Sexual Content: These stories will contain heterosexuals from time to time as well as depicting same sex relationships. Closed, small-minded bigots need not read the content. Adult content is prevalent but I do believe they would not generate any more than an R-Rating for adult themes.
Language: Naughty words that begin with the letter F etc, are bound to show up. It is the twenty-first century.
Violence: If the story contains violent content I will included an additional disclaimer. Otherwise the answer is no.
Humor: These stories have been written for entertainment. Some will be more humorous than others.
Love: It will always be a common thread in any story I write.
Feedback: This is my first story try at original fiction. Constructive criticism is welcome, however, adulation, flattery, applause and all positive reactions are greatly encouraged to stroke this OLE gal's ego. Please stroke me at Candideyes@cox.net. I am a cat you know.
TALES OF THE WISHING STONE-THE SERIES
Synopsis: This is a series of short stories that deal with the premise that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes wishes arent meant to come true as they can have very adverse consequences and dont turn out exactly as we had hoped. Join me on a journey as various characters will learn just why some wishes are better left unanswered.
STRAIGHT FOR THE HOLIDAYS - SYNOPSIS
Marilyn Miller had high hopes for her youngest daughter Jodi. Those hopes were dashed the day she found out her daughter was a lesbian. In a heated argument she tells her how she really feels. In front of relatives she tells Jodi, "I wish you were straight. I wish you had married Bobby McLane." The following morning her wish is granted only with dire consequences. This is their story.
STRAIGHT FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Jodi sat alone on a lawn chair in the backyard away from the other guests. She hated the holidays especially the annual Christmas party at the folks with all of her family and childhood friends still stuck in this sleepy little southern town in Virginia. A heavy rainstorm causing her to be more than just fashionably late to the festivities delayed her flight.
Mother greeted her at the door scolding her about not helping with the preparations, reminding her that it could have been avoided if she had just listened to dear old mom and flown in a day early. Jodi nodded her head agreeing with every snide comment she made. Mother was always right.
Marilyn was already visibly drunk and susceptible to blatant outbursts of anger when she was in this state. She was noticeably ecstatic when she showed up alone without Gloria, her special friend as she was referred to around the family. Gloria was her lover of three years until two weeks earlier when she came home to an empty house and a Dear Jodi letter. It was more like a note explaining that she wasnt really gay and she was moving in with Dr. John Michaels, a young intern at the hospital where they worked together.
Jodi vowed to keep this bit of information from the family. It would only add fuel to the fire if mother found out that her daughters lover was no longer gay. To say that her mother was homophobic would be an understatement. Marilyn never disguised her displeasure over her daughters sexual orientation when they were alone together, however the subject was strictly prohibited among the relatives. It was the same Dont ask, dont tell policy used in the armed services. Besides mother is going to freak when she finds out she quit her job, she thought.
Jodi spent the first hour greeting her old acquaintances and sneering at her mothers feeble attempts to fix her up with the new mechanic at her husbands body shop. The minute mother turned her attentions to her single brother Brian she slipped away to the backyard finding solace in her solitude.
She laid back against the cushion stretching her legs out sipping her soda as she watched the people walk out of the house to snag another ice cold beer from one of the coolers or have a cigarette. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits enjoying themselves. Small-minded people from a small town. She wondered briefly if she would still be here in this town married with children with the others had she been straight.
It took all of her self-control to refrain from breaking down into a pile of sobbing flesh. The pain of the break up was fresh in her heart, a seeping wound that seemed incapable of healing. Her appetite was nonexistent and drinking herself into oblivion proved to be unappealing to her especially tonight after sniffing the rancid odor of her mothers breath, the product of too much gin.
What Jodi really needed was to talk to someone, anyone who would listen. Cant anyone hear the sound of my heart breaking? Jodi glanced up catching sight of her mother walking toward her. She dug into her pant pocket and pulled out the extra little gift she had bought for her mother. At eighteen after starting her first job she purchased an additional Christmas present to give to her mom. It was a simple little bauble, a tiny jade camel to add to her collection of statues. At the annual party she hugged her mother and placed it in her hand. The small gesture of kindness had tugged at Marilyns heart, a reaction that was unexpected but one that delighted Jodi so much that every year after she would show up with a tiny trinket and present it to her on Christmas Eve when they were alone.
This year it was a polished stone with a sun engraved on the surface, just a goofy item she had found while surfing the Internet. The website claimed that each stone contained magical powers. This one was supposed to be consecrated and purified to make its owner sunny, bright, happy & clear headed and to see life & others as they really are. In a nutshell it was supposed to improve her mothers personality but she would keep that little tidbit to herself.
Marilyn walked in and out of the house taking refreshments to her guests. She noticed Jodi out of the corner of her eye sitting alone on one of the chaise lounges. She could see the misery in her face but was reluctant to try and comfort her for fear of starting an argument. Why couldnt her daughter see that she was wasting her life? The thought of Jodi never giving her grandchildren sickened her.
She was such a beautiful girl, smart, funny and vibrant. She could have any man she wanted, if she just wanted one. After twelve hours of sitting in airports and on a plane followed by the two-hour drive from Dulles airport her worst looked better than most women did at their best.
Jodi had her fathers striking green eyes and bronze coloring with gorgeous thick black hair that she insisted on wearing cropped shorter than many men but even the masculine haircut couldnt hide her feminine features. She was the perfect height at five foot eight inches tall with a medium build. Jodi always had a flat stomach with a perfect bust and long slender legs. When she walked into a room men turned their heads and raced to make her acquaintance but their advances were always spurned.
Marilyns friends always told her she looked like a young Demi Moore with green eyes and no one could figure out why at twenty-six she was still single. Oh they had to know the familys dirty little secret. Her daughter was a homosexual. She shuddered at the thought of her little girl in bed with that older woman from the hospital. She had always dreamed that her baby would marry a doctor but Gloria was not what she had intended.
Here Jodi was at the party alone, without Gloria following her around and several handsome single men and she retreats to the backyard, not speaking to anyone. It broke her heart. She went back inside to the kitchen to pour another shot of courage and go speak to her daughter.
Marilyn walked tentatively over to the chaise lounge, taking deep breaths to steady her nerves. She moved with remarkable grace considering that she was nursing her fifth Tanqueray and tonic. "May I sit down?"
"Would you listen to me if I said no?" quipped Jodi.
Marilyn ignored the teasing remark and took her place next to her daughter.
"Here," said Jodi handing her the small package. Marilyn opened it and removed the stone staring at it quizzically. "Its a wishing stone. Its supposed to have magical powers and bring you happiness."
"Thank you dear," answered Marilyn kissing her daughter on the cheek. "Will it work for you?"
"Not this year."
"You seem so wistful tonight."
"Wistful. Thats an understatement."
"You want to talk about it?"
"Mother weve never been able to talk about this particular subject before so why start now? Well just end up at each others throat."
"Dont be such a pessa, a pethamis, a, dont be so negative," replied Marilyn the effects of the alcohol finally showing slightly. "Im your mother. Its the holidays and you need some cheer." Marilyn linked her hand through Jodis arm tugging roughly on her. "Come on. There are a bunch of new single guys you havent met yet."
"Mother weve had this discussion before. I am not interested."
"You dont know unless you try," Marilyn said nudging her daughter off of the chair.
"So who did you try it with mom? What was her name?"
The concept of her with another woman had a momentarily sobering effect on the lithe brunette. "Gross. That is not for me."
"Then you know how I feel."
"Its not the same. Like comparing apples and oranges."
"Whatever you say mother Im still a fruit. Deal with it. If you dont want to talk about what is really bothering me then can you please give me a few minutes alone? I promise I will join the party in time for Cousin Ron to do his annual levitation trick."
Marilyn put her arm around her daughters back to console her. "You know I have to try. Okay sugar. Tell me whats bothering you. No games just your buddy lending you a shoulder to cry on."
Jodi glanced up to talk, temporarily vulnerable to the sincerity of the invitation. "Its just been a rough couple of weeks. Nothing I wont get over in time."
