Author: TazRaven (Sara)
Judith turned the ignition, shutting off the engine. The farm house straight ahead was more or less how I had imagined it. A small two-story home, with white shingles and wood paneling, surrounded by a huge expanse of land. Unfortunately, the land seemed to boast very few crops. A small garden sat near the porch; full of vegetables and herbs, but besides that, almost nothing as far as I could see. I hoped that Judith had enough food to survive the rest of winter, especially now that we were staying with her.
I opened the car door, cringing as the cold air hit my skin, and stepped out. Tara quickly followed as we made our way to the front door, with Judith leading the way. She walked up the few stairs leading to the porch, the wood creaking with each step, and opened the door. A moderately warm kitchen greeted us, for which I was exceedingly grateful.
"I'm sure you girls would like to get some sleep, so this way." She continued through the kitchen and up a creaking staircase. I glanced at Tara for a moment, holding my hand out for her to go ahead. She studied me, then took the lead. She didn't smile.
The stairs led to a small second story. Judith stopped in front of the first of two doors and turned the knob. I closed my eyes for a moment and wished I could disappear.
The room was simple. A window, a cabinet, a mirror, and a bed. Only one bed.
Judith walked to the middle of the room and turned to face us. "So, you girls will sleep in here. My room is right down the hall, and I don't want to be kept up all night by your chatterboxing, so when it's lights out, it's lights out. I'm sure you remember the rules, Tara." She looked pointedly at Tara, who nodded her head. Tara turned to look at me, and I quickly moved my eyes back to Judith.
"Good. I'll go and get a couple nightgowns for you two, and you can wash your faces in the bathroom," she pointed to her left, and my gaze fell on another door, "right there."
Tara moved over to the window as Judith left the room. I walked toward the bed, looking at the floral patterned sheets that I was sure had come from hell; anything that induced this much terror and awkwardness must have.
I heard Judith come back into the room, and she brushed past me and laid the nightgowns she'd promised along with some towels down on the bed. "Now, I'm sure you girls are tired. I'll wake you up for dinner." She left without another word, encasing the room in total silence.
I softly kicked the bottom of the bed, wincing as the thud echoed through the room. Tara kept her face to the window. Knowing that the longer I stood there, the worse things would be, I walked over to the window, making sure that my footsteps were loud enough to alert Tara of my arrival.
"Tara." I spoke softly, gently. She didn't respond. "Listen, I can sleep on the floor. I mean, it won't be that cold, and I can just use one of the sheets on the bed."
Silence, and then, "I think that would be best." Her voice was clipped, and cold. And while it wasn't a total surprise, I had expected something different. It was the kiss, the kiss in the train station. The kiss that made me hope, that made me think Tara could forgive me.
And maybe she would, but not now.
The floor would be freezing, but it was a small price to pay for a small step into Tara's forgiveness. Nodding, even though she couldn't see me, I turned and grabbed a pillow and a sheet from the mattress, laying it on the ground a few feet away from the bed. I shouldn't have expected immediate acceptance. Riding beside her in a truck was one thing. Sleeping together was entirely different.
I chose to stay in my clothes rather than change into the nightgown, knowing that my pants and shirt would afford me more heat than the sheer fabric of the pajamas. Laying my head on the pillow and closing my eyes, I could feel the hard floor beneath me, and shivered as the cold from the wood seeped through my garments, my skin, and into my bones. I felt as though I were back on the streets.
Tara's footsteps sounded toward the bed, and I heard her rustle the sheets, most likely picking up the nightgown. Her footfalls headed toward the bathroom, and the door opened then closed shut with a click. The terror and exhaustion from the previous hours caught up with me, and my body succumbed, finally, to sleep.
When I woke, the room was dark, the small amount of light coming from the window doing very little to illuminate the space, and I was shivering. I called out to Tara but received no answer. Tossing the covers from my body, I stretched and stood, trying to circulate blood back into my limbs. Pins and needles stabbed my skin, and I shook out the pain.
I didn't know what time it was, but the light outside told me it was probably late evening, maybe six or seven. Stretching my arms above my head, I yawned, expelling the stale air from my lungs. Mid-yawn, I heard voices in the hall, and dropped my arms to my side. The voices grew louder, until they were right outside the door. My heart skipped a beat, the events of yesterday making me assume the worst, until I remembered where I was. Judith's house, Tara nearby. Everything was ok.
And thankfully, I was right. Tara poked her head through the doorway, a ghost of a smile appearing on her lips when she saw I was awake. The smile disappeared quickly though, as her eyes drifted to my makeshift bed.
"I'm sorry," she said, and I shook my head.
"No, Tara, no apology. I get it, I really do." She nodded and I continued. "Besides, it wasn't that cold. I mean, I may have to go thaw myself out in the oven, but..." I trailed off as her smile reappeared. I felt a grin form on my face in return.
"Dinner's ready, if you're hungry," she said, her eyes making contact with mine.
I nodded and walked toward her, but she didn't move. "Tara?" I asked. Nothing. "Tara," I repeated, my concern for her growing with each second she didn't respond. Her eyes were fixated on mine, and as I waved a hand in front of her face, she seemed to snap out of her slight trance. Unfortunately, the smile dropped from her face, and I knew that the Tara who had barely spoken to me at the window was back.
"It'll get cold," she whispered, before turning from the room and almost sprinting down the stairs. I sighed and followed my nose and the Tara blur to dinner.