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Weak and Broken

Chapter Three

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Chapter Three

Need You Now

January 16th, 1998

Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

            Joni awoke before sunrise. It took her a moment to realize she wasn’t in her bedroom in her old house on The Bridle Path in Toronto. She was in Tulsa, Oklahoma with an aunt and uncle who had just taken them to live with them. She was grateful for it, but she felt suddenly more alone than she had ever felt, even after her parents’ deaths less than a month ago. She sighed, her eyes drifting over the walls of her room. Plain white, with a white ceiling. She knew she would have to find another colour and paint it soon. She rolled over on her side, and tried to catch some more sleep, but it would not come. She drew the covers back, and got out of bed. She pulled out a plain turtleneck and a pair of jeans, and went to take a shower. Once done, she got dressed, and quietly went to check on Kaitlynne. She hoped that Kaitlynne would feel better after what happened yesterday. She should’ve been happy for the family they had spoken to. Their mother had just given birth to a baby. Joni remembered hearing stories of when she was born. She was born a month prematurely, and spent fifteen days in the hospital before coming home. She had been glad when Kaitlynne had arrived on time and without complications. Although, she did remember the time Kaitlynne broke her arm when playing on the playground at school. That was five years ago now, when Kaitlynne was eight. She would be thirteen come August. Her sister had grown up so fast. Seeing her sister sound asleep, she closed the door again, and went downstairs. The house was in darkness, and she didn’t intend on disturbing the state of the house, so she left it in darkness as she went into the kitchen to get something to eat. And that’s where she nearly tripped over Kaitlynne’s dog. It had been lying in the middle of the floor right where everybody would step. She sighed, and gave Corinna a comforting pet, told the dog she was sorry, and preceded to the fridge. She stood there with the door open for several minutes before deciding she wasn’t hungry. Maybe I’ll take a drive into town and see what restaurants they’ve got, the thought. She closed the fridge, and after leaving a note, headed to the front door, where Calypso was clawing, wanting outside. She bent down and picked up the five week old kitten.

            “You don’t want to go out there, it’s too cold,” she said softly to the kitten, who only meowed in response as if saying she wanted to go out anyways. “Oh, alright.” Joni grabbed her coat and shoes, and opened the door with the kitten in her hands. She sat down on the front steps with her kitten inside her jacket. Its head poked out of the neck of the jacket, looking around, sniffing the air.

            Joni took a deep breath. The air smelt different to her. Maybe it was because there wasn’t so much pollution here, or because it was snowing. She sat on the front steps for a few minutes, before she felt her butt getting cold. She looked down at Calypso. “Alright you, inside. My butt’s getting cold.” She opened the door, where she saw Kaitlynne coming down the stairs.

            “Where are you going?” Kaitlynne asked.

            Joni sighed inwardly, and entered the house. “I’m just going out for a drive.”

            Kaitlynne looked at the large grandfather clock in the living room. “At 6:30 in the morning?”

            Joni hadn’t realized how early it was until now. She attempted a small smile. “Yeah. I just need some time to myself.” She approached her sister. “Go back to bed, Kaity. I’ll be alright. I’ll be back soon.”

            Kaitlynne wasn’t in any mood to argue, so she nodded. “Okay.” She gave her sister a hug. “I’ll see you when you get back.”

            “Yeah.” Joni watched Kaitlynne go back upstairs and to her room. She turned and left the house, going to the garage where her 1964 robin egg blue Ford Mustang Hardtop Convertible sat waiting to be driven. She got in the car, and that’s when she realized she still had the kitten in her jacket. She smiled, setting Calypso in the passenger seat. She was too lazy to take the cat back inside. “I guess you’re coming with me,” she smiled at the cat. Calypso curled up on the seat as the car started, and the heat was turned on. Joni backed out of the garage, and onto the street. She then drove into the city. For a small city with nothing to do, there were certainly a lot of cars on the road. She drove around the main roads, searching for a place to eat. There was Gypsy’s, which to her kind of sounded good, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Coffee Time, Country Style, Starbucks, Second Cub, even a Tim Hortans which surprised her slightly. She pulled into Gypsy’s, and sat in the car for a moment, looking at herself in the rearview mirror. She looked like something from the dead. Her normally happy looking blue eyes almost seemed a dull grey, large dark circles hung under her eyes, her face was drawn and pale, and her hair was brushed, but wet. Her hair was probably the most attractive feature on her at this moment. She looked over at her kitten; she was sleeping on the seat. She knew she would only be a minute, so she turned the car off and got out, heading into Gypsy’s. She stepped inside, and second guessed her thought of only being a minute. People were lined up almost to the door to get their breakfast for take-out.