"This is about Gloria isnt it?" Jodi nodded her head attempting to contain her composure and not break down like a child whos just had her baby blanket taken away. "Do you know why she left?" Marilyns tone was very comforting as she spoke to her youngest child lulling her into a false sense of security.
"A lot of reasons Im sure. Even in California people can be discriminatory and hateful. I guess the pressure just got to her."
"Are you saying she left you for a guy?" asked Marilyn a spark of hope shining in her all ready glazed eyes.
Jodi glared at her mother with a burning intensity that could ignite an inferno. "Im saying she left me for another doctor. Im just a lowly nurse," she replied emitting a low growl as she spoke.
"Whats his name?" asked Marilyn the compassion in her eyes disappearing replaced by a smug expression.
"You know for a minute you had me going. I thought you cared. Lets end this discussion now before we both say things we dont mean."
"Ah but its just getting interesting," answered Marilyn whispering so the conversation would not be heard by her guests. "So youre saying your girlfriend of three years, a native Californian where that kind of behavior seems to come second nature, not only left you but left you to be with a man."
"Just say it mother. Homosexual," replied Jodi raising her voice menacingly drawing errant stares from the guests in the backyard.
"Ssh. Do you want everyone to hear your personal business?" asked Marilyn looking nervously around.
"Yes. I do mother. Its a part of me. Its who I am. Im a," started Jodi.
Marilyn quickly placed her hand over the young womans mouth. "This is not the place for this kind of talk."
"Then drop the discussion right now," hissed Jodi.
"If Gloria can change so can you."
"Ya just have to have the last word. I dont want to change. Id rather be a happy homosexual then a maladjusted heterosexual." Jodis voice continued to rise as she enunciated each word.
"Why cant you even be open to the idea?"
"We tried that mother. Remember the psychiatrist you sent me to when I was younger? I was quoting her just now."
"Obviously she wasnt the right therapist for you."
"Because her answer didnt agree with yours?" Jodi looked around the backyard now crowded with guests. It seemed to her that everyone chose this time to get new refreshments or maybe it was her loud mouth and lack of reserve that attracted their attention.
"She must be a quack to give you advice like that. Ive tried hard to look the other but I just cant do it anymore," answered Marilyn. "You cant have a baby with another woman."
"Oh yes I can. Maybe not the way you think but plenty of lesbians are having children together and theres always adoption."
"Thats just sick. Every child should grow up with a father. Its not natural."
"Over fifty percent of heterosexual marriages end up in divorce and thats with a nifty little piece of paper called a marriage certificate that gives a couple legal rights. What about all of those children mother?"
"Not in this family," defended Marilyn.
"Yeah. Lynns marriage is filled with love."
"Were not talking about your sister. Theyre working things out."
"I hope so. The hospital bills must be taxing on them," hissed Jodi.
"Enough! Were talking about you!" Marilyn replied raising her voice suddenly heedless to the attention averted their way.
"Oh yeah! The big bad homosexual!" yelled Jodi for everyone to hear.
"Do you have to let everybody know about your sex life?"
"Oh if I wanted them to know about my sex life Id be telling them what size dildo I prefer!"
"Dont you dare!" warned Marilyn.
"At least I enjoy sex!"
Marilyn ignored the biting comment. "If you were a thief or a murderer I could at least forgive your actions and still love you but you choose to do vile and disgusting things with women just for your own personal gratification not caring who it hurts," yelled Marilyn her face flushed with anger, ignoring the gathering crowd of friends and relatives listening intently.
"Who am I hurting mother? Sex is an act of love. I loved Gloria and Im hurting right now. Dont you care?" pleaded Jodi tears threatening to spill on her cheeks.
"Youre hurting me, your father, your sister and your brother every time you touch a woman like that. You say you love us but you continue regardless of how we feel."
"You said you accepted me and that you loved me," interrupted Jodi.
"I lied! Youre an abomination. You make me sick." Jodi trembled involuntarily as the words sunk in. "The Bible says its wrong. God says its wrong," continued Marilyn.
"The Bible? You never once took us to church growing up. I went with my friends because you wouldnt take me on Sundays."
"That was your fathers fault. He was never a religious man but I loved him anyway."
"And you read the bible every fucking night!" cried Jodi her face turning a deep shade of crimson, her heart beating wildly in her chest.
"Dont you cuss at me little girl."
"Ladies calm down please," Frank Miller said calmly stepping between the two women. "This is a family matter. Just relax and well finish this conversation later."
Marilyn glared at her husband with contempt. "What are you afraid of? You told her it was okay," Marilyn said her tone condescending. "Were among family now so lets finish this conversation once and for all."
Frank looked at his wife then helplessly at his daughter, a pained expression on his face. Her daughters sexual preference wasnt exactly a source of pride to him but he wasnt ashamed of her either. She was living in California 2000 miles away and working as a nurse something that caused him to beam with pride but he had to live with Marilyn everyday so he stepped aside, walking through the house to the front door to have a cigarette.
"So where were we mother?" asked Jodi snidely. "Oh yeah. Youre the expert on the Bible. If it was so damned important how come Jesus never mentioned it in his teachings?"
"You cant take fragments of the Bible and bend it to fit your lifestyle," replied Marilyn.
"Shit mother it didnt even make gods top ten list of things not to do."
"Sodom and Gomorrah was burned to get rid of the homosexuals."
"Bullshit," interrupted Jodi rage burning inside of her like a blazing pyre. "They were fucking everything on two and four legs. Thats all they were doing! If I sat around all day doing nothing but fucking a different woman every hour I would understand your point! I loved Gloria. It was much more than just sex. It was about what you and dad have."
"Dont you dare compare my relationship with your father to your sickness," Marilyn said shaking her index finger firmly at her daughter.
"Then dont throw the Bible at me. You havent even read the whole damn thing! At least I have!" exclaimed Jodi, her body trembling, a by-product of the confrontation.
"Well you sure didnt learn anything did you?" hissed Marilyn.
"I learned not to hate mother, a lesson you obviously missed."
"Dont you condescend me." Her tone sounded threatening. Jodi could tell that she was pushing her mother to the edge but she had fallen into the abyss. The only way out was to fight and hold on to the only things she had left, her pride and dignity.
"If you believe so much in the Bible then you must think its okay to own slaves."
"Thats not the same and you know it," defended Marilyn.
"Why isnt it?" asked Jodi snidely.
"It just isnt. We live in a civilized world now."
"Then tell me mother did you stay out of the church for two months after Lynn and I were born? It must have been a relief to only be banned from church for a month after Brian was born." Jodi paused taking a deep breath, a sarcastic expression forming on her face. "Oh thats right. It wasnt a bother because you never stepped into a fucking church anyway!"
"You show me some respect young lady!" cried Marilyn catching Jodi off guard and slapping her firmly across the face.
Jodi covered her cheek with the palm of her hand feeling the heated flesh still stinging from the pain, incomparable to the devastation to her heart. She stood there glaring at her mother her eyes and mouth wide open from the shock of the strike. Marilyn stared back revealing no emotions. "I never should have let you play softball. Look where its led."
Jodi shook her head in wonderment at the shear stupidity of the statement. That has got to be the stupidest thing I have ever heard and were related, she thought. "Not all softball players are lesbians. In fact I hate to break it to you but ninety-nine percent of the pitchers are straight. I guess that makes me the odd woman out!" Jodi smiled evilly feeling a sense of satisfaction from the statement.
"Why do you think god created AIDS? Its his way of weeding out the homosexuals," interrupted Marilyn ignoring her daughters facetious remark.
"I thought your statement about softball players was the dumbest thing Ive ever heard but I stand corrected. How can you be so ignorant?"
"You dont see heterosexuals dying do you?"
"Yes I do mother. I see it every day and Ive lost friends to that disease. How can you be so callous?"
"Straight people are only dying because of infected blood, infected by queers."
"Why do I even argue with you?" Jodi threw her hands up in frustration. "If god intended on killing us all then how come Im in the lowest percentile of groups contracting AIDS? Except you of course who wont even have sex with your own husband."
"Dont bring my sex life into this." Marilyns voice turned sinister. "Your friends got what they deserved. Its gods way."
"So god picks and chooses who dies?"
"He chooses who goes to heaven and you and your friends are all going to hell if you dont change!"
