Hi, Awesome people. It’s been long! I had this chapter written for about more than two months now but didn’t post it. One coz I was busy, Two coz I procrastinate a lot and three coz I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right.This is my first story exceeding 1000 words. I keep thinking that I’m doing it all wrong and this should have come first or it was too soon for that and blah blah blah.
But then more than anything I want to finish this story. Although it is a work of fiction, it is personal to me. More than being right I want it to be complete. I guess what I’m saying is: Those who read this story or still want to read this story, stay with me, we might get somewhere.
This chapter is longer but I cut it into two parts. So chapter 6 will be coming along soon. Also, if you look up, there is a drop down menu for Shared Empathy. If you want to access previous chapters, simply click it.
Alan’s cooking skills were being tested today. He was standing in his kitchen, half bent in front of the oven to check the temperature of lamb roast when the adjacent oven dinged, signaling that the cupcakes were ready. He shut the oven door and opened the other one, took out the cupcakes and put them on the cooling stand. He stood in the middle of the kitchen, his blue eyes taking in the sight if the entire room behind the slightly smeared square spectacles and made mental notes.
Fifteen more minutes for the lamb roast, cupcakes are ready and vegetables are grilled, sitting on the hot plate. The table is set. Everything is good. Stop freaking out. Just then he saw the iceberg and romaine on the counter and realized he hasn’t started the salad yet. Oh, crap! The salad!
His thoughts were disrupted by the doorbell. He covered the small distance between the kitchen and the front door and opened it.
“Hey”, Nola said.
“Thank God, you are here. I need you in the kitchen.”, he said, pulling her in by the arm.
“Alan! I don’t do kitchen, remember?”, she said, pointing towards herself and giving her a look to tell him he has lost his mind.
“I am not asking you to make Risotto! You just have to chop some things for the salad.”, he said putting an arm around her shoulders and taking her towards the kitchen through the living room.
“Ahh, Alan, why are there people in your backyard? People other than your Mom and Dad”, she asked as she saw people standing in the backyard through the huge living room windows.
“Dad! He invited some of his friends in town. You know how he is.”
“You could have told me”. She was still looking there.
“So that you could bail? No. If I suffer, you suffer with me. Here just chop these cucumbers roughly”, he said and started cutting the tomatoes.
“I hate you”, she said making her best angry face, ” Don’t say anything to me if I do it wrong” she cautioned him picking up one of the cucumbers.
“I said roughly. How wrong can you go there? “, He rolled his eyes.
“Alan, who was at the door?”, they heard a sweet familiar voice coming towards them.
“Nola! you are here!”, Alan’s mother said as she came into view and saw her.
“Sarah! Hi, How have you been?” Nola put down the knife and hugged the lady.
Sarah had a kind face and you could tell where Alan got his eyes and kindness. She wore a white floral dress and her gray hair was tied in a bun. She had a slender figure but still managed to engulf Nola in a bear hug which she welcomed gladly, inhaling her motherly scent. She was the closest person to a mother that Nola ever got . Her own mother died when she was just a baby. She often thought what it would be like to have a mother but never really craved for one. Her father had been enough until he wasn’t.
“You put her to work? She just came!”, said Sarah, releasing her with a kiss on the cheek.
“Ma, I need an extra set of hands.”, Alan replied.
“I’m sorry dear. Peter just had to invite some friends. It was a last minute thing.”, she said apologetically looking at Nola.
“Oh no, it’s fine Sarah. I can help”, she smiled and got back to cutting the cucumbers.
“Ma, go be with the guests. Dinner will be served in twenty minutes. You can talk to your favorite kid then.”, he said, turning her towards the living room. Sarah smiled again and huffed at Alan, but went to the backyard again because people were waiting.
“I’m not even dressed properly. You could have given a heads up”
“I wasn’t given a heads up either and you are dressed just fine.”
She wore a chiffon blouse to give a formal feeling otherwise she usually just wore T-shirts and Hoodies with jeans. This, however, felt like a dressy kind of evening. She looked at Alan who was wearing dress pants and a shirt, well, he was always dressed up.
They all sat down on the long wooden table in Alan’s backyard, light bulbs hanging over them and a bonfire flickering away at the side.There were four guests; Peter’s business partner, his wife and their kids, a young man and a woman. Alan happily accepted all the praise and proudly watched his dad introducing Nola as his daughter to everyone. He was really glad that his parents loved Nola. It was good to see her smiling and enjoying herself, being a part of the family. She was comfortable with them despite the fact that she hated being around new people.
He had a beautiful relation with his parents. They have always been supportive and kind. They did everything to make sure he and his baby brother lived a happy, healthy life. He became a surgeon and Mark, his brother was studying Physics. Everyone joked that how was a doctor and a scientist born in the house of businessmen. Their relation got affected during the addiction years. It was hard for them to see their first born like that, but they tried to help nonetheless. They thought he was never going to be better after his repeated failed attempts to be sober. Those were the worst times and now he was better and they both thanked Nola for that. They both believed she had a big role in that, and it was the truth that without her help and support Alan wouldn’t have been able to pull through.
Eva, the daughter of Peter’s friend, was standing in front of the painting in the living room, immersed in her own thoughts.
“Beautiful, right?”, said Alan approaching her after taking care of the dishes.Nola was right beside him and gave him a stern look.
“Yes, this is simply amazing. I wonder who the artist is!”, Eva replied.
“Right here”, said Alan, giving Nola a slight push on the back.
She smiled and made a mental note of getting back to Alan about this later.
“You are! This is truly beautiful”, Eva said.
“Thank you. I made it for Alan.”
“Do you sell your work?”
“Ahh, no… I … no, I don’t. It’s just a hobby, my safe space.”
“Too bad because I would love to have it.”
“Hey! It’s mine!”, Alan said claiming his ownership to the painting.
Eva laughed and said, “No, really, you should think about exhibiting your paintings. You are extremely talented.”
“I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about that.”, Nola said.
“Have you studied art?”
“No, it’s just something I picked up very early in life.”
“Great. You know I run a shelter and rehabilitation center for homeless teens, right?”
“Yes, yes. I heard that at the dinner. It’s amazing what you do!”
“Thanks. We have art sessions. Come by some day, if you like.”
“Oh wow. Um, yes, I’d think about that. Thanks.”, she smiled all the while plotting a revenge against Alan for putting her under the spotlight.