Tollie’s Garden Pt.2


 I slept in that next morning and didn’t wake up until eleven. It was Saturday and I loved not having to get up and rush out to school. The fact is, I loved to sleep—still do, but not like I did when I was a teen. Anyway, when I got up, I looked out the window but didn’t see Tollie. I took a long shower, played with myself, had a huge orgasm then got dressed, throwing on an old pair of cutoff jeans and a baggy T-shirt and even before I got to the kitchen, I heard Tollie and my mom laughing. When I entered, my mom looked up at me and smiled. “I made home fries if you want some.” Tollie turned and smiled “Good morning, Sarah” then turned back to his big cheese omelet and home fries. Mom sat next to him at the table, really close to him, almost touching, holding her coffee mug, and suddenly a pang of jealousy swelled in me. I tried shrugging it off and put a bagel in the toaster oven, got out the cream cheese, poured myself a mug of coffee and tried to act nonchalant about Tollie being there, but I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to act. I was shaky and didn’t know whether to sit with them, or go out to the back porch, or go back to my room. All I knew was I didn’t want the home fries my mom had made for Tollie, and knew I was being stupid. I love home fries and Mom was such a good cook. I ended up sitting at the table with them and feeling like a third wheel, which I knew was crazy. I was a kid and Tollie and my mom were adults, but I wanted to feel special like I did when we had dinner and he read me that poem and said he’d give me a copy. It had felt so intimate. They were talking to each other and I tried to listen, but I wanted Tollie to pay attention to me and not to my mom and didn’t know what to do. I knew I looked good in the tight cutoffs and wished I wasn’t wearing such a baggy T-shirt. Mom had put on weight and was a little plump. She didn’t exercise, but still looked good considering she was in her forties. Wearing a low-cut white blouse and no bra, I couldn’t tell for sure whether she was doing it on purpose or not, but there was plenty of cleavage showing. I hated what I was feeling and somehow wanted to let him see how sexy I looked in the cutoffs but I didn’t. Still, it was pretty intense thinking I was competing with my mom for Tollie. Wow! That was insane, but that’s what was going on in my head. When my mom’s cell phone rang she went into the pantry next to the kitchen to answer it, and there I was sitting across from Tollie. He had finished eating and looked at me over the rim of his coffee then put his mug down. “I really enjoyed being with you last night,” I said. “I liked it too—very much. It’s nice getting to know you.” “Thank you. I liked that poem you read. I was really touched.” “I’m glad you liked it. I’d love you to hear some of my others. Hardly anyone knows my poetry, so it would feel good to share them with you.” “I’d like that.” Our gazes met and I somehow felt special again, like something was happening between us, but I didn’t know what. Mom came back in the kitchen, closed her phone, sat down with us and they continued their conversation. And again, I felt like I didn’t belong there, so I picked up my plate and mug, rinsed them. “See ya,” I said, and left the kitchen, feeling like my heart was going to burst. What was going on with me? I wondered, running back up the stairs to my room. I had never been so confused in my life and didn’t know what to do. When I got to my room, I called Janine and asked what she was doing today. I wanted to tell her about Tollie and what was happening but didn’t. She told me about a sale they were having at “Guys and Gals,” a really cool shop at the mall—did I want to go? I knew Tristan was working until bursa escort five and wondered if we would get together, but for some reason, I didn’t want to go shopping, which was really unusual for me. I think part of me was hoping I’d spend some more time with Tollie, maybe even help him in the garden—something I knew nothing about, so I told Janine I didn’t feel like it. “Why?” she asked, shocked. “You always want to go shopping.” “I know. I don’t know why. I just don’t feel like it, that’s all.” “What’s with you, Sarah? You stayed home on a Friday night and now you don’t want to go shopping—what’s going on?” “Nothing, Janine. Nothing’s going on,” I said, knowing that wasn’t true then said, “Drop it!” “Okay, okay. Call me if you change your mind and I’ll pick you up.” “Yeah, okay.” I was anxious to hang up and be quiet. After I hung up, I looked around my room which was pretty messy, so I decided to straighten up, picking up my clothes from the chair, lining up my shoes in the closet, wondering why I had so many pairs of shoes when mostly I wore sandals or sneakers. I took all of my sweaters out of the drawer and folded them, realizing I wouldn’t be wearing sweaters now that it was June, but it felt good seeing them in the drawers so neat and so packed I could hardly close the drawers. Then I wondered