Accountability Part 2 – Chapter 3

I’m sorry I am a little bit late posting the next installment of the series, but I was out of town over the weekend, and was not near a place where I could post the next chapter. Look for my thoughts on Busan which should be coming out later this week. Until then, continue to enjoy Accountability.

3

I was living in a bizarre conundrum and it was starting to sink me into a deep depression I didn’t know if I would ever be able to crawl out of. I wanted to get back to my children and raise them the way I knew how to do, but in order to do that I had to compromise everything I believed in and accept a system I knew was loaded against me. It was a system never tested. It was a system made up on the principles of someone who had never gone through the things I had gone through with my children. It was based upon the lunacy of some agenda driven individual who believed what she created was the right thing. It wasn’t. I knew what was best for my children and this puffed-up, over-bloated, know-nothing, money-grubbing politician had no clue. I had only one hope left in this world and that was for Robert to show up, overturn the ruling of the courts, and take me back home so I could take care of Lindsey and Zach again. He must have been worried out of his mind without me around to take care of them.

There was no way Robert would take me not being there to raise the children for much longer. He would pack up the Zach and Lindsey in the car, leaving Palin behind to her own devices, and travel down to La Junta, Colorado. He would demand to know where the Capital Limited Re-education Center was. He would drive up to the front of the building and pull Zach and Lindsey out of the car. Lindsey’s hair would be sticking up in different directions and Zach’s clothes wouldn’t have been washed for days. Robert would even look haggard because of the lost nights of sleep and the fact he wasn’t able to cope with the love of his life, the mother of his children, being locked away in some prison out in the middle of the Great American Desert.

He would stand at the gate, displaying the children he brought with him. He would get the attention of the guards. He would shout at them, “I am Robert Young. This is Lindsey and Zach. These children need their mother.”

That was my lullaby. It rocked me to sleep every night.

Even while I clung to this belief I had let myself go. I never put on make-up. I quit showering. A couple of time, I didn’t even bother to get out of bed when I had to relieve myself.

Karen always encouraged me to put on the dress, but I ignored her completely. I thought about kicking it over once, and stomping on it. I even thought about rubbing my feces all over the expensive fabric, but I knew they would just replace it with another. I thought it would be better to pretend I was ignoring it. My inactivity would drive the good doctor crazy.

In fact, I was the only hold-out in class not to don the standard uniform. I wore my hospital gown as a badge of pride. It started to get pretty raunchy too. The cotton was getting sticky from places where I had dropped food on it, and my body odor was starting to permeate the material. Karen even brought me a new gown one day and asked if I would at least switch hospital gowns. Sandy inched her desk as far away from me as she could so she didn’t have to deal with the smell.

I was polite about it at least. I told Karen thank you when she brought me the new garment and said I would be happy to use the hospital gown. I used it to wipe my butt the next time I defecated and tried to flush it down the toilet afterward. That got me a visit from Steven, who tried to push into my brain the fact that I needed to start playing along with the program. He tried to accomplish this by shouting in my face. I was polite about that too. I thanked him for the much needed spittle shower and then rolled over in bed.

I was a stone wall. Nobody at that prison was going to be able to get through to me. I wasn’t going to become a part of their machine. There was no way their idea of what made a perfect mother was as good as mine. They could never understand the connection I had with my children. Their methods of the best ways to raise my children would continue to fall on deaf ears. I believed any day my husband would come to rescue me.

I thought I had them beat but I wasn’t aware they held all of the cards. I held onto the belief I was disrupting their system until one fateful day.

It was the start of another night like any other. Karen had come in to bring me dinner. I ate the food and ignored her pleas for me to start complying with the program. After she tired of trying to convince me, she left me alone.

When I was alone in my room, the pressure of what they wanted me to do started to weigh on me. The pressure took on a physical form and called to me. It stood on its stand in the middle of the room, staring at me, asking me to put it on, and I knew if I looked at it, it would disgust me even more. I chose, instead, to stand on the corner of my bed closest to the wall leading to the outside. I did put on the high heels coming with the dress because it made it easier for me to stand on my tippy-toes and look out the small window letting in a little bit of light from the outside.