"Well at least youll be there to keep me company!"
"Im not the one who is going to die of AIDS!"
Jodi shook her head at the ignorant venom spewing from her mothers lips. "I bet youd be happy if that happened to me. At least then you wouldnt have to suffer so much humiliation in front of your friends!" Jodi stood toe to toe with Marilyn glaring into her eyes, shaking uncontrollably as she spoke.
"I never said that. I dont wish death on any of my children even you."
"Well that makes everything okay doesnt it?" Jodi said mockingly.
"Look around you Jodi." Marilyn lowered her tone. "Nobody wants to be around your kind. Why do you think Lynn never invites you over to her house anymore?"
"We always meet at your house," answered Jodi jolted by the comment, unsure of the truth behind the statement.
"Youre not welcome there during the holidays. She doesnt want you near David."
Time seemed to slow down as Jodi turned to confront her sister standing silently behind her. "Is that true Lynn?" Lynn peered down at the pavement shuffling her feet nervously avoiding the intense stare of her sister. "Is it?" pleaded Jodi.
"Daniel isnt comfortable with it," she replied softly. "And neither am I. David is at an impressionable age. And frankly he wants to be just like his aunt Jodi."
"And thats a bad thing?" asked Jodi waiting impatiently for a reply.
"Hes confused right now. I dont need you giving him the wrong idea."
"You think its contagious?"
"The less contact you have with him right now the better."
"Now I know how Jesus felt when Judas betrayed him." She turned around her feet frozen to the ground, the pain in her heart feeling like a lead weight that would crush her soul.
"Come back home," pleaded Marilyn. "California is no place for you to be. You can move back home and well get you the help you need." She grabbed her daughters hands. "I wish you were straight. I wish you had married Bobby McLane."
"Bobby McLane," started Jodi realizing that telling mother that he died from complications to AIDS might not be a good idea. She would just find a way to blame it on her.
"I found a good doctor for you. He can help. I cant stand to see my baby sick."
"I dont need any help mother. Im not sick."
"Yes you are honey. But with the love of your family we can overcome this together and be a real family."
"I dont need this kind of love and I dont need a psychiatrist, at least not for that. All of the therapy in the world couldnt help this fucked up group be a real family," replied Jodi viciously.
Marilyn swung her arm in the air placing the other firmly against her waist. "I try to show you compassion and you just lash out at me. After all Ive done for you over the years youre just an ungrateful little child."
"What have you done for me besides hate me for being different and constantly remind me what a loser you think I am?"
"Ive always been there for you. Who drove you back and forth to every softball game for six years? Who held your hand in the hospital when you needed surgery?"
"Youre my mother," interrupted Jodi. "Thats what mothers do."
"I spoiled you. Thats what I did," Marilyn said wagging her finger at Jodi. "When you wanted to learn to play tennis I paid for lessons. When you took a photography class I bought you a camera."
"We took the class together. You bought the camera for yourself and let me borrow it."
"It doesnt matter how many things Ive done for you. You will continue to be unappreciative," started Marilyn.
"Ive been thankful for everything youve ever done for me. Ive never denied that you were a good mother when I was growing up. I was your perfect kid. You loved to brag about my trophies on the field and my straight As in school. Ive always wanted to make you proud of me. I love you."
"Then if you love me youll stop sleeping with women. Sex isnt the only thing good in this world. You can live without it."
"So if Im not a practicing homosexual thats okay?"
"If youre not having sex with women you cant be gay."
"Mother if I never have sex with another female again Ill still be gay. Im attracted to women. Its who I am."
"Dont say that," Marilyn said shaking her head vigorously. "Homosexuals are nothing but freaks of nature caring only about their sexual gratification."
"At least they dont call me the ice princess behind my back."
"Id rather you be a prostitute! At least then you would be having sex with men and not engaging in unnatural acts against god!"
"If I was a prostitute Id still be fucking women just to piss you off."
"Get out of my house now! You are not welcome here until you come to your senses! As long as you continue to live like that," started Marilyn emphasizing the last two words, "You are not my daughter!" She threw the small stone callously into the bushes when she was finished.
Uninvited tears streamed down Jodis cheeks. She could feel her heart breaking as she stared into the steely hazel eyes of her mother, void of emotion but she refused to show weakness in front the family. "I hope you get your wish some day mother." She turned to face the others watching silently. Not one of them stepped in to defend her. She whirled around pushing herself through the crowd stomping toward the door then turned around one last time. "Merry fucking ho ho!" she screamed walking across the threshold and slamming the door shut, pushing her timid father out of the way as she stalked to her car.
Once inside she began beating the steering wheel mercilessly ignoring the sudden burst of rain as the clouds finally opened up unleashing a torrent of water. She smiled trying to picture her relatives running recklessly into the house as sheet lightning illuminated the sky followed by great claps of thunder pounding ominously into the air. It reminded her of a song and she wondered if grandma was in heaven crying, her sorrow manifested into the physical shape of a storm.
Jodi sped away from her childhood home before bursting into tears. Between the rain pounding against the windshield and the moisture clouding her eyes her visibility was limited. She drove the car slowly down the highway heavily distracted by the thoughts invading her mind and barely saw the bicycle, swerving just in time to miss, causing a tidal wave of rainwater to crash over him. Frantic she pulled over to the side of the road in front the cyclist and jumped out of the car as he slowed down.
"I am so sorry," she said through tears. "I almost hit you. I didnt mean to douse you with so much water."
"You stopped just to tell me that?" he asked.
"Im not a bad person. It was an accident," she said sobs racking her body as she leaned against the car, water from the thunderstorm drenching her.
"Relax lady. A little water never hurt anyone." He stared at her awkwardly unsure of what he should say. "Thank you."
Jodi looked up at him bewildered. "For what? Almost killing you? Sending a tidal wave your way?" Her voice quivered with sorrow.
"For caring enough to stop. Most people splash me for fun," he joked.
"How can people be so cruel?" asked Jodi a second onslaught of tears streaming down her face.
"Miss you should get back in your car. You dont want to be sick for the holiday."
"Would you be so nice if you knew I was a queer?"
"Yes I would but I guess asking you out for dinner would be inappropriate wouldnt it?"
Jodi giggled returning the strangers smile. "Thats the nicest thing anybody has said to me today," she replied crying even louder.
"Dont cry. My mother would be very upset with me if she knew I made a woman cry, especially on Christmas Eve."
Jodi smiled again. "If you can fit that bike in the trunk Ill give you a lift."
"Thank you. Im on my way to work just up the road at the Marriott."
"Really. What do you do there?"
"Im a bellhop. Im trying to save money to buy a car."
"Whats your name?"
"Im Jodi," she replied extending her arm for a friendly handshake. "Lets get going Travis. When we get there you can carry my luggage to the room."
Jodi pulled up into valet parking and stepped out of the car looking like a drowned rat. Travis exited the vehicle and retrieved his bicycle parking it next to the curb before extracting the bags from the trunk and following Jodi to the front desk. The clerk handed her a message as he completed the proper paper work. Once she was checked in Travis returned and escorted her to the vacant suite.
Travis put the luggage in the closet and turned to leave. Jodi intercepted him giving him a hug. "Thank you for being a bright spot in my night," she said slipping a one hundred-dollar bill into his hand.
His eyes widened in disbelief as he looked at the money. "Jodi I cant," he started.
"Yes you can. What fun is Christmas if you cant give gifts? Put it toward that car you want to buy."
"And here I thought queers were deadbeat losers," he said teasingly.
"Merry Christmas Jodi."
"Happy Chanukah Travis." He looked at her as if to say, "How did you know?" Before he could speak she pointed to the Star of David on his neck. "A nice Jewish boy in a small southern town. If I was straight I wouldve taken you up on the offer."
"Its still open for tomorrow night. We can go just as friends, no funny business."
Jodi laughed at the young man, such a gentleman, she thought. "What about your family?" Travis placed his hand over his chest pointing at the pendant. "Oh right. Dah. I will accept your invitation on one condition. Its my treat."
"But Im the guy," stated Travis.
