The Squeak Heard 'Round the Tunnels

~ Aliset


“Vincent,” Catherine said one morning, “did you know your bed squeaks?”

It was early yet and Vincent was still somewhat bleary after working late into the night patching pipes after an unexpected leak had threatened to rupture. He frankly didn't care if the bed danced the Charleston while playing “Dixie”; all he wanted to do was sleep and sleep now. “It does?” he asked, trying to keep his eyes open.

“It does,” Catherine said, stroking his hair soothingly as he settled into the spavined mattress. “Rest now, we'll talk about it tomorrow. I mean, later on today.”

He opened one blue eye. “Tomorrow.”

***

Several hours later, Vincent awakened, and sat up. The mattress squeaked shrilly. The noise had always been there, he remembered now, the accompaniment to more than a few pillow-fights in his youth. He couldn't remember it being so loud, though.

“Here you go, love,” Catherine said, handing him a cup of coffee. Ever since she'd found the old blue coffee pot while helping to inventory one of the storage rooms and rescued it for their use, their day had begun this way. He sipped gratefully at the dark beverage; Catherine's coffee was strong, but it helped clear the last of the fog from his mind.

“It's late afternoon,” she continued. “I figured you needed the rest. Father took your Elizabethan Lit class; I took your Composition class.”

“I did need the rest,” Vincent said. “Thank you for handling that class.” He crossed his legs under him and the mattress protested. “The mattress squeaks.”

She chuckled. “As I tried to tell you this morning. I don't think you cared much.”
He laughed and the movement set the mattress to squealing in rhythm to his laughter. “I didn't, you're right. A cannon could have gone off in my ear and I'd not have noticed.”

Catherine sat next to him on the bed and he wrapped his arm around her. This, too, had become a ritual in their life together. She leaned against him and the mattress groaned. “That’s a new sound,” she said.

“It’s an old mattress,” Vincent replied, loving the feel of her in his arms. “I just think it’s getting louder. It’s squeaked since Devin and I were boys, using it for a fort…or a battlefield.” He smiled, remembering. “We had so many pillow-fights on it---but just as we’d get started, Father would come in and shake his finger at us. I wasn’t sure then how he knew, but listening to it now---“ he leaned back, experimentally, and the mattress set up another shriek of outraged springs---“I have no doubt how he knew.”

She laughed, and the mattress yelped.

***

It wasn’t until they went to the Commons for a late lunch that Vincent noticed a large number of smiling glances directed their way. “Everyone seems to be quite…happy today,” he remarked to Catherine as they sat down.

“I noticed,” she replied. “I wonder why they’re smiling at us?”

Father sat down across from them and that was another experience because, for the first time in Vincent’s memory, his parent would not meet his eyes. “Hello, Vincent, Catherine,” he said, nodding. “Did you have…uh….a good morning?”

“Yes,” Vincent answered, “though I slept through most of it.”

Father did meet his gaze then, briefly, and the look was so frankly disbelieving, so amused, that Vincent was startled. “I…see. Well….rest…is important.”

After uttering that perplexing---and perfectly obvious---statement, Father gazed down, seeming to find something of immense interest in the depths of his tea cup. Catherine glanced at them both then raised her eyebrows at her husband. Well, now what? her look seemed to say.

Vincent raised one eyebrow. I don’t understand it either.

***

“You’re walking a bit stiffly there,” Cullen said later. “Anything wrong, Vincent?”
Out of the corner of his eye, Vincent saw Kanin elbow Cullen in the ribs. When he turned to look at them, both men had smiles on their faces apropos of nothing that had been said. “I worked on the pipes with you until early this morning, Cullen,” Vincent replied, deciding to ignore their odd behavior. “I’m a little surprised at being this sore.”

A larger smiled tugged at Cullen’s mouth. “Especially when you get all that exercise in the morning, right?”

He had that same sense he’d had with Father earlier in the day---some meaning that was eluding him. Cullen’s casual raillery was nothing new; certainly he’d heard enough of it in the months since he and Catherine had wed, but usually, Cullen’s teasing was—much like the man himself---blunt and forthright.
“Yes,” Vincent finally said. “Especially after that.”

Cullen’s grin grew wider, and Kanin ducked his head---to hide his own grin? “That’s…. good, Vincent,” Kanin said. “I’m glad to hear it.”

***

When recounting the conversation to Catherine after she returned from work, she flushed a pleasing shade of rose. “I think I know what’s going on,” she said. “Vincent, when I call out to you from the corridor, sit on the bed and cross your legs, okay?”

He watched as she walked out into the corridor. “Okay, Vincent, try it now,” Catherine called.

Vincent sat cross-legged on the bed, and the mattress sent up a loud complaining squeal. Catherine reentered their chamber and collapsed on the bed in a fit of giggles. “Oh, my, it echoes,” she said when she finally regained enough breath to speak.

He was beginning to see what she meant. “And it sounds like…?”

She nodded, still laughing. “It does. I think it has something to do with the location of this chamber---it echoes and reverberates quite loudly out there. No wonder everyone’s been smiling at us.”

They were happy for him, happy for them. And Vincent grinned and began laughing himself, recounting all the grins and chuckles over the course of the day. Once the laughter died down and they were able to regain enough breath to speak, he looked over at his wife. “Well, what are we going to do with this bed?”