My window offered a view of a barren landscape. Tough, short trees grew in the rocky soil in front of the complex and every once in a while a tumbleweed rolled lazily by, dodging and escaping capture from the tree’s knotty limbs threatening to ensnare it. Dust blew across the only street visible. Every so often it swirled up into a dust devil only to be dissipated a few yards down the road. The sight was pretty depressing, but it was much better than the other view the room had to offer, that dress.

At least by looking outside, I kept my hopes up. I expected at any moment to see Robert’s green Suburban come driving down the highway and turn into the parking lot at any moment.

I heard a key being entered into the lock of my room. It was a new tactic they were trying and I was wondering how I would be able to deflect their attempts this time. I could hear high heels clack upon the floor as someone entered the room. The door shut behind my guest.

I heard noise that I had heard so many times while sitting in the classroom, listening to the lies spouting out of the instructor’s mouth, “Click.”

I could hear something being scribbled down on a clipboard before I heard that noise again, “Click.”

I didn’t turn around because I didn’t want to look at her, but I could tell by the number of taps her high heels made she was hovering somewhere around where the dress stood mockingly in the center of the room.

I believed my best hope was to not acknowledge her presence, so I kept my back to her. It was even more rewarding, knowing I hadn’t tied up the back of my hospital gown. My guest was getting the lovely view of a full moon.

“Good evening, Dr. Blur.”

“Good evening, Rachael. Are you enjoying the sunset?”

“It hasn’t started yet, but it is one of the things I do look forward to every night in this God forsaken place.”

That was the truth. The sunset always created a beautiful display of colors as it sank in the west. It reminded me of everything I left behind.

“It is such a shame you won’t put on the dress. It would help so much with your case and make things easier for you here at the Capital Limited Re-education Center.”

Her ploy didn’t work. I continued to look out the window hoping. She noticed she wasn’t making any progress as I heard the tap of her shoes move a couple of steps closer to where I stood on my bed.

“I’m glad to see you decided to wear the shoes. It is a step in the right direction at least.”

I couldn’t let her mistake give her the upper hand in the situation. “They help me look out the window. This way I don’t have to continue to stand on my tippy-toes.”

“Yes, I had noticed you were looking out the window a lot lately. What are you looking for?”

“I’m waiting for my husband to come and pick me up.”

“Husband?”

Her question really took me back, so I finally turned my attention away from the window. I looked down at her with one raised eyebrow and said, “Yes, my husband. You know the man who married me because he loves me. The father of my children. The one who is going to come here and rescue me from this hell hole. Robert Young.”

“Yes, I know Robert Young but you don’t have a husband.”

This strategy was really starting to anger me. “What do you mean I don’t have a husband? I have been married to Robert for seven years. We have two lovely children. He loves me.”

Dr. Blur looked down at her clipboard. Now that she had my attention, she didn’t need to give me the full extent of hers. She flipped through a couple of pages until she found the one that she was looking for. When she found it, she made reference to it, “You are correct with some of the things you are saying. You were married to a Robert Young for seven years, and you did have two children with him.”

She paused again. It was infuriating the way she would do this. “It is exactly what I just told you. What is the difference?”

She looked up at me. “Oh, there is one thing I left out.”

“And what would that be?”

She looked up from her clipboard and looked me in the eyes.

“That he loves you.”

Now she was crossing into territory that would get her hurt. It was almost as if she was trying to convince me to claw her eyes out. I breathed in deeply and stepped off the bed. I took a few steps to where she stood in the middle of the room next to the dress. I expected her to get scared because of the anger emitting from my every pore, but she just stood her ground and waited until we were face to face. Her expression didn’t change. She created no sound, and she allowed me to make the first move.

“What do you mean he doesn’t love me?”

She turned from me and took a couple of steps back towards the door. “I could be wrong about him loving you. I mean I haven’t asked him, but all of the evidence points to the fact he doesn’t love you.” She turned around again to face me.

I shook my head, truly confused this time. “What evidence are you talking about?”

“Well to start off with, Rachael, you are no longer Mrs. Young. We will go back to calling you by your maiden name, Miss Ervaring.”

I stood in the middle of the room puzzled while my brain tried to sort out what it was Dr. Blur was telling me. When it was obvious I wasn’t able to sort out the details for myself, she made things a little more clear.

“Robert Young, your ex-husband, filed for divorce the day after you were arrested. It took a little while for the papers to go through, you know the speed of bureaucracy can be a little cumbersome sometimes, but he was finally granted the divorce just yesterday.”

My head started to spin. I couldn’t believe Robert would do such a thing to me.

“Personally I’m surprised it took that long. It was obvious you were unfit to be a mother to his three children. Bribing is such an ugly thing. Children will never learn to grow up the way they are supposed to if we continue to motivate them through extrinsic means. They need to learn to become good people intrinsically. Any fool could tell you that, and though many judges are a little foolish from time to time, they usually come to see the light of the situation eventually. In fact, just yesterday, one came to his senses and granted Robert the divorce for different expectations about rearing children.”

I felt as if I was going to faint again. My hand reached out for something to steady myself and even though I avoided touching it from the first day I was brought to the Capital Limited Re-education Center, I used the dress and the dressmaker’s dummy to help me keep my composure during Dr. Blur’s onslaught. It didn’t prevent her from keeping on with it though.

She started to travel around the perimeter of the room. Her heels clacking across the floor helped keep rhythm with her prose. “Of course that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Just because you have differing opinions on how to raise a child, doesn’t mean love has been erased from the equation. But there is the other thing pointing to the fact he doesn’t love you.”

Tears were streaming out of my eyes by this time. I would have loved to wipe it all away in order to retain some of my dignity, but each clack of her heels, and each word she said further incapacitated me to do anything else.

By this time Dr. Blur had made it to my bed. “The fact that really points to him not loving you anymore is the application for a marriage license. It didn’t take very long. In fact, if you look at the time of both pieces of paper, it was as if he received his divorce papers in one room and then walked down the hallway to another office in order to apply for a marriage license. That was pretty quick. I mean he must have started dating this…” She flipped through the pages on her clipboard again.”…this Jessica Bell the day after you failed your assessment. It does make sense. He is a man after all. He does need someone to take care of his children, but if it was really about love I do think he would have taken a little bit longer to find somebody to replace you.”

She had rounded the room and had made it back to the door. I needed her to stop or I was going to lose consciousness and look weak in her eyes. The only thing I could think of doing was to yell at her, “It’s all lies!”

“Oh but Miss Ervaring, it is not a lie.”

The use of my voice gave me the strength I was looking for, so I continued to use it, “You’re a liar.”

She started to walk towards me. “I was afraid you wouldn’t accept the truth. You haven’t been able to do it since you’ve been here. I could show you all the paper work, but you will probably deny that as well. You’d make up some ridiculous claim they’re forgeries.” She had made it to where I stood next to the dress. She looked down at me. For the first time I saw what I thought to be pity somewhere deep within her eyes. “That’s why I’ve arranged something special for you, Miss Ervaring.”

She looked back towards the door, and shouted, “Steven, you can bring it in now.”

Steve entered through the door. He was carrying a bundle with him. He goose-stepped over to my bed and placed the bundle gently there. Afterwards, he turned around and goose-stepped his way out of the room. The door shut quietly behind him.

“I rarely do anything like this, Miss Ervaring, but I think you are a special case. You are worth saving. When you finally come to see the light, you will do something special in this world. And no matter how painful it may be, you need to be brought to see the light.” She took my chin and gently raised it up so we were looking eye to eye. “Go ahead. Look at what Steven brought in for you.”

