Thanks to the traffic I’d encountered the day before I hadn’t made it far from my original starting point. Now that I was heading back in the direction from which I’d come that seemed fortunate than it had seemed yesterday. In less than an hour I arrived in the quaint town that was home to my best friend.
At least she used to be my best friend.
There were several places I could stay, but I decided on a historic bed and breakfast I’d always wanted an excuse to visit. In the past, if I hadn’t wanted to drive home I would have slept at Lily’s. Since that wasn’t an option, it seemed I was going to have my chance to see the B&B.
Pulling into the parking lot of the Blue Ribbon Inn I watched my rear view mirror for anything suspicious. I was growing accustomed to keeping an eye on what was happening behind me. I must have checked my mirror a thousand times on the short drive, but I had seen nothing unusual.
It was still early but I assumed someone would be there to check me in.
I climbed the five steps to the wide wrap around porch, the boards worn smooth from years of shoes rubbing against them. The white paint on the railing was peeling. Not so much that it looked run down. Instead it seemed to enhance the character of the building, in the way grey hair at the temples of an older man might make him seem more distinguished. I could almost imagine people 100 years ago going up these same stairs.
Large pots overflowing with bright red geraniums flanked the front door which stood ajar, inviting guests to enter.
Opening the screen door I could see that the reception area had been beautifully restored. The longleaf pine floors gleamed. Small braided rugs were scattered throughout the spacious room. An antique sofa and two rocking chairs to the right of the entryway provided seating in front of a red brick fireplace, a small flame fighting the cooler air from outside.
A grey haired woman came from behind a low desk to greet me. Her warm smile lit up her wrinkled face. Her flowered knee length dress was far from fashionable but suited her in a way I found appealing.
“Good morning! Welcome to the Blue Ribbon. I’m Lisa. How can I help you?”
“I don’t have a reservation but I was hoping you’d have a room available.”
“Of course, dear. How long will you be staying?” She flipped through a paper registration book reminiscent of the ones used before computers were commonplace.
I hesitated, not sure how to answer. “Uh. I don’t know exactly. I’m hoping to be here a few nights, but it might be only one. I hope that’s not a problem.”
“No problem at all. Hmmm…I’ll put you in the morning glory room.”
I smiled, a memory coming to me at the mention of the pretty flower. “The room is named after the flower?” I asked.
“Oh yes. Each of our rooms has a different flower theme. There’s a lovely garden out back with plenty of places to sit as well.”
“My mother had a huge garden when I was young and morning glories used to be one of her favorites, next to magnolias anyway. I was always sad that the flowers didn’t last more than a day but she would remind me to enjoy them while they were there and not worry about tomorrow.”
She nodded in agreement. “Your mother was a wise woman.”
“Yeah.” Choked with emotion I couldn’t say more.
“Let me show you to your room.”
As she led me up the curved staircase to the second floor I ran my fingers over the polished handrail. The ancient boards creaked softly under our weight. At the top she opened the second door on the left then handed me the key.
“You have your own bath. There’s extra pillows in the closet. I serve breakfast at 8 if you’re hungry, and tea is at 4. You’re on your own for lunch and dinner but there are plenty of places nearby to eat. Just relax and let me know if you need anything.”
I thanked her as she walked away.
Alone in my room I was drawn in by the cozy charm. The faded blue wallpaper was thick. Where it was worn by furniture or suitcases rubbing against it the paper was white, but the wall beneath it was still covered. A rosewood bureau stood opposite the full sized bed. An off-white lace runner protected the wooden surface. An antique pitcher with soft blue morning glories adorning the sides rested in a matching washbasin.
Prints of the flower were sprinkled throughout the room. Some were closeups of the pretty blossoms while others showed the blooms in the background, behind a young girl with soft blond curls or growing in a garden with a couple cuddled on a swing. The bronze frames all looked old but well cared for.
A television was noticeably absent.
I fell onto the firm mattress, exhausted, my backpack hitting the floor with a thud. The metal bed frame squeaked as I propped myself up on the pillows. I knew I should call Lily before I lost my nerve….I just didn’t know what I was going to say.
Bending over the side of the bed to pull my phone out of the front pocket of my bag, I suddenly felt dizzy. Sitting up quickly I dropped the phone in my lap, waiting for the spinning to stop. Maybe I should have eaten the food from the diner, I thought.
When the moment passed I resolved to eat as soon as I’d talked to Lily. The longer I waited the more anxious I would feel. It was better to just get it over with.
I hit the call button next to her picture in my contacts and waited as it rang, the tension building in my neck.
Abruptly the ringing stopped and there was only silence.
“Hello?” I asked.
There was no response.
A sigh and then, “Yeah, I’m here.”
“I think we should talk. I’m in town. Can we meet?”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she replied.
“The least you can do is talk to me. You owe me that much.”
“Really? I owe you? Why do I owe you?” Her voice rose.
“Don’t be stupid. We’ve been friends for almost 20 years. We can’t let one argument get between us.”
“Stupid? I’m being stupid? All you care about is Clay. Why don’t you go talk to him?”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you,” I started.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Lily interrupted. Her tone was sharp, almost strident.
And then she was gone. She had hung up without even listening to me.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Strident and is part of something longer I’m working on.
This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after She Has Saved Me with Her Kindness.