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There Are Always Enough Tears to Shed
It was a cold night in Baltimore. It was the middle of December and I was stuck alone in my room. My mother and sister had gone out sledding earlier and I had been expecting them back for hours now. I was beginning to get worried about them.
Then, suddenly, the doorbell rang. I ran downstairs as fast as I could because I thought it was Mother and Clara. I was wrong.
“Hello, are you Ms. Hutchison’s daughter?” asked a police officer.
“Yes, and who are you?” I asked him.
“Excuse me for not introducing myself properly previously, I am Sheriff Wring, and I come with grave news.” He said.
“Please, do come in, officer.” I invited him.
“Why, thank you, Miss Hutchison.” Sheriff Wring said, and came in along with another officer. ‘DEPUTY O.’ the other officer’s badge said.
“What is the news, just tell me, is she dead?” I asked him. Sheriff Wring lowered his head and nodded. I felt tears swell up in my eyes.
“But not Clara, she is on life support in the hospital and wishes your presence.” Sheriff Wring said.
“How did it happen?” I asked him, not paying any attention to what he said about Clara.
“There was a wreck on the interstate, and they decided to take a detour, and skidded on some ice across the road. The car rolled off the edge of the road and into the forest. It stopped and hit a tree. Your mother wasn’t dead when we found her, and neither was your sister. We rushed both of them to the hospital and did the best we could to save them. Your mother died almost instantly, I’m so sorry.” He said and wiped one of my tears from my eyes, “Now, shall we go and visit your sister?”
“Yes, I suppose so.” I said and got up to my feet.
I drove as fast as I could going the speed limit to the hospital and ran to her room. I rushed to her side. “Clara, honey, I’m here. Sissy’s here…” I said and I took her hand and stroked it.
She opened her eyes and moaned. “L… Lo… Lori? Is that you?”
“Yes, sweetheart, it’s me. Everything is going to be okay. You will be okay.” I assured her.
“I know, where’s Mommy?” she asked me. It was killing me just to hear her in so much pain.
“Honey, let’s just not worry about that right now. Do you want me to get the nurse for you?” I asked. She nodded and I ran outside to get her nurse. I came back inside with her. Clara was asleep.
“What am I going to do? I can’t turn to my father for help, I haven’t heard from him in years. What is going to happen, miss?” I asked the nurse.
“I only specialize in treating patient’s physical wounds, not their emotional ones. But I do know someone that can help you with that. Here, up those stairs are therapists that can help. I highly recommend seeing one, if I were you,” said Clara’s nurse.
I nodded and followed the nurse’s kind advice and went to see one of the therapists. I got to the receptionist’s desk and asked whom I was to see and she pointed to the door that said, Dr. Paul. I twisted the knob and entered the room. The therapist wasn’t there. I sat down in an empty seat and waiting for a few minutes. Then I got bored and decided to look around.
First, I decided to search his bookcase. I’d always been a big reader myself, so I wanted to see if we liked the same kind of books. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice also by Jane Austin, nope, not really. I liked romances filled with action. Not classics.
Second, I sat in his chair and searched the items on the top of his desk. There were few pictures. One was of his wife, I’d assumed, on his back and the others were of children. They were beautiful children, after all.
“Curiosity met the wandering eye, I suppose.” Said a man in the doorway.
“Oh, uh, yes. I’m sorry. I waited, but I got bored so I just… Sorry.” I said and got to my feet and went back to my chair.
“That’s quite all right, my dear. Now, let me introduce myself, I am Dr. Paul. And you are?” he asked.
“I am Lori Hutchison. My sister is downstairs on life support and her nurse suggested I come to you.” I told him.
“Ah, then you must have met my daughter, Paula. She is the oldest of my three children.” He told me.
“She was, well, I’ll have to tell her hello. Now, the real reason I am here is because I have a problem.” I said.
“Which is? You seem like a perfectly fine young lady to me.” He said, and lit a cigar.
