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Sunday, June 25, 2006

December 9, 1945

Here's Mandeh's recent creation-I am posting this for her. Enjoy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ray woke up a few minutes before the alarm was to ring. They had had a busy day the day before, and Daniel had been awake a few times during the night. They had gone over to Martha and Hank’s to celebrate Daniel’s first birthday. His birthday is December 9, which fell on Sunday, but since his cousins were going to be busy on Sunday afternoon practicing for the Christmas concert at church, they celebrated a day earlier. Ray and Livy were going to have a quiet day with him on Sunday. It was a very good party for Daniel, but all the fun and food was interrupting his sleep causing him to be fussy, and he woke up several times in the night. And if his sleep was interrupted, then it disturbed Livy and Ray’s sleep as well.

Livy had not slept well. Daniel had had her get up several times in the night, so she was not in a deep sleep when she heard Ray get up.

Ray got out of bed and started his morning routine. He went downstairs and put the water on to boil for his coffee, and he went to his desk to do some work. Since today was Sunday he would shave and bathe after the chores and breakfast, and before church. While he was sitting at his desk, he heard a noise. He got up from his chair and went down the hall to the kitchen.

Through the kitchen window he could see that the sun was just coming up, and Livy was standing in front of the sink. She was washing out a bottle for Daniel.

Ray stared at the vision before him. The early morning sun was casting some beautiful highlights on her hair. Just then Livy turned around. She saw him and said, with a smile on her face, ‘Hi.’ He was momentarily stuck for a reply because he had been staring at her, admiring her beauty.

‘Ray, are you all right?’ she asked.

‘Umhm,’ he replied.

He walked toward her. He guessed that she did not expect him to be in the house because she had not put her robe on. Her nightgown was made of a satiny material, and clung to her body. Ray was transfixed by the sight of his wife. Wordlessly he walked toward her. When he was in front of her he put his arms around her and drew her close. She smelled wonderful. Livy melted in his arms, and put her arms around him, enjoying the early morning hug. He smelled so good! Ray released his hug enough so he could pull back to see her face. He loved that face. She tipped her head back, and when their lips met it was magical. They both felt an unusual rush of feeling. The kiss was tender and sweet. They both sensed something envelope them, holding them together. When their lips parted, they were still in awe of the power of the kiss. Their foreheads touched.

Then they heard Daniel, and knew the moment was over, but not forgotten. They hugged again and Livy went back to making Daniel’s bottle, and Ray went to make his coffee. She stroked his back as she went by him to go upstairs. She loved the touch of his flannel shirt. He turned to her and smiled, making creases in his cheeks. He loved her so much, and he could see that she felt the same way.

Franklin followed Ray to the barn. After chores, Ray came into the house, had a shower and shave, sat down to breakfast, and then they went to church. It was an especially good service for them because this was Daniel’s first birthday. A big fuss was made over him by Mrs Case and the other ladies of the church.

After church they came home for lunch, and then Livy put Daniel to bed. She was sure he wasn’t going to sleep well with all the attention he received yesterday and today because of his birthday.

Ray was still feeling the effects of their morning kiss, and went upstairs. He watched his wife as she sang softly to Daniel hoping that would help him get to sleep. When she stood up Ray was behind her and he wrapped his arms around her. She leaned against him. He whispered in her ear, and she blushed, and then nodded. They retired to their bedroom, closed the door, and enjoyed their time together.

They both fell asleep until Daniel woke them up a few hours later. Ray went out to do the chores, and Livy prepared supper. Martha had sent them leftovers from Saturday’s dinner, including more of Daniel’s birthday cake.

After Daniel went to bed that evening, Ray and Livy enjoyed a quiet time in the living room. Franklin had found his spot near the fire, and with a big sigh plopped down on the rug. Ray and Livy chucked, you’d think Franklin had had a busy day too! They talked about Daniel’s birthday, and how big his eyes would get when he was handed his gifts from his cousins. They would each help him unwrap the gifts, and Daniel would say, ‘Oh!’ with big wide eyes of delight at his presents. They all got a big laugh out of how perfectly his mouth formed into an ‘O’ when he admired each gift. Ray and Livy laughed at the retelling of yesterday’s events.

After a few moments they fell silent, enjoying the company of each other. It had been a busy two days for everyone in the Singleton household. Ray asked Livy if she wanted a cup of tea and some cake. Smiling at him she said, ‘Sure, love, that would be nice.’ Ray brought the tea pot and cups into the living room and set them on the table, and then went back to get the cake. He brought one big piece of cake and two forks. He pulled up a chair and sat in front of her. As he raised his head to look at her, they both had an immediate flashback. It was exactly one year ago today that Daniel was born, and it was in this exact place where they now sat that they shared their first real kiss as husband and wife.

Lovingly, softly Livy said, ‘Ray.’

He was still looking at her. He loved her so much, and they had come a long way in the last year.

He still had the cake in his hand, and leaned forward to kiss her, and she leaned forward to meet him half way.

Comments::


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Whisper in the Night

This is a small interlude to my chapters. It was spontaneous and unplanned. I hope you enjoy.

Ray woke in the middle of the night, something he sometimes did when he drank too much punch. Ray never opened his eyes when he went to the bathroom at night, he didn't have to. He had lived in this house his whole life and he knew every inch of it.
On the way back to his bunkroom, Ray paused a moment at his parents room. He had opened his eyes ever so slightly, he tried to imagine he and Livy lying in bed talking, laughing, or silently in their expressions of love. Ray said to himself as he wiped his face-24 hours, 24 hours and she'll be here with you.
Ray made his way back to his bunkroom and snuggled down in the quilts of his bed soon asleep so he felt.

"Ray" a whisper came out of the darkness as it did when it was young and wanted only Ray to hear, no one else.
"Ray, I'm proud of you." it sounded a second time.
Ray sat up in the dark bunkroom, the one he had shared with Daniel all of his life.
"I don't understand little brother, where are you?" Ray asked with urgency.
"I'm here, Ray, I've been here since they sent my body to be buried. " Danny's voice became fuller, more real in the room.
Ray turned to look at his brother's bunk, scared that he would see nothing. Relieved when he saw the silliuette he had seen in the fellowship hall doorway earlier that night.
"Danny, I've missed you so much." Ray tried to get up out of his bed, but the quilts were to heavy, he longed to sit next to his brother who had been taken from him without warning or merit.
"Ray, I know you have, but you have Livy. She loves you so much. She will live here in this house with you. Just like you have always wanted, Ray, to live here with your wife and family..."
Ray interrupted "and with you, Danny, with you."
"Yea, yea, big brother, but we don't all get to have what we dreamed. I don't regret enlisting to serve my country, it was my dream. My dream was for only a little bit, but that doesn't mean you can't have your dream and live it to the fullest." Danny spoke like a mature adult he had become while enlisted.
Ray said nothing
"You took care of me my whole life, Ray, from the time I could walk, talk, go to school, you took care of me. Now, it's time for you to take care of your family... the one you have chosen." Danny said as he got up off his bed and moved to where Ray was sitting up in his.
Danny smiled, "You have kept this farm going all on your own for while now, Ray. You've done a good job. Mama and Daddy would be proud, too."
And with that, Danny's silliuette faded into the darkness of the room.
"Don't go, Danny, not now. Stay with me a while. I want to talk to you, tell you about Livy."
Ray jerked and woke himself up.
It's only a dream, it was only a dream! Ray whispered to himself and turned over and cried for his brother, the moments they spent together in that room. Ray listened hard to the silence hoping to hear that one whisper that no one was to hear but him, "Ray". But it was not there, Ray laid there alone thinking of his brother. Ray drifted to sleep somewhere between thinking of Livy and wishing his brother would be at the wedding the next afternoon.
As the sun peered through the window sheer, Ray looked over at Danny's bed and saw wrinkles in the cover. Ray knew he had not been alone the night before, and he knew he would not be alone today at his wedding. Danny would be there as he had been since his body was sent for burial.

