Chapter Two: Chill and Awesome. Giggle and Snort ?
While twiddling these nonsensical thoughts around in her head, Cayla jumped out of her skin when she heard:
Maybe if I ignore it it’ll go away.
“Come on! If we’re late its gonna be all your fault!”
Cayla was sitting at her solid oak, mirrored dresser. The sunlight beamed through her sheer curtains into the cheery, yellow bedroom. She heard this word-to-the-wise, being hollered to her from down the hall, by her 19 year old granddaughter, Abbie.
Cayla ruffled her fingers through her ever-unruly, curly bob. Lamenting the fact that her hair was now more white than auburn; she sighed loudly and called over her shoulder, “Chill, Abbie! It’s all good!”
“Chill? Really, Gramma?” Abbie’s voice was tinged with humor, and now right behind her. “You do know that as a grandmother, you really shouldn’t talk like that?”
Abbie’s long, athletic form now leaned against Cayla’s door frame while sporting an amused smile, and a mocking twinkle in her cinnamon-brown eyes. Eyes that look so much like Cayla’s own brown eyes, that it was uncanny. Abbie’s wild, auburn curls were tucked behind her diamond-dressed ears, and her thick, glossy, mane reached almost to her waist.
“Hmmfff! I was saying cool, awesome and chill before you were even born, girlie.”
Cayla said this with a smile and a sidelong glance directed through the mirror at Abbie. Catching that look, Abbie dropped full body onto the inviting, queen-size bed, convulsed with hiccups of laughter. Finally, wiping the tears from her eyes, she chirped, “Gramma, do you even know how funny you are?”
“Not funny. Just too old to care whether or not you think I’m silly.”
This was said with an indulgent chuckle as she fumbled clumsily with the clasp of her gold, heart-shaped locket. Cayla had been a widow now, for almost 10 years, and the locket had been given to her by her husband, Arthur. He had given it to her the day after Cayla had agreed to marry him. It had belonged to his mother, and was precious to him. And since Cayla was also precious to him – he had wanted her to have it.
“Why are you so good to me, Art? I don’t get how you can still love me so much after all I’ve put you through.”
Cayla had said this as she caressed the smooth, gold heart with the thumb and forefinger of an icy hand. The brisk, Mediterranean fall evening had brought with it cooler temperatures than she had expected and she shivered slightly.
Arthur’s thick, black hair had reflected the clear, starry night and fell across his forehead, as they relaxed on the marbled steps of the University Library. Cayla was 19 years old and Arthur had just turned 20. They were both participants in a student exchange program to Aegean University in Greece.
“What don’t you get?” He had asked while taking her trembling hands in his own warm and encompassing embrace.
“Other than the fact that you need to bring a sweater out here at night?” He added with a playful yet concerned tone as he folded her tenderly into his strong shoulder. A shoulder she had come to depend on.
Cayla chuckled, “Well, you did halfta’ ask me everyday for a year to marry you! And then when I finally did agree, I didn’t do it in the most romantic way, did I? You said: Will you marry me, Cayla? And I answered: Sure! Why not?!” She gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
Arthur’s gentle lips tenderly brushed her knuckles. “I’ll take what I can get,” he had said with a wry smile.
Cayla shook her head slowly, auburn curls sweeping her shoulders. “But it’s not fair. You deserve so much better.”
“Listen.” He answered softly a he gently tucked a stray curl behind her ear. He then gave her earlobe a playful tug and continued.
“I understood that you were just getting over Daniel. I was more than willing to wait as long as it took.”
“Why?” Cayla had asked him, her eyes pleading for understanding.
“Because from the moment I saw you I knew that you were the one I was going to spend the rest of my life with.”
Cayla had smiled hesitantly. No one had ever said things like that to her before. Except Daniel. She brushed the thought aside with a quick, indiscernible jerk of her chin.
Arthur straightened his legs and stretched his lean frame down the marble steps; leaning back on his tanned arms and resting on his elbows. He wore the standard college attire consisting of a navy-blue Polo shirt and tan, khaki pants. He gazed up at the splendid, starry lights and spoke softly, as if re-telling an old, remembered story.
“One day I visited this small Bible church off-campus. I didn’t know whether I was going to stay or not. Then I saw these long legs walk by in a purple skirt, and said to myself, if that’s here, I will be too.”
