon to see her.”

The young girl nodded her head vigorously, looking both hopeful and scared.

“Oh, my dears, I’m sorry, but she doesn’t live there anymore,” Bunky explained. “I had heard that she moved several months ago. I wish I had more information to give you, but we’ve only just moved in ourselves, you see.” She bade the crestfallen pair goodbye and turned back into her new home, shutting the door behind her.

“Now, for that cappuccino,” she thought, a smile seeping into her usually concentrated features. She went back to the kitchen, removed the beans from the grinder, filled the water container with Evian. and put the freshly-ground beans into the filter holder. As she put the cappuccino maker through its motions, she allowed the sensuality of the smell to invade her senses. Nothing could make her happier; she was finally home. She decided that she would spend the time at the table planning her next decorating and unpacking steps. After all, she was far from done. As she began frothing the milk, the doorbell rang again. Insistently, this time.

Bunky walked briskly to the door, sure that some neighbor would greet her with baked goods or neighborhood information. She opened the door to three women, probably in their forties, all wearing unseasonably light clothing. There was something simple and “unmade” about them. They each had identical “bowl” cuts, their faces were lined, but lean. Actually, as she thought about it, they each looked like yoga instructors. Bunky would have giggled, but she didn’t want to be rude. “Can I help you?” she asked.

The tallest of the lot, a wispy brunette done up entirely in pale violet, stepped forward. “Where is she?” she demanded. “No one’s around anywhere. The place is deserted.”

“Where is whom, dear?” Bunky tended to get motherly when she was confused.

“You know, the Enlightened One,” the brunette appraised her coldly.

Bunky was distinctly unhappy. “She doesn’t live there anymore. She moved away some months ago.” She turned to go back into the house.

“Well, where is she, then?” a stockier woman in sky blue caught Bunky’s arm.

“I’m sorry, dear, I’ve really no idea,” Bunky tried to smile. “We’ve just moved here ourselves and I’m afraid I’ve a bit to do still.” She pulled her arm away from the clutching hand and sought refuge behind her door. As she was closing that door, she heard the third woman pipe up, “Well, she didn’t have to be rude about it!” “Me, rude?” Bunky thought to herself. “It’s barely nine a.m. and they are ringing my doorbell, but I’m rude. Very nice.” She stomped back to the kitchen, grabbing her apron from the counter and tying it on so tightly that she almost stopped breathing.

She looked up to find water all over the slate countertop; the steamer had operated on its own, and dumped a dose of hot water across the entire surface. Bunky decided against cappuccino, pulled the finished coffee out for a plain cup and went to the Sub-zero refrigerator to pull out her amaretto-flavored creamer. Pausing, she put the container back, pulled out the real cream, and then crossed over to the liquor cabinet and poured in a generous shot of actual amaretto. “A celebration,” Bunky said under her breath. “To the new house!”

She took her coffee and a biscotti to the breakfast table and sat down. An english muffin seemed like too much work. She peered out the window, and winced at the sight of “The Manse.” The Caldwells, who had sold them the house, had warned them that they might have occasional callers looking for Guru Samsi. The Guru had run from the town after some incident with an underage boy, apparently, but her followers still turned up from time to time. She guessed she’d been particularly unlucky this morning. Nice people the Caldwells. Too bad about Mrs. Caldwell and that tic. It really spoiled her natural beauty when she was always blinking at everybody like that. Bunky wondered what had caused it. Some people just didn’t have enough mettle. No fortitude to accept life’s challenges. Speaking of which, her break should absolutely be over by now. She stood up to place her Limoges cup and saucer in the new Kitchenaid dishwasher, and climbed the winding stair to unpack a bit in George’s study.

By six o’clock, she had answered the door 26 times. None of those times were for the Williams family. By the time George came home, ringing the door because he had forgotten his new keys, she greeted him by yanking the door open and slurring, “What?!” in his face. George had never seen Bunky look unkempt, and Bunky was most definitely unkempt, and this worried him a little. He was even more alarmed when his customary martini wasn’t prepared for him and as he asked about dinner, Bunky had barked, “I’m sure even you can manage to dial pizza delivery. I’m going to bed.”

