May 25, 1998
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
sat at the bottom of the stairs, a cup of tea in her hands. It was 4:30am, and she was wide awake. She hadn’t been able
to sleep since they got there. This was the second time she’d moved in five months; first to Tulsa, and now to Oklahoma
City. She wished they hadn’t had to move so far from the Hanson family, but she wasn’t the one buying the house.
Her hand rubbed her stomach; in four days it would be two months since Kyle’s party. There was still time to get an
abortion like her aunt wanted; she had another month before it couldn’t be done. She considered it for a moment, but
she had promised Isaac she wouldn’t. There a lot of things she had promised Isaac that she’d lied about; why would
this be any different? She couldn’t understand why her life had gone the way it did; she hated it. The only good thing
that had happened since December 24th, 1997 and now was meeting Isaac. She missed him. She missed his family; she missed everything
about him. Now, they would be charged long distance phone charges for a simple phone call. A silent tear escaped her eye,
and she lay her head against one of the pillars in the railing. She then felt a furry body rub up against her arm. She looked
down to see Calypso looking for a way into her lap. Joni smiled, and let the six-month-old cat into her lap. The cat licked
her face a couple of times, before settling down.
finished her tea, then got up, shoving Calypso out of her lap, and went to put her cup in the sink. While in the kitchen,
she fed both the cat and the dog, then went into the living room. Upon entering, her acoustic guitar caught her eye. It had
been six months since she’d sat down to play it or the piano. She turned a light on, and quietly reached for her guitar.
She sat down on the couch, and gently strummed the strings, cringing. It was horribly out of tune. She quickly tuned it by
ear, all with the exception of that damned G-String. She went over to the piano to quickly tune it, before going to sit down
again. She started to strum out the beginning to one of her favourite songs, Are You Lonesome Tonight by Elvis Presley. She
started to sing along quietly, hoping she wouldn’t wake anyone up.
didn’t know how long she had been playing; she had gotten lost in the music. She had forgotten how much of an escape
music had been, and how crucial it had been to her life. If only she had have picked up the guitar instead of the bottle,
she would’ve been better off. But there was no going back now. The bottle was a part of her life, whether she wanted
it to be or not; it had taken control over her.
stairs creaked, and a moment later, Kaitlynne was standing in the doorway of the living room. She had heard the guitar playing,
and had been a little confused.
been months since you’ve played that,” she said.
looked up, leaning the guitar against the arm of the couch. “Yeah, I know. I’m surprised I still know how to play.”
smiled and sat down beside her sister. “Whatever happened to that song you were trying to write?”
looked at her sister, confused for a moment, before remembering what she was talking about. “Bird’s Eye View?”
motioned towards the guitar case. “It’s in there. I still don’t have any music to go with it.”
don’t you talk with Isaac about it?”
shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s kind of hard now though.”
sighed. “Yeah, I know.”
stairs creaked again; Uncle Jacob was awake. “Good morning, girls,” he smiled, sitting in the loveseat.
Kaitlynne answered. “What’s for breakfast?”
you want,” Jacob answered. “We’ve got eggs, ham…”
Kaitlynne piped. “Ham and eggs.”
smiled, and got up to make them.
was ready within a half hour, and everyone sat down at the dinner table to eat.
what’s on the agenda today?” Joni asked.
Jacob started. “I’m working overnight tonight, so I won’t be home tonight.”
might check out the mall,” Kaitlynne said. “I hear they’ve got some good stores in there.”
rose her eyebrows. “Maybe I’ll go with you Kaity. Maybe I can drop off a couple of resumes.”
cocked an eyebrow. “You working? Yeah right.”
I’ve got to do it sooner or later. And besides, the mall’s close enough. It’s not like it would take me
forever to get there.”
smiled. “I actually could use the extra income, at least until I get settled with this new job.”
nodded. “No problem, Uncle Jacob.”
all finished breakfast, and after showering, Joni and Kaitlynne headed for the mall. They found a parking spot, and headed
inside. Joni took note of the stores around the entrance; a large Virgin Records store stood opposite the doorway, a Tiffany’s
was to the right, and a phone store was to the left. She headed to Tiffany’s, while Kaitlynne headed for Virgin. Joni
strolled through the shop, looking at all the jewelry. Her eyes stopped on an engagement ring. It had three round-brilliant
diamonds, two small ones and a larger one in the middle. She imagined it being put on the ring finger of her left hand by
Isaac, and got lost in thought until Kaitlynne came back.
