The sky was deep blue and the scent of blooming flowers filled the air. Shae wheeled her chair down the sidewalk, her mood as sunny as the day. When she had gotten ready to go out today, she’d had to move Michael’s shaving kit, had scooped his pants all the way into the hamper rather than one leg hanging out, picked up a sock that was on her dresser, and shut her closet door. While they weren’t officially living together, he spent more nights with her than not. The mess and fuss of having another person in “her” space comforted rather than annoyed.
He’d thrown the covers off early today, sliding into jeans and shirt that she suspected he’d pulled from the hamper, and all but ran out of the house.
“Story!” He’d yelped, and she knew that a sticky situation in one of his novels had been resolved in his sleep. She was used to this by now; it very much amused her, the frantic look on his face to get it down, fast. Soon, she was going to suggest that he use the shed beside her house as a workspace. She had no use for it, but it would be a lovely studio for him.
She arrived at her destination, rolling herself up the perfectly pitched ramp she knew Mr. Davis had constructed for his son. She rang the doorbell, also placed perfectly for a chair-bound person.
“Well hello little lady!” He was as jovial as ever as he invited her inside.
“Right! Dave….I have a proposal for you.”
“You said as much on the phone. C’mon back to the kitchen. Can’t say my cooking is on a par with you or your Mum’s but I have some fresh-made muffins. Wife is out of town this week, but I promise they won’t poison you.”
Shae laughed, amused and touched. She rolled into the kitchen, noting the open floor plan here was similar to the one in her own house.
“This here is my son, Billy. Billy, this is Miss Shae from the bakery.”
The two exchanged greetings. Shae admired Billy’s streamlined chair. She was in her “town chair” today, this one more sturdy than the light-framed one she used in the bakery. She’d wondered about these sportier models. They talked chairs for a few more minutes, then Shae passed the envelope in her lap to Dave.
“I want to convert the shed beside my house to an art studio.”
Word traveled fast in a small town, Shae knew, but Dave merely smiled and looked down at her crudely drawn plans. His smiled turned to a frown.
“You put all those windows there, you’ll have a lot of gawking, and a ton of heat loss. I know you’re from further south, trust me, it can get chilly up here. And if they don’t open? You’ll turn that shed into a fry-cooker come July!”
He offered suggestions, drew out ideas. Heads together they argued the merits of skylights, sliding windows or lift-ups, and heated floors.
The female voice started Shae. She looked up–and there stood Samantha from Club Crop. The woman she’d punched in the nose. Sam’s mouth opened in a wide O of shock. As did Shae’s.
Dave assessed the situation, and while he didn’t understand all the sudden chill in the room, he certainly felt it.
“I take it you two know one another.”
“That we do,” spoke Shae with a firm tone. “We’ve met a few times. Never been properly introduced. Hi, I’m Shae.” She emphasized her first name.
Samantha bit her lip, then took the proffered hand.
“Isn’t that nice. Whatcha need honey?” Dave took his daughter’s hand, tugged her close.
“I…didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“We’re about done here. I’ll draw up those proper plans for you in the next day or so, run them by you before the end of the week, if that’s okay?”
Shae nodded. “That’s fine, Dave. Thanks for taking on another challenge.”
“Darlin’, why don’t you walk Shae out, will you?”
She turned, moving out of the kitchen as Shae said her goodbyes to Dave and his son. Rolling up to the front door she saw that Samantha was already outside.
As Shae moved past her, Sam laid a hand on her arm, shutting the door.
“Look. We got off on the wrong foot. I don’t want you to hold that against my dad.”
“Actually, I think I understand,” Shae spoke softly. She understood how hard it could be, to be the support system for a disabled person. She suspected that Sam had an equal mix of guilt and frustration which rose to a head when she drank. That she had a brash personality just capped the whole deal.
“You…” Sam stopped. “Yeah, maybe you do. Look, sometimes it just sucks, okay? Sometimes I gotta cut loose. I was out of line.” Sam rubbed her nose. “You got your payback and we’re even. And.”
Her voice dropped.
“My dad, he doesn’t know anything about ….you know.”
“Gotcha. Not like I’m going to put up posters all over town you know.” She smiled. There was a look of relief on Sam’s face.
“And?” Sam looked down at Shae, wary.
“Michael and I are a couple. You’ve not been at the club in a while. But … I thought you needed to know that. I know you have a…”
She searched for the right word, but Sam interrupted.
“I’m done with that. He’s not the right guy anyway.”
“Not for you. But I have an idea of who could be.” Shae lightly touched Sam’s arm. “Come to the next munch and I’ll see what I can do.”
Sam smiled, a tremulous, uncertain kind of smile, and Shae saw the lonely women hidden there. She may be crass, and hard to take, but under it all was a woman who needed something that she had yet to find. Having found “it” herself very recently, she understood, all too well. With a brief wave, she rolled down the ramp, wheels already turning rapidly in her mind.