I Carry Your Heart - Chapter 4

 ~ Visitor

"Radcliffe, you wanna get a drink with us?” At the elevator, Joe stood empty-handed while Catherine juggled notebooks, her briefcase and purse.

“It’s Thursday, Joe. I always have too much work to do on Thursdays,” Catherine returned. “Rain check?”

“You must have a drawer full of those, but okay. I’ll ask again next week." Joe backed over the threshold, wiggling his fingers in good-bye. "Tomorrow morning, bright and early.”

Though it was the cover she used to keep certain evenings free, tonight she had no pressing need to take work home. The week had dragged and it wasn't over. She expected to sit in her apartment in a funk. Her door was a welcome sight and she had the first lock open when, behind her, someone called her name. She turned, her keys like talons between her fingers. It was Jamie, leather and flannel wadded in her arms.

“Catherine!” Jamie pleaded with her. “I need to talk to you.”

"I can’t believe it’s you! Come in.” She rushed her visitor inside and dropped all she was carrying. “What is it? Is something wrong Below?”

Jamie cried out, “Yes, there’s something wrong!” At Catherine's gasp, she rushed on. “Not with Vincent. At least I don’t know that anything's happened to him, although, how would I, since he left again last night and took Mouse with him this time, and Father and Mary and Rebecca have been sticking their nosey noses into my business all day long! They’re driving me crazy! I can’t stand it down there another minute! Please, can I stay with you for a while? Please!” Already, Jamie was removing another layer of clothing. “It is so HOT in here!”

Catherine laughed. “Let’s have something cold to drink then. I haven’t had the best day either. Please,” she said, indicating the couch, “put your things anywhere. Sit down if you’d like.”

But Jamie was too agitated to sit and roamed the apartment, touching and inspecting, distracted by photographs and by the television, which she snapped on and immediately off. “I’m not a child anymore! They treat me like I don’t have good sense, like I don’t have a say. It’s MY life. It’s MY world too. I know some things! I know some things better than anybody else!”

“It's all right. Or it will be,” Catherine soothed. “I’m sure it will be. These are normal feelings. Parents can be so ... bossy, and it's like ... like you have an awful lot of parents sometimes, isn’t it?”

“Yes. That’s exactly it. Ohhh, I am so MAD!” Jamie flung herself down on the couch, a puff of frustration lifting her bangs.

“Tell me ... is it something about Mouse? Why did Vincent leave with him? Do you know? Do you know where they went?”

“Oh, I know why. Father insisted!” With a thump, Jamie’s feet landed on the coffee table.

Catherine started for the kitchen. “Let’s have some sparkling water or a ginger ale and then, maybe you should start at the beginning. Talk it out.”

“Do you have anything stronger?”

In just moments she returned with two tall, frosted glasses, handed one to Jamie and settled at the opposite end of the sofa. “Why did you come to me, Jamie? I’m glad you did, but why?”

“Here’s the thing. Nobody down there has a clue about my feelings! They’re all so wrapped up in philosophy and duty and the past and what might happen in the future! Nobody but Vincent even LISTENS to me. Well, Mouse does. He listens.” Jamie’s face grew rosy and she studied the ice in her glass. “But you ... I know you can understand.”

“Just start at the beginning, okay? I’m a little lost,” she said, patting Jamie on the knee.

“Okay. Fine. At the beginning. See, I’ve grown up in the Tunnels. Those of us without parents slept together in one big room. We went to school together, played hide and seek, swam together in the pools. I remember Vincent throwing us into the deep waters and we would laugh and squeal for him to do it again and again until he had to be exhausted. He never seemed to tire of us. We were all so happy. And later, Father and Mary and the others ... they began to separate us, girls from boys. It’s obvious and necessary and for the most part, we are like brothers and sisters, except sometimes things change.

"I blame that stupid Lisa. She was such a flirt. Oh, we all know the story about her, how she left to go Above without even talking to Vincent, how badly she hurt his feelings! I almost gagged when she came back, telling all her woman of mystery stories. I wanted to snatch Samantha bald-headed! She was so star-struck! 'Will you teach me to dance, Lisa?Yuck! All the little girls, whirling around the place for weeks, waving their arms in the air and walking on their tippy-toes.  It was so annoying. You couldn’t get any work done for them flitting around like little bugs.”

