Three word Wednesday-The Christmas Card -Part 2
Detonate; verb: Explode or cause to explode.
Limber; adjective; (Of a person or body part) lithe; supple, (of a thing) flexible; verb: Warm up in preparation for exercise or activity, esp. sports.
If you missed Part 1 http://sheilaghlee.blogspot.ca/2012/12/three-word-wednesday-christmas-card.html
The Christmas Card -Part 2
As she entered her apartment building, she found herself happy. Maybe, just maybe, she could find out who this Grace was and at least let her know Roberto loved her but what if she’d died? Or Roberto died? It was time ago. What if she told Grace or Roberto and detonated a long term marriage? Maybe she shouldn’t be looking into this? No if she were Grace even if she’d moved on she’d want to know that once Roberto loved her.
She knocked tentatively on Mrs. Donnelly’s apartment door. She held the wrapped chocolates she bought for Mrs. Donnelly in her other hand.
“Well, hello Grace. How nice to see you dear. Are you ready for Christmas?” Mrs. Donnelly said as she opened the door.
Mrs. Donnelly was taller than most women her age. She stood about five-feet- nine inches and even old age could not bend her height. Her long hair was white with tinges of yellow that she wore in a bun at the back of her head. Her eyes which must have once shone brightly had dimmed and clouded with age, but nothing dimmed the smile that touched both her eyes and her lips.
“I am not quite ready for Christmas, but I wanted to bring you this gift and to ask you a few questions about some tenants that used to live here.
“A gift for me? Why thank you child. So kind of you, but I have nothing for you.”
“Ah but I'm sure you do as I said I really need to know about a former tenant of the building...”
“Memory plays a few tricks on me these but I’ll be happy to tell you anything I know. Come in sit down will have some of the fresh shortbread cookies I made and some tea. That always gets me thinking.”
“May I make the tea?” Grace asked.
“No dear, you’re a guest.
“Then may I sit at your table your kitchen is very festive,” Grace asked noting the red tablecloth bordered by a gold tab.
“Certainly dear, please sit.This won;t take but a moment.”
As Grace watched Mrs. Donnelly limberly scooted the table and went to the counter to put the kettle on and then make the tea. She placed tea bags in a festive teapot.The teapot was covered in poinsettia flowers and holly.When the kettle boiled she put in the hot water.She then placed two matching cups and saucers on the tray and set them on the table.Grace would have just put a teabag into a mug and poured hot water over it or maybe just have used her Tassimo. Much easier to have put a tea disc in, so less tedious then using a teapot but somehow the way Mrs. Donnelly made tea was charming.
“May I play mother,” asked Grace.
“Please go ahead,” Mrs. Donnelly answered.
“Now, did you know any of the former tenants in my apartment?” Grace asked.
“Why yes dear, but there’s been many over the years.”
“This would have been a tenant here in the nineteen forties.”
“The nineteen forties? Oh that was so long ago and we had such a turnover because of the war. Let’s see there was that nice Colin Kline, but he joined the army. Then Muriel King but she joined the WRENS. That was the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, you know.”
“Can you remember a Grace?”
“Grace? Like you! Yes, I think I remember a Grace that lived in your apartment but what was her last name? M something!”
“Do you remember what country the name might have originated from was it British, Irish, Welsh? Dutch? German?” Grace prodded.
“Man something I think it was Italian in origin.”
“Was it Mancini, Mancinelli, Mancino?”
“No, that doesn’t sound right.”Mrs. Donnelly answered.
“So, maybe Mantini, Mantea, Mantia?”
“No that isn’t right either. I know it was Manzi.”
“So her name was Grace Manzi?”
“Yes, dear but why would you want to know about Grace after all these years? You’re not related to her are you?”
“No nothing like that. The postman delivered this card to me this morning but it’s not for me it was addressed to her in nineteen forty two and inside it was from Roberto.”
“Roberto? That is a name out of the past. I remember Roberto. He was a rogue. I tried to warn Grace but we weren't close. Now Roberto was such a charmer, but he left Grace high and dry.”
“High and dry? But he sent her this card...oh no, she didn’t get the card with the ring inside.”
“A ring? This Christmas card had a ring inside? May I see?” asked Mrs. Donnelly.
Grace handed her the card with the ring inside.
“Oh, poor Grace. If only she’d known. She had to go home and beg her parents for help when he left her pregnant.”
“She was pregnant?”
“Yes, it was obvious and in those days it was a disgrace to be unwed and pregnant. So she gave her apartment and went home.”
“Do you know what happened to her and where to find her now?”
“Oh, no dear. I did now her parents address it was in Stratford but that was years ago and I haven’t written or spoken to her in years.She may have given up the baby. Some did in those desperate days.”
“Stratford isn’t that far. Only about an hour away maybe she still lives there,” Grace insisted.
“I suppose that could be true. Some people stay in the same place for years.”
“I’m going to look up her in Stratford then.”Grace said pulling her computer out of her bag. "I think my Wi-Fi will work here since I live across the hall.”
Grace scrolled down searching records in Stratford that she could find then resorted to the Yellow pages.There's a G. Manzi at 2000000 Ontario Street,in Stratford listed in 1994 maybe it's her? It seems to be the only Manzi in Stratford.
“The things you can do on computers these days.” Mrs. Donnelly commented. "That's along time ago but go ahead and call dear."
Grace called and a disgruntled voice told her that no Grace Manzi had lived her since 1996 but she thought she lived somewhere in Stratford perhaps Grace's sister Maria Jorgenson would know she lived over on Erie Street. Grace decided to call her.
“ Hello ”
“ Hello, I'm looking for a Grace Manzi.”
“What do you want her for?” asked a suspicious voice.
“ I live in her old apartment and I think I have something of hers,”Grace answered.
"I'm not going to tell you anything over the phone you are a complete stranger,"
"What if I were to come there?
"Then maybe I might talk to you about Grace.What's your name?"
"Grace Phillips. I can come tomorrow."
"Fine see you at one p.m. promptly."
Grace hung up the phone excited to find out the information from Grace's sister Maria.
“I’d love to go with you to find her if you’d let me,” Mrs. Donnelly asked.
“But I’m old and you think I’d tire too soon? Don’t worry I’m made of strong stuff. Besides I have an ace up my sleeve as they say.”
“Yes, I have a place where we can stay. My niece lives in Stratford and she invited me to Christmas. Besides Grace' sister is close to my age she won’t talk to a stranger that comes to her door.”
“That’s good, but I have to find somewhere to stay. This might take time especially if I have to find Roberto instead.
“My niece won’t mind if I bring someone, she loves company. I was supposed to take the bus today anyway. So when can we leave?”
“You have to leave today?"
"I could go tomorrow but my niece is expecting me."
"Okay How long will it take you to pack?” Grace asked wondering if she made a mistake including Mrs. Donnelly.
“Give me a half an hour and I’ll be ready to go and for goodness sake don’t you think it’s time you called me Mildred?”
“Okay, Mildred. See you then.”
Grace wondered what had happened to the other Grace? Had she found happiness with her baby? Or had she always wondered what had happened with Roberto? Grace would go to Stratford and try to find her. The other Grace deserved to know Roberto had loved her.
©Sheilagh Lee December 26,2012
To be continued next week Thursday January 3,2012