CHAPTER FIVE- Heartache Tonight
Tara recalled the night her parents brought Rebecca home from the hospital like it was yesterday. She was the most beautiful baby in the whole world. She had a shock of white hair and bright, smiling eyes. Tara was eight and the proudest big sister ever. She’d wished on stars for Rebecca. It wasn’t long after she came home from the hospital that things went back to normal, and normal wasn’t good. Her dad came home from a poker game drunk and vicious because he’d lost a lot of money. Mother did her best to calm him down but he was loud and mean. Tara tiptoed into Rebecca’s room and carefully lifted her wiggly little body out of the crib. She crept back to her room and set the baby on her bed. She was bundled in a pink blanket and looking up at her sister with innocent eyes. It was February and the house was cold. Her mother had never quite mastered building a strong fire and Tara knew better than to venture downstairs. Tara pulled the covers over them and cuddled into her baby sister’s warm body. She promised to always take care of her no matter what. She sang her lullabies to drown out her fathers booming voice below. As she rocked her back to sleep she whispered that she would always keep her safe. Huddled together in the darkness eight year old Tara had no idea how much that promise would haunt her.
She made her way up the stairs to the spare room where Becca was staying. She knocked timidly on the door and poked her head inside.
Rebecca motioned for her to come inside. Tara sat down on the bed and drew a deep breath. “Becca I know this is all very confusing and overwhelming for you. I just wanted to let you know that I will respect whatever decision you make.”
“Here,” Tara passed her a stack of letters and stood up, “These might help you understand. I never gave up on you Becca.”
Rebecca looked up at her big sister and attempted a smile, “Thanks.”
Tara shook her head and closed the door behind her.
Rebecca read every last one of the letters that Tara had written to her over the years. Some she read more than once. Some she read through tears. Each was neatly dated and captured a period of history. She was saddened when she thought of the life her sister had lived. She spent the last six years working and paying bills when she should have been enjoying her youth. She struggled and she fought for everything she accomplished and instead of being proud of herself she was guilt ridden over a promise she’d made to her fifteen years ago. She thought back on the last six years since Tara left. It was Tara who taught her to stay out of her father’s way and she thought she did a pretty good job. In fact she had so faded into the woodwork that her parents barely knew she existed. Since she was nine years old she had been doing odd jobs to make money to buy clothes and supplies that she needed for school. During the summer months she raked blueberries and kept a paper route, she also did yard work for her elderly neighbors and shoveled snow in the winters. One could only marvel at her resiliency. She took out of life exactly what she put into it and expected no more. The one bright spot in her otherwise dismal world was Natalie. When she was with Natalie she felt free as a bird. They would talk for hours about nothing in particular and laugh as school girls should. Natalie gave her refuge from her bleak existence and loved her like a sister. When she was hurt or scared it was Natalie who would talk away her fears the way her own sister once had. Natalie was so much more than her friend; she was an angel that lifted her up when the weight on her shoulders was too much too bear. She encouraged her to love and let herself be loved. One day when they were ten years old they were at Natalie’s house kicking around the soccer ball with her brother Danny. Her and Natalie collided mid field and fell to the ground in hysterics rubbing their heads. Natalie looked at her and said as serious as can be ‘You shine when you smile Rebecca. You light up the world”
She always wanted to make Natalie happy so from that day on she made a conscience effort to smile in her presence. This turned out to be an easy feat because she always felt so free when they were together. Natalie made her world bearable; she couldn’t imagine her life without her in it. The thought of leaving her brought hot tears to her eyes. She longed to talk with Natalie and ask her what she should do but deep down she knew what she would say. She would tell her to grab a hold of every opportunity that was given to her and get as far away from that little house in Lincoln as possible.
She remembered fondly the day she went to say goodbye to Natalie before she left for her grandparent’s house. Natalie hugged her tight and said, “Goodbye is something you say to someone you are planning on never seeing again. I’ll say see you later my friend.” She knew now exactly what she was going to do and she needed to speak with Natalie.
Chapter Six Light The Fuse
The rain started just as the credits were rolling. Big fat drops of rain accompanied by a horrendous windstorm. It was a blessing that Grams house was close by because even the short drive was a challenge. Nora met them at the door with towels.
“Thank God you’re back. My hair was standing on end. Natalie call your Aunt.”
Natalie dried off and went in the other room to call Blanche.
“How was your movie?” Nora asked.
“I liked it. Cinematography sure has come a long way though.” Johnny exclaimed.
“Sure has.” Nora agreed.
Natalie came back in the kitchen, “Blanche says the roads are terrible and the power is off in Lincoln. Is it OK if we stay here?”
“No,” Norah began, “I insist that you stay here.
Norah scooped up a nightie, slippers and a long robe off the counter and gave them to Natalie, “Get out of those wet clothes before you catch a chill.”
“Thanks,” Natalie gratefully took the clothes to the washroom to change.
“Johnny you guys feel free to make a snack. I got groceries while you were out this afternoon. I made some beds up on the couches in the front room.
“Thanks Mom,” Johnny hugged her.
“Please keep the TV down. Your Gram may be hard of hearing but I’m not.
