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Arriving home from work, my house was dark and empty, just as it had been every night for the last two years. Rather than go inside, I sat in one of the comfortable wicker chairs that I had on my porch, looking out over the familiar landscape before me, and reflected on my loneliness. My life had not always been this way, and was once filled with love and happiness. Not that long ago, my home had been filled with kids and laughter, and a wife whom I adored. Now, my home was empty and dark, filled with silence and loneliness. As I did every evening, I watched the day fade away, and reflected on the path that had led me to this pit of despair.
Like many people, I had married right after high school. Lisa and I were the perfect couple, madly in love and seemingly made for each other. At least for the first few years, that is pretty much how it was. We did everything together. We read the same books, enjoyed the same movies, and had the same friends. We made love often and with great variety, and cherished our time together. Our relationship was admired and envied by many.
In the natural course of events, we had children. First, a boy who we named Nathan. He was all boy, always on the run, always testing his limits. He excelled at everything that he tried, from sports to academics. He was followed by a sister, Wendy. Wendy was the quiet one, always thinking, never in a hurry. Once she made up her mind, you had best get out of her way, but she would never be pushed into anything before she was ready. Wendy also excelled in school, but had little interest in sports. Finally came Sarah, our last. Sarah was our socialite, making friends with ease and always accompanied by a gaggle of followers. She was not the most academic, but her people skills were off the chart.
As our kids grew, and, of course, dominated our lives, Lisa and I began to grow apart. I didn’t think much of it, thinking that it was part of the natural progression that relationships go through when lives are consumed by raising children and pursuing careers. We were both happy, but found that we spent more time apart than together, while our interests began to change. By the time Nathan graduated from high school and joined the Navy, our love making had dwindled from the several times a week in our early years to a few times a year.
2 years later, Wendy graduated and went off to college in another state, on a full academic scholarship. With only one child left at home, our lives began to quiet down, but we still seemed to be moving in different orbits. By this time, we rarely made love, and found few interests in common. Our house was rarely empty, though, as Sarah always seemed to have friends over. Some of her friends seemed to spend more time at our house than at their own, not surprising considering how many kids these days have single parents or dysfunctional families at home. I accepted the role of surrogate father to some of Sarah’s friends, and they all knew that they could call me at any time if they needed help, or even just a ride home.
When Sarah graduated, she also headed off to college, although an instate school only a half days drive away. I loaded her things in my truck and drove her to the city, where she already had an apartment with two friends for roommates. After getting her settled, I headed back home to our now empty nest. When I arrived home, Lisa was waiting for me. Her bags were packed, and she informed me that she had accepted a promotion and was transferring back east to be near her mother. I was stunned, but after talking it over we both admitted that we had little in common anymore. Now that the kids were gone, neither of us could offer any reason to stay together. We agreed to part as friends, and arranged for an attorney friend to handle the details. She left that night.
Two days later, her company sent a moving van to pack up her stuff. I let her take most of the furniture and household goods, while I kept the appliances and my personal things. Over the next few months, we sold our home and divided the property, all through our attorney. To this day, I have not seen or spoken to Lisa since that day when Sarah went away to college. That was two years ago.
After the divorce was final, I took my part of the property settlement and bought a small farm house in the country. The house was old and worn, but had a great view of the countryside from the front porch. It also sat at the end of the road, offering the quiet solitude I desired. With 50 fast approaching, my kids out of the nest, and the only woman that I had ever loved gone, I felt empty and hollow. My entire life had revolved around marriage and family, and now I had neither, or so I felt. For the first time since I was a kid, I had no idea where I was headed.
I kept busy, filling my time with work and fixing up the house. Most of my friends were married, and, while they kept in touch, I no longer fit in with their couple’s activities. I did have a good job that I enjoyed, working as a manager at an engineering firm. My job provided not only income, but a much needed focal point poker oyna for my life. With little else to distract me, I threw myself into my work. My bosses and coworkers praised my work, but also tried to steer me back into a social life. Oh, I did try dating, but my heart just wasn’t in it, and I eventually stopped trying. My life became work, and working on the house. Nothing else mattered. Even my kids noticed, and over time their phone calls and visits became less frequent. I became comfortable in my solitude. Intellectually, I knew this was unhealthy, but I could not muster the desire to change. I rejected all attempts to help, claiming that I was fine, while I sank deeper into despair.
