Posts tagged ‘decisions’

Choosing Your Child

by: Rebecca Taylor

“Children are a big responsibility, Miss Denton,” said Gloria Hayes, manager of the Sunville Orphanage.

            “I know that and I have done a lot of searching in these last few years. This is not a decision I take lightly, but I do not want to spend my life alone with only me and my cat in a house when I could provide a child with so much love. I have a steady job as a bookkeeper at an accounting firm and want to take a year off to be with the child that I want to adopt so that we can spend the year bonding. I was hoping to adopt a child that was about four years old so that when I go back to work he or she will be in school.”

            “The first year, that’s fine, Miss Denton, but what about when they have holidays from school especially in the summer.”

            “I’ve thought about that but right now my sister runs a daycare out of her home and she could watch my child. I also have three weeks of holidays from work each year and I have statutory holidays as well as sick days if my child is ill one day.”

            “Miss Denton, being a parent is hard; being a single parent is harder especially when you adopt a child. These children don’t come from homes where everything was sunshine and flowers,” said Gloria Hayes her face expressionless.

            “I know that and I want to improve a child’s life. I want to help a child and I am a very determined person. If the child that I adopt has obstacles, we will work them out. Some children, however, will probably have come from situations which I am not prepared to accept because I know that there are things which happen out there that I cannot even imagine and I don’t think it would be fair to a child with such special needs to live with someone like me who cannot comprehend what they need.”

            “That is true and I believe you have good sense in making that clear. It makes it easier for the child. We don’t place children in situations which we feel probably won’t work out because it only makes it harder for the child when their next chance at having a loving home comes up.”

            “If anything my child will have a loving home. I live in a wonderful little house in the country very close to my parents’ farm where my parents and sister live in the two houses there. As my sister runs a daycare there are always children to play with. My child could get on and off the school bus there and I would pick him or her up afterwards.

            “Your police check and references are infallible. You would be a good candidate for adopting,” replied Mrs. Hayes her light blue eyes softening.

            Emmalee Denton sighed under her breath, running her fingers through her short light brown hair. Mrs. Hayes is the stereotypical orphanage worker. Stern and frightening even to someone of my age. Her hair up in a bun. I suppose she has to be though because you can’t just let anyone off the street come in and adopt a child because that would lead to…well let’s not think about what that could lead to. It would be like that poor little kitten we adopted when I was growing up. Frightened, hurt, and alone; just needed somebody to love it. It can still be skittish even with us now even though it’s lived at home for eight years but at least it’s safe.

            “Does that mean that I will be able to adopt a child?”

            “Yes, it does, however, this process is far from being instant. First, we have to find a child that is right for you. Then, you will have several sessions with that child here at the orphanage just so that you get to know each other when the child is in familiar surroundings. After some of these sessions, you may take the child on day outings. If all goes well then you will be granted a six-month trial period. If after the six months both you and the child are a match then the adoption process can begin. There are some children here whose parents have given them up, and signed away all of their parental rights. There are other children who are not that lucky, they could find the perfect home but the parents may not be willing to have their child adopted into a loving home and so the time that you get to have that child before the parents may want to get him or her back can be numbered.”

            “I think that I need to attempt to adopt a child that is adoptable, I’ve had a job before that was up in the air and that was hard and that only went on for six months. If I were to take one of the children into a foster type situation because I could not adopt it when it was four years old I could spend fourteen years worrying and wondering. I cannot do that, I doubt very many people can.”

            “Some people only foster and have numerous children over the years to get them out of the orphanage until a suitable home can be found or to help children whose parents still hold the balance of power.”

            “That isn’t for me. I am looking for a child who will be able to be mine, one that nobody can take away from me because the parents decide that they feel like caring for a little while. I know that my decision to adopt a child is all or nothing. Either I adopt a child and have one or I don’t. I cannot decide to be a parent during certain hours of the day. It is a lifetime commitment that I am willing to undertake.”          

            “Let’s get started, you’ve already decided that a child around the age of four is what you are looking for. Do you want a girl or a boy?”

            “I think I’m leaning more towards having a daughter, not that there is anything wrong with having a boy, I’ve just never imagined having a son. As a woman, I think I would be able to provide my daughter with the positive role model that she would need and even though I could have a positive influence on a boy’s life I’m not an athletic person, throwing around a baseball is not who I am. I would try but it wouldn’t be like doing that with a father.”

            “Are you in any type of relationship with a boyfriend right now, Miss Denton?”   

            “No, I’m not and if that were ever to happen my daughter or son would need to come first. Also, could you please call me Emmalee it makes me feel more at ease?”

            “Certainly, Emmalee,” answered Gloria Hayes. “I think that a daughter would be your best choice. Are there any particular hobbies or interests which you might have that may make pairing you with a child easier?”

            “I love gardening, painting and cooking. When I’ve imagined myself mothering, I want to be able to bake chocolate chip cookies or rice krispy squares with my child and have them really enjoy it.”

            “Let me just put this into the computer and we will see if we can come up with some matches.”

Five minutes later Gloria Hayes had several profiles for Emmalee to look at. Five of which were four year old girls which could mesh well with her.

            “We have Samantha, four years old, very energetic, loves being around other children, shares well and has a lovable personality. Then there is Elvira she likes doing puzzles, is a bit shy but just needs to come out of her shell but she has a kind heart. There is Sarabeth, she loves animals and if your cat is sociable could be perfect for your household. She came here after her mother passed away in an accident, her father passed away from cancer a few years before that and there was no other family to place her with. Jenna is an artist; she loves drawing pictures, at her last foster home she started to learn to read, she went back to her mother briefly before coming back here but her mother decided to sign off and let her have a family. Lastly of the ones that would probably be for you is Lily, however, Lily comes with added responsibility as she has a slight hearing impairment and has to wear a hearing aid. She also has a twin brother Liam and if possible, we would like to place them together. That is just the basic summary, if any of them interests you, you can read some more about them or even watch them from behind a two way glass. You can see them but they can’t see you so they won’t know that they are being watched as that can be very hard on them. It gets their hopes up too high.”