I turned around and saw the bundle lying on the bed. I edged closer to it as Dr. Blur continued to talk. “We were pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to get you to wear your dress because of your resistance to it so far, but we thought it was important to show you what you needed to see. We knew we couldn’t show it to you while wearing that hospital gown, so that’s why we came up with this alternative.”

I pulled back some tissue paper to see what was in the bundle. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I saw definitely surprised me. There on the bed in front of me was a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I looked over my shoulder at Dr. Blur.

She let out a sigh and motioned at the clothes. “Go on, put them on. We don’t have a lot of time, and I believe it is important I show you what you need to see.”

I still didn’t trust her and this seemed just another trick to get me to do what it was she wanted me to do, but the allure of wearing something more substantial then the hospital gown was too much. I slid on the jeans. They felt so comfortable against my skin. It was like returning to a part of me forgotten for a very long time.

When I took off the hospital gown, I could feel the grime and muck I had collected over the last couple of weeks being pulled from my skin. The cotton of the t-shirt gave me the strength to stand up straight. It had been a long time since I had, and I could feel muscles I hadn’t used in a long time start to twinge. When I turned around to face Dr. Blur she smiled at me.

“Do you feel better?”

“Yes,” was all I could reply. I noticed my dirty hospital gown was in her hand already. I hadn’t noticed her snatching it from me. When I saw it, I wanted to grab it back as if it was my blankee, but I left it in her hand because I was more interested in seeing where they were going to take me.

“Good,” was Dr. Blur’s response. “Follow me.”

She took me out into the hallway. It was weird walking out in the hallway without all of the other women shuffling off to the classes. The only other person in the hallway was Steven. He left as soon as Dr. Blur handed him my old hospital gown. He disappeared quickly and we moved on down the hallway in the opposite direction of the classrooms. I had never been this way but I never gave it much thought before. The rest of the women came from this direction when we went to class, so I always assumed there were many more rooms just like the one I was confined to. I was sure each one contained the same bathroom, the same collection of make-up, the same collection of learning materials on a small side table, and the same ugly orange dress. It never occurred to me there were probably other rooms and hallways containing the other parts of this institution and I started to get excited and curious to see them.

We reached a larger door with a keypad next to it. Dr. Blur covered it from my view as she punched in a few numbers. The door opened and I found myself in the same hallway I had first seen when I arrived at the Capital Limited Re-education Center. This time it was quiet because the activity of the first day was missing. Now it was a half-lit hallway hinting at the ghosts who were left behind that fateful day. We walked down the hallway until we came to the front door. We went through the front door. In the diminishing daylight I could see a limousine sitting in the courtyard with the engine gently purring. The back door was opened and a chauffeur was standing next to it waiting for us to enter. Dr. Blur entered first and then she beckoned for me to follow her. I got in and my curiosity grew even more. She found a seat at the end of the limousine backing itself to where the chauffer drove the car, and I took the seat at the opposite end. Even though I was curious as to where she was taking me, I still did not trust her enough to sit next to her. I thought at any moment she would pull out a gun and shoot me through the heart. It would be the quickest way to get rid of the mistake wandering around the hallways of her Capital Limited Re-education Center.

The car started to roll and in the back of the car I couldn’t see outside to determine where it was it was taking us. From the feel of the way it was turning, I thought we were heading back to the life I left behind.

Dr. Blur went over to a bar in the limousine. She plunked three ice cubes into an intricately designed crystal glass. She pulled the stopper out of one of the bottles next to it. It contained a clear liquid and she poured a healthy portion of it into the glass. She took a quarter of a lime from another container and squeezed it into the glass before she handed it to me.

I looked at the glass in my hand with the chunk of squeezed fruit floating around in it and looked back up at Dr. Blur. “What is this?”

“Gin.”

“You’re giving me a glass of gin?”

“From our records, we ascertained this was your drink of choice. Granted you usually had it with tonic, but tonight you are going to need something a little stronger than a gin and tonic.”

