“Where to start?” Harmony mumbled to herself.
Violet stared at her mother, her nerves frayed, waiting and wondering what her mother could possibly tell her that would in any way hurt her. All she knew is that this wasn’t the time nor place for it.
“Mom, can we do this some other time, please? This is a party and it’s Christmas and it isn’t really a good…”
“It has to be done now, before it’s too late,” Harmony said.
“Too late for what?”
“Too late for you.”
“Violet, just listen,” Harmony said, taking a moment to collect her thoughts. “ Do you remember the first day you came to Mason to see me?”
“Vividly,” Violet said. “I was so shocked to see you like that, like a zombie… shocked to see you at all actually.”
Harmony smiled sadly. “I, on the other hand, was so happy to see you, Violet,” she said.
“I was happy, too, Mom!” Violet quickly added. “Really!”
“Yes, I know that, Honey,” Harmony said, holding her hand up for no more interruptions. “At first I thought I was dreaming. I had been alone for so long. I never thought I’d see you or Freddy ever again.”
“Me too,” Violet said. “I couldn’t believe you were so close all those years…yet so far away.”
“It was Richard’s mother, wasn’t it?” Harmony said. “She stumbled upon me somehow and told you where I was.”
“Yes, she had a friend who suffered a nervous breakdown or something. She was in Mason getting treatment and…” Violet shrugged. “Well, she discovered you were there too and she told Richard and after weighing the pros and cons he eventually told me.”
“God help me if he hadn’t told you where I was!” Harmony said, shutting her eyes at the horrible thought. “I’d probably still be there.”
“He was worried about me and what it might do to me and to the baby. You understand,” Violet said, anxiously.
“Of course,” Harmony said. “You were his main concern. That’s as it should be.”
“I was surprised you recognized me…I wasn’t sure you had,” Violet said. “You didn’t…you know…”
“No, I couldn’t show you, but I certainly did…even if you were older and…slightly bigger around the middle than I remembered,” Harmony said, motioning a protruding belly with her hands.
“I had been six months pregnant with Kenny at the time,” Violet said, defensively.
“Yes, I know...just teasing you,” Harmony said, drawing in a deep breath. “Bitter sweet, it was… seeing you.”
“Yes, for me too,” Violet said. “Mom, what does this have to do with…”
“I’m getting to it,” Harmony said, licking her dry lips. “I tried so hard that day, but I could not break out of myself to tell you then what I want to tell you now.”
Violet remained quiet as a mouse, attentive and anxious and close to jumping out of her skin. This was it!
“My surprise was you kept coming back to see me, at least once a week at first, then after the baby, a couple of times a month. I lived for your visits.”
“I tried to come more often but…”
“Violet, you never need to apologize for that. You had your own life to live. I wouldn’t have wanted you to spend all your time by my side losing out on your own life.”
“Still I wish…”
Harmony waved a dismissive hand. “No matter how often you came and all the things you told me about your life, you never told me what life was like for you and Freddy when I was gone…when it was just you and Freddy against your father,” Harmony said. “I was afraid you thought I left you on purpose, but I swear I didn’t have a choice.”
“I know that, Mom,” Violet said. “Dad put you in Mason. The doctors told us he had you committed. Dad told us you left us. He wanted us to believe that, but we never did, not really. Freddy and I knew you loved us too much to do that.”
Harmony closed her eyes. “I’m so glad to hear it, Honey, but it was that love that got me in trouble to begin with. You see,” she said, opening her eyes again. “I was so afraid of leaving you in the hands of your father that I stupidly thought it was better to stick around and pretend everything was fine…but it wasn’t, because I got worse, I got too sick to save you two. I don’t think I want to know how it was like for you and Freddy, but I imagine it was rough.”
“There was nothing you could have done,” Violet said. “And it doesn’t matter anymore anyway.”
“I could have… I should have divorced your father,” Harmony said. “I mean long before he stuck me in Mason. I’m talking about when you were just a baby, before I even had Freddy.”
Violet eyes grew wide. “I didn’t know that. I knew you weren’t a happy couple but…”
“You were too little to know much of anything then,” Harmony said. "We were done as a couple."
“Dad wasn’t very nice to you, I remember that… or to me, but he wasn’t too bad with Freddy,” Violet said. “Freddy didn’t like how he treated me. Freddy protected me as best he could. We got away from him ...eventually.”
“I hate him, Violet, and I wouldn’t blame you for hating him, too,” Harmony said.
“I…I don’t hate him…I just… it doesn’t matter anymore, Mom.”
“Marrying Jared was the biggest mistake of my life.”
“Oh…wow,” Violet said, stunned by the admission. “I’m sorry.”
“It was not your fault. It was totally and completely my own,” Harmony said.
“Okay… ,” Violet frowned.
“I know this hurts you,” Harmony said.
“It doesn’t…not really,” Violet said. “So, what does this have to do with… with anything?”
“Violet, don’t you see? If I had left your father, if I had only followed my heart my life might have been so different for all of us,” Harmony said. “And you have to do the same thing.”
“You want me to divorce Richard?” Violet said, utterly confused. “But he’s dead.”
“Not divorce, my love, but I’m glad to hear you say that he’s dead,” Harmony said. “We’re making progress.”
Violet merely stared in confusion.
Harmony sighed. “You were always so naïve as a child. I thought you’d get over that eventually… but you never did. It’s an endearing quality, I’m sure, but I suppose it can lead to you being taken advantage of. I think Richard may have done that to you.”
“What the hell!” Richard shouted. “She’s throwing me under the bus!”
“Isn’t that what you said you wanted?” Heidi said.
“Yeah…but, I still hoped she wouldn’t,” he said, sulking.
Heidi rolled her eyes.
“Richard was wonderful to me! He loved me!” Violet said. “He was great with me and the kids. He did everything for me!”
“I have no doubt about that,” Harmony said. “But he did make you very dependent on him…through no fault of his own, I’m sure! Your two personalities just worked that way. I understand it, but it’s time to break free from it.”
Violet looked down at her hands. She had started wearing her wedding band again after Sophie’s severe rebuke of her moving on with her life, but oddly enough it didn’t feel quite right on her hand. It was tight and bruised her knuckles as she twisted it and moved it up and down her finger. She knew she should not wear it anymore, but to remove it and stick it in the back of her jewelry box…wouldn’t it be like admitting she no longer needed Richard? That he was gone forever? Could she handle that? And what about Sophie?
“Violet?” Harmony said. “Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, yes, of course,” Violet said.
“Then you know what you must do.”
Violet stared up at her mother. “Um…what?”
“You have to ask Victor to marry you of course,” Harmony said.
“What!” Violet said.
“You heard me. Hey, you can’t expect him to ask AGAIN, so now you have to do it,” Harmony said.
“But mom, girls don’t ask boys to marry them,” Violet said.
“Times have changed, Love. He already asked you three times and you rebuffed him each time. He’s not going to risk yet another answer in the negative. Thrice bitten once shy…or something like that,” Harmony said. “I could use something about now. Why don’t you go get me something to drink.”
Violet stared at her mother with her mouth hanging open. She wasn’t certain her mother was all there yet, but then were any of us?
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