Family Fiction posted June 19, 2014 Chapters:  ...26 27 -28- 29... 

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Karen shows her tender side and asks more questions

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

Nurse Karen and More Revelations

by Fridayauthor

Sarah and Karen have begun their honesty pact and the disclosures that ensue become very personal. Yet, some secrets remain buried.
     Timmy often accompanied me to the toy store and became great friends with Mrs. Peck. She would take delight in demonstrating how she despised any and all children in spite of the world knowing the opposite. All the neighborhood customers had years of experience with this pretend attitude. She’d growl at the children until they giggled. Timmy caught on quickly.
     “Here comes that nasty little Kathy Smithfield. I suppose I’ll have to wait on her.”
     “She’s not nasty!” Timmy would say. “She’s nice!”
     “Oh, I forgot. She’s your new girlfriend.”
     “Is not!  She’s not as nasty as you!”  He’d giggle and run into the back room to hide, our dog Woof joyfully tagging behind him.
     “Careful,” Mrs. Peck would call. “I’ll sell you to the next customer instead of that big stuffed bear!”
     “Woof will protect me!”
     “He’s too busy scratching his fleas.”
     “Woof doesn’t have fleas, does he Mom?” he’d call, trying unsuccessfully to involve me.
     At home, we soon became a family of game players, testing each new discovery from Peck O’ Fun around the dining room table or on warmer nights, out on the side porch. Karen often asked if I’d played a particular game with Grandma. I was forced to seek some of our old favorites. Paul beat us miserably with word games with only Karen giving him a challenge. While it took effort to find games where Timmy could play on a close-to even level, a number of the newer fun younger children’s games filled the bill. He caught on quickly with a little help and was rapidly catching up to the rest of us. As soon as the evening dishes were cleared, out came the games. Television was nearly forgotten.
     Both children were very good about their chores. Timmy might set the table and later Karen would clear it, reversing the chore the following night. Woof was walked when need be and the garbage taken out upon request. They were far better at their jobs than either Suzie or I had ever been.
     Sunday church was less of a task than I’d thought it would be. The North family had attended Mass for years, and I too enjoyed the service with them. Our priest was a thoughtful speaker who related real world examples that were timely and eloquent. Life was good with our newly formed group.
     While my last honesty session with Karen ended abruptly, it was by no means our final meeting in the love chair. Thankfully, not all of our conversations were sexual in nature. One afternoon, returning from soccer practice, I could tell Karen was unusually quiet. I asked her if there was a problem.
     “Anne has to save up just to buy new sneakers for soccer. All I have to do is ask and you or dad to get them. I don’t say anything about money to my friends, or how I lived back in Newton. I know Dad has tons of dough and when I grow up, I’ll have like millions too. Will I have to decide what to do with it all?”  Her question demanded more than a quick answer so I made an unscheduled stop for ice cream.
     “Whatever your father has will be yours and Timmy’s, and no one will stop you from spending it any way you like. That was the case with your father, and I’d like to think he handled the riches very well. He helps businesses get going and stay on their feet when most times they couldn’t do it without help. That’s putting his money to very good use. Some people would blow it on silly things and lead a life of leisure, but as you grow up, I hope you learn to understand money can be a gift or a burden.”
     “You never had money but when it was offered, you wouldn’t take it.”
     “True. Part of me was chicken, but your dad’s money was doing fine right where it was and I didn’t need it.”
     “Maybe I won’t take my share when the time comes.”
     “I think you’d be a prudent custodian. Just keep on thinking such mature thoughts.” I patted her hand and resolved to pay more attention to budgets and the value of money, lessons certainly absent in her pre-Sarah life.
     Another insight into this young lady’s attitude occurred when Timmy came down with a stomachache and summer cold. He was miserable, unable to keep anything in his stomach. He was running a fever. It was my first blush with nursing and between Karen and me, we did a stellar job. We insisted he remain in bed and plied him with remedies and attention. If Karen asked me once, she asked me a hundred times, what my mother did in a similar situation. Early on, I suggested a visit to the doctor for a prescription, but she reacted strongly against it, saying we should rely on basic, old-fashioned remedies.
     We were off to the store for Vicks Vapor Rub to apply to his chest and honey, to serve in hot tea. Toast was buttered and given in tiny pieces until Timmy could keep it down. Throughout the day and a half of his convalescence, nurse Karen hovered by her brother’s bedside.  Her behavior demonstrated her sympathetic side and just how much she cared for Timmy.
     As time went on, Karen became bolder with her questions. She gained confidence that our pact wasn’t some sinister trick to suck out secrets she was unwilling to divulge and I was in fact a source for information. A few nights later, she was back in the chair. Timmy, now recovered but milking it, was out with Paul for ice cream. Karen had declined, lately obsessed, unnecessarily, with her waist line. I was shamed into staying home with her. She seemed especially nervous. Karen’s question was much more personal.
     She seemed to need reaffirmation of our agreement. “You'll answer anything . . .  honestly?”  Once again I nodded my agreement.
     Instead of asking another question, she withdrew a small piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to me. The paper read, Did you do it when you were single? I set the paper on the table but she made a grab for it. “Tear it up!” she said. “I die if Dad knew I’d asked you that!”
     I complied with her request, ripping the note into tiny pieces. “He’d die if he heard half of what we talk about. Your father wouldn’t even ask me that question.”
     “So you’re not going to answer.”
     “I didn’t say that. I just don’t want to convey the wrong idea with a simple response so I have to be very clear in my mind. Yes, I slept with men before your father. Two, to be exact.”
     “I can’t believe you’d answer that question.”
     I spoke softly. “I promised you, Karen.”
     “How did it happen? Were you going to marry them?”
     I smiled. “No. Neither one was a serious relationship and I was in my thirties at the time.”
     “Why did you let them do it?”
     I knew I’d ventured too far but I continued. “One man was younger than I. We were in college. He was a few years out of high school, and I had returned to school studying to become a teacher. We were only together a few times. The other man was a much older gentleman. He was as lonely as I when I lived in Alaska. Once again, I only slept with him a very few times. Mostly we just enjoyed each other’s company socially.”
     “How can you do that with someone you don’t love?  I mean, get naked and let them see you and all that stuff.”
     I shrugged. “Personally, I’m not proud of my actions but a lot of people would consider what I did perfectly natural; more natural than my years of abstinence.”
     “Did you have sex before? Before you were married the first time?”
     I fidgeted. “I’m not going to answer that, at least not now. Don’t get me wrong. I will; just not at the moment. I’m not copping out. I just have to think it through. It’s complicated and painful. Give me time so I don’t screw up the answer; that’s all I ask, okay?”
     She was disappointed. “I guess you told me more than I expected. I can wait.”
     She let me give her a strong hug. “Look, Karen. I have to apologize. I’m being selfish. I have no business dumping this stuff on you, pushing you toward adulthood when I should let you be a girl.”
     “I’m the one who asked,” she said.
     “Yes, you did.  Maybe I need a friendly ear as much as you do.” This time it was I who quickly left the room.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Enough to Miss Christmas is a family love story, about sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, parents and children. Foremost, it tells the story of a stepmom and a precocious young lady and how they bond in spite of overwhelming odds.
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