There has been so much going on the past couple of days with the wedding that I just wanted to add a few things. First of all, it was perfect, totally perfect!
When mom walked down that aisle Clark looked at her like she was the only woman in the world; so much love and devotion was written on his face it almost took my breath away. I know this is stupid but I almost felt like it was the three of us joining our lives. I mean, he has always been my father, if not in name then certainly action and deed. I felt like we were now a family, for real. No more daydreaming about Clark being my dad, he was now and the first thing I did after the ceremony was hug him and call him ‘Dad’. It brought tears to his eyes and he hugged me tightly and told me that I always was his daughter, but that now he was proud to be able to claim it officially.
Families are not just about blood; Clark has proved that over the years by his caring and commitment to us. Was there ever a school program that he missed or a birthday or any other event in my life? I can’t think of a single one and they are all made that much happier by having him there. Many kids don’t feel that way about a step parent; maybe it was because I never knew my bio dad that made it okay, I just don’t know. At any rate, I couldn’t be happier.
He and Mom left for their honeymoon immediately and she was so excited about it. They went to Italy; a place mom has always wanted to go. They will be gone for two weeks and then they are moving into a new house that they bought together. A new place for a new start and I think that is wonderful for them. In some ways it seems kind of strange to me; I’ve never lived anywhere but that house or the dorm. They asked me if I wanted the house but I told them no, I’ll make my own memories somewhere else someday, with someone special. So, while they are gone I will be going through 20 years of my stuff and trying to figure out what to keep and what to ditch.
Not all memories of that house are good; I still remember the night I was taken, vividly although the faces are blurred, out of focus. I woke up suddenly, my heart pounding as I felt a hand cover my mouth. I tried to scream, but the hand covered my mouth too tightly and it wouldn’t come, the sounds, they couldn’t come. I just remember her whisper, “It will be okay little girl, I’m your new mommy!” She said it over and over, trying to calm my squirming body, maybe to keep me quiet. I didn’t feel safe for several days until HE came; then I knew it was okay. Where are you shadow man? I need to feel you in my life again!
I start work next week but in the meantime Lani and I are going down to San Diego for the weekend with Robbi to check out the ship she’ll be on this summer and do a little partying on our own. I’m sure that Lani will want to rock that town, but hopefully we can keep her from doing any serious damage! It should be a lot of fun though. It’s amazing, but I’ve never been to San Diego before and there it is just right down the coast from us. Robbi tells us that it is beautiful and is excited to show it to us.
Dorothy leaned against Clark’s arm that was wrapped protectively around her as they rode a gondola in the Grand Canal of Venice. She smiled broadly; it was such a silly, touristy thing to do, but it was also so much fun.
The past 10 days had been the most wonderful of her life, even though they started off a bit shakily. Getting through that first night had proved difficult, for both of them.
Clark reached for her, she retreated, a dance that was replayed several times during the night. She was determined she could do it and yet each time they came close she panicked, reliving the night 21 years ago when she was viciously raped.
Finally Clark had said, “Dorothy, you’re not ready. Let’s just talk, okay? How can you be with me when you can’t even tell me what happened?”
She understood the logic of that but she had never told anyone the details of what had really happened. No one knew, not her parents, not the police; she just buried it deep within her and put one foot in front of the other each day until finally the days, weeks, years, and decades had rolled by and it was only a foggy memory. That is until she tried to be with Clark and then it all came back, rushing at her like a freight train, out of control and hell bent on taking her down.
How do you talk about something that was so hazy? It was pure instinct that made her pull away from Clark and yet she knew in her head, heart and soul that he would never hurt her. He had known for years that she had been brutally assaulted and raped – her parents had told him, as a warning that she would probably never let him get too close. Had she made a mistake by marrying him? Would she ever be able to get past this thing?
He had been so patient, so tender and loving as he held her and listened as she tried to describe her fear in a dream-like state. The bile rose in her throat as she choked on the memories of being held down, of her clothes being torn from her body. Each memory knocked the air out of her like the blows that he had used as he attempted to quiet her and strike fear in her heart. The pain and fear as he had ripped into her body and finally the humiliation of being tossed aside like a piece of garbage, bloodied and bruised and broken, of no importance.
Clark held her and cried with her, living the nightmare through her eyes and somewhere in the night he became her ally; sharing the story had become her revenge for the stolen years shrouded in fear and it was okay. When they came together it truly was her first time of loving and she hadn’t looked back since then.
Each day of their honeymoon they had a new adventure. They explored palaces and churches and the mysteries of one another’s bodies. Their souls communed in a magnificent explosion of passion and their loving deepened to unimaginable depths. She wondered if it was like this for her parents, who had been so devoted to one another, but couldn’t imagine it being so. Could anyone ever have such a wonderful relationship? It seemed so unlikely to her.
As they were packing to leave Dorothy said, “You know, I wish your brother could have been at the wedding. Couldn’t we have passed him off as a distant cousin or something Clark?”
