Out of the Past
"Moms, where's the picnic basket?" Nineteen-year-old Trixie Belden bounded into the kitchen of Crabapple Farm, looking frazzled as she hurled the question at her mother. "I have to have it now!! Jim is waiting for me, and I can't carry all the good food that you made for us in my old school backpack!! For once, I'm providing the food, instead of the Wheeler's cook, and I want it to be perfectly perfect!"
Helen Belden was rolling pie dough at the counter in the cheerful kitchen. "I think it's in the garage, Trixie. Did you look out there?" She smiled fondly at her energetic daughter, thinking how grown-up and lovely Trixie looked. She was a far cry from the rambunctious tomboy she had been in her youth.
Trixie impatiently tossed her blond curls. She looked fresh and cool dressed in a blue tank-top and denim shorts. She rushed around the kitchen, gathering assorted sandwiches, soft drinks, and fruit. Suddenly she stopped, dropped the food she had gathered to the counter, and rushed out of the house. In a few moments, the screen door slammed as she re-entered the kitchen, triumphantly waving the wicker basket above her head. "Gleeps, Moms, I have seven minutes to pack the basket, find my sandals, and get to the Manor House! You know that Jim hates it when anybody is late. Trixie ran into the front hallway without waiting for an answer.
Helen smiled to herself and started packing the picnic basket herself. Trixie was always in a hurry, starting with her birth that was three weeks early. Helen remembered with a shudder the days of dealing with a newborn, a one-year-old, and a two-year-old. She loved her children, but was thankful that that part of her life was over. She was equally thankful that her husband Peter and she were still up to the activities that conceived Trixie. With an inner smile, she recalled the walk they had taken the evening before in Sleepyside Park, culminating in some hanky-panky behind the bushes by the picnic tables.
Trixie ran into the kitchen, hopping on one foot as she finished putting on her shoes, and grabbed the large basket from the counter. "Thanks, Moms; I don't know what I'd do without you!! Blowing a kiss over her shoulder, she hurried out the kitchen door and up the path to the Manor House.
As she lugged the heavy basket up the tree-lined path to her boyfriend's house, she remembered the first time she visited the Manor House after millionaire Matthew Wheeler bought it for his sheltered daughter, Honey. Trixie had been thirteen that summer, and bored to tears with her older brothers, Brian and Mart, gone all summer long. Her brothers often drove her crazy, as all brothers do, but she hadn't realized how much she counted on them to entertain her until they had left for their summer jobs as camp counselors. That summer, she had desperately wanted a horse and a best friend. When the Wheelers moved to the Manor House, she had gained both.
Honey was a frail, timid girl who had been scared of her own shadow. Trixie was a rambunctious tomboy who was sometimes thoughtless and heedless. Somehow, the two of them had become fast friends, and Honey generously shared all of the Manor House perks, including the stables, the lake with its rowboat, and the game preserve. Trixie, in return, shared her penchant for sticking her nose where it didn't belong and getting into trouble. On their very first adventure, they had had discovered Jim Frayne and had helped him escape from his evil stepfather. Eventually, Jim was adopted by the Wheelers, and was now a treasured member of the Wheeler household, as well as a treasured part of Trixie's life.
When Jim had come to live at the Manor House, he and Honey, along with Trixie and her brothers, formed a semi-secret club they had named the Bob-Whites of the Glen. Eventually, the club grew to include Diana Lynch, a classmate of Trixie's, and Dan Mangan, nephew of the Wheeler's head groom, Bill Regan. The club was still active, even though all the members had graduated from high school and scattered to different colleges throughout the country. They still managed to keep in touch and spend holidays and summers together.
All this flashed through Trixie's head as she passed the Manor House garage and waved to Tom Delanoy, the Wheelers' chauffeur. He called to her, "Jim should be in the stables, Trixie."
"Thanks, Tom!" Trixie changed direction and headed toward the large stables. As she stepped inside the cool darkness, she paused a moment to let her eyes adjust. Lucky, the cat that Dan rescued from the flooded creek in the game preserve last spring rubbed against her legs and purred loudly. Lucky lived in the stables and was best friends with Jupiter, Mr. Wheeler's large, black gelding.
