Looking out the dorm window, Sophie’s bright blue eyes widened to their extreme limit as she watched her mother alight from a white limo, the driver placing her luggage on the walkway before bringing it inside.
“Way to go, Mom,” she mumbled as she scrambled down the stairs, exiting the dorm rooms and running to greet her mother. “Mom!”
“Oh, Sophie!” Violet said rushing forward to meet her baby girl, hugging and kissing her until her fill. “Oh, I’ve missed you!”
“I’ve missed you, too, Mom,” Sophie said, blinking stupidly at the old man who sprung out of the limo with a gleaming mahogany walking stick in hand, and a wide grin on his face. “Mom, have you forgotten to tell me something?”
“Like what?” Violet said, eying her daughter’s long, lean, tanned body in the briefest of denim shorts, and a tank top with a gauzy, long-sleeved top over it. Violet noticed her slightly fuller figure and smiled. Sophie had finally gained back some of the weight she lost when Richard’s death left her as miserable as it did Violet. “Oh, baby, you look wonderful.”
“So do you, Mom,” Sophie said, her eyes still on the old man. “Are you going to introduce me to your…uh… boyfriend?”
“My…my what?” Violet shrieked, Victor instantly coming to mind, she half expecting to see him spring out from under a cluster of palm trees.
Morris Kramer smiled as he approached the loving reunion of mother and nearly grown child. “You must be Sophie. We’ve heard so much about you from little Missy here,” he said extending his hand to her. “’Course, she didn’t tell us you had an extra foot tacked onto your legs and that you’re skinny as a rail, so that I wouldn’t ever pick you for little Missy’s kid. You look very much like your father, however, God rest his brave soul. Missy, you best get some meat on this child’s bones while you’re here.”
Sophie took his proffered hand and shook, stunned disbelief on her face. Surely her mother could do a bit better than this way-too-old for her, funny little man, couldn’t she?
“This is Morris Kramer, Sophie. He was kind enough to um…to bring me to Florida on his private plane,” Violet muttered quietly, as she saw several curious girls coming out to see if they knew the celebrity in the limo.
“The Lake Kramer hermit guy who owns most of Catalpa Valley?” Sophie said, staring at him in a rather unflattering way.
“Sophie! Mind your manners,” Violet hissed.
“The very same, but I can’t say I’m much of a hermit anymore. Got too much to live for now, don’t I Missy?” Morris said, laughing.
Sophie gaped. “Like…my mom?”
“Well, she is likely to be in my will now along with a few others, which reminds me…gotta meet up with my lawyer and fix that darn thing. Missy, mums the word to Victor. Don’t want the boy thinking I’m slighting him. Just used to my own legal eagle guy is all. Had him for some thirty years now, so, you know, he knows how I tick.”
“Who’s Victor?” Sophie asked.
“Hasn’t Missy told you about our Victor?” Morris asked.
Quick as she could, Violet interrupted, with a smile and a kiss on the cheek for Morris Kramer. “Thank you so much, Mr. Kramer, for everything.”
“Well, you know you did me the favor. Hate flying alone. I’ll leave you to your fun time, Missy. Remember to call me when you wish to come home. I’ll be back home by then, but I’ll send the plane to getcha.”
“If you insist, Mr. Kramer,” Violet said.
“I do!” he replied heading toward the limo, the driver holding the door open for him. “Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Yes, Happy Thanksgiving, Mr Kramer. My love to everyone,” Violet said waving to him.
“Mom, why does he call you Missy?” Sophie asked.
“Oh, he’s just funny that way,” Violet said nervously. “A bit eccentric.”
“I’ll bet. So…he’s not your boyfriend?” Sophie asked, also waving as the white limo drove off.
“Of course not!” Violet said. “He’s married to Marty.”
“Uh, Marty…so he’s gay?” Sophie said, more confused than ever.
“Gay? Why would you say…oh, no! Marty is…her name's Martina, and she’s a lovely lady.” Violet said.
“And how do you know this Martina person?”
“Oh, she’s Vic…uh…oh, well….um…she’s Mr. Kramer’s first love and… and I got them together and now they are happily married,” Violet said, thinking herself quite brilliant for getting past that one without mentioning Victor.
“Then how do you know him? I mean, he’s kinda rich, isn’t he? Since when do you hang out with rich people, Mom?”
“Well, uh…” Violet bit her lip frowning and wondering why her daughter had to be so inquisitive all of a sudden. “Well, we were at Somerset Hill and…he was there and he does owns it you know so…”
Oh, cripes! This was NOT going to work. “Sophie my love, I’m a bit jet lagged. Could you get me a cup of tea or something?” Violet said.
Sophie laughed. “Mom, you only get jet lagged when you cross time zones and you didn’t have to do that.”
Violet pursed her lips and huffed, “Well you go spend three hours on a plane and tell me you’re perfectly fine and not tired.”
“In a private jet? I should think I’d feel pretty darn good. As a matter of fact, I’ll find out for myself soon enough,” Sophie said, linking her arm with her mother’s, leading her into the dorms.
“You will?” Violet said.
“I have so much to tell you, Mom,” Sophie said, bringing her into her room. “We have a change of plans. Oh, Linda, you’re still here. Good! This is my mom. I’ve told you about Linda, Mom. She’s my brilliant roommate.”
