Author’s Note: You may have noticed that this chapter was published on Wednesday and generally only included the photos with very little writing. This was done by mistake as today was the day it was supposed to be published. I deleted the post from Noble Doubt on Wednesday when I realized it had been published, but you still got it in your email. I’m terribly sorry this happened.
Because of this error, I am publishing two chapters today.
Without further delay, here is the real Chapter 1.21:
Last time I wrote to you, Journal, I had picked Leo up early from school because he’d gotten into another fight. This boy is such a handful!
When I first had children, I told myself I would never say to them, “Wait until your father gets home!”
But today, I said just that. Liev was none too happy to have to deal with this as soon as he walked in the door, but he took it in stride.
As I looked on, Liev lectured the boy appropriately. Sometimes I have felt that if I didn’t stand within earshot, they would just yuck it up and act like buddies instead of Leo receiving the level of discipline I think he deserves.
Leo did exhibit some remorse as Liev spoke with him. I was a bit skeptical about the sincerity, but Liev always seemed to buy it. I don’t know why he couldn’t ever see through this.
“Gee, dad, I’m really sorry. I don’t wanna disappoint you.”
I could see Liev’s heart melting. What a softy.
Because I’d pretty much pushed this situation onto Liev, I didn’t feel it would be right to step in now and tell him he was doing it all wrong. We tried never to disagree in front of the kids.
Behind closed doors, though, we disagreed plenty!
After more apologies and promises, Liev pulled Leo into an embrace.
“I know you’ll try harder, kid.”
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Good thing they weren’t paying any attention to me because I wouldn’t have wanted to break the united front Liev and I had going in front of the children.
“I won’t fight anymore, dad,” he promised. “You’ll see.”
“That’s my boy.”
Then, as if he suddenly remembered I was nearby, he added, “I hope you’re right, kid.”
I knew exactly what was happening here. Liev thought he sounded firm. I could hear him saying to himself, “Maybe I was too hard on him.”
But, no. I hate to break it to my well meaning husband, but…. just… no.
Still, it’s hard to be angry with him when he is so obviously filled with love for his child. When it comes down to it, I’m really thankful that Liev takes an interest in his family. Let’s face it, I could be dealing with a whole lot worse.
To my satisfaction, Liev said, “Is your homework done?”
Leo shook his head. “Nah, dad, I’ve been talkin’ to you.”
I had a lot of writing to do, so it was good that Liev instructed Leo to hit the books. Jilly’s homework was already finished but she decided to join her brother in silent protest. Trying to talk her into playing at a time like this was useless.
Finally, I sat down and began to outline a chapter I’d been struggling with. I couldn’t quite get into words how I’d felt during the time I thought I’d lost Keniesha forever. I mean, I know how I felt… desperate, anxious, lost, angry and, well, I was in the deepest depths of despair. But I didn’t want to just say that. I wanted to find a way to show it in what I wrote.
At least it was easier to write with those two reading quietly.
The next morning, I reminded Leo to behave himself at school and handed him his sack lunch which he put inside his backpack. Jilly was already outside.
I often listen in on those two when they’re waiting for the bus. This morning, Jilly was giving Leo very sound advice about life and how to stay out of trouble.
She instructed him to think more and act on his impulses less…. or something to that effect.
I don’t think Leo quite grasped the concept of looking before you leap, though. He smiled patiently at her as she rambled on and told her not to worry.
Life might go a little easier for Leo if he worried a little more, though!
“That big ol’ jerk won’t mess with you ever again!” he was saying. When he realized I was outside under the guise of getting the newspaper, he lowered his voice, but I could still hear him, “He’s going to give it back today or I’ll whoop on him again!”
“It was just a pencil. I don’t want it back anymore,” Jilly responded.
This just sent Leo into orbit. “Uh-uh, Jillybean! That was your kitty cat pencil. No one’s gonna bully you ever!”
My face became red and I could feel my temper rising. Leo had been defending his sister? That’s what the fight was about? Why didn’t he just tell us that yesterday? I was about to step in when Jilly spoke up.
“Leo, I do not want you fighting because of me and that’s that!” she firmly declared.
He clenched his jaw for a moment, his cheeks reddening, too. “Okay, I won’t unless he bothers you again.”
“Deal,” she agreed.
As the children got on the bus, I had the urge to call them back to me and find out more about what was happening. But it would have to wait. I decided to see what would happen today because, honestly, it looked like Jilly had it under control and sometimes, it’s better to let them work things out for themselves. It was very difficult, but I let them go and waved as the bus pulled away from the curb.
I took the paper inside, tossing it onto the coffee table and brought Daylynn and Rachel outdoors. It’s their favorite place and I really like our yard, too. Even though we’re in town now, we have a privacy fence. So, I know the girls aren’t going to wander off. And there’s a lot of play equipment, too. The only thing I worry about is that they may fall into the swimming pool.
Luckily, it’s easy to keep them over by the play equipment which is on the opposite side of the yard from the pool.
Liev had the day off and as the girls played, we chatted about them.
“Remember when they were afraid of grass?” I asked with a smile.
He laughed. “They cried every time we brought them outside. I’m glad they don’t mind it now.”