“Does Lisa have something to do with this?” Catherine was concerned for Vincent’s privacy, his hurt. She didn’t believe Jamie – or anyone – knew the deepest truth of the story. Not even Father.

“No, not really. It’s Father.  Father’s the problem! See … oh, I’m getting confused! There’s so much to tell." Her breath huffed out, vexation pursing her lips. "Last night, I was late for dinner. I’d gone to the bathing chamber and just lost track of time, sitting under the falls. So when I got to the table, my hair … I’d barely had time to comb it out. I don’t know. It gets all wavy when it dries like that. Anyway, I was filling my plate and Mouse was there too. Then ... then he reached up and, um, kind of twirled my hair through his fingers and then, ummm, he, ah ... well ... he …"

“It’s okay. Go on.”

Jamie’s words spilled out. “He put both his hands on my face and just looked at me, really hard, but really sweet and he said, ‘Jamie ... so pretty.' And there was a, a space, you know? Like time shifted or something. I don’t know how to say it, but everything changed. I’ve known Mouse forever. When he came Below, he couldn’t talk, wouldn’t let anyone but Vincent touch him. He wouldn't play with us,  either. He'd just watch us from a dark corner. And he'd steal food and save it under his bed. He’s ... different, but I know him.” Jamie’s voice trailed away, though she crossed her arms over her chest, defiance her shield.

“What did Father do? Tell me.”

“Well, what Father DID was embarrass Mouse to death! And me too! He swooped down on us so fast. All of a sudden, Father clamped his hand on Mouse’s shoulder and pulled him back. Mouse was mortified and everybody was looking at us. Then Mouse ran off and when I tried to go after him, Father made me stop. He told me to go to my chamber, like I was ten years old. And the next thing I know, Vincent’s taking Mouse off on some journey. I guess he’s been instructed to give Mouse the Talk.”

“The Talk?”

Father, pointing. Drawing by Linn
“Can't you hear it? How Mouse and I can’t possibly have a relationship. How he needs to see that I’m going Above one day. How he needs to let me live the life I’m destined to. The standard speech. But Father doesn’t understand! I love Mouse. I know it. I knew it the minute he touched me like that. It might take years for us to ... you know ... but  I won’t go up top to live for good, not ever.”

“Are you sure? There are so many things you could do Above – school, travel, work.”

“Oh, I could do something up here, and I might. But I won’t leave the Tunnels. I can’t. You, of all people, should understand, Catherine. Mouse can’t leave. He can’t live anywhere else. And I'm not going off and leave him behind. But then I guess it wasn’t enough for Father to send me to my room and to send Mouse away, but Mary had to come down and she started in on this business of holding myself apart and the greater good and the big picture and about how all the young children looked up to me and how I had so much potential. She went on and on until I thought I would scream! She must think that plan is working for her, but I know better."

“What do you mean?”

“Can’t you see it? Sebastian is so in love with her! You didn’t know? He is. He comes below every week and shows her some special little trick that reveals a trinket for her, but she acts like she doesn’t even notice. It’s her shoes.”

“Her shoes?” Catherine shook her head, not understanding.

“Haven’t you noticed? She has goody written across the tops of both of them.”

Catherine burst out laughing, and after a fleeting moment of consternation, Jamie joined in. "And that’s not all!” she cried, gasping for breath. “After Mary finished with me, then Rebecca showed up to put in her two cents. She tried to tell me that I should be careful with Mouse’s feelings because he’s so vulnerable and that it’s best to just be friends. Huh! Friends forever like Rebecca and William? No thanks!"

“Rebecca ... and William? Can you explain that?”

“Yes, Rebecca and William, except Rebecca’s nursing some big disappointment and she’s afraid, and William thinks nobody can love him because he’s so big. About every two months, he goes on a diet. Believe me, we all pay for that. Last week, William gave Rebecca a replica of the Ark, with all the little animals made out of marzipan. He spent weeks on it. She didn’t even hug him for it and you could tell, it just about killed him. But he won’t make the first move.