Trixie stood quietly in the doorway of Regan's bright yellow office and smiled to herself as she studied the tall, supple red-headed young man bent over the desk. Silently, she tiptoed up behind him and slipped her arms around his waist. She buried her face against his shoulder blades and whispered, "Hey, cowboy." She felt Jim's muscles tense. She pulled away from him, and asked "Jim, what's wrong? Is everything okay?"
Slowly he turned to face her, his face white and drawn. Trixie was alarmed now. "Jim, what's wrong? What's going on?" She glanced at the desk and stared in fascination at the tattered, stuffed Grover doll, the faded, blue baby blanket, and the old pictures scattered over the desk. Jim was holding a letter that was covered with frail, spidery handwriting. She looked up at his face and asked again, "Gleeps, Jim, what is all this?"
Jim slowly looked up from the letter. His face was stark white, and every freckle stood out on his face. He looked as if he had been struck by a train. "Trixie, this letter is from my great-grandmother."
Mart Belden ran ahead of his brother and sister as they walked to the
Wheelers' lake, where the BWG's were having a party and barbeque. "I'll see you
guys up there!" Mart yelled over his shoulder at Trixie and Brian. Brian waved
his hand at Mart's back, while Trixie didn't react, seemingly lost in thought.
"Trix? A penny for your thoughts." Brian gently prodded at his sister. He was concerned about her. She had returned from the Manor House with a full picnic basket and a worried look in her eyes. "Did you and Jim have a fight?
"What?" Trixie brought herself out of her reverie and blinked around her. How did I get on the path to the lake? The last she had noticed, Mart had been with her and they had been by the chicken house. Now, Mart was nowhere in sight, and she was walking with Brian along the quiet path through the woods to the lake. She sighed. Ever since she'd heard the startling revelation that Jim had received a package from his long-assumed-dead great-grandmother, she had been living in a fog. She gave herself a mental shake, determined to enjoy the afternoon. The Bob-Whites were having a party at the lake. Everybody would be there, including Diana, whose family had just returned from a trip to Rosewood Hall.
"No, Brian, of course Jim and I didn't have a fight." A fight might have been better, Trixie mused. At least then they could make up, teasing and kissing. That would be much better than Jim shutting her out, as he had done yesterday in the stables.
As she and Brian left the woods, walking into the clearing beside the lake, the sound of laughing and splashing could be heard. Trixie felt her worries leave and her spirits lift as she heard the mirth of her friends. Dan, Diana and Trixie's cousin, Hallie, were splashing in the water. They were trying to dunk one another and shrieking with laughter each time they managed it. Honey was lying on the floating dock, sunning herself in her stunning harvest-gold two-piece suit, and Jim was coming out of the boathouse in black swim trunks. Mart, as usual, was clowning around. He had found an old, blue pogo stick somewhere, and was showing off to the other Bob-Whites. He was bouncing around the lawn and pretending to lose his balance on the pogo stick.
As Mart bounced out onto the dock, Honey yelled, "Brian, Trixie, it's about time you got here!" Mart, startled, looked back, and then, a CAT-astrophe!!! As Mart looked back over his shoulder, he lost his balance and leaned to one side. Just then, Lucky the Wonder Cat darted onto the dock, under the pogo stick, leaped into the water, and swam to the floating dock, where he curled up on Honey's stomach. Honey shrieked as the cold, wet cat touched her bare skin, and that shriek seemed to push Mart over the edge. He tried to regain his balance and control, but the pogo stick seemed to have a mind of its own. He took one giant leap to the right side of the dock, over-corrected and made a giant leap to the left side of the dock. As his friends watched in horror and amusement, he made one valiant effort, throwing himself forward and to the right. Yelling, he bounced right off the end of the dock into the lake. His friends hooted with laughter as he surfaced, sputtering with rage and embarrassment.
On the floating dock, Lucky sat calmly, grooming his fur. Dan yelled, "Hey, Belden, that was the most graceful act on a pogo stick that I've seen in years!!
Jim walked over to the edge of the dock and bent over to offer Mart a hand out.
"The mono-crutch apparatus has not succeeded in maiming that feline, unfortunately. In my humble estimation, said feline should be banished from our alluring tarn before he can further disparage me!