how I would ever get all of my clothes to college in the fall. At that time, I wasn’t sure where I was going to go. I had been accepted at University of Vermont and Connecticut College and was on the waiting list at Colorado College, my first choice, so I couldn’t make up my mind and had to see which place offered me the most assistance. I thought about Tollie’s comments on college and how many people went because there weren’t many options, and how bored most people were, and how he hoped I’d find out what I love. I thought about how happy and content he seemed and why he had dropped out of the PhD program, and how here he was living in our carriage house, writing and gardening. Suddenly, I thought about my mom and how she had a crush on him and now I did too. Finally, I admitted it. I had a crush on an older man who seemed so above me and out of reach, but there I was. Tristan called during his break at the market and asked about getting a pizza and a movie. I said I wasn’t sure but call me later and he said, “Hey, what’s going on with you?” and I said, “Nothing’s going on” and he said, “Come on, I want to be with you, we’ll have fun,” and I knew he meant he wanted to make out and get in my pants which was tempting. We fucked a lot, but I said I’d call him later and I had to go. I know he was pissed when we hung up and I hated making him feel bad, but I was feeling strange and didn’t know what to do with my feelings. I glanced at my digital clock and saw it was almost one. I realized I hadn’t put on my music, another rare thing, not having my music on. You’d be surprised what I liked–not loud rock and roll or punk, but I really liked Ani Difranco and The Beatles. I loved, “ Let’s do it in the Road” and I’d sing it so loud and laugh. It was so raunchy and funny at the same time. Janine and Tristan always made fun of my taste, but I didn’t care. I still like those songs, but my taste changed as I got older. It always felt good to straighten up my room, something I did when I was upset and felt my life was a mess. Anyway, I went to the window and saw Tollie working in the garden. He had on his cutoffs too, and I decided to go and see if he wanted any help. I knew that would surprise the hell out of him because most times when I was outside I was working on my tan and not paying any attention to him, or the garden. I can still see the look on his bursa escort bayan face when I asked if there was anything I could do and he said, “Sure, help me weed and then I’ll show you how to plant the tomatoes and peppers.” He planted in what he called raised beds and he explained what they were, but what was cool was how I could work on one side of the bed while he worked on the other. I was surprised I didn’t mind getting on my knees in the dirt or even getting my hands dirty. It was a hot June afternoon and we both got sweaty, but it was nice to pull the weeds and then plant the tomatoes and peppers he had already started. We had a lot of them to plant. He said he was going to make a lot of salsa in the fall and soon would be planting cilantro and jalapeno peppers and pointed to the bed of onions on the other side of the garden. I could tell how proud he was of the garden, and he talked about how certain things do better if planted near each other, and how he had planted the garlic in the fall and pointed to the bed with tall green stems growing straight up, and how the potatoes do well under straw. I listened and loved his enthusiasm and remembered what he said about passion, and it made me think about how the only thing I had passion for was shopping and fucking Tristan and before him, a few other guys. I remember how my mom surprised me on my sixteenth birthday by getting me on the pill and said she didn’t want what happened to her to happen to me. I thought that was so cool and how lucky I was to have a mom like her. Anyway, after working in the garden for over an hour, both of us sweaty and dirty, he said, “How about a beer?” and I said sure. Beer is what I usually drink, not wine like we’d had at dinner. I was underage, but we always managed to get beer and I was almost nineteen now. Anyway, he ran up to his apartment and got us two cans of beer. I remember it was Guinness Ale and not Budweiser, which is what my friends and I usually drank. I felt relaxed with him, not like I felt in the kitchen with my mom. It was weird when Mom came out and stood on the back porch and saw us sitting in front of the carriage house, drinking beer. She waved and I could tell by the way she looked at me that she thought it was strange that I had been working in the garden. I was glad when she didn’t come down and went back inside. I knew she would be leaving for work soon and it wouldn’t be good to have beer on her breath, but I also knew she would say something to me as soon as she got the chance. We sat there for a while, drinking beer, enjoying the leisure after working so hard and I liked that he looked at me when we talked. His eyes always seemed to see inside of