Violet had never understood how anybody could be so unhappy-- let alone depressed enough to kill themselves-- during the wonderful Christmas holidays, and yet here she was thoroughly depressed. No, she wasn't thinking of suicide, but this year she found out for herself just how depressing Christmas can be.
She knew it certainly wasn't the holidays themselves causing it. She always had enjoyed Christmas—almost always anyway. The year her mother had gone away had been a particularly awful one. Christmas was normally magical and had special meaning to her, but she supposed that was only when you have your friends, family and loved ones around you.
Only thing was, she did have a lot of friends and family around, so why was Christmas so depressing this time?
“You don't have me anymore, do you?” Richard whispered.
Violet wiped at a tear, shook her head and tossed the sheets over her head, hiding from the slowly brightening world just outside her windows, and wishing she could stay there forever. She hadn't felt this lonely since... well, you know.
After a while she drifted off into a fitful sleep, Richard right beside her on the bed.
“Please don't do this, Violet,” he said, softly running his hand over her shoulder, down her side to her waist where he wrapped his arm around her, holding her close. “You have to let go of me and turn to your future. That will get you out of this funk. It's just waiting there for you...just... take it. You know you want to. You just gotta do it.”
To his surprise, she rolled over and peaked out from under the blankets, looking straight at him. She then drew in a shuddering breath. “Richard, you know my future is gone...gone when you left me and all that remains are memories, regret and pain.”
“Stop it!” he shouted. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You're life is far from over just cuz I died. You want a good life again, then get up and grab it by the balls! It's not gonna fall in your lap.”
“That's precisely how I got the good life I used to have. It just...showed up,” she said. “Richard, you know you made it happen. You made everything good and when you left, my good life ended too.”
“Oh, for the luva... Violet, I was never a saint,” he said. “I was selfish. I always had to have my way, remember that? And... I lied to you.”
“Lied?” she said, skeptically. “You lied about loving me?”
“No, not that! I loved you, you know that.”
“Freddy tried to tell you.It's true what he said. I got you pregnant on purpose. I knew you wanted to finish school and go to college, but...”
“But you did it anyway,” she said, not very surprised. “I know that now. Didn't you believe in me, Richard? Didn't you trust me? Didn't you know I loved you so much that I couldn't have lived without you? Didn't you know I would be back, that my father couldn't keep us apart forever?”
“No, I didn't! You never defied your father, not once, before or while we were dating. Only because Freddy took it into his hands to make it possible did you sneak around to be with me. So how could I think you would still want me after you went off to school? You know your father would make sure you dated the right sorta guys. No! I had to make you stay with me the only way I knew how,” he said. “I'm sorry I was that selfish, but you made it so easy. You believed everything I said. You easily gave in to my every whim. I know I ruined your chance to be something bigger and better, but...I don't regret it and I'd do it all over again...so...guess I'm not that sorry.”
After several minutes, Violet drew the sheets off her head. “I don't regret it either. Finishing high school would not have made me a better wife and mother, I think, and I obviously didn't have to go to college to get my dream job, so... My father didn't get his own way in the end. He didn't stop me from being with you and it all worked out fine. I had a great life and I have you to thank for it.”
“No, you don't! Okay, you were a great wife and mother--I knew you would be, but I stopped you from getting any job outside of the house. I didn't want to share you with anyone. Victor, on the other hand, was instrumental in getting you something you always craved, a real career, a meaningful job.”
Violet actually laughed. “Are you now saying being a wife and mother full time was a waste of time and not meaningful? Goodness, I never thought I'd hear you being such a... such a feminist.”
Richard balked. “Hell, no! That's not what I mean! I'm just saying Victor was the one that took you to Weston Botanical, because he knew you would love it. You know I would never be caught dead in a froufrou place like that, despite how much I knew you loved that sorta thing. Victor was the one who introduced you to that garden guy, the director who was so impressed with you and saw your potential and hired you on the spot. That's why Victor's the one you should thank for that dream job, not me!”