“Logan understood honey. It’s, well it’s complicated; you know that. We can’t explain why he doesn’t age and after all this time I can’t explain how I have a brother that few have ever seen.” He saw the sorrow reflected on her face and sighed. “He chose this Dorothy and he has no regrets. Mick has been good for him and Logan learned so much from him. And at least now he’ll have my house to live in. He’s planning on turning the basement into some sort of computer eden he says!”
“I know all that. Mick certainly has been the savior of this family in many ways hasn’t he? I wish we could tell Beth about him.”
Clark nodded in understanding. He knew that would help two souls that both needed it. He saw how Beth sometimes watched the shadows in the distance; he knew who she was waiting for. The thing was though, did she?
It was moonrise and Mick and Elka ran though the trees that surrounded his property, chasing one another like kids. He felt light-hearted and happy; a rare occurrence for him.
She had disappeared, practically in front of his eyes and he closed his eyes then and scented the air, seeking her out. He smiled and looked up; she was hiding in a tree above him, a smug smile on her face.
“What’s the matter city boy? Having a hard time?” she teased.
A moment later he was beside her, wrapping his arms around her. “Yeah, I’d say I’m hard alright! Ever did it in a tree?”
She laughed and lightly jumped down, landing with a soft ‘whumph’ sound. He quickly followed and pulled her to him and captured her mouth in a searing kiss.
“Um, nice. I love it here; it reminds me of when I was a child. I love the scents of the trees and grass and the small animals that are hidden around us.”
“What about the larger animals? I’m sure they’re around too!” he said as he nibbled her neck.
“Hm, mostly they stay away, all except one I guess.” He growled and made her laugh before she kissed him again, enjoying the feel of his mouth as it devoured hers. Eventually she reached to pull his jacket off of him and lay it on the forest floor at the base of the tree. She sat down, pulling him with her, the jacket providing a barrier between them and the pine needles that littered the ground.
They both leaned back against the tree and listened to the sounds around them; the soft swish of the branches blowing in the wind, the scampering as the small animals scurried around, staying far away from the two creatures of the night that sat among them. Mick inhaled deeply and felt the clean smell of pine flow through him and sighed, perfectly content. He could almost forget all the bad when things were like this.
“Mick, why did you leave LA?” she asked, watching his face as it briefly flashed with pain that was quickly masked. Maybe it was still too soon to ask, but she knew he would not ever start to heal unless he talked about it.
He pursed his lips, lightly chewing on the lower lip as he debated what to say. Would he feel better if he told her or would she think he was a freak and run away? He didn’t think he could bear that, for her to look at him like the monster he was. He knew that they weren’t ‘in love’ and never would be, but still he felt happy and content with her, as much as he could be anyway and he was loathe to risk losing that.
“Mick, I know about Coraline. Hell, I’ve met her; I know she is a bitch. I think it would help you to talk about it.” She reached for his hand and held it lightly between her own and looked at him, waiting.
“Yeah? Did you know that I killed her?”
“I – uh, no I didn’t. When did you do that?”
“In 1985. She kidnapped a small child and planned to turn her in an effort to bring us together again. I had enough of her crazy and I staked her and burned her.” He said it quietly, and she realized that there was no regret in his voice.
She was surprised to hear him say 1985. So that wasn’t the reason he left LA 4 years ago. And it was weird; she thought she had seen Cora about 10 years or so ago in Paris. She guessed she was wrong.
“She was going to turn the child Mick; you did the right thing. Cora was certifiable, you know that. So what else?”
He told her the story of Beth; of how he had watched over her through the years as she grew up, making sure she was safe.
“Mick, that’s hardly something to punish yourself over. If you helped to keep her safe then it was a good thing.”
“When she was 16 I followed her and some friends to a 4th of July cookout at the beach. I watched as she and boy sat near the water, talking. He leaned over to kiss her and I wanted to rip his head off. I knew that I had to leave then; my feelings weren’t just protective anymore.”
“You saw her as a young woman Mick. It’s understandable that that happened. You have to let it go.”
“I – I wanted to be the one kissing her Elka, not some fresh - faced teenage boy who wanted to grope her in the night. No, I had to leave because she deserves the right to live her life without me shadowing her every move. I came here to give her that chance. It’s for the best; it’s for the best…” He shook his head, ashamed at the confession of the words he had never fully admitted before, even to himself.
Elka sighed as she felt the guilt in his words sink in. “You need to go back to LA Mick and stop running from the guilt; being here isn’t helping you. You are secluded here and too far from friends who care about you. You aren’t healing, you’re wallowing and you need to stop it!”
He stood up, blazingly angry at her, at the words that she had dared to speak. Words that were true, that he couldn’t hide from. “Just what the hell do you know Elka? What gives you the right to come here and say that?”
“I can say it because it’s true and you know it; you’ve known it all along but you just didn’t want to face it all.” She stood directly in front of him, staring into his eyes, her own sparking with anger as well. “I’m a healer Mick, a spiritual healer and the Great Spirit brought you into my life for a purpose, to help you find your path.”
“My PATH? I had no fucking choice in my path! My path was chosen for me, without my consent. My chosen path was gone, ripped from me, just like that.” He snapped his fingers for emphasis and continued, “The only path I have is the one that relegates me to monster. How’s that for a path?” He sat back down and leaned his head against the tree, tears streaking his face.
