This is the first part of a new story I’m working on. It’s a draft version and it will go through editing I’m sure. I’m thinking it might end up being my NaNo project this year. We’ll see. But here are the first few paragraphs.
They called Mrs. Fairfax the most beautiful widow in town. She was for certain the richest. She, on the other hand, would only say rather bitterly she was merely the youngest. Pregnant with a child who would never know their father, she would soon give birth and she hated the life she was condemned to live. She was stuck here. She moved when Jason asked her to but she was never really a small town girl. She liked the anonymity of the city. Here everyone knew everything about everybody. Almost. And she had every reason to distrust every single member of that community.
“Kelsey.” Her father-in-law called, as he entered the room she and Jason had used when visiting his parents’ place. “Are you ready?”
She wasn’t; she’d lost her husband and her best friend. She was lost without him. But he was gone and she was left alone to contend with a gang of sharks who would smell blood if she ever let them. She’d asked Jason why he had wanted to come back but he never really said. He hadn’t been close to his family for some time. It was obvious now, but how could she have guessed that he was so sick? Why didn’t he tell her? It wasn’t a fair question. She knew why. She wiped away some tears that gathered in her eyes.
Mr. John Fairfax the Third approached her and helped her up. The weight of her belly was nothing compared to the weight of the loss, and it was the latter that felt like lead on her feet.
“You need to be strong Kelsey. Jason would want you to be.” That wasn’t the truth; Jason embraced his feelings unlike his father. He would have wanted her to cry if she needed to. “And think of my grandson.”
Another thing… they didn’t know whether it was a boy or a girl. She and Jason hadn’t wanted to know despite his parents’ pressure. Jason had hoped it’d be a girl; said the Fairfax family needed more women in their midst. Too much testosterone at the table at the weekend family lunch.
“Of course Mr. Fairfax.”
“When will you call me John, Kelsey?” Never probably.
“I might one day Mr. Fairfax but my parents raised me the way they did.”
“That’s nonsense, you’re family. Come my dear.”
She let her father-in-law guide her out of the room. Despite her fear of him, she held him tight. She wasn’t sure she’d manage to walk on her own. At the bottom of the stairs, her mother-in-law, tiny in black and overcome with sorrow, waited. She hugged Mary who returned the gentleness.
“We’re late.” Mr. Fairfax commented drily, looking down on such showing of affection.
“Of course, dear.” Mary said. “Jessie’s waiting outside. He’ll drive you to church Kelsey.”
“Thank you Mrs. Fairfax.” Kelsey only called her mother-in-law by her first name when Mary’s husband wasn’t in the room. It was their secret. Mr. Fairfax took his wife’s arm and led her outside, leaving her to her own device. Slowly, Kelsey made her way towards the door, using the furniture to support herself. She was breathing heavily and feeling faint, when a helpful hand caught her. She leaned in.
“Gee, I can’t believe Father didn’t get you a wheelchair. You won’t be able to walk.”
“I’m fine.” She breathed.
“Of course you’re not. Let me help you.” He supported her and half-walking, half-carried Kelsey followed her brother-in-law outside and to the car. The skies were overcast, a storm threatening. Hopefully the weather would hold until the end of the ceremony. Sitting beside her brother-in-law, Kelsey let her thoughts wander from this day.
She remembered Jason’s easy laughter, how the two of them clicked right away. She’d known him for 3 years when they started on the path that had led them here. She smiled even though tears ran down her face. She loved him but she hated him for leaving her here.
“It’ll be ok Kelsey.” Jessie said.
She turned to face him. She didn’t really know him. She didn’t really trust him even though Jason said he was his favourite brother. They were only 2 years apart, which meant he was 3 years older than her. But in the 8 years she’d known Jason, she’d only seen Jessie three times. And they barely exchanged a word. In fact, he didn’t even talk to his brother. His cordiality, even friendliness today, was somewhat of a nice surprise. But she wasn’t ready to give him her trust.
“Thank you Jessie.”
“And don’t let dad impress you. Or John for that matter. They like to be in control. And Jonathan can be a jerk. But he’s a good kid. But you know that already.”
Jonathan was the one of Jason’s brothers she knew best. He was still living at his parents’ being a high school senior. He was a horny teenager with his heart on his sleeve. It must have been tough for him to be almost 15 years younger than his oldest brother, and 10 than his closest one. She remained silent.
“You don’t ask me what kind of brother I am?”
She looked at him, unimpressed and unwilling to talk.
“Well I’ll tell you. I’m the brother who never judged. I may not have understood all Jason’s choices but I loved him.”
“He loved you too,” she eventually breathed. She saw a quick smile draw on Jessie’s lips before it turned into a grimace.
“I’ll miss him terribly.”
Yet you didn’t visit him she almost said but didn’t. She didn’t understand this family. Her parents died when she was 16 leaving her enough to take care of herself. Still by 17, she’d found a part-time job and graduated high school. She got a scholarship to go to university but by the time she arrived, she was economically independent. The money her parents left her was placed in a fund for her to retrieve when she needed it but having a job ensured these funds remained untouched. Meeting spoiled rotten Jason Fairfax, heir to the name was a surprising and totally amazing experience. She smiled.
“What are you thinking about?”
“I remember the first time I met him.”
“Yes. He was playing the arrogant brotherhood asshole.”
“Oh he didn’t play Kelsey. He could be that.”
