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.
CHAPTER THREE –What is and what should never be
The funny thing about memories is that they never really go away. They sit at the back of your subconscious waiting for a trigger, and then they quickly flood back to the forefront of your being. Sometimes it’s a song or a smell that brings it all back. This one hit her quick, like a punch in the gut. She remembered the very blue of the sky on that June day and the way the sun kept hiding behind the fluffy white clouds. They were walking on this very boardwalk when her father scooped her up into the air. She giggled and held on tight as he picked her up and swung her around in the air. She didn’t talk much about them. Maybe people just assumed she’d forgotten. She would never forget. She remembered her mother’s goodnight kiss so feather light, the way she moved when they danced, how green her eyes were when she was happy. She remembered her laughter and the smell of her perfume and the way she crinkled up her nose when she was disgusted. Her memories of her dad brought a smile to her lips; the easy way he carried himself, his humor, his bear hugs and silly voices and the way he never let her mother win an argument. She would never forget how it felt that day. Her dad had been busy with work and they hadn’t seen much of him in weeks. Her mother was beaming. Her eyes lit up when she smiled. It was ‘fun day’ at Weirs Beach and they had a fabulous time. They rode the water slides at Surf Coaster, took a day cruise around Lake Winnipesaukee and ate the best barbecued ribs ever at J.T.’s Roadhouse. She would always treasure that feeling of warmth when her parents tucked her into bed that night. She was a fortunate child who didn’t want for much but it was the simple things she always appreciated the most, like time with her family. Less than six months later they were gone. In an instant they were taken from her and her once safe, happy world was empty and cold.
Thank God for Blanche and Danny and the life they gave her. By all accounts her parents had been very wealthy. Her father at the tender age of thirty was a real estate developer. Mostly corporate real estate, he built office buildings, and high-rise condominiums. Before Natalie started school she traveled quite frequently and was in the company of some of the worlds most astute businessmen.
Life in Lincoln was much simpler. Blanche made sure that she had everything she needed but she also taught her and Danny the value of a dollar. From the time they were young they had chores around the house and they were often asked to help out at the diner. Blanche was a proud woman. She worked hard for everything she had and instilled that same ethic in her children.
He came back just then with their snow-cones catching her misty eyed.
“Is everything okay? He asked, puzzled.
She motioned for him to sit down beside her on the Boardwalk bench, “I was just remembering the last time I was here with my parents.”
His slow smile encouraged her to continue, “Tell me about them Nat.”
For the next little while they sat on the Boardwalk talking about their lives, their hopes, their fears. They talked about her deceased parents, his miserable absentee dad, their plans for the future.
NASCAR mania had begun to descend on the popular beachfront town of Weirs Beach and activity on the boardwalk increased. Travelers from near and far were walking billboards for the sport and their favorite drivers; sporting t-shirts, hats and flags. Natalie and Johnny were drawn in by the excitement both having followed the sport since they were children.
“Have you ever been to a live race,” Johnny inquired.
“Just some pro-stock and local short track races when I was a kid. My Dad’s company used to sponsor a short circuit racer so we traveled to different tracks when I was small but never a NASCAR event.” She replied.
“Me either,” Johnny continued. “My Mom is not much of a fan. I’m sure we’ll both get to go someday.
The breeze dissipated in the late afternoon and the carefree teens spent the latter part of the afternoon beating the sweltering heat riding the slides at Surf coaster. They squealed like children playing water tag and Johnny won a blow up lounger in the slider racing challenge. They wrapped up their water park adventure on the lazy river. It was near closing time and Johnny looked at her deviously.
“We could hide in the bathrooms and get ‘accidentally’ locked in here for the night.”
“That would be so much fun,” Natalie exclaimed excitably, “You’ll think I’m a huge moron but I always wanted to get locked in the Trafalgar theater and watch all the classic movies”
“You like old flicks?” Johnny asked.