Comments::


Jericho

Hello. I haven't posted in quite a while, but I wanted to let everyone know that I saw previews for 'Jericho' tonight on the tv. It was during 'Big Brother'. I didn't even notice it at first then my husband said "there's Skeeter" I looked up just in time to see his face - one time. It was a bunch of quick shots of different people. At the end it said "Jericho Coming In The Fall". I was very excited and just wanted to let those who didn't see it know that CBS has started to air promos.

Monty

Comments::


Saturday, June 17, 2006

chapter 7: Ray and Livy's Big Plans

"Let's go by and show Martha and Hank!" Ray grinned from ear to ear, as he closed the front door of his house behind them.
"Oh, I would love too! Do you think it is too late?" Livy wondered.
"Martha will never forgive us if she finds out with the rest of the town. She will be so happy for us."
Ray knocked on the Stewart's front door. The house was dark with the night. But soon it became bright with joy.
"When will we have the wedding?" Martha anxiously asked
"Soon"Ray and Livy answered in unison.
All the Stewarts were up celebrating this joyous time with Uncle Ray and soon to be Aunt Livy. Hank shook Ray's hand,
"I know you never thought this time would arrive, but you never lost faith that it would. I'm proud of you Ray."
They hugged and all Ray could muster was a half smile.
"I'd better be getting Livy home before the Rev sends out the Sheriff to look for us." Ray said mostly joking, but half serious.
It had been decided that Ray and Livy would come back over the next afternoon and discuss more of their plans after Potluckso .
Martha was sure she would not be able to sleep, she began jotting down notes for the wedding, mostly guest and food. Martha knew that Livy had her own thoughts for her wedding.
When Ray and Livy arrived at the Case's house , the Rev was in the kitchen looking over his serman notes. When the couple came in the kitchen door, he looked up from his notes and smiled, "You kids want some tea? It's mighty cold out there."
"Yes, Rev, that would be nice." Ray replied. He was waiting on Livy to tell their news. The Rev didn't need to be told, though, because Ray had spoken to him at length several months ago about asking for Livy's hand in marriage.
The Rev put on the water to boil and Mrs Case came down to see who came to visit.
"Ray asked me to marry him!" Livy blurted out when Mrs. Case asked how was their night.
Livy and Mrs. Case hugged and the Rev shook Ray's hand. "Congratulations, Ray, you and Livy make a wonderful couple. You will be very happy for many, many years to come." And they both smiled. The Rev had tears in his eyes. He had come to love Ray as a son and had wished for this day since before Danny left for the Navy. Rev Case had prayed for Ray for years that love would find him one day and it did.
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When the sun peaked over the horizon the next morning, Ray and Franklin were finishing up their morning chores.
Ray talked withFranklin, as he was his best friend.
"Soon Livy will be here with us, Franklin. Things will be different, but don't you think it's about time for change?" Ray reached down and petted Franklin on the head. Franklin looked at Ray as he knew exactly what Ray was suggesting. "Yeah, soon, you'll have Livy to keep company while I'm out in the fields plowing. And she'll keep you company. She's very smart, and you could learn alot from her Franklin. Things that I know nothing about." Ray couldn't conceal his smile any longer and Franklin smiled with his best friend.
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Franklin waited on the porch for Ray. Franklin knew it was Sunday and that Ray would be going into town to church. Soon Ray appeared in his Sunday best and told Franklin he'd be gone longer than usual. That he and Livy would go over to Martha's after Potluck to talk about their wedding plans. Franklin wagged his tail and gave a bark as Ray shut the beetbox door and drove off.
**************************************************
Ray and Livy sat in their usual spot next to the Stewarts and Ray sat on the end so he could stretch his leg out if he needed to. They had decided last night that Rev Case would announce their engagement to the congregation. They forgot to ask when he was planning on giving the news in all the excitement.
The glances that Ray and Livy exchanged during hymnal singing was more than usual; smiling bigger each time. Ray wanted to just yell from his seat.... "I'm marrying the prettiest girl I ever saw. I love her more than anything else and she loves me." He laughed to himself at that, and Livy nudged him with a smile. When they sat down after the morning prayer, Ray put his arm around Livy and drew her close to his side. He traced with his fingertips the top curve of her shoulder. Livy slid even closer to him at that gesture. Livy was close to him, her body ever so lightly on his left side. Ray's heartbeat became faster and harder and the sermon became a distant muffle in his ear. Ray remembered how Livy's lips felt on his and the sweet taste it left him even until this morning. Ray really wanted to turn Livy around and kiss her and kiss her and kiss her. He knew he would never grow tired of that sweet taste.
Rev Case's sermon was half over when Ray had to deliberately make himself focus on what the Rev was saying
"....there comes a time when a man shall leave his mother and father and cleve to his wife...."
Now that is what Ray was thinking... "cleving" to his wife, ...his wife, Livy. Ray glanced over to Livy. She was sitting there with her small smile of contentment on her face. How beautiful she was, Ray thought to himself. He still had a hard time still believing that Livy even accepted his invitation to dinner and a movie back in October, even harder to believe she said yes to his marriage proposal last night. Ray reached down and took Livy's left hand that she had folded on her lap. He twisted the diamond ring that he had placed there only hours before. Livy turned her head to look at Ray and she giggled. She giggled because she, too, was feeling how Ray felt. She could not believe after her terrible turn of events last year, that she was happy and smiling like she was; that she had found love in return.
How beautiful she was. Ray gloated to himself. Her profile, her nose, her smooth skin. The way she tied her hair up in a bun and on special occasions she put a hair pin in it Ray had noticed. Ray was lost again in his fantasy.....the thought of pulling the hair pin out and watching her hair unfold to her shoulders, then hiding the curve of her neck. The curve he carressed and kissed with his lips last night.......
Ray was brought back to the sanctuary when he heard Rev Case say, "Let us pray...."
Did I miss it? The announcement? Ray looked bewilderedly at Livy.
"...and Lord, thank you for showing us you are still at work duing our countries dark days...Thank you for bringing two people, that we care so much about, together. THank you for the hope they now have at a long life together...not to be alone in this world any more. Amen."
The congregation errupted when they all said amen-clapping and well wishes rang through out the sanctuary. Everyone was happy, and no one was surprised.
Ray and Livy were invitied to the front of the line at the potluck. They ate little. Partly because of the well wishes but mostly because they bot weer were filled with love-love from one another.