“Why would I need something stronger?”

Dr. Blur considered this question for a moment. It was as if she was trying to formulate the best way to explain to me what was going on, but she was having a difficult time articulating it. After a moment, she put her clipboard down next to her and placed Mr. Clicky-Pen on top of it. She took off her glasses rubbed her eyes, and then put them back on. Her eyes got serious and bored down into me. “It all comes down to love.”

That was not what I was expecting to hear. I took a long drink from my glass.

She continued, “You see love is a strange thing. It demands somebody be taken advantage of. It demands someone get hurt. Of course, there are those purists out there who will tell you this just isn’t true. They spout out all that Romeo and Juliet crap and then go into great detail about how they have found their true love and how nobody can pull them apart and how nobody gets hurt in their relationship. But if you really dig down deep into their hearts, you will find a place where pain and happiness both get nurtured. You’ll find the person who tries to convince you of the existence of true love is in a lot of pain. Whereas the other one who doesn’t believe in this crap is in a state of joyful, uninterrupted  bliss.

“This goes for any relationship where love is involved whether it is the lust between two teenagers exploring their bodies for the first time, or a marriage going into its golden anniversary. It is especially true for the relationship created between a mother and her child. And it is this dynamic that creates the basis for the two philosophies of motherhood. Do you understand everything I have been telling you so far?”

I nodded my head as I took another sip of my drink. The bitter liquid trickled down my throat. It helped to numb my senses as I prepared to listen further. I put the glass in my lap with my hands gingerly cupping it to give Dr. Blur the okay to continue.

“I’m glad you understand Miss Ervaring. That dynamic is very important because it comes down to the hurt. Or in other words, who takes the brunt of the hurt. The major question between the philosophers of motherhood is: should it be the child who takes the hurt or should it be the mother? Now, my opinion on the matter is it should be the mother. Here you have this defenseless child who knows no better. They need to be protected from the pain the world dishes out. It is up to the mother to absorb this pain. They can do this by allowing the child to explore the world and when the child makes a mistake, the mother is there to swoop in and take all of the responsibility. By doing this, the child is able to nurture their creative side, learn about the world, make mistakes without any consequences, and become a healthy adult.”

She paused at this moment and I took another sip of my drink. I started to think about what she was explaining to me and it made some sense, but there was something in the back of my mind nagging me about her philosophy, I couldn’t quite figure out what it was, but I thought it was my responsibility to figure it out.

“Now, if you think about the other side of this, you come to the philosophy used by your parents. It was the philosophy which slowly destroyed the family unit in this country. It was the philosophy that inspired me to write the now famous report, A Family at Risk. It is usually affectionately referred to as tough love.”

I had heard of this term before. In fact, I had heard my parents use it as I was growing up.

“You see the philosophy of tough love puts the hurt on the child. According to practitioners of this philosophy, it is important the mother is the selfish one. She takes all of the joy of watching the child struggle through the difficult times in their life. According to this philosophy, the child makes mistakes, and the mother allows the child to make these mistakes. The child will then learn to never make these mistakes again. These philosophers believe this will make the child grow up into a healthy adult who will be able to take on any challenge presented to them.”

Her description reminded me of my childhood, and I started to wonder at this time in my life, if my parents owed me something more.

“Personally, I believe the tough love philosophy is a very selfish, lazy way of raising your children. It just throws the child out into the world and the mother wipes her hands free of any responsibility of raising their child. It asks the world to raise the child instead of the mother being held accountable for her role in the child’s development. I believe it is the mother who should take the hurt in the relationship and protect her child from ever experiencing this hurt. Because this is the way you were raised, it is the only way you will learn what you need to learn. So against my better judgment, tonight I am going to be a practitioner of tough love.”

I took another sip of my drink and pondered the situation Dr. Blur had just presented to me. I held the drink in my lap and looked over at Dr. Blur. “I guess that leaves me with one other question.”

“What, Miss Ervaring?”