me in a way I had never experienced with anyone else. He always had a question that surprised me and made me think and that afternoon he asked me something that changed my life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he asked me if I remembered anything from when I was younger that I really enjoyed. I had to think for a while, but I suddenly remembered I liked making things with clay. I went to a day camp when I was eleven when we lived in Hoboken. I signed up for a pottery class and I remember making a bowl and a mug and that I loved how it looked when I glazed it and saw it come out of the kiln. It was thrilling. I gave the mug to my mom and she used it for coffee and I ate cereal out of the bowl. I remember the bowl was blue and the mug was a bright orange, so I told Tollie how much I loved that. It all came back. He looked at me and smiled and I wondered what he was thinking. He asked me what I was doing that night and I said I wasn’t sure, probably something with my boyfriend Tristan escort bursa and he nodded and said, “cool.” He told me he was going to work on a story he’s been writing, and also, he was in the middle of reading a good novel and was looking forward to doing that, but I also had the feeling he wanted to be with me. I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was my imagination working overtime. But then he said something that surprised me. He said he wanted to play me a piece of music he liked and he wanted to know how it made me feel. I was intrigued and said I would like that. We went up to his apartment and he put on a CD. He opened up another beer and poured each of us a glass since it was his last can. When he pushed the button on the CD player, he told me it was Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto . He told me a little about it. He said it was unusual because most concertos start out with the orchestra and the piano comes in, but this one started with the piano. He told me Rachmaninoff had been blocked and unable to write anything and went to a hypnotist to see if that would help and it did. He was able to write this concerto after many years of not composing. I was impressed by how much Tollie knew. I told him I never listened to classical music but wanted to hear this. Then he said he just wanted me to hear the second movement and not the whole thing. “I want you to close your eyes and then tell me what it brings to your mind.” When he put it on, he sat down on the couch and I sat in his soft chair, noticing his thick notebook on the table. When the music came on, I closed my eyes. It was just a piano and violins and was really soft and slow, really slow. I sat back listening but opened my eyes and looked over at him, saw his eyes were closed, so I closed my eyes again. I wondered why he wanted me to listen to this and tell him what I thought, and then I just let my mind go blank and listened. I still remember how it made me feel. I felt love. I listened to the piano and felt the music expressing sweet tender love and I was swept up in the soft gentle sound of the piano weaving slowly in and out and around the violins. I had never heard anything so beautiful, and somehow I remembered Tollie reading me his poem the night before, but this was different. When it was over, both of us were quiet. He looked at me and I looked at him. I didn’t want to say anything but being with him and hearing that music was something I will never forget. Finally, he asked me what I felt listening to it. I told him I felt love–the music was love, tender love, but somewhat sad like longing or yearning. I told him I thought it was so beautiful and thanked him for playing it for me, then I asked why he wanted me to hear it. He smiled, his blue eyes twinkling. “I wanted to know what it made you feel—that’s all. I wanted you to hear that music because I wanted to introduce you to pure poetry—something beyond words, something that expresses the inexpressible, something that would reach inside of you and touch you and I’m glad it did.” I often think back to that afternoon, listening to that music and how it felt in his apartment and I knew I would never forget what he was giving me. I knew I was falling in love with him. That night, Tristan came over and we watched some dumb movie. He brought over a pizza. We smoked a joint and hung out, but a few times I went to the window and looked up and saw Tollie at his table, writing. Tristan kept putting his arms around me and playing with my tits and I started to get turned on. He was a good kisser and knew my hot spots, but I told him I wasn’t in the mood. He got insistent, but I pushed him away a few times and said I was sorry I just wasn’t into it tonight. I felt bad but somehow, as great a guy as Tristan was, something had changed in me, and I knew what it was but didn’t know what to do about it. After he left, it was about eleven and I knew he was bothered by how I was acting and tried to be a good sport.

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