As usual, the topic quickly turned to our older twins. I told Liev what I’d overheard before they’d gotten on the school bus.
“Do you think I should have pressed them more about it and then just driven them to school?”
He shook his head. “It’s okay to step back and see how they work this out.”
“I wasn’t sure. I mean, yesterday, they tried to work this out for themselves and Leo ended up in trouble and sporting a black eye!”
Liev pulled me into his arms and held me tightly. I breathed in the scent of his aftershave and the soap he’d used that morning in the shower.
“Sometimes, I don’t know what to do with him,” I admitted. “He wouldn’t tell me what the fight was about. He can’t even confide in his own mother!”
“Try not to worry too much about this, Memphis.”
“Oh, you’re going to say ‘boys will be boys,’ right?”
He rubbed my back lightly before letting me go and then shrugged. “I’m more worried about the stuff he brings home that doesn’t belong to him, honestly.”
He had a point.
We would have talked more about this, but Keniesha, who had let herself into the house, joined us now from the sliding glass door.
“There you guys are!”
It was so, so good to see her.
Now that we’ve made amends, it feels like she and I were never apart. We’re older, yes, obviously. But we’ve both grown and matured. I couldn’t be happier that she’s back in my life.
She is the only person on the planet who had the same childhood as me. And when we talk about it, I laugh hysterically until I can’t breathe.
There are so many good memories about our mom and dad. I know I’ve blathered about it before, but we had a lot of fun growing up.
“Oh. My. Goodness! Memphis, do you remember that time we didn’t have enough money for the ice cream truck?”
I began to laugh hysterically. “Yes! Oh Liev, you have to hear this!”
“We had an alleyway next to our house and there were these really shiny, little black rocks.We put some in our wagon and went door to door, trying to sell them to the neighbors!”
Liev joined our laughter. “Did you make any ice cream money?”
Through our hysterics, I managed to squeak out, “We made ten simoleons and we shared a cone!”
“Then mom found out we’d been selling rocks! Whew! You should’ve seen her reaction! Needless to say, we didn’t do that again!” Keniesha roared.
“I’ve missed you terribly,” Keniesha said as she embraced me suddenly.
I hugged her back. It was so good to know I had my sister back in my life.
“Let’s swing!” she shrieked, her deep brown eyes twinkling with delight.
“What are you, ten?” I taunted. “C’mon, I want to visit some more!”
“No, you need to loosen up, as always!” she called.
I watched her for a moment as her swing went back and forth, getting higher and higher.
Reluctantly, I sat on the swing, gripping the chains. This is so stupid, I thought.
“Will you hurry up and get going?” Keniesha yelled. “Don’t be a stick in the mud like usual!”
“Fine,” I said begrudgingly, teeth gritted.
As I swung, though, little by little, the teeth clenching turned into a smile, then laughter. For a few minutes, I forgot everything and I was a child again.
Memories of happy times flooded my mind. As I soared higher on the swing, it tickled my stomach and I remembered the times Keniesha and I had spent hours on our swing set, my tummy tickling just like this. My biggest problem in life back then had been whether or not my mother was going to fix peas for dinner. Yuck. I still hated peas.
It didn’t seem that long ago… swinging with Keniesha. Yet it was.
As always, Liev is about the best father any kid could ever have. While we acted silly, he fed the girls and watched them.
More surprises awaited, though. Earlier in the day, Liev had noticed something unusual behind the garage. There was only one way it could have gotten there.
Leo sure was lucky that Liev is his father and that I’m not the one who found this!
As his parents, we know that Leo’s favorite thing in the world is cotton candy. Again, how the child was able to get this here is beyond me and I doubt Liev will ever know either.
“Kid, you have to quit doing this. This cotton candy machine doesn’t belong to you. You need to take it back to where you got it.”
“Awww… but, dad, I didn’t steal it. Can’t you see the rust on it? Some guy was giving it away. He used to work for the festival and this thing was just sittin’ there at his house, makin’ him all grumpy. He’s really old. Even older than you.”
Liev sighed loudly. “Listen, you need to give it back.”
“Okay,” Leo said as he kicked a pebble with his shoe. “Dad?”
“Before I take it back, do you want some cotton candy?”
Liev put a hand to his face and I swear I could see a little vein ready to explode on the side of his forehead. I decided to make my exit.
Keniesha’s twins Tia and Grace arrived and finally, the family was together!
Tia and Grace have grown into such beautiful and well rounded ladies. They both play sports and have excellent grades despite their father’s mysterious disappearance. I really commend my sister for how she’s raised these two.
These darling girls are so kind to my children. I love that the cousins all enjoy each other. Finally, I have the family I’ve always dreamed about.
As I watched everyone, I silently wished this night could go on forever.
Journal, why do things have to change, anyway? Why can’t we just stay the way we are in this moment forever?
By now, the sun was setting. The smell of the barbecue wafted on the air, mixing with the fragrance of a recent rain and my rose bushes. The children chased fireflies while Grace and Tia chased the children. Crickets and tree frogs began their nightly songs. And Liev and Keniesha chatted as he cooked the hot dogs.
I couldn’t help but feel a little wistful as I let the feelings tonight was producing wash over me. Why do things have to change?