            As she waited, she gazed around the restaurant. Cozy little thing, it was, with booths for eating, and lots of people quietly chatting and eating breakfast. The aromas were great. As the woman in front of her ordered, she noticed she held a small infant in her arms, maybe only two days old. She smiled slightly, remembering when Kaitlynne was that small, and was held by her mother in that same loving way, wrapped up in a warm cozy blanket. Her bottom lip quivered, but she didn’t cry. She finally got up the counter, and quickly ordered a western sandwich and tea to go. Her eyes drifted back to the woman. Her eyes were so cheerful and happy, despite the small bags underneath them. She remembered when her eyes used to shine like that. And the eyes of her mother whenever she held Kaitlynne. The woman caught Joni’s watching eyes, and gave her a warm smile.

            “Hello,” the woman said, happily.

            Joni attempted a small smile. “Hello.” She saw the baby, and noticed it was a baby girl. She couldn’t help but ask, “Was she just born?”

            The woman smiled, and nodded, adjusting the baby in her arms, as she waited for order. “Yes. She was born on Wednesday, the fourteenth. She’s the seventh, and hopefully the last.”

            “The youngest of seven?” Joni asked. “Really?”

            The woman laughed. “Yes. My oldest boy Isaac, is seventeen. He’ll be eighteen in November. It’s amazing how quickly kids grow up,” she said wistfully. The name Isaac sounded familiar to Joni, but she couldn’t think of why.

            Joni nodded. “I know. My little sister is twelve. She’ll be thirteen in August. I remember when she was born…” Her eyes took on a faraway look. “My parents were so happy, I was so happy. I had a little sister…” She shook herself from her trance. “I’m sorry.”

            “It’s quite alright, sweetie,” the woman smiled.

            Joni froze. Her mother called her that all the time. She closed her eyes for a moment.

            The woman noticed Joni’s reaction. “Did I say something wrong?”

            Joni shook her head. “Oh no, it’s just my mom used to call me sweetie all the time.” She sighed. “My parents were killed in a car crash on Christmas Eve.”

            The woman’s eyes turned suddenly sympathetic, and concerned. The way only a mother’s eyes get. “Oh, I’m sorry. It’s one thing to lose a parent, but to lose both at the same time… I can’t imagine.”

            Joni gave a small smile again. “It’s okay. I still haven’t had any time to really think too much about it. We’ve been so busy these past few weeks, with funeral arrangements, and moving costs and everything. We moved here from Toronto, Canada, and we’re staying with my Aunt Lynda and Uncle Jacob.”

            “Lynda and Jacob Donnahue?” the woman asked.

            Joni nodded. “Yeah. How did you know?”

            “We’re neighbours,” the woman said. She offered her hand. “Diana Hanson. My family lives right across the street from your aunt and uncle.”

            Joni shook it, then realized why the name Isaac sounded familiar. “I’m Joni. I think I met your three oldest boys yesterday while out with my sister. They said their mother had just had a baby.”

            Diana smiled. “That was me they were talking about.”

            Their orders came up simultaneously.

            “Well,” Diana spoke. “I should head home. The kids will be anxious to see their sister. Maybe you and your family could come over for dinner tomorrow night.”

            Joni nodded. “That would be nice. Thank you.”

            “You’re welcome.”

            They walked out of Gypsy’s together, bid each other a farewell, and both headed home, Joni following behind Diana. Calypso was still sleeping on the passenger seat. She turned into her driveway, and put the car in the garage. She left the garage, and from where she stood in the front yard, she could see the family all surrounding Diana, all cooing over the baby.

            “She’s so cute!” she heard one of them shout.

            “She has your eyes, Zac!” another one exclaimed.

            “Yeah, she does!” Zac replied.