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Martha greeted Ray and Livy at the door with a big smile and hugs. Lots of hugs, many tears. Tears of joy she told them, tears of joy for her ferbent prayer.
As they settled themselves at the dining room table with some hot tea, Martha asked, "What are you two looking at for a date of the wedding?"
"As soon as possible!" Ray spit out after his fantasies he had in church that morning. He knew they would not go away, but only get more consumming.
Everyone laughed. Including Ray. Though he felt his thoughts could be seen by others because they were so vivid to him.
There was discussion about the harvest for the winter and planting for the summer. Ray and Livy looked at the calendar that Martha had handed them.
Livy asked Hank, "What if we marry before school is out for the summer?"
"You can still finish out the year, right? You wouldn't quit before the end?" Hank asked for clarification.
"Oh, no. I intend to teach until....." and Livy looked at Ray, "Until we have children."
Ray and Livy had never discussed it, but Ray was pleased with what she said. He now knew it was what she wanted, too, not just him.
"Well, then, I think we can narrow down the date," Martha declared with a smile. "Livy, will you help me in the kitchen with the tea? You men decide what Saturday won't work by the time we get back with the tea." Martha requested.
Livy followed Martha into the kitchen. Livy had learned Martha's kitchen well in the past few months and she got the tea out of the jar that it was kept in.
"I hope I am as comfortable in Ray's kitchen as I am in yours." Livy said sincerely.
"Our kitchen, " Ray said as he placed his tea cup and saucer on the table in the middle of the kitchen. "Our kitchen, our house, our farm, our barn, our tractor, our beetbox, our Franklin..." Ray by then had his arms wrapped around Livy's waiste and was ever so close to her. Ray didn't care that Martha was there, Martha was glad she was there to see her brother so happy and in love. But most of all loved back by the most special girl she could ever have imagined for him. Ray kissed Livy on the cheek and Martha swatted at him with a dish rag, "Get out of here little brother and find the Saturdays that can be considered for the wedding." Ray listened to his older, wise sister and went back to the table to see which Saturday was good to marry the woman who filled his days with smiles and his nights with desire.
When Ray was out of ear shot, Martha turned to Livy and asked, "You need to consider your monthly cycle. Do you know when yours is?"
Livy normally would be uncomfortable talking about such personal topics with anyone but her mother. Livy didn't feel uncomfortable, because she was with family, and as Ray would remind her "our family".
Livy answered immediately, "The first week of every month, you can check your mail by it." Livy said with confidence.
"Well, then, you have to choose another Saturday. I wanted to remind you of it, so that you would consider it when choosing. " Martha said matronly.
"I am glad you did, I haven't even thought of that. I would hate for that to....." and Livy blushed and didn't complete her thought not because she felt she couldn't but because she felt her thoughts would be seen becase they are so vivid to her. Her thoughts had been filled that day and the night before with things she had never entertained before about her and Ray. She knew she could not wait too long for the wedding.
Soon the women returned with fresh tea. The men had crossed out the Saturdays that could not be chosen. It left two Saturdays in February, one of which was the first Saturday, and the second Saturday. There were no Saturdays in March and the last Saturday in April was not crossed out. Ray flipped the calendar back to February. Livy knew what he wanted and she wanted it too.
Livy pointed to the second Saturday of February. "Four weeks," she said. "My mother would be hyserical if she were here,that I suggested four weeks. But she would also be so very happy for me and she would do it."
Livy looked at Ray, both had tears in their eyes, both had the thought of neither their mothers or fathers witnessing their holy union. They were both sad. They both knew the pain, "our pain" is what Ray would say.
"Then I say we make your mama happy!" Ray gently wiped Livy's tears from her cheeks.
"February 11th" Livy declared. "The day I begin my journey with you."
Ray leaned over and kissed Livy. He whispered to her, "The day we begin 'our' journey together as a family."
"Oh, my, we have lots to do in just a few weeks, we better get started on the plans." Martha squealed out.
So it was for the next few weeks very hectic in the town of Wilson. Everyone was preparing for Ray and Livy's wedding. The ladies in the community got together and had a party for Ray and Livy in honor of their upcoming niptuals. It was a ladies event and there were more gifts given than Livy had ever seen. There were guilts, hand embroidered pillow cases and sheets, towel sets, recipes, kitchen pots, and everything a girl needed to start her life as a married woman. Everyone in the town was happy for them.
According to the people of Wilson, time flew by. But according to Ray and Livy it was the longest four weeks they had ever lived.
On the Friday night before the wedding, very close friends and family gathered at the church for the wedding rehersel. Livy looked so beautiful as always Ray thought. She had on red winter suit with a red and white polka dot blouse. She wore her high heel black pumps. They made here several inches taller than her usual 5'5 stature. Ray liked Livy's high heels. Her hair was pulled back in a twist at the top of her neck, hair pin tucked in the side of the twist. Ray wore his brown suit, which use to be his only suit, but now he had a new one. The one he would wear on his wedding day.
After a few instructions from Rev Case and a prayer, the rehersal began. Martha would be Livy's Matron of Honor and Ruth would be a bridesmaid. Ruth was estatic when Livy asked her. "You were there when it all began, Ruth, I want you to have a special part in it." Ruth had practiced walking down the aisle everyday since then. Hank would be Ray's best man, and the boys, Hank, Jr. and Chester, would be ushers.
After the rehersal, there was a big dinner for all who was there and lots of dancing. It was a festive time and love filtrated the building.
Ray was dancing with Livy and thinking about tomorrow and the tomorrows after, when he recognized a silliuette in the doorway of the fellowship hall. Ray closed his eyes and thought to himself... This can't be, I am dilieriously happy which is making me see things that aren't here. He looked away as he twirled Livy around and looked again at the doorway. He was hoping he had been wrong, but to no surprise the figure was gone.
For the rest of the night, Ray's heart felt the loneliness he had endured for several years. No matter how hard he tried to overlook it, it was there.
At 1130, Livy was wisked off to the Parsonage to stay her last night as a single woman and Ray headed home soon after to "our" farm Livy told him only moments before she left. This made Ray smile, and the loneliness he had been feeling was slowing fading to the thoughts of Livy going to "our" farm the following night.
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Ray laid in his bunk room that night trying to understand what he thought he saw in the doorway of the fellowship hall, but sleep overcame him before he could logically comprehend it. He was soon dreaming of his tomorrows and not of his yesterdays.

