Summertime for Kelly O'Meara - 9

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Somewhere in a hidden memory
Images float before my eyes
Of fragrant nights of straw and of bonfires
Dancing till the next sunrise



Previously…

“And for you?” Glynnis kissed Kelly on the lips; trying very hard to be gentle. Perhaps a bit more sisterly than she would like but just sisterly enough to be what Kelly needed in that moment. Times would come where love was more than just acceptance, but Kelly needed Glynnis – period.

And of course the only one who was not crying at that moment was Maggie; adrift in a peaceful sleep. Happy tears fell onto her face from both girls however so she did participate in a way. And soon Maggie was joined in blissful rest by her sister and the second best friend she would ever have….


Elsewhere

I can see the lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night

“I’m so sorry,” Pauli sat at the kitchen table, his breakfast untouched. Helen nodded, but spoke.

“It’s not enough just to be sorry. You know what you need to do and it’s not time. She needs time, and your apologies will sound like you’re only sorry because you’re in trouble.”

“But,” he put his head down. She spoke again, the terse replaced with understanding.

“I know. We talked about this with your counselor. It doesn’t matter why you did what you did. She might forgive you, but that’s not what this is about. You have to do what you need to do for everybody’s sake, and includes you, honey.” She wanted to balance her parenting, but he needed his Mom just as much as he needed to be accountable.

“I’ll try to reach out to her parents. Her Mom has always been nice to me, and I really believe she’ll understand. They would find that Nancy would indeed understand and even forgive, but Nancy wasn’t going to be the key to reconciliation…or rather the keys to healing.


The next morning….

Maggie had left early for therapy, leaving Kelly and Glynnis alone for what Kelly had once described as ‘in perilous temptation.’ As poetic and out of place that might sound for a sixteen year old girl, most girls weren’t afraid of their own bodies.

“I….” Kelly shook her head and sighed.

“You still worried?” Glynnis rubbed Kelly’s arms, causing her to wince slightly. She pushed past the embarrassment and let Glynnis continue.

“The meds help… you know? Like getting in the way? I guess that’s why they’re called blockers? I just don’t want to ever feel that way again. It’s not who I am.” She was apologetic to the point of tears.

“I…. Mommy talked to me while you were still sleeping,” Glynnis said with a shrug.

“What?”

“Nothing bad…. Yet? Pauli’s mom called last night, she wants to know if we can get together.”

“I hope she said no,” Kelly snapped.

“Well, she said she’d leave it up to me.”

“After what he did?”

“That’s the thing, Kel. I want to get this behind me. But…”

“But what?” Kelly retreated a bit and spoke.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that he hurt you and…”

“I know, you couldn’t but that’s nobody’s job. You are everything to me. I just am….” Instead of a sharp question, Kelly leaned closer to Glynnis and nodded,

“When it happened…” Glynnis paused and Kelly was tempted to remind her that it didn’t just happen.

“When Mr., Okifor pulled him away, Pauli looked sad. Not angry. Not surprised. Just sad. Like something else was going on.” She looked away, as if by not understanding immediately that she somehow had been deceptive, when it was someone else’s intent to blur and hide.

“He barely touched me, and I was hurt, but way more pissed off that he tried that.” She paused again and almost glared a warning to Kelly to keep quiet. Kelly caught her meaning and continued to nod.

“He touched me but pulled his hand away quickly and I swear to God, and you can’t tell anybody….yet. He looked like he was crying.

“Well, he got caught, right?” Kelly shook her head and shrugged at the description, but Glynnis returned the gesture with the same gesture but with a frown.

“Mr. Okifor was just coming around the corner. Pauli was crying even before he was caught. I think…”

“You think somebody….He’s always given you a hard time.”

“In front of a crowd. I don’t think he wanted to do what he did.”

“You think someone made him? That’s stupid.” Keely’s face grew red.

“You’re not stupid…him doing it because one of his jerk friends is stupid.”

“I… I don’t think his friends … Someone else….”

“You think that’s what his mom wants to talk about?”

“The only thing his mom said besides wanting to get together is that Pauli said if he could take it back, he would.”

“Well, that’s just him wanting to get out of trouble.’

“He already is in two kinds of groups and is doing community service. I don’t trust him….yet.”

“Yer a better gael than I, Glynnie,” Kelly quipped with an Irish accent. AS soon as she realized what she had said, she began to frown.

“Now don’t you start, Kelly O’Meara. Yer as faine a lass as ever was,” Glynnis returned with a fair approximation of a Gaelic tongue. Her smile turned to a half frown as she pulled Kelly close.

“You’re a girl. Period. And you’re mine… as ever was.”


The next day, Sparta Public Library…

The girl sat on the top step of the stone and brick pavers that led up to the entrance. An occasional ‘sorry,’ interspersed with a sidle up to the railing accompanied with a ‘thank you,’ or even, “Mommy look,” seemed to urge her forward. She stood up and walked into the library. Support didn’t just come for fixing what was wrong, and she was going to keep looking for help to do what was right…to be herself.


Sparta Classic Diner…

“I…” Karen hesitated, trying not to seem coy. Kevin reached across the table and grabbed her hand, anticipating an answer. It was an answer, but not the one he hoped for. But that was actually fine, since her answer wasn’t for the question he had just asked.