            “How do I decide, all of these children need somebody. I can’t imagine being in their shoes. Sometimes it’s hard to choose a book off of a library shelf or the paint colour for the living room walls. I can always exchange books at the library and repaint the wall but we’re talking about choosing a child here, a human being that I will eventually take home and care about for the rest of my life,” exclaimed Emmalee her hazel eyes wide and full of surprise.

            “I know, Emmalee, it is hard but you have to make the decision that is best for you and the child that you are adopting.”

            “How can I make a decision for any of these children, I have never met them before and I know that if I do it will break my heart because I cannot take all of them home with me. I know that you and everyone else here does the best you can for them but they don’t get the one on one attention that all children need and there aren’t enough funds to buy them the special things in life not that money can give them what they need most – love, happiness and a family.”

            “You cannot save the world but by adopting one child in need you are making a big difference.”

            “What about the others?  If it is like anything else, the babies will be the first ones to be adopted and by the time the children are probably seven or eight they become less wanted, I suppose because the longer they are in different foster homes or here or bouncing back and forth with parents or whatever the emotional trauma deepens. Getting this child doesn’t mean that someday I won’t want to adopt another but it is always going to be the same, too many children and not enough prospective parents.”

            “I get the feeling that you have a strong sense of the pain in this world and that you can teach a child good morals. You’re going to love whatever child you have with all your heart and teach it and give it a wonderful life. That’s all anyone can do, would you like to watch the children or read one of their profiles to get a better understanding of them.”

            “Which of these children has the least chance of being adopted?”

            “Probably Lily and Liam, just because there are two of them but if you only feel prepared to give one child a home don’t choose them just because you feel sorry for them that would be far worse.”

            “Tell me a bit about Liam and his interests, is he the kind of boy that would need a father figure to play ball with, because if that is so I’m not the right person and as much as I think I could help Lily they probably have a better chance here.”

            “Liam loves sports, when one of the men gets a chance to play with him and some of the other little boys out in the back his face just lights up. I think that you’re making a smart choice not choosing them because you cannot provide Liam with the things that he loves and in turn that would make the three of you unhappy.”

            “Which of the others would be considered the least adoptable?”

            “Either Sarabeth or Elvira. Samantha has very good chances of finding the right family because she could be adopted into a family with other children and do just fine. Jenna also has a pretty good chance because she is an open child and willing to take the love that is given to her. With Sarabeth losing her parents, she wants to love someone but is somewhat afraid of losing them. You having a cat could help. Elvira is a shy child but she came here a few years ago and just hasn’t found a home yet but she likes it here. She will probably be a candidate for a good fostering situation if she isn’t adopted soon. She doesn’t have the emotional scars that Sarabeth does.”

            “Then I think I need to learn more about Sarabeth, her love for animals and being on a farm could be invaluable. My parents have dogs and cats and seeing as how she will be spending quite a bit of time with my sister, I think it could help her to be in an amicable situation. I will do all I can to help her. She’ll never totally get over her loss but I can try to provide her with a sense of security.”

            “Would you like to meet her?”

            “Yes, I would, now that I pretty much have it narrowed down to one child, it makes it a lot easier even though I still feel really awful about not being able to help the others.”

            “You can’t feel like that, it won’t help anything. We can all only do so much, if we’re lucky these children will all make out okay.”

            “Could I have a few minutes to get something from my car, I brought a photo album of pictures of my house, the school, my cat, my parents, my sister, and stuff.”

            “I think that would be great, it will give Sarabeth a better understanding of where she will be going provided the two of you hit it off.”

            “Hopefully the photo album will help us do that.”

            Fifteen minutes later after Emmalee gave herself a pep talk, she and Sarabeth, who was a tiny red haired little girl with beautiful green eyes were sitting next to each other on a sofa in a private room looking at the photo album.

            “Nice cat,” said Sarabeth when they got to the picture of the cat, “what is its name?”

            “Her name is Marmalade because her fur is orange. She has a spot on one of the windowsills where she sits and suns herself. She is always sitting there when I come home from work.”

            “Like she’s waiting for you?” asked Sarabeth timidly.

            “Yes, I love going home and knowing that she’s there waiting for me.”

            “Do you think she could be lonely and need a friend?”

            “She always seems happy but we could always get her a friend. My parents have some cats on the farm and they have kittens sometimes, I bet you could choose a kitten and it could come live with us.”

            “Could I name the kitten?”

            “Sure, I bet the kitten would like that.”

            “What colour would the kitten be?”

            “You never know for sure but probably black or tiger, most of them are on the farm.”

            “I had a tiger kitten before my mom died, her name was Stripes, but they said she couldn’t come and live with us here so she had to go live at the animal shelter.”

            “She’ll find a good home then but you will always love her anyways. We have cows and calves too on the farm, a few of them are friendly, do you like cows Sarabeth?”

            “I think so but I’ve never seen one up close before.”

            “How about one day we go and visit the farm and my house and get you acquainted? Mrs. Hayes says it will be a while before you’ll be able to come and live with me because we have to get to know each other.”

            “I’m going to miss my friends here,” said Sarabeth.

            “You’ll make new friends at my sister’s daycare and when you start school next year and we’ll see if there is someway you can keep in touch with your friends here.”

            “What if you go away and leave me like my mom and daddy did?” asked Sarabeth moving a bit closer to Emmalee on the sofa.

            “I hope that that doesn’t happen for a really really long time but if it does you won’t have to come back here because I have a sister who will be your Aunt Anna and my parents who will be your Grandma Clarice and Grandpa Peter. You’re going to have a family for life. How does that sound to you?”

