General Fiction posted August 5, 2014 Chapters:  ...88 89 -90- 91... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Sarah confesses to Paul and responds to Karen's request

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

Story Time

by Fridayauthor

Sarah confesses her duplicity to her husband, performed in an effort to learn the truth about Karen's alledged abuse.
            Somehow I managed to put together a dinner, trying to block from my mind what I knew I must do later. Between Dr. Brennen’s worrisome comments and my general malaise, I vowed to put the entire business to bed, before I did the same with my aching body. I’m not patient in the best of times and my present state of mind was as far from the sea of tranquility as the Caribbean in a hurricane. I was heart-sick over deceiving my husband with my trip to Boston and he deserved to know about my unscheduled visit to Dr. Brennan. It was time for open honesty, even if how to accomplish yet another mea culpa to Paul left me with a sense of dread. And I had to bury this punishment business with Karen once and for all. My how-to was conceived on the spur of the moment with my jumbled mind offering little rational input.
            While Karen oversaw Timmy’s bath, I built up my courage, crept to the den, and closed the door behind me. Paul looked up from across his desk.
            “I’m sorry, Paul, from the bottom of my heart. I’ve been a sneaky deceiving bitch and I don’t deserve you. I love you till it hurts and I need you so badly, especially now, I don’t know what to do. I couldn’t live without you. We need each other.” Any resolution I harbored of saying my piece, sans tears, flowed away with first sputtering words.
            My husband rose, put his arm around me and led me to the sofa. “Talk,” was all he said and I did.
            I blubbered what I’d done. I began with the blood I’d discovered this morning and, in spite of Dr. Brennan’s assurances, I admitted I was scared shitless. More for our baby than me; I didn’t deserve any consideration because I was a devious, deceitful bitch. I then confessed how I’d gone behind his back and lied about why I went to Boston.  I told him I’d met with Dr. Graham. His silence hurt more than a slap.
            “I had to know, Paul. God forgive me, I had to prove the truth. I couldn’t think of any other way. How could we live in a house drenched with mistrust? Then I stupidly did the most untrusting thing of my life.” When the silence remained unbroken, I dropped Dr. Graham’s letterhead massif on the table. He made no move to pick it up.
            I wiped my sleeve across my swollen face. “No, it doesn’t answer all the questions and it wasn’t worth hurting you to get it. Tell me what to do, Paul.”
            The reverie was broken by a cry from Timmy upstairs. “Mom, it’s time for us to read!” Time stopped until he repeated his call.
            I rose, but my husband wouldn’t look up. “Read our son a story,” he said, just above a whisper as he returned to his desk.
            I trudged up the stairs, feeling I’d shut far more than the den door behind me. Karen and Timmy were both in their rooms, Karen with the door shut. I sat on the edge of my son’s bed and picked up the book we were working on.
            Timmy was becoming very proficient with our nightly task. It was no longer a session of my reading. Now I just listened to him. The story of the Red Fire Engine moved along with precision though I hardly heard the words.
            As long as I live, I’ll wonder if it was divine intervention or the firefighting apparatus that resurrected in my mind that passing question my son had asked so many weeks ago. I asked out of curiosity, at a break in the reading, but his answer shocked me back to total awareness.
            We spent much longer together than usual because my innocent question prompted a most rewarding discussion before we finished. I sank to his bedroom floor in tears over what he told me, distressing the little guy to no end. After I calmed him and myself, I felt a wave of understanding. I saw a glimmer of hope, for the first time in days. We, as a family, might have a shot at solving our problems and getting back to the life I so loved.
            In retrospect, I should have given more thought to how I would handle what I’d learned from my son. I simply put my trust in my husband. I took Timmy’s hand and led him downstairs to the den.
            Paul was pacing the room, Dr. Graham’s letter in his hand. “What did you do to make him write this?” he barked.
            I didn’t answer. I took his hand instead. “We have to talk, about everything,” I said.
            “Damn right!”
            “Timmy knows, Paul. I’m sorry. Talk to him. Talk to your son, please.” I turned away. “I have to get straight with Karen first and then we’ll talk this out. All of us together.” Turning away, I left father and son alone though it broke my heart to do so.
            Karen was writing in her diary when I hauled her to the love chair. I told her I wanted our unfinished business eliminated. There was too much else going on and I needed desperately to be with her father. She knew I was beyond distraught. Even my tone frightened her.
            When we were seated, I looked her in the eye. “We’ve both spit out why we feel guilty. Now it’s time for forgiveness, just like Dr. Mason said. You’re forgiven. There, I said it. You’re turn. Do you forgive me for being a jerk to my mother?”
             “We should be punished. If Grandma were alive, she’d punish you. Then she’d forgive you. Now it’s up to us. We agreed.”
            I was sick of the term punishment and the entire business. “Fine,” I said. “You go first.” My terse manner continued to upset her.
            “I thought a lot about it, Sarah,” she stammered. “I really have. I considered making you give away the love chair, but that wouldn’t be fair. Your punishment has to be really bad; something you’d dread.”
            Karen took a deep breath. “Your punishment will be to spank me, like your father did, as hard and as long. I’ve made my decision and you promised you’d accept it.”
            It didn’t surprise me. For some deeply buried reason beyond my comprehension, she’d been manipulating for this to occur for weeks. She awaited my argument, but I offered none. “Fine,” I said. “Now it’s my turn to dish out your punishment.” She looked askance.
            “I thought your punishment is sort of both our punishments, isn’t it?”
            “No. That wouldn’t be fair. You’d be selecting your own punishment, not me. You made the decision to force me to do something I swore I wouldn’t do. Now you’re making me break that promise. I guess you want your mother back.”
            “No! I don’t want you to be anything like her!”
            “Maybe I’ll make you wait on me and brush my hair.”
            “I just want . . .”
            “Never mind what you want. You’ve spoken. Now it’s my turn. So, to be fair, I’ll make you do something you promised not to do. You promised not to lie to me, didn’t you?”
            “I didn’t lie! You said you believed what I told you!”
            “I believe you, but your father doesn’t. Here’s what we’ll do. We go downstairs and tell him you lied about everything. This is going to be your punishment. You’ll tell him you lied to me. Your mother never hit you. You weren’t there when Timmy was born. You brushed her hair because you enjoyed doing it . . .”
            “I can’t say those things! They’re all lies!”
            “I’m giving you no choice. You have to lie. That’s your punishment. It’s like mine; doing something we detest more than anything in the world. That’s your penance.”
            “It’s all lies!”
            “We know that, but now your Dad will be convinced his wife was really okay, and a swell mother.”
            “No! I don’t want to lie to my father!”
            “Sorry. That’s not your choice. Get your mother’s hair brush. I’ll use it to take care of the other business you’re making me do. It’s somewhere in the spare bedroom. Fish around in the bureau drawers until you find it and then come down stairs. We’ll be waiting.”
            “I don’t want to touch that thing!”
            “You have to. It’s part of my punishment, remember? Let’s get on with it. I’m tired of all this delay.”
            Karen bit back her tears, petrified.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Sarah and Paul are both widowed and married only five months. Karen, precocious and age twelve, has developed a strong relationship with her stepmother. Sarah has learned not only did Karen witness her mother's suicide, but suffered abuse at the woman's hands. Her suffering was unknown to her father. He refuses to believe it happened. Sarah is pregnant, at age forty, a fact she and Paul thought impossible because of duplicity of Sarah's deceased husband.
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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