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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Marcia Mickelson on 28 February 2007 - 1:54pm.

The house on Elmwood Street was being emptied of all its cherished possessions with each room’s contents being taken out piecemeal to the moving truck parked in the front. Kelly put the last of her books into a plastic crate on her desk. She lifted the heavy crate and let it drop to the floor in the corridor then took one final look around the almost vacant room.

The window seat would be left with memories of wintry nights spent reading or writing in her journal. Her closet had housed her most precious mementos. The now bare bed didn’t look like the one she had slept in since she was five years old. The hushed pink tones of the carpet kept her most beloved memories of playing with her sister. The off white walls once held her posters, pictures, and frames. Looking at them now, they no longer held the rich history of her happy childhood. Her room as it stood days ago spoke volumes of Kelly’s past, now each item was neatly packed away in boxes downstairs. The only furniture remaining were her bed, her bookshelf, and her desk. They too would shortly make their departure from her room, leaving behind little trace of memories that were still dear to Kelly’s heart.

Kelly was feeling a mixture of emotions as she helped to pack up the only house she had ever lived in. She was happy that yesterday her mother had remarried after being a widow for five years. Her new stepfather, Malcolm Reynolds was a kind man who made her mother so happy. Also having been a widower for some time, Malcolm seemed to understand her mother very well. He was a mild-mannered man whose gentle smile was framed by a neatly trimmed brown beard. Only a few inches taller than her mother, Kelly thought they complemented each other very well. Caroline was strong willed and resilient in her opinions. Malcolm, on the other hand, was more appeasing and generous. The love between them was very evident and Kelly wouldn’t think about depriving her mother of the chance to relinquish her loneliness.

Her mother had explained that she still loved Kelly’s father very much and that Malcolm still loved his wife who had died two years before. They had both been sealed to their previous spouses in the temple and looked forward to the day when they would see them again. However, they had both grown lonely through the years and wanted a companion to share their life with. Kelly’s mother had been sure to explain that Malcolm would never take her father’s place, but that it was nice to have someone to spend the rest of her life with. Kelly understood all of that and was glad that her mother had found someone to love again. She just didn’t want to move out of her childhood home. Distinct memories housed each corner of every room in the entire place.

As Kelly walked downstairs, she stared at the pale yellow walls now faded, with its original color visible only in square patches where framed school pictures once hung. Her hand held the oak banister where her brother Jared had slid down almost every morning until the day he broke his arm and his mother forbade him from ever doing so again. When she reached the bottom step, she held her breath at the sight of the almost vacant living room. Sweet memories of family home evenings, Christmas mornings, watching television with her father, and playing with her brother and sister came flooding back to her. Suddenly, she felt a sense of helplessness. Leaving her home was something that she absolutely loathed doing, but there was nothing she could do about it.

Kelly’s mother had struggled financially the past two years as a kindergarten teacher and selling the house was the best option. They would be moving into Malcolm’s house, which was about ten miles away. The eventual move to the new home was also impacting her current level of anxiety. She didn’t want to leave the home she had always known and move into someone else’s house. Although she wasn’t thrilled with the decision, Kelly hadn’t fought her mother. Kelly reasoned that she would be graduating college at the end of the semester, so she would get a job and her own place. She figured she could deal with the situation for the time being despite feeling bothered by it.

Downstairs, furniture and boxes were being moved outside by Malcolm, along with several others from his ward’s Elders quorum who had come to help with the move. Kelly had remained upstairs while they cleared out the living room, wanting to stay out of the way and fearing that she would run into Mitch, the other reason for not liking the idea of moving into Malcolm’s house.

Mitch Kimball’s family had lived next door to Malcolm and his family for twenty years. With an almost empty nest, the Kimballs sold their house the previous year to go on a mission and had asked Malcolm to let their youngest son, Mitch stay with him until they returned. Mitch was in his second year of medical school at the University of Washington and had been best friends with Malcolm’s son, Thomas. Since Thomas was now married and lived in California, Mitch stayed in Thomas’ old room during the year that his parents served in Argentina. After Malcolm and Caroline decided to get married, it had been decided that Mitch would remain in the house as well.