            “Okay, I guess, I don’t know, I want to live with the cats and meet the calves and see the dogs but I just wish I could do it with my mom and daddy instead of you.”

            “I know you do and I wish you could have too but sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, it is okay to be sad and miss your parents but they wouldn’t want you to miss out on having a family.”

            “Will I have any sisters or brothers?”

            “Not right now, but maybe eventually, it is too early to tell right now. Right now, it is going to be you and me. I’m going be your new mom but you don’t ever have to call me that if you don’t want to. I’m not going to replace the mom that you had.” Maybe someday I will adopt another child or get married and have a baby but I don’t know. I am twenty-eight years old and at this point in my life who knows what the future has to bring. I suppose it all has to do with how well I like motherhood and how well Sarabeth and I do.

            “For now can I call you Emmalee?”

            “Sure you can, we’re going to do all right together. Once you come to live with me fulltime I am going to take a year off from work and we can get to know each other better. It is going to be a big change for both of us. It will make a big difference to Marmalade too.”

            Time flew by and two months after Emmalee and Sarabeth met, they went home to live in Emmalee’s house in the country in Rainbow Valley. Sarabeth adopted a little black and white kitten from the Denton Farm and named her Princess. Grandpa Peter gave Sarabeth a little red calf of her own which she could take to 4-H shows once she got enrolled. She named the calf Poppy because of her colour. Despite the difficult moments for the family like holidays when Sarabeth especially missed her parents, the Denton family and Sarabeth meshed well together. A year after meeting; Emmalee officially adopted Sarabeth and had her name changed to Sarabeth Lisa Hamilton Denton. Sarabeth wanted to keep the full name that her parents gave her but both she and Emmalee wanted her to feel like part of the Denton family thus giving her the family name that she would use daily. When Sarabeth was nine years old, Emmalee got married to an amazing man who loved both of them – Jake Dawson, he, and Emmalee adopted another daughter Maude shortly after their marriage as well as having a son Clay a few years later. Emmalee never forgot the choice that she had to make when deciding on getting a child that was right for her and even Maude’s adoption wasn’t much easier, although she did have the moral support of a loving husband and knew the procedure. After the first few years Emmalee stopped wondering, what life would have been like if she had adopted different children and was completely happy with what her life had become. 

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Against the Norm

by: Rebecca Taylor

“I want to marry you, Steve, but I cannot go against everything that I believe in, in order to do that,” said Beth Robbins sitting on a park bench next to her fiancé.

            “Come on, Beth, why are you so against our parents announcing our engagement?”

            “Because we can do it ourselves, we are adults, we don’t live in our parents homes, and they aren’t paying for the wedding. It is us; we made the decision to get married. I don’t want our announcement or our invitations to say, ‘John and Vivian Nordell are pleased to announce the wedding of their son Steven to Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew and Teresa Robbins.’”

            “Would it be that big of a deal? No matter what the invitations or announcement say we will still love each other the same.”

            “You don’t get it, I feel very strongly about being able to get ahead in life. Women are always portrayed as the weaker gender. I want to be thought of as Elizabeth Maria Robbins. I don’t want to go through life being thought of as Andrew and Teresa’s daughter or Steve Nordell’s wife. I am my parents’ daughter and I want to be your wife but I don’t want that to be the only reason people accept me. I want my accomplishments to have value. Even though the world revolves around familial associations, we are all our own people. I don’t want to be stifled by who my family is.”

            “I’m not going to take away your voice, Beth; you are entitled to your opinions. I just want my parents to be happy.”

            “You’re taking their side instead of mine, and while you are also entitled to your opinions, are you always going to side with them after we’re married? We need to have a united front on things, that’s the only way we’re going to have a successful wedding and marriage.”

            “You’re going against all traditional weddings; most people are conventionalists unlike you.”

            “Maybe there are more people than you think out there who believe what I do but are too afraid to actually do it. I want our wedding to be about you and me. I want us to announce the wedding; I want to walk down the aisle by myself.” We need to be equal; nobody is expecting you to be called Mrs. Steve Nordell,  giving you away or expecting you to be a shadow of me.

            “What does your father think about that?”

            “He’s accepting it, I think he would have liked to walk me down the aisle but I do not believe it is necessary. I learned to walk before I was two; now I am twenty-six, and more than capable of doing it on my own. I also don’t want ‘who gives this woman’ as part of the marriage ceremony. It is old fashioned and chauvinist, nobody asks ‘who gives this man.’ I have my own life, I do not need anybody to give me away; it sounds like some old toy that needs discarding.”

Why do you have to be so stubborn, Beth, this is our wedding. It shouldn’t be so difficult to plan. Sometimes you and your feminist views get in the way of all simplicity.

 “Having a traditional wedding won’t change who you are.”

            “I don’t want to sacrifice who I am and what I believe, just so your family and probably some of mine get what they want. This isn’t about them. This is our wedding, yours and mine, as long as we agree nothing else matters.”

            “I don’t see why we are complicating things for one day, wouldn’t it be easier to put aside your feminist views just for the day so that we can have a wedding where everyone involved is going to have a great time.”

            “Maybe we don’t know each other well enough, I think we should put off our wedding plans; we can’t even decide how to announce it right now.”

            “Beth, I’m sorry. We love each other; I don’t think we should wait. We can work this out.”

            “How? You don’t understand how I feel. It is important that I feel valued. I want this wedding to be one of the most wonderful days of our lives. I want people to see our way of thinking; I don’t want my views to be debated on or the focus of the wedding. I just don’t want to regret not having the wedding I believe in just because some people think my ideas are ridiculous. I don’t know how we can be married if you can’t accept that. I’ve got some thinking to do, give me time, Steve, I’ll call you when I’m ready to talk about this,” and Beth got up, walked down the tree lined path toward the Boulevard that would take her home, her shoulder length blond hair blowing in the wind, her grey eyes sad. I’m doing the right thing, I have beliefs, and nobody should make me change them. I’m not an uncompromising person, but there are some things in life that I don’t think a person should waver on. I am a modern woman and will not be treated like a pouting child just because I know that I am right. If I do this wedding the way he wants me to, I will always feel like I sacrificed my values so we would not have to discuss the real issues. I may not fully resent him for it now but someday I would. What if I married him in the traditional way and someday we have a daughter and she wants to be free of the stereotypes which society have when it comes to women, how could I tell her that I believed the same things when I was her age but didn’t stand my ground, what kind of a role model would that make me?