won’t believe how many Middle Of Nowhere CDs they have in there. Almost three shelves worth,” Kaitlynne said,
then noticed Joni’s gaze. “Hey, what are you looking at?”
turned to her sister, coming back to reality. She pointed to the ring. “That; I like that. It’s pretty.”
gaped at the ring, and the price of it. It cost nearly $5,000. She then smiled, knowing what her sister had been thinking
about when she had approached. She would have to have a talk with Isaac. She pulled her sister’s arm. “C’mon,
let’s go shopping.”
laughed. “I am. I’m window shopping.”
rolled her eyes. “Let’s go somewhere within our price range please?”
smiled. “Alright. Let’s go.”
girls shopped for the majority of the afternoon, and then headed home with about six bags each. Jacob had left early for work,
and had left supper on the stove for the girls. Joni dished it out for Kaitlynne and herself, then took hers down to the basement.
Kaitlynne watched her go downstairs, and knew she wouldn’t see her sister until morning. She wished she could do something
to make her sister feel better; she hated it when she suddenly distanced herself.
Joni sat at the bar trying to eat. For some reason, she wasn’t hungry. She hated it here; she hated Oklahoma. She wanted
to go back home to Toronto and stay there. She sighed, and got down off of the bar stool. She went around to the other side
of bar, and poured over the various alcoholic drinks. The Kailua caught her eye, and she quickly went upstairs to grab a bag
of milk, and an extra jug. Once done, she brought it downstairs, and mixed herself a strong Brown Cow. She took a sip, and
nearly melted as it went down her throat. Lord, that felt so good. She was quick to finish her drink, but wasn’t satisfied.
She reached for the whiskey, and as before, didn’t bother to pour it into a glass; she drank it from the bottle. She
got off of the stool, and went to bed, the bottle in her hand. She lay in her bed, staring up at the ceiling, the bedside
lamp on. Everything was bright despite the dim light from the lamp, and sort of went in slow motion. The alcohol was affecting
her, but she couldn’t bring herself to put the cap back on the bottle.
Kaitlynne had been playing a couple of tunes on the piano, and had felt herself getting tired. All that shopping had worn
her out. She didn’t get up from the piano for a long moment. Her mind rested on two things; Taylor and Joni. She missed
Taylor so much. She had called him on the weekend, and they had made plans to get together for dinner the following week.
She was worried about Joni, and right now a strange feeling seeped into her. It wasn’t all that strange really; it was
a slight fear. She suddenly had the urge to go downstairs and check on her sister. She got up from the piano, and headed downstairs
to where her sister had set up her bedroom. She got downstairs and could see the faint light of the bedside lamp reflecting
on the shiny hardwood floor; Joni was still up. She rapped gently on the doorframe separating the main room and the hallway
to the stairs.
looked up startled, and slipped the whiskey bottle between the bed and the wall, despite the fact she knew Kaitlynne would
know she’d been drinking.
Kaity?” she asked, trying hard too keep her speech from slurring.
came into the room, and sat down on her sister’s bed. In the lamplight, she could see Joni’s cheeks were flushed,
and her eyes were a little red, and unfocused. That could only mean on thing. “How you doing?”
sighed. That was a stupid question. Wasn’t it obvious? “I’m alright I guess,” she answered. “I’m
still trying to make the adjustment.”
guess you miss Ike, huh?” Kaitlynne asked.
cursed. And she had just managed to push his face from her mind. That soft teenage face with those deep chocolate brown eyes
that always spilled his emotions. Those eyes she always got lost in. She sighed. “Yeah, I do… I don’t understand
why we had to move here. I don’t understand why we couldn’t have found a house in Tulsa. This is the second time
we’ve moved in five months; I’m tired of it.”
reached for her sister’s hand, and gave it a light reassuring squeeze. “I know; I am too.”
sighed. As much as she loved her sister, and that light form of affection meant so much to her, she wanted to be alone. “Listen,
Kaity. Why don’t you go off to bed.” She hoped her sister would take the hint.
was going to,” Kaitlynne answered. “But I wanted to check on you first.”
rolled her eyes. She was edgy; she had been all weekend, and with the alcohol in her system, tonight would be worse. “I’m
fine, Kaity,” she snapped. “You don’t have to check on me, Kaity. I can take care of myself.”
was less than convinced. “Joni, no you’re not.” She felt the need to express the way she felt about everything
her sister had been doing these past few months. “You’re pregnant, you’re drinking–”
fine, Kaity,” Joni cut her off, her voice rising. “I’ll be fine. Just leave me alone.”
