Thetis Island (ebook)

Thetis Island (ebook)

Published by Stewart Goodfellow Publishing
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Price: $5.95

"Take it easy, the doctor's on his way."

Theresa Parker has waited four years to marry Ron, who finally tells her "it's not God's will." She goes to Thetis Island in British Columbia, Canada, to get over her heartbreak and there meets Shawn Malone. When Ron follows her, full of regret, she realizes her future lies elsewhere.

The past is over. God had collected her tears and turned them into tears of joy.
Sketches: Brenda Wilbee
ISBN:  978-0-943777-33-7
PRICE: 5.95 / ebook

CHAPTER ONE
new and updated edition

"Take it easy, the doctor's on his way."

Theresa Parker has waited four years to marry Ron, who finally tells her "it's not God's will." She goes to Thetis Island in British Columbia, Canada, to get over her heartbreak and there meets Shawn Malone. When Ron follows her, full of regret, she realizes her future lies elsewhere.

The past is over. God had collected her tears and turned them into tears of joy.
Sketches: Brenda Wilbee
ISBN:  978-0-943777-33-7
PRICE: 5.95 / ebook

CHAPTER ONE
new and updated edition
 

A SEAGULL'S SHRIEK WOKE Theresa Parke her first morning back at Thetis Island. She was about to roll over and go back to sleep when she noticed Ron’s picture on the knotty pine wall next to the bed.

"Well, hello there," she whispered, her voice soft and lonely in the quiet. Slowly she sat, plumped the pillow and leaned it against the wall. Upright and chilly, she pulled the blankets up around her shoulders and continued to stare at the picture. “A regular Benedict Arnold, aren’t you?” When had it been taken? His college graduation? How come she hadn't noticed it last night when she'd lugged in her suitcases and plunked them on the floor? She forced herself to look away.

Same old knotty pine paneling, she noted. Same old nicks, scratches, and gouges. The Pricilla curtains, once the color of summer sunshine, had faded. Definitely shabby. Scattered about were the usual summer cabin paraphernalia: beat-up paperbacks in a brick-and-board bookshelf, the old popsicle-stick penholders they'd all made as kids. Which one had Ron made? Two driftwood lamps sat on the dresser. The closet door, half open, revealed life preservers and boat oars, an old Styrofoam ice chest, the blue broom she'd bought for Auntie Sue one summer. And the picture three feet away.

No doubt about it. Ron Johnson was an attractive man, with Paul Newman blue eyes set in a keen, intelligent face. His mouth was what all her writer friends back in the States called sensual, bottom lip full and curved in a provocative swell. Theresa could feel his kisses, the light touch on her skin. She had to blink quickly to keep back the tears.

Suddenly she threw off the covers and jumped out of bed. Yanking a suitcase just inside the door, she slung it onto a stuffed chair that crowded the corner of the small room. Dust poofed out of the cushion and danced in the morning sunlight seeping through a crack in the Priscillas. She shivered, popped the clasps, and then began riffling through the neatly folded shirts and shorts to find what she wanted. A bright pink blouse, blue jean cut-offs. Her sandals. Her fingers trembled with the cold as she struggled to push the buttons through the holes. "I’m finished crying over you, Ron Johnson," she muttered, wiping her face with the back of her hand. But she did cry, aching with loneliness. "How could you do this? Leave me for someone else. For her?”

Dust tickled her nose, and she remembered the tasks that had to be done if she were to be comfortable for the six weeks her aunt and uncle had said she could stay. Obviously, she’d have to dust. Shake and air the blankets. Sweep the floors. Go after the cobwebs….

If she were still enough, she could hear the sound of the waves. And sparrows chirping. And chickadees. Quietly, methodically, she finished dressing and pulled back the curtains, and gave herself a quick look outdoors before rummaging through the closet to find enough hangers for her clothes. The shorts and undies she put into a dresser. There, unpacking done. She grabbed her cosmetic bag, snapped the suitcase shut, and slid it into the closet between the ice chest and a yellow pair of Wellingtons.

The bathroom was a lean-to affair attached to the cabin. Her dad had put in on the summer before some drunk kid, ink hardly dry on his license, sideswiped her parents and spun them off a bank. Daylight found holes in the outside tarpaper where the shingle siding had blown off, and came through in wee shafts of sunlight. Not once in eight years had her uncle suggested finishing the bathroom. And so it stayed, quaint in its own way.

A large spider sat in the bottom of the sink. Of course. Welcome back. She swiped a square of toilet paper over him and dumped him into the waste can. Then, lowering her head, she unfastened the three rollers in her hair and undid the rubber band that held her hair in a top-of-the-head ponytail.

Straightening and tossing her head, she felt her hair settle down around her shoulders, layered and curled and ready to go. Mascara in hand, she peered into the cracked mirror propped up on the bathroom sink and dabbed at her blond eyelashes. Why bother? Nobody out here to notice.

Nothing remarkable about her face. No one had ever told her she was beautiful and she had no reason to believe otherwise. A few freckles left over from childhood, navy blue eyes, a straight nose, her father's smile. Blonde hair. She liked her hair.