Catherine climbed into his lap. “What people normally do in beds, I presume,” she said, kissing him.

The bed squeaked. Vincent didn’t care.

20 comments:

SandyX September 17, 2010 at 9:42 AM  

This is great, Krista. "She laughed, and the mattress yelped." - love that line. And Father's reaction to Vincent having "slept through most of it" LOL!

Krista September 17, 2010 at 10:58 AM  

Thanks, Sandy! :) This prompt was so much fun to write for LOL. And writing Flustered Father? Even more of a plus. ;-)

NYC Utopia September 17, 2010 at 11:51 AM  

Sweet! I loved it.

My word verification "captcha" reads fultion. Makes me think of a "full" futon with cushions
(Full of V&C, I'd rather think).

Ophelia September 17, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

Such a wonderful, sweet story! Vincent and Catherine in contentment, with people being happy for them! Imagine! The echo is brilliant. Brava!

Krista September 17, 2010 at 5:34 PM  

Thank you, Claire and "Ophelia" :) So happy you enjoyed this!

I love writing them happy and content and muse willing, I plan to write them that way for many more stories to come. ;-)

Carole W September 17, 2010 at 6:28 PM  

Love, love Father's frankly disbelieving look. I can so see it. Good work, indeed!

Michelle K. September 17, 2010 at 6:50 PM  

I ... see. Well ... rest ... is important. I've read your story three times now, and this has to be my favourite moment! I can picture Father's face so clearly - a hint of embarrassment, a lot of amusement, and then his disbelief ... Ah yes, Vincent, you slept straight through! Wonderful!

Krista September 17, 2010 at 8:18 PM  

Thank you so very much, Carole and Michelle. I had so much fun picturing Flustered Father---I get the feeling he was probably hoping to crawl into his teacup to avoid having to look directly at either Vincent or Catherine. ;-)

I very love all of our responses to this prompt---the variety is nothing I expected. :)

RomanticOne September 19, 2010 at 9:52 PM  

This story brought home to me just how comfortably familiar those squeaks and groans become over the years - until a "new ear" brings our attention to them. What a wonderful story.

Krista September 20, 2010 at 11:19 AM  

Hi R1!

I told the others, but my reaction to this prompt was partially inspired by our 1890s Jenny Lind bed which has a vocabulary all its own by now. ;-) I guess we could get something quieter, but...I don't much want to ;-)

Thanks so much for your comment---it's great to see you around here. :)

-Krista

Three Writers September 21, 2010 at 5:01 PM  

Krista, this was such a sweet piece! You did a lovely picture of life happily ever after in the Tunnels. Thank you! What a joy to read! Nancy

Anonymous September 22, 2010 at 5:24 AM  

That was so cute!

Do you know, I never heard that squeak...I'm going to have to watch the episode very soon.

Another lovely story Aliset!

Lion hugs, Jodie xxoo

Cyndi D September 22, 2010 at 6:17 AM  

I am revisiting these stories today hoping they make me feel better ... They do! I love how you write Vincent and Catherine. I love that she can tease and laugh with him - the way they should have been.

Krista September 22, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

Hi Nancy, Jodie, and Cyndi :)

Nancy---thank you so very much. I want to believe this is their future, their happiness. I want them to have a family who care about them enough to tease them about a squeaky bed (or anything else.) :)

Jodie--the squeak is really obvious if you have headphones on. Or maybe we're all just terminally OP that we noticed it. ;-) Thanks so much for commenting :)

Cyndi--I'm so happy these stories are making you feel better. I want them happy , darn it. :)

OKGoode September 22, 2010 at 11:50 AM  

Sweet, funny, and delicious! I wish I'd thought to add an echo! Even the title is perfect, Krista. You painted a wonderful picture!

Vicky September 23, 2010 at 9:28 AM  

That start... Oh, there goes the cudly-sleepy Vincent again... my bestest mental image ever! I just love, love, love seeing them this happy! No conditionals though: It's the way it got to be for them, the way it still is. And this is a perfect story!
Father has me grinning still, ten minutes after re-reading!
"The bed squeaked. Vincent didn't care." Oooohhh...
Big happy-siinghugs!

Krista September 23, 2010 at 9:45 AM  

Hi Laura and Vicky! :)

Laura---thank you so much. I normally have massive issues with titles, but this is about the only story I've ever written where I had the title first, then wrote the story. ;) I just kept thinking they have rock walls, and such things tend to echo and...yeah. I'd imagine that wood door would quickly become a necessity for certain...activities ;-)

Vicky--I'm so happy you liked this. I love sleepy Vincent (and Roguish Vincent, and Freckled Vincent and, and...well. You know. :)) I believe with you: this is their life.

Thank you both, so much, for commenting :)

tweetie October 28, 2010 at 4:40 PM  

Hi Krista,
This was a great and fun story...so many little bits of sweet humor. You captured the feeling of family smiling to themselves regarding the "squeaks".I loved how Catherine and Vincent are happily married. Very Nice !
Tweetie Lynn

Michelle K. January 15, 2011 at 7:33 PM  

Krista, I just read this story again, and that Father scene had me laughing out loud! I just love how you wrote him - perfectly characterized. I can see his blush, his discomfort, and incredible focus on whatever's in that teacup! LOL!

Susan Kong February 21, 2016 at 2:18 PM  

Hi Aliset, such a cute story. Loved it thanks

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