away, Kaity,” Joni half-yelled. She rolled over onto her side so her back was to her sister. “Leave me alone.”
was taken aback by her sister’s sudden anger, but knew what was causing it all. She sighed. “Alright.” She
got up, but before she left, she turned back to her sister. “I’m going to call Isaac.”
shot up. “No you will not!” She was really irritated right now. “You will not call him. I don’t want
him over here. I… I don’t want to see him.”
please,” Kaitlynne pleaded. “You’re drinking and… someone needs to be here to look after you!”
the fuck up, Kaitlynne Anne Donnahue!” Joni yelled, not bothering to hide her slightly slurred speech. “You are
not fucking calling him! Now, you are going to go back up those fucking stairs, and leave me the fuck alone!”
blinked several times. She had never seen her sister this angry. At least not at her. She said nothing, took the still full
plate and jug of milk from the bar, and went upstairs, tears in her eyes. She stood at the counter, looking out the window
above the sink, trying to keep her emotions inside. She then reached for the phone, and defying her sister’s wish, she
phoned the ever familiar Hanson home number, trying not to start crying.
Diana’s tired voice came over the phone after the fourth ring. The family was probably in bed now; it was 11:00pm.
Kaitlynne asked. Her voice wavered slightly. “It’s Kaitlynne.”
hi Kaitlynne,” Diana said. “Is everything alright?”
sighed. “Not really. Can I talk to Ike?”
in bed right now…”
urgent,” Kaitlynne said, trying to keep the tears from choking her voice.
get him,” Diana answered. A moment passed before another phone was picked up, and the other was hung up.
Isaac asked, trying to stifle a yawn. “What’s wrong? Mom said it was urgent.”
sniffed softly. “It’s Joni.”
was no longer tired. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
hesitated. “She’s been drinking again… I know it’s nothing new, but I’m really worried. I went
downstairs to see how she was, and not even five minutes later, she snapped at me, and told me to go… Then I told her
I was going to call you, and… and she yelled at me. She swore at me. She’s never done that before, Ike; she’s
never yelled at me before. I’m scared.”
be right over,” Isaac said. “Don’t tell Joni I’m coming.”
I don’t want her to yell at you…”
I’d rather her yell at me than you,” Isaac sighed. “I’ve seen her like this before; not as bad as
you’ve just described, but I’ve seen her pretty riled up.”
have I, Isaac,” Kaitlynne said. “She yelled at Aunt Lynda.” She sighed, and couldn’t stop the tears
this time. Her voice choked. “I’m just scared, Isaac… I don’t know what to do.”
calm down, sweetie,” Isaac soothed. “I’ll be right over. I’ll be there in an hour.”
nodded, and took a breath to calm herself down. “Alright. I’ll leave the front door open.”
I’ll see you in a bit.”
thanked Isaac, and hung up. She couldn’t contain herself any longer, and sank to the kitchen floor, sobs rocking her
Tulsa, Isaac raced to get dressed, waking Zac up in the process. He had slept through the phone, and Taylor was still sleeping.
you going?” Zac asked groggily.
Joni’s,” Isaac answered quickly, shoving his legs into his jeans, nearly tripping over one of Taylor’s shirts
in the process.
looked up, concerned. “Is she alright?”
couldn’t bring himself to nod, or shake his head, or even shrug. He sighed. “I don’t know. She’s drunk
again, and she yelled at Kaity. Kaity’s really scared, so I’m going over there. I’ll be back in the morning
I hope.” He gave his brother a small smile. “Go back to sleep, Zac. I’ll see you in the morning.”
nodded. “Alright. Be careful.”
smiled. He nodded, and hurried downstairs, this time nearly tripping over a couple of toys that had wandered from Mackie’s
room. He stuffed his feet into his shoes, and raced out of the house to his car, hastily pulling his blonde locks into a ponytail.
He jumped in behind the wheel, started the car up, and didn’t wait long enough for the engine to warm up before he pulled
out onto the street. He was doing 50mph in a 30mph zone; twenty more than the speed limit. He hoped he didn’t get nailed
by a cop; that was the last thing he needed. He made the freeway on-ramp in record time, and got onto it. To his relief, there
weren’t a lot of cars on the roads. He tore into the express lanes, cutting a couple of cars off in the process. He
gunned the engine, now doing 75mph.
he drove, he couldn’t shake the worry from his body. He blinked hard several times; he was tired, and was in need of
sleep, but right now, Joni was more important than anything else. He could feel his eyes getting hot. His friends had asked
him why he always got so worked up over Joni. They called him crazy, nuts, an idiot, a dumbass, anything they could think
of, for being in love with her. They called her a drunk, and told him not to waste his time on her; she’d never change.
