Chapter 9: Frustration

My elation was short lived. The next day, Rose refused to come out of her room. I tried to coax her out but she just told me to “Go away.” So I started leaving her meals on a tray in front of her door.

 

This didn’t seem like the friendly, fearless girl I’d been observing and eventually I appealed to Maggie.

 

“I don’t know how to convince her to come out- she won’t even talk to me!”

“Well, she’s angry.” Maggie pointed out.

“But I didn’t do this to her.”

“And she knows that. But who else does she have to be angry with?”

I could have made a couple of suggestions… but I didn’t. “It’s not fair- she’s blaming me.” I grumbled.

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Do you want my advice or do you just want to sulk?”

Oh. I was doing that, wasn’t I. “Advice. Please.”

“First, give her some time. You took your own time getting over your sulks. Second, I know you see who she is. Think. Think about her.”

“I haven’t been thinking about anything else.”

“Pfft. You’re thinking about you and what you want. Think about her and what she wants.”

 

So I did. What did I know? Well, right now, she wanted to be left alone. So the first thing is to stop pestering her to come out. What else? Well, she loved books… and roses… and her father. She was kind and social… being cooped up here couldn’t be easy and I didn’t think she had brought much to read. So maybe books first?

We had put her in the green bedroom at the top of the house but there was another room on that floor- a very large room. I hadn’t done much with it while I was working on the house- just a hardwood floor and paint- could I make it into a library? There was already a fireplace- ideal for grouping chairs before. So I added a desk with pens and paper and shelves and a couple of good reading chairs with a table between them… and a good large rug to muffle footsteps. Then I was faced with the problem of almost completely empty shelves.

But what did Rose like to read? I’d seen her read mysteries, adventure, science fiction, best sellers and classics so her past reading habits were less help than they could have been. I tried finding her wishlist on Amazon but either she had it hidden… or she didn’t have one. So I guessed- mostly. I did find a place on line that made recommendations based on books chosen… but that was only a little help. I did pick up all the Sherlock books- I knew she liked Sherlock- as well as some of the pastiches written by other people.

Once I had books in the library, I added a book to her tray at lunch. That it was not on the tray when she put it back out was hopeful. Knowing how fast she read, I planned to put a new book on the tray every day.

 

Ok- I couldn’t do much about her father… but roses? I had an empty greenhouse (except for a few cooking herbs) just begging to be filled with all manner of roses. The only problem was that I knew less than nothing about growing roses. So I learned. Partly from books and partly by experimentation. All things considered, I killed remarkably few rose bushes.

Unlike the library, I had to keep fiddling with the roses- they’re labor intensive. And mostly I enjoyed doing it- once I discovered that the reason humans have eyebrows is to keep sweat from dripping into your eyes. Since I no longer had any eyebrows, I substituted a bandana tied around my head at eyebrow level. The first time I forgot and walked into breakfast like that, Maggie looked up and deadpanned:

“Thorne, Halloween was yesterday.”

I gestured at my face. “Halloween is every day.” It got a laugh from her so I considered it a success. Will’s sense of humor was rubbing off on me, it seemed.

 

Most mornings, I worked in the greenhouse after breakfast. Since the skylight into Rose’s room was actually in the greenhouse, I tried not to make too much noise- or spy on her too much. I did see her walking sometimes and occasionally reading but most of the room was not visible from the sky light. At first, I only caught infrequent glimpses of her… but they became more frequent and a couple of times, I looked down and she was watching me. That made me turn away in a hurry. She’d seen my face but it was likely still a disturbing sight and I was still embarrassed to be seen.

Once the roses were blooming well, I added a vase to her tray with several blooms in it. It wasn’t returned so I left a fresh rose every morning.

I felt like I was still operating in a vacuum, I didn’t know which books she had liked, I didn’t know which roses pleased her the most. So in spite of her wish to be left alone, I tucked a note inside one of the books asking who her favorite author was. It took a day for her to leave her response on her tray, but she did. I expected Austin or something but she told me someone I never expected. The next afternoon, I left a book on her tray that had been reviewed as being very similar to her favorite.

When she put it back on the tray, there was a note: “This is awful, have you read this?”

So I wrote back “No, I haven’t. What would be a better choice?” and tucked into a different book for her.

When she returned that one, there was a list of several and a note at the bottom “…although not all at once!”

Okay, this was better. I was not operating entirely in a vacuum any more and she didn’t seem to resent  the occasional note in her book. When I had worked my way through the list, I left my favorite book for her with a note indicating that and a request for her to let me know what she thought of it.

What I got back wasn’t a note, it was a letter. Several pages long and detailing what she liked about it and why and the few things she didn’t like. I could hardly give a one or two sentence response to such a detailed critique so I sent back a letter with my thoughts on it… and asked about her favorite which I had read by that time.

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