Natalie came out of the bathroom with her hair pulled back wearing his mothers blue terry robe.
“I’m cooking some mini pizzas but I thought cheese and crackers would tide us over.” Johnny passed her the tray.
“Sounds good,” Natalie answered.
“Go find something good on TV and pick a couch. I’ll be right in.”
Natalie went into the front room and turned on the TV. She flipped and flipped until she finally decided on the game show network. She watched the last fifteen minutes of a family feud rerun and Johnny came in just in time for price is right. He sat on her couch while they shared the last of the cheese and crackers and ate mini pizzas. They made mock bids on everything from jukeboxes to pool tables. Natalie came within a thousand dollars during the showcase showdown and she and Johnny planned what they were going to do with the adventure package; a camper trailer, a pair of sea-doos and a Chevy Avalanche.
Natalie woke late into the evening and found that Johnny was sound asleep curled up to the arm of the couch. Natalie covered him up, turned off the TV and crawled into bed on the other couch. Curled up in the darkness she fought off sleep inhibiting teenage fantasies.
Johnny awoke to the sizzle and smell of bacon frying. His heart leapt when he looked over at Natalie peacefully sleeping. He covered her up and closed the French door that led to the kitchen. Her mother and grandmother were on the veranda surveying the damage from the previous night’s storm.
“Did you sleep well?” his mother asked.
“Yeah, what time is it?” Johnny asked, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
“It’s almost ten,” Gram answered, “I can’t believe I slept through the whole storm.”
“Apparently I slept through the bulk of it too,” Johnny noted, looking around at the tree branches and mangled flowers.
“I hope you worked up an appetite because I’m cooking up a truckstop breakfast.” His mother exclaimed.
Gram spoke with delight, “Your Aunt Patsy thinks that bran is going to save my life. Thank goodness your mother is not such a stickler for rules.”
“Everything is fine in moderation Mom.”
Johnny woke Natalie and the four of them ate a breakfast of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast at the round oak gathering table his grandpa built many years ago. The women cleaned up the dishes while he cleared the yard of branches and flowers damaged by the wind and rain.
Natalie had changed and was ready to go when he came back in the house. They said their goodbyes. Johnny was anxious for the drive home so he could spend some time alone with Natalie. He drove to Meredith where he took the 104 to the 93 highway. It was a scenic drive through the mountains. The sun appeared in the afternoon but a cool breeze was still present.
“Your Gram is sweet Johnny.” Natalie remarked.
“She a fascinating lady. They finally took her license away last year. She’s hard of hearing so she can longer hear people honking at her.” Johnny joked.
Natalie laughed. “Speaking of license; I can’t believe your mother doesn’t have hers.”
“I know,” Johnny answered. “I think it was something she always planned to do but the time got away from her.”
“You should teach her to drive,” Natalie exclaimed.
“Trust me, I’ve offered,” Johnny replied, “she keeps putting me off. How about you? I can teach you to drive.”
“I’ve got lots of time to worry about that but I will keep you in mind.”
Johnny was not one to discourage easily. He exited the highway and turned down a secluded dirt road, pulled over and got out. “It’s all yours. Push over.”
“Oh I can’t,” she argued, “Really I’m too nervous. Her hands shook when she touched the steering wheel.
Johnny got back in the truck and spread his legs wide. He lifted the steering wheel as high as it would go. “Come over here,” he said, taking her hand in his, “I’ll help you until you feel comfortable.
Natalie sat between Johnny’s legs and placed her hands on the steering wheel. Johnny placed his hands over hers. “Respect is good,” he began, “but fear will not serve you well. I’m going to help you steer, you put your right foot on the right pedal and give this old girl some gas.”
They drove the pickup down the endless dirt rd. Within minutes Natalie’s nervousness disappeared and was replaced by something she couldn’t explain. Her skin felt tingly, her pulse was quick, her heartbeat rapid. She was conscious of his muscular thighs against hers, his hot breath on her neck as he instructed her patiently. Her grip on the wheel lessened as her palms began to sweat.
“I need a break.” She said breathlessly.
Johnny took her hand in his, pulled over and put the truck in park. Awkwardly Natalie tried to disengage herself but fell back into Johnny’s lap. Their eyes met for a moment and though she tried to look away she couldn’t. He touched her arm ever so lightly, without looking away. Even the cool breeze through the open window couldn’t cool her down. Johnny pulled her close and their lips met, softly at first and then more urgent. Her lips were sweet and welcoming. He backed away; he didn’t want to push her but just as quickly she pulled him back to her open mouth. He kissed her with a passion he never felt before. She fell back on the bench seat and pulled her down with him. His lips found hers again and very quickly they were breathless and hot.
He pulled away with great difficulty, “Natalie we better go.”
Their lips met again just briefly. “I know,” she replied.
They sat side by side on the drive home, holding hands, sneaking kisses. The remainder of the trip was silent but charged. Something had definitely changed between them
Thanks for following Unbreakable, as I mentioned in the previous post I will only be uploading a couple of more chapters and the rest will be password protected. If you are invested let me know and I will happily give you access.