So, here I sat on my porch, watching the sun set. I enjoyed sunsets, for they marked the end of another day of emptiness while mirroring how I felt about my life. “Breathe deep the gathering gloom…” went the old Moody Blues song. “Watch lights fade from every room.” I now lived my life for today, rarely planning beyond tomorrow, and could never shake the feeling of gathering gloom. Well, I thought, “another day’s useless energy is spent.” Tomorrow was Saturday, and the beginning of a long weekend. The back porch needed some repair, and the yard needed mowing. Enough to get me through another day. I was still planning the day when life threw me a curve.
My phone rang. I looked at the display, and did not recognize the number. I frowned, and considered ignoring it, but decided that I had nothing better to do, so I hit Send and said hello.
“Mr. D?” came the voice, somehow familiar.
“Yes, this is Mr. Daniels.” I answered. I heard a sob on the other end, and voices in the background. “Mr. D, this is Jenny. Jenny McPherson, Sarah’s friend. I am sorry to call you, but I need help, and I couldn’t think of anyone else to call.” The pain in her voice was clear over the phone.
“Yes, Jenny, of course I remember you. Are you all right?”
“No, Mr. D, I am at the hospital, and you always told us to call if we ever needed anything. Please, could you come and get me?” I could hear tears in her voice, tears of pain and desperation.
“Jenny, of course I will come. I will be there in a half hour.”
“Thank you.” she sobbed, and then hung up.
I had no idea what was up, but knew that she would not have called if it was not serious, so I headed into town. The drive was not far, only about 10 miles, just long enough to reflect on a time gone by, a time when my house was full of laughter and teenage girls. Jenny was one of Sarah’s closest friends, and a frequent visitor during those happier days. She was always the rebellious one, perhaps because of her home life. Her father had left before she was born, and her mother had a seemingly endless stream of men until she finally remarried. Her step father was no better than her father, from what I could tell. Although I never had the impression that he bothered Jenny, her mother always seemed to have bruises, and a haunted look in her eyes.
When Jenny needed fatherly advice, she came to me, and knew that when things got bad at home she could always stay with us. More than once, she would knock on my door late at night, with tears in her eyes and a silent plea in her expression. I would send her up to Sarah’s room, where she could find peace. I had not seen her in over two years, but remembered her as tall and very pretty. I was not surprised when she ran away at 17 with her boy friend, escaping from her miserable home to strike out on her own. Soon after, my own life fell apart, and I had not heard from or seen her since. With my mind full of memories and questions, I pulled into the local hospital’s parking lot.
Inside, I talked to the admitting clerk and was directed to the emergency room. Now, I was worried. After being let in, a nurse directed me to a room down the hall, where I found Jenny and a Sheriff’s deputy. The deputy, a young lady who I remembered as a friend of Nathan’s, greeted me at the door.
“Mr. Daniels, I am glad you could come. Jenny is going to be OK, but she was assaulted by her boy friend. We have him in a holding cell, and I expect that he will be staying with us for quite some time. This is not the first time he has beat her up, and the judge has little patience for that sort of thing. Unfortunately, Jenny has no one else to turn to, as her step father will not let her come home. You were more of a father to her than he ever was, so when I asked her if there was anyone who she could call, she didn’t hesitate to call you. Keep that in mind when you go in.”
She opened the door and ushered me into the room. Jenny was sitting on the bed in a hospital gown, still crying. When she looked up, she ran over and threw her arms around me, sobbing into my chest. I wrapped my arms around her, and just let her cry, saying “It’s OK now, Jenny. I’m here now. Every things going to be OK.”
