Deleted Scene – Chapter 2 – Her Daughter’s Dream

This “deleted scene” was the first draft of chapter 2, which begins on p. 9. It has some different details about life in the Arundel household while Hildie was still in the sanatorium.

Daddy sat at the kitchen table, facing Carolyn and Charlie. He looked so sad. “Mommy has to go away for a while. Charlie, you’ll take the bus to school. It picks you up and drops you off at the end of the street. Carolyn, you’re going to be across the street with Mrs. Haversal. She’ll keep you there until I get home from work. Now, don’t start crying. It just makes things harder on all of us.” He tipped her chin. “Promise me you’ll be good and do whatever Mrs. Haversal tells you. Do you understand?” She nodded. Daddy ruffled Charlie’s hair, making his cowlick stand up even more. “And you behave.” He smiled. “I don’t want to have to arrest you and throw you in jail.” Shoving back his chair, Daddy stood and adjusted his jacket, hiding the thick leather holster that held his gun snugly against his ribs.

Charlie had the brave look on his face. “Why does Mom have to go away?”

“She isn’t well. She needs rest to get better.”

“When’s she coming home?”

Daddy’s eyes glistened. “I don’t know, Charlie.” He forced a smile. “But it’s not like she’s going to the North Pole. I’ll see her every weekend, and you can talk to her every day on the telephone. Come on, you two.” Expression grim, he waved them along. “I’ve got to get to work and make us some money.” He walked them across the street and knocked on Mrs. Haversal’s door. He clamped his hand on Carolyn’s head. “Keep your promise. No tears! Mrs. Haversal is doing me a big favor having you with her all day. You be good.”

Carolyn blinked and swallowed hard and tried to be brave when Mrs. Haversal told Charlie it was time to go catch the school bus. “Hug your sister good-bye.”

Charlie squeezed her tight and whispered, “Don’t cry! She’ll tell on you and Daddy will spank you.”

“You gotta go, Charlie.” Mrs. Haversal opened the front door. “Get a move on or you’ll miss your bus, and I can’t drive you. Your sister is going to be just fine. Don’t you worry about her.”

Her brother grabbed his lunch pail and hurried out the door. “See ya later, alligator.”

“After while, crocodile.” Carolyn parroted what she’d heard her father say.

Mrs. Haversal closed the door behind him. She waved Carolyn away from the window. “You can sit there at the coffee table and draw. I put out paper and crayons.” Mrs. Haversal turned on the radio and took out her crocheting. Carolyn drew four stick figures holding hands. She drew the same picture on the two other sheets of paper Mrs. Haversal had left out for her. She sat quiet for a while, and then wandered about the room, curious about the pretty things.

“Don’t touch that.” Mrs. Haversal scowled. When Carolyn looked at a pretty woman in a long flowing gown, Mrs. Haversal spoke up again, so sharply this time, Carolyn jumped. “Don’t get anywhere near that figure. A friend gave me that years ago and I don’t want it broken.” She pointed. “There’s a blanket and pillow on the couch. Take a nap.”

It seemed forever before Charlie came back. He stayed only long enough to dump his school papers and lunch box, then charged back outside to play with neighborhood boys. Mrs. Haversal told Carolyn she could go outside, too, but she had to stay inside the picket fence. Carolyn watched her big brother through the white painted slats. The boys ran up and down the street, laughing and shouting. Tears ran down her cheeks, but Carolyn wiped them away quickly, afraid someone might see and tell Daddy she couldn’t keep her promise.

The fence closed Carolyn in. She wanted to play, too, but knew she’d get in trouble if she unlatched the gate. And where would she go now that the boys had disappeared around the corner? Mommy was gone. Daddy wasn’t home. She looked at her home across the street. The glass windows looked like shiny eyes with nothing showing behind the curtains inside. No movement. Nobody was home.