“I love them. Something about being transported back in time. My mom was a huge movie buff so I grew up watching all the classics,’ she said wistfully.
“I’ll be honest,” Johnny began, “I’ve never really seen any of the classics but Wuthering Heights is paying at the drive-in here tonight if you’re interested?”
“Are you kidding? I read the book in school this year and I saw the movie with my mom when I was little. It’s such a classic love story. Are you sure you want to go?” Natalie asked.
“Love story huh?”
Natalie laughed, “Change your mind?”
“Absolutely not! I’m seventeen, it’s about time I broadened my horizons.
They agreed to go get dinner and call Blanche to see if it was alright if they were home late.
CHAPTER FOUR- More then a feeling
Gram Millers house was a quaint Victorian style cottage a short walk from the beach. It was her childhood home and although her family would prefer that she move to a seniors complex she was adamant that as long as she was living she would take care of herself. She had raised her family here with a man she loved. There had been some lean years and she had gone without many luxuries to keep her home. Sadly she realized that she was getting to a point in her life where she knew that taking care of herself was getting increasingly difficult but she wasn’t yet willing to give in.
The Miller women were sitting on the veranda sipping iced tea when Natalie
and Johnny returned.
“You kids look like you had fun,’ Gram Miller exclaimed.
“We went to surf coaster. It was a blast!” Johnny replied enthusiastically, leaning down to kiss his grandmother.
Johnny’s mom poured them iced tea and motioned for them to sit down.
Nora Miller felt much older than her thirty three years. Married at seventeen and divorced before her twentieth birthday she missed out on those carefree teenage years her son was now enjoying. Though she envied him that she certainly wanted him to experience all that life had to offer. Even though she had given up a lot of herself over the years she lived for and through her son. She remembered in those early days when John walked out on her, her son was her saving grace. She woke up to see his smile each day; she would kiss his forehead when she tucked him in at night and hope that his dreams were pleasant. His blue eyes were always so full of wonder and surprise. He was curious of the world around him and that had continued to serve him well throughout the years. Johnny was always anxious to try new things and see new places. Nora remembered fondly the scout trip he took to Washington when he was eleven years old. He was the only boy in his chapter to raise the thousand dollars need to take the trip and he did so of his own ingenuity. The framed picture sat prominently on a table in her living room. It showed her young son in his redskins ball cap standing proudly outside the gates of the White House. She looked at him now at seventeen. He was tall and handsome with a smile that could melt ice. She felt a sudden tug at her heart when she thought of his father at that age. His smile was the first thing that attracted her to him. He was always so happy in those days. ‘Probably drunk!’ she thought, thinking back. She had long ago given up the notion that he and Johnny would form a relationship. Johnny had little interest and her ex no longer had the inclination to get out of his own way. For almost fourteen years she had been mom and dad. She made dinner, she tossed the football around the yard, and she went to the ball games. Now her own mother was getting older and she faced the reality that quite soon she would be caring for her mother and son full-time. Her mother had always been her support system and she owed her as much but secretly Nora dreamed of a life of her own. Essentially she was a young woman and she dreamed of the kind of freedom and romance till now she’d only read about or saw on TV. She had never been outside of the New England states and she had never even gotten her driver’s license. She had become quite dependent on Johnny since he had gotten his but she knew it wouldn’t be long before he got busy again with school, sports and his own life. She made a decision right then and there to invest a little more time in herself.
“Penny for your thoughts Ms. Miller.” Natalie interrupted her thoughts
“For Goodness sake Natalie, please call me Nora.”
“OK Nora,” she replied, “I caught you lost in thought.
“It must be the heat dear. Speaking of, it’s to hot to turn the oven on so we’re going to have sandwiches and strawberry shortcake.”
“Sounds good to me,” Johnny rubbed his belly in mock starvation.
“I’ll help you Nora,” Natalie stood.
“I’ll entertain Gram,” Johnny stated.
“I’m sure you will. Nora winked at him.
The ladies made ham and cheese and cucumber sandwiches and an incredible dessert of strawberry shortcake on homemade biscuits. Nora joined Natalie and Johnny after dinner as they tossed the football around the front lawn. Johnny was a precision thrower and caught the ball with ease. Nora allowed Johnny to play junior football and he excelled at the sport. Nora was amazed at his speed and agility and encouraged his love of the game at every opportunity. She had never been fascinated with sports growing up but for Johnny’s sake she decided to take up an interest so that they were able to converse about it and therefore she was able to stay involved in his life. Football was his passion but he also participated in soccer and rugby and was a die hard NASCAR fan.
It wasn’t long before the heat put a damper on their football toss.
Nora took Johnny aside, “Honey I’m going to say here with Mom for a couple of days so you and Natalie can drive home when you like.
“Is Gram OK?” Johnny asked.
“She’s fine, I think,” Nora began, “I’m just a bit concerned about her mobility and her forgetfulness.
“Natalie and I aren’t going home until later anyway; we’re going to the drive in.”
“What are you seeing?” Nora asked.
“Yeah seriously. Natalie’s a huge classic movie buff.”
“Well you’re quite a gentleman,” Nora beamed, “I hope you enjoy it. It’s one of the most beautiful love stories of all time.
“Ah Mom, I didn’t know you were such a romantic,” Johnny teased.
“I used to be.” She answered wistfully.
Johnny hugged her then. A little tighter than usual she thought.
“Wait, wait,” she yelled after them as they got in the truck, “does Blanche know you are going to be late?’
“She does.” Natalie replied
“Hey Mom, why don’t you settle Gram in and come with us.”
“Thank you but no,” Nora replied, “Didn’t I raise a good boy Natalie?’
“You sure did Ms.; sorry, Nora.” Natalie answered awkwardly.
“Mom I’m not just being polite. We’d be happy to have you.”
“Go on you two. I’ve got things to do. Besides Johnny, one pretty girl should be enough for you.’ At that Nora turned and walked up the flower lined path to the house.
Dusk came early and the air cooled as quickly as the darkness fell.
“Mom was right you know,” Johnny remarked casually.
“Right about what?” Natalie asked.
“That you’re pretty,” Johnny said, avoiding eye contact.
“Well thanks,” Natalie replied sneaking a sideways glance at him. When she noticed the blush on his cheeks hers immediately flared bright red.
Thank goodness for the distraction of the movie. It was the original movie, a masterful adaptation of Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights which brilliantly told the tale of the tortured love affair of Heathcliff and Cathy. It was a powerful tale speaking of the depths of passion and what hatred and revenge can do to a soul. Under a moonlit sky the two friends sat together closely and quietly as the tale of the unrequited love of Cathy and Heathcliff unfolded. She recalled a childhood memory of being curled up on the sofa with her mother and the beautiful Catherine was telling Ellen that she and Heathcliff had become so much a part of one another that it was hard to tell where one person ended and the other began. She had always tried to be the right kind of girl, who married well and resisted passion, but by nature she was wildly passionate and uninhibited, like Heathcliff. On the big screen looming lifelike out of the darkness Cathy spoke from her heart “He’s more myself then I am. Whatever our souls are made of his and mine are the same. Linton’s is as different as frost from fire. My one thought in living is Heathcliff. Ellen I am Heathcliff.” Natalie’s eyes filled with tears, maybe at the memory of her mother, maybe because Heathcliff left before hearing Cathy’s admission of love or maybe at the thought that you could love another person so deeply that you felt they were a part of you.
