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Friday, April 01, 2005

Troy Dinner Scene Re-written - Part I

Edited and re-posted 4/4/05.

part I “the decision”
Dinner at Martha and Hanks started out as they all have, giving thanks for each other, and the good weather and the crops. Then, as usual, more talk of the crops and the upcoming planting season. Tonight, however, dinner turned on a dime with one quietly uttered phrase from Ray, “I’ve been think’n ‘bout Troy”.

Livy was frozen, staring at Ray. She knew Ray cared for her very much, and showed her in so many ways – the swimming hole, eating her cooking with a smile, letting her take the beet box whenever she needed to get away from the house, and many more small, ordinary acts of caring. This was different. Livy sat, unbelieving what she was hearing and trying to make sense of what was happening.

Finally, it was apparent to Livy that Ray had been reading up on the lost city of Troy, that she had studied for so long and someday wanted to see. This was the most anyone had ever done for Livy, to get to know her and understand her. Ray’s patience and caring, his unsolicited understanding and forbearance all meant so much to her, but she was still unsure about her future, and her feelings for Ray.

“Troy who?” Hank asked.

“The city, the lost one” Ray answered

It was then Livy finally realized that Ray, more dedicated to her and her happiness then she could ask for, was in love with her. Suddenly the room was quiet and Livy came back from her thoughts.

“Homer wrote about it in the Iliad…” Livy explained to Martha and Hank. Again she looked at Ray, filled with emotion for him, but still unable to identify what it meant. Ray deserved to know how much she appreciated his efforts on her behalf. “So, Ray, are you going to going to plant some beans?”

Sheepishly Ray looked up at Livy, “I think we ought to.” The smile on Livy’s face told Ray everything he needed to know. They looked at each other in the silence for a long time.

Livy helped Martha and Ruth clean up after dinner. While they were putting dishes away she overheard the conversation from the living room. Ray was answering more of Hank’s questions about Troy with Chester and Hank Jr. eagerly listening as well, interested in what their Uncle Ray was saying. Livy stood holding a platter to her chest as she leaned again the doorway. She smiled, hearing Ray going over details from a book he’d gotten at the library.

Ray and Livy said goodnight to everyone and headed to the beet box. Ray held the door open for Livy, as he always did. As she slipped around him to climb in she put her hand on his arm and looked straight into his eyes. While Ray was coming around to get in, Livy scooted a little toward the middle of the seat and put her purse and casserole dish between her and her door. Ray climbed in and found Livy so close their arms were touching. He smiled but didn’t look at her, suddenly feeling as shy as the day they met.

Ray started the tuck and headed down the road toward home.

“Ray” Livy said quietly.

He glanced at her, “Mmm?”

“Thank you”. She wanted to say more, so much more, but wouldn’t let the words come out of her mouth. Ray just smiled at her and looked back at the road.

Livy wanted to be closer to him but didn’t know how he’d react. She ignored this fear and hesitation, and leaned over to rest her head on his shoulder as they drove home in silence.

Back home Livy put the casserole dish away and turned off the kitchen light. Ray was closing up the shed and came in the front door. He took off his hat and put in on the hook by the door. They met at the bottom of the stairs and Ray reached back to turn off the light. Ray said goodnight, and she looked at him for a while, still so unsure of what to make of her feelings. Ray came to her but she got scared and started up the stairs to her room.

“Livy,” he said. She kept going. “Livy, wait, please”. Livy stopped but didn’t turn around, waiting for Ray to continue speaking. Ray climbed the stairs to meet her.

“Livy, I would do anything to make you happy,” Tears started to well up in Livy’s eyes as some of the built-up emotion inside her started to come out. Livy wiped away tears that were falling, not wanting to cry in front of Ray, and afraid to look him in the eye. She looked down at the stair in front of her and nodded, finally able to utter “I know, Ray, thank you for that.” Livy futilely attempted to gain her composure.

Ray held her arm, “Livy, look at me. Please.” She couldn’t, but he continued, “Livy, I’m your husband. I want to help you find out how to make yourself happy, even, if it’s not with me.”