I giggled a little and told him what I had told the nurse, except more detailed about how my father left. “Ah, I see, well, you certainly do have a situation on your hands. And, I have the answer,” Dr. Paul said. I was anxious to see his resolution.
“As I see it, you have two options at hand. Since you are of age, you may keep your sister and raise her as you were her mother, or you can both attend to foster families. I’m giving you the option of choice, Lori.” He said.
I had no idea what to say. I didn’t think I was ready to raise a child, even if she was my sister, but I still didn’t want to be separated from her by adoption. “Is there any donor homes that would take both of us?” I asked Dr. Paul.
“Well, we look to see if you have any family that will take you, then we look into foster homes. But, yes, I’m sure there is.” He replied then put out his cigar.
“That’s it! I have an aunt who loves both Clara and me to death and has no children. Thank you, Dr. Paul. Could you possibly arrange that?” I asked him after my outburst.
“Why, yes, I suppose so. And you are very welcome, Lori. I’m so sorry about your mother.” He said. I had forgotten all about my mother’s death, but he had just reminded me and made me upset all over again.
“Thank you, and I shall be going now. Thank you again for all of your help,” I said and walked out the door.
I got to Clara’s room and she was still asleep. I said to her nurse, “Thank you, for sending me up there. And I met your father, Dr. Paul. He was very kind to me. And he wanted me to say hello to you for him,”
“Yes, okay. And I have great news. Your sister is going to be fine and we have officially taken her off life support. She will be fine.” The nurse said and walked out the door. I took a seat in the chair across the room and gently drifted to sleep after a long day of joy, pain, and tears.
Chapter Two: Pain Never Sleeps
I woke up the next morning to Clara looking like nothing had ever happened eating cereal and watching Handy Manny on Playhouse Disney on the TV across from her bed. I yawned very loudly and she turned to look at me. “Good morning, sweetheart. Is everything okay?” I asked her.
“Well, everything but my leg. It hurts really bad.” She said. This was the first time I’d noticed the pink cast covering her entire leg, almost.
“Oh, honey, are you okay?” I asked her.
“Yes, I’m fine, but what about Momma? Is she okay?” Clara asked me.
“Oh, Clara, I don’t know how to say this, you and Momma were in a really bad car wreck. You were the only one that lived. I’m so sorry.” I said. Clara began to be in hysterics and I climbed in bed beside of her and held my little sister in my arms. I just let her cry and cry until the nurse walked in.
“Clara, honey, what’s wrong?” she asked her.
“Nurse lady, is it true? Is my Momma up in heaven with Jesus?” she asked her.
“Yes, sweetheart, it’s true. But Momma’s in a better place now, where nothing could hurt her.” The nurse said, “That’s what I think to myself anyways. I lost my Momma, too. But, now, you and your sissy get to go and live with Auntie Petunia! How fun does that sound?”
I appreciated the nurse’s effort to cheer her up. I mouthed the words, “thank you” to her. She nodded. “I guess it could be fun.” Clara said wiping tears from her eyes.
“I know, now, you get to leave the hospital in two days to go and see her. Does that sound fun?” she asked Clara.
“Yea! I get to go and see the cows and horses!” she said and started clapping randomly.
“Ooh! That does sound like fun! I wish I were you!” the nurse said and flashed a very comforting smile and walked out of the room.
“Sissy! Were going to Auntie Petunia’s!” Clara said excitedly.
“I know! And we are going to have so much fun!” I said, trying to sound as excited as her, but there was still monotone in my voice from all of the grieving.
“I can’t wait to see her!” she said and took another bite of cereal.
“Who can’t wait to see me?” said a woman who looked about thirty-five years old and dressed in a plaid blouse that was tied up in a knot under her breasts with a white tank top on under it with skinny jeans and cowgirl boots on.
“AUNTIE PETUNIA!” Clara screamed and tried to jump up to hug her, but I pulled her waist back down. Apparently, she’d forgotten about her broken leg.
“Hiya, Clara-bug! Been too long since I last saw yer’!” she said in a louder voice than necessary.