What if Daddy never came back? He didn’t like crybabies. She’d tried hard not to cry, but the harder she did, the more her chest and stomach hurt, the more she felt like she was choking. She felt the fear growing as she watched and waited for him. A police car turned the corner and came up the street. She jumped up and down. “Daddy! Daddy!

When the squad car parked in the driveway across the street, Mrs. Haversal came outside. “You can go home now.”

Carolyn banged the gate open in her haste and ran.

Brakes screeched loudly. A horn blasted. She froze, staring into the shining chrome grin of a monster.

Daddy swore and shouted at the driver. Slow down, you idiot, it’s a neighborhood; maybe I ought to haul you in . . . When Daddy swung Carolyn up into his arms, she saw his red face, his blazing eyes. She felt his heat, his strength, his fury.

The man behind the steering wheel looked scared. He had his hands up. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t see her. She ran into the street.

Daddy strode back to the sidewalk in front of home, set her down, gave her a hard slap on her backside. “Look next time!” He yanked her arm, propelling her toward the house. “Get inside!” Bottom stinging, arm aching, Carolyn ran up the steps. She had to wait until he unlocked the door. She had to go potty; she had to go so bad. She didn’t make it inside. Daddy looked down, said a hoarse, hard word, and told her to go change her pants. Charlie came running when their father called.

Carolyn didn’t feel much like eating the macaroni and cheese and green beans Daddy put on her plate, her stomach tight and grumbly. Her father sat at the head of the table, looking at her, and she kept her head down. She’d never been afraid of him before. But now, afraid he’d get mad and spank her again, she poked at her food, pretending to eat. When he reached out, she flinched. He uttered a short word under his breath and left the table. Standing at the sink, Daddy stared out the window. “I’m sorry, Carrie. You scared me. That’s all. Look both ways before you cross the street next time. Okay?”

When Mommy called, Daddy talked to her for a long time. Then Charlie had a turn. When he handed the telephone receiver to Carolyn, she could only think of one thing to say. “Mommy . . . Mommy . . .” She started to cry.

Daddy took the phone from her. Turning his back, he talked to Mommy again. “She’s fine. Don’t worry about her. She’ll adjust. Just get better. I love you.” When he hung up, he went into the living room and sat on the sofa. He put his elbows on his knees and held his head. “Jesus, help me. What am I supposed to do now?” he said under his breath.

“A bath, Daddy.” Charlie stood in front of him, unafraid. “Mommy always gives us our baths in the evening.”

“Okay.” Sighing, Daddy stood. “Baths it is.” He nodded toward the hallway. “Let’s get it done.”

***

A week passed and Mommy didn’t come home. At night, Carolyn curled up under the covers. Monsters lived under her bed, so she had to be very still and quiet or they’d know she was there. She didn’t dare put her feet on the floor or one might grab her and pull her under.

“She’s an anxious little thing, isn’t she?” Mrs. Haversal said to Daddy.

“Is she causing you trouble?” At least he didn’t tell Mrs. Haversal she had started sucking her thumb and wetting her bed at night.

“Oh no. She hardly utters a peep all day. She just sits there drawing those stick figures. Maybe you could buy her a coloring book.”

“Sure. Doesn’t she play outside?”

“She sits outside. She doesn’t do anything. She just waits.” Mrs. Haversal shook her head. “Some children need their mothers more than others.”

“I can’t do anything about that, LaVonne.”

“Any word when Hildemara might come home?”

“It takes time.”

“Must be expensive, too, staying in the hospital for weeks on end.”

“Unfortunately.” He asked Mrs. Haversal to pick up the newspaper and mail over the weekend. “I’m taking the kids down to Murietta to see their grandmother.”

***

Charlie sat in the front seat with Daddy. Peering out the window, he asked a dozen questions. Carolyn sat in back, silent, not tall enough to see anything. The sound of the car engine made her drowsy. After a while, she curled up on the seat, tucked her thumb in her mouth, and fell asleep, only awakening when the car door opened. “Come on, sleepyhead.” Daddy pulled his handkerchief out of his back pocket. “Let’s get this sludge off your face.” He wiped her mouth and chin. “Keep your thumb out of your mouth! You’re not a baby. You’re three years old.”

“Hello there!” Oma appeared in the doorway of her white cottage. The screen door slammed behind when she came outside. “It’s good to see you, Trip.” She took Daddy’s hand and patted it. Then she hugged Charlie and said yes he could go climb the rope ladder to the tree house. She hunkered in front of Carolyn and smiled warmly. “Let me take a good look at you.” She gently brushed the tangled blonde hair back from her face. “You look like Elise. She was my little sister and she was very, very pretty, just like you.” She drew Carolyn into her arms and held her. Carolyn let out a big sigh and rested her head against Oma’s shoulder. When Oma stood, she tucked her hands beneath Carolyn’s arms and lifted her. Carolyn wrapped her legs around Oma’s waist and wrapped her arms around her neck like a little monkey to its mother. “I think you already know my answer, Trip.”

“Thank God.” His voice sounded hoarse.

“Come on inside.” Oma opened the screen door. “Here now, Carolyn.” She patted Carolyn’s bottom and set her down in the kitchen. “How about a nice glass of cold milk and a piece of angel food cake?” She set out four plates. “You can help slice.” She handed Carolyn a tall, finely toothed utensil and showed her how to cut the spongy white cake. “There you have it. Good girl! Make the next three slices the same size.” Oma poured coffee for Daddy. “I’ve already talked to the Martins. They can run things just fine without me. I’ll have to come back every so often and check on the place, but I can do that on the days you have off.” She lifted her blue willow cup and sipped. “How’s she doing?”

“No change.”

“She’ll improve when she comes home.” Oma set her cup down and gave a grim laugh. “Knowing Hildemara Rose, she’s probably fretting about bills, and that’s not going to help her get better.”

“She convinced she’s dying.”

Carolyn looked up. “Is Mommy dying?”

Daddy’s face looked funny. He started to say something and couldn’t.

“You’re going to have to watch your tongue, young man.” Oma set her cup down firmly. She smiled at Carolyn. “No. Your mother is not dying.” She ran her hand over Carolyn’s hair. “She needs rest. That’s all. I’m going to come and live with you and Charlie and your daddy. Your mother will be home in a few days. You won’t have to go to a babysitter anymore. You can stay in your own house and you’ll see your mother every day. How does that sound to you?”

“That sounds good.”

Daddy looked like he was going to cry. “That’s the first smile I’ve seen on her face in two months.” He got up and went outside. Carolyn could hear his voice, deep and husky, calling out. “Hey, Charlie, what do you think of that tree house? Something, isn’t it?”

Oma tipped Carolyn’s chin. “Let’s go brush your hair and put it in a ponytail. What do you say?” She took Carolyn by the hand and led her into the back bedroom. She patted a stool in front of the vanity dresser. While Oma brushed her hair, Carolyn watched her grandmother in the mirror. She liked her white hair and tanned, wrinkled cheeks. She had warm green-brown eyes like Mommy’s. Oma smiled back at her. “I made a doll for you. She’s not fancy with a porcelain face, but she needs lots of cuddling. And there’s a puzzle I’ve been working on for weeks on a board under my bed. Maybe later, we can take it out and put it on the coffee table in the living room. I could use help putting it together.” She brushed Carolyn’s long curly blonde hair into her hand. When all the tangles had been worked out, Oma wound a rubber band around Carolyn’s hair. “There. That looks better. Don’t you think?”

When they went outside, Oma sat in a rocking chair. Carolyn climbed onto her lap. She loved the comforting warmth and softness of Oma’s body, the motion of the chair rocking back and forth. She liked the feel of Oma’s arms around her, the steady beat of her heart.

