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Appreciate Her While You Got Her
Doris pushed through the crowd of dancing teenagers, scoping out the room for her daughter. She went by the DJ, whose music was blasting her ears off, by the food table, which was raided by boys chugging punch from the bowl, and then went to the kitchen where it was almost empty.
Doris tapped on the shoulder of a boy talking to girl with too much make up on.
“Excuse me, but do you know my daughter, Cathy?”
“Wriggle? Cathy Wriggle?” Doris nodded her head. “Yeah, why?”
“Well, that’s my daughter and I am looking for her. She was supposed to be at the library studying but I saw n email about this party and realized where she was, truly.”
The boy gave her a blank stare. She sighed. “Where is she?”
“Oh, she’s upstairs with Jason.”
“WHAT!?” Doris turned quickly and pressed through the children and up the stairs to the second floor. Luckily, it wasn’t what she expected.
There was another DJ up there and a bunch of kids were dancing up there too. Doris looked around and started to go to a room with a closed door but then she saw her daughter. There she was, pressed against a wall, her boyfriend, Jason, who Doris never trusted for one moment, pressed up against her.
Doris huffed and went over to them and tapped on Jason’s shoulder. “May I cut in, Jason?”
“Mrs. Wriggle! I um…you see we were just going around the-”
“Good-bye, Jason.” Doris said calmly and he backed up and she lost sight of him on the dance floor.
“Mom! Why’d you do that! Why are you just barging into the party and ruining my time?”
“But, do you realize I wouldn’t have to do this if you were really at the library?”
“I finished studying.”
“Don’t dig yourself deeper into this hole. I saw the email. You left for the party right away.”
“You read my email?”
“You mean the email you left open on the screen of your computer for all to see?”
“Yeah, oh is right. Let’s go. Now.”
Doris led her daughter down the stairs, out the door, and into the car.
They were silent for a long time.
“You what? Want to apologize?”
“But don’t you realize something, Cathy? You’re going to do this again! You’re going to do this many more times. I know you will. So don’t apologize unless you’d never ever do this again, and I don’t recommend you apologize.”
Cathy just looked down. “You ruin everything.” She mumbled.
“Pardon me?” Doris asked.
“You ruin everything.” Cathy said loud enough so her mother could hear it. “You ruin everything! I just wanted to have a good time tonight and you come and ruin it! Why couldn’t you just wait for me to get home to discipline me and it would have saved mine and your time.”
“Because you would have gotten what you wanted. I don’t want you to get that in the wrong way.” Doris tuned on the windshield wipers because it started to rain hard.
“Mom, you were a kid. Did you ever like it when Grandma Josephine ruined everything for you?”
“Yes, my mom was hard on me too, but that’s what raised me to be how I am today. I don’t want you to be a bad mother and have your kids run wild.”
“I can’t believe this! Why do you have to be such a jerk! I just want to be a kid!”
“Well your not a kid, your becoming a young woman and you got to start realizing your not going to get everything you want!”
“Oh my god! I can’t believe you!” there was silence. “I hate you.” She mumbled.
Doris sat up strait and her eyes weakened. The exact words she dreaded to hear. I. Hate. You. She cleared her throat and looked strait forward.
The car jerked a little. And then it did it again. What was wrong with the car? Doris tried to accelerate but the wheels seemed to slip over the wet pavement and they started to spin. Cathy clutched the arm rest and the door handle and pressed against the chair. Doris hit the brakes a hundred times but the car was speeding out of control.
But then the car rammed into the side railing and they flipped over the edge into a field, tumbling, crashing, and slamming in to trees and rocks.
The car stopped and Cathy looked around. She couldn’t see much.
“Mom? Mom, are you okay?”
There she saw her mother, motionless, covered in blood.
“Mom? Mom, answer me! Mom, come on!” nothing from her. “Mom, listen to me! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! Mom….mom…”
Cathy reached for her purse that was under her chair and partially crushed. She reached in and grabbed her cell phone. She dialed 911 and told them there was an accident by the Waytona River and they said they’d be there soon.