            Steve sat on the park bench for a few minutes, stunned, never had he thought that Beth would walk away just because he did not agree to her terms. I’m fighting the issue because I want Beth’s parents and mine to be happy, I don’t want them to be left out. It is traditional that the parents announce the engagement and that the father walks his daughter down the aisle. Somehow, I need to make her understand and I think I will have to get our parents involved, it’s the only way. I need to save this engagement and making her see reason is the best chance. Otherwise, who knows how long it will take to make her come around to my way of thinking.

            It wasn’t long before Steve was sitting in his parents’ living room discussing the wedding.

            “Weddings are very stressful on the bride, trying to make every detail perfect,” said Vivian Nordell.

            “I want a simple wedding and I don’t care about the little details like the flowers or the colour of the napkins. Beth and I can’t agree on the concept of the wedding. Traditional is the easiest way, it’s been done so many times before. She wants to have a feminist wedding, where we announce the wedding, her father doesn’t walk her down the aisle and no ‘who takes this woman’, and I don’t know how the minister will announce us at the end of the wedding because she doesn’t want to be defined by her familial connections.”

            “What does that mean?” asked John Nordell. “Do you mean she isn’t going to take our last name?”

            “I guess so; Beth claims traditional weddings are chauvinist.”

            “I had a traditional wedding; it doesn’t mean I can’t think for myself. I like the family inclusion in weddings, it is an opportunity to meet the in-laws and get to know our future daughter better.”

            “Beth was very moody this morning, when she is in feminism mode, she isn’t the same lovable woman that I want to marry.”

            “Are you sure you know her well enough?” asked John.

            “We went out for two years before I asked her to marry me, how much better am I supposed to get to know her?”

            “You can know some people for a lifetime and never really know who they are,” replied Vivian.

            “When you were engaged, did everyone just get along or were there all kinds of debates about things?”

            “There were many problems along the way, the flower fiasco, and the number of guests to invite. The worst was the menu. Your father’s mother wanted to use china dishes and have an elegant sit down meal. My parents thought that we should have a buffet with paper plates, save having someone do dishes when the reception was taking place.”

            “What did you do in the end?”

            “Sit down meal with paper plates,” laughed John, “it’s funny thinking about all the silly little fights we had with our in-laws and each other back then, but at the time it felt like the world could end or that the wedding was never going to take place.”

            “So, you think that Beth and I will be able to make ours happen too.”

            “Yes, you just have to stand tall and fight for what you believe in.”

            “She’s going to do the same thing,” answered Steve running his hand through his chocolate coloured hair.

            “You have to reach middle ground just like we did with the meal and plates,” said Vivian.

            “How much can I compromise, she wants a wedding that people will think is a mockery. You said yourself how much you were looking forward to announcing the wedding.”

            “Of course we’re looking forward to announcing it, you’re our only child. This is our only opportunity at having a wedding of this magnitude in the family.”

Steve sighed; he could hear Beth’s words echoing in his ears, “this isn’t about them. This is our wedding, yours and mine, as long as we agree nothing else matters” It’s our wedding, what about what I think. I’ve dreamed of the moment your father walks you down the aisle to me for almost as long as I’ve known you, why deny me the chance to see him smiling, you on his arm. I don’t know what to tell you, Beth, I don’t want to back down. If we could only agree on this, the rest should be easy. The ceremony is the most important part because it ties us together for the rest of our lives.

            On the third day, Beth was sitting in the mess hall of the fire station where she worked as a firefighter, instead of eating her fingers drummed loudly against the veneer tabletop.

            “Hey, Beth, what’s bothering you?” asked one of her coworkers Frank.

            “You probably wouldn’t understand.”

            “Try me, I’m a good listener.”

            “It’s the wedding plans, Steve and I can’t seem to agree on anything. I haven’t talked to him in three days.”

            “Take it from a married man; you won’t solve anything by not talking.”

            “I just don’t know what to say to him to make him understand my point of view. I don’t want a traditional marriage, I want an equal partnership and having a customary wedding isn’t going to allow us to do that.”

            “Can you compromise?”

            “I’d like to but he doesn’t want to see things my way. By having a contemporary wedding, we won’t sacrifice anything. I am a modern woman; I don’t like old-fashioned thinking, as a liberated woman I want to walk myself down the aisle, forego the ‘who takes this woman,’ keep my last name and not be introduced as Mrs. Steve Nordell.”

            “Those are different views, Beth, and you have been with this department for four years, we have gotten to know and respect you and your modern thinking but maybe Steve isn’t used to the new way some women think.”

            “He knows that I have views about certain things where women’s rights are concerned but mostly he’s worried about me hurting his and my parents’ feelings. My parents have known my views for many years and while sometimes sceptical have come to accept them; his parents will have to live with it.”

            “What is your opinion on men opening doors for you?” asked another firefighter Joe.

            “Opening doors for someone is common courtesy, nobody wants a door slammed in their face, but holding the door open is not gender exclusive. Opening the car door on the other hand, I don’t understand it. I am capable of doing that for myself.” 

            “You fought your way into the hearts and minds of this department, and while not everyone was sure about having a woman on the team because of physical standards and maybe some outdated ideas, you proved your weight around here. I have no doubt that someday you could make fire chief,” said Frank

            “I’d just like to get married first; I can wait thirty years or so to make fire chief. I’d like to be a training officer or a firefighter instructor first. I would love to inspire more women to think about it as a choice of career.”

