Summary: An afternoon lull with new family. Written for the October 15th Pinecone Challenge, and expanded (very slightly) for inclusion here. Prompt/lyrics: Some of it’s magic; some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way. (Jimmy Buffett)
Rating: K Word Count: 563
Scenes From Our Next Life Series:
A Good Life
She hummed while she dusted. To Ben the two didn’t go together, but he had never seen his new daughter-in-law anything less than content in her daily tasks. He had his suspicions regarding her past, and he didn’t care for them—Lina was a good girl, and he didn’t like to think of her as unhappy or afraid or, the Lord forbid, abused. Joe hadn’t told him anything, and Ben hadn’t asked. He wasn’t even sure how much Joe truly knew. It was none of his business, really, unless and until Lina or his son made it so. Whatever the reason for her perpetual quiet cheer, however, the soft Spanish melodies were a daily balm to his heart as they wove throughout the great room and down the stairs and from above the sudsy dishpan in the early afternoon lull.
He noticed when she fell silent.
For a moment he remained in his chair at the dining room table. (Hop Sing would be livid if he scratched the gleaming wood, but it was the only good place to lay out the pieces of a rifle for cleaning and be sure to find them all again. The cook had gone to town—what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.) It wasn’t so much that the song had stopped, he finally decided. All noise of furniture moving and dusting and footsteps had ceased as well. Curious, Ben laid the gun aside and rose, drifting into the great room. He found her sitting on the corner of his desk, studying the photographs of his three wives lined across its edge.
“I hope you don’t mind.” Lina smiled, lifting the picture of Elizabeth to run a light finger along its frame. “They were so beautiful, all of them.”
Ben nodded, an answering smile lifting his own countenance. “They were, thank you. And why would I mind? They’re there to be seen.”
Lina’s cheeks dimpled, and she set Elizabeth back into the row with Inger and Marie. “Does it hurt you to remember them?”
“No,” he assured her. “No, it’s been a long time. And there were a lot of good times, too, that I have no intention of forgetting.”
She nodded, her eyes far away. Ben wondered at the sadness flickering in their depths … but the next moment it was gone. “What a tale you have to tell.”
He grinned, allowing his gaze to rove over his three lost loves. His mind took him back to each of them in an instant. “Some of it’s magic,” Ben agreed softly. Then he sighed, touching Inger’s frame. “Some of it’s tragic. But,” he assured the suddenly solemn young woman before him, “I had a good life all the way. I wouldn’t change it.”
Her eyes sparkled. “Will you tell me?”
Ben laughed. “It’s a long story, and I’m sure you—”
“Not all at once!” She laughed too, brushing past him in a rush of skirts and curls. “Come! You continue with your cleaning, and I will bring us coffee, and you will tell me today of your Elizabeth. The others will have their own days.”
He was absurdly flattered. It was a long time since anyone had asked after these particular memories. “Well … if you’re sure …”
Catalina paused on her way into the kitchen, flashing that bright smile. “What girl doesn’t love a good romance?”
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