While she dampened my shirt, I noticed something was between us. It took me a moment to realize what it was. Jenny was pregnant! Not huge, but there was a pronounced baby bump nestled canlı poker oyna against my lower abdomen. What kind of slime would beat a pregnant girl, I wondered? I looked over Jenny to the deputy, and saw her smiling back at me. I found out later that she knew about my life changes, and was not sure that I would respond when Jenny called. Seeing me hugging Jenny, and offering soothing words, she knew that I would help. Much later, she confided that she had also hoped that Jenny might help me as well. Susan Randall was the deputy’s name. I knew I always liked that girl.
Jenny finally quieted down, and released her tight grip on me. As she pulled back, she met my gaze, and I got my first good look at her. She still had long, brown hair, and beautiful brown eyes. Both eyes were black, indicating a broken nose, and her lip was swollen and cut. She had a massive bruise on the left side of her face, and I could see strangle marks about her neck. It was a good thing that her “boyfriend” was locked up, or I would have been tempted to do bodily harm to the little punk. Jenny managed a bit of a smile as she saw my reaction, almost as if she was reading my mind.
After another quick hug, she turned to go back to her bed. As she did so, I got a quick flash of her round, bare ass as her gown swirled open in the back. As quick as it happened, it was over as she turned and sat on the bed, once again looking into my eyes and giving me a brief smile. I definitely hoped that she was not reading my mind this time.
Jenny, Susan, and I chatted for a bit while waiting for the doctor, with Jenny holding my hand the entire time. It was almost as if she was afraid that if she let go I would go away. When the doctor came in, he looked questioningly at me, but Susan explained that I was Jenny’s guardian, so he proceeded to give the results of his tests. Jenny would be fine, after some time to heal, and the baby was OK. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief at that. The doctor made an appointment for Jenny to come back in a few days for a follow up, and prescribed rest and quiet in the meantime. After the doctor left, Susan and I went outside the room to allow Jenny to dress.
“Is it OK for Jenny to stay with you for awhile?” Susan asked.
“Yes, I have a spare room that she can use, and it is definitely quiet around my place.” I replied.
“That is great!” Susan said. “What she needs now is rest, and someone she trusts to talk to. I don’t know how much you know about her after she left home, but this it the third time she has ended up in the hospital. The other two times, I could not get her to press charges, but this time she did. With that creep’s previous record, I expect that he will get at least two years up at state. Jenny will need to testify when the trial comes up, but we both know how determined she can be. Now that she has made up her mind, I don’t expect any problems in that area.”
“Well, anything that I can do to help, you can count on me. What about her medical expenses?” I ask.
“The county will cover her medical expenses for now, and I can arrange her to see a representative from our Family Services department about help with the pregnancy.” Susan said. “Bring her by the office to see me after her doctor’s visit next week and we can work out the details.” With that, she gave me her card, and surprised me with a quick hug and peck on the cheek. She then left to get back to work.
Jenny came out, dressed in those flowery scrubs that the nurses wear. She had come in dressed in pajamas, but the nurses cut them off during her initial exam. Since she had no clothes, the nurse had given her a set of scrubs to wear home. Jenny held my hand as they pushed her out in a wheel chair. While Jenny and the nurse waited at the door, I got my truck and drove up to the loading zone. Once Jenny was settled into the passenger seat, we headed home. She was quiet, and spent the few minutes of the drive looking out her window. She seemed to be thinking, so I let her be.
When we got home, I helped her inside. It only took a couple of minutes to show her around my small house. Living room, dining room (my office, really), kitchen and a bathroom down stairs, and bedrooms upstairs. When I bought the house, there were three small bedrooms upstairs, typical of an old farm house. I knocked out the wall between the two smaller bedrooms and made a bigger master bedroom out of the space. I also added a walk in closet for myself, and a smaller closet for the guest bedroom. Since there was no bathroom upstairs, I added a small one between the two bedrooms. This little project took me several months working by myself, but I was proud of the results. I showed Jenny where “her” room was, where to find towels and such, and then we headed downstairs.
One immediate problem was that she had nothing to wear beyond what she had on. I found a T shirt and a pair of boxers that I thought she could sleep in for tonight, and made plans to call Susan in the morning to see about going to her boyfriend’s place to get her things. After that, I fixed us a couple of sandwiches internet casino for a late dinner. Jenny ate like she was starving, telling me she had not eaten since morning, and it was now nearing midnight. When she finished, I took the dishes to the kitchen and brought back a couple of ginger ales. While she sipped on one, I waited patiently, knowing that when she was ready she would talk.
