(Day 6 - Tuesday, November 13, 1984)
"This was the longest day of my whole life." Willow started in when she and Tara met after classes. "I can't believe we didn't have a moment between us to even say a hello."
Tara looked a little uncomfortable, but didn't say anything.
Willow was concerned with the lackluster, well if she were honest with herself, non-existent response. "Tara?" Willow whispered, "Are you okay?"
Tara folded her arms across her chest and ducked her head. Willow panicked. She felt like the past few days flashed before her eyes. She didn't know how to make it better for Tara; although it didn't really ever get better, you just accepted things.
"I know this is really hard, but we need to talk about it." Willow felt like she was begging. "I know that sounds trite and everything, but Tara please, don't shut me out. I'll do whatever you want, just please don't shut me out."
Tara looked up at Willow with her head still hung low. She felt like everything she had to say would just be all wrong. She looked over at the table and decided to take a stab at non-controversial issues first. She took a breath to gather her courage. "Okay, yesterday you decided our game plan: study, thumb wrestle, and if I remember correctly you wanted me to tell you about the green M&Ms."
Willow was desperately hanging on every word, and caught the implication of the reply. "Tara, no, we can do whatever we need to. I don't want to decide anything for us. We can do whatever you want." She forced a pained smile trying to hold her courage together. Tara's comment had cut her to the core. I guess there will not be singing tonight either. Willow assumed that Tara had purposefully left that item off the list.
Tara felt Willow's tension, but she just wasn't ready to discuss the implications yet of what had occurred at the vending machine. "I pick study, because I had on my list of things to do to talk to you about what we learned in our devotional, and I really think it applies to us here."
Willow smiled and pointed to her colored pencils, "Good, as long as I'm still your favorite scripture geek, then we can do that." The forced smile was replaced by a real one.
"But I think you and I need to set some ground rules." Tara was taking the lead on this and that was okay with Willow.
"Okay," I'll be happy just to be able to look at her, whatever she wants I will so do. "Am I gonna need to make a list, and if so, do I need a new color?" Willow wiggled a little in her seat happily.
Tara was amused by the enthusiasm. Willow had certainly pierced her heart. There was definitely no turning back from that, "If you want to make a list, sure."
Willow looked at her choices that she had with her; red, blue, green, yellow. She appeared to make some mental checks in her head. She wasn't sure where she was going to be able to keep this list either. She'd have to develop an unbreakable code.
She suddenly seemed to have reached a conclusion. "I'll be right back." Willow sprang out of her seat, and raced toward the door room and opened it with flourish.
Smith and Kitchen both sitting on their beds writing in their journals, looked up in alarm.
"Aaah!" Kitchen was simply startled and jumped a little in surpise.
"What? Smith yelled as well; she thought there might be a fire.
Willow couldn't really tell who had said which, "Sorry, new topic, new color." She rattled off excitedly. By then she had made it to her desk and pulled out her box. She looked over her selection picked up a few items, and smiled, "Gotta go."
She was out the door before the girls could say another word. They just looked at each other in amusement.
Kitchen Shimai, was first to speak after the brief interruption. "Are you going to talk to her?"
Smith Shimai looked back, "I'm not sure, I'm really at a loss what to do. I mean, what do we have to do? What's our obligation here?"
"I don't know." I read the handbook and it doesn't say anything. Kitchen Shimai was certainly concerned. "But you saw her face, this isn't bad, she's so excited to have someone to study with."
"Yeah, but I don't think she ever made it back last night. Do you think we should just check on them at ten? Maybe they just lose track of time." Smith suggested. She didn't want to be the one to go against Tara, but she also knew she had some responsibilities for her companion, studying or not.
"Maybe," Kitchen seemed to be thinking. "I'll go and check on them in a few minutes. If you go, she might think it's personal."
Smith looked a little bit sad, "yeah, I wish I could fix that, but I don't know how. I'll pray about it." She turned back to her journal to do her writing.