            “If you want it, you’ll do it, tonight when the shift is over, talk to Steve, you’re both too stubborn for your own good, and if you don’t talk about it now, you may not be married when you’re ninety.”

            “Very funny, Joe,” said Beth, “I’ll talk to Steve tonight and see if we can’t get everything sorted out. Thank you.”

            “I hope it works, your finger drumming isn’t one of your most becoming qualities,” replied Frank.

Before Beth could respond, the fire bell rang and everyone in the station raced to get ready for whatever was ahead.

            That evening as she left the station, Beth called Steve on her cell phone and left him a message to meet her at her apartment as soon as he got a chance. He arrived forty‑five minutes later with a take-out order of Chinese food.

            “Steve,” said Beth giving him a hug, “I’ve missed you.”

            “I missed you too, let’s sit down, and talk. I promise to listen to all of your opinions and no matter what we decide on, we’ll do it together.”

            “Deal,” said Beth going into the kitchen to get some plates and cutlery for the meal. Then, she and Steve sat down at the kitchen table, food containers spread out in front of them and started eating and talking.

            “We have to reach a compromise. These last three days without you were miserable. I never want us to be apart. We need to stick together, for ever and always,” said Steve.

            “There’s something we agree on, I’m all for those vows being part of our marriage ceremony.”

            “If your father is okay with not walking you down the aisle I can accept it and we don’t need a ‘who gives this woman,’ you’re right it is kind of sexist. It can just be our names on the engagement notice and invitations; I think I can convince my parents that they will still have an important part in the ceremony.”

            “Of course, they will I want them there front and center, they’re our parents, I just want us to make plans without help, it’s our day.”

            “You don’t want to be defined by me, what exactly do you mean by that?”

            “It means I won’t be taking your name when we marry. I want to be Elizabeth Robbins forever, if someone happens to call me Mrs. Nordell once in a while, I’m not going to have a fit but that isn’t what I want to be called. I am my own person.”

            “I guess I can accept that, as long as you understand that in everyday life when people are trying to determine family connections, we will be associated together and I will be called John and Vivian’s son, you will be called my wife and your parents’ daughter.”

            “I’m okay with that as long that isn’t who I am always defined as; I don’t like it when who you are related to is all people remember. While we are going to be together for the rest of our lives, we will have combined and separate lives. Our birth names are our roots.”

            “That’s fine with me, but what will happen when we have children?”

            “I don’t know, we’ll figure it out, I don’t want our children to feel like they are stuck with having a write a really long name because we couldn’t decide on which name to choose. I suppose they’ll have your last name unless we choose short first and middle names and then they could have both or maybe Robbins could be a middle name like Sara Robbins Nordell.”

            “That sounds pretty. We’ll have to think about that but first we need to get married.”

            “First we have to plan the wedding. Would you be okay with the minister says, now I present the union of Steven Nordell and Elizabeth Robbins instead of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Nordell.”

            “But it sounds so good,” answered Steve reaching out to touch Beth’s hand.

            “It does to you but how would you feel if they said and now Mrs. and Mr. Elizabeth Robbins?”

            “I guess I get your point.”

            “Our love makes us one, a union,” said Beth, “But we are not one person, we are individuals joining together to make a life and I want that to be how we perceive our marriage, no false pretences. We are equal and need to share responsibilities fifty-fifty, that includes inside and outside work. As we do it, we can figure it out so that one of us isn’t always stuck doing the chores while the other enjoys themselves. If we work together we can both benefit.”

            “You mean you don’t want to be stuck washing the dishes, while I watch a movie?”

            “Steve!”

            “I’m just teasing, Beth, of course we’ll work together.”

            “That’s good because I want to watch movies too, curled up in your arms. Besides, we’re going to have a dishwasher.”

They both laughed, their once sad and anxious eyes now smiling. Eight months later at St. Gabrielle’s Church, Steve Nordell waited at the front of the church wearing a tuxedo for Beth Robbins to walk herself down the aisle wearing a beautiful white dress that made her glow. The ceremony was perfect, the wording had been carefully chosen by the minister and the wedding party. The happy couple had struck out on their own for their celebration and gone against the norm. 

