Change (Chapter 13)

30 03 2009

Trish closed the last of the boxes and made sure it was sealed tight. Hunter would be by shortly to pick them up. She couldn’t believe her time at Hope House was ending. How ironic that in saving herself she helped to create a place where other women could be healed as well? But it was more than the women. Those women had children; they had friends, family, employers. Trish never tired of reading the thank you letters from past residents talking about how their lives had been turned around and how sharing their story and the lessons she taught them now helped saved other men and women from the same fate. God had truly turned her mourning into dancing. One of the best reasons for dancing was now ringing the door bell. 

Hunter took a deep breath and waited. He could see Trish heading towards the private entrance and his face broke into a smile. Was he ever going to be tired of seeing her? He didn’t think so. Was he looking forward to not sharing her with so many hurting women? Yes. But he knew that hurting women would always be a part of her life. She was only going to be doing it from a different perspective and location.

Trish landed the first of many boxes into Hunter’s outstretched arms.

“Work first, kissing and hugging later,” she charged.

Hunter’s greeting died on his lips and so did his smile.

“You know, I usually accept a deposit for any delivery services I undertake these days,” he countered.

“I think my credit is good with you. Feel free to run the meter,” Trish said turning to get another box.

It took the better part of two hours to move all of the boxes. Trish had accumulated hundreds of books and pictures she had no desire to part with. All of the furniture belonged to the shelter and she had kept her wardrobe to a minimum. That needed to change she said to herself. Time to get a makeover and a new life.

Leaving Hope House would be as big a transition for her as it was for the other women. It made her both nervous and excited. Now she could see if all of the things she told the women could really stand up in the court of her own life.

The outgoing director of Hope House took one final look around her apartment. Everything was out and the cleaner and maintenance man would ensure that everything was ready for the new director. She’d told Hunter to walk around to the main entrance but he was no where in sight when she came to open the door.

There it was again, the whispering. For weeks, the women had been whispering behind her back and she was no closer to figuring out what they were up to. Now there were giggles as she approached the entertainment room. Usually the door was left open but now it was closed and so she took a breath and turned the knob.

“We’ll miss you Trish,” the women shouted as balloons and confetti dropped from the net above the door.

More cheers and laughter assailed Trish as she walked further into the room. Hunter was there and so were Leah, Monica, the new director and the Mayor?

Mayor Althea Reeves, came forward and shook Trish’s hands as the women fell silent.

“Trish, I couldn’t let this day pass without coming to extend my well wishes and to say job well done,” the woman who had been instrumental in helping Trish fund the center said. “I know you deserve all of the good things that life has to offer and there are hundreds of women who now have a good life because of what you have accomplished here at Hope House.”

Trish was now in tears and Hunter came to stand at her side, steadying her with his hand.

Leah came forward holding a scissors tied with a bow. Trish looked at her quizzically accepting the scissors.

“For most of these women,” Leah began, “The sight of a pair of scissors has not been a good thing.” The women laughed nervously, understanding all too well her statement.

“But for the past few months the scissors have been our best friend in a quest to help you have the most amazing transition to the real world. If you will Trish, please use the scissors to find out what all the giggling has been about.”

The women parted like the Red Sea and Trish was suddenly looking at what seemed to be gifts that reached the ceiling. Hunter nudged her forward and before too long, Trish was snipping through gaily colored ribbons which allowed the wrapping paper to fall way leaving, racks of clothing, curtains, hand-woven bed throws and the most amazing crocheted evening gown, she had ever seen.

The gown left Trish with more questions as it seemed out of place amidst the household items. Just then the mayor handed her an envelope embossed with her name.

Trish opened the envelope with shaking hands. She had no idea how much more she could take. Thank God Hunter hadn’t moved. She needed his strength. “The Governor of California, requests your presence at the annual gala for Outstanding Citizens at which Ms. Patricia Reynolds will receive the 2009 Woman of the Year Award for exempl…” she couldn’t read anymore as the tears engulfed her.