She playfully put her hand around his shoulder as she spoke. "Now Travis if youre going to hang out with a dyke ya gotta let me be the butch one." She laughed heartily for the first time that night.
"Is that the way it works with you ladies?"
"I didnt say nothing bout being no lady Travis," she answered lowering her voice as she spoke with a mocking tone.
"I accept," he answered relinquishing control. "Will six oclock be okay?" Jodi nodded her head. Travis smiled, gentle brown eyes lighting up his face. "Goodnight Jodi."
Jodi closed the door stripping the soggy clothes off her body before settling down under the sheets waiting for the phone to ring, the drama of the evening taking its toll on her body and lolling her into a deep sleep. She jumped from the bed startled by the obnoxious ring of the telephone. "Hello."
"Aunt Jodi its me," said the voice on the other end. "I was worried when you werent checked into your room earlier."
"Im fine. Had a little car trouble. How are you doing David?" she asked anxiously.
"I should be asking you that question," replied David.
"Ill be fine. Its been coming on for years. Im just sorry you had to witness it."
"Jodi they wont let me see you or talk to you. Im calling from my friends house. I cant believe my mother talked to you like that. I hate her."
"David dont say that. Take it back. Lynn loves you."
"You said it yourself. Who needs that kind of love?"
"I was angry," replied Jodi. "My mother is too old to change unless shes struck by lightning and forgets who the hell she is. Lynn is just as confused as you are right now."
"Then why dont I tell her now?"
"Because I could be wrong."
"You wrong aunt Jodi?"
"It could happen," she quipped. "Lets walk on the side of caution."
"But Jodi what if she finds out? Im scared."
"Six more weeks David. Be patient. Youll be eighteen and just in time for the mid-semester to start."
"If they find out about me theyll lock me up."
"I will never let that happen to you. Just be cool. Put that plane ticket in a safe place where they cant find it."
"I saw how they treated you," replied David choking back tears. "They know. I can feel it."
"We have denial on our side."
"I dont know if I can wait."
The desperate tone in his voice was very disconcerting to Jodi. David had always been an emotional child and very fragile. "Listen to me David. You have to. You are the only family Ive got. Dont do anything foolish do you hear me? I would die if I lost you."
"You should have been my mother Jodi."
"I dont think they would have let me finish the second grade if Id have been pregnant sweetie," she quipped. "Now mother on the other hand would have been quite the happy camper just knowing that I fucked a guy." The soft sound of laughter on the other end was comforting to her.
"I dont know what I would do if you werent gay Jodi."
"Thats the first time anyone has been happy about me being a homosexual."
"What I mean is. I dont know if I wouldve been able to open up to you if you were straight."
"Id still be the same person David. Not all heterosexuals are evil," she said lightheartedly.
"I know. Its just that. If you had a husband I wouldnt feel as comfortable talking to you about this and there have been some times when I didnt know if I was going to survive through the day."
"David I will always be here for you no matter what. You can always talk to me."
"I know that now. But before we talked I had." He stopped afraid to admit his actions to his aunt.
"You what sweetie?"
"I was going to run away from home. I had it all planned out and everything. You changed all of that."
"That was almost two years ago."
"I know. And your advice has always been right but I was so angry at mom and dad. I wanted to tell them just to spite them. I know they wouldve had me committed so I was going to leave before they had the chance. Then I talked to you."
"I would have hunted you down you know."
"I think I knew that. But you were right about them and about sex."
"Having you been practicing safer sex and using a condom?" Jodi asked tentatively praying that he was still a virgin.
"Ive been practicing safe sex. You were right about that too. I wasnt ready but I am now."
Jodi held her fist in the air looking up at the ceiling. "Yes," she whispered. "Six weeks David. Dont do anything stupid."
"I wont. I promise."
"Shouldnt you be at home before your parents send the posse out looking for you?"
"I suppose so. Christmas at grandmas isnt going to be the same this year without you."
"Youre right. No loud fighting. No broken objects," started Jodi teasingly.
"Thats not what I mean," interrupted David.
"I know sweetheart. It just hurts less if I can laugh about it. Im going to miss you."
"Not as much as Im going to miss you."
"True. Youre still stuck with the family."
"Cant you ever be serious?"
"What? This isnt a Hallmark moment?"
The phone went silent for a few moments before David replied. "I didnt have a chance to give you your Christmas present."
"Your love is the best present I could have."
She could see the adorable face of her nephew as he rolled his eyes at the comment. "What?" she asked innocently. "Still not a Hallmark moment? David you can bring it with you when you move. Well have Christmas in January and exchange gifts, just the two of us."
"No chance of Gloria joining us?" asked David.
"Im afraid that ship has sailed," answered Jodi yawning into the phone. "You need to go home and I need to sleep. Im drained."
"What are you going to do tomorrow?"
"Actually I have a date."
"No way. How did you find a woman so quickly in this town and on Christmas Eve?" asked David excitedly. "Whats her name?"
"His name is Travis and." Jodi was interrupted before she could finish explaining the details.
"Jodi dont let them brainwash you."
"Its not like that David. Let me finish. Hes a nice Jewish boy who works at the hotel and he knows Im gay. He also knows that I will be alone tomorrow and was sweet enough to make the offer so dont worry about me okay."
"Okay but I want all of the details when I talk to you again."
"Dont call from home and call collect. Theyll get suspicious if they see my number on the phone bill."
"Okay aunt Jodi. I love you."
"I love you too kiddo. Merry Christmas."
"Merry fucking ho ho to you too," David replied laughing as he hung up the phone.
"Im surrounded by smartasses."
Marilyn woke up the next morning surprised that her head felt normal with none of the usual signs of a hangover. Frank slept peacefully next to her leaving her to wonder exactly when he returned to their bed, elated that he obviously had forgiven her for the scene from the previous evening.
Still groggy from a peaceful night of rest Marilyn quietly slipped the covers from the bed then stepped down, miscalculating the distance to the hardwood floor and stumbling. She fell face forward with both arms and legs splayed against the ground. Slightly dazed she felt around for the carpet in her bedroom. Confused she looked up at the bed shaking her head. Her four-poster brass bed was nowhere in sight. In its place was a king sized walnut frame mounted on top of two pedestals of drawers, Jodis old bed.
Before her mind could register she was gazing into the sleepy green eyes of her husband peering over the side. "Honey are you okay?"
She picked herself up from the floor brushing off her nightgown. "Yeah. Where are we?"
"I know its only been a week but I thought youd be used to the accommodations by now," answered Frank.
"Accommodations?" asked Marilyn.
"I know the room isnt as big as ours but its the best Jodi has to offer. Its a small price to pay to stay with her under the circumstances."
Frank sat up on the bed reaching out for his wife. "Did you hit your head honey?"
Marilyn batted his hands away. "No my head is fine. Were at Jodis house?"
"Yes and its after eight. Im surprised you havent been in to check on her." Marilyn looked at him questioningly. "Im sure shes fine dear otherwise the nurse wouldnt have let us sleep in."
"The nurse?" repeated Marilyn.
"Honey are you sure youre okay? Youre acting even stranger than normal," quipped Frank.
"Im fine. Merry Christmas dear." Marilyn waited nervously for a reply casually pinching her arm to see if she would awaken.
"Merry Christmas," replied Frank leaning in to give his wife a peck on the lips. "Lets go check on our girl."
"Give me a minute. I need to use the restroom." Marilyn turned and walked slowly out of the bedroom her eyes roving through the building searching for the bathroom without bringing additional attention to herself.
She walked across the hall finding the open door, stepped in and shut it, staring at her reflection in the mirror. "This is too real." She turned the faucet on splashing her face with water then slumped over the sink deep in thought trying to sort out the recent events and make sense of what was happening to her. Several minutes passed before she heard a knock on the door.
"Marilyn honey are you okay in there?"
"Fine. Ill be out shortly." She stood up and opened the door revealing the concerned face of her husband. "Lets go see Jodi."
Quietly she followed Frank into the second room frozen by the sight while her husband continued in sitting down next to his daughter. A hospital bed was set up in the middle of the room complete with a heart monitor and oxygen tank. A blonde woman wearing a white coat leaned over Jodi checking her vital signs while a second woman assisted the blonde. Marilyn gasped when the doctor turned to face her. "Gloria," she whispered.
