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Christopher M. Lawson

Chapter Two of No More Lonely Days
Chapter Two

Life is about choices.  Making them, having them thrust upon you, or feeling the impact of what others have done.

Kathryn Galen mulled over this as she looked at the boxes she’d packed earlier.  She wondered if she were doing the right thing by moving out of the trailer that had been her home for her entire life.  It was a place of many memories, some good and others not.  As the place was being emptied, she found herself thinking of times long gone.  It was not an easy decision, but she knew that she needed this change in her life.

While looking in the classified ads for an affordable place to live, she happened to see a house for sale on Pleasant Street.  She liked the name of this street in particular.  Her life was not always a pleasant experience, but she had hopes of improving it.  The name of the street was almost like a good omen.

At thirty-two, she was single and sixteen-year-old Tracy’s mother.  It had been a very long time since Kathryn had had a boyfriend, much less someone around her age that she could even consider a friend.  Most of the friends she’d made in high school disappeared as the years rolled along.  She would frown when she read in the newspaper of birth announcements, wedding announcements, or engagements of former classmates.  It was spookier to see a classmate who died of a long-term illness, even if she knew of him while in school.

Sometimes her fingers would touch the empty spot on her ring finger and an ache would swim in her chest and she had to fight herself from allowing tears to spill from her eyes.  Sometimes, that would fail.

It was not that she was unattractive.  For a woman of her age, she still held onto her youthful looks.  While she was not as thin as she used to be in her childhood years, she did not worry about being considered fat, like during her adolescence.  Her shoulder-length brown hair showed no signs of gray and her blue eyes still sparkled when she was excited.  There were a few wrinkles near her blues, but she could easily pass for a woman in her mid-twenties.

Her only drawback, she suspected, was having a teenage daughter.  Doing the math, one would learn that she had Tracy when she was sixteen.  Some people frowned upon it.  Kathryn rarely commented on it.  Even so, she would never view having Tracy as an accident.  In fact, despite what she had been through, Tracy was a miracle.

Unfortunately, Kathryn’s parents would divorce a year and a half after Tracy was born; yet her parents individually and together helped with raising her.

Kathryn’s only regret was that Tracy did not have her father around.  When she learned that she was pregnant, she had called Devan Chett (who at the time was her boyfriend) to inform him.  All she had gotten was that the number was in someone else’s name.  Unsure of what to do, she considered that he had dumped her and she went through the next nine months, expecting and preparing to be a single parent.

Kathryn’s father John had not really filled the “father” role for Tracy, but he was a devoted grandfather.  While he worked to help support the family, Kathryn’s mother would take care of Tracy when Kathryn was in school, who struggled to keep up so that she could graduate with the rest of her class.

For reasons unknown, Marcia Galen had filed for divorce a year later, but remained as active as she could with her only daughter and granddaughter, and stayed on pretty good terms with her ex-husband.  Sometimes Kathryn would hear her mother grumble that the marriage just did not work and that they were better off apart than together.  Fortunately, neither spoke ill of the other.

After graduating from high school, Kathryn remained home to take care of Tracy while her father continued to work to support them.  Kathryn would tend to Tracy’s needs, her own, and did her best to take care of her father’s when it seemed to be required of.

When Kathryn realized how her life was moving at a rapid pace, she decided that she should try and make some changes in her life, even if it would not decrease the speed.  It wasn’t that she was unappreciative of what her father had done the last several years.  She just knew that she had to do something.  She took a job at the local Big Y as a cashier and worked part-time, mother’s hours as it was called.

Sometimes when she worked, she wondered if any men focused on her and if they were, she would do her best to remain professional and somewhat oblivious at the same time.  However, it was not easy because if they happened to come to the checkout stand that she was at, she’d notice the wedding band on their finger and she would chide herself for thinking “This might be my chance.”

Because she worked during the day before school let out, she did not have many friends among her co-workers.  To her, it was the slowest time in the day.  There were two other cashiers and other people would be stocking shelves or retrieving carts.  She noticed that on some days, most of her customers were middle-aged or senior citizens.  It wasn’t that she had a problem with this.  She just did not relate very well with them.

When school vacations came, Kathryn noticed that it was still slow at times, but near the hours of noon and two P.M., there were more people who came.  Some of her co-workers were high school kids and the store would be busy.  It made the time go faster and it seemed dizzying, but she was a good worker when it came to the frenetic pace.

As she sipped her coffee that cool summer afternoon, Kathryn wondered again if she were doing the right thing.  Her father, John, moved out the autumn before because he met a woman named Marianne, who was ten years younger.  He took residence with her, so Kathryn and Tracy were left to themselves.

Unfortunately after he left, one catastrophe after another occurred, causing Kathryn to worry.  The water was shut off, the vacuum cleaner needed to be replaced, the toilet wouldn’t flush.  The stress of trying to keep up with each problem became too much.  That was when Kathryn decided, after thirty-two years, it was time to move on and out.

Thirty-two years.  Sometimes she wondered where she would have been if Devan were still in her life, active as Tracy’s father.  That one she pushed aside.  She didn’t love Devan anymore, and hadn’t for half her life.  Despite having his daughter, she now viewed him as a ghost of her past.  After all, Tracy was her daughter and not his.

But what would have it been like if she met a man who did not mind her being a parent already?  Would it have been possible she’d have already moved and living the role of a housewife?  Would she have had another child?  Would this man treat Tracy as his own daughter and love her?

Questions.  If life wasn’t just about choices, it was about questions.  Sometimes there were answers, sometimes not.  That irritated the hell out of her.

Kathryn sipped the last of her coffee, which had cooled down and she then placed the empty mug on the counter near the sink.  She returned to the living room to sit on the couch.

Earlier, she’d opened the living room window when the sun was out and there were occasional breezes.  She decided to close it since it had gotten cooler.  As she touched the sill, she smelled the familiar aroma of a grill and could see the woman next door coming out of the house with a plate of hamburger and hot dog buns.  Her eyes then shifted and gazed at the husband who was standing by the grill, holding a spatula.  Their two small children were seated around the picnic table, fidgety.  Kathryn didn’t know this family very well.

She shook her head, blinking away tears that suddenly came to her eyes.  She closed the window, feeling the hem of her blouse riding up against her back.  She pulled on the hem and shook her head again.

Return to Chapter One

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The Armchair Detective
(C) 2007-2008 - Christopher M. Lawson