A Diamond in the Rough

March 5, 2009
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'I can't believe you! You lied to me!'

'I'm sorry, Janna! I said I was sorry!'

'Yeah, you said you were sorry- but how is 'sorry' supposed to cover it? You lied to me about half of my life!'

'Oh, Janna! Please forgive me, sweetheart! Please, please forgive me!'

'No! You lied because you didn't want me to know that it's all your fault that my dad isn't here!'

Janna burst into tears and tore off down the hallway. She flung open the back door, letting it bang against the outside of the house as she ran on to their stable. She opened the big door and let the whinny of her horses and the farm smells guide her to one stall in particular.

She stepped up on the lowest bar of the wooden pen and reached over. She felt the feeling that reassured her most- the soft, velvety nose of Whinny, her palomino horse.

'Shh. Yeah, girl- you're such a good girl. Come on- are you ready for a ride?'

Janna guided Whinny out of her stall, ignoring the jealous noises of the other horses, Jazmine, Charles, and Taffy.

Saddling Whinny, she hopped into the saddle and took off into the open field. She led Whinny into a full gallop, letting the wind rush through her hair and into her ears- but even the wind couldn't drive out the words that still seemed to ring through her head. In fact, the wind was only an outlet for them to scream through.

'Don't talk to me about him, Diane. I don't want to hear it,' she overheard her mother saying to her friend.

'You are going to have to tell your daughter sooner or later, Brittany. You can't keep it from her forever.'

'Tell her what?! I can't just-'

'You know you have to.'

'But she thinks we divorced.'

'Then you'll tell her differently.'

'What am I supposed to say? She will never trust me again!'

'That's her decision. But coming from your friend, we all did things we weren't proud of in high school, and your daughter has a right to know why her father isn't here.'

Janna gritted her teeth and barely kept herself from spitting with fury. With little effort, she pulled the horse to a halt and petted her wild mane.

'You're the only one who can't deceive me, Whinny. Looks like we're best friends.'

She glanced down at her hand where a sparkling diamond ring flashed up at her: her mom's old purity ring.

In a fit of rage, Janna yanked it roughly off, glanced bitterly at it, and threw it into the far corner of the field.

'Didn't do you much good, mom.'

She galloped Whinny around the field a couple more times before guiding her back into the barn, where she brushed her for almost an hour.

A vibration on her leg made her leap up from the stool, and Whinny started. Janna calmed the fidgety horse before opening her cell phone.

'Janna?'

'Oh, hey, Bella.'

'Wanna come over tonight? Riley's coming over with Tristan and Gavin, so I thought we'd have a real party!'

'Yeah sure- tonight's perfect.'

She trudged unhappily through the muddy field back to the house and stopped at the back door. A strange noise came from inside- like a child trying not to cry. A glimpse of the kitchen table made Janna's cheeks redden.

Her mother sat, her head on her arms, sobbing.

Janna tightened her mouth and pulled up her chin, and walked into the kitchen.

'Mom, I'm going to Bella's.'

The words were said without feeling.

'Now?' was the forlorn reply.

'Yes, now! I'll see you tonight- or tomorrow, if I sleep over.'

'But' goodbye.'

The front door slammed shut behind Janna's angry footsteps.

The party was dull. Well, maybe it wasn't really, but to Janna's numbed senses, it was repetition. She sat the whole night, scraping by in a game of 'Sorry' and fingering her plastic green cup of Sprite.

At around ten 'o clock, the party began to disperse, and the rest of the kids went home. As Bella said goodbye to the last person, she put her back to the door to face Janna.

'Okay, Missy, what's up?'

'Nothing- Nothing's up.'

'Oh, you can't lie to me that easily. Come on, I'll pop some popcorn and get a movie ready, and before we watch, you can talk.'

Janna sighed, rolling her eyes, and climbed the stairs to Bella's bedroom. A few minutes later, Bella was stretched out beside her friend on the bed.

Janna reached for the popcorn, and got her hand smacked.

'I don't think so- you tell me what's going on first.'

'Fine, okay? I'll talk; what is this- court?' she sighed, 'I'm just gonna say it: apparently, my dad was some guy on the football team in my mom's high school who was a big fat jerk.'

'Wait- do you mean-'

'Yes that's exactly what I mean.'

'You're kidding! Not that!'

'Yes, that, Bella- what else would that mean, except for that.'

'I thought your mom said they divorced.'

'She did- more like broke up if you ask me.'

Bella bit her lip.

'So what are you gonna do?'

'Me? I'm not even going to talk to her- she does not even deserve it.'

'Are you sure? I mean'wait a second' where's your ring?'

'You mean my mom's old purity ring? I put it where it belongs- deep in the mud. It didn't do her much good.'

'Janna!'

'What? I have to make a new start- I'm working from the ground up now. You know, maybe I should really overdo it. I could move to Alaska, start living in an igloo, hunt caribou- and with the twenty-million layers of furs I'd be wearing, purity would be the last thing I'd have to worry about.'

Sarcasm dripped from every syllable.

'You don't get it, do you? She made a mistake- a huge mistake, and she's sorry. Can't you forgive her. At least act like you forgive her- then it'll make it easier for you to actually do it.'

'Are you kidding- I, I''

A vision of her mother sitting at the kitchen table swept over her, weeping like a baby, and a single tear ran down Janna's cheek.

'I- I don't think I'll be sleeping over tonight, Bella. Mind?'

Bella smiled winningly, 'Not in the least.'

Janna walked up her front steps and opened the front door, which was unlocked. Something smelled delicious. Janna's eyes rested on the kitchen table. Her mother wasn't there, but something else was.

A red tray was at the head of the table, and on it were hot cocoa, a scone, and a piece of paper.

Janna crept closer.

The paper was tear-stained and wrinkled, and the writing was unsteady.

Dearest Janna,
I am so sorry that I lied to you. I have made very poor decisions and know that although I cannot undo them, I can beg for your forgiveness. I really do love you.

Love,


Mom



Janna slowly covered her mouth as tears started in her eyes.

'I have been so cruel,' she sobbed, 'I am such a mean person! How could I have hated her so much!'

Suddenly there were arms around her- shaking arms. Her face met level with her mother's tear-stained one.

'I'm so sorry,' cried her mother, 'I never should have lied to you. I was a coward.'

'And I was mean- just plain, downright mean!'

Her mother shook her head, 'I love you, Janna. I never once lied about that.'

A day later, Janna came inside through the back door.

Her body was encrusted in mud and caked with dirt and dust; and her brilliant smile only shone more brightly in between the mess.

At her mother's astonished look, she laughed, and held out a hand.

A circle of silver, a single diamond protruding from the perfect band, glistened in the dirt.

'A diamond in the rough!' she whispered.





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