“I’m sorry, Mr. D. I never meant for any of this to happen.” she began, with tears forming in her eyes. “I know this is a huge bother for you. I will never be able to make this up to you, but I will sure try.”
“Jenny, none of this is your fault, and you certainly are not a bother. You have always been like family to me. You are welcome to stay here as long as you need. This house has been too quiet, and I will enjoy the company.” I said. She looked somewhat relieved, but still had not said what was really on her mind. I could see the wheels turning, as if she was trying to work up the courage to tell me how she had come to this point in her life. Finally, she took a deep breath and began to let it out.
Jenny had left home at 17 when she could no longer take watching her mother being abused by her step dad. As I had surmised, he never touched Jenny, but was both physically and verbally abusive to her mother, mostly when he was drinking. Jenny was not in love with her boyfriend at the time, but when he asked her to move in with him, she jumped at the chance to get away from home. At first, her boyfriend was nice, and she was happy.
She graduated from high school with her class that year, and was trying to figure out some way to go to college. That is when things began to sour. Her boyfriend had never even graduated high school, and made fun of her desire to go to college. He became jealous, wanting to know where she was and who she talked to. She could no longer see her friends, as he would grow angry if he found out that she had talked to anyone. He would check her phone, and throw a fit if he found that she had called anyone, or taken any calls. He also began to abuse her, first verbally, and finally physically. Tears were falling freely now as she opened up to me.
When she became pregnant a few months ago, he went off the deep end. He blamed her for getting pregnant, saying that she was trying to trap him into marriage. He began to beat her often, calling her terrible names. He told her that she was a “fat ugly sow”, no longer good for anything. He forced her to give him blow jobs, but refused to have anything else to do with her sexually, saying that he couldn’t stand to look at her, much less fuck her.
Twice neighbors called the police to report him beating her, but she would refuse to press charges, saying that it was her fault, that she was clumsy and had fallen down. Without her cooperation, the police could do little more than give the scumbag a warning. Finally, this morning, it reached a boiling point. Jenny was nauseous from morning sickness, and refused when he demanded a blow job before going to work. He flew into a rage and began beating her, breaking her nose, hitting her with his fists. When the police arrived, he had her down on the floor choking her. They pulled him out of the house, hand cuffed him, and took him away. Deputy Susan called an ambulance and took Jenny to the hospital. Jenny had had enough, and told Susan everything.
I listened, letting her get it out without interruption. She was crying, but I could see the determination in her face as well. When she finally finished, I moved over to sit with her on the couch, and she immediately fell into my arms, once again sobbing into my chest. I held her, letting her cry it out, while stroking her hair and back. I felt emotions coursing through me that I had not felt in two years: Anger, hatred, pain, sorrow, all the feelings that I had denied myself I now let out for her. Tears streamed down my face, tears for her, tears for me. We stayed in our soggy embrace for some time, until I became aware that Jenny’s breathing had changed, and she was no longer crying. She had sobbed herself to sleep in my arms.
Not feeling confident enough to try and carry a pregnant girl up the stairs to her bedroom, I stretched her out on the couch and found a pillow and blanket to make her comfortable. Once she was settled, I shut off the lights and headed up to bed. My own emotions were still swirling, and I felt exhausted and spent. In a daze, I undressed and crawled into bed, falling asleep almost instantly.
Gradually, I awoke the next morning, with sunlight streaming in my window and birds singing their morning praise outside. Something was different, but I could not gather enough consciousness to at first figure out what. As my mind cleared, I realized that I was spooned up against someone’s back, someone soft and warm. My head was spinning, and I could not seem to get a grasp on where I was or who I was with. When I finally awoke enough to get an eye open, I recognized my bedroom, but could not seem to remember who was sharing my bed. I could see a mass of long, brown hair, and even in my groggy state relished in the warm feeling of the soft body cuddled up against me. With a flash, the events of last night came back, and I realized that it must be Jenny’s back that I was snuggled up against.
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