Comments::


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Faith

Livy had fallen asleep in the rocking chair and awoke when she heard Ray come in. She looked at the clock by her bedside and it was a quarter past one in the morning. She had two thoughts, first relief that he was home and the second how exhausted he must be. She had left him a covered plate on the table. Although it would be cold, at least there would be something to eat. She had worried he hadn’t eaten anything.

When he didn’t come up immediately, she thought of going downstairs to him. She decided not to because there were no words to fix last night. She faintly heard the movement of a chair in the dining room. She knew he would try to be quiet so as not to wake her. “Good, he’s eating,” she thought. She stilled herself and concentrated on every sound. He didn’t get up immediately. She was surprised how delighted she was to think he was eating her casserole. She smiled to herself at how much pleasure that brought her.

Livy thought back to earlier in the evening. She had gotten ready for bed at 9:00 p.m., turned out the light and gone to the rocking chair to think about Ray. Really, to think about Ray, and her, and the baby. Where to start, she thought.

She thought of the first moment she saw him. She was surprised and relieved at his age and looks. She had supposed him to be an older, homely bachelor who couldn’t get a wife. Ray’s look of surprise indicated to her that he had similar thoughts regarding her looks. He seemed stunned and shy. He didn’t say a lot, but later she would learn that Ray spoke when he had something to say. She learned he was a man of deep convictions, feelings and thoughts. When he decided to marry Livy, he took her on faith. Ray didn’t ask qualifying questions as she expected because he had made his decision or he wouldn’t have been there.

She on the other hand, had always tried to have a contingency plan. Even after she wrote Edward telling him he would have no place in this baby’s life, she kept “an out” with the plan to deliver the baby in Denver.

Ray had no out. Ray answered with no hesitation when she asked if he could love the baby, she realized, because he had already asked himself that question. Ray came prepared to give himself completely or, as she now knew of him, he would have never been there. Livy stopped gently rocking in the chair as her realization of Ray’s motivations dawned on her. She couldn’t understand his reason for marrying her because they were so pure. She needed a husband and he offered himself. But not for the reasons she thought, to gain: a cook (she smiled to herself), a housekeeper, a provider of offspring, no all these things were side issues. She needed him…and he needed….her.

He came into this marriage with every hope that anyone who married for love had; he came to this marriage, his marriage wanting, …needing love. And he had faith that they would find it.

Her eyes filled with tears and her heart overflowed as she thought about moments with Ray, answering her question about loving the baby; welcoming her home at the door when she first walked in this house; putting in the bathroom; taking her to the pond; digging the swimming hole; reading the book about Troy. Everything he had done to make her at home, was because…he had thought she was…home.

And Ray expected in her that which he was willing to offer. He had forgiven, overlooked and accepted everything else because he had believed. But when she wrote another man, he realized she hadn’t brought to him what he had brought to her. She hadn’t brought her heart. That was the betrayal that cut him so deeply, maybe too deeply. That’s why he hadn’t reacted when she said she wanted the same thing in this marriage that he wanted; it was because she hadn’t wanted it from the first day like he had. She hadn’t played fair.

The full weight of what Ray had given her sunk in and left her humbled. If she could have taken back every moment since they met; had given him the same faith he gave her….”Ray, I couldn’t have known how,” she said into the stillness, “until you showed me how.” Livy knew then what she needed to do.

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Ray was lying on his side facing the open door. As tired as he was, he couldn’t sleep. All his thinking at the beet factory hadn’t resulted in a course of action. He felt betrayed. He thought of Hank’s words and he tried to think about how he wanted Livy; he wanted her so much. She had said she wanted a real marriage, but his heart couldn’t let go of the pain. He felt he had given all that he had. What else could he do? Maybe time would help, as Hank said. Maybe tomorrow would seem better if he could just sleep.

Ray stared into the dark and tired to stop thinking. To Ray’s surprise, Livy quietly appeared in his doorway. Ray guessed she was trying to determine if he was awake.

“Are you alright?” Ray asked. “Yes” Livy answered quietly. When Livy didn’t speak again, Ray thought she might have come to talk.

Ray said quietly, “I don’t want to talk.”

Livy walked to the side of his bed and looked down. She could see his face in the moonlight. His eyes were dark pools. She said nothing. She picked up the covers and Ray understood her intention. In spite of his pain, he moved over for her instinctively. Livy slid in beside him and lay facing him. Ray realized her back was exposed to the cold night and he tucked the covers in so she wouldn’t get cold. After tucking her in, he laid on his back and she snuggled into his side with her head on his shoulder. His right arm was under her but he resisted putting it around her. Still she said nothing. She reached around under the covers and gently pulled his arm around her as best she could. He responded by holding her. Both laid tensely. After a few moments, Ray’s body relaxed and he felt tension leave her body in response. Her head settled more fully onto his shoulder.

She was soft and warm and a mixture of smells that he had come to know. He could smell the soap she used on her face and the shampoo she used in her hair. In spite of himself he breathed her in. He felt her heart beating rapidly against his side. He knew it took courage to do this given what had happened earlier in the evening. He admired her courage as he understood the fear of rejection.

Her whole body wrapped around his and he felt her stomach against his side and hips. He felt her breasts against his side. She fit into him just as he had thought she would in his dreams. She moved her head slightly and kissed his shoulder softly. She looked into his eyes but he couldn’t see her eyes in the light but he thought they shined as if in tears.

She laid her head back on his shoulder and moved in a little more closely. Although she was gentle, she held him tightly as if she would not let him go. Still she didn’t speak.

Livy had come to his bed. The act touched him deeply. His heart reacted before his mind could name the emotion. A slow thaw spread out from his chest as emotion broke through his dam of pain. All his feelings of betrayal started to fade as her actions told him what he needed to know.

He pulled her more close and heard her let go of a sob. He turned his head and kissed the top of her head. Livy couldn’t hold back now. She cried. He felt his shirt get wet while he felt himself becoming lighter. His mind named what his heart already knew. He gently started to rock her. Time passed as they both took in the moment and understood its meaning. At this moment Ray felt needed and he knew loved. It would live if his memory as long as he lived because this was the moment of their marriage vow. It was spoken in Ray’s language and both of them knew it.

Then a second miracle happened. The baby kicked. Livy felt for his left arm and moved down to his hand. She squeezed it and he returned the gesture. She moved his hand to her belly and he turned on his side to accommodate the move. She gently spread his long fingers and placed his hand on the underside of her stomach were the kick had occurred. It was the most intimate touch they had ever had between them and it seemed so natural, so right. He moved his hand to cup her stomach to feel its hardness. He was amazed at how if felt. He started to move his hand in a more circular pattern taking in the whole experience of its roundness, resiliency, warmth, when another kick took place. He laughed out loud with surprise and amazement. Livy laughed too.