“I… I let my certification go when I…” She looked down at her body, the ageless undue shame still draped on her like an old shawl. She felt the weight of bad choices, even if those choices were almost unavoidable.

“When I lost the baby, I just stopped caring. I like it here….oh you know what I mean.” She looked around the restaurant, recalling her own job.

“I…I haven’t worked at anything but…” she hesitated once again, as if the small beginnings of their relationship already had demanded full disclosure. Kevin sighed. It wasn’t the answer he was looking for, but it was just as serious. He leaned a bit closer and smiled.

“It’s okay, Karen. You’re okay.” He kissed her left hand; the hand he had hoped would soon wear the ring he had carried every day for weeks.

“When you first started getting…close, I should have said something. You know about…” She looked down again and her eyes began to water. He squeezed her hand and smiled, his beginning tears mirroring her own. She was young enough that children would have been in any future had she not lost so much of herself.

“I want to say this very carefully. I want to be here carefully, Karen.” She started to pull back, but he gently touched her cheek, softly wiping the tears with his hand.

“I would have loved more children. But…” He looked away. One wrong phrase could hurt even if the pain could be quickly healed.

“What you lost is only important to me because of how much hurt and shame you were forced to bear. I won’t say I don’t care if you cannot…. No. I love you… every part of you, and your hurt is in my heart. Your shame is my challenge. I want to love you enough every moment that you live so that you no longer feel ashamed. I want to hold your hand and kiss away the sorrow. You mean almost everything to me.”

He paused; that fear of saying the wrong thing inserted itself. She looked at him and hoped she was understanding his meaning.

“My daughter is becoming herself, and she is becoming my world; more, I’m sad to say, than my son ever was. But that’s foolish. She was always there and never important enough. But she’s still only part of my world, as important as she is.”

“I… I wanted…I want to be so much more for you and…”

“And her? You’ve been like a mother to her for so long. You’ve been exactly who she needed.” He paused, still searching for words.

“You’re exactly who I need. You’re the one I love, Karen. You can’t be more than you already have been and will for me…for us, okay? I love you.” He stood up and sat down in the chair next to her and pulled her close. He kissed her, and in that moment, save for the formalities and a paper or two to sign, Karen and Kevin pretty much became man and wife. And Kelly O’Meara had a new mom, all with blessings from above.

“Excuse me?” Their waitress stood off a bit, her hand moving to her face as she covered her mouth. Her gesture seemed appropriate as did her tears. Even at 2:13pm, the diner did have a few left-over lunch patrons, and all of them stared with wonder at what Kevin had hoped would not be so public. But it was fitting that Karen witnessed the wonder in all of their eyes, as if their gentle agreement helped her finally to feel whole and unashamed.

And of course the blessed moment called for and delivered one more thing as Karen fell into his arms and sobbed; happy and relieved, but still harder than any other time in her life.


Dusk….

She sat on her sister’s bed, staring at the girl who in turn stared at her image in the mirror hanging on the closet door.

“You going dressed like that?” An odd question almost, since the girl was wearing boot-cut jeans over Navy Sketchers with a Navy shell. But even that nearly non-descript outfit was out of the ordinary for her.

“Maeve says I gotta be honest with myself…” Her voice trailed off. Her sister stepped into the bedroom and walked to the futon in the corner, sitting down.

“Well you look nice. You deserve….”

“I hate myself. I should be dead.” Her sister shook her head furiously and grabbed her by the shoulders.

“I felt the same way. But this isn’t your fault.”

“What I did? It was bad enough that I grabbed her. What if I did….”

“But he told you about Mommy... He was going to…’

“He still is out there. When he…. I should have just killed myself…” She was all cried out and they had to be somewhere. She stood up and helped her sister to her feet.

“A new start?” Her sister smiled, eyeing her up and down.

“A….a new start,” she said.


Meanwhile

Glynnis and Kelly walked hand in hand up the hill on 181 toward the shopping center. Dunkin Donuts and maybe even get their nails done. Just as they reached the Mobil Station a car veered a bit, almost hitting them as it passed…


Sparta United Methodist Church, shortly thereafter…

Maggie sat to the right only a bit back. She had every intention to listen, but the first boy seemed to drone on, and she tuned out. A few minutes later she noticed she had forgotten her watch so she began to look around for a wall clock. As she scanned the room, her eyes locked gazes with the girl just finishing up. The girl extended her hand to another girl in the front row. Both girls looked vaguely familiar; likely sisters. The older of the two remained up front, holding the other girl’s hand.

“Hi….” She paused and the girl next to her said something, using her hand to gesture in display at the people.

“Hi….” She hesitated again. Before she had resumed, Maggie’s eyes widened in recognition. She mouthed in silence exactly what the girl finally spoke aloud.

“Hi…I’m Pauli, and I’m…an alcoholic.”

Somewhere in a hidden memory
Images float before my eyes
Of fragrant nights of straw and of bonfires
Dancing till the next sunrise

To be continued


All Souls Night
Words and Music by the performer
Loreena McKennitt
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RooTTuLCfNM



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This story is 2208 words long.