“Me too! I just couldn’t wait to see you when the nice nurse lady told me you were coming!” Clara said, as equally loud.
“Well, I’ll be! That’s just too darn nice! And, as a reward, you get a present!” she said and pulled out a stuffed big monkey, they were Clara’s favorite, as she clapped rapidly.
“A monkey!” Clara said as she hugged it tight, “I love it, Aunt Petunia!”
“Knew you would! Now, Aunt Petunia has a surprise for you two. As long as you’ve known me, I’d never had any children, right? Well, about seventeen years ago, I had a baby boy! His name is Travis and he is very handsome. I just don’t want no arguing you hear?” said Aunt Petunia.
“Okay, Aunt Petunia. I won’t fight with him.” Clara agreed. Great, the last thing I needed was a distraction, especially a handsome one. But Aunt Petunia had never had the best taste in men, so he couldn’t be that gorgeous, hopefully.
The next two days were filled with laughing, crying, and grief. When they finally let Clara out of the hospital, it was time for Mother’s funeral. It was torture seeing everyone dressed in black, tears being shed, words of pain being said. It was pain for me just to sit there and bare it, but the worst had yet to come.
“Lori, your mother always said that you were the best singer she had ever laid eyes on. Would you mind doing her and all of us a justice and sing a song on her behalf?” asked the pastor.
“Well, it couldn’t hurt,” I said and took the microphone and sang the only song I knew that was appropriate for this occasion, Sissy’s Song by Alan Jackson.
When the song ended, it also ended with applause. I looked out to the audience and saw tears being shed, and a man whom I had never saw before, but it seemed I had, in a dream somewhere.
Instead of returning to my seat, I went over to the strange man. “Excuse me, sir, but this is for friends and family only. I think you have mistaken the date or time for another funeral. Now, if you would be so kind just to leave,” I asked him, opening the door.
“But I am family,” said the stranger. I knew his voice from somewhere.
“I’ve never met you,” I said and started to my seat.
“Oh, but you have, daughter.” He said. I stopped dead in my tracks and turned back around.
“D-dad?” I asked. He nodded and I grabbed his arm and led him outside. He began to speak but I shut him up with a slap to the face.
“How dare you! You leave Clara and myself alone for six years alone with our mother and decide to come back on her funeral? How could you?” I said, angrily. Tears started to stream down my cheeks.
“Lori, I can explain!” he began to yell.
I covered it up with my yelling, which was much louder. “NO YOU CAN’T! You left us poor and alone! We suffered for years before she stopped crying. Don’t you know how hard it is to listen to her cry for six years? This was the first year she could finally come out of her state of mourning to do anything. Then she died! Don’t you know how hard that is on us? Do you even care? If anyone is to blame for her death, it’s YOU!”
“LORI KATLIN! I had reason to leave! I was having an affair and your mother found out. I saw her crying for a month and then I decided it was best if I left her. I thought she would get over me and move on, but I was wrong. I know what it feels like, to lose someone you love. My wife died two years ago, and I am left alone raising two children. Do you know how hard that is?” he asked.
The tears spilling from my eyes seemed to pour down on top of my head. I looked up to see a gray rain cloud hovering above us.
“Yes, Dad. I do know how hard that is. You have suffered for, two years, you say? And I dealt with it for six years!” I screamed at my father.
“Lori, I’m so sorry, but I have two children that need attending to, I have to go. Goodbye, and even though it may not seem like it at times, I do love you, and your sister.” my Dad said and turned around on his heel to leave.
“YOU ALSO HAVE TWO CHILDREN RIGHT HERE THAT NEED YOU!” I screamed at him, he just kept on walking to his car. When he reached it, he got inside and drove off.
He left me, just like he had done to my mother. I knew how she felt, now. I wouldn’t repeat how she handled it. I was raging with fury inside. Then I had to fight it off because the funeral had ended inside and everyone was departing.
“I’m so sorry about your mother,” said a chorus of voices when they walked past me.
“Thank you for your kind apologizes.” I repeated a great number of times.
Then, finally, everyone left and I got in the car with Aunt Petunia. She had already gotten our things and shipped them to Arkansas, where she lived.
The car ride was frustrating because Aunt Petunia was asking me all sorts of questions that I couldn’t think about because I was thinking about how much I hated my father.
Aunt Petunia’s farm was big, I have to admit, but I think I’ll just spend most of my time in my room on my laptop.
I grabbed my luggage and started to drag it up the stairs, but someone I had never met before stopped me halfway. I was staring down at the floor to make sure that I didn’t trip over anything that Dixie, Aunt Petunia’s dog, might have dragged inside.
I looked up to see who it was, and it was a blond-haired, blue-eyed, muscular boy. He really was gorgeous.
“Uh, hi. You must be Travis, I’m Lori.” I said, and shook his hand. His eyes twinkled when we shook and it made me blush. I let go and rushed up to my room.
I put on a different outfit and came back downstairs. “Ah, there you are, Lori! I have enrolled you at the high school Travis is attending. Greenville High School. Go Giants!” Aunt Petunia announced.
“Oh, okay. Go Giants!” I said, lacking enthusiasm.
“Oh, c’mon, Lori! Get out of mourning and into the sunshine! Do you want to go horseback riding? Travis can show you the trails, huh? What do you say?” she asked, trying to cheer me up.
Travis, did she say? Alright, but just for him. “Uh, I suppose I could. Let’s go get saddled up, then!” I said and walked out the door and was followed by Travis, who got a brown saddle and straw cowboy hat from the tack room. I grabbed a white saddle and hat, too.
“Uh, Lori, right?” Travis asked. I nodded and smiled and he returned it with a dazzling white smile, “Okay then, here. You ride Gina, the brown horse with a white spot on it’s eye, and I’ll ride Region, the back stallion.”
“’Kay.” I said and saddled my horse. I jumped on it and got on the trail he said to follow, “So, Travis, tell me something about yourself.”
“Okay, um, I am a Junior in high school, much like yourself, and my father went off to war when I was a freshman, and I just pretty much spend all of my time down here. What about you?” he asked.
“Oh, me? Uh, well, my mother died recently and my father, uh, I haven’t saw him in over six years and I just like to do things on my laptop. I’m a suffer in silence type person.” I lied.
“Great, me too. So I guess I’ll be seeing you around school tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yea, of course.” I spat out before he sped off.
We reached the house and put our horses in the stable. I walked inside and a blond girl was sitting in the kitchen.
“Travis!” she shouted and hugged him.
“Uh, hi, Malory. Why are you here?” he asked her. She kissed him and answered.
“Aren’t you glad to see me? I just get back from a month-long cruise of the Caribbean and you aren’t glad to see me? You aren’t breaking up with me, are you?” she asked him, her voice muffled.
Travis took a deep breath before saying, “Yes. Yes, Malory. I am breaking up with you. It’s over, get out.” He pointed his finger to the door.
“Fine, I hope your happy with this… TRAMP!” she shouted at me and rushed out the door, crying.
“Who is she calling ‘tramp’?” I asked whoever was listening, Travis laughed. Then the doorbell rang.
“Malory, I told you just now, IT’S OVER!” he shouted while opening the door. It wasn’t Malory, it was a military general.
“Travis Darner?” he asked.
“Yes, I am, sir. Why have you come?” Travis asked him, while saluting him.
“You have been recruited to come to the army, Travis.”
Chapter Three: Goodbye
“Travis? Who is that at the door?” Aunt Petunia yelled from the other room. Travis was too astonished to say anything, so she had to walk in the kitchen to see for herself.
She gasped at the sight of the general. “Henry! Is he alright? Is he… dead?” She choked up on the word “dead”.
“Henry is fine, Mrs. Darner. The military needs new recruits and your son fits the slot. We will be by early tomorrow to see that he attends. Good day to you all,” said the general and handed Travis a package before heading off.
Travis opened it. It was his uniform. Aunt Petunia began to cry. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with out you, Travis! First they take away my husband, but the can’t take my only son!”
