Family Fiction posted June 20, 2014 Chapters:  ...27 28 -29- 30... 

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Sarah and Karen buy books for Grandma

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

Dear Diary

by Fridayauthor

Sarah and Karen have begun their honest pact and the disclosures that ensue become very personal. Yet, some secrets remain buried.
            Paul was outside on an early August Saturday, helping build a club house for Timmy, albeit ineptly. Karen was assisting but becoming bored, she returned to the house where I was rearranging kitchen cabinets.
            “You look glum,” I said as she poured herself a glass of milk, finishing it in a gulp.
            “I am.”
            “Anything you want to talk about?” She shrugged and rinsed out her glass. “Is it school?” I pressed. The prior day ended the summer session, and I knew Karen would miss it. Julie, her best friend, was on vacation and Anne had been invited along. Karen understood the two girl’s friendship dated back years so it was logical Anne, not Karen, was chosen as a trip mate. Julie told her she too would have been invited if there was room. Nevertheless, I knew Karen was lonely without her chums. When she didn’t answer, I asked, “Bad day?”
            “I’d use that word but you’d make me sit in the love chair.”
            “Shitty?” We both smiled and I gave her a hug. “Just between us girls.” I added, “is there anything you want to do to cheer up? We’ve got all day.”
            She glanced outside. “Those guys are having fun. I don’t want to drag them away.”
            “You deserve fun too. How about it? What would you really like to do?”
            “Can we drive down and visit Grandma? I want to show her my new haircut.”
            A few days earlier, Karen had said she wished she looked like Julie, her friend.
            “Julie is a pretty girl but so are you, Karen. You’re a beauty.”
            “I don’t mean that. I mean her hair.” Julie’s hair was short like most of the girls on Karen’s soccer team.
            “I thought you liked your hair long. Your mother’s hair was long and quite lovely in the portrait I saw in your old house.”
            “I hate long hair. Did you have short hair when you were my age?”
            “I’ve always had short hair. I’m too lazy to take care of long hair. You should have said something. If you want short hair, by all means, we’ll get it cut.”
            “Daddy likes it long.”
            “Then let him wear his hair long. It’s what Karen likes that matters, not your father, or anyone else. Most of all, your father and I want you happy. Let’s go this afternoon. We don’t even need an appointment at the mall.” I checked by phone with Paul so he wouldn’t have a fit that I violated some ancient family honor. She looked cute as a button in short hair. Everyone, including Dad, said so. Now she wanted to show off to her grandmother.
            Karen’s request surprised me. I knew she was very fond of my mother, but a visit was discouraging as my mother had not been lucid since the first time Karen met her. A visit was due and Karen held faith that on one of these encounters, her grandmother would again be alert to her presence.
            We’d be starting late and it was a long drive but I readily agreed. We asked the male contingent of the family to come along but Timmy wanted to finish their clubhouse project. At his age and attention span, a long car ride and visit to Grandma bored him although he never complained. Karen and I hastily packed a lunch and were on our way in minutes.
            There would be no stop at my sister’s as she and her family was spending the week vacationing on Cape Cod. We’d see them later in the month when our long promised camping trip was scheduled. They would join us for the last summer weekend.
            Karen’s glum mood disappeared in the car, replaced by happy chatter. She looked forward to Grandma answering the questions she was saving up about my growing up years, what Karen saw as the ideal plan for rearing children. I was never sure why my new daughter felt this so strongly. Was it that I’d turned out so well or was I so inadequate I needed my mother’s how-to chart of child raising? Either way, I was pleased with Karen’s affection for this woman I myself so loved.
            “I know she’ll be lucid this time,” Karen said with the authority of the young and vocabulary beyond her years. I hoped with my heart she was correct.
            “If not this time,” I answered, “on one of these visits.”
            Our conversation segued to the upcoming school year. Karen was excited to choose her subjects, especially the advanced classes now available to her. She asked about my schooling and its more limited choices.
            “Were you smart in school, Sarah?” she asked at one point.
            “Both Suzie and I did well. Our parents made sure we studied and we got good grades.”
            “Then why didn’t either of you go to college?”
            Karen’s question gave rise to painful memories and she sensed my mood change as I answered. “My father died and I met Doug. I married him instead of college. Suzie went to college for one year before she too married.”
            “You didn’t have children so you could have gone to college anyway.”
            “We didn’t stay in one place long because my husband moved from one assignment to another. We didn’t have much money and he didn’t think college was important.”
            “What about you?  Didn’t you think it was important?”
            “Yes. I did.”
            We munched our meager lunch on the fly and our only stop was a book store. I picked up some mystery novels for my mother while Karen perused more general titles. She glanced at one offering only to find it contained blank pages.
            “That’s a fast read,” she joked. “They forgot to print it!”
            “It’s a journal. You become the author.” Knowing Karen’s penchant for note-taking and lists, I made a suggestion. “Let’s buy it. You can start your own journal.”
            “Like a diary?”  I nodded. “Did you keep one?”
            “Yup. I started keeping a diary when I was around your age. I kept it up for a number of years. I filled several books like that one.” My confirmation was enough to prompt the purchase. We were back on the road when she asked if I still had my journals.
            “No,” I answered. “They’re long gone.”
            “What did you write in them?”
            “A lot of personal stuff I didn’t want anyone to see but I needed to say; things I wanted to get off my chest. Silly things, if I were to read them today, but very important to me back then.”
            “Weren’t you afraid someone would read it?”
            I thought about my answer. “No. Suzie and I were so close nothing I wrote would surprise her but she wouldn’t have read it anyway, unless I let her.”
            “What kind of personal stuff did you write?”
            I laughed at the memory. “There was a boy I liked and I knew he and some pals went skinny dipping; swimming without bathing suits. I fantasied about him asking just me to go, and what it would be like.”
            “Naked? You wouldn’t!”
            “No, of course not! But in a diary, it doesn’t have to be real. There were words I never would say. I’d write really small, just to see what they looked like. Silly things like that; things I thought of as naughty but wanted to get off my chest without actually doing them.”
            “Weren’t you afraid your mother would read it?”
            “No way! We trusted each other. She’d never violate that trust. Neither would my father.”
            “I won’t write that kind of stuff in my journal.”
            “Why not? I promise you I’ll never read it. If you’re concerned, we sell a lock box at the toy store. Besides, you can lock your bedroom as well.”
            Karen pondered my comments but didn’t respond. Instead, she turned away and began writing in her new diary, something I couldn’t do in a moving car without losing my lunch on the floorboards. 

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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