Trish found she was not out of tears. Before her last day at Hope House was over, she had cried two more times. The second was when she read the journal everyone had contributed to of all their favorite memories and lessons from Trish. The last and the loudest was reserved for the Hope Tree, which was a collage of images sent in from the more than 200 women who had spent a week, a day, a month or the full eighteen months and all of the lives each had touched since leaving the shelter. Could good come from the scar on her face that still hurt when she was stressed or scared? The answer in front of her was a resounding, yes.

Hunter pulled into the garage of Trish’s new townhouse. He had helped her to find it weeks earlier and she had been stressed about how she could manage for the first time in seven years on her own. He looked at her sleeping against his shoulder and sighed. He didn’t know if it was cool for men to sigh but since meeting this woman, he sighed often with happiness just to know she existed and had made it through the storm.

“God,” he prayed. “Please let me be the one to weather future storms with her. She doesn’t need to go through them alone. I promise if you give me the chance, you will never have to look for another.”

His prayer had not been a silent one and Trish responded “Amen.”

It didn’t bother him. He wanted this woman to know that he prayed for her often. More than once it was her prayers that had pulled him through when he was frustrated with the job rejections and other failures that seemed insurmountable.

“God, I feel pretty happy right now that you brought me through this journey at Hope House. But I have to tell you that I have no clue how to live on my own. My parents were always there, then Randy, then the shelter. I am thankful that you sent Hunter into my life but please help me not to take more than I give.” Hunter joined her on Amen.

It wasn’t until Trish turned the keys to her new home she realized that she hadn’t asked about her things. She turned to ask Hunter but he just winked at her and pushed her door open. The waterworks began anew.

……..

Bren was testy and she knew why. It was that time of the month when biology and instinct were colliding to make her want a certain man more than usual. Two weeks, three days, twenty-one hours, five minutes and 37 seconds before her wedding and she wanted her man.

She pounded the pillow one more time as if that would make a difference. “God, help me please…Could you make an exception, grant a small leeway, day pass? Ahhhhhh,”

The worst part of this was that she couldn’t even call Grey as he was presently winging his way to a two-week workshop in England. That made her even more mad, because he had chosen to escape rather than stay and fight it out with her. He wasn’t going to be back until the rehearsal dinner. This was going to be the longest two weeks of her life.

England, today, was overcast and rainy — just as it was the day before that and the day before that and… Grey envied Bren, back home, great weather and just… home. Days like this … he wished for days like this when they could stay home together, well, not just home — this was bedroom weather!

He could imagine…

Grey knew he would just frustrate himself but he went with it anyway… He wondered if he called Bren if she’d indulge his mood… Knowing her, she was already there.

Grey didn’t press his luck — he would call… just not now. Bren would tease him with no mercy. He settled into the couch and his eyes glazed over — he was totally and completely taken.

He loved Bren the way Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore loved each other in Ghost.

But…

Specifically.

The pottery scene!

Whoa!

He had even adopted her corny lingo…

Everything… anything they did together, no matter how benign became a test of willpower. As he taught her the fundamentals of golf — standing behind her, guiding her form… swing, strike… she caught on pretty fast but he didn’t let on until she figured out he was just feeling her up. She liked it though. That’s what they did. That’s how they were. He didn’t see how that would ever change. And, waiting would just be so worth it! They were going to be married before God and speak vows of love and trust and a forever union…

They hadn’t picked out a “first dance” song for the wedding yet but Grey had already picked out the song for their 10 year anniversary (and beyond) — Bren had laughed at him but he was serious and he made her write it down with signature as their binding agreement….

We’re Still Together… by Shania Twain

(When I first saw you, I saw love.

And the first time you touched me, I felt love.

And after all this time, you’re still the one I love.)


Looks like we made it

Look how far we’ve come my baby

We mighta took the long way

We knew we’d get there someday

They said, “I bet they’ll never make it”

But just look at us holding on

We’re still together still going strong

 

You’re still the one I run to

The one that I belong to

You’re still the one I want for life

The only one I dream of

You’re still the one I kiss good night


Ain’t nothin’ better

We beat the odds together

I’m glad we didn’t listen

Look at what we would be missin’

 

Grey knew he was being soft… but he insisted; left to Bren they would be dancing to “Just Fine”…

Bren acquiesced… she liked his touch… literally and figuratively.

