kay_brooke: A field of sunflowers against a blue sky (summer)
kay_brooke ([personal profile] kay_brooke) wrote in [community profile] rainbowfic2017-07-05 09:26 pm

Argent #10, Rain Cloud #3, Silver Screen #14

Name: [personal profile] kay_brooke
Story: Unusual Florida
Colors: Argent #10 (promise), Rain Cloud #3 (traffic), Silver Screen #14 (E.T. phone home)
Styles/Supplies: Eraser, Frame, Seed Beads
Word Count: 1,696
Rating/Warnings: PG-13; no standard warnings apply.
Summary: Sabine gets an unexpected call.
Note: Constructive criticism is welcome, either through comments or PM.

Sabine still had a land line. She was pretty sure that marked her as Officially Old, but she just couldn't get rid of it. The number had remained the same since she was a child, growing up in this same house. From before she had been born, even. More than forty years that line had been operational. The phones had changed, but the number remained, and there was just enough sentimentality in her that she couldn't bring herself to cut the cord entirely.

But it almost never rang. Her clients and her friends knew to call her cell phone. Her mom used to sometimes dial it by accident, muscle memory taking over, but since she'd gotten her own cell phone (always a late adopter, her mother) and programmed Sabine's number in, that hadn't happened. These days the only time it rang was for sales calls.

So when it rang on a rainy Saturday she'd been spending readying her two upstairs rooms for the tenants coming in next week, she almost didn't answer it. If she had still been upstairs she wouldn't have. But she was downstairs, in the kitchen in fact, getting a new can of Lysol to replace the one she'd just used up, and the old cordless set was just sitting there on the counter. So she picked up.

There was a moment of silence after her greeting, and Sabine rolled her eyes, assuming it was a robocall, and started to hang up. But was that breathing she heard on the other end?

"Hello?" she said again.

"Is this...is this Sabine Leahy?" said a tentative voice.

Didn't sound like a sales call, but they were getting cleverer these days. So, suspicious, Sabine said, "Yes? Who is this?"

A relieved breath whooshed out from the other end of the line. When she next spoke, the woman sounded more confident. "Good! I was hoping you still had this number."

"Who is this, please?" Sabine said. She still had the Lysol can clutched in one hand, and only a couple days to finish cleaning before the new tenants arrived.

"It's me," said the woman. "Lauren Snyder."

"I don't know a Lauren Snyder," said Sabine. "Are you sure you have the right number?" But she had gone still at the first name. Lauren was the name of Jeremy's wife, and the woman on the other end did kind of sound like her, at least from what Sabine could dredge out of her memory. She hadn't spoken to Lauren in more than twelve years.

"Oh!" said the woman. "Of course, you wouldn't know. I remarried. But I used to be Jeremy's wife."

So it was her. Sabine put the can of Lysol down carefully and kept her voice as neutral as possible. "Well. How are you? I haven't heard from you in awhile."

"Things are fine here," said Lauren breezily, as if she and Sabine talked every other week. "I'm afraid I don't have a lot of time to talk right now, but I would like to ask you something." There was another long pause. "Well, a favor, really."

Sabine tried not to sigh. "What is it?"

"You remember Carter, right?"

It took all of Sabine's will not to throw the phone at the wall. "Of course I do." One of the grandchildren you took away forever, breaking my mother's heart.

"Well, he's starting at the university in the fall, and I was wondering--"

"Carter's starting college?" Sabine said, so surprised she didn't let Lauren finish talking. "Here?" Was he possibly old enough? Sabine did some quick math and concluded that yes, he'd be about eighteen now. The realization just made her a little more angry.

"Yes, there," said Lauren, a note of irritation creeping into her voice that made Sabine grit her teeth. "I wanted him to stay closer to home, but he got some scholarship."

This is his home, Sabine thought fiercely, but she mentally reined herself back in. No matter what Lauren's faults, the fact remained that her children were hers and she had final say over them. If Jeremy was still alive his family would probably still be in town. Sabine and her mother would have a relationship with them. But things had not turned out like that, and Lauren was free to do as she liked, regardless what Sabine had to say about it.

"Anyway," continued Lauren, "I'm worried about him going into such a new environment. I think it'd be good if he could go a few weeks early, learn the lay of the land, so to speak. But he can't get into his dorm until the weekend before classes start..." She trailed off, as if in hopes Sabine would finish out her thought and relieve her of the duty of asking what she clearly wanted to ask.

And, since she really didn't want to spend more time on the phone with this woman than she had to, Sabine obliged. "You want him to stay here? At the house?"

