by º§RaRa§º ©
Charlotte Blass & Eddie Smirth; two strangers stuck together on a snowy night.
| Sitting in her rocking chair, slowly moving back and forth, Charlotte watched as the light snow quickly and silently coat the bare trees. Even as a little girl, she had marveled at how such a simple thing could enhance such nakedness. And once everything was white, it was as if every living thing were at rest. Which in truth, most of them were hibernating during this time. However, the world seemed at peace when you gazed out your window.
Charlotte started to hum. Slow and quietly, almost as if she weren’t making a sound at all. She began to hum a lullaby that her grandmother had taught her mother and her mother taught her. And as she hummed, the words seemed to dance across her mind, and slowly they began to spill from her lips.
“The bear and her cubs all snug in their den,
The deer and her fawn cuddled close in their glen,
The beaver, the muskrat and badger too,
All asleep as you should do.
The little squirrel curled up across her acorns,
The moose asleep head nestled beneath the thorns,
The mouse, the skunk and mole too,
All asleep this night and so should you.
The snake deathly still in her burrow,
The porcupine dreams away in her warm hollow,
All the animals are quite asleep,
And the Sandman, my dear, you must not keep.”
Again Charlotte repeated the dear nursery rhyme, and a small tear escaped the corner of her right eye. Thinking about her mother always brought fond and sad memories to surface. With the fireplace crackling with warmth, her old friend at her feet and new life growing in her belly, Charlotte was very content. As if he knew she was thinking of him, her friend lifted his head to look at her, then turned to look at the door. Suddenly, he was on his feet and growling viciously at the front door. Charlotte got up, covered her shoulders with her wrap and went to stand beside her friend.
“What’s gotten into you, Boy? Are we expecting company?” Charlotte asked him. And just as she finished her question, a loud knock sent a shock through her body and set Koda to barking aggressively. Charlotte looked up from the barking dog and found a man, all white with snow peering through her front door.
“Ma’am, I am terribly sorry to bother you,” the voice said from the other side of the door, “but my car broke down a couple miles back and I’ve been looking for any sign of life to help me.”
Charlotte well aware that the stranger could be telling the truth, decided to ask him a few questions before she chose to do anything else.
“Sir, I realize you must be tired and cold, but how did you manage to find my home in this snow?”
“Well, I found I was walking in a circle, and every time I passed this small road that seemed to lead into the woods.” The man began to explain, ”So I decided to follow it in hopes that it led to a shack or home or even people.”
She began to walk towards the door, when Koda stepped straight in front of her and started to growl louder. “Well, if you’re lying to me, better to tell me now before I open the door and he makes a short meal of you.” Charlotte replied with a smirk.
“Ma’am, I assure you I’m on the up and up. Here, I’ll even give you my wallet with my information inside.” As he said this he reached into his pocket and slid the fat wallet through her mail slot. Charlotte picked it up and opened it. She read his driver’s license and saw the wad of cash and decided he either was as desperate as he said or a fool to hand her his wallet with that much cash in it. Patting Koda gently on the shoulder she spoke softly to him.
“Look old man, he’s just stuck and needs a place to warm up and rest. So why don’t I let him in and if he tries anything, you’re more than welcome to come to my aid.” The old dog looked at her. “But we can’t turn him away, can we?” And with that he sat down and watched her and she walked to the door to unlock it and let the stranger in.
“You know he seems like a real nice dog without the snarling lip and bared teeth.” The stranger chuckled as he took off his hat and gave it a shake. He slowly unwound the scarf wrapped around his face and shook it too. And as the layers of snow and winter garments came off, Charlotte came to realize just how tall the man really was.
“Would you like some coffee? tea? hot cocoa?”, Charlotte asked as she started picking up and hanging all of his wet winter clothes. “Maybe a bite to eat, I made a nice leg of lamb, and there is more than half of it left if you’d like some.”
“Thank you Ma’am. I’d love a cup of coffee and some of that lamb sounds delicious. Thank you for being so hospitable.” The stranger smiled politely and then he asked, “Where might I sit so as I’m not getting your furniture wet.” He chuckled, and realized he had yet introduced himself. “My name is Eddie, Eddie Smirth. What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you Mr. Smirth, my name is Charlotte. Charlotte Blass.” She stuck out her hand in formal greeting, and he took it and replied, “Miss Blass, call me Eddie.”
Walking into the kitchen, Charlotte chuckled to herself. Koda was sitting there watching Mr. Smirth very carefully. And Mr. Smirth was very careful in his movements with Koda sitting there. He didn’t want to provoke the dog mistakenly. And when he reached for the fireplace poker, Koda snorted, got up and walked closer to Mr. Smirth. Then he sat down again. Almost as if he was telling him to be very careful. Meanwhile, Charlotte was tearing off a few good bites of lamb onto a plate with some roasted potatoes, carrots and onions. She cut a thick slice of bread and warmed it in the microwave a bit, then gave it a bit of butter. Grabbing a fork and taking the dinner plate to Mr. Smirth, it was all she could do to keep from laughing out loud at Koda.
“Koda, go lay down. Go on. You’re a good boy.” Charlotte shooed Koda out of the way and set up a small table for Mr. Smirth to use to eat his dinner.
Mr. Smirth smiled kindly, “Thank you, Miss Blass. You are too kind.” Charlotte smiled back at him and asked him to tell her how he had come to break down. The two of them talked until the wee hours of the morning, and Charlotte was astounded to find how much in common they really had. And as she came to this realization, she had the urge to speak of her pregnancy.
“So you are all alone, there is no one to hurry home to, or to have worry about you?”
“No,” Mr. Smirth chuckled, “No one to speak of anyway. Why? Are you making me an offer?”
Charlotte blushed. ”No, I was only wondering, Mr. Smirth. I didn’t want you to be worrying anyone back home.”
“No Miss Blass, There is nobody to worry about me. Except for my cat and dog, and both are being taken care of by my next door neighbour. And please, Miss Blass, call me Eddie.” Eddie smiled then and Charlotte laughed heartily, like she hadn’t in some time.
“If I am to call you, Eddie, then you must stop calling me Miss Blass. Call me Charlotte.” Charlotte smiled prettily and slowly got up from her chair to wander into the kitchen to get herself a cup of apple juice.
Eddie smiled as he watched Charlotte, his kind innkeeper, wander into the kitchen. Catching the sight of a clock above her head and taking note of the time, he suggested that they retire.
“Oh my, of course. Goodness, I didn’t even realize it was 5:30 in the morning. Let me just go make up the other room. I’ll only be a moment.” Charlotte replied over her shoulder as she shuffled down the hall.
“Charlotte, please, you don’t have to trouble yourself,” Eddie called after her as he began to follow her voice. “I can just as easily sleep on the couch.”
“Sorry, Eddie. Koda wouldn’t like that too much. He sleeps up there.” Charlotte chuckled.
“Well, I can see you are with child and I just don’t want you to overexert yourself. Plus dinner and a warm place to sleep is well enough. Please, let me at least help you with that.” Eddie begged, as Charlotte almost tottered over into the bedside table.
“Well, I think a little help would be glad to have.” Charlotte smiled and sat down in the stiff wooden chair by the bedroom window. She’d have to spend a little more time doing her exercises tomorrow.
The next morning Charlotte stretched in her bed and suddenly dropped her arms as a cramp started to form inbetween her shoulders.