White Lace Curtains
 

Susan Rippe
 
 

© Copyright 2004 by Susan Rippe

 

Photo of a mass of white flowers (c) 2004 by Richard Loller.

(White lace curtains blew lightly as the Florida breeze wisps through the window along with the morning light Victoria prepares for a new day.  She rushes her son off to the sitter and arrives at work early as usual.)

 She was dark-eyed and fine-boned, with auburn hair that tumbled over her shoulders. She had a body, agile and firm, that she loved to show off. In the spell of her smile, sweet and inviting was a woman full of confusion, and full of pain.  She indulged in betrayal at work and sexual exploits in her spare time.  One thing, most stable in her life was her son, Jake.

   “ Victoria Lyst,” she thought, smiling as she strode the long hall leading to the conference room, “Executive Administrator.”  She was not dreaming; she would soon have it all; the power, prestige and an income to match.  To obtain and achieve the Executive position excites her. As she approaches the conference room, its doors bolt open.  Victoria, not quite as shocked as startled finds herself face to face with her boss, Marie Simpson. Victoria gathers from Marie Simpson’s expression, she is not pleased.

“Could it have been the fact that I went over Simpson’s head? Right to the Governor? “Thought Victoria.

She flashes a familiar smile of self-assurance as she brushes quickly past Simpson and enters the room.

“Here is my opportunity, my chance, to dazzle and impress the over stuffed shirts that hold the power to make the changes that need to be made in the disability department,” she is amused with this as she strode with confidence to the head of the conference table.

All eyes focus on the long lean legs, perfect curves under the form fitting black business suit, the slit of her skirt is just enough to make a man wonder, make a man desire.  She knows how good she looks and how the men are watching her, at that moment she slowly and provocatively slips off her blazer.  Making the gesture just a bit suggestive but making sure, it was not at all improper. The crimson red silk blouse shimmers as she prepares the power point for her presentation. She can feel eyes on her as she turns and the light hits her blouse in just that way; she enjoyed teasing and wanted to ensure her audience would see she was not wearing anything under her blouse.  She smiles knowingly.

 Victoria takes charge of the meeting and triumphs as she speaks with knowledge, strength and confidence when asked a question. Victoria makes a point to mention her most recent client, Venus, a little girl that is blind and deaf.  The Florida school system had given up on this child and sent her to a long-term facility that mainly deals with the mentally challenged.  The financial aspect of this situation, not only for this child but also for the Venus’s of our state would be to evaluate the child and focus on productive outcomes for the student. The meeting runs smoothly and she wraps up in under two hours.  Victoria excuses herself and leaves the room just as she entered it, with strength, swiftness and confidence.  As she walks down the long hall, she hears a familiar voice, a sort shrill, “Victoria Lyst”, in a partial manic, nervous, angry tone.  Victoria slightly turns to find Marie Simpson approaching, her face full of anger as she points her finger into Victoria’s arm, “Don’t you ever pull a stunt like that again, “she blurted.  Victoria calmly removes her finger and advises that if she were ever to touch her again in any way, shape, or form, that she would call the police.  Victoria then reminds Marie Simpson that she had known all along that Victoria was after more than the position she had, she reminded her of their initial interview three years prior, when Victoria announced, “I will, one day, have your job”, she reminded Simpson that she did not joke about such things. At that moment, Victoria turns and strides the long hall with confidence and ease. She enters her office and slowly closes the door.  Suddenly, her composure is broken and she is physically shaken by the encounter with Marie Simpson.  She eases into her chair and slings her head back, inhaling from her nose and exhaling from her mouth.  Repeatedly she breathes slowly, regaining her composure, regaining her strength.  Victoria decides to call her friend Teddy.  Teddy is short for Theodora, a very trendy next-door neighbor and good friend.  They met three years ago when Victoria moved in, Teddy ran over to hold the door open for Victoria as she was carrying boxes into the house.  Teddy and Victoria immediately became friends and Friday night clubbing friends. Victoria arranges to meet Teddy at the gym but at the same time, she tells Teddy to go to her house and get her clothing for the evening.  Victoria specifically asks for the leopard mini skirt, black shirt and her spike heels. Teddy laughs and says, “You are going to get laid tonight, huh?” Victoria softly laughs and tells Teddy that she will see her later at the gym.
 

(Victoria and Teddy workout at the gym, take showers and dress for a night of dancing at a popular club.
 

