“I loved you when you were Kevin….every single day. Maybe that’s stupid. Mommy says it’s what they call puppy love. But Mommy says that what we have is like what her mom and dad had from middle school all the way into their eighties. You matter to ME. If that’s all we have…yeah…WE have? I’m not going anywhere, and you are a girl. And WE will get through this, okay?”
Kelly wanted to shake her head no once more, but between being tired from the struggle and the strength Glynnis had just imparted, all she could do was hug Glynnis and sob.
Sparta High School Guidance Department, late afternoon…
Cam and Nancy sat next to Glynnis across from Samson Okifor. Maggie sat off to the side, holding Kelly’s hand.
“I’m going to step out for a few minutes. Glynnis has something she needs to discuss with you.” He got up and left the office, closing the door behind him. Cam looked at Nancy. She nodded but Glynnis remained quiet; more of feeling unduly ashamed than anything else.
“What did he do?” Cam hadn’t meant to be accusing, but his tone conveyed just that. Glynnis turned around and shrugged her shoulders and she forced a half-smile at Kelly. No words were needed; Kelly understood there was more that needed to be said. Her smile and nod helped Glynnis, but she still hesitated
“They told your mother that this kid kissed you?” Another sharp question that was followed by a near painful squeeze of his wrist and a glare from Nancy. He softened and leaned just a bit closer to Glynnis; his eyes almost welcoming. Glynnis put her hand to her face as she bit her lip, uttering not sound but slowly lowering her gaze downward Cam’s eyes widened in angry recognition, but his he raised his fist to bite down as tears came to his eyes.
“He…Grabbed me Daddy,’ was all she could manage before she fell into Nancy’s embrace in sobs. Kelly turned to Maggie and shook her head as her tears duplicated the crying in front of her. Maggie’s eyes flashed anger before she softened enough to grab Kelly’s wrist; rubbing it in a sister-to-sister gesture.
“It…it was…” Glynnis stammered. Nancy rubbed her back and looked at Cam. It might have been an angry time, but it was not a time for anger. Cam nodded and reached over, joining Nancy in rubbing his daughter’s back. Never at any moment in time had he felt so protective. But equally, he had never felt so helpless and ashamed at his neglect for his family. Of course things were better, but recovery doesn’t end merely with acknowledgment or even hard work, but rather with changes of the heart.
“I’m so sorry,” Cam said, but as bad as he felt about his neglect, his sadness was for the humiliation and hurt his daughter felt. He kept his composure; not because he was a man, but because he was a father whose daughter needed him…and Nancy to be strong. He sighed and looked away.
“It’s….” Nancy began to speak but paused. Looking back at Maggie and Kelly, who had joined the chorus of crying.
“We love you.” All that was needed for the moment.
A knock came at the door. A moment later Mr. Okifor sat across from the family again.
“We…” He searched for words, hoping to bring some sort of resolution for the moment.
“Glynnis… two girls were in the hall and saw what the boy did. We contacted the police, and he went with them to wait for his parents. Your daughter…” He paused again, hoping the family was understand.
“He won’t be coming back the next two days. We have recommended pre-trial intervention…”
“What?” Cam’s voice was not loud, but his tone conveyed his anger. Glynnis looked up at him and shook her head.
“I can’t do this, Daddy. Please?” She put her face against Nancy’s shoulder and sobbed again. Mr. Okifor waited a moment and spoke, softly but firmly.
“He will be doing community service, at the very least for the summer. And he will serve in-school suspension for an indefinite time when school is back in the fall. Expulsion remains an option...” Cam frowned.
“Suspension?” He went to continue but Nancy reached across and put her hand to his face. He turned to see her tears, accompanied by a slight frown and a head shake.
“I’m sorry,” he said and sighed. His feelings of inadequacy had to take a back seat to his need to support his daughter; it wasn’t about his needs but hers.
“The boy’s parents are completely behind any discipline the school and the court sees fit. If he shows no remorse, the court will reconsider. But for now, it’s important to…”
“To see that Glynnis is okay and that her… that whatever she needs…” He turned to Glynnis again and frowned. His tears were enough to let Glynnis know he was trying for her sake.
“Let’s go home, Cam?” Nancy said even as she arose; helping Glynnis to her feet. As they stepped back, Glynnis turned to face Kelly.
“Love you!” Kelly mouthed silently. It wasn’t alright at the moment, but Maggie noticed the mile that began to peek past the hurt on her sister’s face, and she knew that things would soon be okay.
At the Davison home, early evening…
The family sat at the dining room table, formality aside since the kitchen table was covered with various and sundry sewing patterns and cloth left abandoned when Nancy had gotten the call from the school. Several quart carry-out containers and boxes lay on the table as Maggie and Nancy were setting out paper plates. Cam sat down between Glynnis and Kelly. Uncharacteristically, he grabbed their hands and squeezed, offering a quick silent prayer for wisdom.
“Mommy? “ Glynnis said haltingly before leaning against her father’s arm as she sobbed; her defenses lowered owing to Kelly’s care and a new-found trust in her father’s love. He kissed her on the top of the head before turning to face Nancy. She let out a brief sob of her own and used the paper plate in her hand to point to his other side. Kelly had been looking down at herself shaking in sad recrimination. Cam squeezed her hand, evoking a confused wince, made all the more confusing and sadly guilt-ridden by Cam’s first few words.
“Glynnie told me that you think that what that kid did…” Cam paused still angry that his daughter had been hurt. Kelly misread his expression and turned red with shame. Cam noticed and immediately shook his head slightly while squeezing her hand once again; gently and lingering before he released it and patted her arm softly.
“I’m so sorry, you two,” he said haltingly even as his eyes began to well with tears.