Her mother had explained that Malcolm had promised his friends he would look after their son and although Mitch insisted he would move out, Malcolm knew that he couldn’t afford it. Mitch worked summers doing construction to save up money so he wouldn’t have to work while he was attending medical school. Caroline had also been understanding and encouraged Malcolm to convince Mitch to stay. Kelly hadn’t said much, but wasn’t thrilled to be moving in with one person she didn’t know, much less two.

As she continued further into the living room, she noticed Mitch lifting one end of their couch. They had met briefly at the wedding, but he had been preoccupied talking to his friends from his ward to barely acknowledge her.

Mitch, she had concluded would not be easy to live with seeming a little arrogant and unfriendly. He was certainly handsome, which is probably why he was conceited. Kelly figured any man who stood six foot tall, with sandy brown hair, deep green eyes, broad shoulders and close to becoming a doctor was a good catch, but he didn’t have to be so proud about it. She saw him reappear and watched his hands closely as he lifted a small end table. He seemed to have strong, smooth hands that could be considered attractive on a man, but Kelly shook her head at his arrogant air.

She caught his eye as she walked toward one corner of the room and Kelly forced a half-smile. He didn’t acknowledge her as he went out the front door, carrying the table. Kelly made her way into a corner of the living room to take her computer apart. She started pulling cables out of the monitor and packed them into an old shoebox. As she was lifting the monitor off the desk, one of the members of the Elders quorum approached her.

“Let me take that for you,” he said taking the monitor from her hands. “I’m Rob Pruitt. Mitch was telling me about you. You’re Sister Reynolds’ daughter.”

Kelly nodded as she picked up the tower of her computer and followed him outside. “I’m Kelly.” It seemed odd to have her mother addressed as Sister Reynolds. She had been Sister Larsen all of Kelly’s life. This would be one of the many changes that she would have to accustom herself to.

“It’s really nice to meet you.” He put the monitor down on the lawn. “Let’s leave the smaller stuff right here. They’re trying to load all the furniture first.”

Kelly placed the tower next to the monitor and looked toward the moving truck. Mitch was inside, arranging the furniture and he gave a cursory glance at Kelly and Rob standing together. She felt the chill of the cool February day and rubbed her arms to warm them.

Kelly looked back at Rob and smiled. “Thanks for coming to help. It’s really nice of you.”

“Sure. I’ve known Brother Reynolds a long time,” Rob said, smiling and staring at her a little.

She smiled back, feeling slightly uncomfortable with his attention. He was probably about her age, the same build and height as Mitch, but with lighter hair and a more tanned face. She noticed a gold chain around his neck with a pendant of the number thirty-two and surmised that he probably played football.

“I’d better finish taking that computer apart,” she said as she went up the front steps and into the living room.
Rob followed behind her. “Let me help you.”

He knelt down beside her on the floor and did little more than watch Kelly continue to disassemble the computer. “Do you want to go out sometime?”

Kelly looked up from the keyboard she held in her hand, a little surprised at his forwardness. “I’m sorry, I have a boyfriend.”

“Oh,” Rob said, looking crushed.

Kelly gave him a slight smile, not knowing exactly what to say. “I’m flattered, though,” she said just as Mitch walked by carrying her bookshelf. He gave her an amused grin, which immediately annoyed her.

“I’d better go help with the bigger stuff,” Rob said as he rose from the floor and walked further into the house.

Rob was nice enough, but he seemed a little too eager. She preferred a guy who was a little smoother and not so obvious. She was indeed thankful that she had a good reason to turn him down. Although she and Chris had only been dating for three months, they were definitely at a point where she could call him her boyfriend. They had met in a class last semester and after studying together for several weeks, had started dating. Although her mother didn’t exactly approve of him since he wasn’t a member of the Church, Kelly really liked him. Their shared interest in broadcasting and current events gave them a lot to talk about. At six foot two, with a flawless face, and perfect blond hair, Chris seemed like an ideal candidate for a news anchorman, which was unquestionably her type.

