Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 3 All My Daughters Part 2

That Saturday morning while Lonnie attended to chores around the house Loni Faye practiced her piano and tried not to ask him when, when, when could they could go to the park as he had promised her last night?

At last, right after lunch, they were on their way. Loni Faye got to fish in the pond right along with her father and even caught two or three fish although none as big as the ones her father caught. Other people joined them because even though it was quite a large pond, almost a small lake, their spot was one of the favorites. Under a willow tree for shade and believed to be where the “big ones” gather, every serious fisherman headed there.

Loni Faye discovered the swings and Lonnie, never one to let her wander about a public place alone, sauntered over to push her yet higher on the swing.

They moved from there over to the chess tables and Lonnie taught his daughter the rudiments of the game. They played until after nightfall and then headed home. It had been a wonderful day for both father and daughter.

Sunday Lonnie began the portrait of Loni Faye he had promised her earlier in the week,

“Your mother could probably create a better one; but she’s so busy with Liara, I thought you might give me a chance to try--maybe this weekend.”

Lonnie had barely started the portrait when Loni Faye began to sniffle and then cry uncontrollably. It was pitiful.

“What’s wrong, honey?” Lonnie asked, but still continued to paint.

Suddenly Loni Faye stopped crying, wiped her eyes and started to giggle,

“I was just teasing!”

 Lonnie put down his paints and brush and looked at her.

“It’s one thing to pretend you are a queen, or that you are piloting a plane, but to pretend you are crying or in pain, that’s ‘crying wolf’,” he admonished.

Loni Faye looked crestfallen, and then curious,

“What’s ‘crying wolf’, Dad?”

So he paused to tell her the story of the little boy who cried wolf.

She instantly understood and hugged her father at the end of the cautionary tale. Then she went off to play on her mother’s putting green. Lonnie shrugged; the portrait would have to wait for another day...

As day turned to dusk Lonnie decided to make a simple supper of grilled cheese sandwiches. He was much surprised when he burned them. He, the master chef, had burned grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a sad day.   

The next day while Loni stayed with Liara, Jenny went to Goth’s apparel to buy a few little things for the girls. While there, resting from the walk to the store, she noticed a lovely blonde woman who gazed at Jenny as if fascinated. Jenny did not know her, but when their eyes caught it struck her as a weird moment.  Had she met the woman once and forgotten it? Just then a tall brunette lady by the clothing racks called to this woman by name,

“Meadow Ottomas, what are you doing here, girl? Come on over--there’s someone I want you to meet.”

The blond walked over to her apparent friend and they started to converse. The name Meadow was not familiar to Jenny at all. Why had this woman been looking at her with such a strange expression on her face?

Well, no matter, she had shopping to do. She chose a few rompers for Liara and a new dress for Loni Faye, then, on her way out, she ran smack into her daughter, Chelsea.  She had not seen her since she was 16. Now she was a woman and married. Jenny thought Chelsea was more beautiful than ever. At first, she would not look directly at her mother. Then Jenny spoke,

“Please, Chelsea, I know you resent me deeply, but can’t we just sit down and talk? You can tell me off properly and maybe we can clear the air.”

Chelsea continued to look off but she did not make a move to leave.

“Please, honey?” Jenny asked again.

Chelsea returned her gaze finally and then nodded assent. They moved to one of the outside tables set up for visiting.

After some awkward first sentences, Jenny coaxed Chelsea to get her feelings off her chest.

“Why, Mama? I just want to know why you went so crazy and cheated on Daddy?” 

Chelsea asked plaintively.

Jenny sighed.

“It’s a long story. When your Daddy and I married we were only 16—our parents had to sign for us so we could marry in South Carolina. It was unusual but not unheard of down south. I was pregnant with Michael, we had to live with Larry Max’s parents and we had to grow up together from there. We both wanted children so after we found an apartment of our own we had you, Chelsea. Then we could finally afford a very small home where we had Courtney and Andy. 

I stayed home to raise all of you—that was what I wanted to do. I had learned to cook and later learned to sew clothes for you. There was never enough money. I loved Larry Max very much. To this day I still love him; but it’s no longer a married kind of love. When we moved here it all changed. I felt so restless; your father was going to culinary school and working part time. He was never home and when he was he was consumed with the garden and his guitar. I didn’t know what was wrong with me but suddenly I wanted a new life. I wanted the time back I lost when I married so young, I guess. I know now how selfish that was. If I hadn’t run around town all the time I never would have met Lonnie. “

Chelsea was listening with an obdurate look on her face. But she continued to sit there—she had not made a move to go.