“That may be so, but you're wrong. I never had ambition for a career, not while I was so busy with you and the kids. I just wanted what you gave me, the life I wanted was you and the kids...they were my life....when they needed me, anyway,” Violet said sadly.
“They still need you and a few other kids could do with some Violet type mothering, right now,” Richard said, taking hold of her hand and squeezing it. “Victor needs you, Honey. Those kids need you. You could have a great life with them...if only you would let me go. Please, Violet. Do yourself the favor. Do me the favor! I need to move on.”
“It's too late. I screwed that up. He doesn't want me anymore.”
“You're wrong, so wrong! More than ever he needs you... for moral and emotional support if nothing else.”
“Emotional support? Why would he...?”
The alarm went off just then with some crazy singer shrieking to whoever was listening that a kiss with a fist is better than none.
Violet awoke with a start and looked around for Richard. Silly girl, of course, he wasn't here. It wasn't real...it was just a dream....but such a real dream...
“It was no dream, Violet. I'm right here. I'm still here. I'm always here. How I wish you would let me go,” Richard said, to no avail.
She couldn't hear him anymore. She got up, stretched and headed for the shower, getting ready for another depressingly, lonely day.
Richard talked to her, badgered her, screamed at her, but he got no response. He ran frustrated fingers through his honey blond hair, thinking. He knew what he had to do, but it would require a bit of creative license...in other words some half truths. He shook his head resolved. He had to do it, for Violet's sake. He just had to hope the rest would work itself out. And he desperately hoped Heidi wouldn't interfere—or even know about it!
He drifted sideways into the next two rooms, first Kenny's old room which was now Violet's craft room and then the next, Sophie's. He popped through the wall and inched toward Sophie's bed where his beloved daughter was sound asleep curled up like a kitten under her fluffy blanket, her long silky hair fanned out on her pillow. He shook her shoulder gently until she rolled over and his own bright blue eyes stared up at him.
“Daddy?” she whispered.
“Hey, Baby,” he said, smiling at her. “It's so good to see you.”
“Oh, my God...how... what...”
“Before you go thinking this is some miracle and that I'm really here and alive, this is just happening in your head, okay?”
She stared up at him, stunned. “Just because it's in your head doesn't mean it's not real,” she mumbled.
He looked confused for a moment, then shrugged. “Uh...anyway. I need to tell you something. Are you willing to listen? Are you awake enough?”
“I don't like it that you are being so selfish.”
Her eyes widened. “How am I being selfish?”
“Well...several ways, but we'll take them one at a time,” he said. “I know you think yourself in love with Ronnie, and you truly might be,” he said, quickly holding up his hand when she made to protest. “But it is not time for that just yet...if ever.”
“What do you mean?” she said, abruptly sitting up, hugging a pillow to herself.
“I mean...although Ronnie is a good boy...he's not yet a man. Do you see?”
“No,” she said, baffled. “We're the same age, so it doesn't matter.”
“It does...I mean... he's not yet mature enough to stick with one girl. I know you would not be happy chasing a guy around who likes having a harem drooling all over him. Am I right?” he said, sitting on the edge of her bed.
“But he likes me and...”
“Yeah, but how much?”
“You don't know that for sure, Sophie,” he said, pushing her sleep tussled hair out of her eyes and over her shoulder. “With guys that young it's easy to think it's love when it's just lust.”
“But, Daddy, I know I can make him love me.”
“You might... for about ten minutes. He might even believe it himself that it's love, until he gets what he wants and becomes bored and starts looking elsewhere for the next cute girl. I hate to say it, but he'll break your heart and I do not want that for you, Sophie.”
Tears threatened but she held them back. “But...it wasn't that way with you. You were young, too...younger than Ronnie and me and you and Mom got married and...”
“Sophie, listen to me,” Richard said sternly. “You cannot compare me and Violet with you and Ronnie. It's a different world now, very different than when me and Violet were growing up, and we're different people with vastly different personalities and wishes and desires and ambitions. You and Violet are about as different as me and Ronnie are. It would never work with you two...not the way it did for me and Violet.”