Kelly went into the kitchen where her mother was taping up boxes of dishes. As Kelly held the flaps of a cardboard box down, her mother ran tape across the top.

“How does everything look upstairs?” Caroline asked.

“Mostly just furniture left. I think they’ve started bringing it downstairs.”

Caroline looked at her daughter and then put her arm around Kelly. “Are you going to be okay?”

Kelly nodded as she looked at her mother. Everyone had always said that Kelly looked just like her mother. They both had straight, dark brown hair. Kelly’s sleek hair hung limply down to her shoulders, with no bangs, while Caroline wore hers shorter, with a little more body and bangs covering her forehead. Kelly had surpassed her mother’s height by a few inches and with the help of the heels that she often wore, she stood five foot six.

Kelly carried the box they had taped outside and handed it to one of the men that was helping load the truck. She made a few more trips from the kitchen and could see the progress as the kitchen stood mostly empty. She helped her mother finish packing some Tupperware and utensils. Looking around the kitchen, she wondered where the microwave was, remembering that she hadn’t seen it in the truck. “Where’s the microwave?”

“I gave it to Jared. Malcolm already has one, so I didn’t think we’d need to bring it along.”

Kelly nodded as she started emptying cupboards of boxed food and can goods. So, her brother Jared had gotten the microwave. She wondered what else her mother had given away that Malcolm already had at his house.

The microwave wasn’t a big thing; she supposed Jared and his wife, Tracy probably needed it. They had only been married a year and with a baby on the way, didn’t have much money. Kelly had been so pleased to see them at the wedding and was disappointed that they had only stayed a few days before they made the trip back to Portland.

Kelly had been especially sad to see her sister, Jennie leave. Only sixteen months apart, they had always been best friends. Yesterday, Jennie and her husband flew back to Provo where he was finishing school. As she looked around the kitchen, a flood of memories came back to her. She saw her father seated at the table carving pumpkins with them during Halloween. Kelly could picture Sunday dinners and could almost smell her mother’s homemade rolls. She remembered when she, Jennie, and Jared had all helped make her mother waffles on her birthday.

Kelly stepped back into the living room and felt lost in the shuffle as all of the men who had volunteered to help them move worked to get everything out of the house. Mitch passed her a few times and made no attempt at eye contact. She made her way back upstairs and entered her room. The headboard of her bed was all that remained in the room. She sat at her window seat and looked out toward the front yard. Kelly watched as the men loaded up the truck. She was thankful for their help, but couldn’t help but resent their eagerness in emptying her home.

Kelly wiped a few tears from her cheek as she heard footsteps make their way into her room. Mitch entered and didn’t notice her right away, until she rose from the window seat.

“Hi,” he said.

Kelly saw Mitch walk toward the headboard. “Let me grab the other end of that.”

“Okay,” he said.

She picked up one end of the heavy headboard and followed him into the hallway. Mitch walked backwards down the stairs and she struggled to keep up with his fast pace. They brought it outside and loaded it onto the truck. He turned around and was back inside to get the next item.
They continued moving furniture and boxes out of the house and when the truck was fully packed, everything was taken to Malcolm’s house. Once again, the Elders quorum went to work emptying the truck and bringing everything inside. Finding where to put things in an already furnished house was a more difficult task.

*****

Mitch stepped out of the shower and toweled off his hair. Having to share the bathroom with a girl was going to take some getting used to. Now, instead of stepping out of the bathroom and into his room in just a towel, he would have to bring his clothes into the bathroom and dress there. As he pulled his pants up and closed the zipper, he looked at the crate of bathroom things Kelly had left on the counter. It was full of shampoo, lotions, make-up, a hairdryer, and other girl things. He could also hear her next door, moving furniture around and shuffling boxes back and forth across the room. It was Malcolm’s daughter, Laura’s old room. Laura had vacated the room years ago after she got married. Now with two little girls of her own, Laura lived about thirty minutes away in Everett, but still came by often to visit her father. Mitch imagined it would take Kelly a few days to get everything sorted out.