Cathy put her phone away and unbuckled their seat belt and scooted over to her mother. She was in pain when she moved so she moved as much as she could without hurting herself. She put her head back from the steering wheel and saw her eyes closed, blood running onto her face from a wound on her head. Cathy brushed the glass from her mother’s hair and smoothed it out.
“Mom, you gotta wake up. You just…you gotta get up. Come one mom. Mom!” Cathy lost her breath and fell back into her seat. She had a huge headache and her stomach was queasy. Cathy grabbed her head in pain and cut her hand on a glass shard. She felt her head and felt a piece of glass stuck in her head. She lifted her right arm to try and take it out but it was very painful. Cathy looked at her arm and saw it was most likely broken.
Soon, Cathy started to loose her vision. Everything was going black. They world around her twisted and reeled. She felt her stomach clutch and she threw up. She saw most of her vomit was blood and she rested her head in uneasiness. She closed her eyes and that’s when she heard the sirens. Car doors opening and closing and people shouting.
Cathy opened her eyes and saw two or three beams of light flash over the car. She closed her eyes once more and the voices got closer.
“Mom…I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…”
When Cathy woke up she was in a hospital bed with a revealing hospital gown and tubes in her nose, needles in her arm and machines beeping alongside of her. She sat up but her head was killing her and her body hurt everywhere and she decided to lie back down. She looked around the room and to her surprise saw a man sleeping in a chair pulled up to the bed, his head resting on it.
Cathy couldn’t recognize the man, for his face was in her blankets. But his hair was short and black and he was wearing dirty, baggy jeans and a plaid button up colored shirt. He looked familiar but she could tell who he was. She took her eyes from him to the ceiling. She had nothing better to do but lie there. So she did. She lied there and counted the dots on each ceiling tile.
She then heard a grunt from the mysterious man and he lifted his head and his eyes widened when he saw Cathy awake. She knew who he was now. But she was not pleased.
“Cathy Bear!” he cried. He sat up and hugged the girl tightly. She gave a grunt in pain and she grabbed her ribs in pain. “Oh, sorry, Cathy. I didn’t…Cathy! You’re awake! Thank goodness. Cathy Bear, you alright?”
She sighed. “What do you think, dad?” Cathy asked sarcastically. Her dad, Tim, got divorced from her mother when Cathy was 6. He never visited her, never paid child support, and always had an excuse for not being at anything like her birthday or her Homecoming dance. Something like, “I got a meeting.” Or “I’ll be too late” or even the infamous “My car’s in the shop.”
“Oh, baby, you were out forever!”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“You’ve been out for 4 days, Cathy Bear.”
“Really? I have?”
“Yeah. And I’ve been here from the very start. Never left your side.”
“Trying to make up for the past 12 years, dad?”
“What? So the only times you’ll come and see me is when I’m in big trouble or I’m hurt?”
“Well you never came before.”
“Well it won’t happen again because I’ll be seeing you a lot more.”
“What? Why? You’re moving closer?” Cathy asked fast.
“Well, no. Not exactly. I’m not the one moving. You are.”
“We’re moving closer to you?”
“Cathy. You are moving in with me.”
“You mom and I. All in the same house. Are you mad?” yelled Cathy.
“No. Cathy your mom isn’t moving in too. Just you. Look, Cathy. Your mom- She…well, your mother didn’t make it. She died very quickly in the crash. You got lucky. When you guys crashed, you hit a tree and it hit the side your mom was on and that hurt her a lot and then just the rest of the tumbling killed her. When you finally hit the ground and stopped, she was already dead. She didn’t have a chance.”
Cathy’s eyes were watering and her face got red. She looked down at the ground and shook her head.
“No. No she can’t be. We…we never went to Mexico.”
“What?” Tim asked.