“Can you feel the foot? If you rub your hand there sometimes he’ll put his foot back up and you can feel it.” Livy whispered. Ray rubbed the spot and a foot appeared. He thought it was the most wonderful thing he had ever felt. The baby didn’t move his foot away. Instead he seemed to like Ray’s hand.

“You called the baby, him.” Ray whispered as he rubbed Livy’s stomach and the baby’s foot. The baby moved again and the foot disappeared.

“Every time I dream of the baby, it’s a boy.” She answered dreamily. Livy was lost in the moment, of being close to Ray, of sharing this moment with him, of feeling his hand touching her, exploring her stomach. She was in awe of how she felt so natural in Ray’s arms, experiencing his touch. It was as if this had always been.

“A boy,” Ray repeated absently as he was lost in this moment also. The intimacy was overwhelming. It wasn’t sexual, although on some level it was. It was the sheer experience of being this connected to someone else and his closeness to her body, the freedom to touch her openly. For someone who had spent years in a desert of loneliness, this was an oasis he could only imagine until now.

“Of course, we won’t know for sure until birth.” Livy said absently still lost in the overpowering feeling of this intimacy. She felt Ray stiffen and understood he was thinking of her Denver plans. He started to pull away.
“We’re not going anywhere.” Livy said as she guided Ray’s head back to her. No contingency plan, no out. Livy was in by faith, just like Ray.

“I thought…” Ray started.

“Not unless you’re there,” Livy whispered as she kissed Ray’s cheek. Livy could see his face in the moonlight. She could make out a smile and she felt home. Ray leaned in and kissed her, lightly at first, then deeper. His right arm turned her into him and he held her tightly. Her arm went around him and she felt his kiss in every part of herself.

Ray lips moved from her mouth to her ear. “All of us were born in this house. I could take you to the hospital in La Junta but with the winter weather slowing us, you’d be more comfortable here,” Ray whispered in her ear.

Livy smiled at that statement as Ray’s mouth started down her neck. “I personally doubt you’ve given birth, so I don’t know how much you really know about how comfortable I’ll be.” Ray laughed a muffled laugh against her skin. His breath on her neck was intoxicating.

In the safety of their house and the warmth of their bed, Livy got to know the fullness of Ray’s lips on her face and the taste of his skin, the soft bend of his ear and the touch of his breath on her shoulder. She discovered the feel of his shoulder blades beneath her outstretched hands and just how far her hands could encircle his back. Ray touched her as if Livy was the curved and delicate handle of a china cup, but held her tightly just as she was, flesh and blood and full of human flaws and fears. In his arms, Livy wasn’t a girl dreaming of sailing the high seas, but a fully grown woman riding the soft side of a crescent moon.*

The End

*This final paragraph is directly from Ann Howard Creel’s book (with pronoun change) because I always loved this paragraph. I love the economy of words and imagery she created. I didn’t know how to describe it better.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Livy's Strength

Livy stood staring at the door that closed behind Ray. She kept thinking he would come back. She listened as he started the beetbox and heard it drive off. She heard him skid as the tires hit the new snow. He didn’t drive fast; he was always careful. She prayed, “Oh, God, please keep him safe. Please watch over him tonight. Please God, please, don’t let what I’ve done bring harm to Ray.”

Livy sat down at the dining table and looked at the candles. They had burned down and were dripping on the tablecloth. Ray’s tablecloth. Ray’s house. Ray’s rules. She put them out and sat in silence. Where was this factory? She never remembered seeing it. She wondered if there really was a factory. She picked at the cold wax and was able to get it off the tablecloth. Just a slight stain was left and she thought she could wash it out tomorrow.

“I wonder what the rule is about that?, she thought. Maybe Ray could post them. She stopped herself because she knew the fault was hers. It was too easy to get mad at Ray because he tried to vent his pain at Franklin rather than at her. “See, I know you better than you think.” Livy thought.

She thought of her plans for a romantic evening with Ray and laughed. “Well, that went well,” she thought. A tear rolled down her cheek but she didn’t brush it away or move. She looked at the now cold casserole that she was so proud of and thought how symbolic. No, that’s about what she should have expected. Maybe this was God punishing her for being with Edward before she was married? Maybe she had been tested and failed. Maybe she was never going to be happy again and everywhere she went she would cause pain to any person who had the misfortune of caring about her. She thought of the look in Ray’s eyes and more tears fell.

As Livy sat there feeling all was lost, she remembered a conversation she had with her mother. Livy and her mother had come home from church and some of the women at the church had been gossiping about the ongoing misfortunes of a widow and how she was seeing a new man as if it explained the woman's misfortunes. It had been two years since her husband’s death and Livy was surprised at the venomous comments. She had said so to her mother. Her mother smiled and hugged Livy. Her mother took Livy’s hand and led her into the garden. It was spring and everything was in bloom. It was a year before her mother would die of cancer.

“Livy, some people want to believe that God punishes people for their actions on Earth. Your father’s one of those people, and I’m sure Abby is too.” Her mother said sadly. Then her mother smiled and said, “but look around you. A God that can make this kind of beauty wants us to be happy. We all make our own happiness and our own sadness. Don’t speak ill of others by saying that their bad fortunes are God’s will, that just makes you small and takes away from God’s vastness.”

Livy looked around the garden and considered her mother’s words. Her mother’s presence made the garden more beautiful. The garden was a reflection of her mother’s view of life. She hadn’t noticed that her mother sat down next to her and was watching her face. Livy's mother took her hand.

“Livy, you will make mistakes in your life. It’s what you do about them that makes the difference. Take responsibility, be truthful, be kind, and remember you can’t control anyone’s emotions, even my dear,” her mother smiled and looked sad, “your own to a great extent. You can only control how you respond. Please be kind to yourself. I hope, no I pray, that if tragedy or heartache ever comes into your life, and my darling they will, you remember that you are loved, you are strong, and God is there to help you, not to hurt you. Find strength in yourself, and your faith and see the heartache as an opportunity to grow. It won’t seem like it at the time, but you’ll see it later.”

“Mama,” Livy cried out loud to an empty room with a cold casserole on the table. “Mama, I wish you were here.” She thought of how her mother would have liked Ray.

Livy rubbed her stomach. She spoke aloud for the first time to the baby. “Don’t worry little one. I’ll take care of us. I want you to see the world that my mother believed in, not my father. I want Ray to show you how to be strong and good and kind. But if he’s not with us,” Livy’s voice cracked and her heart felt like it would stop, “I’ll find it in myself to show you.”

