Chapter 10 : Wind Chimes
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My mother used to have a small collection of wind chimes hanging off of the back porch by the kitchen window. I remember she had a large aluminum one with a frog in the middle and a tiny brass one with a jeweled butterfly dangling by its wings. The chimes were put in no particular order, but when the wind blew they rang harmoniously.
One time, when I was very young, my mother got a tiny silver wind chime. It was beautiful. The chime was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, and in the middle there was a delicate silver flower in full bloom. My mother waved it with her fingers and the chimes rang more pure than anything else I had ever heard.
I remember she lifted me up and together we hung the chime on the kitchen window. I sat on her lap and looked up at it before asking why she liked the chimes so much.
She replied. “Wind chimes are beautiful, Pet, they keep ringing even through the toughest storms and strongest winds. They’re beautiful.”
I asked in response. “All storms? Even the scary ones?” I chewed my bottom lip. “Because Lily gets really scared of thunderstorms…but I’m not afraid.”
My mother hugged me tighter. “They ring through even the scary ones…and if Lily does get afraid, you know what I would tell her?”
I played with my knees. “What?”
“I would tell her to listen to the wind chimes, because as long as they’re blowing, things will turn out alright in the end. If they’re still ringing the storm can’t be all bad, now can it?” My mother smiled gently.
Later that night, when the winds were howling and Lily and I were huddled together in bed, I could hear the chimes ringing.
I wasn’t afraid.
My father walked through the door one day wringing his old hat in his hands. He went straight for my mother, who had been hanging her freshly washed curtains on the windows. He went and circled his arms around her waist and held her very tight, whispering something in her ear.
She turned around, shock written on her face, before glancing at me.
Her mind seemed to run through quickly before she said, “Petunia, we need milk, why don’t you go walk down to the corner store and get some? There’s money in my purse.” She licked her lips. “Where’s Lily? She’ll want to go too.”
She and my father stood quietly while I took some money from my mother’s purse and walked out the door to Lily, who had been sitting on the porch reading.
I grabbed her up and started walking down the driveway, but not before I turned around and saw through the half curtained window that my mother was waving her arms at my father and he seemed to be trying to reason with her.
I picked up the pace and dragged Lily along by her arm, letting her complaints drown out the little voice in my head telling me to be worried.
My father used to work for a company that manufactured car parts. As it so happened, the company was going out of business; hence, my father was out of a job.
He spent the summer looking for work. Anywhere that people were hiring he’d look, but in the end he could only find a job being a sales clerk at the local hardware store.
Things got rather lean and it soon became rather clear to me that, although my parents never brought it up, I would not be going to university that year, not with things so tight.
I spent the summer scrounging and scrimping, working overtime at the bakery, not buying anything unless absolutely necessary. I didn’t know what I was saving up for, but it gave me a feeling of control knowing that I had some money in the bank, waiting for me in case anything happened.
My mother and I went with Lily to Diagon Alley. We both had to wear the special pendants we had gotten years ago, just so we could see the place, although Lily could get us in by tapping her wand in a special pattern on the bricks behind the grimy pub.
My mother exchanged her pound notes for gold coins as Lily and I watched passing crowds of people whispering things about a dark wizard rising. The thought sent chills down my spine, but it was probably just gossip. I could hardly believe that anything bad could come from such a beautiful, mysterious world.
When my mother finished her transaction the three of us set off to buy Lily’s supplies. I watched as gold coin after gold coin was spent mercilessly on my younger sister, everything from the numerous first hand books to a new set of forest green dress robes. It was all so expensive. When we had finished shopping, there was still a sizable amount of gold in my sister’s purse. My mother let her keep it all as pocket money for the school year.
Vernon and I were walking in the park one evening. The summer breeze brushed my cheeks and hair in a gust of warm air as Vernon’s arm was wrapped securely around my waist. We strolled along the cobbled path as Vernon talked and I listened. We passed a group of children playing on the grass and I could hear crickets chirping faintly along with the sound of Vernon’s voice.
“…and so I told him, if you want to do that, it’s fine, just don’t put my name on that transaction. I mean really…” Vernon may as well have been chirping along with the crickets. He always talked about work and about how he had such a great job at the drill company.
To be quite frank, I didn’t care.
Walking along in relative peace, we made our way to a bench. Sitting on the red bench, seemed to be a cue to Vernon to change the subject. Stretching his arms out in a pretend yawn like he did when we first started dating, Vernon managed to put one arm around my shoulders pulling me close. I could smell his after shave and the smell of coffee on his breath as he began to speak once more.
“So, now that we’re out of school…” Vernon trailed off and I leaned in to hear what he had to say next.
“I was thinking…” I rested my head against his chest, listening to the thump, thump of his heart with one ear and his gruff voice with the other. “That me and some of my mates from work would make a rugby team, and challenge the construction company in the next town over. Now that I’m not playing for the school, I have more time to devote to the company’s team. The other company has a very good team, but now with me on our side, we’ll be unbeatable.”
He looked at me, pride glowing in his face. “Do you think you could make us some new uniforms? Our old ones are looking rather worn out, and for a winning team, we’ll certainly need some winning uniforms.”
I raised my head and looked at him. New uniforms?
I tilted my head and nodded hesitantly. Rugby uniforms would be easy enough to make, and I was sure that they’d probably only ask me to redo their current ones. It was fine, really.
“Yes, yes of course dear.” I said absently. “I’d love to.”
Vernon pulled me tighter and kissed my forehead. “That’s my girl!”
The warm humidity of the day made me cast a wary glance at the cloudy sky and I stood up, beckoning Vernon to take me home before it rained.
