The End (Final draft)

Keri felt the air being siphoned from her lungs, swallowing she tried to breathe. Her head pounded as her efforts to filter out the background noise failed. The pain was the stinging kind  you feel when something smacks you in the face. It even made her nose tingle. It was a surprise, so unexpected. The day had started out so great.  She closed her eyes and willed it all to just stop, but the voice booming somewhere in the background was relentless. He was on one of his tirades about the way she’d looked when he’d said something or her tone of voice when she answered. She couldn’t remember. She didn’t even know if she knew. She usually didn’t. She would just apologize and even more recently, just leave. But she couldn’t today. They were in the car, and like so many other times, she just had to take it. And it would probably blow over, and she’d forgive him, and they’d pretend it never happened.  She used to believe with all of her heart it wouldn’t, but now she had no doubt that it would. She pressed her forehead against the cold glass and stared out at all the other cars and wondered why everyone looked so happy.

sad rain on window

At first, she’d yelled back but realized that she couldn’t make him hear her.  There were no blows. Nothing physical about it, except for maybe when he yanked her arm. But that was not the pain she was feeling now. It was the humiliation and the shame. It happened more often, and lasted longer lately, and it exhausted her.

 couple fighting in car

They’d been driving. It was a beautiful rainy morning. The drops tapped lightly above them as they’d lay on the floor reading the Sunday paper and ended up making love right there, on top of the funnies. Jack suggested that they go to Polly’s for breakfast. So they jumped in the car and headed to the beach. They’d just been laughing minutes before. And then like a ball in her face, things turned. Jack’s anger came out of no where.  She’d learned lately that it didn’t have to take much. She used to blame herself because she didn’t know how to help him. She wanted to love him out of his pain. She even tried to make him believe that she loved him more than anyone in her life. She believed it. But, slowly she realized that it was not true. She did love someone more. Though he’d tried with all of his might to make her believe otherwise, she finally knew that she loved herself more. Enough to get out.

women writing at desk

Keri clicked the period. And stared at the screen of the last page of her book.  It was complete. She looked out the window massaging her neck absent mindly staring into space, still back decades, remembering. She’d thought that finishing her novel would feel different but it was anticlimactic. She forced her eyes to focus back on the screen and scrolled to the last chapter and reread it. She sighed. She was satisfied, after a few false endings, it was definitely a wrap.

This book had been a surprise in her life and much harder to write than she’d ever imagined. But she knew that she needed to tell her story.  Not just for all the young girls out there that needed to be educated about abuse, but for her own closure. So much had happened in-between sitting down to write the first page and today. But she had no doubt about what she had to do next..

She found her editor’s address, attached her book, clicked on the file, and pushed SEND.

type the end

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#60

Dear Journal,

When Jack and I broke up, I thought I was going to stop needing you. But I think I need you more than ever now. I want to remember everything so I don’t slip  and go back to my old ways and give in one more time. Just because I still really want to believe in all of his promises. He has not stopped trying to talk to me. I am so tired of finding him at my work or outside of my neighborhood.

So much has happened. I did go back. But not the way that you might think. I went back to get my things when I knew Jack would not be home. I told him that I was going to come and pick up my stuff when he would be at work and would leave my key. He told me to keep it and I told him I that I had no reason to keep it and really didn’t want it. I got there and tried to get everything fast. I knew he was at work and he promised not to show up. But I never know with him. All of my stuff was neatly piled in the living room waiting for me. I could still  picture it all over the lawn and it helped me to stay strong and not feel sad. Though…  It was a strange hollow feeling knowing that it would be the last time that I would ever be using “my key” to walk through that door again.

screen door

When I was walking back from the last trip, Jess called out from his screen door and he and Louise came out on their porch and called me over,  I went through their gate and they hugged me really tight. I sat on their porch with them and they told me that they knew everything. I wondered if Jack told them and then I realized that they’d heard and I was embarrassed. So embarrassed. I told them about Switzer and they looked sorry for me and then told me that they would be glad to adopt him. I looked up and asked “Really?” Oh, I was so happy, I started crying and began telling them the whole story. I’d never told anyone everything. Even recently,  just bits and pieces. But I sat there and shared about the time on the sailboat and the time we went soaring and well, I guess they witnessed the New Year’s scene firsthand. They were so great. They told me that they were proud of me and how strong I was. They told me that they were “my” friends and anything that they could do, they would. I gave them  my parent’s  phone number since they only had the one from next door. Louise told me that I could still house sit  since Jack was leaving. I guess looked pretty surprised when they told me that he was moving out.

