September 18, 2012

Keeper of Secrets { - Fiction - }


It’s been 15 years since I’ve last seen her. She’s fat, her hair is gray, yet she looks good: healthy, happy. And her little one’s a doll.
 
Clare and I were the best of friends at 12 years old. We hung out all the time smoking and running our mouths like we were all that and then some. Her older brother Matthew was cute, and I hoped he’d notice me at some point. It took him a while, but he finally came around after they moved away and I lost contact with Clare. Of course by then I already had Jake, but Matthew remained a constant and was good to both Jake and me even though Jake wasn’t his.
 
Next thing I knew, Jake was three, Matthew and I were getting married, and I found myself pregnant again.

Just before Annie was born, Clare started hanging out with us a lot and about two years later, I finally broke down and told her about Ray. About the rape. About the abortion. We were out partying one night while Matthew and my Momma were home taking care of Jake and Annie. Clare was talking about how lucky I was to have two cute kids and a husband at 23, and I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

“If I tell you somethin’, you promise not to tell anyone? ‘Specially Matt?”
“Yeah, a-course.” A small, yellow-orange flame brightened the dark car as she lit a cigarette.

I told her how, just before we met when we were kids, I had an abortion after being raped by my cousin Ray. How Momma never called the police or anything when she found out what happened; she just made an appointment for an abortion and drove me to and from the clinic, and we stopped talking with her cousin Ruth, momma to Ray. How when I was pregnant a couple years later with Jake, Momma wanted me to get another abortion but I refused.

“I understood why she wanted me to get the first abortion and I didn’t want to be a momma at 15, but there’s no way I coulda done it again; ‘specially since Jake was cuz of my boyfriend.”

I told Clare how Momma and I got into a huge fight, how she ripped some hair out as she tried dragging me off my bed and to the clinic to get an abortion. How she collapsed onto the floor with strands of my blonde hair sticking out from her two fists. How we both screamed and cried till we fell asleep. How she then shipped me off to Florida to stay with an aunt until the baby was born. How I was then supposed to give that baby up for adoption but couldn’t.

“Jake shouldn’t be mine,” I exhaled smoke from the cigarette and immediately took another drag. Gripping the steering wheel so tight I thought my knuckles might explode out of my skin, I told her that if it were up to my Momma- who’d do anything for him and Annie today- Jake wouldn’t be mine.

I looked at Clare and her eyes glowed from the oncoming headlights.

“My god, Janine; I’m so fuckin’ sorry.”

“It’s OK,” I exhaled. “Just please don’t tell Matt. I mean he knows about the adoption thing but not about… the other.”

“No, a-course!”

And apparently she never did tell her brother- or anyone else. Even after I cheated on Matthew and left him a couple years later, she never told anyone my secret. Instead, she was there for Matt, Jake, and Annie when I left them. She was there when they needed me most. And now here she was again, 15 years later with her own little one helping Jake celebrate my grandbaby’s first birthday.
 
 
 
 

47 comments:

  1. I'm really glad this is fiction! I like the way the strong friendship came out in this story, especially after the prolonged lack of contact (twice). Everyone needs a friend like Clare.

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    1. thanks so much for the feedback about the friendship; was hoping that came through.

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  2. Wow, what a bag of secrets for the narrator to carry! Glad she had someone to spill it to.

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    1. thanks, Mama. i think she's got lots more to spill, too.

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  3. I enjoy your heartfelt stories! beebee

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  4. I'm glad you told us from the start that this was fiction because my heart would have ached for you. But at the same time, this story is so good because it holds the truths of so many women.

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  5. I too am glad this is fiction. Such a powerful bit of storytelling. Nicely done!

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  6. I liked how you kept referring to the cigarettes lighting up...it was such a visual. And I could smell the angst, as well. Nicely done!

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  7. This is a very interesting story! I would be curious to read what happened over the course of the marriage to Matt, the cheating, and the 15 year lapse thereafter.

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    1. good to hear you'd be interested in more. :)

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  8. I was ready to come down to whatever trailer park these girls were living in, and tell them to quit smoking so much. Especially since there's so many babies popping out around them.

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    1. heh, thank you Chris!! :) love this comment actually b/c it means you're getting the right image of this hot mess. ;)

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    1. that means a lot coming from you- thanks! :)

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  10. Wow, what a story! I too am really glad you made it clear it was fiction from the beginning. I have to admire Clare for being such a loyal, faithful friend.

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  11. It's hard to believe this is fiction. I like how you didn't use euphemisms at all. It was rape and it was an abortion. The hair in the mom's fingers was vivid. Good writing, Mama.

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  12. Bahhh depressing. I agree with previous posters - glad it's not real!

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    1. sadly, i'm sure it's someone's reality. :(

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  13. I somehow missed the large {Fiction} tag in the title so you have going for awhile.

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  14. Very well written :) ... but glad it isn't real as well :)

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  15. The part about the first secret pregnancy really hit home for me. My sister got deliberately pregnant at 17, and she always resented Mom for convincing her to have an abortion. (She was a drug using manipulator - there was no loss.) By the time she did it again at 21, she was no different, but she was unwilling to abort again. We were all worried that my niece would be a child of addiction, but Mom kept my sister off the drugs for 9 months until the baby was born. (How she did this without a silver padlock I do not know.) She wasn't one to interfere, either, so it must have taken iron will for her to force herself to interfere and KEEP interfering. Mom is raising my niece now, thank God, because my sister never changed. She was mentally ill and self medicating instead of taking the things her doctors prescribed. But we all are dedicated to and adore my niece. And ... yeah, that part of the story hit home.

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    1. oh i'm sorry!! thank you for sharing your story, but i'm sorry this hit home like that.

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  16. Your fiction is so awesome. I love the friendship in this. Everyone should have a friend like that,

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  17. Yikes!!! I too made double sure I read fiction at the top. What a story! You told it really well, especially the dialog which set up the far less than "white collar" environment in which they grew up. That was some friend, Clare!

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  18. I have a friend like this. It's amazing. I hope I am a friend like this.

    Please add name/url to your comment options. I don't have the others and I don't use LJ anymore. You can find me at: http://truthfully.ca

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    1. thanks for stopping by. i did reopen comments to all.

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  19. This was so vivid and wonderful I felt like I was right there in it. You did a really great job building the action and conveying the depth of the friendship. One of my favorites on the grid this week.

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  20. I'm always so envious of people who can get inside of a really short story like this, because it's something that's always eluded me. The voice, characterization and emotions are all spot on, and it uses the space perfectly. It's so hard to tell a complete story in such little time without it feeling truncated or incomplete, and you so pulled it off. Awesome.

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    1. W O W. thanks a million for that; i'm honored!

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  21. Really well done. I loved the dialogue, it was spot on. And the story had such depth in such a small amount of worlds. Great job!

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    1. i enjoyed creating the dialgue and may have done more with it if not for the word limit... maybe next time.

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  22. This has the makings of a longer story (hint, hint). I hope you are thinking about expanding this; I want to know more about this friendship!

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    1. i definitely am thinking about expanding this- at least some of the characters. i think. ;) thanks for reading.

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  23. I really admire how in depth you made this story with so few words! You got in a lifetime or two or tragedy and happiness, and that is so hard to do with a 1000 word cap.
    I also am glad it's a story of fiction, and I'm glad that you are riding the fiction train! Great job!

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  24. this is amazing. So vivid. the conversations, the emotions are so real and raw. I want more of this one.

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  25. Yes, yes, yes! Having just read the follow-up post, I love where you're going with these characters. More please!

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