“We were going to go to Mexico than France and China. We were going to go by boat everywhere.” Cathy was starting to yell now. “We were going to learn the languages of the world and have a house everywhere so if we decided we were bored we’d move. We were going to fly to Australia and raise a baby kangaroo!”
“Cathy, calm down, you’re hysterical!”
“And we’d swim with dolphins and go along the Great Barrier Reef and touch the sting rays and swim to the depths of the sea and plunge into the darkness and find fish never seen by human eyes before!”
By that time Tim called in the nurse and she was smoothing down Cathy’s hair and hushing her, trying to sooth her.
Cathy was breathing hard and sweating. Tim looked at her with sad eyes. He couldn’t understand the pain Cathy was in. Physically and mentally. He leaned over the bed and gave her a big hug. Cathy’s eyes darted to him.
“Yes, Cathy Bear?”
“Are…are you sad mom died?”
There was silence.
“Of course I am, Cathy Bear. Even if I was divorced from her, doesn’t mean I didn’t love her. I am grieving for your mother, too. I just couldn’t imagine how close you guys were.”
“Actually, we weren’t close at all. That’s what bothers me. We drifted apart so much after you left. I just stopped laughing at her dumb jokes. I stopped going with her to the movies. I either got a ride from a friend or took the bus to school. When I got home, I just went to my room and talked on the phone, or watched T.V., or did homework.”
“But what about all that stuff you said about going to Mexico and learning hundreds of languages?”
‘That was before you left.”
“Oh. Cathy Bear, it’s okay.”
“No, no its not!” she yelled and cried. “I was a jerk to her and I was so mean to her. I hate myself. You couldn’t believe what I did to her.” Cathy was sobbing now and her father’s eyes drifted from her face to her eyes. “The last thing I said to her was that I hated her. I told her I hated her. That was the last things she heard from me. ‘I hate you’. And she died. She died, Dad. I am a terrible person and I’m…I’m sorry. I’m just so….so sorry.” Cathy put her face in her hands and Tim went to hug her.
“Shhhh…it’s alright Cathy. It’s alright.”
“No. She thought I hated her and she died!
“No, Cathy Bear. She knows you loved her. She knows it. She knew deep down inside that you loved her and she loved you. You should know that. She loved you. You loved her. You both knew it.”
“It’s all my fault. If I didn’t go to that stupid party, and if I went to the stupid library like I told her, she’d be alive right now. I killed her. I did it. She thought I hated her and then I killed her.”
“Cathy, stop this. You can be upset about this but you can’t blame yourself. It’s just not your fault. Nothing was your fault. It was an accident. And you couldn’t have changed a thing.”
Cathy wiped her face and looked at her dad.
“So, what happened to me?” she asked him.
“Well, you broke 3 of your ribs, your arm is sprained, you had glass in your head, and you we’re throwing up blood.”
Cathy smiled. “Thanks for the good report.”
“No problem Cathy Bear.” He smiled at her.
“When can we go?” she asked.
“You’ll have to talk to the doctor. But I’ve gotta go. I have to pack the rest of your stuff and then rent another truck to bring the rest over. I’ll tell the doctor you’re awake. See you later Cathy Bear.” He leaned over her and kissed her forehead.
Tim picked up his coat from the chair and left. A few minutes later the doctor came in.
“Well, hello there Miss Wriggle. How are you this morning?”
“Fine.” She told the cheery doctor.
“Well, I’m just going to check your rib now so could you sit up strait for me?” Cathy sighed and striated her posture.
She killed her mother.
“Welcome home, Cathy Bear!” Tim opened her door of his pick up truck and took her hand. “The truck arrived about two days ago. Most of the stuff is unpacked but I left all the stuff you may have special places for.”
“I thought I heard your broken truck pull up!” a women called from the front door of the house.
“Hey!” Tim called to the women. Cathy was confused. Who was this woman? “Hey, Cathy Bear, there is someone I’d like you to meet. Come here.”
He pulled his daughter with him to the front door where she could see this woman closer up.
