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A Novel by Kimberley Barker Nightingale

...The flight into Logan Airport was a bit like the feeling you get in an elevator when it stops at every floor and yours is the 15th. As Katie looked out the window, it seemed as if there were clumps of charcoal on top of one another, hot and glowing, burnt red at the top, with dots of sparks that resembled the lights of buildings and homes. The fog laid a thin layer over the city like smoke over the coals.

As she got off the plane and entered the airport, she thought that it wasn’t the prettiest airport with its gray concrete walls and yellow accents. A red, white and blue banner over the doorway greets the travelers with lettering that says, “Welcome to Boston”.. Although it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, it sure was a busy airport. The white taxicabs cut each other off amidst the rent-a-car and subway buses. Then there are the relatives and friends who are trying to squeeze into the mix with their Audis and Mercedes, and getting as close to curbside as possible.

It was 11: 00 at night on a Friday and the baggage claim area was jammed with travelers looking for their luggage. Katie waited patiently for her bags, watching all the different types of people come and go. She wondered where they were going and what their lives were like. It’s funny how everyone leads a different life, enacts a different story, yet we all live on the same planet.

She had checked a large piece of luggage full of clothes and necessities for the next few days, because she knew that the moving van wouldn’t arrive for another three days. She grabbed her bags off the carousel and quickly went to get her animals. She was worried about them traveling.

Would they be ok? Would they be frightened? Did they make it onto the plane? Just as she arrived at the desk, she could hear Owen barking and the “meow” of Fritz. She hurried her pace and walked right over to them, opened the cages and gave Owen a huge hug and a kiss. He was her buddy – a yellow lab that Katie raised from a puppy. And Fritz? Well, Fritz was a stray that happened to visit Katie’s old apartment complex just at the time she would be arriving home each night from work. They grew attached to each other and soon Fritz became part of the family. She knew it would be hard to maneuver everything so she had paid for a cart before getting the animals.

The airline staff helped her place the animals on the cart and wheel her luggage out to the curb to hail a cab. The cab driver got out of the car and took one look at the cat and dog and said “No, Missy, no like dogs,” and he got in his cab and drove away. Katie hailed a second cab driver that again looked at the dog, but this time it was the cat that bothered the cabbie. “No, Missy, allergic to cats,” and he drove away too. Katie stood there for a few minutes and thought. “Hmmm?” So she hailed yet a third cab and luckily for Katie it was a woman named Ellen who loved animals. Ellen said hello to Katie and then brought out a biscuit for Owen and a treat for Fritz. Katie was grateful. She was tired, and now it was almost a quarter to twelve. The driver hesitated and then proceeded to grab the luggage, placed it into the trunk and opened the door to the back seat. Katie put Owen’s leash on and took him out of the cage and into the back seat. Fritz would have to stay in his cage and on her lap, to avoid any mishaps. Katie visualized driving down the streets of Boston with Fritz harassing the hell out of Owen, Owen barking incessantly, the cat getting up onto the front seat and into the cab driver’s lap and Owen starting to climb over the seat after Fritz. It would be comical, but a recipe for disaster! She snickered a bit, got into the cab and held onto the animals as tightly as she could as the driver hit the gas! She felt like she was in New York City for God’s sake! She gave the cabby her new address, 452 Marlboro Street. She was excited and apprehensive at the same time.

As they were drawing closer to the house, Katie fished around her purse for the pouch that her realtor mailed to her that contained the keys to her new home. They pulled up, and the cabby got out and carried her bags up to the door of Katie’s newly purchased Brownstone. The creamed colored high steps had black wrought iron railings on each side, leading to the double doors that were elegant and tall. Two squared columns topped with soffit and dentil moldings framed the doorway and added a neoclassical touch. This contrasted with the three-bay windows and red brick façade of the house. The door itself consisted of four window panes placed vertically into a black ‘matt wood frame’ of sorts, with a solid rectangular window sitting atop the double doors, again framed in black with house numbers etched in gold in the center. The doors opened in the center of the two vertical frames with long gold pull-handles. Matching gold kick plates adorned the bottom of the doors while flowerpots sat atop the first few sets of stairs filled with late summer, early fall chrysanthemums. It was just perfect thought Katie. When Barbara had sent Katie pictures of different Brownstone’s to preview, Katie was immediately taken with this one because the doorway was contemporary yet classical and welcoming at the same time.

Katie grabbed Owen and Fritz from the back seat and headed up the stairs. Fritz was yowling in his cage, and Owen was anxious with his tail wagging away. It was 12:15 a.m. as Katie looked at her watch while she opened the door for the first time. She let go of Owen’s leash as he bolted down the long hallway, and Fritz jumped out of her arms and started to explore on his own. As Katie looked around, she thought that it was better than she had even envisioned in her mind. She had purchased the home entirely online with the help of a real estate agent in Boston. The house was modernized from its original beginnings back in the 1800’s, but it still wasn’t quite where Katie wanted it to be. It had gone through several owners and various renovations. Katie wanted to remodel the kitchen and create gardens in the front and back of the house. Otherwise the home was beautiful. Her real estate agent, Barbara, and she had become good friends over the phone, and Barbara was willing to be at the house when Katie’s new bedroom set arrived. It would come before Katie’s move-in date and be there for her first night.

Barbara was a woman in her late 60’s who was wise for her years and was a referral from an old business associate who lived in Boston. She was soft spoken and professional and was an average-built woman, about 5’11” tall, brunette, who dressed entirely in Talbots’ wear. She was Katie’s first friend in her new hometown and was helping ease her transition by offering to help with whatever she could and by offering her grandmotherly words of wisdom.

Katie walked in the door to find bare cream colored walls just waiting for their new owner. She turned on the hallway overhead lights and headed down toward the kitchen. As she turned on the lights in the kitchen she thought to herself that it definitely needs to be redone. It wasn’t her taste and there wasn’t nearly enough room for someone who loves to cook, but it was nice just the same. She laid her purse on the counter and saw that Barbara had left papers that she needed to sign, and told her that she would see her on Tuesday, sometime in the afternoon. Katie wanted to read them, but first she needed to give the animals some water. She had their bowls in her luggage. She quickly made her way down the hallway, unzipped her bag, grabbed the dishes, filled them with water and put them on the kitchen floor. She tried to look at the papers again but was too anxious to see her new bedroom set. Excitedly, she made her way up the stairs. As she hit the top landing, she flicked on the hallway light switch and turned the corner. She could see the room set up just as she would have had it. The maple sleigh bed was at an angle from the corner, draped in its beautiful linens. Katie had purchased the linens at home and shipped them to Barbara. The overstuffed chair was snuggled in its rightful place on the right side of the room facing the bed. The windows were on the left side of the bed and adorned with matching draperies. The armoire stood tall on the adjoining wall. It was everything she dreamed of. It was her new home. As she turned on the floor lamp near the chair, she looked up and saw something hanging on the wall, wrapped like a present with a big red bow. It was a picture from a local artist, a ‘welcome to your new home’ present from Barbara. And not far from there were two pet beds with fabrics to match the bedding, with embroidery on them: ‘Fritz’ and ‘Owen’. Again, welcome home presents from Aunt Barbara. Katie smiled and for a moment she felt content and less fearful.

With a sigh, Katie sat on the comfy chair and took her shoes off to see Owen and Fritz make themselves at home on their new beds. Somehow they knew they were theirs. Katie looked at her watch, 1:00 a.m. She was beat! She changed into her favorite Victoria Secret pajamas, crawled into bed and was asleep in no time.



Text, story and site © 2011 Kimberley Barker Nightingale
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