I Will Love You Forever Pt. 2 Ch. 14bykalamazoo707©
Things were slowly returning to normal after Andrew Kelly was arrested and in jail. Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief and looked toward the future. Patricia and Penny were excited to be going back to school and Patricia was excited to be going back home. Andrew's arrest wasn't the only cause for celebration, Nick and Hana's upcoming wedding added to the celebratory mood.
Sally was just beginning to show and was radiant. Diana and Eli seemed to be more excited than the expectant parents. Abby sat in the back yard watching the children play while preparations for the party went on. She watched Kenji and Patricia as they laughed together and occasionally hugged. They had been through so much and yet they were still able to laugh and love. Now Nick was going to marry Hana. The feeling that things could only get better arose in her. She had no doubt that there were still some hard times ahead of them, but she hoped that the worst of it was over.
She looked over at the children Ralph and Marie. Ralph was such a handsome little man and fiercely protective of his sister. He was very much like his father in looks and intelligence. Marie was Patricia's all the way. Intelligent, beautiful and strong willed. Of the two children, she was the one who got into trouble and needed disciplining.
Abby felt an uncharacteristic pang of regret that she had never had children, but then she did she reminded herself. She had Kenji, Patricia, Joel and Penny. She had grown to love all of them as if they were born to her. She missed Ralph and wished that he were still with them. She knew that he would have been proud of all of them.
John and Hattie arrived later in the afternoon when Nick went to get them. Patricia in particular noticed how much slower John moved. After Ralph's death she found herself looking at her parents and Abby more carefully. So much in fact, that Kenji spoke to her about it.
"Kirei you must relax." He said one evening. "They all seem to be doing well."
"So did Ralph." Patricia replied.
Kenji didn't reply, but hugged her. There was no winning the battle so he let it be.
Patricia watched as her parents made their way across the yard to Abby and the children. Of all the adults there, the only one that John hadn't made his peace with was Hiroshi. He was polite to him, but said no more than necessary. She had long given up on her father forgiving Kenji's father for his role in what almost happened to her.
Her gaze left her father and went to her mother who hadn't seemed to age. She worked as hard as ever cleaning houses and doing the wash for rich white people. Patricia prayed that both of them would live long enough to see her graduate from medical school.
"What are you thinking about?" Kenji asked.
He knew the signs when Patricia was thinking of something disturbing. She often stopped what she was doing and had a faraway look in her eyes.
"I'm fine." She said knowing why he asked the question. "You know, I keep wondering what's going to happen next. I know that I should just enjoy the good times when they come, but ...."
"Kirei, come with me." Kenji said taking her hand.
"But we have to finish getting the food ready." Patricia replied.
"It will wait." Kenji said tugging on her hand.
A few minutes later, they were alone in one of the spare bedrooms. Kenji wrapped his arms around her and held her for a few minutes before saying anything.
"Kirei there are things that we cannot change no matter how much we may want to. We also cannot live our lives waiting for the next crisis to strike. We deal with those as they come and until then, we live our lives. Do you know what it is that helped us through the hard times?" He asked. "It was the good things that happened in between and sometimes during the bad times. Today is a day of celebration and not a day to worry about things that may or may not happen."
"I know," Patricia replied. "I was just looking at my parents. They aren't getting any younger and I still have a long way to go before I'm done with school. I want them and Abby to be there. At the rate I'm going they won't be."
"I understand." Kenji replied. He had one more year to go thanks to the accelerated summer programs. "Perhaps we can do something to hasten things. We can talk about it more after the party."
"I'm sorry." Patricia said as she laid her head on his chest.
"Why are you apologizing?" Kenji asked.
"I'm not the same girl who was almost laughing when you helped her up from the ground." Patricia replied.
"The past few years have changed all of us." Kenji said. "How could we remain the same? But Kirei, to me you will always be that girl whose eyes were filled with laughter and not anger that day. Even when things were at their worst, you were that girl. You are just a more mature version of her."