The words were out of Livy’s mouth before she knew what she was saying. “Ray, I want to be happy, here.” Finally she was able to look over at him out of the corner of her eye. “I want to be happy here, as your wife, and I’m, I’m trying to figure out how to do that.” More tears were coming and Livy’s shoulders and back were tight from trying not to sob.

Ray realized what Livy was saying, finally hearing the words he’d prayed for, for so long. He could see how much anguish Livy was in, trying to stifle her crying and speak to him between gasps of air. Ray gently but firmly took her arms and pulled her to him. He put his arms around her and held her tightly. She held him back, and suddenly felt some worry leave her. Ray continued to hold her and Livy relaxed even more, her head on his chest, feeling it rise and fall with each breath, hearing his heartbeat in the silence and stillness.

Ray spoke clearly but quietly, “Livy I want to be the best husband you could ask for. I want to be the best father that baby could have. Please promise me that from now on we will work together, as a team, to figure this out.”

Livy looked up at Ray, finally accepting the feelings that have been creeping to the surface more and more the past few weeks. “Ray, you are already the best husband I could ask for. And I know this baby is blessed to have you for a daddy. This is our baby, Ray, your son or daughter.”

Livy had been feeling the first little flutters of life in her belly for the past few weeks and took Ray’s hand to place it on that same area, covering his hand with hers. “That’s your son or daughter, Ray.” Ray smiled wide at what he felt, small movements, barely detectable. He was so filled with emotion for Livy, and for the baby that she’s going to give him.

Ray reached up to wipe away Livy’s tears. “Thank you, Livy, for coming here, for being my wife, for giving me a child.” Ray held her head in his hands and kissed her. He wasn’t tentative about it, kissing her with passion and intent. Livy held him tightly, eagerly returning the kiss.

Ray knew that tonight was the start of their true marriage, a bond and agreement between two people to spend each day celebrating the ordinary, and teaming up against the struggles that challenge the magic between them. It was enough to hear Livy say that she did want to be his husband and share his life on the farm. Ray didn’t want to push Livy, as he was content with the slow progress she’s made in forgiving herself and opening up to him. He held Livy’s hand and led her to her room. “Good night” he said, and she watched him turn and go to the bunkroom.

“Ray, wait. I want to be close to you tonight, I don’t want to be apart. Please?” Livy didn’t know what Ray would say and was nervous for his answer. Ray paused for a moment, considering what she was saying. It was what he’d wanted for so long, and he knew it was a huge step for Livy to ask this. He smiled at her and headed into his parents room, Livy’s room, taking him with her as he went.

In the bedroom Livy grabbed her nightgown. “I’ll go change in the bathroom”.

“No, Livy, you can change in here, I’ll go to the bathroom to change”. Livy had no idea what Ray was thinking about her request. She wanted to feel him close to her at night, the time when she has been most afraid and unsure, and full of questions about her life. She couldn’t bear another night of tossing and turning, waking and worrying alone in the dark. Livy knew that with Ray in the same room she would feel safe and protected, as she did being next to him during the day.

After she and Ray had both gotten ready they climbed into the bed and Ray reached over to turn off the lamp. He lay with one arm up underneath his head, feeling the tiredness that comes after a long day of farm work. A moment of silence passed then Livy rolled over to face her husband in the dark.

“Ray, can we talk about something?”

Ray turned his head toward her. “Of course we can Livy”. He reached out to her hand that was lying on top of the quilt and held it, waiting for her to continue. For over an hour Ray and Livy lay in the dark room talking about anything and everything; the farm, her family, the baby.

Finally Livy yawned and said “Thank you Ray, I feel so much better, about everything.” She reached up put her hand on his chest. Ray held his hand on hers and said “Livy, don’t thank me for that. It’s what husbands and wives do. I used to hear the murmur of my parents talking in here for hours after we were supposed to be asleep.”

The thought of his parents’ strong solid marriage pleased Livy. She wanted to make their marriage that way too, no matter how long it took for them to feel complete as husband and wife.

“My leg is going to sleep, I think I'd better roll over.” Livy took her hand off his chest and rolled onto her other side, away from Ray, feeling a solid tiredness that eluded her since arriving at the farm. Ray rolled toward her and put his arm over her, pulling them together and holding her around her belly.

Together they slept soundly.