"Yes!" said Lauren, sounding relieved. "Are you still at that same house? I assume, with the same number and all."

Despite that she had her new tenants coming, Sabine did have room for him. There was a guest bedroom on the first floor. It had once been a nursery with a door between it and the master suite for easy access to a crying baby, but after Sabine and Jeremy had grown up their parents had converted the nursery into a guest bedroom, replacing the connecting door with a proper wall. "He could stay in the front guest bedroom, if you remember that. I'm afraid the upstairs bedrooms are currently rented out." Like Lauren could be picky, given the favor she was asking.

"So you have other people staying there?" said Lauren, sounding dubious.

"A couple of graduate students, whom I've found tend to have odd hours. I doubt Carter would even cross paths with them." It occurred to her that maybe Lauren wasn't worried about Carter's inconvenience, but the other tenants'. "As long as he can pick up after himself and he's not loud."

"Oh, no!" said Lauren. "No, he's very quiet and very neat. You won't even know he's there." She sounded curiously desperate.

"When would he be coming?" Sabine asked, adding airing out the guest bedroom to her mental checklist.

"Would next weekend be okay?"

That was quick. The semester didn't start for another six weeks. Surely he didn't need that much of an adjustment period. But Sabine said, "That would be fine."

"Thank you," Lauren said with relief. "I was just so worried about him, going to such an unfamiliar place..."

Sabine rolled her eyes, but she could keep her voice diplomatic. "Well, maybe the house will be a little familiar to him, at least."

"Oh, I doubt he remembers the house," said Lauren dismissively.

"He was six when you moved away," said Sabine. "I wouldn't be surprised if he does."

"But he was only over there a couple times."

What is she talking about? "He was over here all the time. Jeremy would bring him over on weekends you had to work."

"Oh," said Lauren. There was a long pause. "I didn't know that." She sounded a little miffed.

Sabine was starting to think that her mom's long-standing insistence that Lauren had hated their family might have some merit. But Carter was not Lauren, and she would of course welcome him into her home. She resisted the urge to ask where Lauren and the kids were living now, and how Beth, Carter's younger sister, was doing. She'd be starting high school in a few weeks, probably. She'd only been a baby the last time Sabine saw her.

"There's one more thing," said Lauren suddenly, all in a rush.

"Which is?" Despite Lauren's claim that she didn't have time to talk, the conversation was dragging on, and now that she had even more work to do, Sabine was eager to get going.

"Have you, uh, heard of this...PSV thing?"

"It's been on the news," said Sabine, wary of the seemingly random topic that she was sure she was about to find out wasn't so random.

"So..." Lauren trailed off again. "Um, you wouldn't happen to know if your family has a...has a history? With that kind of thing?"

"Not to my knowledge. Why do you ask?" Just please get to the point so I can hang up.

"Well, Carter...I mean, the doctor said...I guess he...has it? We've been all over the state seeing specialists and they're working on a cure but at the moment it's all a bit unsettled so is that okay?"

"What do you mean by unsettled?" Sabine said slowly.

"Oh, he's fine," said Lauren breezily. "He'll be fine. He won't bother anyone. Just that he hasn't been cured yet. They're working on it."

"I wasn't aware there was a cure." Not that she had paid much attention, but she had noticed the general confused flailing of some of the so-called experts on TV.

"They're working on it," Lauren insisted. "But he's on medication now. It takes away the symptoms. You don't have to worry about anything."

The more Lauren said she didn't have to worry, the more she did worry. But the alternative was refusing to grant Lauren's favor and miss her chance of having a relationship with her nephew. And in the end, that's what she cared about more. So she said, "That's fine. I'm sure it'll be fine."

"Yes!" said Lauren. "It will be!"

"I'm sorry, but I really do need to go," said Sabine. "I'm still getting the house ready for the tenants."

"Of course," said Lauren. "We'll probably send Carter by bus. Cheaper than flying, and we don't know how well he'd handle--" She broke off. "Well, he's coming by bus. Can I have your cell phone number? I'll text you the details so you can pick him up when he gets there."

Sabine did not want to give Lauren her cell number, but she reminded herself this was about Carter, not his mother, so she did.
clare_dragonfly: woman with green feathery wings, text: stories last longer: but only by becoming only stories (Default)

[personal profile] clare_dragonfly 2017-07-09 01:06 am (UTC)(link)
Aww, Sabine. ♥ I really like this insight into her relationship with Carter and his family.
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)

[personal profile] bookblather 2017-08-02 10:39 pm (UTC)(link)

I love Sabine, though. No-nonsense, kindness layered under that, and totally awesmoe.