“Now this is the life,” Harmony said upon entering Victor’s den. “What a cozy room and with a cheery fireplace going, too. I could live here quite happily...ever after!”
She settled herself comfortably into what happened to be Violet’s favorite over-stuffed chair by the fire and lifted her feet onto the matching ottoman. “Can’t get any better than this, I think,” she mumbled as if ready to fall instantly asleep.
“Shall I leave you so you can have a nap, Mom?” Violet asked.
“Absolutely not!” Harmony said. “We’re to have a serious chat. There are things we need to straighten out… away from prying ears.”
“What… things?” Violet said, an ominous feeling creeping up her spine.
“Oh, I think you know,” Harmony said, moving her feet over a bit to make room for Violet on the plush ottoman. “Come sit.”
Obedient as ever, Violet cleared her throat, which suddenly felt constricted for no apparent reason, and she sat down as directed. Her mother stared at her making her feel awfully self-conscious.
“I’m confused, Violet,” she said.
“For one thing, why are you not yet the mistress of this house?”
“Okay, forget that for now,” Harmony said, taking a deep breath in and slowly releasing it. “As I recall…if I’m not mistaken… you and Victor met sometime in February of this year.”
“January, actually,” Violet interjected. “Toward the end of the month, just after my birthday.”
“Hmm…yes, that’s nearly a year ago,” said Harmony, staring her down.
“Yes…nearly.” Violet stared down at her shaking hands.
“You told me about all your, for lack of a better word, adventures with Victor. Numerous times when you two went out to dinner, the movies, walks in the park, strolls through the garden, weekend trips to Somerset Hill and New York City for his birthday, to Niagara Falls, to view the changing seasons. You and he thrilled in taking the orphans on trips to the beach, the fireman’s picnic, horseback riding, bowling, amusement parks and what-have-you. He helped you buy a car. You cooked his favorite meals. He got you a dream job. You baked his favorite desserts. You did things for each other, you became good friends. You and he together helped a teenage unwed mother and her baby when her own family abandoned her. With all that going on you grew to be indispensable to each other.”
“I wouldn’t exactly say indispensable…” Violet muttered, unheard.
“In short, you had fun together, enjoyed each other’s company, you were great together and, I dare say, you fell in love with each other. You said as much.”
“Mom, I…” One look from her mother was enough to silence her. Although in truth, Violet didn’t know what she would have said anyway. She could not exactly deny something she had already told her mother. Blast her unfailing memory!
“Now I realize I have been out of the loop for a couple of months now. Last I heard you two were getting on quite well and my impression was the wedding bells were just about ready to ring off the church tower for the two of you. Yes, I know you were on again-off again in that regard a couple of times, but still…you were closer to the alter than not. And then…well, I don’t know what to think. Victor, although excessively polite, he assiduously avoids looking at you and you look just about ready to cry every time he doesn’t. I can clearly see you still love him. You ache for him, Violet, and I get the distinct feeling he still loves you, but for whatever reason, he is holding back. In short, you and he seem on different planets,” Harmony continued. “Which begs the question, what the hell happened while I had gone to be cured by Benjamin?”
Violet opened her mouth to answer, but shut it again, covering her face with her hands. “I don’t know, Mom,” she said.
“Don’t give me that. You seem to forget who you’re talking to,” Harmony said. "I know everything."
Violet shook her head. “We just…we couldn’t make it work. We’re too different, Mom. We want different things and…”
Again, the look on Harmony’s face silenced her daughter.
“It’s Richard, isn’t it?” she said. “He still has a hold on you or rather, you’re not willing to let go of him.”
“About time she got around to me!” Richard said. “Maybe now we can get somewhere.”
“Not everything is about you, Richard,” Heidi said sternly.
Violet nodded then started crying.
Richard raised his eyebrows at his ghostly companion.
“Okay, maybe it is about you,” Heidi admitted, though reluctant to do so. “For over a month she’s been completely ignoring you. I thought she was over you. How was I supposed to know you were still a factor?”
“Sophie really got to her, remember? I was so disappointed in her.”
“Disappointed in Violet?”
“No! In Sophie. Laying a guilt trip on her mother was beyond the pale,” Richard said angrily.
“She has her reasons,” Heidi said.
“Yes, your grandson, but I put her straight on that.”
“What do you mean?”
“I explained to Sophie that Ronnie is just not the right guy for her…”
“You did what!” Heidi yelled. “Ronnie is a wonderful boy and…”
“Spare me the ever fanciful doting grandmother bit, will ya?” Richard snapped. “I didn’t say he wasn’t a nice kid. Just that she and he did not have a future together and that her mother’s happiness was more important than her childhood crush.”