But she drew the line at a destination wedding — he was being selfish. He wanted to marry and “honeymoon” all in one setting — as in from the altar to the bedroom — pronto. Ha! He wasn’t slick, she chided him.

……..

Grey was never far from Bren’s thoughts as their wedding day drew closer but finalizing all of the arrangements for the reception proved to be a great distraction. Jai and Carlotta would be her bridesmaids and Trish her maid of honor. Trish had flown in on the weekend to help out with the final plans and it proved the old adage that many hands make work light. She was not about to admit to Grey that his idea for a destination wedding had crossed her mind a time or two in the past week. That bit of knowledge she would take to her grave.

Grey might be out of the country but he had made sure there were enough men around to do the heavy lifting. By the time the girls arrived at the church to check the decorations the potted plants had arrived, the arch and stands that were his responsibility were all in place.

The minister greeted the women warmly teasing Bren about her missing groom. “He will be here, Pastor Sanders,” she said confidently.

Grey had called from New York several hours earlier assuring her he would be there, despite the flight delays. He was a man of his word.

……..

Monica dusted off the worn suitcases she’d pulled from the attic. They had seen better days but they would have to do. She was leaving and so were the kids. Trish had said running away was never the answer but she knew there needed to be distance between her, DJ and his family. They were now becoming as verbally abusive as he was and it finally cleared up where his anger came from. Her children were not going to grow up around this poison. It was time to go.

Another call from the school about her son’s behavior had made it a lot easier to place a call to her Aunt Maisie in North Carolina. She never understood how Auntie always knew it was her before she said hello but all Aunt Maisie said was “The rooms are ready, bring my children home.”

Monica had gone to the bank and cleaned out what was left in her savings account she had managed to hide from Daniel. There was enough in it for bus tickets and food for the trip. Her Aunt wasn’t rich but all she needed was a place to call home. Monica was confident they would be on their feet in no time.

It hadn’t been hard to convince the kids to pack a bag. The pressure from their grandparents and the gossip around school was taking its toll. They had never been to North Carolina and so she had regaled them with childhood memories to excite them about the trip. Monica assured them they were not running away but needed a new place to breathe and regain their perspective.

She had apologized to them for not having the courage to leave the marriage earlier and asked for their help in making the move work. Both kids were concerned about their father coming after them, once he was released from jail. Rather than lie she confessed to not knowing what the outcome of the case would be but that she would do everything possible to protect them and above all else, they could believe that God had dispatched more angels to see they remained safe.

Monica’s thoughts had so distracted her that the cases were filled in no time. She got ready and then went to rouse the kids as they were leaving on the eleven pm bus. It was a two-day trip and she had packed enough snacks for four. Jacintha had loaded her down with meat patties, some fried chicken, and other goodies. She had been a God-send as her wounds healed. So many little blessings had come her way from the moment, she said “No more.”

This was only the beginning the voice whispered.

“Trust me and see what I will do for you and the children.”

She was ready.

……..

Grey had called in a favor to save himself from the wrath of Bren’s tongue. He was not about to miss the rehearsal and so calling an old friend was the only way he could be sure that wouldn’t happen. While stranded passengers were arguing with airlines about new flights and dinner coupons, Grey was winging his way home in a Falcon 900 leased by a former buddy, now a major recording artist. The two reminisced about the old days and Grey used the opportunity to witness. Although his friend was now rolling in the dough, his eyes still held the deadness that Grey remembered all so well from the streets. He didn’t decline Grey’s offer to pray and by the time the flight had landed, Grey was happy he had made the call. His friend had confessed he was considering suicide at 30,000 feet and it was Grey’s call that had changed his plans.

……..

Monica and the kids arrived in warm and sunny North Carolina on time. The kids still sleepy eyed from the long journey look amazed at this area of the country they had never known. It seemed like a brand new world. A world untouched by the pain they left behind.

Monica silently hoped this would be a start of a new life for them…

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