Zera and the Green Man: Chapter 9

After searching the back seat for traces of dog pee, Theodore unloaded Zera’s belongings. What if I don’t see her again for a long time? He’d grown used to having Zera in his life. Yes, she could be a brat, yes, she didn’t like Tiffany, but he knew that underneath the acting up she was a good kid. Pangs of regret surged through him. I see a lot of myself in her. The way she loves botany. The way I used to. He picked up her suitcase, the box of plants. Got to stay on task. I need to focus on what’s happening today — with my career, with my future. This could be the biggest day in my life.

He joined the women in the kitchen. “Your car’s fine, Tiffany. No damage done.”

Tiffany looked up from the table. “Good.”

lemonadeNonny poured her son a glass of lemonade and motioned for him to sit next to her. Theodore sat down, took a big drink.

“Well, Ted,” said Nonny, “I am just absolutely thrilled to have this child back, no matter what the circumstances. But I am a bit confused about your change of heart.”

Theodore wiped lemonade off his mouth with the back of his hand. “I’ve been thinking of letting Zera come for a visit, a longer visit, for some time, Mom. We’ve certainly spoken about it before.” Theodore looked around the room, avoiding her eyes. “It’s just that circumstances haven’t permitted it. Work . . . you
know.”

Nonny smiled pleasantly. “What you know is that I can smell b.s. a mile away.”

Theodore squirmed inwardly and cast his eyes down. Not a good idea. The sight of his mother’s prosthesis, visible below her skirt, made him queasy. The artificial but surprisingly lifelike limb ended in a sandaled foot, the color of the “skin” slightly different from her tanned flesh. He’d seen her only a half dozen times in the last few years, and each time he’d been jarred by the sight. It left him light-headed.

He took a deep breath and tried to focus. The whole atmosphere of Ute Springs, the place where he had grown up, had him off-kilter. As he walked in the door, the sense of time standing still had nearly overwhelmed him. Nothing had changed; furniture in the same places, same pictures on the wall. It even smelled the same. June in Ute Springs. He still felt like a boy, like a kid who had to prove himself, who might never be good enough. “To tell you the truth, like I told you last night, Mother, I thought we’d try it out — letting her stay here for the summer. But, as I mentioned over the phone, we, I, I think she should find some kind of summer employment, just a few hours a day, something to reinforce a sense of responsibility.”

The speech sounded phony even to him, but that was okay. He could tell by the glint in his mother’s eyes that she was fighting back saying plenty about what she thought of his behavior these past three years. But since she was so thrilled to have her granddaughter back, he knew she wouldn’t ask too many questions. It would work; Zera staying here, for at least a little while.

An idea came to him. When he mentioned summer employment, a memory of when he’d been the closest to a joyful life, came to him. He blurted out the idea. “Maybe she could find a part-time job at that amusement park up the pass?”

“The North Pole? Yes, I remember when you worked there as a teenager.” Nonny paused for a long moment, as if she too were thinking about those days. Her brow furrowed and she sighed. “So that’s it? The same story you told me last night?”

“That’s the story,” Theodore and Tiffany said in unison. They flashed each other a startled look. Tiffany nodded at Theodore in a not-so-discreet way toward the direction of her car outside.

“And you don’t know how long she’ll be staying?” asked Nonny.

“Not yet. I have a meeting in L.A. late this afternoon, and then we’ll have a better idea.”

“We’ll?” said Nonny.

Theodore checked his vintage silver wristwatch. “Mom, I can’t stay. I’ll call you as soon as I know. You have my phone number, and I’ve written down where I can be reached, if there are any, um, emergencies or anything.”

Theodore stood and fumbled through his wallet, looking for the number. As he did he brushed the ragged corner of an old paper photograph, hidden behind some credit cards. He saw the photo in his mind for a moment, and he thought of her, the girl he loved when he was a young man, living in this house. It doesn’t seem like so long ago . . . It took an effort to redirect his mind to the business at hand, rifle through the rest of the wallet, and find the slip of paper.

He handed it to Nonny. Tiffany got up and headed for the door.

“Ted, there’s something I have to tell you before you go,” Nonny grabbed her cane and made her way up. “I made plans some time ago to spend most of this summer in the Amazon, visiting the Kayapo Indians in Brazil. I’m scheduled to leave in three weeks.”

Theodore didn’t move. Zera stared at her grandmother. She has not changed, Theodore thought. I thought she was taking it easy, taking care of herself . . . and she’s traveling again? “The Amazon? But what about your . . . leg?”

“Can’t let a thing like that stop me. Don’t worry, I get around fine. It’ll be fine, the Kayapos are very . . .”

Theodore interrupted her, “I’ll call you as soon as I know.”

1 open door

To purchase your own copy of Zera and the Green Man, visit the official website now. Paperback and Kindle versions are now available.

Zera and the Green Man is a novel by Sandra Knauf, a local author and sustainability advocate living in Colorado Springs.

GreenwomanPublishing

Published via US Represented by consent of the publisher:
Published by Greenwoman Publishing, LLC
P. O. Box 6587, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80934-6587, U.S.A.

First published in the United States of America
Copyright © Sandra Knauf, 2013
All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-0-9897056-0-8 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-9897056-1-5 (ebook)

Cover drawing by Paul Spielman.
Cover photography by CanStockPhoto 11569383
Cover and interior design by Zora Knauf.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or living-dead, is entirely coincidental.

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