A Writer Takes her Pen
To Write the Words Again
By LeAnn Morgan
This morning the divorce finally went through. It had been four months since Rowena’s husband came to their bed late one night and said he was going out to meet some friends. He never returned. On this day, since nothing was contested, she didn’t go to court.
She looked up at herself in the mirror and was startled at what was staring back at her. What she saw was an ugly scowl. Her once attractive face was turning gaunt. The softness in her hazel green eyes was absent. She had lost weight almost to the point of emaciation. But it was an epiphany. Eleven years of living with a hedonistic serial cheater was enough. She made herself smile. She softened her eyes. She had had enough of the gas lighting her husband and mother-in-law had inflicted on her.
She went into the bedroom closet to grab all his clothes. She then pulled out the girlie magazines that he thought nobody knew about. Rowena took them outside into the middle of the back yard and poured gasoline on them, then lit a match. At her private inferno celebration she made a vow to never scowl again. It didn’t matter that she was having an extended nonproductive spell as a writer and living in a rundown house that was almost in foreclosure. Each issue had to be dealt with one at a time. The whole healing process would be slow. She would have to fight to get to her better self. She must reinvent herself. But she was liberated.
Back inside, she looked down at the neglected mail on the kitchen table. Among the pile there was a notice for a certified letter. Her adrenalin pumping a little, she hopped in the car and headed straight to the post office.
The postmaster shuffled through some letters and found Rowena’s. It was postmarked from Great Britain.
“Great Britain? Who do I know from there,” she whispered to herself as she sat in her car opening the letter. Reading the letter, it stated that a woman named Maude Hollister, her father’s spinster aunt, was leaving her entire estate in Cornwall, England, to Rowena.
As Rowena was trying to soak all of this in, she looked up and there was William, her ex-husband, walking on the sidewalk right by her car. He was with the new love of his life, holding hands. She was tall and voluptuous with long, dark hair. Rowena could see she had luminous blue eyes. There were three things Rowena could never give William, blue eyes, raven hair and big kahunas.
As Rowena found her seat on the flight from Chicago, she wondered if she had made the right decision auctioning off her home and furnishings to pay off her debts, leaving her with a mere twenty thousand dollars. The only tangible things she had left were in her two suitcases
Upon her arrival at Heathrow Airport, she rented a car for the five-hour journey south-west to St. Eva, Cornwall, where she met with the lawyer who gave her the legal documents on the estate. He said her aunt had not lived in the house for over three years.
Driving into the countryside on the narrow winding roads, she entered into some moorland. It was replete with rolling hills, hedge fences and grazing sheep. The ancient stone barns were picturesque with their sodded moss rooftops. She turned off onto a heathland area and followed a narrow lane. She became surrounded with the landscape of shrubbery and beautiful purple and yellow flowers.
To the left of the lane was her deceased aunt’s house. The house was surrounded by an archaic wooden fence, in bad need of paint. The house itself was a stone Gothic structure with lancet windows but so overcome with vegetation it was hardly visible. There was a brick chimney with battlements. The front door had an arched entryway. The roof was made of cedar shingles covered with moss. The front yard had two huge gnarled oak trees. It reminded her of a Thomas Kincaid painting, only tired and sad without the illumination. To the right of the lane, about 900 feet away, was a small chalet with smoke coming from the chimney.
She stepped out of the car and followed the barely visible flagstone walkway. She unlocked the front door with an old ornate skeleton key. Slowly opening the door she could see a fireplace and sagging floor boards. She walked to the back door but couldn’t open it because bramble had overgrown it to the point of sealing it tight.
She went to the car to gather her luggage and took it upstairs to a bedroom facing the back of the house. The bathtub had a water pump for a faucet. She pumped the faucet and rust came out of it. She didn’t really know what to make of this place, but hoped a fairy or hobgoblin wouldn’t make an unexpected appearance.
In the bedroom, she pulled out some bedding from a chest of drawers. Fluffing out the sheets and blankets on the bed, dust was flying everywhere. The house had a chill to it. Noticing a wood pile outside, she would later have to gather some wood to light the fireplace.
But presently she sat down at the dusty, solid oak kitchen table and without much appetite, ate some fruit.
While she was outside gathering the wood, an elderly man approached her. He was slight and walked slow and hunched over. Approaching from where the sun was setting his long silver hair glistened. He was like a cloud with a silver lining. “Hello, young lady. You must be Maude’s niece. My name is Gorbie McGreevy.” He lived in the chalet across the lane.