She was medium height, had long, red hair and was wearing a big polka dotted dress with an apron. Cathy’s mouth dropped, eyes widened.
“Cathy, I’d like you to meet Lulu.”
“Lulu?” Cathy eyed the woman.
“Yes, we’re…uh…we are…engaged.”
“You’re getting married!” Cathy shouted. She cleared her voice and shook her head. “How nice…” Cathy covered her shock, hate, and despair.
“Yes, dear. I’ve just heard oodles about you!” Lulu said, big grin on her face.
“Oodles?” Cathy said sarcastically.
“We’re going to have so much fun! You can be my bridesmaid and we’ll be hanging out all the time! Oh! It will be fun! Doesn’t that seem like fun?”
Cathy gave her a big grin and nodded her head. “Oodles!” she said through gritted teeth.
“Well, let’s get inside. There’s no use for standing out here.” Tim said rubbing Cathy’s back.
“Wonderful idea!” Lulu waved her arm in the direction of the open door and Cathy reluctantly went inside. Lulu and Tim followed and right away Lulu went to Cathy’s side and took her hand. Cathy jumped to the side in shock, and Lulu kept her grip.
“Shall I show you your room?” Lulu asked, squeezing her daughter-to-be’s hand.
“Why, wouldn’t that just be wonderful?” Cathy said perkily. Lulu nodded her head and went upstairs, Cathy trailing behind. By that time Cathy lost her grin and a grimace came in its place.
When the two arrived, Lulu opened Cathy’s new door and showed her a room that was not too glamorous. The walls were covered in a yellow wall paper and her bed had a dark yellow bed sheet with light yellow pillows. The bed frame was white along with a dresser and a desk. There were boxes pilled to the side but the room seemed mostly filled.
“Of course. Have a look around.” Lulu said. And finally let Cathy’s hand go. Cathy went strait into the middle of the room and looked around in a circle. She looked on her desk where a bunch of knick-knacks were placed in a way she’d have to rearrange later. Her dresser had pictures dating from now all the way to when she was really young. In the drawers some of her clothes were folded nicely and organized by shirt, pants, and underwear. She went to her closet and the rest of her clothes hung from hangers and her shoes lay in pairs on the ground. Cathy was surprised how small the closet was. Next, Cathy went to the boxes laid aside which had posters, books, school textbooks, and some of the stuffed animals she forgot were pushed in the back of her closet and her old house.
Cathy backed up to the frame of the door, taking another look at her room.
“So,” Cathy jumped, forgetting Lulu was there. “You like it?”
“It’s...um...well, I...it’s very...yellow.” Cathy kept her gaze on her giant lemon room.
“Your father said you liked yellow.”
‘Oh. Well...that shows how much he knows me,” Cathy laughed half heartedly.
“Come.” Lulu said. “Let’s meet your father downstairs, yes?” And once again, Lulu grabbed Cathy’s hand and pulled her down to the kitchen where her father was munching on some oatmeal raisin cookies.
“Tim...” Lulu said. When Tim heard her he threw the cookie down on the plate quickly and tried to look natural
“Whah? I ws jus ah duh-”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full, dear. Especially with oatmeal raisin cookies.” Lulu grinned. “Now. I want you to look after your father while I cook dinner. Maybe you could take him up to your room? Hm? Wouldn’t that be nice?” Lulu asked Cathy.
“Sure...” Cathy mumbled and jerked her head in the direction of the stairs.
When the two reached her room. Cathy motioned to her bed and Tim took a seat. Cathy slowly closed the door behind her and pulled up the chair from her desk and sat in it, facing directly to her father.
“Yes, Cathy Bear?”
“Dad, do you know how old I am?”
“Of course I do, Cathy Bear. You’re 17. You’ll be 18 in November.”
“Exactly. Now, tell me this, Dad: How many 17 year olds’ rooms are completely yellow.”
“But you got some white in the-”
“I thought you liked yellow!” Tim defended himself.
“Yes. When I was four.”
“Well, how was I supposed to know that?”
“Maybe if we talked more often you’d know my favorite color was dark blue.”
“It’s okay, dad. I’ll just get myself some pain and do it myself. Maybe for my birthday you can buy me matching stuff for my walls and bed.”
“Do…do you, like, love Lulu?”
“Well, yeah. Of course I do. That’s why I’m getting married to her.”
“Have you ever thought about getting back together with mom?”
“Cathy, I don’t think that’s a subject we-”
“What does it matter? Mom will never know.”
“Cathy, you…I…Cathy, you can’t just ask questions like this.”
“Why? Because I’m not comfortable talking about them.”
Cathy looked down and then turned to the box with the stuff her father left packed. She got up and went to the box. “I’ll put this stuff away when we finish my room.”
“Alright. I guess I’ll just check on Lulu and dinner.”
“Fine. Um, was there a box with my CDs in it?”
“Oh, yeah. It’s in the back of your closet. I didn’t know if those were old or not so I just put them back there.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, I guess I’ll…”
“See you at dinner?”
Tim got up and left her room, leaving Cathy to rummage through her box of CDs. She pulled out a Nirvana CD and put in into the boom box that was in a different box. She put the volume up to a reasonable volume.
Cathy lay down on her bright bed and stared at her ceiling. Slowly, her eyes started to sag and her head felt heavy. She slowly gave into weariness and fell into a light sleep.
“Cathy. Cathy, honey. Wake up! Dinner is ready!” a woman’s voice called to Cathy. For some reason Cathy couldn’t make out the voice and dreaded to open her eyes and find out. “Wake up, sleepy head. A warm delicious meal is waiting for you downstairs! Mmm! Can’t you just smell the goodness?”
By that time Cathy had enough of the woman and opened her eyes. There was Lulu. Staring down at her. Grinning from ear to ear. “There we go! Lets go, honey.”
Lulu grabbed Cathy’s hand and lifted her up and took her down the stairs into the kitchen where Tim was waiting, salivating for the meal his fiancé just cooked.
“Hurry up, Cathy Bear! Try some of Lulu’s amazing food!”
“What is it?” Cathy rubbed her eyes and took a seat.
“Roast beef, mashed potatoes with bits of beef, green beans, biscuits, and an amazing pitcher sweet tea. All home made!” Lulu smiled.
“She makes amazing Sweet Tea, Cathy Bear, you gotta have some.”
“Well, I guess I can have the beans and biscuits. And the tea.”
“You don’t like Beef or potatoes?” Lulu looked disappointed that she didn’t impress Cathy.
“I’m a vegetarian.”
“What? No you’re not Cathy Bear!” Tim protested.
“Yes I am. I have been since I was 9. When we took that trip to the slaughterhouse at school. I just…ugh! Meat makes me sick, now.”
“Oh. Well. Um, I guess we can get a salad whipped up for you.” Lulu smiled weakly.
“Yeah. Alright. I can get it. You guys eat your dinner before it get’s cold.”
“Oh. If you insist…” Lulu sat down slowly and Tim just dug into the food like the pig he was.
Cathy went to the fridge and found cabbage, carrots, and a jar of blue cheese dressing that she could make into her salad.
There was a knock on Cathy’s door.
“Yeah?” she called to the person on the other side, dreading the fact that it may be Lulu, ready for bonding.
Tim opened the door and poked his head in. “Can I come in, Cathy Bear?”
“Sure. What’s up?” Cathy set aside her magazine and looked at her father.
“Are you alright, Cathy Bear?”
“Well, you didn’t say much at dinner and you never looked at any of us. You just kept insisting that you should go to your room to get used to it.”
“Well, I don’t want to be at dinner when Lulu is upset about me not eating her meat filled meal.”
“She didn’t know. I didn’t even know!”
“Well you should! This is ridiculous, dad! You don’t know me at all. Today can prove it!”