“I can’t believe you did that!” Heidi said, furious at him.
“I’ve been telling Ronnie to…oh, never mind. He’s obviously on the same page as you are on this.He’s been completely ignoring me.”
“Glad to hear it,” Richard said. “He’s a good kid. Putting his father’s happiness above his own shows that.”
“And what happened with Sophie?” Heidi asked through clenched teeth.
“I think I got her to listen. I think she is stepping back and trying to help her mother and Victor get together, but she’s not having much luck. So I tried to get out of the way and see where Violet would go from here,” he replied.
“Not much movement on her part, was there?” Heidi said.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I thought it might have been because she was too busy with Christmas and stuff, but I think the trouble is pride.”
“I believe you are right. She is nowhere closer to swallowing her pride than Victor is,” Heidi said.
“I’m hoping her mother can help, though,” Richard said.
“Did you know Harmony before she became ill?”Heidi asked.
“A little…very little,” he said frowning. “She seemed okay for a while, but… I never knew the extent of her illness or how bizarre their life was. I was a kid too, you know, and Freddy never talked about it… ever, not even when she disappeared, and I never asked.”
Heidi nodded. “She seems to be all for Violet and Victor,” she said, cautiously. “You won’t be upset if she…”
“Throws me under the bus?” Richard completed the sentence.
“That was NOT what I was going to say.”
“Maybe not, but it will amount to the same thing,” he said with a sigh. “It is what it is. It needs to be done.”
“Richard, are you growing tired of your job as Violet’s spiritual guide?” Heidi asked.
He shook his head. “What I’m tired of is being stuck on earth as an excuse for Violet not to move on with her life. I admit I thought it was nice to still be near Violet even on another plane of existence, but that was when she was in tune with me, when she actually felt me around her. Now it mostly sucks. She hardly ever hears me anymore.”
“Perhaps that’s a sign she’s ready to release you,” she said.
“That, Heidi, is precisely what I’m hoping…and also what I’m most afraid of,” he said with a sardonic grin.
Heidi placed a sympathetic hand on his arm.
“I’m a big boy, Heidi,” he said. “I want what’s best for Violet. It took me this long to figure it out, but at least I finally did.”
Violet wiped at her face with the back of her hand. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to start crying...again. Seems that's all I do when I'm with you.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Harmony said. “While you’ve shed enough of those these past few years to fill a life time, a few more won’t hurt. Tell me what happened between you and Victor.”
“Mom, it wasn’t just one thing.”
“It never is,” Harmony said. “But are you willing to admit you still love him and want to be with him?”
Violet bowed her head for a moment, collecting her thoughts before speaking. “I did enjoy every minute I spent with Victor…even those times at the beginning when I complained about him intruding on my life,” Violet said.
Harmony smiled. “Yes, I remember you ranting about his forceful ways, pushing you around and making you—gasp! Have dinner with him and have some fun,” she said. “What a beast he was!”
Violet grimaced. “Yes, I was a fool then and all along it seems. He asked me to marry him several times, but…”
“Yes, I know about that too,” Harmony said, chuckling. “Once in as unromantic a setting as possible—that pool party for the angel kids, I tell ya! What was he thinking? And then wasn’t it in The City on his birthday? That was very romantic, wasn’t it? The carriage ride through Central Park. Can't get better than that.”
“Yes, of course you’d remember that. I went on and on about it,” Violet said. “So, you’ll also recall that I tried, I really, truly tried to forget Richard that summer,” Violet said, biting her lip to keep back the tears. “And it almost worked but the more I tried the more I felt guilty for doing it and for being happy without him.”
“Of course you did,” Harmony said. “That’s where you went wrong, Honey. You’re not supposed to forget Richard.”
“But I have to!” Violet said. “I have to in order to give Victor all of me, all my love…he deserves all of it, not just a tiny piece I can spare…barely scraps big enough for a mouse. It may seem silly but I think you can’t give up on your true love just because he’s dead, but if I don’t I can’t move on. I never gave up on you and you came back, so…I can’t give up on Richard.”
“There’s a huge difference between a dead spouse and a mother in a catatonic state,” Harmony said with a heavy sigh. “It’s a miracle that I came back to the world of the living, but you can’t possibly believe that the same can be the case for Richard!”
“No…I suppose not, but…oh, Mom. I just don’t know what to do now.”
“Oh, how I so wish I had been around when you were growing up.” Harmony clenched her fists in her lap and added, “Damn it all to hell and back!”
“Well, I do too, but what difference would that have made?” Violet asked.
Harmony stared at her daughter through pained eyes. “I need to tell you something. It may hurt you, but you need to know the truth.”
Violet wasn’t certain she could handle the truth.
©2017 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved