December 16 2009

For the next year, it seemed that Dorrie and Ashe just might make a marriage out of this mess after all. Ashe was trying to stay off the bottle, and Dorrie left the hospital and went to work over at the other hospital across town. They moved and got a nicer place, and sometimes they seemed to be quite happy. It looked like things were improving; but, then the fiery pits of hell opened up once more. Ashe had convinced Dorrie they needed help around the house, and since they were both making fairly good money he had hired a friend of his brothers to be a housekeeper. The woman was pregnant and needed money. Dorrie wasn't too keen on the idea or even a little understanding,
but agreed that it would be good to have a clean house and good meals once in a while anyway. They had moved to a two bedroom house, once again with an upstairs. There was a small room off of the kitchen area that the woman could have as a bedroom.
“Ashe, I need to talk to you,” Dorrie said one day shortly after that, almost without emotion. “I am pregnant. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. With that no good whore living here now, that you are trying to pass off as a housekeeper for me, you’d think that maybe a star had risen in the East. Brothers girlfriend my ass, we all know you are doing to both of us. So now what are you gonna do?” Dorrie calmly stirred her coffee to which she had added several spoonfuls of sugar and a half of cup of milk. She needed the milk and sugar as much as the coffee. She also needed a sleeping pill. Maybe she could escape her fate for a little while. She was sorry she had ever agreed to having Carla move in, but with summer coming on, she knew that they would bear the burden of family cookouts, plus there was already new baby in the family, so everyone would be living it up. Every boy in the Redmond family was itching to hop on Carla, and evidently Ashe didn’t mind sharing. Dorrie’s parents would be really upset if they knew what was going on, but she didn’t care. She loved them, but they were definitely stuffed shirts, always harping on her lifestyle. Besides, Carrisa was their pride and joy, not her. That was for damn sure.
With the news of Dorrie’s third pregnancy, Ashe looked up from his beer and then suddenly threw it against the wall. “Hell woman,” he said, rising from the table, “I’m gonna go find me another whore, one who won’t get pregnant.” With that he slammed the door and walked away. But after a few blocks, he found it hard to breathe. He stopped and leaned heavily against a dirty gray building. He dropped his head and as he watched his tears fall on his dirty shirt, wishing with with all his heart that he were dead. But he didn’t have the courage to kill himself, not that he hadn’t already done himself in. Death couldn’t be as bad as the hell he was living in. He loved both Dorrie and Carla hopelessly. Dorrie harshness equaled Carla's gentleness.
They complimented each other perfectly. The irony was not lost on Ashe, but how could he give either one up? He needed both--and he needed another beer. Well, at least there was a bar at the end of the block. No way was he going back to face those two right now.
“Well, I’d say he took that pretty well,” Carla said, as she leaned against the kitchen door frame. So, we are both in September. I’d say, Missus Ashe, that you are stuck with me. Ain’t no way I’m gonna be able to raise this child by myself. So let’s make a deal: Let me keep living here as your housekeeper, and you provide the bread and butter. That way, we both get what we need. You get a clean house and cooked meals; I get a roof for the baby and me. And Ashe gets what he wants, on a regular basis. With you both working opposite shifts , we can make it work. Since we both love and hate the sonofabitch, it should work out fine. We can keep each other from killing him.” Carla smirked as Dorrie, expressionless, continued to stir her coffee.
“Yeah, but who is going to keep us from killing each other?” With a disgusted expression, Dorrie got up and walked away. As she left, she heard Carla’s shrewd laughter.
“Oh, I think we are both too smart for that. After all, we have to keep Ashe from killing either of us. We can do it, but we need each other.” Carla sounded almost reasonable.
“Uh-huh, sure we do,” Dorrie said cynically, “but I wouldn’t bet on it, if I were you.” She continued up the stairs to her bedroom and her sleeping pills. As she drifted off to sleep she dreamed of a time when she thought there was hope for her and Ashe. It was time from some other era, laid by the wayside. She knew it was too late for such dreams, but she dreamed anyway. She decided that Carla might be right; the last time she’d tried to defend herself against Ashe had turned really violent. Once she could stand up to him, but now she had become too scared of him for that. She was glad she had gotten rid of Jennah. She wondered if she should get rid of the one on its way. Having Carla there might just turn into a blessing after all, though an ironic one, because how could a whore be a blessing? What made it so? Maybe a dark angel? Dorrie wasn’t sure, but she knew that what she had become involved in had a dark side. All she could do was hold on to her belief that God would protect her. She fell asleep with a prayer on her lips.

"Any more beer, sweet thing?" Ashe's little brother was ogling Carla. Carla giggled as she handed him another bottle, and then gave him a cute little wink. Dorrie looked at her and sarcastically smiled. "You just can't keep your drawers up can you, sweet thing? You are fired. Get out."
Carla’s sweet expression turned to gall. "You can't fire me, bitch! You didn't hire me, and your money don't pay for me to live here. Ashe's does. Besides, he ain't gonna let you fire me. He loves me just as much as he does you and you know it!" By now, both women were shouting at the top of their lungs. Dorrie wadded up her fist and swung. As Carla ducked, she yelled, "you bitch, if I weren't pregnant I would knock your teeth out one by one. And there ain’t no way you are firing me!
Undeterred, Dorrie came at Carla again with her fist. “Yeah, I know you are pregnant but it could be anyone's. Hell, you bonk anyone you can get your hands on. Why last night when my daddy and momma came over to bring Jennah for the barbeque, you were making eyes at him.” Carla pushed Dorrie away and retreated into the living room with Dorrie on her tail. “Oh, excuse me, am I using language that is beyond your comprehension? I forgot I should talk like y’all talk. You know, in that good ole southern slang, saying ain’t Ashe’s, and of bonk, maybe I should just say fuck? You don’t seem to be able to translate real words, only slang and trash words. What’s wrong, sweet thing? Cat got your tongue? You do understand the word fuck, don’t you! By the way, it means fornicate under the command of kings. It’s a synonym. It also means to screw up! And ‘Sweet Thing’ you have definitely done that.” Dorrie stopped to take a breath, and then continued: “You have highly underestimated me if you think I am going to just stand by quietly while you steal everything and everyone out from under me!” Dorrie was the queen of jealousy, and decided she had put up with Ashe's whore long enough. Hell, he was spending more time with Carla than with her. Last night had been the final straw that broke the camel’s back. That bitch had gone a little too far when she began flirting with Paw. Dorrie wasn't about to put up with that.
"What in the hell are you doing Dorrie? Leave Carla alone, we will settle this later." Ashe had come running when he heard the yelling, and was shoving Dorrie toward the back door. She pushed him aside, and quickly went in, slamming the door behind her. Let him have his whore she thought. She heard Carla's smug laugh as she left. 'I'll get that bitch one of these days,' she heard her say.
The next day, Carla moved out. Dorrie didn't know where, she was just glad she was gone. However, she would miss the clean house and home cooked meals. But, it would be worth it. Besides, there was only 2 months left until the baby was born. Maybe this time it would be a good one, that is if she could stay out of Ashe's way long enough. The more she thought about it she realized that perhaps Carla moving out hadn't been such a good idea. IF she had stayed, oh well, thought Dorrie, too late now.
two months later
"Congratulations, Ashe, you and Dorrie have a beautiful baby girl. She is healthy as an ox. I told you, time heals all wounds." Ain't she a purty little thing. Her name is Carolyn. Carolyn Renee."
"Is Dorrie alright?" Ashe looked at the doctor, as Lidia intervened. "Yes, she is just fine". "See, Ashe, I told you all is well that ends well." But just a few hours later Ashe was at the other hospital on the other side of town. Carla had given birth to a boy. A boy that was probably his second son.
During the next few years, things moved along sometimes halfway to heaven, other times on the edge of hell.
Dorrie and Carla actually became friends in a manner of speaking, and Ashe wasn't drinking near as much. OF course, he was supporting several kids. Dorrie had another child, and Carla also had another boy. Dorrie's boy had been born with weak muscles, and gotten polio soon after birth. He lived, but demanded a lot of medical attention. Thank God, Carla's kids were healthier, but at the same time, they seemed to be touched in the head. Ashe was seeing them less and less, and Carla found someone else to marry. It didn't bother Ashe as much as he thought it would, they still met from time to time, to satisfy their sexual cravings. Dorrie became more possessive than ever. She began calling Ashe at work constantly, and sleeping all the time when she was home. She was visiting Jennah less and less. The kids weren't being taken care of and the only decent meals they got was when they were visiting Nana and Paw or Lidia and Roy. Jennah was showing more and more signs of the Redmond curse, and Dorrie couldn't handle it. She was afraid of the child. She swore Ashe and Lidia to secrecy, not wanting her mother to find out about Jennah's little quirk. And then another tornado hit. Jennah was just about 5 when she had gotten ill while visiting Ashe and Dorrie one weekend. Ashe had taken her to the hospital, and she had to have emergency surgery. When she came out from under the sedation, she told Ashe and Dorrie that a cousin of hers was going to drown at the lake. During her surgery, their house caught on fire also. The other kids were home, but a neighbor had heard Carolyn screaming and gotten them out. The man Ashe had left them with had left them alone. Carolyn had gotten hold of some matches and tried to light the heater because they were cold.
Dorrie, was working when Jennah became ill. She blamed Ashe for the fire, and told Jennah that it was just a silly dream. But, unfortunately, about a week or two later, a cousin did drown in the lake. Lidia, once more pleaded with Dorrie to let her help the child, but Dorrie still adamantly refused, saying it was just fate that it happened. Nothing more. Reality had set in, and Dorrie was beginning to think that fate, not God, had taken hold and her children were birthed of nothing but pure evil. Before Jennah went home with Nana and Paw, Dorrie warned her not to say anything about the dream to Nana or Paw or Carrisa. Jennah didn't understand why, but Dorrie promised her that someday when she was older she would explain, but for now, she had to keep it a secret. They would have their own little secret. Wouldn't that be fun? But Dorrie didn't know that Jennah already had a secret all her own. She saw eyes, every night one the window shade, watching over her while she slept. No one else saw them, or if they did she didn't know it, but she was too afraid to say anything about them. She just covered her head up held her teddy bear real close to her.

Chapter 7 one year later.
"Hey kid, can you tell me the name of the big girl who lives at your house across the street.? I'll give you a nickel if you will tell me." The store keeper quickly ran around the counter. "Hey, mister, you leave that kid alone or I will call the cops on you." Robert Alan Burns laughed. "I'm not going to hurt her, I just want to know her sisters name. She is so cute, and I want to meet her, but don't have the courage to go to her house, so when I saw the kid come in here, I thought I would ask her." Jennah wanted that nickel. She already had one nickle, and if she had two she could buy more candy for her and aunt Carrisa. "She is my aunt. Aunt Carrisa is her name." The young man dropped the nickel in her hand and ran out the door. The store keeper chuckled at the young man's delight, but decided he had better tell Olivia about the young man, so he closed up the shop and walked Janna back across the road. It wasn't unusual for young'un's to come in the store alone. He knew most of them, and was proud of the fact that his customers trusted him with their kids. Besides, he knew Olivia or Carrisa would be watching Jennah cross the road and waiting for her. Jennah was an independent little thing. She liked crossing the road alone, it made her feel like a big girl. When he told Olivia about the young man, she said, "Ah, I seen that young man, driving by here in that green ford. He does it a lot. Now I know why." They just chuckled and the storekeeper said he had to get back to his shop.
"Paw, we have to talk." Nana was waiting out on the porch for Paw to come home. Paw, rubbed his chin and said, "what has Dorrie done now?" Nana's eyes were red and he thought something might be wrong. "IT isn't Dorrie, Carrisa has a suitor." Nah, she ain't got no suitor, not my Carrisa. She is too young. Carrisa, I know you are listening behind that door, don't you get no ideas girl, you ain't gonna have no suitor. You are just too young." Two weeks later, Paw got out the shotgun and was waiting on the porch as the newlyweds drove in the driveway. "Sir, you put that gun away. I love your daughter very much and she loves me. We just got married, and I am going to take good care of her." Robert let out a long sigh as Paw lowered the gun, and sat down to cry. For a man who had been afraid to meet her, he sure wasn't afraid to stand up to her dad. Paw liked a man who can stand on his own two feet. A few short days later, Carrisa and her new husband, Robert Alan Burns, headed in the green ford to Sacramento, California. Robert was home on leave from the Air Force, and now the family had grown a lot. Jennah cried like a baby when Aunt Carrisa and her new Uncle Bobby left. Now she would have to face the eyes alone. But, it wasn't long before Dorrie announced she was pregnant again, and then Aunt Carrisa came home. Uncle Bobby was being sent over to another country and since Aunt Carrisa was going to have a baby, he thought she should stay home with her parents. Dorrie on the other hand was madder than hell about it. Her baby and Carrisa's baby were both due at the same time. That meant Carrisa's baby would be more important, just as Carrisa had been more important. Jennah was excited because now she had someone to talk to again. This time she was going to tell Carrisa about the eyes, so she wouldn't be scared if she saw them. Dorrie had warned her not to say anything or Nana and Paw might not want her, but she couldn't let Aunt Carrisa be scared. Besides, Jennah was starting school and with Aunt Carrisa there she didn't have to pretend not to be scared. But what happened if Carrisa told Nana about the eyes and they didn't want her. She had heard two of Paw's sisters talking one day at great grandpaws house. They had been talking about how sad it was that Paw and Nana had to take in the child that no one wanted. She had to be the child they were talking about. Nana and Paw didn't have any other children anymore. Just her. Nana didn't even babysit anymore with those Purdy kids. Jennah just wished the eyes would go away, but unfortunately they didn't. Now they had started calling her name and once or twice she had been caught walking in her sleep, unable to explain that she had been following the eyes. But, after aunt Carrisa got home she seemed different to Jennah, and had other things besides playing Elvis and talking on her mind. So Jennah just kept her mouth shut once more about the eyes and when she said her nighty night to God she silently asked him to please not let the eyes hurt Aunt Carrisa. She didn't really understand this God Nana kept talking about, but it seemed to work. Before long, both Dorrie and Carrisa had baby boys. Dorrie's was born on one day, and Carissa's was born the next day. Suddenly there was another baby in the house and they were moving to a bigger house, one out in the country. Uncle Bobby was coming home soon, and would be staying in Texas for awhile. Paw had made a joke one night at the table about being another grandfather again, and everyone chuckled except for Jennah of course. Just as she didn't understand the god, the eyes, or why Dorrie insisted she not tell anyone about the eyes or the dreams, she didn't understand the joke. Big people or rather adults, as her teacher called them, were at the very least confusing. But then a lot of things confused Jennah. She wasn't very well liked at school and the other kids called her dumb ole Jennah. She only had one friend and now they were moving away from her. Aunt Carrisa didn't even seem like a friend anymore. Now she seemed more like a mother. She silently wished that Aunt Carrisa was her mother, but Nana kept insisting that she love Dorrie. The problem was that she did love Dorrie, but felt like Ashe loved her more than Dorrie loved her. Dorrie kept asking her things like 'why don't you love me' and 'you haven't told anyone about those silly dreams have you', but she never told Jennah she loved her. Besides, she was always holding one of Jennah's brothers or sister, and just really didn't seem to have time for Jennah. So Jennah just stayed to herself, growing up with the dreams and before she knew it, she was 16 years old and the whole world started dropping out from under her.

"Momma, just calm down. We will be home as soon as possible." Carrisa hung up the phone. She hated this with all her might, and at this point in her life she hated Dorrie even more. As she packed the bags she knew they really couldn't afford this trip but Jennah's safety was on the line and neither she nor Bobby was willing to let Dorrie hurt her. This whole thing was insane. The only reason Dorrie wanted Jennah back was because she was old enough to babysit for the other kids and she knew it. She also knew that Paw would kill to keep Jennah at his house rather than letting her go back to Ashe or Dorrie. While he still allowed them to visit Jennah, very rarely did he allow Jennah to go home with them. Then there was the other thing. Dorrie had always said bad things about Paw and after talking to Glen, her half brother a few days ago, he seemed to think the same way about Paw. Carrisa had never suspected anything of the sort. At the same time, if it were true then Jennah could also be in real danger at their house. Carrisa and Bobby had to find out and protect Jennah. Carrisa knew that if she took Jennah aside and talked to her that Jennah would tell her what she wanted to know, and that was about the only way to handle the whole situation. Momma had already had one heart attack and they couldn't take a chance on her having another. Since Glen, wasn't willing to take Jennah in, they really didn't have any other options. He was polite to her and would never hurt her, but he could never love her, mainly because of the two people who had birthed her. Her poor little Jennah had already lived thru enough hell and if what they suspected was true then the child was going to live thru a lot more. Going back to Lyons was the only way to find out. Bobby had agreed with her and as soon as he got home, they and their 5 kids were headed to Texas.

Jennah spent the whole day in front of the mirror, putting on and taking off the taffeta dress. It wasn't the dress she had wanted but Nana had brought it home the day before for her. To not wear it would hurt Nana's feelings. Besides, it was pretty, and would have been even prettier if she had not been a little on the chunky side. She felt lucky just to get invited and it worked out perfectly with her birthday. Paw had said no dating until she was 16 so tonight, being the day she turned was a very big night. She fixed her hair a million different ways and took off and reapplied her makeup about 6 times during the day. Nana just shook her head and laughed. She wished that aunt Carrisa was there, but they lived in another state now. Uncle Bobby's brother Jesse, and his wife along with a few family members were coming tomorrow to celebrate her 16th birthday. Dorrie had said they might be there, but Jennah wasn't counting on it. Dorrie very rarely showed up anymore. Ashe had stopped by earlier that week and given a really pretty little necklace made of some kind of stones. Jennah loved rocks and gems, as well as fossils. She even liked science, all except for having to dissect that stupid worm. And if old man Hamm thought she was going to cut up a poor little frog he was wrong. She guessed she would just have to find someone in class to do the dirty deed while she stood by quietly and handed him the instruments. That way she wouldn't have to look at all the gory insides and the blood. She hated the sight of blood, and the sight of needles even more. Dorrie had once told her she needed to follow in her footsteps and be a nurse but Jennah had said no way. Dorrie had gotten upset and as usual just accused Jennah of being another big disappointment to her. Jennah had gotten used to Dorrie and her derogatory remarks and just kind of shrugged them off. By now she had learned that Dorrie would never love her as much as she loved the other kids and she thought that Jennah was nothing but a curse. But none of that mattered tonight. Tonight she was Cinderella and going to her first ball.
Her date brought her a corsage to wear on her wrist and she felt like a princess. She thought she saw a tear in Paw's eye as they left with the other couple. Her dress was lavender colored and didn't match her dates red hair, but that was okay. He said she looked pretty anyway. She knew he was lying, but it didn't matter.
She didn't really know how to dance but he had promised to teach her and since he was a whole year older he had already been to dance before. It was her first one and she was enthralled with the lovely decorations. It was an early Valentine Day's dance because Valentine was falling on a Monday that year. All of the girls were even nice to her that night. She danced the whole evening and as far as she knew not one person laughed at her. After the dance they stopped at the local dairy king and ate burgers and fries. At the end of the night her date walked her to the door and leaned down and kissed her, on the forehead. She had been hoping for that sweet 16 kiss, but apparently it wasn't going to happen. But, it didn't matter, she still had enjoyed the most wonderful night of her life. As she turned out the lights and crawled beneath the covers she glanced over at the window. Something was wrong, the eyes were gone. Jennah closed her eyes and then re-opened them. She had to make sure that they were really gone. Somehow she suddenly felt very alone. She had gotten so used to the eyes watching her. It hadn't mattered that they had moved, or that she had grown up, or even that Nana had changed the shades in her room several different times. The eyes had always been there, so why weren't they there now? Sleep didn't come easily that night. What if the eyes were mad about something? Since Dorrie was the only one she had ever mentioned them too, she had no one to talk to about them. When she was 13 and had dreamed that her great-grandfather was going to die the next day and told Dorrie about it, Dorrie had told her to forget about it and not to tell a soul. Sure enough it did happen and after the funeral Dorrie had dragged her aside and told her to stop the nonsense or she would have to go away to a special hospital. After that, Jennah never mentioned anything else to Dorrie. Now when she needed to the most, there was no one to talk to. She grabbed her teddy bear and covered her head up. IF she were lucky she could get thru the night with the memories of the wonderful date and dance. Soon she was once again in dreamland, being twirled around the floor.
"Hey froggy, you gonna sleep all day?" Jennah smiled and took a long deep breath. She must be still dreaming because the voice talking to her was her beloved Aunt Carrisa. Then suddenly lots of kids were climbing all over her yelling and singing happy birthday. As she peeked thru one eye all she could see was Aunt Carrisa. Jennah had never been so glad to see anyone in her life and the tears just started falling. As soon as she was up and dressed Aunt Carrisa dragged her out the door for a special Sunday birthday breakfast. That was when her world fell began to crumble.

"Froggy, I need to ask you a few questions and I want you to know that I won't tell anyone what you tell me. So you don't have to be afraid to answer them, okay? These are pretty important questions and there are some things going on right now that you need to know about. It isn't going to be fun, and it's going to hurt a little but I still have to talk to you about it. That's why I wanted this breakfast to be just me and you. Your uncle and I want you to know that you can tell us anything, anything at all and that we will always be here for you. Okay?" Jennah put down her juice and looked at her aunt.
"Okay, but if this is the S-E-X talk, I already know about it. We learned about it in health class and no I haven't done IT. I told Nana that when she asked me if I knew what S-E-X was. She was beside herself. I don't understand what the big deal is. Why did she spell it? The word is Sex, although it really should be called something else. I just haven't figured out what yet." Carrisa was fully taken aback by Jennah's remarks. She choked on her coffee and then looked at Jennah sitting there looking as innocent as a the new baby she had been so afraid to hold so many years ago.
"Well, it does include the S-E-X, as you spelled it, but it's not completely about that. Are you sure you have never done it?" No one, no one at all as ever well, you know, tried anything with you? Like tried to touch you or anything?"
Jennah looked down at her lap then around. She was glad there was no one else in the place. "Why? Who do you think would do it? My father Ashe? Or perhaps Paw? She swallowed hard. "Okay, once a few years ago, I saw Paw without his pants off and he was touching himself. I told him to put that thing away and went outside. Nothing else has ever been said or happened. At the time I didn't really know what he was doing and thought it was funny. So I laughed it off. The only other time is when that guy tried to pick me and Carolyn up as we walked back to their house from my grandmothers a couple of blocks over. The lady on the corner saw him and called the police. Ashe was there and came running when we started screaming. He told the cops they had better find the guy before he did or they would find him dead. Oh and last night of course, but I don't think that kiss I got after my date had anything to do with sex. He kissed me on the forehead. Man, here I was all excited at getting a real kiss, you know that sweet 16 kiss and all I got was a peck on the forehead". Jennah rolled her eyes. Carrisa lowered her head and covered her eyes with her hand. She was trying hard to cover the laughter that was surfacing at Jennah's look. She also realized that Jennah was a lot smarter than she had given her credit for. This child would be one who could take care of herself, especially where Paw was concerned. Carrisa was so relieved she almost cried. But then there were still the stories Dorrie had told. Had they been real, or just a figment of her imagination, or had she actually enticed him to do that to her as Glen had thought? If that was the case then why on earth would Dorrie had brought Jennah to live with a man who had done that? There was just no way that Carrisa could believe those stories about her Paw. It was a great relief, yet she still wasn't sure she wanted Jennah to be there with him alone, should something happen to Nana. And Nana was getting sicker by the day, especially with Dorrie wanting to take Jennah away from her.
" I didn't actually think that he or Ashe would do that to you, but well you already know Ashe has a reputation and that there has been some problems. I know you have overheard the talking amongst all the old biddies in this family, froggy. Please, can you just be serious, because this is a serious matter. You see, Dorrie wants you to come back and live with them. That's actually why we are here. She is coming here today to take you away from Nana and Paw, and we just couldn't allow it. So, we all are coming today. Even your uncle Glen is coming. We aren't going to let her take you, okay?"
Jennah had started crying. "No, I won't go, I will run away first, but I won't go. You don't understand, she is going to put me in a special hospital because of the eyes and the dreams and all the stuff and the sleep walking and the curse, oh my god, no." Jennah got up and started running for the door and Carrisa caught up to her just as she was about to run out into the traffic.
"Jennah what on earth are you talking about? Who is going to put you in a special hospital honey, who? Come on, get in the car and we will drive around and you can tell me all about it, but I promise you, you are not going to go anywhere with Dorrie. You have to trust me Jennah okay? Please?" Jennah wrapped her arms around herself and looked as if she were deciding if she could trust her or just to run. She finally wiped away the tears and looked up at Carrisa. "You Promise? Cause Dorrie said if I told anyone, anyone at all I would be put in a special hospital and never get to leave it." Carrisa put her arm around her and nodded her head.
"I promise Froggy, I promise." Then she took Jennah and put her in the car. They drove around for the better part of the morning while Jennah told her everything that had happened to her over the years. My God, Carrisa thought, no wonder Jennah was acting like a scared rabbit. "Have you said anything to Ashe about all of this Jennah"?