Ah, the kitchen. Home sweet home. She loved this kitchen. The 1950s turquoise Formica on the counter tops were leftovers from the house her father had built for her grandparents out on the delta. The pitted sink, a rummage sale in Tswwassen. The stubborn, antiquated hot water heater in the corner. The windowsill full of seashells, an old milk bottle printed with Chehalis Dairy full of their agates. Was it a mistake to come? She pulled the electric teakettle from beneath the sink.

Too late, she mused. I’m already here. I just need to concentrate on my writing and forget the rat. A can of cleanser by the radio fell over. She'd catch that later and filled the kettle, water choking as it got started, plugged in the cord, and then wandered about touching things, getting to know the cabin after so long.

Had it been four years? when she’d turned twenty-one? They'd had a birthday party for her, and Ron had bought her a pearl necklace. Ron again…

She sat heavily into her uncle 's living room chair and sighed. Here all was neat and in order. Auntie Sue must have been out here, tidying things up. The wood-burning stove was clean and a stack of driftwood had been brought in. Uncle John must have been here as well. The windows on the east wall faced the cliff and water below—a spectacular view. Curious, she crossed the braided rug and looked out to the cliff where she'd fallen head over heels. Lucky she hadn’t broken her neck. People who didn’t believe miracles didn’t know what they were talking about.

A trail led between the porch steps outside to the cliff, where it zigzagged down to the beach with dugout steps and embedded driftwood to ease the way. From the front room, she couldn’t see the early morning light on the coarse beach below, but could imagine the thin lighting on the barnacles and crushed blue muscles. She’d have to scrabble down to see it. Suddenly Theresa was glad to be back. Uncle John was right. If there was a place to find solace, it was here at Thetis Island.

The water in the teakettle gathered steam and she dashed about trying to find a teacup with no droppings or cobwebs. Then she had to hunt down the tea bags. Where were they? In the Peak Freans tin on top of the fridge? Yes, where they'd always been—predictable yet hard to reach for someone barely over five feet tall. The cupboards, of course, were empty. Only some stale biscuits and a can of Campbell's tomato soup. She'd have to go to the marina and get some groceries if she were to enjoy a proper breakfast.

But for now she took her tea and biscuits out to the deck where she could enjoy the morning sun and stare off to the sea and wheeling gulls and breathe in the scent of salt and seaweed wafting up. Birds called back and forth. The steam from her tea dissipated in the breeze. Goosebumps dotted her bare legs, but she felt oddly comfortable. Funny, Canada was the only place you'd find china in a summer beach house. Her friends in the States where she lived now (having followed Ron to Seattle where he was studying at the University of Washington) liked to tease her about her Canadian ways. They laughed at her "aunties" and "eh's, " her "biscuits" and "serviettes." They'd laugh this morning if they could see her drinking Red Rose out of a teacup and saucer.

Granted, the china was old, the gold long ago washed off. She held the cup high and peered at the bottom. Yup, she was right. Old English Rose. A sense of satisfaction came over her and she smiled. Then she thought of her own china, the newer version of Old Country Rose pattern that Royal Albert was putting out, china she'd been collecting over nine years, wrapped and packed in her hope chest. Ron. This was the trouble with breaking up. The jerk might bow out but he kept popping in. It wasn’t like you could jut put him in a closet with the Wellies and shut the door. Would she ever be happy? About anything? Theresa sipped her tea and wondered how long this aching would go on—and for a bum like him.

She'd followed the bum to Seattle and was now enrolled at the U herself as an English major, halfway through her junior year—and was, in fact, here to complete her independent study with Dr. McClellan. Two hundred pages to bang out on Corrie ten Boom's underground railroad during WWII, a suspense story of the 72 teenagers who rescued Jews from Dutch farms in the middle of the night and got them to necessary contacts for transport to England. She was no literary writer, she knew. No disillusionment about that. Theresa Parker was not going to be eclipsing Earnest Hemmingway. But she had solid skill for commercial fiction—or so said her novel writing professor. Which wasn’t going to happen, she realized, if she couldn’t forget Ron long enough to concentrate.

This worried her. She wasn’t exactly in a creative space. Dumped after four years of waiting through undergraduate school and then five more of medical school, residency, and a specialty in psychiatry. Only then to be dumped for a woman who could talk anima/animus projection and the Pygmalion effect. Discarded for a woman who hadn't put in years of emotional energy or prayers.

Prayers. Theresa snorted and tossed out the remainder of her tea and it arched in a spray of droplets, caught the sun, shone briefly, and then splattered to the ground. It depressed her to think of all the praying she'd done for that man. Prayers for money so he could continue his education. Prayers for patience while he spent evening after evening and weekend after weekend nose in his books. Prayers for "God's will"... whatever that was supposed to mean. “Ron's will” was more like it. Fool, she thought to herself now. "You’ll see,” he’d said. “Someday you'll thank me."
 