She paused for a moment and said, “I love you.” Because she did. She knew whatever mistakes she had made, this baby was good and she wanted him. That made her smile because that had not always been the case. “Look Mama, I’ve grown.” Livy thought. Thinking about her mother and the baby made Livy feel better. Livy sighed a deep sigh and got up to clean the kitchen. Ray had to come home, after all it was his house.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ray's Pride and Ray's Hurt

Ray had to pull over and calm himself. He was gripping the steering wheel so hard his knuckles were white. He had just flown over the bridge by the dugout and almost slid the beetbox into the ditch. He was shaking. He couldn’t tell if it was from the near accident or what had just happened with Livy. Livy, he felt sick thinking about her. He was out of control and felt like he was trying to out run his rage. He had to get out of the house and away from Livy because he wasn’t sure what he would say or do. He had always prided himself on being slow to anger and level headed but he couldn’t think straight. He looked in the rear view mirror and hated what he saw. He had tears in his eyes. Part of him wanted to go back to Livy. He didn’t want to leave her crying but he couldn’t let her see him like this. Not like this. He was having a hard time breathing. As cold as it was, he lowered the window and let the cold wind hit him in the face. The cold shocked him into slowing his breathing.

He had just done two things he had never thought possible. He kicked Franklin, not hard he kept telling himself, and he had lost control of his emotions in front of someone, not someone, the one, Livy. Ray was a man of this time and his upbringing. You didn’t show emotion. Only low men abused their families. His father had never raised his voice in his entire life that Ray knew of. In front of Livy he had yelled and dragged Franklin out of the house. He saw the shock on her face. He saw he scared and repulsed her. Then he couldn’t stop himself, talking about his mama’s rule, barely able to control him himself. Inside himself, he was yelling it at Livy, but it wasn't his mama's rule he wanted to yell. "No, no, I didn’t actually yell," Ray thought, but there was no mistaking his tone.

Admonishing Livy for something that she couldn’t have known. Most of the farms had work dogs that were also pets and most let them in the house. It was just a peculiarity, as his father called it, of his mama’s. Ray remembered how many times he asked to bring a dog in when he was younger. Then after his mother past away, he did it out of respect. Why did he do that! He was so angry about the letter. The Letter! Ray couldn’t stop his thoughts.

Livy had no respect for him.
How could she write another man while married to him? And then hide it?
Didn’t he show her from the beginning…show her that he didn’t take this marriage as a sham? Didn’t he tell her, tell her when she asked that he knew he could love the baby? Another man's baby! Why did she ask if she didn’t mean it?
Didn’t he give her a home and treat her well when her own father sent her away?
Did he complain when she couldn’t even cook?
Didn’t he give her everything he could?
He dug the swimming hole because she liked swimming! He said “children” to her! All the time, she was taking him for a fool!

He said “children” to her, his mind taunted. "She never intended,….never wanted…wouldn’t consider…having his children." Ray felt sick. He got out of the beetbox just in time to throw-up on the side of the road in the new snow. There was little on his stomach, so he had dry heaves with bile. He wiped his coat across his mouth and tasted the bitterness. It matched his heart.

He got back in the beetbox and closed the door. Ray saw Franklin’s face as Ray kicked him. The confusion and hurt. Franklin, his companion through the loss of Daniel, through so many, many dark days. Ray sobbed out loud. Tears fell and for a few minutes he felt so lost. The blackness of his past, of all his losses, enveloped Ray. After a quarter of an hour, Ray became aware of his surroundings again. He looked at his face in the rear view mirror and saw someone that no one loved. He wiped his eyes and nose and started the beetbox. He drove to Martha and Hanks.

He hoped that Hank would be outside waiting so Ray didn’t have to see Martha. Ray drove around to the kitchen door. Hank wasn’t there. He waited hoping Hank heard the beetbox. After a moment, Hank opened the door and waved to Ray to come in. Hank’s face changed to concern as the look of Ray registered. He went to the door of the beet box and opened the door. Hank took stock of Ray and Ray looked away.

“Come in.” Hank said.

“No, let’s just go,” Ray answered.

“We’ve got nowhere to go with you lookin’ like that. Come on, do as I say, it’s cold out here.” Hank gently took Ray’s arm and led him, pulled him out of the truck.

They walked in and Martha looked up with a smile for her brother. Her faced registered shock with she saw him and she told the kids, who were in the other room, to go upstairs.

Ray sat down at the kitchen table. Martha saw the mess on Ray’s coat and asked what it was.

“I threw up.”

Martha and Hank were behind Ray and Ray didn’t turn around as he answered. Martha put a hand on his shoulder and said, “Baby.” She turned around and looked at Hank and Hank gave her a motion that indicated she should leave. She nodded, but turned to Ray and said softly, “Baby, have you eaten anything?”

“No” Ray answered with no emotion or expression. He was exhausted from his episode with Livy, Franklin and in the beetbox.

Martha looked at the brother she helped deliver into the world and she gently ran her hand over his hair. Ray closed his eyes. Hank gently guided her out of the room.

Hank turned to the cupboard and got out a cup. He poured a cup of coffee and gave it to Ray. Ray realized he was cold and took a sip.

“You lose everything on your stomach Ray?”

Ray nodded.

Hank took a sandwich he had made for Ray to eat later at the beet factory out of a paper bag and put it on one of the dishes Martha had just finished washing and drying. When Ray was sixteen, Hank got him a job with the beet factory where Hank worked. Hank had started working there in high school to earn enough money to put a down payment on this farm for he and Martha. Ray had needed to make extra money for Danny and himself the first year his father and mother passed away. Hank got in the habit then of making Ray a sandwich because Ray always fed Danny first and sometimes didn’t have much for himself. You could bet if there wasn’t much, Ray made sure Danny got the best part of it.

Hank sat down and put the plate in front of Ray. Hank knew Ray hated to eat alone; Ray had spent too much time alone. Hank also knew the look in Ray’s eyes. Hank was distressed to see it again; but Ray was a man now, and Hank had to treat him like one. No doubt it had to do with Ray’s bride.

Ray looked at the sandwich and then at Hank. It seemed like more strength than Ray had to pick it up, but the coffee was starting to hurt his stomach so he took a bite. Once food hit his palate, his hunger kicked in and he ate the sandwich quickly.

Ray finished, got up and put his plate in the sink. He looked out the window at the snow coming down and wondered about Livy. He turned back to Hank.

“Thanks, I’m sorry if I gave a scare” Ray said apologetically.

“You’re family, ain’t nothin’ to apologize for.”

Ray folded his arms across his chest and put his chin down, “I guess I thought everything would be easier,…than it was..is”

“Ray there’s nothing easy bout two strangers learning to live together.”

“I guess I should have married someone I knew first.”

Hank looked out the kitchen door and saw that Martha had gone upstairs. “Why, you think that would have been easier?”

Ray looked up.

“Ray, cause you love somebody doesn’t mean you don’t fight with them, disagree with them or help you understand them any better. My grandma always said that you don’t know anybody until you summered and wintered with them first. You know how much I love your sister, don’t you?”

Ray nodded.

“Well there were times in those first years I would have gladly brought her back.”

Ray looked shocked and then he saw a smile on Hank’s lips. For the first time since getting that letter from their mailbox, Ray smiled. Hank had always made Ray feel better.

