She did not know that the next morning when she forced herself out of her bed, knowing that staying in it any longer would just cause her mother to come and check on her, worrying away as she always had about Olivia’s health. She had arrived home after dark, having walked herself back from the hotel after her and Tom had said their goodbyes. In some way of course she had hoped that he would escort her back to the front door on Shawnee and and say a proper good night, however she sensed quickly that this was not going to happen. Bidding him a pleasant evening she had taken her leave and walked slowly back, feeling a twisted mixture of exhilaration and loss welling up in her chest. For whatever the brief encounter had meant to her, or to him, she already knew that it was to be the last. Maybe the most final statement on that was the simple fact that she had walked herself home. Once there, and quietly in the door and to bed, Olivia had lain awake for most of the remainder of the night, her mind unwilling to give her an opportunity to rest until five a.m.. Soon after that the sun was up and, having forgotten to close her drapes, she was awoken by the glare and her mind swung promptly back into high gear. And now she needed to get up and somehow put the best face on the day that she could.
Arriving in the kitchen and knowing her mother would already be sitting out on the porch, Olivia lingered for several extra minutes around the stove, giving the boiling coffee time to set in dark and bitter. As she emerged through the screen door her mother clicked her tongue several times before she spoke.
“You look dreadful.”
“You didn’t even look at me.”
“I didn’t need to. Home late and up all night, it wasn’t a hard guess to make.” With a turn of her head her mother continued, “and I can see now that I was correct.”
“It was you that told me to go for a walk.”
“Yes, yes I did.” Finally offering a smile, her mother raised her own coffee mug in a half salute which made Olivia blush. After that the matter seemed to be closed as they switched into a discussion about the local ladies club and then later about where Olivia planned on finding another job. After several more cups of coffee her mother announced herself ready for a nap and Olivia dressed and walked back into town.
Along the way she managed to put a few of the many things running through her head into order. She was not going to go chasing Tom Drummond around, nor would she allow herself anymore thoughts about the two of them. She had wanted to go over and check his house or ask at the bank where he could be found. She had thought about doing just that for hours the night before, however she always came back to the feeling of finality which had passed between them on their final good-bye at the hotel. Regardless of hopes and wishes, nothing could be done about that and she was now ready to accept that he was gone. Or if not gone yet, then he soon would be and Olivia would not allow herself to be seen as any kind of desperate old maid.
As it turned out she was completely right about him being gone, and she never saw or heard from him again. In fact, no one in Hiawatha ever did including the bank where he worked and left two hundred and forty seven dollars on deposit, all of which was never claimed. On the few nights in the future when Olivia allowed herself to be particularity bitter she imagined that he had not even bothered to stay until the morning following their encounter. Perhaps she literally was the last thing he needed to attend to on his way out of town.
… to be continued