Leaning against the bedroom door, She stared at him on the wall. He stared back. She clambered over the bed and took the picture down, and tossed it into the over-crowded closet. Stay there and rot.

Few people locked their doors on the island. Theresa skipped down the porch steps, beginning to warm under the sun, and picked her way carefully down the cliff. She wanted to go along the beach to the marina rather than the road. The tide had turned and was receding, revealing pools of clear seawater caught in crevices and shallow craters and moating around barnacle­-covered rocks that gave off the perfume of kelp. She peered into them, looking through the glassy mirrors into another world. Crabs scurried amongst the algae. Barnacles opened from their bone-gray shells, latched like lace onto blue mussel shells. Tiny hordes of creatures grew frantic with activity along the bottom of each pool, and hermit crabs skittered. One came across an empty snail shell. Theresa stopped to watch him creep out from his own shell, become naked and vulnerable for only a minute, then slip into the new and bigger one. It would be nice to be able to leave Ron behind like that, she thought, and find someone else. Ron again.

Several hundred yards along, she came across a couple of purple starfish planted atop the mussels, no doubt feeding. Quite clever. Starfish dropped their stomachs from their center, engulfed their prey, pulled in their gut, and feasted. Genius.

Down closer to the tide line, waves licked the rocks and splashed up and over and into other tide pools. Each time, the glassy mirrors bubbled and churned, then became crisp and clear again.

The farther south Theresa walked, the narrower the beach became until at last she had to abandon the tide pools and rocks and edge along the thin strip of sand strewn with old logs and the remains of log booms. Rotted flip-flops and cracked fishing floats were wedged between the debris, and already flies had begun to furiously fuss along the seaweed strings left behind by the receding tide.

She rounded the spit and there was the marina. Sailboats and motorboats sliced through the clear still water. Things seemed busier than she remembered. Excitement bubbled up inside and she hurried across the sand, thrilled as always by the boats, the smell of creosote, spilled gasoline, the sound of yoo-hoos and laughter. Quickly she scanned the docks. Shielding her eyes with one hand against the rising sun, she squinted into the tangle of ropes and sails and bowsprits. One in particular caught her eye, a huge mast towering above the others. What in the world? She stepped onto the main dock and headed toward what looked like a fifty-foot sailboat. Humongous. Picking her way over coiled ropes and ice chests and buckets of fresh fish, nodding now and then to fisherman and day sailors, skirting around a teenager, she approached what had to be the grandest, most elegant boat she'd ever seen. The “Groet Bear” swayed in the small swell of the sea, its bowsprit hanging out fifteen feet in front, capped by a hand carved bear with an open mouth—as if to growl at the wind. The mast was at least eighteen inches thick and towered into the sky. A double door led from the back deck down into the cabin. Hand carved fish made up rails. Who could own such a thing? She stretched to peer into a window, oblivious to commotion until it too late—a dog barking and shaking water from its coat ran into her, knocking her sideways.

"Bear!" bellowed an angry voice.

Too late. Theresa toppled off the dock with a sharp whack to her head on her way down. The next thing she knew she was in the water, dog barking furiously up on the dock above, and people were rushing over to see what the fuss was. Someone had hold of her, keeping her right side up. "What? What...?" she sputtered.

"That dumb dog. Hey, it's okay. I got you. Can someone help me haul her up?" he shouted.

Through splintered rays of light she saw a man’s face and was about to protest that she could climb out herself when an explosion of pain ripped through her head.
sea shell sketch
"You're not Ron..."

"Should I be?" The man looking down at her smiled, his face fuzzy in the ringing world she opened her eyes to. Was she sitting in his lap? Who was he? Not Ron. Not here. But where was she? She blinked to clear the fuzziness from her eyes, and shook her head, a mistake. Zigzagging pain rippled behind her eyes.

"Hey, there. Take it easy. I got you. The doctor's on his way. Just sit still."

Who was this? Again she tried to open her eyes and, with vision, came clarity. The sounds, the smells, the tumble into the water. And the dog! She swung around and stared at the man who held her. "Who are you?" she demanded.

He smiled, but peered anxiously into her face."Let me go," she said, quite embarrassed and suddenly very aware of people standing about. "Please," she added.

"Just a petite thing, aren't you?" He brushed away some wet strands of her hair. "You can't be more than five feet tall."'

She winced and pulled away. "Five-foot-two."

"It's a nasty blow to your noggin." Someone draped a blanket over her and she felt herself being drawn in closer to this stranger.

"Five-foot-two, eyes of blue. That better'?" he asked, tucking the blanket around her neck, his voice deep and resonant. "Are you comfortable?"

"I'm wet."

He gave her a quiet chuckle that surprisingly delighted her. "Of course you are."

"No. I mean, you're wet. Your shoulder. I'm making your shoulder—"

He bent down to better hear. She felt his breath on her face, not altogether unpleasant, and almost without knowing it, found his hand and drifted back to where it was comfortable again and where no one stood around gawking, and where Ron, Ron of her dreams, held her.
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