George stood in his new foyer, looked about at half-finished projects in both the living and dining rooms, and walked back out the door to go meet his secretary for a drink.

The doorbell continued to ring. It rang at all hours of the day and night. It rang on weekends. It rang in the middle of the Williams’ Christmas dinner.

Bunky stumbled about most days, unshowered, mismatched clothing hanging off her once-plump frame. She thought about starting new projects: cleaning the house, cooking a meal, but everything seemed like too much effort. Her memberships in her bridge club, the Jaycees and the Association for University Women had all been dropped. She no longer volunteered at the hospital, the food bank or at church. Hell, she didn’t even go to church. George was having a full-blown affair with his secretary. He still loved Bunky; he just couldn’t find her anymore.

Bunky, being Bunky, still answered the door. “She doesn’t live there anymore,” she’d mutter, shutting the door almost before she’d pulled it all the way open. Bunky had taken to spending the day on the nearest couch, reading and rereading the paper from April 14, the day of the announcement of Guru Samsi’s departure. George was trying to find the courage to tell Bunky that he was moving out. Bunky’s daughters were nervously chittering about an exclusive facility for those with “special” problems. “She doesn’t live there anymore” was all that Bunky would utter these days.

Then there was the day when Bunky came to the door with an ice pick. Now she doesn’t live there anymore, either.


Rebecca said...

That was great Jen! I thought it was really very clever the way you dropped in all the references to her beloved 'objects' - the mirror, tablecloth, the Limoges cup and saucer etc etc - to represent her oh-so-perfect and in control life - which ultimately shattered apart so very easily....

And the ice pick cracked me up!

anno said...

Oh, I loved this! Very Roald Dahl. I liked that ice pick, too!

Brillig said...

AHHHHH! This kills me! Fantastic!!!!

Kateastrophe said...

Wow. Seriously great! (I bow to you)

Jenn in Holland said...

Brilliant Jen. Absolutely brilliant.
The fall from the unkempt to the ice pick is a quick ride! HA! Just a fantastic piece. Really love it.

Jen said...

Thanks for reading, Becky - this was a fun story... I have to admit that it's an old one that I dusted off. I'm planning to keep going with some Russian stories but I have been focusing on my mystery these days.

Whoa! Thanks for the Roald Dahl reference Anno!

Brillig, Kate and Jenn - thanks for reading and commenting. As I said above, I really had fun with this one. And, sadly, it was based on something I read in the news...

Fourier Analyst said...

Funny how life seems to try and make us all lose control.

My favorite bit : "...Too bad about Mrs. Caldwell and that tic. It really spoiled her natural beauty when she was always blinking at everybody like that. Bunky wondered what had caused it...."

Problem is, some days, I know exactly how Bunky was feeling...

Great SOS!

Dedee said...

So great. I loved the ice pick line too. Poor lady. I know how she feels some days too.

Keep writing! It's so much fun t read!

soccer mom in denial said...

Now THAT is a Soap Opera. Ms. FA's favorite it mine too!!

anno said...

About the Roald Dahl comparison. I just call 'em as I see 'em.

jennifer said...

Do you ever publish? Officially, I mean. That was excellent!

Unknown said...

I really loved the last line, and the story was charming and funny. Poor Bunky!

Goofball said...

very very cool! It's very concise, yet holds all the necessary information! I loved it

Grimm said...

Good grief girl! I hop over here to catch up with my commenters and ended up with a novel! Really amazed, it hurts my brain to come with as much as I do, and then I came here and feel sooooo small.

So very small.

Fantastic job!

Anonymous said...

I loved this! Just wonderful. I've been behind on blog reading lately and after reading and reading and reading, this was a very welcome and entertaining bright spot! Excellent writing!