“If what you said is true, no matter which philosophy you look at, love still exists within the mother’s heart. Wouldn’t they still feel the hurt as well as the child when the world inflicts its pain upon the child? If the mother was a good mother, wouldn’t they experience the same feelings their child feels? Wouldn’t they feel that pain as well when they are practitioners of tough love?”

“That was more than one question, Miss Ervaring.”

Dr. Blur turned away from me as if that was enough of an explanation for my question. I was afraid she was going to leave it right there without any more response, so I goaded her further, “Well, what do you think about it?”

Dr. Blur huffed, “I do not see that based upon my experiences.”

The rest of the car ride was spent in silence. It was a long car ride too. I slowly sipped on my drink as we made our way across the plains. I never felt the effects of the alcohol. I don’t know if it was because my adrenaline was running so high because of not knowing where I was going or if it was because my mind was racing with the words Dr. Blur had said to me when we started the car ride. Either way, by the time the limousine started to slow down and make more turns, my drink was finished and my head was still clear. Finally we stopped.

The chauffeur got out of the driver’s seat and opened the back door for us. I got out of the car to find myself standing at the back door to the Old Stone Church. My mind started to race, trying to figure out why we were here. Dr. Blur got out after me. Her clipboard was tucked back into its normal place, and she held Mr. Clicky-Pen ready to take notes.

I looked over at her. “What are we doing here?”

Dr. Blur opened the back door to the restaurant and motioned for me to enter. “I’ve made arrangements with this fine establishment to help us out with making you a successful mother we hope you will be some day. Please, come on in.”

I walked through the door hesitantly. On my right hand side, there was the kitchen. On the left hand side there was a staircase leading to an upper level of the building I didn’t know existed.

Dr. Blur shut the door behind her. “Please, Miss Ervaring, up the stairs.” I walked up the stairs. It led to a small room full of dry goods. When the place was a church it must have been the choir loft. It has since been covered from the view of the rest of the restaurant with a one-way mirror. It allowed me to look over the restaurant and all of the people enjoying themselves. Dr. Blur indicated two chairs at the edge of the loft allowing me to see perfectly well everything going on. I sat down and looked over at my captor. “What do you want me to see here?”

Mr. Clicky-Pen started to scratch something into the clipboard. Dr. Blur looked at her watch, “Just look down below. I think it will become apparent in just a few moments.”

I scanned the floor of the restaurant, trying to find what Dr. Blur wanted me to see. Being back in the building reminded me of the night I had spent there with my family. Before the night collapsed into disaster, it was one of my last happy moments. The pride of being the perfect American family welled up in me again, and I looked for the table where we had spent that fateful evening. It was almost empty, just as it had been the night we celebrated as a family. There was a man sitting at the table in the middle of the restaurant, apparently waiting for the rest of his party to arrive. The man sitting at the table was Robert. I got up from my seat and put my hands on the one-way mirror to get a better look. It was definitely Robert.

He stood up a second after I had because the rest of his party arrived. There was a woman leading my two children into the restaurant. She had the short blonde bob so common at the Capital Limited Re-education Center. She was wearing one of the dresses except in a way that highlighted her features. It was made from a golden fabric that shimmered as she walked up to the table. I hadn’t seen any of the women wear anything like it at the Capital Limited Re-education Center, but it still screamed re-educated mother. The sleeves of the dress were pulled off her shoulders to show off their milky whiteness. It also accentuated her ample breasts seeming somehow to defy gravity as they bounded into the room. The tight waist of the dress highlighted her skinny frame while the flowing skirts conjured up images of child-bearing hips. She was leading in Lindsey and Zach, and they obediently followed behind.

The children were ignored as Robert came over to greet this woman. He grabbed her behind the waist and drew her into him. They passionately kissed each other as if they hadn’t seen each other for months. Tongues were being used; they groped each other in the middle of the public place. It was Lindsey who broke them from their embrace as she tugged on the hem of this lady’s dress. This Jessica Bell was visibly upset by the intrusion, but it allowed the lovers to return to reality enough to gain composure so they could enjoy a family style evening at the restaurant.

