(Continued from Chelsea – 2)
“CHELSEA!” Geneva cried as she was coming up the hill from the apple trees. “THE WORKSHOP!” Chelsea looked up to see her running and pointing behind her. She spun to see smoke rolling out of the open door. “SHIT!” She dropped the mower deck and ran into the smoke.
Fresh sawdust smolders for a long time before bursting into open flame. Chelsea figured she had not very many more seconds before the smoke bomb would have become a conflagration. As it was, she didn’t even use the fire extinguisher, just turned the hose on it. By the time Gennie came gasping through the door, it was out, leaving nothing but the smoky cloud behind.
“Shit, Chel. What happened?”
She was too shaken to just laugh it off. “I don’t know. I had a cigarette…”
“You were smoking in here?”
“No! I mean…I was smoking out there-working on the mower deck-then came in here for a wrench. Must have laid the cigarette…”
“Jesus!” Gennie was nervously circling. “Okay, okay…we won’t tell him, right? We just won’t say anything.”
“Sniff, girl. Smells like fire in here.”
“We’ll open the loft door. Then get rid of it-the sawdust. Everything that’s burnt. We’ll take it back into the woods.”
“It’ll still smell in here.”
“Fire up the saws. Fresh sawdust will cover the smell!”
“Gen, that’s not going to fool him. I’m fucked.”
“No. Come on!” Geneva grabbed a shovel, “Get that bucket, both of those…”
Chelsea wasn’t moving. “I’m not lying to him Gen. I’m not. Is that what you want to do?”
Gennie came up short. “What? No…I didn’t mean that…” She shut up with the crunch of the pickup on the gravel outside. She hadn’t even heard him coming up the driveway. “Aw, Chelsea. We are fucked.”
“Not ‘we’. Not ‘us’…this is my problem, not yours. I’ll deal with it.”
Chelsea ached, not at what she was pretty sure was coming, but at the changing light of his face as he came toward them. Behind the taciturn mask was a smile of joy at seeing them, then a concern over their serious faces followed by the darkening clouds of anger, disappointment and dread of what might have happened. And now, what was going to have to happen.
She had caused this stormy weather. If not for her they would all be standing around talking, laughing, planning the evening. But they weren’t. Because of her. She had never forgotten how it felt to deserve to be punished.