The name of this story is “One Windy Day.” The plot is a Romeo & Juliet story but the romance has major flaws. Heather is a girl who is very lonely. Her parents are struggling hard to make enough money and the mother, especially, is wrestling with grief over the death of Heather’s brother. Che is a young man without even a home. He survives by being an opportunist and is alcoholic. These characters are NOT real or modeled after anyone. They are meant to show the problems of poor rural people. They are Indian because the authors are Indian.
A KNOCK AT THE DOOR
Heather opened the door of the trailer house with difficulty because the wind was blowing and she had a big armload of books. She had promised herself that she would catch up all her homework tonight. It would be very hard -- she had let it all go for a long time and she had been absent a lot. She wasn't really sure she COULD do it, but she hoped somehow to figure it out. If she could do it by herself.
It was cold in the trailer. Partly it was the spring wind sucking the heat out faster than the little old trailer furnace in the hall could pump it back in. But also the place smelled stale, because no one had been in it all day. Her dad was working construction. It was a good chance to make some real money, but it meant he had to be gone for weeks at a time. She missed him a lot and she knew her mother did, too. Maybe that's why her mother had taken a job at the Bingo Bonanza. But her mom just liked bingo. You could even say she was hooked.
Heather pushed aside the breakfast dishes and the unopened mail on the table so she could put her books down. One saucer had a fried egg in it that had had the yolk picked out of it and then someone had used it for an ashtray so it was a repulsive, smelly, greasy mess. In a minute she would clean up and put stuff away. But she was tired. And probably her mom wouldn't notice or say anything if she did notice. Instead Heather went back to her own tiny room, hardly big enough for the bed and the built-in desk.
With lights on and the tape player beating out a song, she felt a little better. She was glad she'd made her bed that morning, but she was too tired to change clothes. Instead she sprawled out flat and tucked her good old teddy bear up against her for comfort. She was lonesome, but she didn't want to admit it. She hated to come home to an empty place. It felt like no one cared or maybe like she didn't even exist.
Then there was a knock on the door. Her heart leapt. She had a fantasy it might be Che, but that was silly. She liked him a lot, but he was so much older than she was, he probably didn't even know she existed. So she didn't even bother to look in the mirror before she opened the door. Then her eyes got big and wide! It WAS Che! "Can I come in?" he asked, and the cold wind blew his hair into his eyes.
"Well, um... of course!" said Heather. Her mother had said no boys in the trailer unless she was home, but it was rude to leave him out there in the weather. Maybe he just wanted to ask one little thing. She couldn't even imagine Che LIKING her, much less doing something he shouldn't. He probably didn't even know she lived there. It was probably an accident.
"Come on in. Um. Would you like a Coke?" She opened the refrigerator door. But before she could find a pop in among all the leftovers, Che reached his long arm over her shoulder and snagged a beer. "Don't take that!" squeaked Heather. "My mom..."
Che grinned as he took the opener off the counter and popped the bottle top off. "Your mom ain't here. I didn't come to see your mom. I came to see you." He pushed the newspapers off the sofa and sat down. "Come on and sit down next to me."
Heather was so stunned that Che liked her that she couldn't think at all. It was like being in a dream or something. She sat down by Che, but on the edge of the sofa, and he reached to draw her over against him, just as she'd drawn the teddy bear against herself. "C'mon! don't be stand-offish! It's cold in here and I'm lonesome." He sucked on the beer. He seemed kind of pushy but she couldn't really think what she ought to do next and it was relief that he knew what to do, because she sure didn't!
She and her girl friends had talked everything over, but no one ever said what to do when a boy who is really special and older just WALKS RIGHT INTO YOUR LIFE!! She couldn't resist imagining what it was going to be like to tell about this. In fact, she was too busy imagining telling about it to really think about what was happening. She cuddled down, feeling a little like a kid at storytime next to her mom.
Che's big hand just fit over her shoulder. He sighed. "You're a cute little kid, but kind of scary," he said. "Don't worry. I'll take good care of you." Heather had wanted someone to say that to her for the past year, it seemed like. Her eyes almost watered. She felt her face get hot. Her dad used to say things like that to her. Che gave a big sigh and drank more beer. Pretty soon he held the bottle up to her mouth. "Have a swig, honey." She did.
It all got kind of mixed up after that. She vaguely remembered getting Che another beer and having a little more of it herself. It began to be warm in the trailer. Her tape ended and she went into her bedroom to turn it over. When she turned around to come back out, Che was right there in the doorway. He put the empty beer bottle on her little desk. It looked strange sitting there with her bright nail polish bottles and an angel figurine her mother gave her once. He put his arms around her and began to kiss her.