To be continued
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CHAPTER 2 Watch Over You
Rebecca Noonan was bored stiff. She realized how lucky she was to be able to visit her grandparents but seven weeks on a remote farm in Vermont was enough to drive her mad. There was no question that this beat out her home life back in Lincoln but she missed her best friend terribly. Rebecca had met Natalie when she was nine years old on the elementary school playground. Even in grade three Rebecca was beautiful with long blonde hair and wondrous eyes the color of a summer sky, but she was quiet and withdrawn and didn’t make friends very easily. Natalie had lost her parents in a car accident and had come to live with her Aunt and cousin in Lincoln. Rebecca was dealing with her own demons and the pair became fast friends. She remembered it like it was yesterday Natalie with her sassy dark curls marching up and introducing herself as she flipped through a book. The other kids were put off by Rebecca and barely bothered with her but that didn’t discourage Natalie. She was determined that they were going to be friends.
Natalie held out a bag of cookies, “You can have one of my cookies; my Aunt baked them at her diner.”
Timidly Rebecca reached in and took a cookie from the plastic bag. She immediately felt drawn in by Natalie’s warm and outgoing personality.
“You have a huge bruise on your arm,” Natalie remarked.
“I fell,” Rebecca lied.
“I fall a lot too. My dad used to say that I was an accident waiting to happen.”
At this Rebecca’s eyes filled with tears. Natalie didn’t ask why, she just sat there on the bench quietly sharing her cookies.
Natalie quickly took Rebecca under her wing even though it would seem it should be the other way around. Natalie was the one who was new to town and on top of that she’d just lost her parents; but for some reason she decided that Rebecca needed her and she was right.
Rebecca lived in a small home a couple of blocks from the school. She had never brought other children home nor had birthday parties. Her father was a raging alcoholic who got very mean when he drank and her mother fell all over herself making excuses for him. There were holes in the wall from his fits of rage and it was not unusual to go months without power because her father would rather gamble then pay the bills.
Rebecca was the younger of the two siblings. Her sister Tara had run away from home at fifteen. She sent Rebecca letters but when her father found out there was hell to pay. He called her sister a good for nothing slut and forbid Rebecca any contact with her. Rebecca missed her sister terribly and refused to believe any of the horrible things her father said about her. She recalled many nights when her father was on a drunken rampage Tara would come to her room and they would lie face to face with their arms wrapped around each other. Her sister would tell her how special she was and that she had to be strong and stay out of her father’s way. She would hold her hand and stroke her hair until Rebecca drifted off to sleep. She cried every night for her sister. She didn’t blame her for leaving she just wanted to know that she was okay.
Her sister had always talked about how she was going to be a Doctor someday. Rebecca hoped that it would happen for her. When she was four Tara had asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said ‘a Barbie Princess’. Tara kissed her forehead and told her that was the prefect thing to be.
Her sister had taught her to pray. She didn’t pray like other kids did, on their knees with their hands clasped in front of them, because if her father caught her praying he would have a fit. He believed that religion was for weaklings and misfits. So in the dark, with her eyes closed tightly under the covers she prayed. She prayed for the same thing every night, for her father to leave and for her sister to come back.
Rebecca didn’t hate her mother, she just pitied her. She had no identity, no self-worth. Her husband had told her for so many years that she was a piece of trash that she believed it. When Rebecca started grade three she was pretty much fending for herself. Her mother was so busy trying to cater to her fathers every whim that Rebecca became nearly invisible. She had taken a growth spurt over the summer and when the school year rolled around she only had one pair of pants that fit. She wore them day after day even after pleading with her Mom for new clothes.
One day after school she walked into the middle of a heated argument between her parents. Her father had come home early from work to find her mother in tears reading a letter from Tara. Her father was furious; when Rebecca walked in he grabbed her by the arm and made her watch as the letter burned. He squeezed her arm so tight Rebecca was terrified. She peed in her pants. She was sent upstairs with no dinner and told not to leave her room. Her only pair of pants was soaked in pee and she couldn’t even leave her room to rinse them out.
Her mother never came to check on her, to comfort her and tell everything would fine; she never did.