“It wasn’t your fault, Kelly, but it was because of you in a way.” She winced once again and he quickly added,
“No, Kelly, let me finish?” A soft request. She nodded cautiously.
“That kid…. He didn’t think of anybody but himself. Not Glynnis. Not us…” He leaned closer and duplicated his gesture to Glynnis by kissing Kelly on the top of the head, something no one had done since her mother died. She gasped as he continued to hold her hand.
“And he didn’t care about you.” He sighed as the remains of his own guilt still holding on,
“When…When I was so bad to everyone…but especially…” He turned and looked into Glynnis’ eyes and half-smiled.” Nancy stepped close to Glynnis but kept quiet as Cam shook his head at himself.
“Glynnie had no one…No one to turn to but you…”
“But Mr. D? Not me…”
Nancy knelt next to Kelly and grabbed both of her hands. She looked up at Cam and smiled through her tears. Recovery can only be effective if you take care of yourself first, but the Davisons were how moving beyond only their own needs. Nancy went to speak but the words were stuck behind her own sobs.
“You have been the best friend…for Glynnie…” Maggie spoke up; her voice clear even as her tears fell.
“For me. Pauli…he never…. You and Glynnie? Like Dada and Nana….” Maggie’s words brought to mind what Glynnis had told Kelly that afternoon. Maggie might have been a teen, but she giggled almost child-like at the thought. Kelly shook her head; that feeling that she would never be happy still grabbing at her. Glynnis had just looked up and spoke, still haltingly, but with an accompanying smile.
“You and me, Kel…” She looked at her father, her eyes pleading. He smiled and nodded; his expression mirrored on Nancy’s and Maggie’s faces. No matter what life would bring to the Davisons going forward, it would always include Kelly O’Meara, especially for Glynnis Davison.
Casa Mia Pizzeria Pastaria, shortly thereafter….
Kevin O’Meara walked in and up to the counter. Karen waved at him, gingerly’
“Have you seen my….Have you seen Kelly?”
“You can go ahead and say it, Kevin. Your daughter,” she said, her smile belying her near anger at him.
“I….she hasn’t picked up…..” His face seemed to indicate his own anger, but he quickly relented.
“Have you heard from her?”
“Her cell could be off in the confusion after school. She and Glynnis Davison were waiting inside for the bus when some kid tried to kiss her.
“A kid tried to kiss Kelly?” Kevin’s eyes did flash anger, even if it was somewhat misdirected.
“NO….” Karen practically shouted.
“No… the kid accosted Glynnie. Kelly was still at the school from what your niece Moira said when she and Gina dropped by. Maybe she’s at the Davisons?” Karen wanted to shout at him.
“If you paid attention, you’d have known where she might be,” she thought.
“I’ve got their number here,” Karen said pointing to the phone on the shelf behind the register. She handed the phone to him after bringing up the number.
After a few moments, he handed the phone back to Karen.
“I’m going over there to pick up Kelly…” He paused, recall what Karen had said earlier.
“I’m going to pick up my...my daughter.”
“Kevin? That’s good. But just remember to tell her…remember to let her know what you just told me?”
I don’t follow you.” His expression showed that he wanted to understand.
“You don’t have to understand, Kevin. You know? You just have to let her know that she is your daughter. Maybe you can see it this way? A girl needs to be affirmed by her Da,” she used the Irish endearment to punctuate the importance.
“Moms nurture and affirm. Daddies affirm and nurture, leastwise how I understand it? You need to let her know that you believe in her, no matter what you want to think or believe. Kevin nodded his head slowly. He wasn’t slow by any stretch of the imagination. He was just impeded by old ideas and misconceptions.
“Are we still on for Saturday?” He changed the subject; not out of a need to be evasive, but in a sincere effort to show his interest. She reached across the counter and patted his wrist.
“Pick me up here at six?” She smiled and he smiled back. It was entirely appropriate if a bit awkward considering their conversation, but he lowered his head, embarrassed.
“It’s okay, Kevin. Now go see your daughter?”
“Oh…okay,” he remarked before turning to walk out.
“And Kevin?” He turned to face her and she smiled.
“I really like roses.”
At the Davisons, soon after…
Maggie jumped up from the table and walked to the door at the sound of knocking.
“Oh…Hi, Mr. O’Meara.” She turned and called out.
“Kelly? Your Dad is here to pick you up!”
“If it’s all the same, can I come in?” Kevin spoke in an almost whisper. Maggie nodded.
Mom? Dad? Mr. O’Meara is here.” She called out again as she ushered him down the short hallway to the dining room. Cam stood up and shook Kevin’s hand. Nancy smiled and spoke.
“You’re welcome to stay for dinner. We stopped by Asian Island. There’s plenty.” She pointed to an empty chair by Kelly. He went to speak but Kelly stood up and ran to him. Whatever brave reserve she had that afternoon vanished in a moment as she put her head against his chest and cried softly. She hadn’t meant to be emotional, especially in light of what the boy did to Glynnis, but his actions hurt her as well. Glynnis patted the chair and Kevin looked back and forth between Cam and Nancy.
“If it’s okay,” he began, pausing long enough to duplicate the gesture Cam had bestowed only a short while before as he kissed the top of her head… just like Heather O’Meara had done not so long ago. She looked up at him and gasped, perhaps regaining a bit of strength.
“If it’s okay with…my daughter,” he managed to say before Kelly rested her head against his chest again and sobbed. Maggie grabbed her sister’s wrist and pointed, but Glynnis was too busy crying relieved tears to see. Kelly paused long enough to walk Kevin to the table before sitting down. Kevin smiled at Nancy and nodded,
“I guess that means we’re staying….”
To be continued...
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