Facing the Demons Within

by: Rebecca Taylor

The minute his hand came across her face, Dan Shore took a step back, shocked at what he had just done.
“Kirsten, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you.”
“We’ll talk about this later,” said his wife quietly, her hand still against her cheek where moments ago his hand had been. “You’d better have some coffee,” and she turned and left the kitchen heading upstairs. Dan heard a door close, and knew that it wasn’t the one to their bedroom, but to the spare room.
Why did I have to start drinking again? I knew that, that wasn’t the answer to my problems, why didn’t I say no to that first drink when the guys from the factory were going out after work, to try and have a good time, to try and forget that most of us could be out of a job within a few months. Not being able to stay in the same room, where he had struck the women he loved the most in the world, and knowing that she did not want to see him just now, Dan got himself a cup of coffee and carried it outside.
A few hours later, her face tear stained and still feeling shaking from the events of the earlier part of the afternoon, Kirsten walked downstairs wanting to talk to Dan. His actions scared her, she had never felt threatened by him before and now….She saw that he was not in the house, and seeing the late hour, and the fact that his coat was still there, she put her own on, and picked up his and went out to find him, hoping that he hadn’t done anything rash. Before his hand struck her, she wouldn’t have worried about his emotional state, but everything had changed in a second. Kirsten found Dan in his favourite place, sitting on a rock overlooking the lake.
“Hi, mind if I sit?”
“No, here,” he said moving over to give her more room.
“I brought your jacket, I thought you might be getting cold,” she said handing it to him.
“Thank you. Are you okay?”
“I will be, I hope, after we talk.”
“I love you, Kirsten, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what I did.”
“What made you do it, Dan? I know that you’re worried about work, but starting to drink again, just when things are so good between us, when we were thinking of starting a family, and now this.”
“If I lose my job, it means that I won’t be able to support a baby. A bunch of us just went to the bar, I didn’t mean to drink but it started as one and then it led to more. I got a ride home and then you asked me about it, and ….”
“I asked you if you’d been drinking because I love you, because I don’t want to lose you to the alcohol that takes over the man that I love like some demon. You know what it does to you.”
“I know, and I promise you, I’ll go back to AA again. I’ll start again, seven years sober and then one time I screw up and I hit my wife. I hate myself for what I did to you, for the look you have in your eyes right now, the fact that there is a space between us, when we used to be able to sit touching watching the sun set.”
“I thought we had something together, but to think that we could bring a baby into the world, it’s impossible, what if you had hit our child?”
“But I’d never,” replied Dan, the hurt showing through in his voice.
“Before this afternoon, I would have said you could never hurt anyone, but I was wrong. How could I know that leaving our baby alone with you would be safe? How do I know you wouldn’t be feeling sorry for yourself and take a drink? Now that you’ve had a drink, your body has the taste again, you’re going to crave alcohol again and if you couldn’t be strong enough to say no to it this afternoon, how do I know that you can do it now.”
“I’m going to get the help that I need to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
“But you’d had the help, you’d had seven years of being sober and bingo, one minute destroys that. I did a lot of thinking this afternoon. A long time again, when I was in high school in social studies class, my teacher taught us about domestic violence. I promised myself that no man would ever hit me and get away with it, that I wouldn’t put up with the excuses that so many women do, the I’m sorry, the it’ll never happen again, that if my life ever came to that, I’d pack my bag and leave. I wanted to do that this afternoon, but I found out that making that choice isn’t as easy as I thought it would be when I was sixteen. You were turning your life around when we met, you were in AA, and when I married you, I accepted that I was marrying an ex-alcoholic. In the five years that I’ve worn your ring on my left hand, I’ve never had a reason to doubt you. Today is one of the worst days I have ever had.”
An apology was on the tip of Dan’s tongue, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t want what he said to sound generic. He watched the tears streaming down his wife’s cheeks. He wanted to brush them away, but was afraid that his hand near her face would frighten her. He knew that no matter what happened that what he had done would always be there. Kirsten had turned her face away not wanting him to see her tears, but what he did see was the bruise starting to form.
I am a monster, I’ve become any alcoholic’s worst fear, to hurt the ones we love. How do I make this right? I’m going to prove to her that I’m worthy again, that I’m the man she married, the one she loves. The possibility of losing my job is nothing compared to the possibility of losing my wife. Slowly, he reached out his hand and set it on hers. Kirsten turned, her green eyes looking into his brown ones, the pain he felt obvious. She took his hand, and felt his wedding ring and rubbed the silver band with the tips of her fingers.
“Let’s go home,” she said after a while. They stood and walked back up the gravel path, hand in hand.
Dan started out the night in the guest bedroom and Kirsten in the master, but neither of them could get much sleep. It was two a.m., when Kirsten knocked on the door of the guest room. She knew that Dan was awake; she had heard him moving around.
“I don’t want it to be like this,” said Kirsten when Dan opened the door. “We aren’t going to fix this if we avoid each other, and I can’t sleep without you beside me. I know that you’re sorry about hitting me. I know you didn’t know what you were doing when you lifted your hand to me, and I will stand by you while you get help, but if it happens again, I won’t have a choice but to leave because I’m not going to live in fear of you.”
Together they made their way back to the master bedroom, where they spent the rest of the night in each other’s arms, each of them trying to let go of the hurt they felt.
In the days that followed, Dan and Kirsten began to count Dan’s days sober, as he attended AA meetings and tried to make things right with his wife. Another battle had begun; Dan would have to start his fight against alcohol again, and to regain his trust with Kirsten. It was going to be a long road to travel, but they were determined to travel it together.

Finally Loved

by: Rebecca Taylor

based on this week’s prompt

Miranda raced out her front door, her bare feet making prints in the sand. When she reached the water’s edge, she stretched her arms out and spun around. Her years of ballet training had prepared her for this joyous moment. Moments ago, she had hung up the phone with her boyfriend, he was coming home and he planned to make up all their lost time. He had told his father that he wanted to open his own business and not be a marketing executive at his exclusive advertising firm. His father had been angry but Jerrod had finally stood on his own two feet and chosen the woman he loved over a career he had no interest in. Miranda knew it would be hard, that it would take time for Jerrod to build up a clientele in the carpentry business but Miranda had grown up knowing how to be frugal, she knew that they could make it work as long as they stuck together.

Miranda was still standing in the water when night began to fall around her. The sun was going down over the water in a splendid design of orange hues. Her heart was jumping excitedly because she would finally have a life that she too dreamed of. She had lived in this small town forever and after a series of disastrous relationships she had met Jerrod. Being with him felt right, she smiled just thinking about him and his kisses melted her like butter on hot toast. He had had to leave to be a man he’d told her, it was what his power yielding father wanted. “Come with me,” he’d begged but they both knew that she couldn’t because her father was getting older and needed more help to run the family bakery. Her older sister was in New York trying to become a fashion designer and her younger brother had a wife and four kids in the city a few hours away so the shouldering of the family responsibilities had fallen to Miranda. It wasn’t that she minded doing it; it was just that sometimes she wished that she could have had the freedom to follow her dreams and Jerrod. She was finally loved by a man who treated her with kindness and respect and she couldn’t run after him.

After another few minutes, she turned and headed back to the shore, she ran along the water’s edge, hearing the slurping of the sand and water meet with every step. The beach house which belonged to her grandmother was a place that made her feel free even when her life didn’t.

“Hi Beautiful,” said a voice behind her.

“Jerrod,” she cried out joyously as she turned around. “How did you get here this fast?”