Kitchen Shimai looked a bit sad as well. "Okay." Kitchen considered the statement: "Pray about it," that's always seems to be the answer when you don't know what to do or haven't got a plan. She secretly wished checking in on Willow didn't have to be on her. She wasn't sure of what to expect, but she hoped it wouldn't be something she'd have to make any decisions on later. And if it was bad, Smith would be the better of the two to deal with Willow. Kitchen knew she was more a peacemaker, not the confronter type. She let out a quiet sigh and resumed her writing as well.
"Are you ready yet?" Tara inquired. Watching Willow get ready for their list was entertaining if nothing else. She had moved her tabled items at least three times in preparation for their talk. She might have seemed a little nervous, but Tara wasn't sure if this behavior was typical or not.
Willow had positioned herself behind the table with her books and pencils neatly stacked in front of her. She was fine with Tara taking the whole couch, she knew how tired they both were, but she was note-taker girl, and this had to be done. She took a deep breath, "Okay, all set." She opened up her notebook and grabbed her black ball-point pen.
Tara started out quietly, "Okay, first thing, we have to go to bed on time. This staying up late is getting me tired and even a little cranky."
Willow jotted something in her notebook Tara couldn't see. Well rested Tara = happy Tara. Check.
"Number two, we have to be careful how we touch each other. Things could get really out of hand with us, and that would be bad." Tara considered her next point very carefully. She lowered her voice to an even quieter level. "We need to respect the lines." Tara needed Willow to look at her, which to then, Willow had not done. "Willow, look at me."
Willow turned to see Tara; she looked as beautiful as ever. She watched as Tara used her hands to mark her cut off points that corresponded to their garment lines. She motioned at her knees and capped sleeved shoulders in a slicing movement with each hand then made a "V" insert at her neckline.
That I think I can do, that leaves her head open, woo hoo! Willow turned back and wrote something else on the paper. If I were in a better frame of mind, I might make some off-handed remark about a stewardess and the arm motion directives, but now is not the time.
"Three," Tara seemed to consider the next comment very carefully. "No dark corners."
Willow nodded as she made another notation on her pad.
"Four, we have to stay focused on the work." Tara held her head up a little straighter and appeared to clinch her jaw in determination.
Again, Willow nodded while making her notes. Okay, this officially sucks, but I want my Tara happy. "Um, Tara, how many rules are there gonna be?" Willow was considering her coding system and wondered what the outcome would look like if there were many more.
Tara pursed her lips in contemplation, "I'm not sure, those were all I could think of."
"Okay." Willow jotted down some more notes that confused Tara a little bit since there weren't any rules being discussed at the moment. "Hang on." Willow focused on her project.
Tara tried to look over Willow's shoulder, but she couldn't see unless she moved. Willow had effectively blocked her from viewing the notes she was working on. When Willow turned the page, and picked up another pencil, she was really puzzled. "Um, Willow," Tara finally said something as she watched Willow in what appeared to be some sort of artwork, "What are you doing?"
"Coloring." Willow's answer was short, but technically accurate.
Tara looked a little disturbed but wanted to be patient with her friend. "Willow, why are you coloring? I thought we were having a talk about our rules."
"We are." Willow's response was short, but she picked up another color and started shading something she'd drawn.
"Can I see what you're doing?" Tara was starting to be curious now. This girl was really quirky. Maybe she colors when she works something out.
Willow was really concentrating on her task, "Not yet." She grabbed another color and started shading again.
Okay this is just insane, why is she hiding it? Tara sat up and looked over Willow's shoulder, but Willow had anticipated the move and covered her work moving it away from Tara's line of sight by cupping it under her free hand. Tara's interest was peeked so she started darting her head around trying to get a visual on Willow's notebook. They looked as though they were in some sort of a fencing match, move, and countermove.
Willow kept her work hidden with several rapid movements, but Tara finally got a partial look. "What is that?" She really didn't see anything relating to a list of rules on the picture that Willow had drawn.
"It's our rules." Willow responded as if this would answer all of Tara's questions.
Tara shook her head to dismiss it, "Willow that looks like something your niece might have drawn."
"Exactly," Willow seemed proud of her drawing. "I need to be reminded of the rules, so I need a way to focus on them all the time without anyone realizing what it means but me and you now.