"So you don't think that I've become a cynic?" Patricia asked.
"All of us are more cynical then we were before the war." Kenji said. "Some of us more than others but that's not necessarily a bad thing."
They talked for a few minutes longer before joining the others. The last to arrive was Paul Mynt and he wasn't alone. He had been spending quite a bit of time away from home and didn't say why. On his arm was an attractive woman who was about his age. He introduced the woman as his fiancée of a month, Carolyn Edwards.
"I'm sorry that I didn't ask permission to bring her, but I thought that this was a good time to introduce her to you. I also didn't want to bring her until that business with Andrew Kelly was over."
Abby could see that Carolyn was nervous and took her under her wing.
"We have quite the family here don't we?" She asked.
"I guess you could say that." Carolyn replied. "I have to admit that when Paul told me about you, I didn't believe him."
"Paul is a good man." Abby replied. "You're a very lucky woman."
"I agree and please pardon me if you catch me staring. I don't mean to be rude." Carolyn said as she looked around.
"I understand." Abby said with a smile. She liked Carolyn and her straightforwardness and had the feeling that they would become good friends.
"Paul told me about the struggles of the young couple Kenji and Patricia." Carolyn said. "I find it amazing that they're still together."
"Kenji and Patricia aren't your garden variety young people." Abby said. "You'll see that when you meet them... There they are now."
Carolyn soon found out that it was as Abby said. Kenji and Patricia were an extraordinary couple and wished that she had more time to talk to them.
The party was over by nine. Everyone pitched in and helped with the cleanup. The women did the dishes while the men collected the trash and put the table and chairs away. At one point Hiroshi and John were in the garage alone.
"Listen here." John said. "I want you to know that I still don't care for you, but I appreciate that you helped my daughter. Thank you." With that John turned and walked away. Hiroshi knew that his relationship with John Middleton was as good as it was going to get.
Andrew sat on the bus that would take him to his new home, Alcatraz Federal Prison in San Francisco. He was glad for the distance because it meant that his parents couldn't come to see him. He looked down at his manacled hands, his prison uniform and finally his shackled feet. He was no longer Andrew Harlan Kelly, he was a murderer. For the next several months he would be the talk of the town and then he would be forgotten only to be remembered by his parents and the parents of Milton Vaughn. Even the melting pot would eventually forget him.
He felt a pang of sadness. Not because of what he'd done, he would do it again; but he'd do it differently. His sadness was for his parents and that he had caused them so much pain. He quickly wiped a tear away before any of the other prisoners saw him. He was going to have a hard enough time as it was because of his good looks. He looked out of the bus window as it pulled away and met the saddened eyes of his parents. He wanted to look away, but he couldn't even though his last memory of them would be the pain and disappointment in their eyes and faces.
Becca could hardly stand up without help. She didn't have too much longer to wait before the baby was due. She still debated as to whether she should tell Ty when the baby was born, but she was leaning against it; especially if the baby was a boy. She already knew what her parents and Susan thought- he didn't deserve to know. Maybe they were right, but there was no need to make a decision now.
When she heard about Andrew, Becca wondered if she would have been any better off with him than she had been with Ty. A murderer versus a murdering racist she mused. She had a thought that made her almost ill. She had wanted Andrew to hurt the melting pot. What did that say about her? Was she really any better than Ty and Andrew? The only difference between her and them was that she hadn't actually hurt anyone; at least not physically.
There were times that she thought about going to Patricia and Kenji, but she always backed out. What could she say? She knew that Ernie had made his peace with them and she admired him for it; but she didn't think that she was that brave.
Her mind went back to Andrew. She still believed that he had had some feelings for Patricia and that was why he hadn't been as aggressive in dealing them. Now she was glad that he hadn't been more aggressive. She didn't think that she could have dealt with being partially responsible if anything had happened to Patricia or any of them.
Becca thought about the time that she spent as Andrew's girlfriend. Why hadn't she seen that he was crazy? A moment later she realized it was because she didn't want see it. She had created a perfect world where she would marry Andrew and have his children. It hurt to realize that Andrew had felt nothing for her and had used her.