Isaac begged to differ. He loved her more than anything, and would even drive clear across the country to see her if he had
to. He also had faith that she would change. It would take a lot of prodding from him and Kaitlynne, not to mention a lot
of patience, but it could be done. No, it had to be done. Joni was pregnant, and
with her drinking the way she was, she could kill the baby. She could even kill herself if she drank enough.
vision blurred, and he wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He refused to think that last thought ever again. He would
get through to her somehow, and she would stop drinking, for good hopefully. Hell, he would be more than happy if she stopped
drinking for a week. He knew she wasn’t sleeping; her edginess said that much. He sighed, and wiped another tear from
his cheek. He wished he could be with her every minute of every day. He’d missed her so much since the day she moved
away. Maybe he would buy a house back in Tulsa and invite her to live with him. That way he’d be able to keep an eye
on her at all times, and help her get through everything. He hated leaving her alone to fend for herself. Especially with
the baby on the way.
pulled into the collectors to get the exit ramp an hour later. He cursed the red light, literally. Well, not the red light,
but the car in front of him. He had to make a right turn, but the car in front of him was waiting to go through the darned
intersection, having realized this wasn’t his cutoff. Finally, with the green light, the car in front of him moved,
and he made a sharp right turn.
pulled into the driveway, and leapt out of the car. As Kaitlynne had said it would be, the front door was unlocked.
was sitting curled in the chair in the living room. She awoke from her light slumber upon hearing the door open. She shot
up seeing it was Isaac.
Joni?” Isaac demanded. He cringed inwardly, but didn’t have time to apologize.
downstairs.” Kaitlynne led Isaac downstairs to the basement.
was taking a sip of the whiskey when they both got down there. The bottle was now almost empty; it had been half full when
she’d started it. She looked up, and despite her intoxicated state, she glared at Kaitlynne, anger flaring in her eyes.
saw this, and gently brought Kaitlynne to stand behind him. He knew what was going to come. “Go upstairs, Kaity. I don’t
want you to see this.”
what?” Kaitlynne asked. “What are you going to do?”
cringed. “It’s not what I’m going to do; it’s what Joni might do. She’s angry right now, at
the both of us. I don’t want you to see this.”
bitch!” Joni’s screaming voice cut her off. “You fucking little bitch! I told you not to phone him. I don’t
want to see him! You ignorant little fucker!”
jumped, and her breath caught violently in her throat. She was frozen.
turned to Kaitlynne. “Go upstairs now. With her this way, there’s no telling what she’s going to do.”
what about you?” Kaitlynne asked, on the brink of tears.
can do whatever she wants to me,” Isaac said. “You don’t want to see this. Go upstairs.”
nodded. Isaac was not budging on this one, but she knew he had a good reason. “Alright.” She backed out of the
room, and went upstairs now in tears again.
anger now turned to Isaac. “What the fuck do you want? I don’t want you here. Go away; go home!”
stiffened slightly, but started to approach her. “Joni…” He repeated her name a couple of times. “Put
the bottle away… Give me the bottle.”
Joni snapped. “You’re not taking it from me. I won’t let you! It’s mine!”
closed his eyes, and forced himself to stay calm. “Joni, please, give me the bottle.” He reached for the bottle.
smacked his hand away, hard. “No! You’re not taking it from me!” She pushed him away as he moved to sit
on the bed. “Get away from me! I told you to fucking go home! Go away, now!”
Joni,” Isaac said, trying to keep his voice soft. He was seconds away from yelling at her. “I’m not going
home. I’m staying right here, where I’m needed.”
not needed anywhere! I don’t need you! Go back home!” He tried to approach the bed again, but she pushed him away.
had had enough. “Fuck Joni!” he yelled. Kaitlynne could hear him from upstairs. “Kaitlynne phoned me because
she is worried about you! You scared her shitless an hour ago! She’s afraid of you, and she shouldn’t be. You’re
scaring me too.” He paused as his voice started to waver. He was about to break down. “Stop it. You need to stop
drinking. If you don’t, you’re going to kill that baby… and…” He didn’t want to say this,
but it had to be said. “You could kill yourself too.” He blinked back threatening tears. “And I don’t
want that, Joni. I don’t want to lose you.”
wasn’t listening to a word Isaac was saying; it wasn’t sinking in. She was still angry, and didn’t care.