Jenny went on with her story,

“Once your father rightfully kicked me out I knew grief, regret and sorrow, even anger. I realized I could never have back what I’d thrown away so carelessly. I missed all of my children, I missed Larry Max. I’d never been on my own before. I had dreams where I went to the house and kicked over the garbage can and stared up at the house that I could never live in again; never call home again.”

“Those weren’t dreams, Mama,” Chelsea cut in.

“What do you mean?”

“You really did come and kick over the trash can, the man across the street took photos; Daddy knew it was you.”

“That’s not possible!” Jenny breathed.

“It’s true, believe me. But in the photos you looked weird—like you were in a fugue state. I guess you remember the things you did only as dreams.”

Jenny was appalled. Not only had she done these things but she’d repressed them. Perhaps a visit with a psychiatrist was in order?

But she pushed these questions aside and went on with the narrative,

“I know now that one of the reasons I wanted to have Loni Faye and Liara was that I missed my children so much—missed being a mother. Admittedly, I also wanted part of Lonnie with me; I doubted he would be committed to me.”

“You wanted to get pregnant?” Chelsea said in surprise then recovered by saying sarcastically, “When I heard about it I thought you were just being careless.”

“I know you don’t want to hear this, but I fell in love with Lonnie before I left the house, at that time I thought if I was free he would marry me.”

Chelsea looked down a moment then met her mother's eyes,

“Daddy is such a wonderful man, how could you fall in love with someone else?”

“It’s hard to explain, Chels, but it can happen. I was wrong to cheat on your father; I know that. I have no excuse—I can never make up for what I did.”

“He still loves you, you know,” Chelsea said defiantly, “Though I don’t know why.”

“I wish he would move on, meet women,” Jenny admitted, “I don’t want to hurt him further. But we married so young and had four children together. We know each other to the bone. For those reasons he will never be out of my life and I think it’s the same for him—we share too much history. As I said, I will always love your father and it would serve me right if life turned around and Lonnie cheated on me. I hope he won’t, especially because of our daughters. But it would be justice served, I realize. And he once was quite a player; maybe that never changes for long.”

“How old are your girls,” Chelsea asked tentatively.

“Loni Faye is in grade school and Liara has just learned to walk and talk,” Jenny smiled, “Would you like to see pictures?”

“I’m not sure I’m ready for that,” Chelsea backed off, “Do they look like...him...or you?”

“I think they’re a combination, but a little more like him,” Jenny paused, “Would you come over if I invited you and Trey? Or you could come alone and meet your half-sisters?”

Chelsea hesitated, “Maybe eventually, but I don’t want to see...him.”

Jenny nodded,

“Well, that could be arranged but I don’t know your schedule and Lonnie works afternoons. He might come in during your visit unless we make it early morning. But if he did, at least then you could see he’s not an ogre,” she smiled as she made the last observation.

Chelsea stiffened, “I guess I don’t blame him for what happened—I blame you.”

“Don’t freeze me, honey. I know I’m to blame. But to be fair, Lonnie didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. Yes, he saw me even though he knew I was married. He very much regrets the way the marriage ended, though. He was sad and ashamed.”

Chelsea shrugged as if disinterested, 

“Well, it’s history now,” then she softened a little, “Let me think it over, Mama. Give me a little time.”

She stood up to go and Jenny rose to her feet as well. She hugged Chelsea who returned her embrace warmly. Jenny was happy and grateful for this. Kissing her oldest daughter’s cheek, she went down the steps and started home. The tears were streaming down her face now so she didn't look back. Chelsea remained by the table and watched her mother walk back to her new life with her new family.


Sim Girl said...

burned grilled cheese ! NOOO! lol That was cute, the 'cried wolf' thing.
Awww Nice talk. Course it does sound like a phsyc consult is needed for Jenny! hehehe

Lorelei said...

Yeah, I thought that was funny about the burned grilled cheese. Yeah, sometimes I don't know what to make of Jenny myself!