I guess that I looked a little taken aback finding out that he was moving out. I am not sure why I cared. But I did. They were very apologetic, though obviously thought that I knew. “That was not a great way for you to find out.” Louise said. But I said it was okay and asked what they knew.  They told me that the little house was already rented out or that actually our Landlord’s daughter was moving in.  Jess said that the other day Jack told him that he was moving to Cerritos for a new job offer. I thought that was weird since Buena Park,  is right next to Cerritos and was hoping that he wasn’t moving to be near my work.  But I didn’t mention anything. I guess I still wanted to believe that he wouldn’t do anything that crazy. I told them that I’d  be over to bring Switzer by later that afternoon before Jack got home from work and they said Mopsy would be happy to have the company.

As I stood at the front door I looked back and surveyed the little house that once held so many dreams and now just  held so many memories for me.  I slipped my ring out of my pocket and left it on the table in the entry way along with the key and noticed a small box sitting by the door where all my stuff had been. It was a little set aside so I almost missed it.  It held all of Annie’s letters, I thought Jack threw them away in a fit of rage. But he hadn’t. They were all neatly placed in the box with the ribbon carefully re-tied around them. I picked them up and walked out the door.

 

 

#46 Happy New Year’s!

traffic at night

Dear Journal,

I am so excited!!!!!

Jack was so cute. On New Year’s Eve, he told me to bring blankets and dress warm and  that he just wanted to take a drive up North and look at the stars. He said that when we got up there we would put  the top down even though it was freezing that night.  His friend Larry  invited us to a party that sounded like it might have been actually a little more fun than driving up to some cold deserted place  but I was happy to be with Jack and go where ever he wanted to go. In the end, even though he got time off, he was called into work to fix a printer problem at the last minute. So I waited in the car for about a half an hour and we didn’t even get on the freeway till  around nine.

car talk

We bundled  up and drove past the grapevine and stopped at the top of the hill at a place called Fort Tejon. I didn’t get and still am not sure what it was about Fort Tejon that made it so special,  but I think it might have been just far enough away from the city lights where we could look up and see the stars. We laid our seats back and stared up. The sky was filled with clusters of stars and we just talked about everything. Something we hadn’t done for a long time.

starry sky

 My dad managed to get him a week off with pay, thinking that he could relax and figure things out with his mom. I think that touched Jack and he really was much more relaxed than I’d seen him in  a long time.  As we lay there, Jack started telling me how much he loved me and couldn’t imagine living through this last year without me and then he sat up and reached into the glove compartment, pulling me up with him…

convertable engagement

and said ; ” I can’t imagine living  the rest  of my life without you.” then  handed me a velvet box with a beautiful diamond ring in it and asked, “Will you marry me Keri?” It was so romantic!!!!!!   Oh yeah, I said Yes!

engagement pics of rings and things

The ring was so beautiful. I don’t think it was one that I tried on. I really did not expect it at all. He slipped the ring on my finger and my mind started spinning.

engaged3

 

Even though it was past midnight, I wanted to go right home and tell everyone, especially my parents. I chattered all the way home about nothing that I can remember as I admired my ring that sparkled in the moonlight. We laughed and talked and I looked out the window and saw a young girl with a sad face look back at me. She looked so broken and I wondered what was happening in her life to make her look that way and  stopped to say a prayer for her because I knew too well how she felt.

DRIVING

Remembering how once I was the one  watching everyone else be happy and  thought… EVERYTHING is going to be okay now. I was so happy. I  looked over and said, “Jack, lets go wake your mom up right now and tell her!” I just knew she’d be happy for us. Jack seemed surprised but happy that I wanted to tell his mom but he said “let her sleep, there will be time.”

