Writing 101: Third Time’s the Charm

“Rebekah, please carry those boxes to the storage room?”  Allie’s voice rang clear with authority but never came across as bossy.  Rebekah had learned to love that about her stepmother.  She always knew how to get things done, but never made it seem like you were being forced into it.  Yes, Rebekah considered herself lucky indeed that this was the woman who came into her father’s life and stepped in to raise his two children.

Rebekah never knew her real mother, Sarah.  She had died in a car accident when Rebekah was still an infant.  All Rebekah knew of the woman who had given her life could be found in the framed photograph kept on her bedside table.  At night, she wold reach over and kiss the photograph of her mother before switching off the light.  As the years went by however, it became harder to hold on to that mother with such a vibrant, loving mother figure could be found in Allie.

Now it was moving day.  She and her brother, Ben, had both graduated from college and moved out of the house.  Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to move into the beach house they had always dreamed of, Rebekah’s dad and Allie had put her childhood home on the market and found just the right home a few towns away.

At the end of a hall Rebekah found the semi-finished room off the garage that would serve as a storage room for now.  After setting the boxes on the floor, she found a chair and collapsed in it.  It was hard to believe that all of the furnishings from her old home had been sold off or moved here.  The place seemed too small for all of those things, much less all of her memories.  With a sigh, she looked through a few of the boxes closest to her her.

Inside them were some old school papers from her and Ben, clothes they had long ago outgrown but which still held some sentimental value, a few photographs in old frames and some books.  She lifted the lid off of what looked like a large, old-fashioned hat box. The contents of this one seemed different.  Instead of being carefully folded and tucked away efficiently, these items seemed to be stored in haste.  One by one, Rebekah removed the contents and examined them.

First came a rose colored robe of softest silk.  It felt cool and soft to the touch. Next, she removed a velvet jewelry pouch and set it aside.  After that was a bag full of yarn, knitting needles and an infant-sized sweater in palest pink.  A lump was forming in Rebekah’s throat through a tiny sense of recognition.  There were only two items left in the box.  One was a very well-used Bible and the other was a leather bound book with no title.  Lifting this last item out of the box, Rebekah delicately opened the cover.  The pages inside were covered with a feminine scrawl.  She knew at once it must have been her mother’s.

Sarah had apparently not been consistent in keeping a journal. Rebekah could tell that the book spanned years as she flipped through the pages.  The first entries were made years before her mother died.  They were made before Ben was even born and they continued until the last few weeks Sarah was alive.  Without a thought for the work that needed to be done around her, Rebekah began devouring the words in front of her.

She had no idea how much time had passed when Ben came knocking at the door.  “So this is where you’ve been hiding.”  He made a move to bump Rebekah over and share the chair with her.  Before he could sit however, she jumped up and began pacing the floor.  “Hey, what’s wrong?”

Rebekah looked up at him and slammed the book shut.  She was breathing heavily, as if she had just run a race.  The look on her face was one of hurt, disbelief and a growing anger.  “Did you know dad and Allie knew each other while mom was still alive?”

“Maybe.  I’m not sure.  I was pretty young when…”  he didn’t have to finish the sentence.  He had been old enough to have some memories of their mother and so he had taken it much harder.  “Why do you ask?”

“Mom talks about her.  In here.”  She held the book out so he could see for himself.

Standing, he took the journal from her hands and opened it.  “What is this?”

“It’s mom’s.  She wrote in it, not often – but she started it when she and dad were first married.  I’ve been reading it since I came in here and I just found an entry that mentioned Allie.”

“And?”

“Mom thought she was having an affair with dad.”

The silence hung between them like a cold damp sheet.  It didn’t seem possible.  Matt & Allie were such a loving, God-fearing, normal couple.  Finally, Ben spoke.  “Are you sure?”

With a sigh, Rebekah sank to the floor.  “Of course not.  Mom wasn’t even sure.  But she was worried enough about it to wonder.  I don’t even know if she ever spoke to dad about it.  After the entry that mentions it, she doesn’t write again for months.  The next entry is about finding out she was pregnant with you.”

Ben sat cross-legged in front of his sister and handed the book back to her.  “What do you want to do?”

“Well first I think I’ll read the rest of this.  I’m not sure I can ask them.  It’s just too weird.”

“Don’t you think we have to, Bek?  There has to be another side to this story.”

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