"Marilyn its good to see you again," replied Dr. Spelling. "I hope you dont mind but I brought my girlfriend with me, Lisa."
"Nice to meet you," interjected Lisa offering her hand.
Dumbfounded Marilyn returned the gesture staring questioningly at the couple. "Girlfriend?"
"Yes. Were on our way to a family gathering but I wanted to check up on Jodi before we left. Can we speak outside?"
Marilyn nodded and followed her to the hallway. "Are you okay? You look as though youve seen a ghost," stated Gloria.
"What happened to your doctor friend?" asked Marilyn.
Gloria stared at her quizzically. "Excuse me?"
"Um nothing. I was thinking of someone else. It was kind of you to come by on Christmas day."
"I think you know why Im here."
"No I dont."
"Maybe we should sit down," offered Gloria.
"No. Please tell me about my daughter."
"Its not good Im afraid. Jodi isnt responding to the medication," started Gloria.
"Then change her meds," interrupted Marilyn.
"Its not that simple. As we feared the infection has spread to her lungs. Theyre shutting down."
"What are you saying?" asked Marilyn a pained expression on her face.
"Jodi has requested no more drugs. Its time," answered Gloria averting her eyes to the floor.
"Time for what?"
"To let her go."
"Go where?" Marilyn began to shake.
"This is never easy," replied Gloria softly.
"Just say it," demanded Marilyn her voice quivering as she spoke.
"Jodi is dying. It could be hours, maybe days."
"But she was fine yesterday, full of life," answered Marilyn.
"She was better yes but full of life?" responded Gloria. "Her little body is just too weak. She wants to go home."
"But this is her home." Involuntary tears brimmed at the corners of Marilyns eyes slowing splashing against her cheeks.
Gloria reached out to place a comforting hand against her shoulder. "She needs your help. I know its hard but shes in a lot of pain and needs you to tell her its okay to stop fighting."
"You want me to tell her its okay to die?" Marilyns legs buckled under the weight of the words causing her to stumble forward into the waiting arms of the doctor.
"I know this is difficult. She is so afraid to cause you pain but this is one battle she cant win." Gloria held the distraught woman consoling her as she spoke.
"I dont understand," cried Marilyn attempting to contain the tears flowing freely.
"I wish I could change things Marilyn. She needs to know that you will be okay. You have to be strong for her."
"What do I say?"
"Just be with her. The words will come to you." Gloria broke the embrace. "Take a few minutes to be alone. Well stay with Jodi until youre ready."
Marilyn nodded numb to the pain, not understanding what was happening to her as she walked blindly into the front room and sat down on the sofa closing her eyes. Just sleep for a few minutes and when you wake up everything will be okay," she thought. How can she be dying? What the hell is happening to me? My daughter is dying and her ex girlfriend isnt with a man. They dont even act like ex lovers. Ive got to stop drinking but this feels so real. What if it is? Moisture squeezed from her closed eyelids tracing a path down her cheeks as she lay still on the furniture.
The soft sweet sound of her grandsons voice interrupted the sorrow of her thoughts. "Grandmother Jodi is asking for you."
Marilyn opened her eyes peering through half closed lids. "When did you get here David?"
"Ive been up since dawn. Jodi and I decided last night that it would be good for you and grandpa to sleep in so I let Dr. Spelling in this morning," answered David, ignoring the odd question.
Davids body tensed up at the mention of his mothers name. "I thought we agreed not to talk about her."
Marilyn shook her head confused by the answer. "Why?"
David started to walk away then returned to confront his grandmother. "How can you even talk about her when Jodi is." He stopped too upset up to finish his thoughts.
"I know they never got along but Lynn should be here with her sister."
"When pigs fly grandmother."
"Why are you being so hostile?" asked Marilyn.
"Mother is dead as far as Im concerned," he answered defiantly visibly shaken by the topic of conversation.
"Dont say that David. Whatever shes done she is still your mother. Why are you two fighting?"
"Are you insane? Jodi has spent the last two years trying to get my mother to come around and now when she needs you the most youre in here drilling me about this?"
"Okay okay," said Marilyn standing up to confront David. "Im sorry. I dont want to upset you. I just hate to see my children upset."
"Are you ever going to believe me grandma? I didnt run away. She threw me out of the house and dad didnt even try to stop her."
"How could Lynn throw you out of the house?" asked Marilyn.
"Why dont you ask her that. She learned to hate homosexuals from you."
The words felt like a sword plunging through her heart. In this world hes still gay. She hesitated before responding, her voice weak. "Youre just a child. Youll grow out of it. Its common for young boys to experiment."
"Why cant you just accept me grandmother? Why does it matter, especially now?"
"David youre not even eighteen. Youre too young to be having sex anyway."
"That doesnt change how I feel. Jodi understands that. Id probably be dead if it wasnt for her."
Marilyn stared at her grandson noticing scars along the inside of his wrist. "Of course she understands you," she started.
"You know aunt Jodi has never judged me," interrupted David. "She doesnt understand why I like guys but she has always accepted and loved me unconditionally. Now shed dying." David stopped talking trying to contain his tears. "And all because of that bastard ex husband of hers. If Bobby wasnt already dead Id kill him myself."
"Ex husband?" repeated Marilynn.
"You act like this is news to you grandmother."
"No, I lost my train of thought. You sound like hes responsible for her illness," she replied trying to save face with David.
"Dont tell me she didnt." He stopped staring at the bewildered face of his grandmother. "She never told you did she?"
"Tell me what?"
He smiled momentarily, pacing as he spoke. "Thats just like her to spare you the truth. Shes always protecting you. Do you even know how lucky you are to have someone love you that much?"
"Yes. David what is it that I dont know?" asked Marilyn.
"Now it makes sense," he replied quietly.
"What makes sense?"
David stopped pacing and wiped his eyes as he collected his thoughts. "I asked her once why she would risk losing her family to protect me. She told me that one day I would understand why she was so proud of me for standing up for myself. I get it now."
"I dont. Please tell me," pleaded Marilyn.
"You wanted a normal life for her, a husband and kids. So she married Bobby. When he got sick she told you it was cancer didnt she?"
"Bobby didnt die of cancer?" asked Marilyn with trepidation.
"He died of AIDS. Did you even know he was an addict?"
"He got AIDS by sharing dirty needles with his loser friends and he passed it on to her and her unborn child." David stopped staring into the eyes of his grandmother void of recognition. "She never told you. The baby died during her second trimester. Shes dying of AIDS grandmother but hey at least you can be proud because she isnt a homosexual."
"David dont say that."
"Why? Its true. Shes spent her life trying to please you. I guess you got your wish!"
David stormed out of the room before Marilyn could respond. She stood there helplessly attempting to absorb the words of the conversation. Shes straight and dying. My baby is dying.
Frank spoke softly. "Honey Jodi is asking for you."
Marilyn looked like a wounded animal when she turned around. "David is upset dear. You should go find him."
"I will," he answered hugging his wife. "Go to Jodi. She needs a mothers love."
Marilyn silently mocked herself as she walked toward the bedroom. Not this mothers love, she thought.
"Mother. I was beginning to think that you were avoiding me this morning," Jodi said weakly coughing as she spoke. Marilyn sat down next to her as Jodi pointed to a tiny package on top of the covers. "Its not much but you know how much I hate shopping," she quipped, a small grin forming on her lips. "Open it."
Marilyn did as she was told. Inside was another polished stone with a maze engraved on the surface. "A wishing stone?"
"You know about that? It will protect you and keep you young forever so you can live a long and healthy life."
"Will it work for you?" asked Marilyn a tiny glimmer of hope resounding in her voice.
"I dont think its that powerful," answered Jodi wistfully.
"I love it." Marilyn kissed her daughter on the forehead choking back tears.
"Thank you for being a wonderful mom. I need to ask you a favor. Its about David."
"I noticed the marks on Davids wrists," started Marilyn.
"Im sorry," interrupted Jodi. "It was Davids wish to keep that a secret. The scar is very old. Its been a year to the day since he slipped and I guarantee that this year there wont be a repeat performance."