It was pure torture to sit there and watch this woman take my place as the mother of my children. The worst part was how terrible of a mother she actually was. She didn’t care about Lindsey or Zach. Instead all of her energy was spent focusing on the needs of Robert. She was coy as she drank from her wine glass. She rarely touched her food during dinner, but spent the time with her hands underneath the table as she edged her way closer to where Robert sat entranced. There were many times I wanted to scream for her to take her hands off my husband’s lap.

What bugged me the most as I watched them eat their meal was the way he was so smitten with her. He hadn’t looked at me that way since I had given birth to Zach. Before I was sent to the Capital Limited Re-education Center, he hardly looked at me at all. Most of the time I saw him, he had his face planted firmly behind a newspaper or involved in whatever television program was on at the time. He never had time for me. I couldn’t say the same for this Jessica Bell. He made sure to have a lot of time for the new model he traded me in for.

Those bright eyes of hers just shimmered in the flickering candlelight. Her laugh was infectious. She made sure to laugh at all of his jokes, and he ate it all up as if she really cared about what he had to say. And when her hands did grace the top of the table, they so expertly flipped her hair away while shielding her face in an expression of mock humility. She had my husband completely under her control. She knew just how to flirt with him. She would show enough interest just to tease and excite him but bring it back in time to keep him involved in her personality. I used to have that power, but after I added on a few pounds from my pregnancies and strapped a screaming child to my hip, it was no wonder he forgot all about me. As I sat there watching him with that Jessica Bell, I started to wonder how I was able to entice him enough after Zach to be able to convince him to help me conceive Lindsey. Granted he was pretty drunk the night of her conception and I was able to keep the weight down after my first pregnancy, but that was definitely not the case after the second pregnancy.

It bugged me so much to watch them because I could see she thought she was so pretty. I knew she was going to blow up huge after she had her first child, and the way he was acting with her that night, it would be only a short matter of time before this happened. I really wondered if they needed to be that close to each other. They weren’t paying any attention to Lindsey. They could have left her at home by herself and she would have been much safer. I couldn’t understand how that Jessica Bell could have ignored her like that. Lindsey had been banging on the table for twenty minutes and I thought more of her macaroni and cheese had been thrown into the air than made it into her mouth. She did throw some of it at her new mother hitting the woman right between the eyes. That got her to stop flirting with my husband long enough to pay attention to my child. That was when I saw the ugly side of her. Apparently, if someone got her mad, those pretty little eyes of hers didn’t look so pretty.

She picked up her steak knife and threatened my daughter. I wanted to scream for Robert do something before she hurt Lindsey. I started to feel proud of the man I married when he took hold of that Jessica Bell’s hand. He gave her that smooth talk he was so good at giving. It always worked with me when I would get angry. He always knew the right words to calm me down, so I could see the reasonable side of things. He was able to coax the anger out of his new woman. She took a nice slow breath and relaxed. She started to realize Lindsey was just a little girl. She could see how her overreaction was scaring Lindsey. She started to see there was no need to take things to the extreme. There was no reason to threaten her with a steak knife. She slowly put it back on the table and the situation returned to normal. She continued to ignore my children and Robert continued to flirt with her.

It was around the time of dessert when I remembered I was in the room with Dr. Blur. She had been taking notes the whole time. My hands had been pressed so hard against the glass that when I removed them, they left imprints behind. Dr. Blur had enough written down to start a new thesis for a second doctorate. I turned to look at her, “I’ve had enough. Can we go back home now?”

She clicked Mr. Clicky-Pen and placed him back in her pocket. She adjusted her glasses on her nose and said, “I thought this would do you some good, Miss Ervaring.” She stood up and patted me on my shoulder in a bizarre attempt to make peace with the situation and said, “Yes, let’s go home.”

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