Long after her Dad had passed out from the rum she tiptoed quietly downstairs to the laundry room and scrubbed her pants till her knuckles were raw then made her way back upstairs and hung them to dry out her bedroom window. It was the very next day, sitting alone on a playground bench with a bruise on her arm wearing pee stained pants that Natalie Whitney offered to be her friend
Rebecca rolled over and opened one eye. Sure enough it was light outside. She was tempted to put the covers over her head and go back to sleep but as soon as she heard Gramps get up she decided she might as well begin the day. She would help him feed the chickens and clean out the coops before Nan made breakfast. As terribly as she missed Natalie it was nice to feel part of a real family.
She met Gramps in the hallway and though he mumbled his usual morning greeting he seemed uneasy and appeared not to have slept much. She followed him into the kitchen where she expected Nan to be waiting. Nan came from the living room appearing as ill at ease and disheveled as her Gramps. Her Nan asked her to sit down and she had the frightening feeling that someone had just pulled her stomach out her throat.
“There’s someone here to see you,” her Nan said, squeezing her hand tight.
Before she had a chance to speculate she walked in. She was as radiant as she’d always been. Her golden hair was long and cascaded in loose curls down the small of her back. Her almond shaped eyes, dark and exotic belonged to a woman, not the girl she called ‘sister’. Rebecca was scared to move for fear that she would disappear like so many times in her dreams. Tara was the first to step forward, she wrapped her arms around her little sister and dissolved into tears. Her grandparents wiping away their own tears left the girls alone.
“Becca you are so beautiful.” Tara pulled away to look at her and smiled through her tears.
“I know what you must think of me Becca, leaving you behind the way I did…..”
Rebecca interrupted, “I never blamed you, I just prayed that you were alright.”
They sat alone at the kitchen table with their fingers laced together and talked for hours.
Tara lived in Boston where she would be attending Harvard Medical School on a full scholarship in the fall. She’d always been bright and she knew that hard work would be her only ticket out of the poverty and abuse she’d suffered much of her young life. When she was fifteen she saved her babysitting money and took the bus to Boston. She was pretty and always appeared to be much older than she was so she had no problem finding waitress jobs. When the school year began she convinced the elderly lady that owned the rooming house where she lived to become her legal guardian so that she could enroll in high school. She worked hard in school and waitressed nights and weekends. She graduated high school with honors and was the Valedictorian of her senior class. She attended four years of University taking advantage of scholarships, bursaries and every other opportunity that was available to her. One could only envy the svelte figure she managed to keep by existing on little other then Kraft dinner and hot dogs. She graduated at the top of her class with a Doctrine of Science and was anxious to begin Medical School in the fall. Her desire was to be a surgeon and anyone who knew her had no doubts that that would happen.
“I came back to see you Becca, a month after I ran away. Dad threatened me within an inch of my life. He wouldn’t have me influencing ‘the good daughter’.
Tara continued, “I’ve been in contact with Nan and Grandpa for awhile now. They worked really hard to convince Mom to let you come here. She doesn’t know I’m here. She would never have let you come.”
Rebecca sighed, “No matter what he says to her Tara she knows deep down it isn’t true. She loves you.”
“Becca.., “she began, “Mom isn’t capable of loving anyone because she doesn’t love herself. Nan and Gramps have offered to help for years but she keeps making the same old excuses for him.”
Rebecca knew all too well. ‘Daddy’s tired, daddy doesn’t feel well, and he works so hard, he’s worried about money”
“They never knew how bad it was for us. Now we are going to help you, you never have to go back there.” Tara promised.
Rebecca pulled away from Tara and stood up, “I have to go back. I’m all Mom has.”
“You are not responsible for her Becca.” Tara argued, “She is supposed to be responsible for you but she failed you the moment she put you in the same room as that vicious drunk.”
“I have friends there Tara, a life…..” Rebecca’s voice trailed off.
Tara pulled her close and soothed her the way she did when they were little. “You don’t have to decide this instant Becca but please think about it.”