"He tried to commit suicide?"
Jodi nodded her head weakly. "Even an aunt is no replacement for a mothers love, especially on Christmas day." Silence filled the room. Jodi placed her hand over Marilyns. "Im so thankful every day for the close relationship we share. I dont know if I could survive without your love."
Marilyn was stunned. This was the same daughter who defiantly chose to lead her life against her mothers wishes causing her to break the once close bond they shared. "What happens to David after you." She paused unable to say the word.
"After I die mother. I know its hard for you to say or accept but I dont have long. I have a friend who is going to take David in and give him a home."
Tears brimmed in Marilyns eyes spilling onto her cheeks, the thought of losing her once vibrant daughter leaving a void in her soul. She pinched herself silently praying that she would wake up from this nightmare.
"I was kind of hoping you would support him mother."
The words broke her train of thought. "Help him? How?"
"Maybe you can get through to Lynn. She has always respected your opinion. Just because hes gay isnt any reason to abandon her own son."
"You dont think its just a phase?"
"No. I know you dont like to talk about it but hes still very vulnerable. Didnt you always say hate the sin but love the sinner? If he had your acceptance it would make things easier for him after Im gone."
Marilyn looked at the frail body of her baby. "I dont know what to say."
"Say youll be there for him. Accept him for the wonderful young man that he is. If I could live my life all over again I would be just like him."
Marilyn stared at her, a quizzical expression on her face. "He tried to kill himself but you want to be like him?"
"Hes stronger than he looks. He has more integrity than I could ever wish to have. My life might be a lot different if I had just had the guts to go with my heart."
"What do you mean Jodi?"
"I never should have married Bobby. He never turned me on and I wasnt in love with him but he seemed like a good man and he started out very kind to me. Deep down inside I knew I was different but I was too afraid at how people would view me, especially you."
"Different how?" asked Marilyn thinking back to the conversation earlier with her grandchild, knowing what Jodi was about to say.
"David and I have a lot more in common than nursing only I was too scared of losing my family, your love, so I locked those feelings up and buried them deep down in my soul."
"Are you saying that in this life youre really gay?"
Jodi panicked confusing the look of perplexity on her mothers face for contempt. "Im sorry. I only said something so you would know how David feels. I never did anything about it honest. I only kissed her once." Her voice sounded like that of a child begging her mothers forgiveness.
"Youre talking about Gloria."
"How did you know?"
"Just a hunch. She seems rather fond of you."
"You dont hate me do you?"
"Im shocked but," started Marilyn. "Id give anything to make you well again."
Jodie reached out to hug her mother. "Your love is what has kept me strong." Long moments passed as they held onto each other for dear life, possibly for the last time. Marilyn kissed her daughter frantically on the cheek and forehead their tears mingling. Jodi smiled once the contact was broken.
"Why are you smiling?" asked Marilyn choking back the tears.
Jodi shook her head. "Maybe if I had been as strong as David," she started then paused. "I know its stupid but if I had been honest with myself I never would have married Bobby and I wouldnt be in bed dying from AIDS." Jodi yawned as she finished her sentence, the emotions of the holiday taking its toll on her weakened body. Marilyn stayed with her until she was certain that Jodi was sleeping soundly.
Marilyn felt as though she couldnt breathe. She had to leave, go outside somewhere and be alone and think about what was happening to her, to her child, the one she sent away on Christmas Eve denouncing that she was even her daughter. "I need to get some air," she told David. "Be with her. I promise you everything is going to work itself out." She hugged the young man tightly, grabbed her purse and ran to the door, the cool breeze greeting her like the warm wet kiss of a puppy.
It was a typical California Christmas day with the sun shining, the ocean providing just enough cold air to remind her that it was winter. She walked down Broadway, the street seemingly deserted as all of the little shops were shut down for the holiday. It would give her the time she needed to think, to figure things out.
Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined how dramatically Jodis life would turn out if she ignored her homosexual tendencies. Jodi was right. If she was gay she wouldnt be dying right now and I did that to her. The thought devastated her. It felt like a terrifying nightmare but she couldnt shake the realism of the experience.
She strolled along the desolate street ensconced by her thoughts. What if by some divine intervention life had been altered forever? Would this be her reality until the day she died? Could she live with the guilt of her actions? Her train of thought was interrupted when she tripped and fell forward landing on the concrete scraping her knees. A roughened hand appeared near her face as she attempted to pick herself up. She latched onto the proffered arm of the stranger pulling herself to her feet then froze in silence.
In front of her stood a young girl of maybe eighteen years old. She wore an abundance of dirty clothes, her lithe features darkened by a heavy film of grime. "Thank you," mumbled Marilyn as she brushed herself off and started to walk in the opposite direction.
"Merry Christmas and youre welcome," answered the girl.
Marilyn stopped in mid stride. Her head told her to keep moving before she was mugged. After all those people were notorious for stealing just to avoid working to earn an honest dollar but her heart responded to the kindness in the gentle blue eyes of the stranger. She turned around to face her.
"Im not a thief maam, just a little bit down on my luck," she answered as if to read Marilyns mind, extending her hand holding the black purse. "I believe this is yours."
The statement made Marilyn feel dirty as she took the proffered item. "Arent you a little bit young to be on the streets alone?"
"I look younger than my years. Im twenty-three."
"Where is your family?"
"I dont have any family and the shelters, well there are people who are in more dire need of a place to stay than myself."
"You sound rather well educated."
"I did graduate with honors from high school."
"How did you end up here?"
"It doesnt matter really. You were sent to me not the other way around."
"Excuse me?" Marilyn looked at the stranger questioningly.
"Ive been told Im very intuitive. What has filled you with such great sorrow that you are walking alone on a deserted street away from your family on Christmas day? You look like youve lost your best friend."
Marilyn shuffled her feet nervously averting her eyes from the transient girl in fear that she might actually read the truth in her heart. "My daughter."
"No. Yourself. You cant love others if you dont love yourself. The answers are within."
"I cant think about me right now. Shes the one who is dying." Her voice was almost a whisper.
"How long does she have?" asked the young girl, sympathy in her voice.
"Days, maybe hours," answered Marilyn.
"Yet here you are alone instead of by her side holding her hand so that she can pass over peacefully. What kind of conflict could separate a loving mother from a child in her hour of need?"
"There was no conflict at least not in this," started Marilyn before pausing to form her thoughts.
"Beware of the wishing stone," interrupted the transient.
"How do you know about that?"
The stranger pointed to the trinket held tightly in her hand. "It has magical powers you know. But sometimes even the simplest statement can result in harsh consequences."
"I just wanted her to lead a normal life with a husband and children." Marilyn stopped talking intense emotions choking her voice.
"You and my mother have something in common. You made this happen and now you feel guilty."
"Yes, I mean no. How do you know?"
"The wishing stone is very powerful even to the non believer. Feelings of guilt will not help you overcome your grief."
"Parents arent supposed to out live their children."
"Spouting euphemisms isnt going to help you in this matter."
"How can I make things go back to the way they were? At least my daughter was healthy. How do I stop this?"
"You cant. One cannot change what is not understood."
"Dont be so cryptic."
"You cant change the outcome. Its etched in the fates as solidly as the maze is etched in that stone," answered the girl pointing a small finger at her hand.
"Then whats the point?" asked Marilyn throwing up her hands in frustration.
"How can you expect to change if you demand something in return?"
Marilyn shook her head sorrow in her eyes. "Youre right. Jodi loves me unconditionally. I suppose youre saying its time for me to do the same."
"But the Bible. My father raised me to believe differently."
"And he was never wrong?"
"No, but," started Marilyn.
"Its time to see life and others as they really are not as you want them to be."
"I dont mean to do that."
"Then dont. Stop thinking with your head and listen to your heart."
"I cant believe Im being counseled by a stranger."
"Sometimes vicarious emotion can come in the strangest forms and we find our strength in the oddest of places." The young woman placed a gentle hand on her arm, soft blue eyes glowing through the dirt and grime. Marilyn involuntarily flinched causing her to remove the offending digits. "My hand is clean." She bowed her head a pained expression on her face.