Mr. and Mrs. Costello were crazy. There was no way any waitress could maneuver the many cramped tables in that coffee shop.
I could only assume that the walls caused the vibrations of the patrons to bounce off of each other, because the dull roar caused by the patrons was enough to make any person go mad, including me.
At the time, Mr. and Mrs. Costello were going through a bit of a rough spot in their marriage. This made everything ten times worse. When they shouted out orders above the usual din in the café, it was usually me who had to transmit the message to their spouse.
This involved me being interrupted from my work countless times.
Not to mention that the ignorant customers never saw me as messenger girl, only as the incompetent waitress that couldn’t handle the tables.
It was irritating. The only reason I stayed in that job so long was because work was becoming harder and harder to come by these days. However, being the caretaker of the bakery’s many customers and an angry middle aged couple was quite possibly the worst job any girl could have asked for.
In fact, my only consolation is that ten years later, Mr. and Mrs. Costello were still the ornery co-owners of that bakery.
The sewing machine was whirring gently as my foot rested on the pedal. It never occurred to me how big rugby players could get, especially those Grunnings blokes. One of the shirts I was redoing was at least twice my width, and then some.
Whir, whir, whir, bring, bring!!
The telephone rang, and as my parents weren’t home, I rushed to pick it up. It was Mrs. Costello, asking me if I could come to work early the next day and if I could please tell Mr. Costello that she was feeling ill and would not be coming in tomorrow.
I murmured a hurried yes before hanging up the phone and redialing the number of the Costello household.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Costello answered the phone again and scolded me, saying that I should wait five minutes before calling back again, so she’d have enough time to get away from the phone.
While this made little sense to me, I obliged and went back to my sewing.
Whir, whir, whir, ding-dong!
I rushed up to get the door, it was my parents, who had been out visiting a neighbor and had forgotten to take their keys with them.
And of course my mother had some new gossip to tell me, so as she talked; I went back to my sewing.
Whir, whir, whir, my father’s voice saying Vernon was outside…
I looked up from the sewing machine and found Vernon standing at the doorway as my father had let him in.
“Hello Petunia, how’re those uniforms coming along? The match is tomorrow you know, and we need them to look good.” He picked up one of the finished shirts. “Is this one for me? You know I’m a larger size than this, dear.” He spread it out over himself. “See?”
Rolling my eyes, I snatched it back a tad hostilely. “I’ll fix it in a moment, dear.” I was beginning to get quite upset but said nothing as I pursed my lips together and continued to sew, faster now that Vernon was present.
And the damned thing got stuck.
As I tried to fix up the sewing machine, the telephone rang again. My mother picked it up and handed it to me. It was Mr. Costello, asking me why I hadn’t called to send him the message about Mrs. Costello feeling slightly ill. He went on to say that it was rather irresponsible, as he had been waiting seven minutes for that call.
He continued on about how even though I was one of his most trusted workers, I really ought to be more on top of things, after all, if it had been an emergency, would I have waited so long to tell him about it?
I gritted my teeth together as he went on his speech. I didn’t have time for this.
In the meanwhile, Vernon was flipping through some more of the finished shirts when his eyes opened wide. He mouthed to me and gestured to my mistake. Apparently, I had spelt Grunnings with only one ‘n’ on all of the shirts. They’d have to be redone…
I dropped the phone.
It took me hours to get this far with those bloody shirts, if I had to sew one more I’d flip.
Vernon spoke. “You know dear, it’s alright really. I have every bit of faith in you. You’ll get them done by tomorrow morning, I just know it.” Vernon grinned broadly as he held up one of the ruined shirts.
I could feel frustrated tears spark in my eyes as Mr. Costello’s tiny voice continued to speak into the phone. I picked it up gently, continuing to gaze at the shirt in Vernon’s hand.
This was bloody ridiculous. “Mr. Costello,” I whispered into the phone dangerously. “I quit. And you can tell your wife that too. She’s two rooms from you, you can do it.” My quiet voice was starting to scare even me, as I heard Mr. Costello exclaim vehemently into the phone. “Mr. Costello, I’m sorry to say this, but quite honestly, I don’t give a damn about your marital issues. You aren’t paying me to be a messenger girl. I’m not going to relay this message to Mrs. Costello. You are. Good bye.”
I hung up.
Vernon held the shirt up. “So…now you have more time for this?”
I forced a wan smile onto my face before taking the shirt and flinging it to the floor. “Get out. Go away.” I picked up the basket. “You can find your own bloody seamstress elsewhere, but I’m not sewing those things. Now get out. Now!”
I shoved the basket into his arms before pointing to the door, my finger shaking with suppressed anger.
I would not scream, I would not scream, I would not scream…
When I heard Vernon’s car drive away, I saw my parents standing in the doorway to the living room, peering at me curiously. My mother came over and tried to hug me as my father entered on the other side.
I continued to use my low voice. “Go away. Leave me alone, please.”
My voice started to shake as my parents didn’t listen and came closer still. My mother’s arms opened wide and I ducked beneath them, grabbed a sweater and set out the door.
My neighbor’s wind chimes were blowing in the gentle breeze, but I couldn’t hear them over the sounds of my frustrated sobs.
A/N: *ducks rotting vegetables* It's been about five months since I last updated this fic...
I've come up with a million excuses, but in the end, there is no real excuse for making you, my lovely readers wait so long for the next chapter, especially since I know how it feels to be left waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more. It's absolutely horrid, and I do hope that this little chapter shall offer some small compensation.
Thank you for reading, and I do hope you enjoyed. As always, please review, as I truly appreciate any comments.
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