Daddy came and sat in the other chair. Insects hummed and Charlie called out, wanting to look around. “Sure!” Oma called back. “Just don’t scare my chickens. They’ll stop laying. If you like rabbits, they’re out back beyond the bay tree.”

Carolyn didn’t care about chickens and rabbits. Not now. She wanted to stay exactly where she was, in Oma’s arms being rocked in the shade, hearing Daddy’s voice, calm now, the way he used to be when Mommy lived with them.

“We’ve got four bedrooms.” Daddy told Oma. “Hildie wants one to herself with a hospital bed. The kids can share. You’ll have a room of your own.”

“All I need is a twin bed, dresser, side table, and lamp.”

“I’ll see to it.”

“Don’t worry about bedding. I’ll bring whatever I need.”

Charlie came back and asked Oma if she had any carrots. Laughing, Oma set Carolyn on her feet and took her hand. “Come on, you two.” She went into the kitchen and dug around in her small refrigerator. “Here you go.” She handed a carrot to Charlie and another to Carolyn. “Don’t open the hutch door. Just feed them through the wire.”

Carolyn ran after Charlie. He pointed out a brown and white rabbit. “I like that one. I’m going to name him Peter.” Carolyn poked her carrot through the mesh wire and pointed it toward the big white rabbit that reminded her of Alice in Wonderland. Alice had followed a white rabbit down a hole. This one didn’t have a suit on or a pocket watch, and he wasn’t going anywhere, but she laughed at the way he chewed. When the carrots disappeared into the rabbits, Charlie led her around the farm. He looked for bugs in the vegetable garden, mice in the barn, and bird nests in the orchard.

Daddy and Oma sat in the shade and talked most of the afternoon. Then they went inside. Oma came out later and called “Charlie” and “Carolyn” and rang a triangle. “Supper’s on the table.” After a dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and fresh string beans, Daddy said it was time to hit the road.

“Too bad you didn’t bring extra things for the kids. They could stay with me until things are ready.”

Daddy gave her a funny smile. “I brought pajamas and a couple changes of clothes for Carolyn, just in case.”

“Let’s ask if she wants to stay.” Oma sat on the couch and patted the place beside her. Carolyn sat. “I’m going to move in with you in a few days. Would you like to stay here with me until I’m packed and we can go home together?”

Carolyn loved Oma, but she didn’t want to be left behind. She looked at Daddy. She chewed her lip, trying not to cry. He frowned. “If you come home with me, Carolyn, you’ll have to stay with Mrs. Haversal.”

“Will Charlie stay, too?”

“Charlie has school.”

She looked up at Oma. Oma ran her hand over Carolyn’s hair. “We’ll work on that puzzle, Liebling. We can go to the library and check out some good storybooks. Your daddy will call you every night, and as soon as my room is set up, we’ll be on our way. What do you say?”

“I want to stay here with you.”

Oma brushed her cheek. “You make an old woman very happy.”

Carolyn almost changed her mind when Daddy and Charlie got into the car. She wanted to run after them and scream for Daddy to come back and not leave her. Oma picked her up and stroked her back. “You’ll see them in a few days. Your daddy is going to move heaven and earth to have you back again. He loves you very much. We’re all going to be together as a family very soon.”

Carolyn didn’t see the mixture of emotions in Oma’s face that she had seen in Daddy’s. Oma didn’t look uncertain or sad. She didn’t look afraid. Oma wore glasses, but behind them Carolyn saw clear, warm eyes filled with confidence. “Can I play with the doll now, Oma?”

Oma laughed. “Of course you can, but only until bedtime. I turn in early, and we’re both going to get up at the crack of dawn. I’ll teach you how to milk a cow. And you can help me feed the chickens.”

Carolyn didn’t suck her thumb that night. She curled up against Oma and felt warm and secure. She dreamed about a tea party with the white rabbit that ate carrots from her hand. He stood on his back legs, tapped his foot, and told her he wanted ice cream tomorrow. She giggled in her sleep.

Leave a Comment