“Mom, I’m going to be fine. Trust me. And I’ll tell Dad you said hello. I love you.” Travis said to his mother.
“What’s going on, Auntie Petunia? Why are you crying?” Clara asked as she entered the room.
“Clara, sweetheart, go upstairs and play with your dolls. Auntie needs a minute alone.” Aunt Petunia told Clara. Clara did as she asked and went back upstairs to play with her dolls.
I ran out the door to be by myself. I heard Travis call my name behind me, but I didn’t care. Two things I love being taken away from me is enough. I ran to the hill behind the stable to watch the sun set. I sat down on the grass and cried.
I was crying for about ten minutes when I felt a hand placed on my shoulder. I looked up to Travis, who asked, “May I?”
I nodded and he sat down beside me. “Beautiful isn’t it?” he asked. I didn’t reply.
“Listen, Lori, I have something that I’ve wanted to tell you since I first met you this morning.” he said.
“Really? What is it?” I asked, sniffing up tears from my eyes and mucus from my nose.
“I love you,” he said.
I looked at him with eyes that sparkled from the last part of sunlight, “Really? But, I saw the way you dumped that girl today. I don’t want to be that girl that when you go away, you come back and- I just can’t.” I said, bowing my head down.
“I dumped her because I met you,” he assured me. I looked up to him again, “I’ve also got a present for you. Close your eyes so you don’t see.” I did as I was told.
Everything went black when I closed my eyes. “Open,” he whispered. I opened my eyes and he was so close to me that I could feel the heat of his breath.
He closed the space between us by brushing his lips against mine. I enjoyed every second. Sparks flew between us, bursting into fireworks. Then everything got dark again. The sun had set behind us.
“TRAVIS! LORI! COME INSIDE!” Aunt Petunia yelled after us. We didn’t care.
I pulled away and said, “What are we doing? You’re my cousin!”
“No, I’m not. My mom isn’t really your aunt. She was your mom’s best friend. She just calls herself ‘aunt’ because they were like sisters.” he explained.
“Oh, but still, I don’t want you to go. I’ll miss you too much.” I said and kissed him lightly.
“I know, I’ll miss you, too. But I have to go. I will come back to you, I promise.” he said, and I believed him.
We both went inside afterwards and I looked at the clock, 10:37, it read. All of the lights were out, so I assumed that Clara and Aunt Petunia had gone to bed.
I kissed Travis goodnight and went up to my room. I dreamt of happiness, but then it all faded into a nightmare. My worst nightmare. Travis had died in war, but then I woke myself up. It was around nine. I jumped to my feet and ran to the kitchen.
Aunt Petunia was sitting at the kitchen table eating French toast and reading the daily paper. She barely noticed I was awake. “Oh, good morning, Lori. French toast?” she offered. I shook my head.
“Where’s Travis? Did he already leave?” I asked. She put her head down and nodded.
“He didn’t want to wake you, but told me to tell you, ‘I promise,’. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.” She said.
I smiled. “Me either…” I lied.
I graduated from Greeneville High School the year after Travis left. He didn’t come back. I came back to that very spot every year on the same day to watch the sun set. I cry still every time.
Then, one day, just before the sun set, I convinced myself that he wasn’t going to keep his promise he made me five years ago. I got up and turned around to see a familiar figure leaning on the stable.
I ran over to him, but the Travis I saw must’ve been a figment of my imagination. Then, someone laid a hand on my shoulder. I shot around to see my Travis behind me. I jumped in his arms and kissed him, “I told you, I promise, and I’ve never broken a promise to anyone,” he said. I kissed him again.
Tears spilled from my eyes. He came back. All this time, I worried he wouldn’t keep his promise, but he came back.
We were married a week after he came back and had two loving children. They grew up, and we grew old.
It was summer of 1997 when they both died. Lori was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly after. Travis lasted about a week without her and died from old age. But, their love for each other was so strong, that it lasted much longer in heaven, where Lori met her mother again and Travis met his father, who died in war about a month before he returned.