The Morning After

The room was dark except for a stream of light peering through sheer lace curtains.  Shadows reflect upon the walls as the curtains dance from the light morning breeze.  Victoria stirred as she woke with a slight startle of not knowing exactly where she was.  She knows this feeling; she has been here before, perhaps not to this place or this room, but she has been her, yet the familiar smell of stale cigarettes and alcohol linger in the air, clothes strewn across the floor, as in all the rooms she had been in before. Victoria pulls the sheet to her supple breasts; as she does, the sheet uncovers the warm stranger next to her.  The man stirs as the sheet reveals his naked, firm, tanned and very desirable body. Victoria takes a longer, closer glimpse of this man to see if she recognizes him.  She does not. What she does recognize is the wedding ring upon his finger, just like all the others before him. As he moves onto his side, he exposes a semi erection; Victoria grabs for the comforter and gently covers him. He falls back to sleep and Victoria wonders, “Who this man is, and, where she was?”  She pulls the sheet closer to her breast as she very slowly, quietly moves off the bed, and aimlessly finds her way to the shower.  The bathrooms décor is of fine Italian tile, lavender paper with a lovely gold trim cloak the walls. The Mirrors draped upon every wall to enhance the elegance of the room. A sunken bathtub is center of the room, enhancing the area and making it even more inviting. She stands motionless, absorbing the room, breathing it, making it a part of her. She closed her eyes and let the sheet fall from her naked body, the coldness in the air makes her shiver.  When she opens her eyes she sees her reflection in the mirrors, she sees a woman, a beautiful woman who had yet again degraded herself.  She loathes this woman; this is not the woman she had meant to become.  Stumbling toward the shower, she needed to wash the sex from her body she needed to feel clean. You turn the shower on and step in, it is cold, and you let out a gasp and fumble for the controls to set it correctly.  The hot water runs over your body as you think of the night before.  She just wanted to have a drink or two, wanted to relax, wanted to unwind.  She knows it is not right, not moral, yet she ends up in strangers’ beds, time and time again. “How did I end up here? Again.”   “Why?” she asks herself, “Why?”
 

Stranger’s View

 The room was dark except for the stream of light peering through the lace curtains that blew lightly from the morning breeze.  I open my eyes, not exactly knowing where I was or what happened the night before.  I know that my head hurts. I had way too’ many “Sex on the Beaches”. I move slowly because my head pains me so. I see her next to me.

“Who the hell is that?” “It’s not my wife, Oh shit”
 I look closer to see that this woman with long reddish brown hair, silky white skin, well toned body is not one whom I recognize
.
” Shit, I must have picked her up from the “Latin Quarter” last night.”
“I must say, I do have damn good taste.”

Just at that moment, I feel her stirring. I close my eyes as not to let her know that I am awake.

“I wish I knew her name.”

With my eyes barely open, I watch her sit up and pull the sheet around her very full breasts.  She turns to look at me.  I close my eyes.
I just want her to go. Please go. Get up and go.
I cannot help but notice that she is hot, pretty face, great body. I feel myself getting aroused; I know she must notice this as she hurries to cover me with the very expensive down comforter that my wife bought just last week. I try to wish her gone. Go. Get up and go.  At that moment, she gets up.  “

“It worked,” I say to myself, half congratulating myself, as if I had something to do with her getting up.  This is all pretty funny, I think.  I see her wrap the sheet tightly around her body as she stumbles to find the bathroom.  I think hard, “it’s over to the left, the left, damn it” “Just Go”

“Yes”, as I imaginary “High Five” myself.

She is gone into the bathroom. “Yes.”  She will shower and then she will leave.

“Yes.”
 

Victoria’s Fathers View


 (The room was dark except for the stream of light peering through sheer lace curtains.  Shadows reflected onto the walls as the curtains blew with the light morning breeze.)  Victoria’s father paces back and forth, looking at the grandfather clock each time he passes.  He notes the time and continues to pace. His strides are long and precise, even and in perfect step. The rhythm of his walk is much like a solder on a formal march. Heel together, step, heel together, step. His wife calls out for him to calm down and amusingly adds,
 “If you keep this up Frank you will wear out the carpet.”
He smiles but continues his private march as he peers from the clock to the telephone.  He thinks to himself, “it’s been fifteen minutes, I’ll call now.”  He picks up the phone and dials the familiar number, hoping that Victoria is finally home and safe.  Again, the phone rings and rings, his heart beating faster now, almost in a panic.  That is on the inside, he will never show fear, anticipation or defeat.  The answering machine clicks on and he leaves the same message he has been leaving for the past two hours. “Victoria, this is your father. Call when you get in. Again, this is a disappointment. As an adult, one does not take off for the night when one has a child. GoodBye” He puts the phone back down onto the base and then quickly picks it up. Dialing frantically, he calls Victoria’s cell phone. He hears her voice as she answers. It is harsh and low as if she had a bad cold or she had just woken up. He notices the change in her voice as soon as she realizes that it is him.  She disliked speaking to her father on the phone.  She especially hated it when he was upset, angry or disappointed.  This call was an indication of his disappointment.  He knew just want to say to upset her.  He knew the control he had over her. He knew just how to make her feel like a child again. This time was no different.  He knows why she is rushing him off the phone; he knows just what to say.  He still treats her as if she were still his little girl.  The little girl who won first place at the swim meets.  The little girl he was never quite proud of and who will never feel quite good enough. The same little girl he made cry so many times when she was just a girl.  He knows the power he has over her.  He tells her of his disappointment, and suggests that she gets out of wherever she is, and go to pick up her son.  He tells her that he will be meeting her within the hour.  He hangs up the phone and very calmly walks into the living room to tell his wife that Victoria is well and will be meeting him at David’s within the hour.  His wife looks at him, shaking her head she tells him to calm down, and to be a little easier on Victoria.  He walks away knowing that he will never be easier on Victoria.  He is her Father, she needs guidance, and she needs him.

Taxi Scene

 Victoria closed her eyes and tried hard to remember the details of the night before.  The events were but a cloud of shapes, forms and disoriented images.  She tried hard to rationalize her behavior by feeling pity on her life.  There had always been a wall between her and her father.  Growing up, Victoria felt the need to please her father in order to gain his approval.  Nothing was ever good enough for him.  When Victoria won the award in the swim meet, her father told her that she was 9 seconds off her best time.  He looked at the stopwatch, shook his head and walked away. She stood silently, award in hand and tears streaming down her young face. Minutes later, Victoria’s father, with a look of disapproval and scorn on his face told Victoria,” Pack up, we are going home.”  On the silent ride home in the dark blue sedan, Victoria felt the pain of her father’s disapproval. She sat quietly holding the first place medal, feeling the coolness of the material, feeling proud within herself and wondering why her father was not proud of her also. Finally, the silence breaks, “Victoria, are you satisfied with your performance today?” her father asked in that cold matter of fact way that he has about him.

“Are you willing to work hard for that medal, or just get by, as you did today, and hope that others are not as good as you are?”

Victoria sat silent for a moment, wanting to answer, but afraid of what to say and how it would come out.  She felt frozen, her throat closing up, sweat upon her brow, hands shaking as she sought the words to answer.  She could not. “Victoria, a winner gives the task at hand her all, she does not settle. Do you agree that today you settled?” Victoria whispers, “I’m sorry Daddy”. “Speak up child, winners do not whisper, winners are precise and clear in their speech,” her father says to her as he looks sternly at her waiting for Victoria to answer.  Clearing her voice, she looks for the courage to say something.  Anything.  Finally, stumbling at first, she says, “I’m sorry Daddy, I’ll do better, and “Victoria, you will be the best, not better” he says and then asks her if she would like to stop for some ice cream  She felt like a wilting flower, as if a piece of her had died.  Victoria just wanted to go home, she wanted to crawl into bed and not come out of her room until she felt better. Her mind full of confusion, she wonders why her father does this, why does he not accept her, why is he not proud of her. Still, she felt the need to please her father,

 “Yes Daddy,” she says with a forced smile on her face, “Yes Daddy, I would like that.”