"Im so sorry," replied Marilyn grabbing her hand. "I didnt mean to."
"Thats okay. I am a sight, a rather scanky one at that."
"You have a beautiful heart. You truly are an angel." Marilyn dug into her purse extracting her wallet and opened it pulling out the contents, several twenty-dollar bills. "Here take this. Find yourself a room for the night. Take a warm bath and have a hot meal."
"Im not here to take your money," answered the girl defiantly.
"Please do it for me. I cant bare the thought of such a sweet young girl being alone on the streets tonight."
Reluctantly she nodded her head. "For you I will."
"Thank you for leading me back to the right path. I couldnt have done it alone."
"It might have taken you longer but your heart is true. Eventually you would have found your way."
"Thank you." Marilyn started to walk away then stopped. "What is your name?"
"I pray that one day your mother will find her angel. God bless you Jane."
"Merry Christmas Marilyn," shouted the young girl.
Marilyn whirled around to face her. "How do you know my name?"
"When you pulled out your wallet I saw it on your drivers license."
"So it isnt some mystical thing happening here?"
"Its always a mystical adventure when one begins to find their true inner self. Go and be with your daughter. She needs you almost as much as you need her right now."
Jodi had already said her good-byes to her friends knowing that when the time came she wished to be surrounded only by her family. Frank, Marilyn and David sat around the bed grief stricken when Jodi began to struggle with her breath.
"Do something," cried Marilyn turning to her husband.
Jodi waved her hand in front of her face to tell her father no. "Im sorry Marilyn," he said placing a consoling hand on her back. "Its her wish to go peacefully."
"You call that peacefully!" cried Marilyn reaching for the oxygen mask only to be stopped by the strong arms of her husband wrapped around her.
"Let her go," said Frank his voice quiet and filled with sorrow. He watched helplessly as the little girl who was once small enough to sit on his lap now struggled to take her last gasps of air on this earth.
"No!" cried Marilyn turning in Franks arms pressing her face onto his breast.
"I love you," Jodi said barely audible.
The sound of the heart monitor flat lined. "NO!" cried Marilyn beating him on the chest her body racked with sobs as the life of her baby girl slowly drained from her frail little body. She turned around throwing herself at her daughter. "Dont you leave me! Its not supposed to be this way! I love you. Its all my fault, all of this. Im sorry, so sorry," she whispered looking into the vacant expression of death. She was numb to the warmth of gentle arms enveloping her and the loud sobs of her grandson, the shock paralyzing her as she leaned over the still body of her beloved child. With tender remorse she lifted a weak hand to Jodis face, gentle fingers grazing her daughters eyelids to seal them shut, soft lips pressing against the young womans forehead to say goodbye. "It should have been me," she whispered.
Marilyn woke up frantically searching the room, jubilant when she realized she was in her own bed at her own house with no husband in sight. Marilyn ignored the throbbing in her skull as she ran to the front room smiling at her husband sleeping peacefully on his favorite recliner. She wrapped her arms around the chair kissing him soundly on the cheek, the contact causing him to stir.
Hesitantly he opened his eyes gazing into Marilyns smiling face. "Good morning."
"Yes it is."
"Its just a phrase," added Frank. "Nothings good about this morning after last nights debacle."
"Thats where you are wrong. Call up Lynn and tell her to get that husband of hers and be here around noon. I should be back by then."
"Where are you going?"
"To get my daughter back." Franks eyes popped wide open in shock. "Dont say anything. Ill explain when I get back. In the meantime try to talk some sense into your daughter."
"Yes Lynn. This is going to be our best Christmas ever!" Marilyn kissed him on the lips and ran toward the backyard, stepping into the damp cold air of the morning still clothed in her nightgown. She walked purposefully toward the bushes bending down on her knees searching through the shrubs covered in dew until she found the stone.
Frank stared at her wordlessly as she ran back inside covered with dirt and grime. "Christmas miracle?" he said to himself closing his eyes to catch a few more minutes of sleep.
Jodi sat against several plumped up pillows searching for a decent show to watch stopping when she found her favorite version of A Christmas Carol. She slept fitfully all night garnering only a couple of hours of sleep. She dozed when the ghost of Christmas future showed Scrooge his tombstone, waking violently when a knock on the door interrupted her slumber. Agitated she stood up and put her robe on before walking to the door her heart still pounding wildly in her chest.
Marilyn stood across the threshold smiling timidly at her. Long moments that felt like an eternity passed before Jodi found her voice. "I see the security sucks around here. Theyll let anyone up." She paused glaring at her mother. "So what brings you here mother?" she asked sharply.
"You must hate me," replied Marilyn stepping hesitantly into the room.
"It would be easier if I could. Did you come here to pour more salt into the wound?"
"I cant blame you for believing the worst in me."
"You look like shit."
"I had a rough night but it was very revealing."
"Dont tell me youve had an epiphany."
"What if I have?"
"Then somewhere in the universe pigs are flying, hell has frozen over and the Pope has decreed that god loves homosexuals."
"Thats quite a visual."
"Have you told me yet why youre here?" asked Jodi attempting to keep her temper under control. "You cant be here on an official capacity because if I remember correctly you have only one daughter."
"I deserved that." Marilyn looked timidly at her. "I thought we should talk."
"We tried that last night. As I recall it didnt work very well," replied Jodi drolly.
"I had been drinking," started Marilyn.
"Ah so you really dont feel that way at all. It was the alcohol talking. Find another victim of the turnip truck because Im not one of them," interrupted Jodi angrily, the adrenaline pumping through her veins.
"You have every right to take that tone with me. I deserve it."
"Excuse me?" The comment caught Jodi entirely unprepared for a witty comeback.
"Yes you heard right," stated Marilyn lowering her head to avert her eyes away from the grim stare of her daughter. She opened her hand revealing the wishing stone and tossed it on the bed. "You want to tell me about that."
Jodi looked questioningly at the trinket. "Its a rock." She hesitated. "With a picture on it."
"With magical powers. Tell me about them."
"Do you really want to know?" Marilyn nodded her response. "It was kind of a joke. The advertisement said that this kind of wishing stone would help improve the personality of the person who possesses it." Jodi stopped a moment, a small grin forming around the corners of her lips. "I think its working already."
"You have no idea smartass," mumbled Marilyn. "Do you believe it has any real powers?"
"It seems to have brought you here so yeah I guess I do now. Is there something you want to share with me or a reason why youre here? Last time we talked it wasnt pleasant."
"I want to apologize and beg your forgiveness. I was very wrong last night."
Jodi stared blankly forward cocking her head to one side. "Does heavy groveling come with that?"
"Whatever it takes to make things right."
"Im not sure youre capable of that. Before last night I put up with a lot of bullshit. I wont do that anymore. The stakes have grown."
"What will it take to repair the damage Ive done?"
"Love, understanding and acceptance of who I am. Nothing less."
"Ill always love you. Youre going to have to give me some time because Im still trying to understand but I am trying. As for the acceptance Id rather have a living homosexual for a daughter than a dead heterosexual."
"I never said heterosexuality killed," quipped Jodi uncomfortable with the three hundred and sixty degree turn around her mother was doing. "Why do I feel like a lamb being led to the slaughter? All this touchy feely stuff and its okay to be gay. What the hell are you up to?"
"The epiphany remember?" answered Marilyn. "Something happened last night, this morning, I dont know exactly but I saw a different world and you were straight. What I saw broke my heart."
"You know mother you were in no condition last night to be watching Its a Wonderful Life."
"The other Jodi was a little more in touch with her feelings but maybe thats my fault."
"Maybe? Were allowed to have feelings?" She waited a beat. "Of our own?" Jodie could not help her sarcastic demeanor. Inside she wanted to be serious and trust her mom but inside was a terrified little girl betrayed emotionally one too many times by the people she loved.
Marilyn took a deep breath remembering what brought her to this place in time with her youngest child who deserved a little patience. "I lived Christmas day yesterday and it was very grim."
Jodi looked at her mother unbelievingly. "So today for you is really yesterday."
"Were you smoking weed with Cousin Ron?"
"No," answered Marilyn exasperated. "Today happened for me yesterday and you were straight."