“My room’s yellow, the dinner was meat, and my CDs were crammed in the back of my closet. You know nothing about me!”
“I’m sorry that I haven’t been responsible in seeing you but I tried!”
“Yeah right! You could have once. Or visited once. Once would have been enough! Just once!”
“Sorry! I was busy trying to get my own life!”
“With Lulu, you mean?”
“Yes, with Lulu. What do you have against her? From the start you hated her. You never even gave her a chance.”
“Because I know that she’s a pain. Right away from the beginning, she wanted to make me blow my brains out with her ‘oodles!’ and ‘wonderful!’ and… man is she annoying!”
“Well I’m sorry if you don’t like her, but I do. And I’m marrying her, and you’re not going to be rude to her anymore! Do you understand me?”
“Just leave me alone! I don’t care what you say! Just leave!” Cathy shouted and threw her pillow towards her dad but missed.
“Fine!” he shouted and left slamming the door behind him.
Cathy stared at the closed door. Tears started to well up in her eyes, but before one could fall, she buried her face in the bed.
“Mom…..”Cathy said into the comforter,” Mom, where are you? Mom…I need you. I really need you…”
Tim stared at the fridge while Lulu cleaned some of the dishes. “She’s just a girl. She doesn’t understand.” Lulu said.
“She isn’t a girl anymore. She’s a woman now. She should know how to respect her father and respect you. You will soon be her step-mom; the only parental woman in her life. She needs to know her place.”
“Please, Tim. You’re beginning to sound like my mother.”
Tim chuckled slightly. “Oh, great. Now I’m your mother.” Tim shook his head and looked at Lulu. She sighed and slowly walked over to the seat next to Tim, facing him. She grabbed his hands and looked at him, strait in the eye.
“Tim, that girl’s mother has just died. I’m sure you didn’t endure as much pain as she went through because you already found a new gal. She was only with her mother. That’s it. That woman was all she had to depend on and now she’s gone. I’m not trying to pick on you, but you haven’t been there for her. So she thinks you won’t be now. She can’t trust you. You’ve gotta earn that back from her. Trust. Now that doesn’t grow on trees, you know. All I’m saying is…Tim… that girl up there isn’t gonna raise herself.” Lulu gave a little smile, got up, and went back to her dishes.
“Why do you have to sound so right?” Tim looked at his feet, smiling.
Lulu smirked, “Because I’m a woman.”
Tim pushed his self off the chair. “Well, I’ll let her cool off. I think I’m gonna head over to the bar.”
“You gonna come home drunk again?” Lulu cocked her head to the side.
“No, I just need my time.” He walked over to his fiancé, wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her lightly on the lips. “You watch over my little baby, okay?”
Lulu draped her arms around Tim’s shoulders and smiled. “You betcha.”
Tim smiled and winked at Lulu, grabbed his keys and left.
Knocks came from the door once again. Cathy looked at the door with red, runny eyes. “Mmmhh?
Lulu poked her head in from behind the door. “Cathy, may I come in?”
Cathy nodded her head slightly and turned to face the wall. “It’s your house.”
Lulu sat at the foot of her bed and lowered her eyes. “I….I know this is probably a very hard transition for you. One moment you’re with your mother. The next you’re lying in a hospital bed, being told she’s dead. You’re moving. With your alien father and some broad you’ve never met. That must really suck.”
“And I know you are upset that your father has moved on like that and never told you about me. Or that he moved from the city. I understand your frustration. That must-”
“Yeah. And you must feel really alone now. You don’t have an adult figure to talk to. Well, maybe your dad, but not about everything. And, I was thinking, even though you are not completely thrilled about the wedding and me, but I am always here. To talk to. To be with. If you need a shoulder to cry on. I’m here.”
Cathy turned around and looked into Lulu’s eyes. They sat in silence for a moment. Cathy sat up and threw her arms around Lulu and started to bawl on her shoulder.
“Shhh…..there, there Cathy.”