“Marriage ain’t easy, no matter how you slice it. People are goin to disappoint you, anger you, and baffle you no matter how much you love them. And when you put people up on a pedestal, you’re just askin’ them to fall.” Hank said.

“Ray, I love you, you’ve always been special to me; I feel like I helped raise you, so I hate seeing you hurt.” Ray looked away because that made him emotional.

“But you’ve always had high standards, for yourself and others. That’s good to a point, but human beings can’t always live up to that.”

“In marriage, you’ve got to be set to forgive a lot….and once you do, you gotta let it go cause if you don’t it’s gonna fester and eat at the foundation of your marriage like termites.”

“I don’t know what she did…or you did, but ten to one, it don’t matter against one fact.” Hank waited.

Ray was listening. Hank’s advice had gotten him through so much.

“Against what fact?” Ray asked.

“If you care about her, if you want your marriage more than you want to be right,” Hank said. Hank got up and walked over to Ray. “Marriage is compromise.”

Ray started to speak. “Ray, don’t tell me cause you’ll regret it later. Just consider my words. It’s the best advise I’ve ever given, and I give great advise.” Hank reached up and nudged Ray.

“Everything’s always better in the morning. Let’s go to the beet factory and work off all this anguish.” Hank said with a wink.

“Maybe I should go back and talk to her.”

“She’ll be there in the morning and I think you need a night to think about your words. Another thing you’ll learn about marriage, sometimes letting a problem cool is a good thing. Course women just want to talk it to death.”

Ray chuckled and went to wash up and clean his coat. He had a long night ahead of him. He was grateful for Hanks words; and Hank was right, Ray still had a lot to think about. Ray would have plenty of time for that at the factory. It was routine, boring work.

While Ray was gone, Hank made Ray another sandwich for later. “Old habits die hard,” Hank thought as he smiled to himself. Hank then went upstairs to tell Martha not to worry.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Night of Edward’s Letter

Livy looked around the living room at all the things she had restored. The room was warmer in her opinion. She knew that Ray liked it too. In the beginning, Ray would complement any change to encourage her. Now he quietly noted it and she could see in his face whether he liked something or not. Of course Ray would never openly say he didn’t like something, she had to read him. She smiled at that. It had taken her awhile, but as she got to know Ray, she slowly saw that Ray was often reading her. Ray’s way of communicating with the people he cared for was through action more than words so he seemed to naturally look for the same thing in Livy. Livy’s life in Denver had been different. People communicated with words, and sometimes their actions didn’t match their words. Edward was a prime example of that.

She thought about the last month or so since Abby’s visit. Once Ray told her about the things in the cellar, she started to restore herself through them. She had also started redecorating the house with them. In her redecorating, she moved a plaque that was on the wall in the dining room. Ray noticed immediately when he came in that night but said nothing. She could tell by how he avoided looking at the area it had hung, that he didn't like the change. She changed it back the next day. When Ray came in the next night, she could see his surprise. He smiled to himself and touched it. She watched him quietly from the kitchen and neither of them spoke of it. Uncharacteristically for Ray, he reached out and took her hand during dinner. She looked at him and smiled and they both understood. It had reminded her of the night he had surprised her with his knowledge of Troy. She had surprised him with knowing him better than he thought.

This didn’t mean they didn’t converse; that had picked up between them as they became familiar with each other. Many times, those conversations were the everyday: the war, the news from town, what Livy did, what Ray did, but she had learned to appreciate what wasn’t said, but shown. She and Ray had started to converse on an emotional level with each other through action. This was Ray’s way and she was learning the language of his world.

Their nights had become rich, as slowly they reached out to each other through action. Ray spent less of his evenings on his bookkeeping. Instead, he set aside Monday night to do it. He told her that he had begun making it a daily habit after a bookkeeping error when his father passed away. He said he kept the habit as it gave him something to do that occupied his mind until bed, especially after Danny died. Her heart saddened to think of Ray alone with only his bookkeeping for diversion. She had wanted to hold him, but she resisted. Things were slowly changing and so was Livy.

They had several radio shows that both enjoyed. On Wednesdays and Fridays, they would listen to them together. Livy had moved the radio into the parlor so that they could listen together. They slowly moved closer to each other and now sat together on the couch listening. Again, action led. Ray noticed Livy rubbing her feet. They were swelling from the added weight. As they sat on the couch, Ray reached down and gently took Livy's feet in his hands. He swung her feet into his lap and began to rub them. It was wonderful. She slowly stopped stiffening at his presence and he was touching her more. He would hold her hand at church sometimes or brush her hair out of her eyes. These became her favorite times and she started to think about what it would be like to kiss Ray, to really be held by him. She often found herself wanting to fix his hair or wipe a missed drop of shaving cream off his face. But here was their stumbling block. She could never be first to reach out because of her past and Ray had not made another effort to kiss her after she bolted from him at the bottom of the stairs.

Knowing she wanted this was confusing, but she was enjoying the confusion. This contradiction between wanting Ray to touch her and planning to leave to continue her dreams of archaeology, made Livy really examine why she had the aspirations she had. Livy wondered what she thought she would have done in any relationship in regard to her future plans of foreign excavations. Even if things had worked out with Edward, the questions would have been the same. Did she think Edward would have followed her from one dig site to another? She used to dream of meeting a Sheik and being swept off her feet. Too many movies, she thought. She smiled at those girlish daydreams. Did she want a life with no relationship, or had she been using her dreams to mask the fact that she had no one in her life. No, it wasn’t that simple, she truly loved archaeology, but after Abby married first, it did seem to Livy she used her dreams of far away places as more consolation to herself than she had done in the past. And then there was mother; it was such a point of pride for her mother that she had a daughter with such ambitious dreams. It made her happy to have her mother and her father proud. Livy’s education was what singled her out from Abby. Abby was the one with social grace, the one which all the boys asked to dance. As Livy's twenty-fifth birthday arrived this past year, she consoled herself with these ideas.

The baby kicked and she looked down at her expanding middle. She rubbed the spot where she had just been kicked and felt a foot! She rubbed the foot and it pushed back for a moment and then disappeared. She wished she could tell Ray. But it just seemed too intimate. Maybe she could just take his hand and place it on her stomach the next time the baby kicked. No that seemed to forward. She looked at the clock. Where was he? It was already dark.

Her hand idly touched the cradle she restored and gently rubbed the wood. “It’s beautiful, perfect for the baby.” she thought. She thought of dinner. She was hoping Ray would like the casserole she had prepared for dinner, it was one of his mother’s. She had been trying to impress him with better cooking and had practiced this recipe before tonight. Dinner was ready and she was proud of her success. She sighed thinking that if he was much longer, it would be dry. Today was one of the first snows and maybe that was delaying Ray. She looked at Franklin in the corner and he wagged this tail. “You’d better let me know if you need to go outside, mister,” Livy said. This was the first time she had let Franklin in the house but it was so cold outside.