“I called you from the road. I was packed last night. I’ve been thinking about coming back to you for months,” he said wrapping his arms around her as she ran to him and collapsed against his chest. “What my dad wanted for me is nothing compared to how badly I want you.”

“I can’t believe you’re here already, I didn’t think I would see you until tomorrow at the earliest.”

“I wanted to surprise you.”

“You sure did. My wish came true, I keep looking at the stars and hoping that you were here and finally you are.”

“I am,” he said dropping to one knee in the sand. 

Miranda gasped, “Jerrod,” she said quietly.

“Miranda Keller will you marry me?”

“Yes,” she replied, her voice sure yet quiet. “I can’t believe it, you come home tonight and we get engaged right away. This is unbelievable.”

“We’re going to have many happy moments here – together.”

“Forever,” whispered Miranda.

“Yes, Beautiful, you and I are going share many todays and tomorrows together.”

Hand in hand they walked along the beach back to the house, their life together had begun.

Indecision

by: Rebecca Taylor

Shannon Harper watched the seconds tick by on her watch; she had been offered a huge promotion at the bank where she worked, she had been a teller for five years, then she moved up to customer assistance where she helped clients open accounts, learn about investments etc. for the last three. Now the Bank of Scotsville wanted her to move to another city and work as an accounts manager. She was excited that they wanted her to do the job, it was another step up the corporate ladder to where she may some day want to be, but she did not know if she wanted to move four hours away to a place where she knew no one. She also didn’t know if she should be asking her husband Albert, seven‑year-old son Shane and four-year-old daughter Courtney to be making this move with her. Albert worked from home as a graphic designer but even so, it was unfair to ask him to pick up his life and to ask the children to leave the school and friends that they knew. Albert said he was willing and nothing had been said to the children, the move would mean a substantial salary increase and they could do very well even though the cost of living in Scotchtown was slightly higher than where she was now in Scots Hill. This was a huge opportunity and Shannon knew that there were other bank employees who would take it in an instant if she didn’t. It was Thursday afternoon and the bank needed to know by the next morning, she had been thinking about it all morning and she was having so much trouble trying to decide what she wanted. Life was so complicated when such a decision was upon you; she didn’t want to toss aside a chance that may never come her way again. If the opportunity had presented itself at her current bank then she would have said yes in an instant, even if she had to commute each day. The decision would be easy but having to uproot herself from a place where she had grown up, gone to school, got married, had children and worked so long was a major choice to make and she didn’t feel ready to make it even after almost a week of thoughts, lists, talking and long sleepless nights.

            It would be childish to toss a coin or pull on the petals of a daisies, this isn’t high school any more, you can’t say if someone walks around the corner in the next five minutes you’ll say yes to so and so’s offer to go to the dance and otherwise the answer is a no. That usually backfires anyways. I need to look at this reasonably, this is an amazing chance, and the extra money could give my children opportunities they may not have otherwise. If they need braces or eyeglasses down the road, this will help me afford them. Between the salaries that Albert and I both get we do well for ourselves but we can do better. Not only is this an amazing opportunity but they are offering me better benefits, I will five weeks vacation instead of three each year which means that we could go someone in the summer and I could still have time off for myself when they are in school. My parents are here but four hours away isn’t terrible if we left after work on a Friday night we could get here around nine and spend all day Saturday and go back late Sunday night and if the Monday is a school and bank holiday that would make for a nice weekend. The kids though, they love their school and they have some really good friends, I don’t want to take that away from them even though if we visited a lot of weekends, they would still be able to see each other. It all comes down to do I accept this chance which could better all of our lives or do I keep going and doing this job that I love and we live on what means we have making out okay. I’m going to drive myself crazy, here I am sitting in the park, thinking all these thoughts and still I can’t make up my mind. This is useless I might as well go home face my family and we can all talk this out together…rationally…I hope.

            In the tastefully decorated living room of the Harper home, Shannon and Albert sat on the sofa with Shane and Courtney.

            “Hey guys,” said Shannon, “your dad and I are thinking about moving, what do you guys think about that?”

            “Leave here?” asked Shane.

            “Yes,” replied Shannon, “this house and your school and Scots Hill and go live in Scotchtown where I would have a new job at a different bank.”

            “What about my friends?” asked Shane.

            “We’d come back and visit them and Grammy and Gramps and Nana and Pops on weekends, not every weekend, but lots of them. We would make lots of new friends,” said Albert.

            “I like my old friends.”

            “Take Courtney’s teddy bear?” asked the four year old.

            “Yes, we’d take your teddy bear and all the things we need, we should probably get rid of the things we won’t use anymore…” said Shannon scooping Courtney up into her lap.

            “Do you want to move, Dad?” asked Shane.

            “I want to give your mom a chance to have her new job; I work from home so I will still be doing the same things I am now. Your mom and I will be there when you go to school in the morning and I will be there to pick you up at school. We might even try to find a house with a big backyard so we could get that dog you guys have been wanting.”

Shannon shot a glance at Albert; they hadn’t talked about getting a dog at their new place. They had decided that moving would be a great opportunity and occasionally they discussed the benefits of children having pets but they had definitely not said anything about the big backyard. Albert pretended not to notice.

            “A dog, you mean it Dad?”

            “We’d have to get settled first, but in time we could have a dog,” answered Shannon taken in by her son’s enthusiasm.

            “Doggy,” said Courtney.

            “That’s right a dog, Court, we could play with him and feed him and take him for walks, I’ve always wanted a dog.”

            “So the move is on?” asked Shannon.

            “I guess so, but we have to come back here lots.”

            “We can come back to Scots Hill but we can’t come back to this house, it won’t be ours anymore. Somebody else will buy it and make it theirs. We’ll have a new house of our own.”

            “Will I still have my own room and be able to have my friends come over?”

            “Yes, we will be looking for a house and will make sure that it is big enough for all of us but not too big to take care of.”