Then there is David, Victoria’s former husband, the love of her life, the father of her child, a man so different, so opposite of her father, who several years prior had been in a horrific car accident that left him scarred and in a coma.  She remembers that day as if it were yesterday.  The fear and panic she felt when she received the call. The voice on the other end of the line sounding so distant, the phone heavy in her hand, her mind racing and full of confusion, she sank into a chair starring blankly at the phone, not believing what she had just heard. The rush to the hospital, the waiting room; so cold, so desolate.  How all alone she felt that night.  Victoria was eight months pregnant and her husband in surgery when her father, with his long confident stride walked into the room.  He stood calmly in front of her as she crumpled into his arms. “Victoria, take control, you can handle this. David will either be fine or not, but, no matter what; your life will go on, so, buck up,” Her father said to her.
 The days turned to months, the months into a year; David was still in a coma with no hope of regaining consciousness any time soon.  The doctors could not distinguish as to the extent of brain damage or if there was any damage at all. Victoria decided to take David off life support.  She cried endlessly but realized that she had to go on, not only for herself, but also for the sake of their child. She stood holding his cold clammy hand. As tears streamed down her face, she looked upon his drawn withering body, the feeding tube being taken from his nose, the ventilator being pulled from his throat, that horrifying gurgling sound coming from him, the scar that ran from the corner of his mouth to the height of his cheekbone, she looked, stared, and knew that she had made the right decision.  David stirred and coughed as the tube was being pulled from him. Victoria cringed, not knowing what to expect.  The smell of institutional cleaner, medication and death seemed to close in around her.  She held on to the side of the bed railing as to steady her balance.  It was then she noticed, David’s eyes were open and looking straight at her, perhaps deep into her.  She turned her head, still holding David’s hand and the other holding the bedrail.  He then squeezed her hand.
 Much to the surprise of doctor’s and family, David breathed on his own and maintained life.  During that time, Victoria had given birth to a son and divorced David.  Victoria debated for hours with family and friends regarding this harsh decision, but ended the marriage with a clear conscience.  Her father agreed that this would be the best decision, the best for her and Jake.  Her father always knew best. However, somewhere deep inside, deep in her heart she knew it was wrong, she knew that she should wait for David.  David would have done so for her, she knew this, and somehow, she knew that David would understand.  She knew that she could handle this situation; she just had to buck up, as her father would say to her when she was not good enough at a task, or she was not fast enough, “just buck up.”  David awoke from his coma several months after the finalization of the divorce, and the first words he uttered were, “Victoria.”
 David battled through months of therapy and several reconstructive surgeries. David battled alone, she could not bear to see him, and she could not endure the pain. She loved him, but she had to go on.  It was for the best.  She just had to “Buck up”.

 Stepping out of the taxi and into the warm morning breeze, it welcomes you as the reality of a new day has seeped into your being.  The sun’s glare blinds your vision for a moment and makes focusing on the two approaching figures even more difficult. Squinting, you realize that it is David and your son, Jake.  Jake is smiling as his hands are singing as he runs down the driveway with a look of sheer enthusiasm across his sweet face.  The day you found out that, Jake was deaf; you were at the doctors’ office with your father. Your father, with his matter of fact tone of voice, announces that this child can only be an obstacle in your life that this child would only interfere with your goal to succeed.  He recommends to you a group home for “children” like him.

Before you have time to absorb his words, his insanity, you blurt out, “Screw You.”

It was at that moment you realize that you must keep your child from this Monster.  You realize how lucky you are to have such a special child and that your father will never do to him what he did to your sister and what he tried to do to you.  Jake throws himself into your waiting arms, hugging you with one arm while signing with the other.

Vienna

 Victoria tries to remember Vienna, but as the years pass; the memories do also.  She remembers that Vienna was beautiful, perfect in every way.  Perfect until she made her father upset. Victoria was four or five when the trouble started.  Vienna would argue with their father and refuse to swim, refuse to participate in the pageants that she had attended all the years before.  Vienna was fifteen when she died; Victoria remembers the night that their father forced Vienna out into the cold darkness to battle the deep waters of the ocean.  Vienna went reluctantly into the forceful wind battling with their father the entire time.  Victoria remembers the solemn night that her father returned home, alone.  He was calm, telling his wife that during the storm he had lost sight of Vienna and that she was lost at sea.  Victoria’s father called the police and a search party was formed, but Vienna was never found.  A quiet funeral was held in Vienna’s memory and Victoria’s father told Victoria and her mother never to mention Vienna’s name again.  Vienna was never mentioned. Her belongings were stored in the basement and the door was locked.  Victoria would wonder and ask her mother questions about Vienna, always being told to “hush, your father may hear.” Thinking back, Victoria realizes that something is not right, she could never put her finger on it, but something was out of place.  Years later Victoria’s parents moved out of the family home and into a condominium Victoria went back to that place she called home, back to the secrets that the rooms held for some many years.
 