“Lavender.” Cayla injected with a teasing smile and looking up at him through her lashes.
“Lavender?” he asked with a raised eyebrow and a crooked grin.
“Yes, lavender.” Cayla replied with a smirk. “And isn’t that a bit superficial?”
“I’m just joking.” He replied, tweaking her upturned nose. He paused.
Then he gave a rueful, half- smile and tilted his head toward her, “A little. Anyway, I kept coming to the church. I watched you and how much you loved the Lord. You had...HAVE, this light... this PASSION for Christ! And that was it. I just knew. You were…it. One problem. You were going out with Daniel at the time. And nobody could give me a straight answer about how serious you guys were. So…since I knew he was senior and graduating in May, I decided that I wouldn’t let you know my plans until he graduated and went back to the states…..or died.” And then with a teasing chuckle he added, “Whichever came first.”
Cayla rolled her eyes. “Funny-funny. You made a funny, honey.” There had been a peaceful lull in the conversation then that was not at all uncomfortable. Cayla was the first to break the stillness by smacking him playfully across the shoulder.
“You really scared the bee-jee-bus out of me, you know! I didn’t know where the heck you were coming from out-of-the-blue like that! Here I was, my eyes still practically swollen shut from crying all day after Daniel left for the states-you come over and say, Will you go out with me? When I emphatically say, Heck NO! You didn’t even miss a beat and responded with, Then will you marry me? MARRY me! I thought you were NUTS!”
“Then why did you finally say yes?” He asked with anxious, puppy-eyes.
“Now you listen.” Cayla desperately wanted to give this kind and devoted young man, she had grown to love and care for so deeply, the reassurance he so intensely seemed to need. She held his face between her hands.
“Over the year, I got to know you, Art. You are kind. Giving. Loving. Patient. A godly man.”
She shot him a mischievous sideways glance before continuing. “And, oh so accomplished in all things mechanical. Which I definitely am not!” With a sweeping gleam she added, “SO. You either wore me down. Or I fell in love with you.”
Arthur had beamed back at her relaxing his expression a bit, with his chocolate, brown eyes twinkling, “I’ll take what I can get.”
Abbie now pushed up from the plush quilt and reached around her grandmother; relieving Cayla of the troublesome locket clasp that seemed to elude her long, aged fingers.
“Old?” Abbie asked with raised eyebrows. “So 62 is old?” She paused and nodded as if considering and then continued, “Well, maybe for some people. But you wear it well, my gorgeous Gramma.”
Abbie dramatically posed her hands and fingers like a picture frame, squinting one eye shut tightly, as if she were an artist considering a work of art.
“Nope.” She finally stated. “Not old.”
Abbie carried on in a horrible, French accent. “Mademoiselle! Joo loo-k no old-air… zen….” She paused with one, finely-sculpted eyebrow raised, and her long, rose-painted fingers smoothing an imaginary moustache. Then she abruptly announced with a grand, flourishing gesture, “Feef-tee! At zee most!”
“Now who’s being funny?” Cayla gibed, with barely concealed amusement at her granddaughter’s theatrics. “These crows’ feet would speak otherwise, my girl!”
Abby put her hands lovingly on her grandmother’s shoulders, and with exaggerated intensity, peered into the mirror at Cayla.
“Oh pish-posh! Those are just laugh lines and smile lines! Who sees ‘em anyway with those beautiful eyes of yours!” She pronounced decidedly.
With a chuckle, Cayla responded teasingly, “Pish Posh? Now who’s speaking ‘out-of-generation’?” With a wide smile she continued, “And since your eyes are the mirror-image of mine, just whom are you complimenting?” Then with a dramatic pause, dripping with feigned insinuation she added, “…hmmmmm?”
Twin, twinkling eyes met in the mirror as the woman and the girl, separated by two generations, vibrantly erupted in bubbles of unrestrained laughter. The kind of laughter shared only between two people that can honestly say of each other, “She gets me.”
However as both women gasped for breath and tried to stop laughing, Cayla ended her bubbles with a little signature snort. Which managed to renew Abbie’s fit of giggles; and between gasps she managed to get out, “You did not just snort, Gramma!”