So glad to see someone, she extended her hand, “Hello to you. It is so nice to meet you. My name is Rowena Mills.” She could see a clouding in his brown eyes that were surrounded by deep careworn wrinkles. But they were sweet and welcoming. She liked his Cornish accent.
“I have just fixed up some autumn stew. Would you like a bowl?” He asked eagerly. For the first time in months her stomach growled with a voracious hunger.
With her stomach full from two bowls of stew and three slices of cornbread, she waved goodbye to her kind new neighbor.
She went to her bedroom and sat down at the desk. She opened and turned on her computer. With her hotspot she got online and checked her e-mails. She then briefly got on Facebook and scrolled down the newsfeed, wondering if any of her friends were as alone as she was at that moment. She turned it off and went to bed.
Just as she drifted off to sleep; she was awakened by a noise from above in the attic. A screech owl was trilling and whistling outside the window. The sound was soothing, so she named the owl Comfort. The noise in the attic was surely her imagination. And she drifted back to sleep, deeply, not waking up until morning.
She knocked on Mr. McGreevy’s door. “Hello, Mr. McGreevy! I am going into the village for some breakfast. Would you like to join me?”
“Well, considering I haven’t had a date since my wife passed away, I would be a fool to turn down a lovely lady like you,” he chuckled. And out the door he came with Rowena holding his arm.
“How long has your wife been gone?” She asked as they sat in the pub, eating breakfast.
“Twenty five years.” Rowena felt sadness well up in her. He then asked her about her life and what her plans might be.
She told him about her recent divorce and how she abruptly sold everything. Doing it all in a haste, having moments of regret.
“We all meet the fork in the road sometime in our lives. But I believe that no matter which path we take, our lives will be hallowed if we do it with the noblest of motives. So far, you have taken every step yourself to get to where you are. I think you have and will make the right choices.” Mr. McGreevy was like listening to a sweet grandpa—soulful, wise and patient—and her heart was lifted.
Back at the house Rowena found a machete and started hacking away at the brambles around the back entrance. She missed her stride and tripped, the machete coming down on her right pinkie finger, severing the tip. Stunned for a moment, she grabbed a rag and rushed to the village.
Dr. Reader came into the room where Rowena sat. He looked at the tip of her pinkie hanging. He cleaned it and sewed it back on. “I think we have saved your finger,” the doctor said looking at her with concern. “What in the world were you doing?”
“I have recently inherited an estate that has been neglected. Whether I decide to sell it or live in it, I need to get it fixed up.” As she started to walk out the door, the doctor stopped her and she turned around.
“I could suggest someone to help you. I know of a few good blokes,” he offered as he scanned her body with his eyes.
Sitting around the house these past couple of days had made Rowena anxious. She put a rubber glove over her injured hand and started the task of cleaning the house. Her finger throbbed as she got on her hands and knees to scrub the kitchen floor and wipe out the cupboards.
Somebody knocked at the door. “Good morning, my name is Simon. The doctor suggested I come here and ask if you need some help.” Simon had a genuine, exuberant and unselfconscious smile even if he was missing some teeth.
Simon tore into the yard with a vengeance. He had the back entrance way cleared off and had the flagstone walkway looking pristine. She was so encouraged she tied back her long brown hair and started helping. She learned that Simon was married and had two young children. A boy, eight, named Heath and a girl, six, named Heather. Hard times had hit them and they were currently living in a small section of a relative’s home.
After two full days of cleaning the yard in the crisp autumn air, it looked transformed. And it had invigorated Rowena. Color was coming back in her cheeks and her appetite was returning to normal, she had even gained a few pounds. She had a sense of equanimity.
That evening she sat down at the table to eat some supper. She heard a noise in the attic again. This time it wasn’t her imagination. She got a flashlight and pulled down the stairs from the ceiling. Ascending the stairs she could hear a racket. She noticed the attic was spacious, with a closed off room. In the room, over in the corner she spotted something moving. At first she gasped, her heart racing. Then she saw what the hobgoblin was and smiled. The crow started to caw. She noticed a window wasn’t latched. “Come on, lost one, let’s put you back with your family,” she soothingly spoke to the crow and let him out the window.
Simon came back to jack up the sagging floors and do repair work in the interior. Mr. McGreevy came over often with stew or Cornish pasties he had prepared. For two months Rowena spent many hours scrubbing and polishing all the woodwork and floors. She did the same with the furniture. She washed the windows and cleaned the curtains.