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
We’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
My last post made my husband rather anxious because he very much likes living in the present and I know that revisiting a very difficult time in our lives certainly had the potential to bring up some very unhappy memories and create a lot of angst. I remember that there was a time when I thought that the scars from that time would never I heal, I believed that even though I could hide them they would always be lingering at the surface of my well being ready to open and bleed out all over my life.
I wrote some fairly detailed accounts of the three and a half weeks we were apart. When you say it out loud it seems like a short enough period of time but I can assure you a lifetime of events happened during that time. Not just in the time that we were apart but in the time it took us to truly find our way back. We used to be friends and lovers and now we were suspended in the uncertain place in between, feeling lost and unsure. There was a whole world in between us and if we were truly ready to fight for our marriage we needed to prepare for the fight of our lives.
A lot of my writing is in my drafts folder. I contemplated which parts were really important to this story. To me every little bit of it is important in it’s own way but I decided to save the insane drama for the movie 😉
It goes without saying that we decided to work things out. We absolutely had the best of intentions in wanting to keep our family together and fix our broken marriage but I think both of us were naive with respect to the amount of time, work and patience that would require. Neither of us was ready to be together but the thought of being apart was scarier. I know both of us considered what would happen if we took too long to figure things out and the other moved on. We were having an extremely difficult time fitting into each others present but ultimately we were certain that we belonged in each others future.
During that time I became someone I didn’t recognize. Instead of focusing on what we needed to do to move forward my gears were focused solely on Kirk leaving and how much that hurt me. I was consumed by hurt and anger and for a very long time I refused to let go of any of it. I held unto it the way a child hangs on to their blankie. I thought it protected me. I thought if I protected myself from loving again I would never be hurt. Much later I would learn that the real strength is in allowing yourself to love and be loved.
Eventually we started to make a little progress at least being honest with each other about our fears, insecurities and where we felt we stood. Something about honesty catapults you into a fearless place of acceptance and allows you to either walk away or move forward. We felt hopeful but I was definitely not ready to live in the moment. I felt a little lost, sometimes like I was on the verge of breaking down.
We had started to go to marriage counselling early on and I loved our therapist. She had been through similar martial problems and her experience was valuable to me.
She had gone back to school when her kids were older and was now running a successful private practice. She recounted to me how hard she worked for it and that her husband, initially proud began to feel lonely and not needed which led to an affair with their riding instructor.
That was so telling for me. Men instinctively want to be needed and depended on. Men often have a hard time with strong, independent women. It is a constant struggle of balance for women to maintain their strength while being just vulnerable enough to allow ourselves to be loved.
We graduated marriage counselling way to soon. We had all the tools and promises to fix us but I was still stuck. I just refused to let go of any of the pain and anger and I tortured myself with it for years. I wasted several years caught up in the blame game. Kirk never ever expected or asked me to be accountable for anything that happened but I think until I did admit to my own part I was not being honest and I was hurting myself even more then I hurt him.
A memory that sticks in my head of this time is how I worked 12 hour shifts and I would be driving home and as soon as I would get to the driveway I would get that heavy feeling in my chest. Another uncomfortable night trying to force ourselves to enjoy each others company.
I checked on the kids snug in their beds and busied myself tidying the kitchen. Kirk came upstairs and coaxed me downstairs. He wanted to show me something. I had told him once about this old song my grandmother liked by Don Williams (below), Kirk put the song on and he asked me to dance. I was hesitant at first but he insisted. I wasn’t allowed to talk, just dance. There is something very honest and intimate about dancing in someones arms with no words exchanged. I think more was said between us in those few quiet moments as we looked into each other’s eyes then had been communicated in months. Our eyes both welled up a little, there is no doubt mine started first. It felt like we made a silent promise to each other to try harder.
Late Sunday night we were sitting in the back of Kirk’s truck listening to 80s tunes on satellite radio, cause we are that cool…and when this subject came up Kirk said how happy he was that we made the right decision all those years ago. I can talk about it all now because I know that the past can’t hurt me. It was a damn long road to happiness and we earned every single mile. It does however bring me a tear when I think “what if?”