She struggled to her feet, waddled to the stairs and debated as to whether she really wanted to tackle them. But a nap sounded good. As her mother was constantly reminding her, soon sleep would be a rare commodity.
She had just taken the first step when a contraction hit. She stopped and tried to decide if it was the real thing. She waited for a few more minutes and then decided that it wasn't. By the time she made her way to the top of the stairs, her water had broken. She started to call for her mother, but then remembered that she was out shopping.
Becca went to her parent's room, called the doctor and went to her room to change her clothes. Afterwards, she went back down the stairs to wait for her mother to come home. Her bag that had been packed for the past month was in the hall closet. She thought to go get it, but didn't think that's she could bend over far enough to pick it up. She wanted to sit down, but was too afraid that she wouldn't be able to get back up even with her mother's help.
It dawned on her that she could call her father and that she probably should. She called him and then Susan and resumed her wait. Her mother and father walked in about the same time. Her mother got her bag while her father ushered her to the waiting car.
Becca's heart raced with the fear of the unknown as another contraction came and went. Her life was about to change once again.
Ten hours later, Robert Alexander Cartwright was born. He weighed in at eight pounds, seven ounces and twenty-one inches long. His tiny head was bald so Becca had no idea if he would have blonde hair like hers or dark hair like his fathers, but his eyes were blue. Becca held her baby in her arms gently touching his face and made a decision. She wasn't going to tell Ty that the baby had been born. What she was going to tell the baby when he was old enough, she didn't know. What she did know was that she wanted Ty nowhere near her or her baby.
As the baby nursed from her for the first time, Becca realized a few other things. If she was going to teach her child as she had been taught, she needed to at least apologize to Kenji and Patricia. Suddenly, she was exhausted. The baby had fallen asleep at her breast, the warmth of his tiny body comforting her.
A few minutes later, a nurse came to take the baby to the nursery. Becca didn't want to give him up, but she needed sleep. She kissed the baby's head and handed him over to the nurse. A few minutes later, she was sound asleep.
Saul was exhausted but he refused to go to bed until he completed the vocabulary lesson that Joshua had made up for him. There was a sheet of paper with ten words on it that he was expected to look up in the dictionary. Not only that, he had to write the definition, whether it was a verb, adjective or something else and use the word in a sentence. Later in the week Joshua would test his knowledge and ask him to spell the words.
Taking into account his limited reading skills, Joshua made the words easy. Another part of the learning was that Saul had to read out loud from books designed for first graders. At first he was embarrassed, but when he saw that neither Joshua nor his wife was laughing at him; he relaxed.
"Not only do you have to become comfortable with reading," Joshua told him, "You have to become comfortable with speaking as well. You must get comfortable with using the words that you are learning."
Saul was amazed to find that he enjoyed the lessons and wished that he had been able to go to school. In the back of his mind he made a promise to his brothers and sisters back home; they would get an education. As with his promise to Jacob, he didn't know how he was going to make it happen; only that it would happen.
Thinking about Jacob saddened him. Jacob had been a good man who didn't deserve to die. Saul could still hear Jacob's voice ringing out loud and clear as he addressed the prisoners just before he was hanged. Saul didn't think that he had seen anyone carry himself as bravely as Jacob did with the exception of Joshua and his wife.
It still amazed him that they had taken him in even though they didn't know him. The fact that he was paying for his room was immaterial. It was the fact that Joshua had opened their home to him even though he had no money to speak of. The faces of the other black people he met on the train during his journey to California flitted across his mind.
Each of them had touched him in some profound way whether it was by talking with him or sharing their food. He recalled the statement that one of the black women had made when she shared her meager meal with him.
"All gods' children hafta eat."
Of all the conversations that he had with various people, that one stuck out. Even now whenever he ate a meal, he thought about that statement. Before he left South Carolina, Saul had never given serious thought to religion. He believed that there was a god and that heaven and hell existed, but that was as far as it went. He had stopped going to church when he was a child because it wasn't encouraged and he found it boring.