Simon’s wife, Daisy, came often to help. Her hair was golden blonde; she had lashes to match and freckles on her face. Daisy was the girl who heard the music in the breeze and the poetry in the wild flowers. She was Mother Earth herself. Rowena liked her very much. She was like a newfound sister. Rowena’s new friends were becoming like family.
But the time was growing near where a decision had to be made on what to do. Even though it was only two months into her six month visa, things needed to be put in order. As she pondered these thoughts, she went to her desk to open her e-mail.
She quickly sat up straight in the chair, shaken, and read:
I never realized when you moved away how much I would miss you. How much I love you. I just can’t stop thinking about you. We can have a fresh start together again. I am sorry for everything, my darling. You once said: a writer takes her pen to write the words again. Won’t you please rewrite the words again, with us together, forever?
She was shaking. She started to reply, but her mind was muddled. At that moment there were no words.
Rowena decided to have a Christmas feast for her friends. There would be turkey and ham, with all of the trimmings. She wanted to show them her appreciation. She decided to drive to the coast and sit by the sea to think. At the seaside she saw a lighthouse and walked the two hundred and fifty foot stone plank to reach it. Wrapped in a blanket for warmth, she sat down on the side of the lighthouse away from the land, facing only the water. With a fog engulfing the area she sat for several hours, contemplating, casting her fate to the wind.
On the evening before the dinner, Rowena went to gather some firewood.
Back inside, she went slowly upstairs to her computer and opened up William’s e-mail. She hit reply.
I must say I was speechless when I opened your e-mail and I must also admit a little flattered at first. But that is what it has always been with you. Do you realize I have only heard those words from you after you have tired of your folly? But I don’t totally blame you. I should have left you many years ago. I foolishly hung on after it was long over, pretending. Because you see, I don’t love you and I haven’t in a long time. Obviously, it isn’t going well with the new love of your life; well give it time, I know you will find your perfect goddess somewhere. You have asked me to rewrite the words again. I have rewritten the words again. But sadly, you are not in them. I am coming back to the States after the New Year. We need to talk.
“Before we begin our meal, I have a few things I need to say,” said Rowena as she stood up from her seat. “Mr. McGreevy, you appeared one day to introduce yourself me. You couldn’t have known that I was going through one of the darkest moments of my life. You nourished me, not just with your delicious stews, but with your kind words and wisdom. You nourished my soul. You were like an angel to me. Call it serendipity; I know you were put right in my path. I was still hanging off the cliff, close to falling and you lifted me up. You helped save me, my dear friend.” Her eyes had been downcast, as a shy child, but she looked up at Mr. McGreevy and his sweet clouded eyes were filled with tears.
“To my new friends, Simon, Daisy, Heath and Heather—this home is what it is because of you. It would not have been possible for me alone to transform this sad little house into a warm and lovely dwelling, such as it is now. Because when I first arrived, I hadn’t enough will left in me to do it. But you have shown me what true love really is. I have enough money for counsel taxes and various fees. I am making an offer to you, in gratitude; to have you all live in this home for as long as you want to. I will visit here every year. Could you help me fix up the attic as my living quarters? That enclosed room would be a perfect writing room.”
Simon and Daisy for a moment sat stunned. And then they and the children cried out in joy. Rowena lifted her glass in a toast, as did everyone else.
After the meal Rowena stood up to go into the kitchen. She felt a strange sensation in her back. In the kitchen, sensation turned into a pain and she looked down at the floor and she was standing in a pool of water. Daisy heard Rowena call out and ran into the kitchen.
“My plans were to have this baby in the States! This baby is not due for another month!” Rowena cried out as she lay on the bed, sweating, panting.
“Well, Love, this baby seems to have a mind of its own and wants to be a Brit! Daisy answered back. It doesn’t look like this little tyke is even going to wait for Dr. Reader!”
“What a sweet little girl you are,” Daisy spoke soothingly to the baby. “You are such a tiny, delicate little thing, but so strong and healthy! You are just like a little violet.” She put the baby in Rowena’s arms. Rowena looked up and saw Dr. Reader’s silhouette standing in the doorway. She had never noticed how tall and handsome he was.
After her recuperation, Simon and his family took Rowena and Violet to the airport in London. “Are you sure you will be alright?” Daisy asked as she hugged Rowena.
“I will be fine. And I will be back.” She hugged everyone goodbye.