Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Camden Corners: The Merryweather - Holly & Steve
Holly and Steve
Some people thought the Mackenzies and Burkes were the founders of Camden Corners. The families had lived in the small town for decades, but they weren't the first to call Camden Corners home.
Duncan Mackenzie was barely twenty years old when he left Scotland for America. The day after his twenty first birthday, Alexander Burke boarded the boat leaving Ireland. He watched with sadness as his family waved goodbye from the shore. Duncan and Alexander met in New York City and became roommates in Mrs. Geraldine O'Sullivan's boarding house.
Mrs. O'Sullivan told them of a small village she'd visited with her family when she was a young girl. “Ah, yes, I have wonderful memories of Camden Corners. The hills are lush with green, the lake is as clear as can be, the only sound you hear from morning til night are the birds chirping in the trees.”
Although the friends were grateful to be living and working in America, they longed for the lush green hills of their childhood. With the money they saved while working at whatever jobs they could find, they bid farewell to Mrs. O'Sullivan and rode the train as far west as they were able, buying horses to take them into the hills and their new home in Camden Corners.
The town had already begun to grow. The railroad was in the process of being expanded through the heart of town. The two young men felt at home immediately. They eventually married local young women and opened a pub they called O'Sullivan's after their friend and landlady who shared memories of her childhood.
The two families grew as did the town. It seemed as though half the people in town were named Burke while the other half were Mackenzies.
Holly Mackenzie and Steve Burke had been inseparable since the day they were born just minutes apart in Shane Howard Memorial Hospital. Their mothers, who were best friends themselves, shared a room in the hospital while their babies slept side by side in bassinets.
Holly was standing staring at the ice cream case in the grocery store trying to decide between butter crunch and rocky road. She shrugged and picked one of each placing them in her shopping cart along with the chocolate chips she'd grabbed from the shelf in the baking aisle. As she was checking out, she spotted candy bars and two of them ended up on the conveyor belt.
“Hi Holly, are you doing alright?” said Mitzi Clark as she checked out Holly's order. “I see you are making cookies and eating ice cream and candy this evening. You don't usually do that unless you have something on your mind.”
“I'm just fine, Mitzi, must be my sweet tooth and hormones acting up,” replied Holly. She wondered what it would be like to live in a place where nobody knew you or cared what was in your shopping cart. Holly loved her town and her life in Camden Corners though. If she didn't love it so much, the offer today wouldn't be weighing on her shoulders. She instinctively knew her friend and business partner was suffering through the same thing. She imagined Tracy was in her favorite spot right now overlooking the lake. Soon she would be sipping a martini. Holly laughed as she thought of the difference between the two of them and how they handled stress. Holly couldn't get enough of sweets and Tracy looked at water and indulged in Jack's martinis. It's a good thing the two of them didn't often have stress in their lives, Holly would weigh two hundred pounds and Tracy would be a drunkard.
Steve was working late tonight of all nights. After all these years, the newspaper was struggling to keep advertisers. The subscription numbers were down and continuing to fall as more and more people were relying on the internet for their news. Small town newspapers were suffering less than their big city counterparts because people in small towns were more involved in what was going on in their neighborhoods. Still, Holly knew it was a worry to Steve. His great grandfather was there when the very first Camden Chronicle was published and Burkes had been involved with the newspaper ever since.
Holly was beating the cookie dough as she munched on her candy bar. She thought back to when she first realized what she felt for Steve was more than the good buddies they had always been. She had just turned fifteen. She and Steve had a joint birthday party as they had for every one of them. They both thought they were too old to share their birthday but they went along with it because it made their mothers happy.
“Hi, honey, I'm home,” Steve said the same thing every time he opened the back door. Holly thought it was silly at first but through the years she came to expect it and if he didn't say the words, she knew the day hadn't gone well for him.
“What's wrong, you are eating a candy bar and baking cookies,” he said as he dipped his finger into the dough catching a chocolate chip on his tongue.
Holly told him about the offer she and Tracy had received. “We are thinking it over tonight. I don't know what we will do, Steve. I know we will eventually have to turn The Merryweather over to someone else but it has been part of all our lives for so long.
“Arthur Pierce didn't make his millions by being sentimental. I'm sure he will bulldoze the old place in favor of a high rise.”
“That's just it, do we really want The Merryweather to be demolished? Let's talk about your day. My brain is numb trying to decide what to do.”
“I'm afraid I don't have much to report. We lost another advertiser today. I'm not sure how long we will be able to continue with the Chronicle if this trend continues. Maybe we should both call it a day and retire to the Florida Keys.”
“Steve, you know you will never leave Camden Corners. What would you do without our grandchildren to fuss over? Speaking of our grandchildren, did you notice how round Kelli's face was yesterday when she was here?”
“What does that mean? Is she alright?” Steve asked forgetting about the newspaper and the hotel for the moment. His concern was for his daughter.
“Of course, she's alright. Don't you remember when she was expecting Jason and Ryan, both times her face looked like a moon pie?”
“I'd forgotten about that. You mean we are going to be grandparents again?”
“I'm not sure but I suspect that is why she was so tired yesterday. She mentioned she had a busy week at the hospital. I know she took on an extra shift for her friend Daisy while she is on her honeymoon. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part. It's been a few years since we have had a newborn around here.”
“Daisy is on a honeymoon again? How many honeymoons is one person entitled to. This must be her fourth marriage.”
“Fifth, but who's counting?”
The phone rang. Holly answered it. “Hi Kelli, dear. What's up?”
“Mom, remember yesterday when you asked if Jeff and I had an announcement to make? Well it got me to thinking and I bought a home pregnancy test. It's positive! We are going to have another baby!”
“Kelli, that's wonderful. What do Jeff and the boys think of it?”
“Everyone is thrilled. Ryan is looking forward to having a little brother to tease, just like Jason has been teasing him for years. I can't believe I never even considered the possibility. What kind of a nurse am I?”
“You are a wonderful nurse and you know it. We are very happy for you dear.”
“I knew you would be Mom. Jeff and I thought our baby days were behind us. I guess we shouldn't have gotten rid of the crib.”
“Maybe you will be able to buy a new one in pink,” said Holly crossing her fingers.
“That would be nice. I love you, Mom. Tell Grampa we love him too.”
“I will and you congratulate Jeff for us. We love you too, Kelli and we couldn't be happier.” Holly set the phone down and wrapped her arms around her husband. “Do you still want to move to the Keys, Gramps?
“Not on your life but I wouldn't mind making a move to the bedroom with the sexiest grandma in town.”
“I thought you'd never ask,” said Holly. “I don't know why I bought all that junk food to alleviate my stress when all I needed was you.”