"Willow?" Tara was really confused. "Why did you draw a pumpkin?"
"I'm not done yet." Willow's simple response was not what Tara wanted, but at this point, she was ready to give up.
Tara took a seat next to Willow on the floor and watched her finish up her drawing. She had made a large yellow ball in the top corner and made large sunrays fall upon the house she'd drawn. On the right side of the "yard," she put a large tree in front of the home she'd drawn. There were tiny little red balls so Tara assumed they were apple trees. Willow had curved the roof a little. Then she had shaded the roof of the house with her red in such a way that it looked as though the house had Oriental feel to it. The trim was also red.
The pumpkin was on the porch. It looked very large in comparison to the house. She drew a mailbox at the curb next and wrote "T. Trist" on it. She went back to the pumpkin and with her black pen made a large open-mouthed smile with four sharp teeth and sleepy little eyes.
She finished up the drawing by making a road in the front of the house that curved around the house. She drew yellow lines and quickly shaded the road with a blue pencil instead of gray. She finally went to the windows and added curtains that were pulled back at the middle of the window, and inside the square, she made a small bed. She put a little circle on the "presumed" wall in the bedroom and put some teeny little hands on her "clock."
Willow pushed the work out in front of her to see if she'd forgotten anything.
Tara looked at the picture still baffled by what Willow had done. "Okay...." She stretched the word out as if Willow had completely lost her mind. "How do you get rules out of that?"
"Easy." Willow pointed to the sun, "That's you." Willow pointed to the red and white house. "That's our mission." The house belongs to Mr. Tom Trist." Tara tilted her head in amusement. This was the most ludicrous thing she had ever seen. "The road leads to the house and goes around it. The property clearly has no corners - and it's very bright out. Here I am." Willow pointed to the trees.
Tara still didn't see the rules. "Willow, you just wanted to draw a picture this makes no sense."
Willow took a deep breath. "Don't you see it?" She was sort of sad that Tara hadn't recognized her diabolical code. "We have to follow the road to get to the house - follow the lines: the rules. We have to focus on the mission. It is Thomas Trist's house - you know - like Optometrist. Optometrists help you see better. The sun is bright; there are no shadows, no dark corners on the lot to hide on. Everything is in the open."
Tara was actually starting to see it. "And the little bedroom, that's a clock with" she squinted, "it says ten o'clock doesn't it?" Willow nodded.
"Willow, I still don't understand the pumpkin, although it's cute in a too big for the porch kind of way."
Willow dropped her head in sadness, "Tara," she seemed defeated, "I can see you've made a decision and I respect that, I respect you and all your choices to do what you think is right. That pumpkin," Willow took a breath, but it seemed to stab her heart. "The pumpkin" she started again, "it is us. She took another breath and fought to have the courage to say what she needed to, "It's orange. We are red and yellow and this is the combination of us." She looked at Tara who was studying her, "And we're like the little orange M&M who can't have what we want. I wish we could be like everyone else, but we aren't."
Willow struggled to continue, "Plus, it's not just any pumpkin," Willow started to feel her eyes burn as tears formed, "its a little vampire pumpkin." Willow dropped her head in shame when her voice broke a little. After a moment she was finally able to get out the last sentence, "It overshadows the house and stands in the way."
Tara looked at Willow in amazement. Her four little rules that she thought were just helping them to get through their time together there and keep them out of trouble had Willow thinking she didn't want her, that she didn't need her. Willow used the symbolism to frighten her into obedience to Tara's wishes. Tara felt her eyes burn and tears form, her throat closed and her nose started to run. All she was able to do was whisper, "Oh Willow." And her tears fell.
Tara lost control as the tears came and her breath hitched several times. She tried to choke back the tears, but her breathing was broken. Every intake of air released a little sob. She didn't want to hurt Willow, but there was a big pumpkin in their way. You could slice it, dice, cut it up in little pieces, smash the guts, and make a pie; right now, that little pumpkin represented a really big risk she wasn't sure if she was ready to take.