As she was walking to the kitchen, she heard the beet box coming up the drive and looked out the dining window. She smiled and thought, “finally.” “Maybe she would tell him about the baby kicking after the radio program.” She thought. Ray would no doubt give her a foot-rub tonight and that would be a good time. Yes, she would tell him about the baby kicking and put his hand on her stomach where it happened. “Who knows…” she thought as she placed the casserole on the table.

She had candles on the table and smiled at her attempt at “romantic” lighting. She lit the candles as Ray came in. He came through the door and walked to the clothes rack. She turned to say “Hi” and smiled a shy smile at him. He turned and began to approach her. He didn’t have the usual smile that was always on his face when he saw her. He looked different. Although this registered with Livy, she didn’t get a chance to ask.

Ray glanced to the side and saw Franklin. Suddenly, Ray showed a side of himself that Livy had never seen before, his anger. He said, "We don't have animals in this house." Ray went to Franklin and dragged the dog by the collar to the door yelling "Get out"and threw him into the night. Livy heard Franklin whimper.

Livy was shocked by the quickness and the forcefulness of it. She had never seen Ray angry or heard him raise his voice. She froze. As he returned to the dining room, she followed Ray with her eyes. She said, “It’s just for one night. It's terribly cold out there.” Ray shot a glance at her and said that he grew up in this home, ate at this table and it all that time, his mother never allowed a dog in this home and neither would he. Later Livy would remember that this was the first and only time Ray referred to the house as “his" rather than "our.” She knew later of course that the pronoun change came from the hurt and betrayal he felt at that moment. Ray look down at the book he was carrying, and then he looked sad. He pulled a letter out of it and handed it to Livy. Quietly he said, “This came for you today.” Livy took the letter still bewildered by Ray’s actions. As soon as she saw who it was from, she began to understand.

Ray began to stoke the fire. “Livy Dunne,” Ray said sarcastically. He turned and looked at Livy for reaction. He said, “I'm guessing he didn’t know you were married, huh.” Livy is silent for a moment looking at the letter. So many things went through her mind but mostly how ironic it was that Edward could still cause pain in her life. Ray took Livy’s silence as acknowledgement of a secret relationship with Edward, made a sound in disgust, or maybe hurt, and moved toward the door as if he is leaving again. He looked at Livy. She hadn’t looked up, but her face had a knowing half-smile on her face. That stopped Ray in his tracks.

“No, he wouldn’t know my married name,” Livy said absently still looking at the letter. Then she looked directly at Ray to finish her thought, “because he doesn’t have a right to know it.” Livy’s last statement was made with a hint of emotion that Ray couldn’t define. It wasn’t anger, it was something else.

She looked at the letter again and said, “Is this why you’re angry?” Livy crossed the room to him. Now Ray is the one frozen in his steps. She stood close to Ray, and looked down at the letter again. She looked up at Ray and says softly, “Here, I don’t want this.” Livy handed the letter back to Ray. Ray looked stunned. Livy realized the scenarios that must have played in Ray's mind. Livy searched Ray’s face and smiled softly at him. “Oh, Ray did you spend your day upset over this?” She reached up and touched his cheek. Ray jumped slightly because Livy had only done this in his dreams.

“I wrote him when Abby was here.” Ray’s eyes reacted but he said nothing. He waited quietly while she spoke. She could tell every word hurt him but he needed to know the truth.”

“Come sit down.”

“No," Ray said firmly, then he soften. “No just tell me,” Ray said almost in a whisper.

“Abby came to talk to me about my future…well actually to get me to go home with her.”

“Why didn’t you?” Ray asked.

“Well, I don’t know, at least I didn’t know then. But she asked about Edward."

“I gathered”. Ray said.

“I sat up that night and thought about my future, the baby’s future, and yours” Ray continued to listen but didn’t move. “I thought for several hours and then I remembered something you said they day we married. Livy looked deeply into Ray’s eyes to try to get an idea of what he was feeling. For this first time since she knew him, she couldn't tell. She continued, “I thought how strange it was that no one found Edward’s actions wrong. Everyone blamed me,” Livy reached down and gently took Ray’s hands into hers, “except you.” That day at our wedding, you were the first person who even looked at my,” Livy smiled, “situation,” Ray smiled sadly remembering how he first used that phrase. Livy continued, “as if two people were involved.”

“Ray, I wrote him when I first came here, because I saw this as a temporary arrangement…I kept thinking if he knew, he’d want us, me and the baby.” Ray looked crushed but determined to hear the rest of this. Livy said in a whisper as she squeezed his hands tightly, “Ray, I didn’t know you then.”

“But over time…,no everyday, you showed me what I should have expected in someone I cared about and I stopped writing,” Ray was still hurt to know she ever wrote Edward, but she wanted him to understand the change. She and Ray had always avoided any discussion of her past, but they needed to have it, if they were going to have a future.

“Of the letters I sent, I never got a reply. I had put it in the back of my mind. Then Abby came and asked about him. The more I thought about it, the stupidity of writing him, of thinking I understood "love" when I was with him...Livy stopped as Ray visibly whinced when she used the word love.

“I went to bed that night trying to figure out my future.” Livy smiled, “I dreamed that night about the baby.” “To be honest Ray, I didn’t know what I wanted...what we were going to be.”

Ray tried to talk but Livy put her fingers on this lips. “but I knew one thing, I never wanted this baby to have such a poor excuse for a father in his or her life. You taught me that.”

Ray smiled through his pain.

“I don’t know if it was pride or a fear that someday he might show up, but a wrote a letter telling him he had no claim on this baby and never would.” Livy chuckled, “and look, it’s the first letter he answered.”

Ray’s face was so close. She had been dreaming about this but this conversation had to run it’s course.

Livy looked into Ray’s hurt eyes and tried to lift the moment. With a flirty look and voice, she said, “besides I am a married woman.”

Ray’s face didn’t change. “Are you?”

“I want to be….if you still want to be a husband to me?” Livy said this calmly even though Ray’s answer could destroy her.

“I want a real marriage, with a real wife…someone who loves me back.” That took all of Ray’s courage to say because he loved Livy but he didn’t want to be her husband in name only, or by default anymore.

“So do I.” Livy answered. Ray took the letter and went to the fireplace. He looked at Livy and she nodded her head in agreement. Ray threw it into the fireplace. He stood at the fireplace with his back to Livy and she knew he was considering his words. She waited and prayed. Ray turned around with a mixture of sadness and anger in his eyes. “I’ve taken the night shift at the beet factory, it’s something I do this time of year. I have to go.”

Livy’s heart fell. “You haven’t eaten.” Ray started for his coat again. “Ray, please don’t leave like this,” Livy cried. Ray’s shoulders slumped when he heard the emotion in her voice.
“I can’t talk about this now. I…..I,” Ray voice cracked and he turned away. " I need some time to think. I’ll be late so don’t wait up.” With that he left. Livy was devastated. She felt all the closeness between them lost. All her hopes for a life with Ray, for her and the baby, just gone.

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