She wasn't scared because it felt so natural. He kissed her on the forehead, like an uncle, and then on both eyes and the end of her nose. He laughed a little. He was big and strong and warm and she leaned in against him. Somehow his shirttail was out and her arms were around him so her hands just naturally went up under his shirt. He wasn't wearing a t-shirt, so her hands were against his bare back. She had never felt anyone's bare back in her entire life that she could remember. Well, maybe put sun tan oil on a girlfriend, but they never felt like this. He had muscles -- he was very strong -- he was so warm and he held her in a way that seemed so natural, so fitting, so much the way it ought to be.
The next thing they knew, they were lying on her bed and she was glad again that she had made it smoothly that morning, but her head was racing around in such circles that she couldn't think straight. Alarm bells were going off in her stomach. Che was coming on too strong. She tried to resist and push him off, until he pulled away from her and sat up. "What's the matter, little sister?" He grinned down at her. His face looked lazy and a little bit swollen, as though, as though he'd been sleeping for a long time, and dreaming about something nice.
"My mom might be coming home and..."
"Naw. She's playing bingo. I saw her through the window of the bingo hall."
Heather suddenly thought, "He knew I was here alone! He's taking advantage!" But then she felt cold and she was so angry at her mother for being in the bingo hall instead of coming home that she said, "Well, then I won't worry," and she held out her arms to Che. His grin grew broader.
Che was kissing her face all over. Then he kissed her chin and along her jawline. He went a little lower to miss her earring and then he was kissing the side of her neck. She gasped a bit. How could she explain a hickey? But he just kept kissing softly down to her collarbone. He unbuttoned her top blouse button so he could kiss along her collarbone. It made her feel stranger than she had ever felt, as though she were in a very high place and afraid of looking down but afraid of falling and ...
The front door slammed. The whole trailer shook as her mother's feet came down the hall. Che didn't seem to even notice. Heather pushed with all her might, but it didn't even budge him.
"You scummy lowlife! Get away from my daughter!"
Che got up slowly and wiped his mouth. He looked at Heather's mother straight across, smiling a little bit. It was as though they were rivals for her. Che stuffed his shirt back down under his belt, but he wasn't quite cool enough to unbuckle his belt to smooth it down. Heather hoped her mother noticed that Che's belt wasn't unbuckled, but she was so red-eyed with rage that Heather wasn't sure she saw anything at all.
Che looked down at Heather on the bed, still with his lazy eyes, and smiled at her. "See you around," he said. "Thanks for the beer." He pushed past her mother and left.
"Beer!" sputtered her mother. "You offered him BEER?" She grabbed up the bottle on her desk. "Why you litte..." She sputtered and couldn't talk. "What kind of girl..."
Heather felt so sick she had to get angry to cover it up. "Well, you don't care!" she accused. "You're never home. You just don't give a damn."
"Don't you cuss at me, my girl! What will your dad say about this?"
"I don't care about either one of you. You just go off and leave me alone all the time and I have to have SOMEONE who cares about me."
"You think that overgrown delinquent gives a damn about you? You're just a THING to him! He doesn't even know you're human."
Heather couldn't bear it. Being held was so warm, so wonderful, so recent, that she couldn't allow her mother to tear it all apart. She screamed and put her hands over her ears. "I won't listen. I won't listen to a thing you say. I love him." Maybe that's what that feeling was. It was certainly some kind of strong feeling she had about him. "I LOVE HIM!! AND I HATE YOU!!"
For a moment she thought her mother was going to slap her, but then her mother's face crumpled in a way that made her sick to her stomach. The last time she had seen that look on her mother's face was when her brother was killed in a car accident. Had she really done something so bad? Was she ruined forever? Would she get...pregnant now? What...
But her mother backed away, wheeled around and left the trailer. "Back to bingo, I suppose," huffed Heather to herself, but then the tears were raining down her face. "Mom..." she called softly. "Mom, come back. I need you!" She had never felt so awful in her life.
How could a person bear to go from such an exciting moment to such a painful moment in such a short time? She felt as thought her mind and stomach were being wrenched in every direction. "Oh, Teddy, help me. I don't know what to do." A storm of crying ripped through her and she buried her face on Teddy's plush stomach. It seemed as though she cried for hours, but it was really only a while before she went to sleep, her exhausted and tear-stained face squashed by the little soft bear against her cheek. She smelled of beer.
After an hour or so, her mother came quietly back and stood in the doorway, looking down at her daughter and trying to think what she ought to do. If only they didn't need the money from the construction and bingo so much. If only they could get out of this crummy trailer. This crummy life.
(Chapter two will be posted day after tomorrow.)