"No, but once he told me that I was a lot like his mother and wise beyond my years. I got mad at Nana awhile back and ran away. She called Ashe and he came and found me. No one ever told Dorrie or Paw. I wanted to go out with my friends for a Saturday but Nana insisted I stay home. I guess I am not a very good girl am I?" He told me I had to apologize to Nana and he made me do it. You know, I think he loves me, I really do, but I think Dorrie is scared of me and hates me or something. She thinks I am cursed, and she says I got it from the Redmonds. Nana isn't supposed to know about the curse. She said Paw and Nana wouldn't want me anymore if they knew about the curse, is that what this is about? Did they find out? Do they not want me anymore?" Jennah looked like she was about to cry again.
"OH NO, not at all, Nana called scared to death that Paw would kill your mother today when she tried to take you. They don't want you to leave, but froggy, Nana is pretty sick, and well honey, one of these days you may have to leave and come and live with us. Would that be okay?"
"Yeah, I guess so, but I am not gonna live with Dorrie, she and the other kids hate me. At least all of them do except for Jimmy. He and I love each other and Carolyn and I kind of love each other. But Bobby, he hates me with a passion. He's always saying bad things to me. I think he is the one who should be in that hospital. I actually feel sorry for my daddy, Dorrie yells at him a lot. And she never cleans her house. IF she weren't there I might consider it, but I can't go live with her, I just can't."
"Well then, it's all settled. When Dorrie gets here, we will just tell her no. You can tell her yourself if you want to." Carissa said as she pulled into the driveway. She pulled the car over and reached into her purse and pulled out her compact. "From the looks of it, you have a party to be the guest of honor at, you had better put on a smile and powder that pretty little nose. Then she reached over and gave Jennah a big hug. Jennah felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off of her shoulders. As it happened, Dorrie didn't even show up, but Ashe and the kids did. He and the other men talked then they all sat down to a fried chicken dinner. After dinner he looked over at Jennah and smiled, then asked her to join him outside. As he lit his cigarette he looked down then put his arm around her shoulders.
"You know, when you were born I promised to give you the best life I could. I hope I have. Your mother is expecting me to bring you back with me, but I am just not going to do it. I love you too much to do that. I know Jennah all about what you have been going thru. Don't worry, I didn't tell Paw or Nana or anyone, but like I told you before you are just like my mother. She has the dreams too. It's okay honey, and don't be too hard on your mother, she just doesn't understand. Your grandmother will explain it better to you someday when you get a little older, but Honey you are not cursed and you are still the purtiest girl to ever be born in this world. You let me handle Dorrie. Don't worry about it, okay? Here you are all grown up and I can't think of a single thing to say except I really do love you Jennah and always have. I'm sorry that things have worked out this way, and well, I think it best that you go and live with your aunt and uncle if you can't stay with Nana because of her health. I don't know when I will see you again, but remember Jennah, you are the one thing I did do right in this world." Then he hugged her and loaded the other kids up and left.

Jennah sat silently and watched as everyone filed passed the casket that held her beloved Nana. She couldn't talk, she couldn't do anything but cry. She was so
damned scared she didn't know what to do and all she kept hearing were those horrible words that Dorrie had said to her. "YOU KILLED HER. I gave you to her
to help her and you went and killed her. If she hadn't had to spend the last seventeen years of her life taking care of a cursed brat like you she would still be alive and
I would still have my momma." She and Paw and Aunt Carrisa were the last ones to leave the cemetery where Nana now lay resting for the rest of her life. As they
were leaving Jennah looked over and saw a white rose open up under the suns tender brightness. She suddenly felt an overwhelming calm and knew that Nana was
in heaven. After today, she would be leaving Lyons never to return. She never wanted to return. Paw would be leaving shortly too, as he was going to move up

where they were living after he sold the furnishings and things. She turned and looked once more at all the pretty flowers and then back at the white rose. Yes, she
thought, Nana now knew and Nana was definitely in Heaven. Within just a few short years Jennah had learned what life was all about, and as far as she could tell,
it wasn't much. After all, the beginning of your senior year should be a happy event and for Jennah, it definitely was anything but happy. She didn't see Dorrie again that year, and Paw came for Christmas. He had a friend with him and things seemed to change a lot and quickly after that. Jennah knew he wouldn't be moving there with them and so did Carrisa. He came to Jennah's graduation then the next day he had a massive stroke. Once again, Dorrie accused Jennah of being the reason for all the sadness. Paw went to live in a nursing home, Jennah packed her things and moved out. After all, she was old enough to take care of herself and that was exactly what she intended to do. There was no way she was ever going to be a burden on anyone again.
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