“And another thing. You can’t get any privacy down there. People walk right into your chamber without asking. It’s not right. I’m going to complain at the next council meeting. I am. We should have doors or curtains or something!”

“That’s the truth.” Falling back against the cushions, Catherine couldn’t stifle a round of giggles, but as her laughter died away, her stomach grumbled in announcement. “I’m starving,” she proclaimed. “Would you like to go out for dinner?”

“Could we order a pizza? I love pizza and you can’t get a hot delivery Below.” They were off again in peals of laughter.

While waiting for the pizza – an extra large everything – Catherine toured Jamie through the apartment, offered her towels for the shower, opened the cabinet to shampoo and toothpaste.

“I have to ask ... does Father know where you are?”

“Yes, little Miss Responsible left a note for him, but I told him not to DARE come after me.” Jamie crossed the room and pushed at the unlatched door. “So this is The Balcony.”

A deep-rose blush bloomed on Catherine’s cheeks, her only reply a strangled cough.

“Remember what I said about privacy down there. I’ve overheard Father and Vincent talking. Father worries about Vincent up top. Father worries about Vincent Below. Father needs to get a life.” Jamie wandered back into the living room and smiled, her hands on her hips. “All this tiny furniture! I can't imagine Vincent in here. It's a sight isn't it, him on that little couch?”

"That would be quite the sight," she agreed, laughing, pleased that her voice had returned.

Jamie stopped short. "Just exactly what are you saying, Catherine?"

Ummm, well, he’s never, ahh …

“What?” Jamie shrieked. “He hasn’t? What is WRONG with you people?”


Jamie ate most of the pizza and downed two glasses of soda. Catherine didn’t expect her guest to sleep, but when she emerged from the bathroom, her face washed and her teeth brushed, she found Jamie curled on the couch. She tucked a waffled, cotton blanket in at Jamie’s feet, settling it across her shoulders. It had been wonderful to laugh and she knew a lifting of worry. Vincent was with Mouse, not alone, and she felt sure he would tell Mouse to follow his heart.


Click Here for Chapter 5


Su said...

Ahhhh... good story line development! Can't wait for more. Bravo!

In deepest admiration, angelsu

New York City Utopia said...

I second that :)

Vicky said...

"Father worries about Vincent up top. Father worries about Vincent Below. Father needs to get a life." That has become one of my top ten lines! Every time I see jamie asking to go with Vincent in "To reign in hell", this chapter comes to mind.

Carole W said...

I'm thinking Father needs a girlfriend - someone to ... broaden his perspective ... :-)


Krista said...

I'm rereading this now for the third (fourth?) time and I love the interaction between Catherine and Jamie. Maybe they can rent Father a life for Winterfest? :)


Carole W said...

Krista! Thanks for remembering and rereading this story! That does my heart good.

Brandy said...

Ah Carole,

Jamie is hysterical in this chapter. And the many lives and loves and missed moments in the Tunnels are truisms from everywhere.

That simple sentence Mouse says and Jamie's reaction are so beautiful. The world shifts and you know. :)

Enjoying my 2nd journey through your tale.

Sonia Who? said...

Ch. 4

Gosh, I'm enjoying this story so much on this second time. This chapter made me laugh, it's so good and Jamie is so funny, and right. You got Jamie's character so perfectly, as well as the others original characters in the story. I love the things Jamie say, especially about Father, and her reaction at finding out that Vincent doesn't come into Catherine's apartment.

Carole W said...

Isn't Jamie a great character? I wish we'd seen more of her in the show.

Thanks for thinking I've captured her and the other series characters well. That's a challenge - to take what we're shown and expand it keeping true. It's fun though, to venture about inside their skins - and into Mouse's head!

Anonymous said...

Oh! This, this, This, THIS is my FAVORITE chapter of ALL TIME!!! I LOVE your Jamie and Mouse! "Father needs to get a life!" and "Jamie, so pretty" and "What is WRONG with you people?" and in the next chapter "One sentence FRAGMENT!"

LOVE this SOOOOOOO much!

Regards, Lindariel

NYC Utopia said...

I'd forgotten this part was so much fun!