After Jack dropped me off,  I ran in and up the stairs and woke up my parents showing them my ring. They were  both sweet.  But my mom was obviously not happy. I was so disappointed. Later, as I lay in bed   I thought about when my mom said. “There’s no hurry right?” I wanted someone to be happy for us. I considered calling Liz. I mean didn’t she call us enough times after midnight? But I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for Jack so I waited till we could tell her together. And finally fell asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

#35

 

Dear Journal,

We had the make up class at Alesse Marshals, my modeling school. Jack paid for it. He has been so attentive and sweet. He said that he would pay for my portfolio which I have to have to complete the class and go on jobs. I am not sure what I want to do.

portfolio2

 

But I mean who doesn’t want to be a model? At first I signed up because I wanted to do it for me but now it seems as if Jack really wants me to pursue it. He has been complimenting me a lot lately and said it has been well worth the money. I am not sure what that is supposed to mean. So is he saying that I looked bad before? Once when we were having a fight, he told me that he had dragged me from the gutter and that everything that I am now is because of him. Now that is a back handed compliment if I ever heard one. I mean, my braces were eventually going to come off and my skin was eventually going to clear up and my hair was going to eventually grow out from the Sun IN that I’d kind of fried it with the summer before we met.

combing blonde hair

I think that the modeling school idea was good for me because I have gained confidence. But I also have been asked out by a few guys which I never mentioned to Jack because he doesn’t like it when the guys look at me at the gliderport when we go soaring so I am not sure telling him would be a good idea. Of course I just say no thanks and that I have a boyfriend. The crazy thing is that every minute of every waking hour, I am trying to think up things to make Jack happy.

lake arrowhead cabin

 

Last weekend we went up to Lake Arrowhead and rented a cabin. We had such a good time.  Even though it is fall now, it was still warm and early the next morning we rented a little sailboat and went out on the middle of the lake. Jack brought me by a home that a friend named Larry from High School used to own. It was  beautiful. We sailed right up to it’s dock. It sat on a hill of green grass and it’s front yard was the lake! We walked around the little town and bought firewood and made a fire in the fireplace that night. It was so romantic. We bought a little baby jar of peanutbutter and a loaf of bread and ate sandwiches in front of the fire and lay in each others arms.

fireplace feet

 

It’s different now since that day we went soaring. He is so sorry and  I told him that I forgave him but I also told him that if it ever happened again, it would be the last time he’d ever touch me in anyway. It would be over. I told him that in my heart, I believed in forever when I promised him that I would never leave.  But in my head, I knew that our relationship wouldn’t survive another time like that. The other day, I was doing something and I looked in the mirror.  I mean really looked in a way I hadn’t for a long time. And my reflections stared back as if she were someone else, and the look in her eyes was almost challenging, as if she were asking…. “What are you doing, why are you staying?”

in the mirror

 

#31 Moving IN

 

diary writer

 

Dear Journal,

I am forever saying that I am sorry to you now aren’t I? I seem to be saying that a lot lately. But anywaaaay,  I KNOW that I have neglected you once again. It seems as if weeks go by in-between my entries and I have no excuses. And then I try to be really good about  remembering to keep you up to date and  after a few nights of filling pages, I get so busy again and just lose momnentum. So I am forever tying to catch you up. Now lets see…. I finally spent the weekend with Laurie at her dorms and we had a blast. Jack wasn’t too happy about it but I really needed a break. Now that I have given in, he knows that he has nothing to worry about! I mean of course I would never have gone that far if I hadn’t expected “forever” so he knows that I’m not going anywhere and that I have a feeling that he feels more secure. But even still, I’m not sure why it is always so hard for him to understand that I need my space and yet can still love him? Anyway we had a blast. Her roomate was home for the weekend so we had the room to ourselves and we caught up and shopped and ate out a LOT and saw a couple movies. It was so fun and felt like old times.

girls shopping

The biggest news that I have to tell you is that we found a place!! I think that I might have told you about it last time. Well, we got it. When I drove by, it was this little blue craftman’s style house that had a bunch of kid’s toys out in front. It was so perfect. When the landlord told me that we had to wait to see it, I just thought I’d die waiting. The family had just been transfered to Kentucky and weren’t moving out until the following week. But when we were  finally  able t0 coordinate our schedules Jack and I met the landlord there who’d was just finishing up painting and we signed the lease that day!