            Joni watched all this with a wistful expression. She remembered when everyone was cooing over Kaitlynne when she was born. She wished she could turn back time so she could spend time with her parents again. She opened the door to put the cat back inside, but couldn’t find the means to follow Calypso. Instead, she sat on the steps, and continued to watch the Hanson family, while eating her breakfast. She finished her breakfast, and continued to watch the family. Her vision blurred. The laughter sounded good, and reminded her of when her parents were still alive. Lord, she missed them. She closed her eyes, and let her tears flow. She pulled her knees up to her chest, and buried her face in her arms. She felt her shoulders shake, while sobs ripped at her body. She was sobbing so loudly, it was a wonder no one heard her. “I need you now, mom and dad… God, I need you so much!”

            From across the street, Isaac smiled as it was his turn to hold his youngest sister, who had been affectionately named ZoŽ Genevieve Hanson. He laughed, as a couple of fingers found his ear. “Hey,” he laughed. “That’s my ear you’ve got.”

            The family laughed. Isaac looked up, and his smile faded as he saw one of the Donnahue girls crying on the front steps of the house across the street. It looked like the oldest one, Joni. He passed his youngest sister on to Taylor, who accepted her with great enthusiasm, and headed down the driveway.

            “Where you going Ike?” Zac asked.

            “Across the street. I’ll be back,” Isaac replied, and hurried across the street. He walked up the path, to stand in front of the crying girl. “Hey, are you okay?”

            Joni looked up startled, and quickly wiped tears from her cheeks. She sniffed. “Yeah, I’m okay,” she lied.

            Isaac looked at her with concern. He knew she was lying. He could see she was in desperate need of sleep, or just a friend to talk to. He motioned to the steps. “Do you mind if I sit here?”

            “It’s a free country,” Joni shrugged.

            Isaac took that as a yes, and sat down. “What’s wrong? I know we only met briefly yesterday, but you can tell me. You can talk to me, I’m here. And if you need me, I’m right across the street. I’m right here.”

            God, his words sounded good to her. She blinked back more tears, but it didn’t work. “My mother used to say that all the time, that she’d always be there when I needed her.” Her voice cracked. “But now she’s gone… and so is my father. They’re both gone forever… and I want them back… God, I want them back so bad.”

            Isaac immediately drew her into a hug. “Shh… it’s okay.”

            “No it’s not,” Joni sobbed. “They are never coming back. I’ll never get to spend another moment with them… and it’s not fair.”

            “It never is,” Isaac said softly, rubbing her hair gently. “But everything is going to be okay, I know it is. I know it’s hard.”

            Joni couldn’t answer. Her sobs prevented her from saying anything.

            “It’s okay. You just cry. I won’t leave you,” Isaac whispered. He gently rocked her back and forth for several moments, hoping that would calm her down. It always calmed his sisters down when they were upset, he just hoped it would work on Joni.

            “I’ve never felt so alone,” Joni cried, her voice choked. “I need them… God, I need them so badly… I miss them.”

            Isaac held her tighter. “I know you do. But you’re not alone, Joni. I’m here. And I won’t leave. I’ll stay for as long as you need me.”

            Joni looked up at Isaac confused, her eyes bloodshot and heavy. His words were so sincere. She had never met a guy this nice or sincere before. This was probably too good to be true. “Do you mean it? Are you serious? You mean, you’d stay for as long as I need you?”

            Isaac looked her right in the eyes, his brown eyes sincere. He nodded. “Yes. I know what it’s like to need a shoulder to cry on, I’ve been there, and I could never leave anyone else stranded for a shoulder to cry on. It’s just not me. I will stay as long as you need me to.”

            “But what about your sister and your mom? I mean they just came home today…”

            “Don’t worry, I’ve already seen them,” Isaac answered. “You need me right now, and I’m not going to leave until we are both certain that you are okay.”

            Joni sighed, and nodded. He was right. She did need him. “Thank you.”

            “You’re welcome,” Isaac smiled, and brought her into another hug, rocking her back and forth on the steps.

            Kaitlynne stood at the living room window, watching her sister cry in the arms of the oldest son of the family across the street. She knew it was best to leave them alone. Her sister needed a shoulder to cry on, and she knew it was best not to disturb her. This was the first time since the funeral she’d seen her sister cry. Even then, it was only small tears. She sighed, and turned for the kitchen to get herself some breakfast. Corinna followed her, begging to be fed. Kaitlynne fed the puppy, then got herself some cereal. She sat at the table, and looked out the window. “I need you now mom and dad. For Joni. To let her know everything will be okay. We both need you. It’s not the same without you…” She heard the creak of the stairs; Uncle Jacob was coming downstairs.

Chapter Four