Atlantic Nights Chapter 6 - The Agreement

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Atlantic Nights Chapter 6

“One of us will be here every night,” Sarah said. “You’ll probably see more of Donna and Dennis than ever, being here in town. They’re going to come in after work, and if you need anything from the house, I can bring it in when I come in.”

“Or Tom can,” Helen said.

“Sure, if he’s not busy.”

“How busy can he be? I can’t imagine him out at the house all by himself. I should be back there.”

“I know you don’t want to stay here, Mom, but that’s one of the big reasons it’s happening like this. You know how you always said Dad didn’t get his due, that he knew more about selling than anyone he’d ever worked for?” Sarah forced the words out, feeling like at any moment her mother would look over at her with that searching look she had used since Sarah was a little girl — the one that looked right into you and saw the lie. She pulled in a big breath, trying to keep her voice steady. “They’ve asked him to come back, to do some seminars with the younger agents, to pass on some of the things he’s good at.”

“So he’s back on the road?” Helen asked.

“Off for a few days to start, just to see,” Sarah lied. “We’ll have to see what happens. And you know how hard it’s been for you keeping the house up while he’s gone.”

Helen nodded, but didn’t look convinced.

“They flew him up, and he says they’re treating him like royalty, ‘Mr. Connors’ this and ‘Mr. Connors’ that. He says it will be three days or more before he can even get them to wind it back to ‘Tom.’ But while he’s still Mr. Connors, he said he’s going to wring the biggest steak dinner out of them that he possibly can. And maybe shake them down for a territory all his own, just so that he can show them how it’s done.”

Sarah could feel the weight of the words heavy in her chest, like they were piling up down there, inexpellable and undigestable. But she kept talking, and every word felt easier, as if she could actually see him.

“They’ve got him on the top floor of the old Lord Nelson, and he says there’s more pillows than he can use in a week, that you could dock a ship next to the side of the bed. He said to tell you he’s ‘gone to see the world and travel in the land of men’ and that you’d understand what he meant by that.”

“He always loved The Thousand and One Nights,” Helen said quietly, her voice little more than a whisper. “He loved a good story, whether he was reading it to one of you kids or making it up.”

“I know that,” Sarah said, looking out at the dark window. “I sometimes think Dad thought he was Sinbad the Sailor. When I was little, if he’d told me that, I would have believed him, I would have believed that he was setting out to earn a fortune on unknown seas.”

It was quiet for a moment.

“You should sleep, Mom,” Sarah said, but when she looked across, Helen’s eyes were already closed. She walked to the door, turned off the light and let the door swing closed.


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