IMAG0750951307538737969

 

 

And Oh my it is wonderful! It has a wonderful bay window and wood burning fireplace and built in Shelves in every room. The master bedroom has a wall to wall built in dresser that was made with such detail and beveled glass cupboards. The bathroom has a wonderful footed bathtub and out in back there is this darling work shed that even has a great work bench just waiting for all of Jack’s many projects that I can’t wait for him to start!

shedshed inside

 

 

 

Since then we have been moving in. Well, Jack has. He says that it is our house but of course I still go home at night. But I am there when he gets home from work or sometimes when he wakes up! Depending on the day. We both have keys and he has let me shop for and arrange  the furniture however I like. It has been so fun papering the cupboards with contact paper and buying dishes and towels because he needed just about everything right down to a laundry basket.

contact-paper-2shelves empty

 

The other day I was out gardening in the back yard and met the most wonderful neighbors. Jess and Louise said that they are in the process of looking for a farm in Missouri where they’d like to retire and said that they are back and forth sometimes.

garden

I’d cleared a lot of weeds out of the backyard and started a Victory Garden and they raved about it and  invited me over for iced tea so I washed my hands and went around to the front where they welcomed me on their wrap around porch with swing and all! Oh and they have the cutest little puppy named Mopsy and she really does look like a little black mop. I think that their house may even be more charming than ours. They have three bedrooms and each one has a big brass bed in it with Amish Patchwork Quilts on each one! Their kitchen has been updated but to the year that the house was built in the early 1920s. They have the most amazing bay windows with built in window seats that I want Jack to see so he can try to duplicate in our little front bay window!

porch swing

Jack came home and my car was out front and when I was no where to be found, he was pretty upset and was waiting for me when I came back through the gate. He said that I left the house “wide opened” which I didn’t. And I told him that I could see pretty much everything from their dining room window. Which didn’t make him happy either. “So they can see right into our house?” “Not really, well yeah kinda.” I  had to tell him in case he ever went over there and saw for himself!

Jack brooded for a while. And went out to work in his shed but by the time I’d made dinner and called him back in, he seemed to have snapped out of it. and we ended up having a good night.

I promise that I’ll be back tomorrow to catch you up some more!

K

 

 

 

#30 Dear Journal

Dear Journal,

I have to say that the week at camp was a lot of work but so worth it! The kids were really good. We didn’t have our regular class. They were too young to go this year. We had eight – nine year old girls and had two assistants in our cabin, along with Kathy and I. Some of the kids needed meds and others just needed closer supervision but they were much easier than our class of five and six year old. Though every single minute of every single day was filled. But the ratio was two kids per counselor in our cabin so it wasn’t  bad at all. The nights were so fun. All the counselors would get together and have what they called RnR around the campfire.

bonfire2

We took turns where two stayed with the cabin while two of us went to RnR and then the next night we’d switch. Kathy and I ended up volunteering to stay with the cabin more nights and we’d stay up and talk long after  our two assistants would come back. We talked about everything… What she wanted out of life, how she became a Speech Therapist,  what I wanted out of life and my career goals. About her wanting to have a baby, about her marriage, about Jack and I  and then a couple of nights into really getting to know each other, I told her that I was still a virgin and that I was saving myself for marriage. She kind of flipped out. And told me that I needed to go right home and do it. She was joking, but I started thinking a lot about it.

sunshine coach

Jack was right there waiting for me when our bus pulled up. He grabbed me and picked me right up off the ground and swung me around . When he set me down, I caught Kathy smiling at me with a little twinkle in her eye. And I glared at her but smiled. I knew exactly what she was thinking. All the parents of our girls had already been picked up at camp so Kathy and I were free to go as soon as our sleeping bags and suit cases were unloaded. Her husband pulled up and got out. He sure is cute! He is a lawyer. He put her stuff in their MG little sports car and came over and shook Jack’s hand and admired his spitfire. I waved goodbye to Kathy as we both turned in different directions.