"Gleeps, Mart, can't you speak English? Lucky wouldn't have bothered you if you hadn't been showing off. Who bounces a pogo stick on the dock anyway?" Trixie rolled her eyes at her almost-twin before immediately turning her attention to Jim. He sensed her appraising look and smiled reassuringly at her. He motioned with his head toward the boathouse. She slipped away from Brian to follow him up the short path.
As soon as they were out of sight of the others, Jim gathered Trixie close in his arms. He planted light, feathery kisses all over her face, as she sighed in relief that her Jim was back. He moved from her eyelids to her lips, and sensing her response, deepened the kiss. After what seemed to Trixie an eternity, he broke away from her and looked deeply into her eyes.
"I guess you're wondering about what happened yesterday in the stables. I'm sorry that I bailed on our picnic. I was just overwhelmed and stunned by that package. But I'm ready to tell you about it if you want to hear the whole story." Jim ran his freckled hand through his hair and hesitantly looked at Trixie.
Trixie touched her fingers to his cheek and smiled in encouragement. Jim took a deep breath and began his story.
"Yesterday, when I got home from running an errand in town, Regan called me into the stables to look at Thunderer's foreleg. It has been tender, and we have been debating whether or not we need to call in the Dr. Kramer. As I was walking into the stables, a UPS van pulled up, and the guy asked me to sign for a package. I signed for it, but didn't really look at the package until I was ready to leave. I noticed that it was addressed me, so I took it into Regan's office to open it." Jim turned and looked out over the lake. The setting was wooded and beautiful, but Trixie didn't think that he was actually seeing any of it, just as she didn't think he was aware of the laughing Bob-Whites who had all gathered on the floating dock to praise Lucky and tease Mart.
Jim took a deep breath and continued his story. "It was from Harriet Frayne. She lives in San Francisco now, although she lived for many years in Albany. She had a son named Jonathan Frayne, who in turn had a son named"
"Winthrop Frayne," Trixie interrupted Jim quietly, "who married Katje Vanderheiden, who, in turn, had a son named James Winthrop Frayne II. Oh, Jim, she's your great-grandmother!" Trixie laid her hand on Jim's shoulder, as he turned to look at her.
"I never heard of her, Trix. Where was she after my mother died? Why didn't she try to get in touch with me?" Jim asked with a catch in his voice. "Jonesy and I never left the truck farm. Surely my mother was in contact with her after my father died. Why did she leave me in that situation?" He trailed off, his voice breaking.
After a few minutes, he recovered enough to continue, "She sent pictures, Trix. Pictures of my father as a baby, my parents' wedding, and pictures of me that my mother had sent her. She also had my Grover doll and my baby blanket. I thought that stuff was gone forever after my dad died. Mom remarried so quickly, and I figured that when she was packing to move, she threw that stuff out. How did Harriet end up with it?"
Jim paced around the boathouse, stepping around the kayaks, canoes, and the various lines and sails scattered around the cluttered room. Trixie stood by a small sailboat that was missing its mast, and watched him silently.
"Trix, that's not all. She wants to meet me. She wants me to come to San Francisco to be a part of her life."
As always, the characters depicted do not belong to me. They are registered trademarks of Random House Publishing, and no money is being made from this story.
Many, many thanks to Susansuth for her editing prowess amid a busy week for her!!! I admit that I shamelessly plagiarized her suggestions, and bow to her expertise. You are the best!!!
Many thanks to Jenni F., aka JellyBaby, for her encouragement and editing. Without her, this story would not have been attempted! She also graciously offered to host this story at her site. Thanks Jelly!!!! *waving*
The suggestion for the title of this piece of fiction also came from JellyBaby, as it was all I could do to write it!
Trixie and Jim are still stuck in the boathouse, busy with other things, *blushing*, but hopefully they will be done soon and tell me what happens next!!
This was written for the Jixemitri CWP #1. The required elements were: a bright yellow room, sex in a park, the mention or presence of a pet, a pogo stick, the word "gleeps" used at least three times, a picnic basket, a very important letter, a Sesame Street character, and the mention or appearance of a secondary character from the books.