Steele a Different Way
By Gilmoradict
Send feedback to: 12nostalgia77 @ (without the spaces)
Just got to thinking, that MAYBE Steele and Laura just can't make marriage work. Would that really be so bad?
A lone horse and rider ambled down a steep trail through the hills of a ranch outside LA. The air buzzed with the irritated whine of insects in the late afternoon heat, as if they were trying to cool themselves with the thrumming of their wings. The rider used her well worn cowboy hat to fan a particularly pesky swarm of gnats away from her horse's ears. A car drove up to the ranch buildings at about the same time as the rider, it's occupant smiling as she leaned against a fence to watch the approaching figure.
"Hey, You. Thought you were going to wait for me to go out riding."
"Sorry, Mindy. It's after four though, thought you'd be here long ago. I wanted to get Buck here out - he doesn't get ridden enough as it is."
"Yeah, I couldn't get away. That project for NorCo is making me crazy. Can't seem to pull all the pieces together."
"I understand. Sorry dear. Neither of the kids could come?"
"No - soccer, school, you name it. Joe's got them this weekend anyway. Just me, Aunt Laura. Can you stand it?"
"Of course. Go on inside if you like, let me get Buck settled and I'll be right in."
"Sure - how about I put together a salad for dinner/"
"Fabulous - you know I'd rather eat food ANYONE but me made." Laura smiled at her niece as she slid nimbly from the horse's back and led him to a small stable.
"There's nothing more lovely than the late afternoon sun from your porch, Aunt Laura."
"Can't disagree with you. I've never regretted buying this place, only not spending more time here. Seems as if there are always more cases to work on , problems to solve, than there are days in the week. I'm getting better though about putting them aside and saying the weekend is mine. Self preservation of old age I guess."
"Who's old!? Not you certainly."
"Mindy, you're sweet. I'm not under any delusions about how old I am. It makes me more aware of how I want to spend each day, though."
"Well, this seems like near perfection today." Mindy sighed and stared across the hills beyond the ranch. "Mom said she talked to you on your birthday."
"Yep - she and Donald seem to be having a great time on their cruise - do you know she tried to talk me into going with them?" Laura shook her head wonderingly.
"She worries about you being alone, Laura." Mindy looked at her aunt, measuring her response.
Laura smiled at her niece. "She's always tried to mother me - even before your grandma died. I wish I could convince her that I'm happy, but sometimes people have trouble looking beyond their own measure of happiness. For your mom, you kids, her grandkids, Donald; it doesn't get any better for her, and she can't quite imagine that I could be happy without those same things." There was a pause, as Laura stared out at the shadowed hills. "I'm not saying it wouldn't have been nice to have kids, one special person, but it didn't work out for me. It doesn't for lots of people. There are other things that I've found make me contented."
"Lot's of us have trouble with the marriage thing." Mindy said soberly. "Things don't work out the way they did in those old Hollywood movies very often."
"No, they don't." There was a sad edge to Laura's voice as well. "But still, we fill our lives with people we love, right? I have Frances and you, your brother and sister, and your kids. I have good, good friends, Gus, Scrub and the horses, this place, and work that I still love. It's all good."
Laura reached down as she spoke to scratch the ears of a sleeping dog of uncertain lineage that lay near her feet. A plump tabby cat was keeping watch from inside the double doors, safe there from any coyotes that might view her as a snack.
"Did you hear from Uncle Remington on your birthday?" Mindy asked, regretting her question almost at once, for fear the answer would be no.
"Of course, Mindy. He's very good about those sorts of things. He called the day before, to make sure his package arrived - a lovely book with prints from the Monet exhibit at the Louvre. I'll show it to you later." Laura smiled thinking of the gift, and the letter that had accompanied it. "Harry's coming by in a few weeks, sometime after the holidays. He likes to catch up on West coast culture now and then."
"You're so civilized about things. I can't quite imagine Joe and I ever reaching that point."
Laura was silent for quite some time, holding her glass of rapidly warming ice water without drinking it. "Harry and I had so many things going against us. Sometimes love isn't enough to make things work. There were moments, but we couldn't keep it up day by day. For a week here and there...."
"So you'll get your week, huh?" Mindy asked.
"I'll get a visit with a dear old friend. And you'll keep talking to Joe. Who knows? Maybe there's a Hollywood ending planned for you two yet. And Casablanca - as I remember Ilse left in the end, and Bogart was alone. He didn't fall apart. I won't, and you won't either. How about we clear the dishes and take a swim. It's late enough in the day that there's absolutely no chance of getting burned."
The End

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