Chapter 39: O, that I were a glove upon that hand,

The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin

I finally found my pants and pulled them on. I went out to the kitchen and checked cupboards until I found some cups and the stuff I needed to make coffee. I sat down at the small table and waited for the coffeemaker to finish.

I rested my head in my hands, scratching my fingers along my scalp, trying to focus. What was wrong with Calla? Was she having second thoughts? Did sleeping with me make her feel too vulnerable? I felt sick to my stomach at the thought that she might not want to be with me. Or that I had somehow rushed her.

I poured myself a cup of coffee once it was ready, and took it into the living room. I put it down on a coaster on the table as I sat on the couch, lounging in an attempt to get comfortable while I waited. I felt bone-tired, but at the same time my anxiety about Calla was keeping me awake.

I tried to review the events of the past month or so in my mind, to see if I’d gone wrong somewhere. Calla and I had met strangely enough, because of her future self’s visit to the coffee house. Her passionate kiss had led me to approach the younger Calla and my interest was mistakenly interpreted as flirting. Attracted to her, I actually did start to flirt. I left my number with her before going to work, even though Calla had claimed to be uninterested in dating.

Despite this claim, she had eventually called me to invite me to Bianca’s art show, and then left her phone number for me to find. We eventually started meeting for coffee every morning, and had our first date going to my mother’s home for dinner with a group of guests. We had snuck out for ice cream and had a second first kiss.

The weird thing about that first week was that my father’s building had exploded, and yet Calla was still occupying my thoughts. I had taken on big responsibilities the week following, and all we really had time for was coffee in the mornings. Skipping over the fact I spent part of the week time travelling and fighting a terrorist, I had been running the company and squeezing in time for Calla.

We had a bit of a breakthrough moment on the Thursday of the second week. It had been raining a lot and this had caused some melancholy feelings for Calla. She called me for comfort, and I learned from Bianca that her adoptive parents had died because of a storm. Thanks to the terrorist Zebediah, so had her original parents. We found a new depth of trust after that night.

My mother had died the following day, and this led to a lot of attention from the press. Calla had ingeniously snuck through the media blitz to make sure we still had our Saturday date, dinner at my apartment. She stuck by me through a difficult time, and made me see that there was something more. We’d had phone conversations over the next few weeks, rarely seeing each other until this weekend’s dinner at my parents’ country house.

I wondered what had been so special about today. She had seen my affection for Lucia, Isaac and Shirley, our servants. She’d seen my vulnerability at the house after the police confirmed my father’s death. We’d come to know each other better as people, and grown in our intimacy. Perhaps it was just the right time for us to take this next step.

It had felt like the right thing to do. We loved each other. I had fallen into the most peaceful sleep I’d had in months. I couldn’t figure out why she had been awake and crying. I shook my head, laying it back on the couch and staring at the ceiling.

I thought I was making Calla happier. Was she feeling guilty about that? Like she was somehow betraying her dead family by moving on? I could only speculate. Maybe she was just afraid of having strong feelings again. I could understand that. I had never felt this way before, sometimes it was frightening.

I wouldn’t know until she got back, in any case. All I could tell her was that I was here for her. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had.

Eventually I must have fallen asleep like that on the couch, despite my best efforts to stay awake and wait. I had been running myself at a gruelling pace for weeks, and I had already been half asleep. The soft embrace of sleep was too tempting to escape. But I was once again startled out of slumber, this time by the buzz of the intercom.

“Hello?” I asked blearily, once I got to my feet and stumbled to push the button by the door.

“Frank? Let me in, please,” Calla’s welcome voice answered.

I buzzed her up and opened the door, going out to the stairway to welcome her back. She came walking up the flight of stairs with these big, dewy eyes. Like she was afraid I would tell her to turn around and go away.

“Come here,” I said, holding my arms out.

She came to me gratefully, with a sob, and her arms clutched me tight. I hugged her close, my fingers caressing her hair. I could feel her crying against my chest.

“I’m so sorry. I couldn’t stay away, Frank. I tried, but I can’t. I need you too much.”

“Shhhhh, shhhhhh, it’s okay. It’s okay. Just come back inside.”

I took her back into the apartment, half carrying her as she wept.

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I think Calla knows something

I think Calla knows something - that the deaths and disappearances in her life are not random..


very nice little set up... I do hope Calla explains why she ran. Made you a thread in the Basement forum...


It was Fantasy_Lover! Thanks for doing that, Light Defender mentioned it the other day. Mystery solved!

Was acually me, though. ;-P

Was acually me, though. ;-P Forum post where I hook FL is here:

Had the idea last chapter that it was actually "Future Calla" instead of "Present Calla"...not too sure anymore.

Oohh a debate

It looks like you both posted it in different parts of the same site, that's pretty funny. Either way, I appreciate the new exposure -- me loves audience. Me thinks audiences is awesomes.

I'm not sure if that's the Hulk or Tarzan, but either way, me likey.

Yeah, that first thread

Yeah, that first thread (chronologically speaking) was where we discussed if we'd set up a forum for other web serials, and which were to be included, so...

Cernael posted the initial link.

Then Fan got hooked on it, made a thread specific to it, and I picked it up from there. So you have (at least) two new readers from Cernael.

New Readers, Hoooray!

Whatever way they come, I'm glad everybody is here. There's lots to read, so feel free to leave lots of comments! If this was a party, I'd dig up more chips and dip. Wooooooooooooooooo!

Just a thought

This may be because I just read the book in one sitting, but I'm not sure the recap actually worked well with the story -- or it was just too, this happened then that...

I'm not sure, but it felt like a, And Last Week on Diggory's Love Life -- etc

But then, for people who've kept up with the serial, it might have been nice to have a nice little reminder.


Serials are crazy

I used to love how the announcer guy on Batman would tell you what happened last week at the start of an episode, and then tell you to tune in next time at the end. My wife and I watch Grey's Anatomy on DVD every September, so we get annoyed with the "last time on Grey's" clips at the start of every episode, because we watch them all at once.

So, for serials, it works. For big chunks, not so much. But for Diggory, it seemed like a good time for him to sit down and recap what was happening with Calla, because he's been involved with her for a month and it's been a crazy month. I hoped it would seem character-driven as he introspectively tried to figure out why she might be reacting this way.

But hopefully it helps some readers and sets up the next storyline. Mwhahha ha ha!

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