“Not when it comes to falling in love, Daddy. Me and Mom are the same that way, and I love him, Daddy, I really do!”
“I know, but...”
She tossed her pillow onto the floor and sprung off the bed, glaring at him. “You just don't like him cuz...cuz he'll be my first, my first real boyfriend and you still think I'm a little kid,” she pouted.
“No, I know you're mostly grown up, and I actually like him, and it's not that he's not a nice guy. I'm sure he is, but...” Richard took a deep breath and childishly crossed his fingers. “It's just that he's not right for you. Trust me on that, Honey. You want happy ever after and he just wants what's good for the moment. That's normal, mind you, for a guy his age, but you and Ronnie are not meant to be. Believe me.”
He slowly exhaled while she looked about as mutinous as a teenager could. “Now onto your mother. You must have noticed Violet is not happy.”
Sophie carelessly shrugged. “Is she?” she snapped.
Richard gave her a quailing look. “You told your mother to break things off with Victor just so you could get together with Ronnie. Extremely selfish, Darlin', and not at all cool.”
“That wasn't the only reason. I...Mom said it didn't matter anyway,” she said. “And it wasn't me making her sad. She said Mr. Romanoff wants nothing more to do with her. They're not even friends anymore.”
“Thanks to you,” he said.
“Me? What did I do except tell the truth? He's not right for her! He's all wrong,” she said defensively.
“And who are you to say who is right for anybody? You don't know him. You don't know how your mother feels for him. You don't even know all he's done to make your mother's life so much better in the little time they've known each other...better than I ever did and I had a lot more time.”
“That's not true!” Sophie said, shaking her head. “Mom and you belonged together. You were meant for each other. Mr. Romanoff is not good enough for Mom. I mean, he's nice and all but...”
“It's not me! Mom said he doesn't love her anymore.”
“You know perfectly well he does. You spoke to him. You know what he told you. Does that sound like a man who can fall out of love in less than a week? I don't think so and neither do you.”
“But, Daddy, if Mom and Mr. Romanoff get together...”
“Are you truly that selfish that you would keep Victor and Violet apart just because you don't want Ronnie to be your step-brother? He'll be a costly one night stand, Sophie, for everyone involved. That is what you offered him, isn't it?”
She had the good grace to blush. “I...no, I...I mean...that was just to see if he liked me,” she said, looking guilty as hell.
“I know with this guy, this kid who doesn't even know his head from his tail at the moment, that anything you can get from him won't be what you want, and then you'll be a sad, pathetic, Stupid girl. You used to make fun of girls like that, remember? Yet now you're doing everything in your power to become just like them. He'll break your heart, Sophie. I guaranty it. Do you think I want that for you?”
“But you can't know that will happen. You can't see the future,” she said, grasping at straws. “You're not even real, you just said so. You're just a bad dream! I don't have to listen to you. You're just a figment of my imagination!”
Richard never once hit his kids, but he certainly wanted to do it now, if only to show her just how real he was. It had worked well with Freddy, after all. Instead, he took Sophie's battered, childhood teddy bear off the shelf over her desk, untied the pink satin ribbon from around its neck and placed the bear on the bed next to a pillow. He then took a step forward, tied the ribbon securely around Sophie's hair in a ponytail at the base of her neck. He smiled, embraced her warmly and kissed her forehead just as he used to do when she was a little girl.
“I love you, Sophie, more than I can say, and I really wish you would listen to me and heed my warning. Being a ghost has its privileges, and one of those is having a tiny glimpse into the future so I can warn my loved ones of impending doom. I wouldn't ignore my advice if I were you.”
He helped her back into bed, tucking the blankets around her and replacing the pillow she had tossed onto the floor in anger. "Now, get a bit more sleep, okay? I'd like you to wake up in time to see your mother before she goes to work. Good night, baby."
Sophie watched in stunned disbelief as her father dissolve into the wall.
Was she dreaming? Was it real? Or was it all in her head?
Only Professor Dumbledore could tell for certain.
©2015 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved