Family Fiction posted June 21, 2014 Chapters:  ...29 30 -31- 32... 

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Sarah reveals some painful memories

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

The Ride Home

by Fridayauthor

Both widowed, Sarah and Paul marry. Karen, Paul's daughter, is taking time to accept her stepmother.
            Karen’s mood on the ride home ranged from jubilant to pensive as she reviewed the afternoon conversation. She sought more details on what my mother related but stayed away from the subject of punishment. I wondered if her personal fixation on having done something bad kept her from discussing the subject. Instead, she concentrated on diaries.
            “If you still had your diary, would you let me read it?”
            I poked around my brain, trying to recall details of what I recorded so long ago. Some of the later adult entries would need some explaining but I couldn’t think of penning anything I’d be ashamed to share. Everything I entered was true. I told Karen as much. “I think we’d have a good laugh together, especially when you read the parts I wrote when I was your age.”
            “I wish you still had them. It would be fun reading all about you and Grandma and Aunt Suzie when you were growing up. What did you do with your diaries?”
            I remembered the day clearly. “I burned all of them,” I answered.
            “That’s personal.”
            Karen took her time considering my answer. “Honesty. I’m invoking our honesty pact.”
            I’d promised. I was uneasy where my answer might take us, but I forged ahead. “Okay, but you’ll owe me.” I took a deep breath. “I burnt all my diaries after I found out my husband had read them.”
            “He did that?”
            “Yes. Then he lied about doing so. I had a little bon fire in my backyard and turned nearly ten years of memories to ash.”
            “So he wouldn’t read the rest of them?”
            “It didn’t matter. The diaries weren’t mine anymore.”
            “You must have been super mad. Did that make you stop loving him?”
            “No.” I didn’t tell my inquisitive passenger that I’d stop loving Doug far earlier than that unpleasant episode.
            “I would have. You’re supposed to trust your husband or wife.” I nodded in agreement.
            Karen took twenty miles of slowing traffic to ponder what I’d told her. I felt she wanted to press the issue but was hesitant how to word her questions. We were on the Massachusetts Turnpike when I prompted her.
            “No more questions?”
            “With all the really good ones, you’ll claim privacy.”
            “Don’t be so sure. Our visit with Grandma put me in a very open mood.” I reached over and she let me take her hand. “Try me.”
            With a smug look she asked, “Did you love Doug more than my father?  You can’t say ‘the same’ either. That would be a cop out.”
            “I don’t have to ‘cop out.’ That’s an easy question. The answer is no.”
            Karen stared at me, as if examining my expression. “You’re just saying that because that’s what you think I want to hear.”
            “No way! This is an honesty session. I take my honesty pact promise to you very seriously. No, I didn’t love Doug anywhere near as much as I love your father. Don’t tell your father I said that! He has this thing about not discussing our prior relationships.”
            “Why would you tell me if you wouldn’t even tell Dad?”
            I thought about it. “There are a lot of reasons, Karen. First off, I trust you to be discrete about anything I tell you. Secondly, our relationship; yours and mine, is far different from a husband and wife. In some ways it’s more intimate. I’ve never told anyone what I just told you.” Karen’s eyes were wide with amazement. I continued. “There’s lots of stuff I’d tell you before I’d confess it to anyone else.”
            “Why wouldn’t you tell Dad you love him more? It would make him happy.”
            “We made a pact not to discuss our past loves. Lovers are funny. They don’t want to be held up to comparison. If I confessed I love him far more than I ever loved Doug, he might feel compelled to tell me he loved me more than your mother and maybe he doesn’t. Lovers are afraid we wouldn’t come out on top.”
            “Honest? You didn’t love Doug very much, and you married him? Did you love him at all?”
            I pulled around a slow moving truck. “That’s a whole bunch of questions. Let’s take them one at a time. It’s difficult to remember exactly how I felt about Doug when I married him. Hormones were getting in the way. I was young and there was a lot going on in my life. I thought I loved him. Even if I did love him at first, I didn’t feel anywhere near as strongly as I feel about your father.”
            “Because you’re older now, and you didn’t know any better back then?”
            “That may be true in part, but my feelings for your father are far stronger than anything I felt for my first husband, ever.”
            “Why did you marry Doug?”
            “I was adrift and he was a very persuasive person. I wasn’t near as strongly willed then as I am now. Getting married seemed like the thing to do. Silly, huh?  All the wrong reasons.”
            “Grandma didn’t like Doug very much, did she?”
            “No. Nor did Suzie. I should have listened to them instead of shutting them out of my life.”
            “Why didn’t you listen to Grandma and Aunt Suzie? You loved them and you were very close to them.”
            Her question hurt and generated a wave of guilt. “It was a bad time for my mother. It took her a long time to accept the death of my father. He was not only her husband, but her soul mate. She wasn’t the same person during that period. Suzie was involved with her own life and struggles. I don’t mean to make excuses. I know now I should have listened to them.”
            “Did you love him when he got killed?” When I didn’t answer, Karen said, “I guess you can claim privacy.”
            “No. Actually, I want to answer. There are things I want to explain, to someone. It’s just that I feel guilty as shit; pardon my expression, spilling my problems on you. You’re just a child and I’m not being fair.”
            “I’m not a child!”
            “No, you’re not and I’m sorry I used that term. You’re wise far beyond your years.”
            “So tell me. I won’t blab. I can keep a secret.”
            I tilted back against the head rest and wished I could close my eyes. “Doug was a bastard. He cheated on me for years and treated me like shit. By the time he died, I hated him, and I think he felt the same way about me. So, there. I spilled my guts.” I tightened my eyes but I could feel a tear slide down my cheek. I pulled the car to the shoulder of the road. My vision was so blurred I was afraid to drive.
            Karen stretched out her seat belt and hugged me. “If you say shit again, I’ll make you spend the night in the love chair.”
            I laughed in spite of myself. “God, I love you, Karen.” I said. “What did I ever do to deserve someone so wonderful?”
            After I’d pulled myself together, we rode in comfortable silence for several miles but Karen wasn’t finished. “Why did you stay with him?” she asked softly after much time had passed.
            “Inertia. I had few options. I was working as a lowly clerk on a military base in the middle of nowhere. I had no money; half the time I was in a foreign country. Doug controlled everything. I just plodded along wasting the years.”
            “But you were a school teacher!”
            “That was much later. When Doug was killed, I kept doing what I was doing until I came to my senses, used his insurance money for tuition, went to college and became a teacher.”
            “And then you met Dad.”
            “And his beautiful, precious daughter and wonderful son.”  Karen didn’t even disagree and we spent the rest of the trip happily discussing the visit to my mother, our upcoming camping trip, games we played, my sister and her family and all the joyous things of my new and wonderful life. I couldn’t have been more exhilarated as we skipped into our house where my husband and son waited. That is, until I saw the look on Paul’s face.
            “Your sister tried to call you, but you left your cell phone home.” he said. “Your mother passed away this afternoon.”

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 step mom and a precocious young lady and how they bond in spite of overwhelming odds.
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