He always listened politely when Joshua and his wife read from the bible and prayed after dinner and sometimes, something that they read stuck a chord with him; but he was too shy to ask what it meant. He thought about asking to go to church with them, but held back. He figured that it would only make things uncomfortable for them.
"Who is really going to be uncomfortable?" He asked himself the last time he thought about it.
It was Saturday night and somehow he had Sunday off. Dinner was over and the bible reading and prayer were done. As always, Saul helped clear off the table before going to his room to work on his reading. He was headed to his room when Joshua stopped him.
"You're off tomorrow aren't you?"
"Yes sir." Saul replied. "Do you have something that you need me to do?"
"No son." Joshua replied. "I think that you fixed everything that needs to be fixed. I was going to invite you to church."
Saul hesitated. The excuse that Joshua and his wife would be too uncomfortable was no longer valid.
"You don't have to ..."
"I would like that." Saul said interrupting Joshua. "What time do we leave?"
Isadora crossed off another day on the calendar. In a few more weeks she would be going home for the holidays. She had already written a letter to her parents in the care of Mr. Whitman knowing that he would read it to them. Even though the trip was weeks away, she was so excited that she couldn't focus on the assignment sitting in front of her.
Finally, she gave up and decided to sit in the back yard until she was ready to go back to work. Bella was in the kitchen baking bread for the carry in meal that was going to take place after church. Isadora stopped to talk to her.
"It sure smells good in here." She said when she got to the kitchen.
"A loaf will be ready in a few minutes." Bella said. "I always make extra because between Lenny and the children, I wouldn't have any left for the meals at church."
"I can understand why." Isadora said sitting down. "I'm just taking a break to clear my head. I'm so excited to be going home that it's all that I can think about."
Bella smiled at her understanding the feeling. She was actually glad that Isadora brought up the subject of taking a break. A young man at the church was asking about her and Bella thought that they might make a nice pair.
"Isadora, do you know who Theodore Stevens is?"
Isadora thought for a minute.
"I think so." She replied. "Isn't he the one that takes care of the church grounds?"
"Yes and he's also starting college in the fall." Bella replied.
"What about him?" Isadora asked already knowing where the conversation was going.
"He's been asking about you." Bella said. "I thought that it would be nice to have him over for dinner sometime."
Isadora chose her words carefully. She had no desire to hurt Bella's feelings.
"I think that he would appreciate that." She said, "But please don't do it on my account. I'm not interested and I can't afford any distractions."
"Well, it's not like you're going to marry him or anything." Bella replied. "I just thought that you could become friends. He's here without his family just as you are and ..."
"Alright." Isadora interrupted with a smile. "One can't have too many friends can they? But Bella, if he says anything to you about wanting to be more than friends, tell him that I'm not interested."
"Good because I invited him for dinner next Sunday." Bella said grinning at her.
Isadora grinned back, but she knew that Bella was trying to play match maker. She would talk to Theodore when she had a chance and make sure that he understood that she wasn't interested in any romantic entanglements with him or anyone else for that matter.
She talked with Bella for a few more minutes and went back to her room. She still wasn't ready to study so she did the one thing that always got her back on track. She closed her eyes and repeated the names on her list. As she said each name, she visualized the face that went with it starting with the ring leader. By the time she made it halfway down the list, she was back on track. She studied late into the night reading ahead in her textbooks. She has renewed her vow to finish school early and to take the first train home. She had people to confront.
Patricia breathed a sigh of relief when she, Kenji and the children got home. It would feel good to sleep in their own bed and to be able to make love without fear of waking the children. She carried Marie while Kenji carried Ralph to bed. As soon as the children were tucked in, Kenji made tea for him and Patricia.
"It is good to be home." He said as he handed Patricia a cup of tea
"Yes it is." Patricia agreed. "I was just thinking about Andrew's parents. I can't even begin to imagine what they must be feeling."