hugging jumped up

All the way home, I talked nonstop, about the kids and the activities and about RnR. I told him about how after the first few nights we’d opted to stay in and let our assistants go to most of the RnRs  and then I let him in on  some of  the conversations Kathy and I had about us and Jack just smiled and reached over and held my hand without saying anything. When we got to his apartment his dad was working the swing shift and was not due home for a few more hours and so we went up.

inbed2

I don’t really think that either one of us planned it or thought anything was going to happen that day, but we really missed each other and one thing led to another and  I’d been thinking about what Kathy said and  reasoning with myself ever since our own private RnRs.  I knew that we’d be together forever and so lets just say that Jack should be very happy that I care about Kathy’s opinion so much. He usually gets mad when I put so much value on what other people think but this time I think he was glad. He was so gentle and sweet and I was’nt as scared as I thought I’d be. Afterwards we just kind of lay there in the after glow and ended up falling asleep and almost getting caught.

hugging lying down

Jack was the first to hear his dad pull up in the garage below and just happened to hear the car door slam. Luckily that woke him up out of a deep sleep.  He jumped up and woke me up and we stumbled around getting dressed really fast and and then turned on the TV. It was way  too close that time!

tv watching

 

When Jack took me home, he told me that he wanted to speed up the search for our own place and said that he figured out that he  could afford Five hundred dollars a month! Which is enough to get a little two bedroom house. We looked that next weekend instead of going soaring  and it was so much fun going through apartments and peeking into windows of empty houses. But the next week, I  happened to be driving by a cute neighborhood in Lomita when I found our house! I wrote down the phone number and I can’t wait for Jack to come see it with me!

Boundaries Journal #26

shower7

 I got up the next morning and went to school. I think maybe I’d slept two hours. I stood in the shower crying. My head pounded as I dried my hair and got dressed.  I could barely think about anything while I was there. I only had two classes and then my journal class but I don’t check in with Mrs. Walker till next week.  So I could have left early and almost got in my car to drive to the hospital a million times. But it had been raining all day and I wasn’t used to driving on the freeways in the rain. And it just gave me more time to really think about everything. I knew that Jack would be thinking that I was just like everyone else running away from him when things got tough. Even though he “literally” drove me away. I realized what he was doing before we even fought about it. But I just couldn’t be the one this time to give in. I’d felt so stupid chasing him around the streets of Montery Park until I was convinced that he was actually trying to lose me. But I was prepared and nailed him when he finally tried to make the excuses that I’d already known he’d make.

spitfite green in rain

Finally last night as I pulled into my neighborhood his car was parked just inside the entrance where it was impossible to miss him. I stopped because I just didn’t want to make a scene in front of my house and my dad was home this week and well, he would never tolerate the way Jack tends to get. I pulled in front of him and he got out and I moved my books and he got in. I waited for him to start talking. And he started in right away about how I just fell off the face of the planet but how it was to be expected because he couldn’t count on anyone in his life.

couple in a car

I have discovered in dealing with Jack, when he gets like that, the best way to handle him, is to just apologize and sympathize with how he is feeling. NOT this time. I’d had it. And I’d had time to do plenty of thinking. There’d been a time when I’d even jumped on his car’s hood crying when he screeched away, trying to get him to stay and talk. Never again. I was ready.  I put my hand up to stop him. This time he was going to hear me out.

sad girl in a car

I told him that I didn’t even want to talk about what happened when I was supposed to be following him. I told him that he knew exactly what he was doing and that I didn’t know where I was going and he lost me. He started to interrupt and I held up my hand and he actually stopped talking and let me continue which I have to admit kind of empowered me. I said that I knew that it was an uncomfortable situation with his mom and that he’d always dealt with it himself and that it why when he’d come home, he’d lose his the girl and the semester. I told him that if he got it together this time, I was in it for the long haul and he wasn’t going to lose the girl. All of a sudden, he just relaxed and reached for me but I held firm and again held up my hand and he rolled his eyes and I smiled and kind of laughed. And told him that I was serious that he really did need to get his act together. That I knew he lost me because he didn’t know what else to do. But it hurt my feelings and he’s lucky I am smart enough to figure it out. But I meant it. He needed to get his act together. Then I let him in for the hug and it was different than any we’d ever shared before. It was as if we’d both grown up a little.