"Okay lets put aside the ridiculousness of the statement. I was straight and you werent happy?"
Marilyn nodded. "You married Bobby McLane. Only he died. And you were dying of AIDS."
"How did you know Bobby died of AIDS?"
"He died of cancer," answered Marilyn.
"Thats what all self respecting families put on the death certificate to avoid humiliation from their peers. He died of AIDS."
"Bobby was," started Marilyn.
"An IV drug user," finished Jodi. "He got it from sharing dirty needles. I guess its gods way of weeding out the drug addicts."
"Thats a terrible thing to say."
"You said the same thing last night about homosexuals."
"I was wrong. Bobby was a good boy, a little troubled yes but he didnt deserve such a horrible death."
"Finally something we agree on. This dream you had," started Jodi.
"It was real. I know the difference between dreams and reality," defended Marilyn.
"Okay. Yesterday was really today blah, blah, blah. Were you upset because I was dying or because I was straight?"
"Of course I wasnt upset that you were straight."
"So you still wish I wasnt gay?"
"Dont twist my words. Ill always wish you were straight but not for the same reasons."
"So youll never be able to accept me. Maybe we should end this conversation before it turns ugly."
"Hear me out before you judge me."
"Give you the same consideration you gave me?" asked Jodi, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Be bigger than I was. You always have been before."
Jodi was stunned by the compliment but raw emotions controlled her tongue. "Who the hell are you and what have you done with my mother?"
"Jodi youre a lesbian in a heterosexual society. You will always be looked upon with contempt by many ignorant people, one of which was your mother. Having and raising children will be a struggle. Homosexuals are not treated as equals in this world and youre open to be a victim of violence just because of who you love. No mother in her right mind would want that for her child. But if you can help me on my path to understanding I will always be there for you to love and protect you as best as I can." Marilyn stopped talking, sincere concern showing in her eyes as she waited for a response.
Jodi stared back unwanted tears threatening to invade her eyes. "I dont know what to say."
"Thats a first," quipped Marilyn.
"All of this because of a dream? What was really in your drink?"
"It was real. I cant explain it but I would bet my life on it. Maybe its gods way of showing me the ignorance of my ideals."
"Does the Pope know about this?"
Marilyn smiled at her daughter, the gesture breaking the tension in the air. "Lets keep this between you and I. Some people arent ready to change yet but I am."
"Maybe youre not the evil ogre you thought you were," replied Jodi.
"Youre the one who thinks Im an evil ogre."
"Im not the one who had the freaky dream."
Marilyn gazed sorrowfully at her daughter choking back tears. "I really thought you were dead."
"I was inside," answered Jodi stepping into the waiting arms of her mother. They embraced each for several long moments, their tears mingling as they held on to each other.
"Never again. I love you."
"Is this where I pinch myself and wake up?"
"No honey. This is real," answered Marilyn pinching her roughly on the arm.
"Owe. What the hell was that for?"
"I figured you needed proof."
Jodi shook her head grinning then gazed out the window.
"Youre looking for flying pigs arent you?" asked Marilyn.
"You know me well." Her face turned serious. "Have you talked to dad?"
"No but he knows where I am. Your father never judged you."
"He never defended me either. Sometimes unspoken words can hurt just as much as spoken words."
"Please dont hold it against your father. Its my fault."
"You got that right. We spent our entire lives growing up trying not to piss you off."
"What happened when you left home?"
"I dedicated my life to pissing you off as retribution. I guess it takes two to let things get this fucked up."
"Ill take most of the blame for this." Jodi plopped down on the bed. "Whats wrong?" asked Marilyn.
"I just had to sit down for that one."
"Weve got some catching up to do before we go to the house. Care to have breakfast with me?"
"The only thing open is room service. Ill order for us." Jodi picked up the menu then dialed the phone taking care of the arrangements. "We could watch a movie. I have cable," she said hanging up the phone. "Weve got porn, Debbie Does Donna."
"Dont push it. Besides the family will be expecting us."
"As long as Im back at the hotel by six. I have dinner plans."
Marilyn looked at her questioning. "Whats her name?"
"His name is Travis."
"You have a date with a man. Be still my heart."
"Dont even start Scarlett. Its purely platonic."
"A girl can dream cant she?"
"Will you ever get it?"
"These things take time. Can you be patient?"
Reluctantly Jodi nodded. "Besides hes Jewish."
"Oh. Any chances of you getting back with your doctor?"
Jodi shook her head contemptuously. "You really need to work on your racist behavior. What if I bring home a nice black Jewish girl?"
Marilyns eyebrows furrowed. "Will you help me view the world through your eyes?"
"Only if youre sincere."
"If youre willing to teach this old dog new tricks I promise I will learn them."
"Its a deal," replied Jodi taking her mothers hand.
"Youd make a great mother," stated Marilyn.
"Thank you. Now if you could just get rid of that whole nine month pregnancy thing and the pain of childbirth Im your gal," replied Jodi.
"You know Barbaras daughter Becky is home for the holidays. Rumor has it shes like that."
"Gay mother. Just say it and release the burden on your shoulders," Jodi said half kidding.
"She wants to have kids. Maybe you should call her up before you leave. And she doesnt live far from you."
"I guess trying to marry me off is never going to change."
"I am your mother. Now about Becky," started Marilyn.
"Sorry. Been there done that. Not for me," interrupted Jodi.
"You and her?" An evil grin appeared on Jodis face as she nodded reveling in the apparent discomfort of her mother. "Oh my. When?"
"I ditched Bobby McLane on Prom night just so I could be with Becky. Thats when we broke up."
"Thank god for that," mumbled Marilyn.
"Thats a switch. Anyway Becky had a suite at the hotel and just before midnight we made up some lame excuse to our dates and left them at the dance."
"Okay, okay. I dont think Im ready to hear the details just yet."
"She looked really pretty in her chiffon dress," continued Jodi.
Marilyn playfully slapped her daughter on the head. "Enough! I dont need to hear the details of my child losing her virginity."
Jodi burst out laughing, a dazzling smile lighting up her face. "Who said she was my first?"
Marilyn gazed at her scornfully before mock choking her. "Stop that."
"Okay, okay," answered Jodi. "Stop choking me," she cried bumping shoulders affectionately with her mother pausing briefly to commit this moment to memory. "Merry Christmas."
Marilyn took in a deep gulp of air. "Yes. It is a very Merry Christmas," she replied standing up to answer the door hoping it was room service. She opened it revealing a petite young woman with angel blue eyes. The sight stunned her leaving her gasping for air when she read the attendants nametag. "So Jane would you like to join us?" she asked taking the startled young woman by the arm and leading her into the suite. "I would like you to meet my daughter Jodi."
"Oh you must be the one my brother was talking about. Its very nice to meet you," answered Jane setting the tray down to shake her hand.
"Whos your brother?" asked Jodi.
"Travis. He told me all about you."
"Did he?" asked Jodi intrigued by the woman.
"The nice Jewish boy?" interjected Marilyn.
"Yes. He thought we should meet," replied Jane.
"Does that mean youll be joining us for dinner?" inquired Jodi shooting her mother a menacing glare praying that she wouldnt ask the beautiful young woman why the Jews killed Jesus.
"I would love to only if Im not intruding."
"Jane can I ask you a question?" Jodi cringed as her mother spoke.
"Of course," Jane said glancing at Jodi approvingly and winking.
"Do Jew, the Jewish people. Darn Im trying to be politically correct here," stammered Marilyn as Jodi rolled her eyes covering them with her hands. "Do you believe Jesus never existed or that he did and was just a prophet?"
Jane started laughing uncontrollably while Jodi let out a deep sigh of relief as Marilyn looked on questioningly.
"What? Whats so funny?" she asked innocently. "I just thought that we should get to know each other if were going to be family."
"Mother!" exclaimed Jodi.
"Its okay," interjected Jane. "Shes right. Youre lucky to have such an enlightened mother."
"So why were you laughing?" asked Marilyn.
"I thought you were going to ask me why the Jews killed Jesus."
All three women burst into laughter. Jodi collected herself before responding. "Jane did you happen to notice any flying pigs on your way up here?"
Return to the Academy