General Fiction posted June 29, 2014 Chapters:  ...45 46 -47- 48... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Sarah crosses her fingers, awaiting Karen's reaction

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

White Rabbits, Black Rabbits

by Fridayauthor

The North family have bumps in their new household as each learns from the other.
            The next morning Karen dallied before coming down to breakfast. I was deep in an animated conversation with Timmy about rabbits, real and cartoon, when she shuffled into the room. She looked tired and I wondered if she remained awake long after our lengthy conversation, perhaps filling more diary pages.
            “Before you ask me, I wrote my note to Mr. Haynes,” she said. “Do you want to read it?”
            “No. I trust you,” I answered, though I was curious as to how she’d worded the missive.
            “Do white rabbits only have white bunnies and black rabbits only have black bunnies?” Timmy asked.
            “I don’t know,” I answered. “Don’t forget, there are grey rabbits as well. Not everything in the world is always black and white.”
            Karen looked up from pouring milk in her cereal. “I want you to write a note too,” she said as she reached for a spoon. “Write a note to school getting me out of class to go see Dr. Mason.” Our appointments were for today, Friday. The doctor had changed it because of a conflict.
            “Why? Your appointment is after school.”
            “I want to swap with your time and talk to him first. It won’t matter to him.”
            “What are you going to discuss?” I asked, before realizing it was a presumptuous question.
            “Are you asking if I’m going to rat out my dad hitting me? That’s between us.”
            Was ‘between us’ meant to mean between her and the doctor, her and me or her and her father?  I dutifully wrote the requested note and spent most of the day wondering what I’d learn at my late afternoon appointment.
            By the time I entered the doctor’s office I was a nervous wreck but he failed to comment on my jittery condition. Nor did he begin by telling me anything about his just-ended meeting with Karen who had already left his office by the time I arrived. Instead, he danced around my childhood like a cock in a hen yard.
            He prodded for specifics, but after a few questions, I became bored with his games. He sensed my impatience.
            “What are you trying to get at?” I finally asked.
            He looked up from his doodling. “Were you well behaved when you were Karen’s age?”
            “Reasonably. Not as well behaved as she is.”
            “Ah,” he said.
            “Doctor, why am I paying you if I know ahead of time exactly what you’re going to say?”
            “Just what am I going to say?”
            “You’re either going say ‘Ah’or ask me a question; not answer mine.”
            “What do you want me . . .?” He realized he was again asking a question so he rephrased it as a statement. “You have something you want to ask.”
            “You’re damn right. I want to know what Karen told you today!”
            “Ah.” He said, but at least he answered. He reported she’d spoken, apparently with honesty, detail and candor, about everything that had transpired. She included what she’d done and the reaction it prompted from her father and my attempted intervention. She even discussed our lengthy love chair talk of rules and consequences.
            “So?” I said when he’d finished.
            “Once again you handled the situation admirably.” I was pleased as punch. He could see it on my face as he continued.
            “Unfortunately, it was addressed in haste by the girl’s father but you seem well on the road to remedying that response as well, correctly I might add. While Karen is, as she puts it is, ‘mad as hell with him’, she exhibits some understanding of his motives. Once again, thanks to you.” I responded with a humble peasant-before-the-king thank-you.
            He continued. “I’ll pursue the subject in depth with the young lady later. I hardly had time to comment today because Karen’s tale was so lengthy and detailed. She asked me outright if I agreed with her father’s spur-of-the-moment action. Frankly, I danced around my answer, not wanting to place Mr. North in a poor light.” I kept my two cents in my pocket on that one.
            God, I was ecstatic. “Is she pissed at me for making her skip two soccer games?” I blurted out.
            “Quite the opposite. She showed more understanding than any other child I’ve ever counseled. She’s truly remarkable. While she is obsessed in following precisely how you were raised, once she’s secure in how that was carried out, she’s agreeable to go along with how you address the problem. You’re dictating her benchmark for living. Be careful how you describe it.”
            “I’m . . . thrilled,” I answered.
            “We’ve barely begun our little talks, Karen and me. There’s the subject of suicide and rejection and her continuing reluctance to discuss her mother . . .” The doctor droned on but I hardly heard.
            I skipped out of my session, happy as a worm-filled robin, home to find Paul had returned early. He and I had a lengthy conversation.  I reiterated my misgivings on being burdened exclusively with our household rules and standards.  He too was responsible for his children’s conduct. He agreed and apologized for passing the buck, citing the depressed way he felt after his thoughtless reaction to Karen’s misconduct.
             I explained in detail, that Karen had brought Timmy to the quarry and what punishment I had set as a result. I pointed out how much care she had exhibited but we both agreed her bringing her young brother remained inexcusable. Missing two soccer games was a severe punishment, but having to admit the embarrassing reason must have been an even harder pill to swallow.
            When Karen retuned from school she offered no complaints to either of us. Paul took her aside in his den and when they emerged they were in friendly conversation.
            The next couple of weeks slipped into October with blazing leaves and chilly evenings as we blessedly drifted back to our pleasant routine of household chaos. Timmy made friends with a fellow kindergartner named Harold and the two boys spent a lot of time at each other’s houses. Paul remained home for two solid weeks, nearly a record. Karen signed up for dance lessons, squeezing another night out of our busy week. We gathered as a family and discussed rules of behavior and resulting consequences until we were sick of the topic. There seemed to be a feeling the whole business was more abstract than practical as no one deviated from perfect deportment.
            The nefarious Mary Ellen, instigator of my daughter’s isolated delinquency, was not mentioned, much to the delight of my husband and me. Paul suggested an out and out forbiddance of any contact with the miscreant, but I felt it best to trust in Karen’s good judgment. My fingers were getting sore from crossing them.
            We both dutifully traveled to Dr. Mason’s office each Wednesday with neither Karen nor I experiencing any problems. My visits consisted of highlighting family activities, both present and past. When I casually asked Karen about her meetings, she lightly replied, same-old, same-old. If there was any discussion about her mother, I hadn’t heard about it from either party.
            The love chair remained empty except for occasional story reading session with Timmy. The kitchen and outside grill were the busiest places of the house, especially weekends. Paul and Timmy handled our frequent outdoor meals. Grilling was performed not on a gas grill as Paul would have preferred but on charcoal briquettes, just like in Sarah’s constantly copied parents had used in days of old.
            The kitchen was the female’s domain, accompanied in spirit by the ghost of my mother. Her angelic form joined us at the stove and grocery store, and as the author of all recipes and menu suggestions. While I worshiped kitchen time with my daughter, her obsession with historical detail was becoming annoying.
            “Which did you use for hot chocolate, Nestles or Hershey?”
            “I can’t remember.” I’d earn a roll of the eyes for my memory lapse.
            “Do you use milk or water?”
            “What do the directions tell you?” I’d counter.
            “I mean what did you use?” So it went. But what the hell, we were getting along famously. I was the mother, at least by actions if not by name. I remained Sarah, not Mom, and love was a term for use to a little brother and, once again, Dad.
            White rabbits, black rabbits and grey rabbits.  What was the difference? It was peaceful in the rabbit hutch.

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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