Violet smiled at the frizzy, mousey haired girl--unattractively dressed in a too- large-for-her-thin-frame t-shirt over baggy sweat pants-- hunched over a book-laden desk. “Hello, Linda, so nice to meet you.”
The girl looked up from her notebook pushing her pink, paisley print framed glasses up her nose and peering out of them like a distrustful owl. “Hello, Mrs. Bennett,” she said politely, before turning to glare at Sophie and adding, “If you actually thought I was brilliant, why don’t you ever listen to me?”
“Don’t start, Linda,” Sophie muttered out of the corner of her mouth, so her mother couldn’t hear. “I’ll get your tea, Mom. Chamomile right?”
“Has she told you, Mrs. Bennett? Has she explained away the bruises with the same lame excuses she tells me, or is Sophie more inventive with you?”
“What! Bruises? From what?” Violet said, looking from one girl to the other.
“It’s nothing, Mom,” Sophie said, sending a venom-filled stare at her friend.
“Oh, one week it’s a clumsy fall,” Linda counted on her fingers. “Then she supposedly bumped into something, then it’s a barroom scuffle and the next it’s…”
“Linda, stop it already,” Sophie said, her cheeks burning with indignation. “It’s nothing, Mom, really. She’s being over dramatic, needlessly exaggerating.”
“Oh, are these nothing? Am I exaggerating about this?” Linda said, grabbing her arm and roughly pulling up the sleeve of her shirt, exposing delicate skin covered in angry black, blue, purple and yellow-green marks—some fresh, some older and healing-- which could only be caused by the rough treatment of an equally angry person or so a half-wit might conclude.
Violet went to her daughter and tenderly examined her daughter’s arms, staring in disbelief, but then she had suspected it, hadn’t she? She had even mentioned it to Victor, so many months ago.
“Antoine,” she muttered. “He did this, didn’t he?”
“No, it was the equipment we had to move after a set at a frat party. The speaker was too heavy for me and… but it doesn’t hurt and I’m fine.”
“There are new bruises on top of old ones here, honey,” Violet said quietly. “What really happened, Sophie?”
“Well, like Linda almost explained, doing a bad job of it, too,” Sophie said, casting a menacing scowl at her friend. “I was stuck in the middle of a …of some trouble. It was right after a set and the guys were busy putting away their equipment and instruments when some guys were flirting me and being a bit too drunk they started getting rowdy and pushy and they wouldn’t take no for an answer and they wouldn’t let me leave and so…well, Antoine was there. He came out of nowhere and he pulled me away from the trouble. Yes, he was a bit rough and left some marks on my skin, but it was better than being dragged into the back room and being gang raped by a bunch of drunk frat boys.” Seeing the horrified look on her mother’s face, she hastened to add, “It’s nothing much, Mom, really. I was safe. The guys are very protective of me now. I’ve always bruised easily, you know.”
“You wouldn’t bruise so easy if you’d get the fricken restraining order like I told you to do. He’s nothing but a mean, arrogant, jealous bully, that Antoine, and he’s been stalking you since you started with this band and he’s only gotten worse.”
“Stalking?” Violet whimpered.
“Stop exaggerating, Linda,” Sophie grumbled.
“Exaggerating?” Linda shrieked. “What about last week, Sophie? What do you think would have happened if I hadn’t walked in on you? He was screaming his head off, calling you every name in the book. I could hear it all the way down the quad. You know he was within an inch of knocking you out cold or worse if I hadn’t shown up in time.”
“Linda, stop it already,” Sophie said, casting nervous glances at her mother as she went about making tea.
“Keep denying it, Sophie, and you’ll just end up another statistic, an addition to the list my mother’s on. She denied she was being abused, too, and now I get to spend Thanksgiving visiting her grave, while my dad rots in prison.” Linda swiftly stood up and swung her book bag onto her hunched back, giving Violet the mental image of Hermione Granger in her third year at Hogwarts with too many books in her bag, too heavy a workload and too many classes to attend.
“Sophie may not know it, won’t know it cuz I never told her,” Linda said, one hand on the doorknob, as she spoke to the floor. “But she’s my best friend, the best one I ever had, so I don’t want to see her hurt. Not anymore. I hope she’ll listen to you, Mrs. Bennett, cuz she won’t listen to her brilliant roommate. Happy Thanksgiving.”
Violet watched the scrawny girl leave the room and slowly turned to face her daughter. “Sophie…”
“Here’s your tea, Mom,” Sophie said, forcing a smile as she held out the steaming cup. “I have so much to tell you.”
“First, tell me the truth about Antione,” Violet said. “Was Linda right?”
Sophie cleared her throat and shook her head. “That’s what I want to tell you, Mom. It doesn’t matter anymore. I’m not staying in Miami.”
“What?” Violet said, the tea cup shaking in her hands, spilling onto the table top. “You’re quitting school?”
“Remember I told you I was thinking of a change…of schools and majors and stuff? Well, it’s official or will be soon enough. After our last gig in Orlando, we’re going to New York.”
Violet gaped at her daughter’s beautiful face, so alive with glee and excitement. Her baby was coming home! She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so she did what any mother would do.
She did both.
©2013 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved