General Fiction posted August 7, 2014 Chapters:  ...91 92 -93- 94 

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Sarah reads Timmy a story and Karen and Sarah talk.

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

The Train Ride

by Fridayauthor

With past ghosts buried, the North family has only the future ahead. It's a future that is due to include a new member,if one last peril can be overcome.
            In the days that followed, our life slipped back to our comfortable routine, pleasantly hectic and filled with love. The gold comb and hair brush set was donated to an auction for the benefit of abused children. By the tone of the glowing thank-you note, it brought a pretty penny. All talk of punishment died as we agreed with Dr. Mason that time served was more than adequate penance. After all, we’d put up with years of bad dreams and guilt that was far more painful than any other punishment we could devise.
            Karen performed splendidly as Betty Parris. Paul and I beamed with pride at every moan and scream. The drama teacher told us Karen was so good she scared her. I responded that Karen sometimes scares me as well. I winced when the high school boy playing Procter said his line; I’ll not stand whipping anymore.
            One evening after a tiring day I was in the love chair, once again reading with Timmy. This time, our book was the story of a train ride. Karen came by and sat at our feet.
            “The train has to go real slow,” Timmy said, looking up at me with an impish smile on his face.
            “Why?” I answered. “The train should go as fast or as slow as he wants to. Maybe he’d like to look at the pretty wild flowers along the track, or he’s in a hurry to meet another train.”
            Karen smiled. “Perhaps he’s dropped off a lot of baggage, so he’s free to go like the wind!”
            “No!” cried Timmy. “He has to creep along ‘cause, look. The track comes together! He’ll get squeezed and crash!” He laughed at his now-five year old joke.”
            “Nope,” answered Karen in mock seriousness. “He’s got a track separator. It’s right out in front of him, spreading the track before he gets to it, so he’s always safe.”
            Timmy loved it. “So he can go fast or slow, or any speed he wants.”
            “Or just enjoy the ride,” I added.
            Karen looked up at me. “Mom’s our track separator. We don’t have to worry about where the track comes together.”
            I liked that job, very much. “You know,” I said. “If you look over your shoulder, the track squeezes together behind you too.”
            Timmy pretended, wide-eyed. “So if we go too slowly it might catch up, and squish us?”
            Karen wasn’t to be out done. “Dad can be our rear-end track separator. He’ll always be behind us, watching our backs. We can go any speed we please.”
            Later, after Timmy was sleeping, Karen left her room to answer a phone call. I was dropping off clean laundry when I glanced at her still-running computer. There was a search page entitled senescence, a word I didn’t know. When I looked it up I found it referred to dying, of old age. Reaching the place where the track comes together.
            While Karen was absorbed with the upcoming birth of my child, she’d refrained from any mention of possible problems. I’d taken it as a sign she’d dismissed the unlikely possibility of complications. Now I knew the subject remained fixed on her mind. I felt it important to give the matter daylight. It was time for more love chair honesty.
            “I want to talk about a subject most people think is morbid,” I began after I’d snuggled Karen beside me.
            “Death,” she said without a preamble. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
            “That’s okay. I wouldn’t have discussed it at your age either. You’ve had too much of it in your life. First your mother died, then my mother, the teacher at school, your grandfather and even Mary Ellen’s unborn baby. That’s too much death to be exposed to at any age.”
            “I think about it, but I don’t want to talk about it.”
            “You don’t have to. Just listen. I’ve thought about it a lot lately, especially my mother’s death. Right now, I’m climbing a long upgrade, at least closer to where the tracks come together, with this baby struggling inside me.”
            “Don’t say that!”
            “I don’t want to scare you, but I want to be honest.”
            She wouldn’t look at me. “I guess you’re frightened.”
            “Nope. It’s funny; I always thought I would be, but I’m not. I’d be god-awful disappointed to miss the ride but I’m not scared. I’d feel terrible that my death made the people I left behind sad. I don’t think it’s going to happen but I won’t lie to you and say it isn’t on my mind. It’s on your mind too. I know.”
            “What do you think happens . . . after?”
            “Great thinkers have pondered that question since the beginning of time. We each have to determine the answer in our own hearts, in our own way. I think it’s incredibly peaceful, and you remain aware of everything that’s going on back here. It’s the most beautiful place you can imagine.”
            “Like when you and I fantasied together?”
            “Maybe that was a tiny bit of it.”
            “Do you pray?” Karen asked me. “Really pray; not just say the words you’re supposed to say.”
            “Do you pray you won’t die?”
            “No. I pray for God’s will, and that my baby will be as beautiful as you.”
            “I told you one time I didn’t ask God for favors. I just thanked Him. Lately I’ve been . . . begging.”
            I squeezed her tightly. “I know, Hon. You haven’t wasted His time asking for everyday things in the past. Let’s hope you’ve built up a big credit.”
            She hugged me. “I’ll be your track separator,” she said.
            I had a baby to birth. In the following weeks I underwent numerous tests, minded my doctor’s advice, and became a true lady in waiting. My forced inactivity was burdensome but I steadfastly adhered to the rules. Karen’s diary, or the current volume of many, was often in evidence, and she and I utilized the love chair frequently.
            We were a close and loving family as my due date drew nearer.

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