It had taken several hours to load and then unload the moving truck. Then, Malcolm had bought everyone pizza for dinner. Mitch was tired, but he felt a lot better after the hot shower.

When he had finished dressing, Mitch went downstairs to the family room. He had spent so many hours in that family room growing up. The Reynolds’ house had been like his second home. Thomas was his best friend since grade school and Mitch could remember so many Friday nights spent in the family room. All of the kids would watch videos or play board games on the oval table in the middle of the room. Now, the family room kept mostly quiet.

Malcolm never went in there. He spent most of his time at work or fishing. Mitch had been happy to see Malcolm get married because during the last year, he had been a first hand witness of the pain that was so plainly evident on Malcolm’s face. Although he had thought of Miranda Reynolds as a second mother, he had seen how lonely Malcolm had been since she died. He was glad to see Malcolm find someone and was even surprised to see that he had gotten rid of the fishing boat that sat in the driveway since Miranda’s death. Mitch had figured that going fishing had been Malcolm’s way to escape the memories and subsequent loneliness that the house provided.

Mitch felt a little uneasy about living in the house with Malcolm’s new wife and stepdaughter. He had offered to move out, but Malcolm had insisted that he stay there. Malcolm had been supportive of the Kimballs when they decided to serve a mission and promised to look after Mitch while they were gone. Mitch’s brother, Lawrence lived in California with his wife and three children. His sister, Violet was living in Germany with her husband who was in the military. Mitch had been the only one to stay behind. After their mission, the Kimballs would be back to buy a smaller home, probably in the same neighborhood.

Mitch stopped at the oval table, once used for playing board games, now used as a worktable for Mitch’s Anatomy project. He made a couple of adjustments on a clay model of a human torso he had been working on. Then, Mitch turned on the computer to continue research for a Biology paper. As he was browsing through a website of medical journals, he heard Kelly enter the room. He looked away from the monitor to see her turn on the television and then sit down on the floor with a bag of Oreo cookies and a glass of milk.

He tried to continue the article he had been reading, but couldn’t concentrate with the noise of the ten o’clock news blaring behind him. Mitch took a deep breath, thinking it would be difficult to get used to sharing the house with someone other than Malcolm who was never there.

“Excuse me, but I’m trying to study,” he said as he turned around to notice Kelly dunking an Oreo into her milk and then stuffing the whole cookie in her mouth.

Kelly chewed a few times, but still had a mouthful of cookie. “I’m just going to watch the news, then I’ll be out of here.”

“Didn’t you guys have one TV in that huge truckload of stuff you brought?” he asked.

Without looking away from the television, she shook her head. “My mother gave it to our neighbor, she doesn’t believe in having more than one TV in the house.”
Realizing that he would not be able to concentrate on reading while the television was on, Mitch stepped away from the computer and sat at the oval table to work on the model. He took a chunk of modeling clay and started working it with his hands.

He did feel a little guilty for not having been friendlier to Kelly. He hadn’t done anything to make her feel welcome and really hadn’t said much to her. It had always been hard for him to initiate a conversation with someone he didn’t know. It was especially intimidating to go up to speak to someone so attractive. Kelly was very beautiful. Her sleek dark hair reminded him of Demi Moore’s. Her face was very pretty and she was thin and tall. What could he possibly say to her?

Mitch rolled a piece of red clay between his hands, shaping it into a round line. He rolled it a little more, making it very thin and then placed it into the clay body on the table, trying to make it look like a blood vessel. As he took the next piece of clay and started rolling it, he watched Kelly take another Oreo cookie and dunk it into the glass of milk. There were cookie crumbs swimming around in the milk, he couldn’t imagine she would want to drink it. He had to look away as she finished the cookie and then drank the milk until all was left was a few pieces of soggy cookie stuck to the bottom of the glass. He was quite disgusted, but pretended that he didn’t notice as she got up and took the glass into the kitchen. He heard her put it in the sink and was annoyed that she didn’t even think about rinsing it out with water. She returned immediately after and took her place on the floor in front of the TV. She finished watching the news, and true to her word turned it off and was out of the room before the next show started. Mitch was relieved to have the room to himself again.

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