General Fiction posted August 6, 2014 Chapters:  ...90 91 -92- 93... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Sarah and Karen address unfinished business

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

The Hair Brush is put to Use

by Fridayauthor

Sarah and Karen have bonded well but it's difficult for young Karen to rid herself of the ghosts of her abusive birth mother.
            Hours later, in the dark of the night, after Paul and I had exhausted our conversation, I remained awake. I wandered downstairs and was sitting in the living room, the only light from an outside street lamp. I’d begun to doze when I saw Karen descending the stairs. She snuggled beside me.
            “We never finished,” she said. We were both aware of the golden hairbrush on the coffee table.
             “All the choices are up to you, Karen. Remember, using that thing on you is my punishment; you already received your penance when I made you lie to your father.”
            “But you knew he’d heard what Timmy said. He’d know I wasn’t telling the truth. Why did you make me do that?”
            “I had to make you do something terrible, or you wouldn’t have believed I could forgive you. I’m sorry. What I did was deplorable.”
            “I deserved to be punished for what I did.”
            “You received your punishment. We’re talking about mine. Are you going to make me into your mother? That’s what you decreed, so be it.”
            Karen bit her lip and began to say something I couldn’t hear. “What?”
            “It’s not like it was supposed to be. Grandma never would have. . .”
            “No, my mother never could bring herself to spanking us, but you’re forcing me to do it. Tell me what you deserve and why.”
            She began to fumble with the belt on her jeans, out of nervousness. “I. . .I deserve a spanking. But . . .”
            “Because I’ve been . . . provoking you to do it.”
            “Go on.”
            “I don’t know. I didn’t think you’d be angry like this . . . mad at me. You’d just do it because you had to, because I deserved it. Because . . .”
            “It would prove I love you, just like my parents loved me?”
            She continued to sob. “Karen, I’m sick and tired of weeping. I’m all cried out. I’m going to have a baby. I’m trying to hold a marriage together and raise two kids. I’m a mess at a time when I need a whole body and mind to hatch this marvelous creature I’m carrying. It’s time for total honesty.”
            “I don’t lie any more, I promised and I did stop. I really did.”
            “You’ve been lying to me and to yourself.  Do you know what love is?”
            “Yes, I think, but sometimes . . .”
            “Love isn’t what your mother Carol made you tell her. That was bullshit garbage; words. They had nothing to do with real love. Love is what you feel for Timmy and especially your Dad. He’s going to need it ten-fold now, after what he learned tonight. Love is what you’ll feel for this baby sister struggling in my belly. Love is what you feel for me.”
            “No! I don’t want to say it!”
            “Admit it!” I said sternly.
            “Maybe . . .” she said over her sobs.
            “No maybe! You’ll love me regardless of what I do or don’t do! You’ve loved me from almost the beginning. Say it the real way, not like that sick and evil bitch of a woman made you say it. I deserve to hear the words!”
            “I. . .guess I do . . .”
            “Say it!”
            “I. . .love you, Sarah.”
            “I’m not just Sarah . . .”
            I pulled her tightly against me and we both cried, for a long, long time.
            “I don’t want you to be like my mother was, or even like Grandma. I just want you to be  . . . Sarah . . .  my Mom.”
            “I am, Honey. I always will be.”
            “I love you, whatever you do, but you’re not going to spank me, are you?”
            “I deserved it, Sarah. I really did.”

            I reached in my pocket, and handed her a copy of Dr. Graham’s note. She turned on the light, read it. She turned to me with a look of amazement brushing away the tears.
            “It says he gave my mother placebos,” she said. “I know what those are. Does that mean her pills wouldn’t have worked anyway?”
            I could have told Karen the whole truth, that the doctor tried the placebos unsuccessfully, probably months earlier. After all, hadn’t I preached it was a lie to mislead? Hadn’t I promised not to lie to my daughter? But she’d suffered enough to deserve relief from the guilt of thinking she contributed to her mother’s suicide. I let the note tell its own misleading story.
            “You decide. The doctor says that’s what he gave your mother.”
            I could sense her mind working it out. “I still did wrong.  .  .”
            “And you were punished.”
            “You told Daddy what I did.”
            “Not that part. He wouldn’t have understood if he didn’t believe how evil your mother was.”
            “You’re going to tell him now, aren’t you?”
            “No. That will stay between the two of us.”
            “Your father is hurting far too much right now. I don’t think he needs more on his mind. We have to help him to get over this. Let’s keep the switching of the pills between us.” I rose and handed her the gold hairbrush.
            “Do you want me to put it back?”
            “No. Walk down to the beach. Toss the damn thing as far as you can.”
            I could see her smile in the dark. “I’ll do it barefoot for penance for not saying I love you for so long.”
            “That’s my punishment; for my treatment of my mother; being denied hearing you say I love you.”
             She smiled and looked down at the hairbrush. “It’s gold. Maybe we should find a nice charity and donate it instead of tossing it away.” I had to smile. There was a time when Karen wouldn’t have considered so pecuniary a detail. I followed her upstairs to be with my husband.

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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