kissing in car

Dear Journal #22 New Jobs

journall

Dear Journal,

I am sorry. It has been a while since I’ve posted. Even though I have made a deal with Mrs. Walker to try to keep up with you daily, she said that as long as I had a certain number of pages she would give me credit so the next few entries will be catching up. Sorry about that! And just so you know… I am not just coming back for the credit… I really have begun to enjoy my time writing here.

A+

I wasn’t sure how I was going to gracefully move out of my job at Amber Oil even though summer was half over, but I got a job at a dental office in Hawthorne. It was short-lived. It was at a clinic which was in a pretty bad area. Not that Amber Oil is,  in the best area, in the industrial section East of Los Angeles but I was so surprised when I stopped at a grocery store with a friend that I’d made there on the way back  to work after lunch, and there were armed guards outside the doors! So after a few month I left that job. I saw the writing on the wall there anyway. The turn over was crazy.

scroc dental

 

I actually had an interesting call the other day from Betty, one of my mom’s customers turned friends. Okay so let me explain…When I was about eleven, my mom started doing art shows and ever since I was very small, she’s always done something artsy. But my dad especially liked to walk around at different local art shows on his weekends off. He works a lot of hours but he always seemed to relax walking around looking at artwork and talking to artists. So he bought my mom some paints and she began painting these paintings of kids and forest scenes that actually were pretty good. She gave a few as gifts and began getting orders. So once my dad asked the organizer of one of the larger art shows how to get in and got my mom in. He built her A-frames for her exhibits and helped her set up. Soon she began having customers come to the house and that is where I met Betty.

artshow1

Betty was a good customer and purchased several paintings for her kid’s rooms by the time I met her. Usually, I’d run in and run out and my mom would call me in to meet a customer. I’d roll my eyes and run down the hall to her paint room and paint a smile on my face and shake their hands and take a minute for small talk and excuse myself but something made me stick around that day. This was probably about a year before I met Jack because I’d just gotten my license. Anyway,  I stayed to play with Betty’s little girl Christina. She was about six or seven and couldn’t talk, not one word. Well, she could say no (smile) but she was so smart and I was so intrigued. Betty told me that Christina had something called Aphasia and that she was going to a wonderful school in Buena Park that was teaching her to talk.

balloon little girl

I told her that I’d be glad to babysit sometime. I am not sure why. I was way past the babysitting place in my life. But there was something that drew me to that little girl. So I began taking Christina out on outings. We’d go to the park or to the library and I’d sit with her at story time. Or I’d take her to the mall and we’d ride the merry-go-round and then one day I bought her a balloon.  She kept pointing at it and I kept asking her if she wanted it and she kept nodding and I kept telling her to tell me what she wanted. Finally she said B-A-L-L-O-O-N!!! I freaked out! I was so happy! I bought her three! and we counted them and we talked about what color they were. She loves blue so she pointed to two blue ones so we talked about how there were two blue ones! And when I brought her home I said ….”Christina, tell your mom what you’ve got!” And she held them behind her back even though they were flying RIGHT over her head and  said… “bawooon” and Betty looked at me and cried. Later that month Betty took me to Christina’s school and she worked it out for me to volunteer two days a month during my sophomore year. (That is why I have so many credits and along with the ones I got from SCROC last year, can graduate so early.) Well, she called a few days ago and said that they missed me and they let her call to tell me that they wanted to offer me a real paying job working in the Pre-K class next year when I graduate in January!!!!

When Jack and I first met and we were getting to know each other,  I told him about Christina and the school and he seemed so proud of me and was even supportive about me wanting to explore going to school to become a Speech Therapist but we never really talked about it again. And then one time, when we ran into them at the market he was so sweet with Christina and it was my turn to be proud.  Betty even caught my eye and winked at me, as if she was telling me that she thought he was a good guy. But when I called him all excited about my job offer he got real quiet.