“I know. But you could tell his heart wasn’t really into it. He was doing it to make people laugh and to ridicule his brothers.”
“You figured him out that quickly? You’re good. Even John never caught that. I didn’t understand at first either. I thought they’d zombified my brother.”
Their conversation was cut short since they’d arrived at the church. Father Francis was waiting outside and there was a wheelchair by his side. When Jessie got out, the priest pushed the chair towards the car and exchanged a few words with her brother-in-law. She opened the door with some difficulty.
“Let me Mrs. Fairfax.” Father Francis offered causing her to shiver. The name still rattled her. Mary was Mrs. Fairfax not her. He took her hand and helped her out of the car then into the chair.
“Thank you so much Father.”
“I’m surprised your father-in-law didn’t plan this. He’s usually good with this kind of things.”
“We’re all grieving Father.” She whispered. He didn’t appear convinced but she wasn’t going to give anyone a reason to think she didn’t like her father-in-law.
John approached and leaned to give her a kiss on the cheek.
“You’re almost late.”
“I’m sorry, John,” she whispered. “I don’t walk as fast as I’d like.”
“Sure. You look far beyond 7 months. It must be difficult.”
Count on her brother-in-law to make snide comment hidden behind a fake concern. She smiled.
“I’m ok. Thanks for your concern John.”
John smiled and turned, entering the church. Jonathan stood behind the chair and told Jessie he would bring her in. Jessie nodded and followed John inside.
“Are you ok Kelsey?” Jonathan asked.
“I’m good Nate.”
“I hope Jessie wasn’t too weird. He’s been acting strangely lately.”
“Haven’t we all?”
Jonathan didn’t add anything and led her inside. People watched her from the pews; it felt a travesty of a wedding, where she was being led down the aisle. At the top of the church, the coffin waited for her. Nate helped her get up to kiss one final good bye to Jason. She breathed in deeply and kissed his cold forehead, refraining from crying. He’d been the captain of her ship for the past few years and she felt forlorn, almost lost in the raging seas that his family was. Navigating such perilous waters was something she was scared of but knew she had to do. She was grateful when Nate led her back to the chair and towards the pew.
The ceremony was beautiful although the solemn tone didn’t resemble Jason at all. He would have liked a party, people dressed in colours. But she couldn’t say it. She only knew Jason’s true nature. No one else. That was the whole point.
The rain didn’t hold until the end of the burial though. Mercifully it wasn’t a full storm, but a drizzle that an umbrella could keep at bay. Still she had to walk at the cemetery for the wheelchair wouldn’t be pushed into the muddy grass. Her flat shoes were a relief and many women were struggling even more than her. Helped by Jonathan, who remained composed even though you could tell it was difficult, she was faring better than the ones who wore heels. John took over at some point and whispered.
“Must have been a longer mass than your wedding.”
That was easy to ignore; John had poked that particular button ever since she and Jason moved here.
“Indeed. It wasn’t so simple as I imagined Jason would have liked. But it was beautiful.”
“I’m surprised you haven’t cried yet.”
“John I’ve been crying for ten days. I think I may have dried up the well even though the pain won’t go away.”
She was grateful to arrive at the tomb of the Fairfax family. It forced John to stop talking. After another reading, the casket was placed in the mausoleum and the door was sealed. Jessie took his brother’s place and led her back to the car, driving her home where the reception would happen. It truly felt like her father-in-law was determined to turn this into a punishment for not being there for his son’s wedding. She sat, almost forgotten, on a sofa in one of the small rooms while everyone gathered in the garden for a cocktail and speeches were given to remember her late husband.
“This is where you’re hiding, Mrs. Fairfax.” Someone called. She looked up to meet Mr. Garibaldi, the Fairfax family’s attorney.
“Call me Kelsey, Mr. Garibaldi, Mrs. Fairfax is my mother-in-law.”
It was hard to muster any energy and she didn’t feel like speaking with the man. He was Mr. Fairfax’s lackey through and through, and he was less than agreeable at the will’s opening. Jason left her everything and entrusted her with taking care of their unborn baby, something nobody was particularly happy about.
“Why don’t you go outside with everyone else?”
“Because I don’t have the strength to smile at people I don’t really know.”
“Well you haven’t been really social since you arrived here. It might do you some good.”
She almost snapped but taking a deep breath, she responded quietly.
“It’s true. But my husband was sick and I needed to spend what little time we had left with him. Socializing wasn’t that high on my priority list.”
“Things are going to change. You will have to. That’s what will be expected of you as a Fairfax.”
She was no longer a Fairfax; with Jason gone, she had nothing in common with these people except a name. But she couldn’t disappear. “Now that John is entering the race to become Governor, we will need the entire family on deck.”
The look he gave her caused to shiver. She could see the wheels of his mind turning. He was already planning something. If she weren’t careful, she might end up married to John, a mere adornment in his house, like Mary seemed to be in her husband’s.
“I hope you give me some time. I’m about to give birth to the next generation of Fairfax, I intend to take care of our child.”
“We’ll get a nanny.”
“No you won’t.” She retorted still quietly but the counsellor didn’t miss the tone. His eyes narrowed.
“We’ll discuss your attitude later with Mr. Fairfax.” He said by way of a threat before leaving the small room. “Goodbye for now Kelsey.”
image posted by Jennifer Justin