Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 13, 2009 Chapters:  ...46 47 -48- 49... 

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After the fire the girls go to stay with their dad

A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind

A Simple Promise

by Sasha

Sexually abused as a child & fored to live with a family in total denial, Valerie develops a myriad of psychological problems including, nightmares, hallucinaltions, gaps in time, depression and bizar

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

Albert Einstein

The pain in my head kept me from falling asleep. The ten aspirin tablets I took two hours earlier had done nothing. I sat up, and as I reached for the open bottle of aspirin on the nightstand beside the bed, the smell of smoke filled the room. I took a second to determine I was not still dreaming, then I immediately got up, ran from room to room looking for the source, but found nothing. I glanced out the front window and noticed a strange yellow haze floating across the front lawn. I ran into the girls' bedroom yelling, "Get up! The house is on fire!" 

Holding Sarah and Tina firmly by the hand, we ran out of the house and across the street to the neighbor's house. I pounded on the door yelling that my house was on fire. 

Within minutes, the sound of sirens blaring in the distance announced the arrival of the fire engines. I sat stunned on the neighbors' front porch watching the firemen fight to save my house. My heart sank as huge, thirty-foot flames shot up from the roof of the house, lighting up the dark moonless sky. By the time the morning sun appeared on the horizon, the fire was out. Thick plumes of black smoke rose up from what was once the attic. 

Still sitting on my neighbor's porch, I saw Richard standing on the sidewalk talking to one of the firemen. I could tell he was visibly shaken. As I walked down the steps toward him, I could hear the fireman talking. 

"Where were you around midnight? Can you account for your whereabouts?" 

I was shocked. It was absurd to suspected Richard of something so horrific. Fortunately, Richard had been out with friends, and was immediately eliminated as an arson suspect. 

I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I turned to see Patricia, my neighbor, standing beside me. 

"Valerie, did you start the fire?” she asked. “If you did, I understand why you did it. I promise I won't tell anyone." 

For years, I often joked about burning the house down, but that was just to express my frustration. Despite denying I set the fire, it was obvious from Patricia's smile and thumbs up gesture, she did not believe me. Clearly, in her mind, I had become her hero. For a brief moment, I wondered if I had experienced another gap, and done something even worse than lying about having cancer. But I dismissed the idea as absurd, knowing I would never do anything that would put the girls in jeopardy. 

The fire department declared the house uninhabitable. Richard agreed to let the girls stay with him. With no place to stay and very little cash, I checked into a cheap motel for the night. The following morning I went back to the house to survey the damage and see what could be salvaged. Although the fire was confined to the attic, the damage from water completely destroyed everything. 

Overwhelmed by the damage to the house and my belongings, I sat on the front porch staring blanking up at the sky. Oblivious to the fact that it was a beautiful clear day, all I could feel was a horrific and physically painful sadness settle over me. 

Richard pulled up in front of the house. When I didn’t see the girls, I asked him where they were. Richard said, "They are staying with your sister Denise." 

Not at all happy, I demanded to know why they were with her.
Richard was clearly not pleased with my tone of voice. He said, 

"Damn it Valerie. I am at work all day. It’s summer and I thought it best if they had someone around during the day." 

Angry, I said, "What the hell were you thinking. Denise is the last person I want them to be with." 

"What the hell is wrong with them staying with her?" 

"I told you why!" 

"Well, refresh my memory, because I don't remember you saying anything to me about Denise." 

Richard's annoying habit of not listening to me when I spoke, infuriated me. I distinctly remembered telling him more than once, about my concern over the girls visiting Mom. 

"Mom has been renting a room to a sexual deviant for the last six months," I explained. 

Richard shook his head and said, "That's ridiculous. Why would your mother rent a room to someone like that?" 

"Because she's an idiot, she needs the money, and refuses to believe he would hurt anyone,” I explained. ”A few months ago, Denise spent the night at Mom’s and she told me about catching the son-of-a-bitch standing over her bed in the middle of the night, completely naked, and masturbating. She told Mom about it and all Mom said was ‘lock the door.’ Worse, despite knowing that the renter is a pervert, Denise still lets little Marsha spend the night without any supervision. Face it, my family is a bunch of idiots, and I don't trust them with the girls." 

Richard shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes. "I don't see the problem. Just tell Denise you don't want her to take the girls to your mom's when he's there." 

"For Christ sake, he lives there!" 

"If it will make you feel better, I will call Denise and tell her that under no circumstances are the girls to be alone if the renter is there,” Richard suggested. “Will that make you happy?" 

"No, it will not,” I insisted. “I don't trust her and you shouldn't either." 

In an attempt to reassure me, Richard said, "Valerie, stop worrying, I will talk to Denise. I am sure she will listen to me." 

"The answer is no!” I screamed. “They stay with you or they can stay at the motel with me. Those are your choices. This discussion is over!" 

Reluctantly, Richard agreed. The girls would stay with him. 

Richard changed the subject. 

"Have you eaten anything today?" he asked. 

"No, I'm not hungry." 

Richard patted me on the shoulder and said, "You need to eat something.” 

I feigned a smile, and said, "Okay". 

"When we are finished, I'll help you find a better motel than the one you stayed in last night,” Richard said. “I spoke to the insurance company, and they will be issuing you an emergency check in a few days. It is going to be a while before you can move back into the house so you need to start making plans about what you are going to do in the meantime." 

I shook my head in disbelief. Plans? I can barely think past today. Tomorrow was too far away to think about. 

After eating, Richard took me to a nicer motel, closer to his house so the girls could visit me more easily. He paid for a week in advance, and, before leaving, he gave me a hundred dollars for food. Sometimes Richard could be a pain in the ass, but, deep down, he really was a nice guy.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

For those of you not familiar with the story, Valerie and Richard's 12 year marriage was not based on communication. Although she never told him about what her father had done, she did make it clear that she didn't trust her family to care for her children.
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