She was frustrated that he was still here in her room, when she had told him to go home numerous times. The hand with the
bottle began to rise. More anger was building within her. There was so much, Isaac found himself slightly nervous. The anger
finally burst, and she threw the bottle at him. “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!”
hit the floor, and the bottle hit the wall, breaking into little bits. Isaac then heard the familiar sound of Joni’s
crying. “Just go away,” she sobbed. “Go away.”
got up, and went to hold her. “I can’t Joni, and I’m not going away; I’m not going anywhere. You need
rushed downstairs upon hearing the breaking glass. She heaved a silent sigh of relief when she saw nobody was hurt, and that
Joni was crying. As much as she hated seeing her sister crying, it was a comforting sound.
slammed her fists into Isaac’s shoulders. “Why? Why are you here?”
sighed, fighting back a wince. “Because, Kaitlynne phoned me. She’s worried about you, and so am I.” He
withdrew from the hug to look her in the eyes. She wouldn’t look at him. He guided her until she did look up at him.
“Joni, you are scaring us; all of us.” She looked away, but Isaac continued. “Zac is worried, Taylor is
worried, my mother is worried about you. Kaitlynne is afraid of what will happen to you, and right now she’s afraid
of you. You scared her twice tonight, and you’ve scared me half to death. I don’t want to see anything happen
sighed. “Why do you even bother helping me? What do you care what happens to me?”
stung his eyes. “Because I love you, Joni, and I’m worried about you. I don’t want to lose you; that’s
the last thing I want to have happen.” He paused, but couldn’t stop the tears from escaping his eyes. He made
no move to wipe them away. “Joni, you have to stop drinking, please. You have to stop… I’m begging you,
Joni, please stop.”
know,” she murmured. “I just can’t.”
you can, Joni,” Isaac answered, trying to swallow the lump that had formed in his throat; it wouldn’t budge. “I
hate seeing you like this Joni, it tears me apart. I want to see the happy-go-lucky girl you used to be. I want to see the
energetic, carefree, fun-loving… beautiful woman I know you can be. What happened to the girl I took to that old car
show on her birthday? What happened to her, Joni? She’s still there; you just have to let her out.” His voice
looked up when she heard his voice crack. She then saw the tears on his cheeks. “Why are you crying?”
I’m scared,” Isaac answered. “I’m scared for you, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.
You need help, and I am going to be here to help you. Okay? I’m not going anywhere.”
looked away for a moment, then sighed. She knew he was staying, and she was now glad he was. She looked back up at him. “You’re
right,” she admitted. “And I’m sorry for yelling at you… I was just…”
yourself, I know,” Isaac whispered. “I know. And that’s okay, I forgive you.” He gave her a tight
hug, and gently kissed the top of her head. “You’re going to be okay. I’m going to help you overcome this.
I will be there every step of the way.”
nodded, unable to answer. She fell against him, fatigue registering. He looked down at her. “Tired?” he asked.
nodded. “I am now,” she forced a half-smile.
smiled. “Alright.” He withdrew from the hug, and quickly went to clean up the broken glass. That’s when
he saw Kaitlynne standing in the doorway.
okay now?” she asked quietly.
nodded, relieved. “Yeah, she’s okay. Go on up to bed, Kaity.”
nodded. “Okay. Goodnight, Ike, and thank you. I don’t know what we’d do without you.”
smiled. “You’re welcome. Goodnight, sweetie.”
headed upstairs and went to bed, while Isaac remained downstairs. He and Joni looked at each other in the lamplight for a
long moment, unspoken words passing between them. There was no need for words now; they were all talked out. Joni gave a light
smile, and scooted over in the double bed she’d forced her uncle to buy her. She patted the mattress.
smiled, and although he knew he shouldn’t, he took off his shoes, which he had failed to do when he entered the house,
and climbed into bed beside Joni.
you, Isaac,” she said.
no need for a thank you, Joni,” he answered, brushing a loose strand of hair from her forehead. “You’re
okay now; that’s all the thanks I need.”
smiled, and one last tear escaped her eye; he wiped it away with his thumb. “Goodnight, Isaac.” “Goodnight Joni,”
Isaac whispered. He kissed her forehead, and brought her into his arms. He wanted to hold her and never let her go. He closed
his eyes, letting her head rest on his shoulder. “Goodnight.”