            “When are we moving?” asked Shane.

            “It won’t be for a little while yet, I have to talk to my boss at the bank in the morning and see when I start my new job, and we might have to find an apartment just for a little while until we get all set up; selling this house and finding a new one.”

            “What are you going to do at your new bank Mommy?”

            “I’m going to be an accounts manager that means that I help people and look after lots and lots of paperwork.”

            “Are you going to like working with paper?”

            “I think so, now go and get your homework, the school year is almost done, and I want to finish it on a good note.”

            “Will I like my new school?” he asked.

            “We’ll go look at it soon, everything is going to be just fine, we’ll all be together, and we will even have a dog eventually. You’re good at making friends, don’t you worry.”

            That night after Shane and Courtney were in bed, Shannon and Albert sat on the sofa talking about the day.

            “You could have asked me about the dog, I couldn’t say no and we don’t know what kind of a place we’re going to be able to find,” berated Shannon.

            “Come on, Shan, you know that we’ve talked about it enough times. They’re old enough now and I’m home all the time. We won’t have to worry about coming home and having a wrecked house. You just concentrate on being a good accounts manager, my paperwork queen and we will all be very happy.”

            “Paperwork queen!” exclaimed Shannon.

            “Well isn’t that what you told our son that you were going to do lots and lots of paperwork.”

            “Yes, and I am but my role will be bigger than that and you know it. This is very big opportunity; these kinds of chances don’t come up everyday.”

            “I know, I was just teasing.”

            “Good thing you work from your computer no matter where you are or else this could be a lot more complicated.”

            “You’re apprehensive about this move too aren’t you?”

            “Anyone would be even if they didn’t have two kids to worry about.”

            “We’ll make out fine, you’ll see.”

            “I know we will, I guess it’s just when you’ve lived somewhere for your whole life, it is hard to imagine living somewhere else. You go from knowing everyone who walks into your workplace and you meet all your friends in the grocery store and stuff to knowing nobody.”

            “You’re good with names and faces and all of that, you’ll adapt quickly.”

            “I’ve spent this whole week with indecision and now that we’ve finally made a decision, I don’t know if it is the right choice or not.”

            “You worry about making the choice and once you’ve made it you still don’t know if you’ve made the right now. That’s indecision for you.”

            “Life is full of it, sometimes it is the stuff that makes dreams,” answered Shannon laughing. Everything was going to turn out even though the thought of so many changes was nerve wracking and no matter what she did or where she went in her life, there would be obstacles, indecision would only be one of them.

Charlie’s Dreams

by: Rebecca Taylor

         A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street. He had wants and needs and most of all he had dreams, none of which his girlfriend seemed to understand. He was twenty-four years old and had a life ahead of him; he wasn’t ready to make payments on a house or settle down and start choosing baby names. He wished that Michelle could understand the way he felt but she kept talking about time running out. Her parents had married when they were eighteen and had been happy raising their four children. Charlie was happy for Mr. and Mrs. Lurie but couldn’t convince the woman he cared deeply about that just because her parents had been married when they were so young, it didn’t mean they had to be. As the snowflakes landed on Charlie’s clothing, a chill went through him, he was afraid – afraid that if he didn’t give in to Michelle, that their relationship would suffer but he knew that if he married her, he would eventually resent their relationship. He felt like it was a no win situation and he didn’t know what to do about it. Michelle was a great person to be with when she wasn’t freaking out about how close she was to becoming an old maid. Charlie had tried to tell her that it was the year 2012 and nobody used that term anymore but his arguments fell on deaf ears. Liking children and being ready to commit to their needs for life were two different things in Charlie’s books. He was a spur of a moment kind of guy and that meant grabbing a change of clothes and a few other necessities on the weekends to get out of the city and just go somewhere new. You couldn’t be spur of the moment with a baby in tow, because you had to make sure you had everything the baby needed. Charlie didn’t mind driving in snowstorms, he was careful and he had survival skills. You didn’t take chances like that with a baby. He’d even been doing it less since meeting Michelle because he liked being with her except during her rants. Adventurous Charlie didn’t want to become rush home from work to a family Charlie.

         His cell phone rang and he looked at the screen to see Michelle’s name show up. He slid the phone back into his pocket. He had walked out of the restaurant in order to give himself time to think, time that he needed so he didn’t say something he would regret.

          Toss a coin, make a decision, to be with her or to move on and find someone who wants what you want, said a voice inside his head.

      Don’t give up on the woman you love, said another voice.

     Charlie sighed; it was happening more often that he felt like he was being pulled in a billion directions. He had finished college and just entered the job world – he was getting used to the responsibilities that held, but that was only for eight hours a day, five days a week. Having a child was a lifetime responsibility, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and you didn’t get vacation days.

            Michelle’s not the only woman out there; maybe we should both be seeing other people, but I know I wouldn’t like seeing her with another man. I want to be with her and maybe in ten years I will be holding her baby in my arms but not now. We have time now to have adventures together, we can save our money and go to Paris or Ireland, anywhere we want. You don’t take your baby to see the Eiffel Tower, you go to Disneyland or somewhere that has families and strollers all around you. I’m not ready for that, no matter what Michelle wants I can’t be that guy right now.

            Charlie shrugged his shoulders which were protected by his heavy winter coat. He could feel the tension beating on his muscles.

        “Oh what should I do?” he asked the winter’s evening.

         “Follow your heart,” answered a man sitting on a bench, “and stand up for what you believe in.”

      Charlie looked at the man; his clothing was worn and dusty as he sat at the bus stop. He had obviously done a hard days’ work, but he looked happy and his words were the answer to Charlie’s prayer. He thanked the man and turned around and headed back to the diner. He had to tell Michelle how he felt, that she was in his heart but that he couldn’t turn on his dreams to follow hers. They would have to find a way to make their paths join like the intersection of a street or find another road to walk.

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