On a bouncy ride in a huge silver bus [she hadn’t wanted to fly, she believed that airline tickets were easier to trace than bus passes], Perion began to see scenery around that looked quite familiar to her tired eyes. It was more than depressing. She didn’t know how her mother would react to her sudden visit. She feared that Marilinn would deny her existence and tell her to take the bouncy bus back to L.A. It would kill her to be denied by her mother. To whom could she then turn? She definitely didn’t want to go back to Blaine, nor could she go to Lein. She would likely shrivel up and die, and then she wouldn’t have to worry about anything anymore.
The bouncing bus stopped with a jolt at the depot in Ellington [namely speaking, the very cafe where Perion had once worked]. She took her suitcase and stood for a moment, watching the bus pull away to head onward toward its other destinations. Since it was Sunday, the cafe was closed. As she had done hundreds of times in her early teens, she began to walk toward her childhood home.
Once she finished her walk up the sloping driveway, she saw that the house looked the same. Taking a deep breath and giving herself one hell of a mental push, she walked up to the door and knocked. After a little while, Perion heard footsteps moving toward the door. The door swung open and Marilinn stood face to face with her only child, of whom she hadn’t seen in over two years.
For a moment, Marilinn stood in shock, then she cried out, “Oh my God, look at you!”
Perion dropped her suitcase and hugged her mother. After a few minutes, Marilinn realized that Perion was crying, but not from happiness at seeing her mother again. She held her daughter, not really understanding Perion’s sad tears. After they stood on the front porch for an undetermined amount of time, Marilinn suggested that they go into the house. They sat down at the kitchen table and Marilinn forced Perion to drink down a coffee laced heavily with rum to calm her down. Perion nearly drained the entire mug before she was even remotely calm.
“Honey, what is it,” Marilinn asked softly.
“You were right, Mom. Everything you said about me and Blaine was right,” she spat out.
Marilinn understood right away. “What happened,” she asked.
“I fell in love with somebody else.” Perion then told her mother about Lein, not leaving out any detail at all. Once she finished, she looked at her mother with a child’s eyes. “Can I stay here until my head clears?”
“You know you’re welcome in my house any time you want to come. But don’t you think you’re simply running away and hiding?”
She began crying again. “I don’t know, maybe I am, but I had to get away. I couldn’t stay where I was. Blaine was pressuring me, and Lein...” Her voice died out, she buried her face in her hands.
Marilinn realized that Perion was more broken up over Lein than Blaine. She thought that she’d never see her daughter more in love with another besides Blaine. But she was, her daughter had the love of her life, it wasn’t the one everyone had expected. It ended up being the one whose face had graced Perion’s bedroom walls since her youngest days. If Lein Blake had finished with Perion as she thought, Marilinn feared her daughter might never find love again, nor would she ever have that want. If Perion decided to stay with Blaine after this mess, the marriage would simply be lifeless and loveless for her. Her heart no longer belonged to Blaine, it never would again.
“Perion, honey, listen,” Marilinn said to her. Perion looked up from her hands. “I want you to go to your old room and rest. Your emotions are shot to hell. You can stay here to relax and heal as long as you need to. And another thing, you can go out to your grandpa’s think tank.”
Perion smiled a little. Her Grandpa Conner had a spot of land a few yards or so behind the house that was wooded and grassy. Usually in late spring to early summer, there was a duck pond. He would go there to be alone or to think. He once took Perion there to feed the ducks. He had called the area his ‘think tank.’ She could almost hear his cheery voice saying: Peri Ann [short for Perion Annthoneya, he was the only person she ever allowed to call her Peri Ann], let’s go feed them ducks before they starve. Perion would giggle and grab onto his huge hand and help him feed the starving duck population of northeastern Arkansas. After Grandpa Conner died, Perion was forbidden to go out there. The place had become grown up with weeds.
“I hired a few town boys to clean it up for me. It was like I expected someone to need it,” Marilinn said.
Perion left the kitchen and headed for her old bedroom. With the exception of the made up bed, it was stripped bare, but structurally the same. She undressed down to her underwear and pulled the bed covers back. She slid under the covers and laid back. She didn’t go to sleep right away, her mind was on Lein. A part of her didn’t want to believe that he had only used her for tawdry sex. A part wanted to believe he did love her, even if he’d never told her. She already missed him, even though she had vowed she wouldn’t.
Perion knew she’d have to get over it, get over Lein. She knew she could always go back to Blaine. After all, he professed to actually loving her, something Lein had never done. However, she didn’t love Blaine anymore. In fact, she had fallen out of love with Blaine the instant Lein had come into her life. She didn’t know if she actually wanted to go back to Blaine or to put her marriage back together. Even if she did decide to go back to her husband, she would never stop loving Lein. Perion turned to her side and closed her eyes. She finally slept, but it was a fitful, tormented slumber.