“You always have a choice Mick. Right now your choice is to stay here and feel sorry for yourself or go back home and build a life you can be proud of, with or without Beth. The path begins right here Mick, what are you going to do?”
He stared up at her; for one moment hatred burned brightly in his hazel eyes and then just as suddenly faded out. He knew her words were true, but they still hurt like hell. “There will never be any life with Beth, or anyone else. I’m a monster! I couldn’t stand to see that in someone’s eyes; them knowing who I really am.”
“Mick, a monster is someone uncaring, someone ruthless, without remorse. Adolf Hitler was a monster, Idi Amin was a monster. Are you like them? Do you feel, care, love? No, you are not a monster Mick, not by anyone’s definition.”
“You don’t understand Elka. Not really.”
“Do I not? You think I haven’t run into my own monsters? The Crow who had a special brand of horror for their captives, slaves; you think they weren’t monsters? Believe me, I’ve known monsters. You are not a monster.”
He looked at her and for the first time wondered what she suffered at their hands. He wondered how she had survived it all, the death of a husband and child, being torn from her world and thrown into a world that she didn’t understand. She survived in a world where she was an outsider and had to do unimaginable things to just exist. It suddenly occurred to him how similar they were; their lives were parallel really. She had made it and somehow even came out of it stronger and better.
Maybe he could too.
Beth and Lani cruised down PCH in Lani’s brand new red VW Bug, the top down and their hair blowing in the warm wind. Beth licked her lips and imagined that she could taste a hint of salt. The car had been a gift from her father since she was going to be a working girl this summer.
“Last weekend of freedom Beth! Major responsibilities ahead, so look out San Diego and fun, here we come!”
Beth laughed and tipped her head back to feel the sunshine on her face. The sky was an incredible shade of blue and not a cloud could be seen in it. The Pacific was a deep blue green with small white caps skimming over it like frosting. Every now and then they saw a few surfers but the waves weren’t really high enough to bring the really daring surfers out.
Lani switched on the radio and turned it up as they heard NSYNC singing It’s Gonna Be Me playing. They sang along at the top of their voices and laughed at how off-key they were. Before they knew it they were pulling into San Diego and meeting Robbi at the pier.
“Hey, you guys made good time! Welcome to my home for the next 2 months, the cutter Carlisle!” She indicated a large boat at the end of the dock. It was painted white and had a helicopter sitting on one end of it. Beth was impressed.
“It’s a lot larger ship than I thought it would be,” she said as they walked towards it.”
“Technically it is not a ship; it’s a ‘cutter’ so that makes it a boat. I know, not much of a distinction to us but to them,” she indicated some of the crew working on deck, “to them it’s a big deal.” She shrugged and led them to the gang plank.
“Um hm,” Lani said, and Beth and Robbi noticed she already had her eye on a couple of crew as they worked checking lines and such on deck. “Wow, what a great view!”
“Don’t get any ideas Lani, both of them are married!”
Lani’s face fell and then she shook it off, ready to move on. “SO, do we get a tour?”
“Of course! You didn’t think I brought you here just to stand on deck did you?”
As they toured the boat Beth and Lani were curious about everything, especially the tiny, cramped crew’s quarters.
“Everybody bunks in here?” Beth said, looking around at a room about the size of a bathroom that had 8 bunks in it. “Wow, not much privacy is there?”
“Or opportunity for romance,” Lani offered, shaking her head.
Robbi laughed and said, “Well, we’re not here to romance Lani, we’re here to work, so its okay. C’mon, let’s get you guys checked into your hotel!”
At the hotel all three girls changed into bikini’s and headed to the pool, prepared to just hang out and chat. After an hour of so a few of the crew showed up and before they knew it the party was going. Kevin got there around 6 when they were trying to decide where to go to dinner.
“Hey, how about Papa McGoo’s? Best linguine around, I promise!” Kevin offered.
“Papa McGoo’s? For Italian food? What’s wrong with that picture?” Beth laughed.
“No kidding,” Robbi said. “C’mon, you’ll love it and there’s a pretty good band there too. We’ll have a blast.”
Lani rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, but please don’t ever tell anyone at school that we went to somewhere called Papa McGoo’s, okay? I have an image to live up to!”
Kevin and Robbi were right, they had a blast. More of the crew showed up and a couple of them were single. Beth and Lani had no shortage of partners when the dancing started. It was hard for Beth in some ways, she hadn’t danced with anyone since Carl, even at the wedding, but after she got started she just pushed that out of her mind and went with the group. She didn’t regret it at all.
The next two days were full of fun; some of the time they lazed around the pool and others they did the tourist thing and saw the sights, like Sea World. When Lani and Beth left on Sunday night Beth realized she felt better than she had in months.
Sometimes you just get so caught up in the day to day and you forget that you can still be happy. The breakup with Carl wasn’t the worst thing that will ever happen to me, even if it felt that way at the time. One foot in front of the other Turner, just keep moving along…