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An eclectic mix
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Observation and empathy shape my stories and poems. Writing, photography, and art fill the nooks and crannies between home and family.

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Chapter 30 of the book Soul Whispers
New Territory.
"Secrets" by Minglement

The ladies are forced into a heart-to-heart.

The station wagon was absent from the drive. Do I have the right day? Are they home?
Wendy mounted the steps and knocked as though she were confident. Act as if. I know how to do that.

Lorraine answered the door, looking nervous. "Hi. Dan and Lily will be right back. They went to pick up some eggnog. Come in." She motioned for Wendy to sit on the ivory silk loveseat.

Wendy handed Lorraine the poinsettia with awkward Merry Christmas wishes. "I wasn't sure..."

Lorraine took the plant and said, "Thanks, it's lovely." She put the bright colored gift on the coffee table next to the tea service and sat in the wing-back chair across from her guest. She leaned across and poured a cup of tea from the steaming pot, offering it to Wendy. "I find tea so soothing.. With the stress of the holidays, my tummy's been a wreck. Sugar?"

The tea smelled of oranges and cinnamon. "Oh no, plain is fine." She accepted the tea, rattling on its saucer, from Lorraine's shaky hand. "Your home looks lovely. I love how you've decorated the mantle. It's so creative."

Lorraine poured herself a cup of tea and waved off Wendy's comment. "Oh, that's Lily Joy's thing. I don't know where she comes up with this stuff. I prefer something more traditional."

"Nutcrackers are pretty traditional.
The rich colors and touches of gold feel so festive and homey. I think they're my favorite Christmas accessory. Aside from a nativity, of course."

"Exactly. Why not a Nativity?" Lorraine settled back against the straight back of the chair. Conversation seemed to have hit a wall. The two women sat in uneasy silence.

Wendy was the first to speak. "Well, we have a chance for some girl-talk. Whatever that is."

Lorraine's laugh was hollow. "Yes. Let's talk about Lily. May I be frank?" She set her tea next to the teapot.

"Of course, please do." Wendy inhaled slowly and held her breath.

"I -- we want to know what your intentions are. Toward Lily. She's very happy here, you know, with things just as they are."

There was a brief pause while Wendy considered her answer. "I can see that. You and your husband obviously love Lily Joy very much. Her name reflects that." Wendy paused. She looked Lorraine square in the eye. "I want you to know I have no intention of taking anything away from you or trying to take your place." Is it my imagination or was that a slight relaxation of Lorraine's shoulders? "I know I have no right, but once I found Lily, I... You've raised her to be a beautiful young lady."

"Thank you. We've tried." Lorraine rushed on. "We couldn't have children of our own you know. It's my fault. What I mean is, it wasn't Daniel, it was me. We tried, but it wasn't God's will." She straightened in her chair. "We were overjoyed when Lily became available. I'm sorry. I don't mean we were glad you...made your decision. Or that you lost your daughter."

"I know what you meant. You must wonder how I could have done it."

Lorraine was caught off guard by the question. " I mean I'm sure it wasn't easy." Now she had to concentrate hard to stay in the conversation.

"I didn't want to do it. It sounds dumb to say I let myself be pushed into it, but I was young, not much older than Lily. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't tell my folks. My mom would have flipped out. The man, Lily's father, was older. He was my high school Social Studies teacher. Go figure. Charming as sin and twice as good looking. It blinded me to his arrogance, his selfishness. Anyway, he was married and was afraid of losing his job. It seems sleeping with one's students was frowned upon." Wendy took a sip of tea.

Lorraine had become immersed in the other woman's story, so like her own. Well, she was older than Wendy, and Stu wasn't her teacher, but still...

Wendy brought her back to the present. "I had no idea my baby had survived. I went through such guilt and punished myself for a long time. To be honest with you, for years I was a mess, wallowing in self-pity. Drugs, alcohol, guilt, feeling no one, not even God, could love me. Oh, forgive me. I don't mean to make excuses and I don't expect you to understand."

"Maybe I can, a little. I mean, how horrible that must have been." Lorraine knew exactly how horrific it was. Unwillingly, her heart went out to this woman -- birth mother to her child. Mixed feelings welled up inside her -- resentment, sympathy, even kinship.

"I'm sorry. I'm not trying to make this all about me." Wendy reached out for Lorraine's hand. "I want you to know how grateful, how incredibly grateful, I am that Lily found her way into your family. I couldn't have asked for more." Other than raising her myself. But what had I to offer her? She's definitely been better off.

Surprising herself, Lorraine took the offered hand. She's not so different from me. We might have been friends under different circumstances. "I wouldn't have dreamed you... I mean you seem so together, so..."

Wendy smiled though tears brimmed in her eyes. "So human? I know you must think me a monster."

"Not at all. I just don't know what to expect." Lorraine retracted her hand and picked up her cross-stitch hoop from the table. She held it idle in her hands.

"I guess we'll have to play it by ear," Wendy said.

The front door opened, and Dan and Lily appeared.

"Who wants eggnog?" Dan tried for jovial and almost succeeded.

Book of the Month contest entry


The book continues with Home For The Holidays. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Set in 1976 after a 1960 abortion attempt, three women whose worlds are on a collision course: Wendy ~ has found the daughter she learned survived her attempted abortion,
Lorraine ~ adoptive mom, fragile, reclusive ~ hiding a secret of her own, and
Lily Joy ~ 16-year-old abortion survivor, caught in the middle.
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