Jake’s View

 Jake swings from the tire in the tree that is in front of his fathers’ house.  The music in his head is playing over and over, the vision of his Mother swaying to the music as she sings her favorite song makes him smile. He loves to hear the music, but he loves to dance with his mother even more.  He knows all the words and he follows the beat as his mother has taught him.  “Follow me as I move my lips, read my lips,” she would tell him.  He would read her lips and follow the beat of the music by watching and moving as his mother has.  His mother would turn the music up high so that he could feel the vibration on the floor.  She would sway, dance, and tell him to follow her steps.  Through this training, Jake has been able to sing and dance with his Mother.  “She calls it ther-- py.”  Jake signs to his dad.  His dad always smiles when Jake tells stories of his Mother.
 Jake looks over at his father and sees the sad face that he makes when Mommy is gone for very long.  Daddy is looking down the road to see if mommy’s car is coming.  Jake looks down the road too, he is so excited, he has so much to tell his mother.  All about his weekend, the new video game daddy bought for him, about Grandpa and especially about the new dance, he made up just for her.  Jake jumps off the swing as he spots the yellow taxi that is turning into the driveway.  Jake knows that it is his mother.  He loves his mother, how pretty she is, the way she always smells so good. Like flowers.  He mostly just loves the way she hugs him and takes good care of him.  Like teaching him to sing and dance.  He just loves his mother.  As the taxi comes to a complete stop, Jake runs toward it; he is smiling, almost beaming as he sees his mother stepping out of the car. His heart is racing, he is so excited, so much to say to her, his arms are up in the air, his hands signing quickly, too quickly.  He has so much to say.  His hands sign and his mouth moves to shape the words.  Jake knows how much his mother loves it when he tries to speak.  He will speak for his mother today.  She will be proud.  She is always proud of Jake when he does just about anything.  Jake loves his Mother.
 

Victoria’s Nightmare


 It is cold; chilling cold.  There is something around my body; plastic; cold tight plastic.  It is damp.  Chilling damp.  I open my eyes, I cannot see.  I take a breath, I cannot breath.  I try to move, I cannot.  I can hear myself think, but I cannot speak.  Panic runs through me as I feel something being thrown on top of the plastic that enthralls me. Over and over, it is being thrown onto me, covering me, engulfing me.  I hear shoveling. I try to scream, no words come out.  “Stop, I’m in here.” I scream.  No one can hear me.  My head is whirling.  Panic stricken as more and more dirt is thrown upon my body.  “Stop, I’m alive, I’m here, Why don’t you hear me?”  I scream repeatedly.  No one hears me.  I am fully covered, I can not breath, I can not see, I can not feel.  The cold is chilling, the darkness frightens me.  I cry.  No one hears me. I think I am dead.  I cannot be dead. Not yet. Not now.  I am not ready; not done; not finished; not yet willing to go.
I scream,” Help, Help, Help”.  No one hears me. Finally, I hear a voice. A mans' voice.” Goodbye, My Perfect Little Princess.”  It is he, it is him, I scream, “Daddy, Daddy, don’t leave me here.”   “Daddy”…
 Victoria wakes screaming, soaked in her own sweat, shaking from fear.  Her screams wake David and he rushes from the living room to hold her; to stop the shaking.  “Shh….It’s all fine Victoria, it was just a dream.” He says to her, holding her closer as he pulls the covers up onto her body, to stop the shaking.  Victoria begins to calm, she focus’s and sees that she is in David’s bedroom.  Looking around, she notices that he has not changed a thing since she left him.  The canopy bed with the white eyelet bedding, the exotic wall hanging and the antique rocker that he refurbished is all still here.  She smiles and hugs David.  She looks at his handsome face, the jet-black hair and piercing blue eyes, the faint scar that runs from the edge of his mouth to the top of his cheekbone, his rugged, hard body, she knows she still loves him, all of him; yet, she is not at all ready to become his wife again.  She has too many skeletons, too much baggage, and very little sanity left.  Once she is settled in her own mind, clears up the baggage, she can try again, they can try again. She thinks, “Perhaps, this time it will work.”  She smiles. Looking over at David, she extends her hand and softly brushes his handsome face, tracing the line from the corner of his eye, down the length of his face, and to his mouth.  She leans closer into him and whispers, “I love you.”  David pulls Victoria closer, his hand on the small of her back, the other wrapped in her long auburn hair; he kisses her passionately, pressing his body into hers.  Victoria lets her self go and responds to David’s advances.  She kisses him back passionately and presses her body into his, feeling the heat as they unite as one.

(Hours later, Victoria receives a telephone call.  It is her father, her mother had been found, dead.  Victoria hangs up the phone, crying and shaken she collapse into David’s arms.)
 

The Funeral


 Thick heavy burgundy curtains hang in the windows as dark mahogany paneling drape the walls. The strong smell of flowers and incense stands heavy in the air; making one feel ill and distant from the ongoing service.  Reverend Collin’s at the pulpit, dressed in his somber funeral clothing cleared his throat in order to gather the crowds’ attention. Many of the individuals dressed in dark clothing and wiping tears from their cheeks looked toward the Reverend in anticipation of the start of the service.  Victoria looks around to see the mere handful of people gathered to pay homage to a woman she loved so dearly.

“A handful of people is all one has to show for ones life, a handful of people, perhaps curious of the circumstances surrounding the death, perhaps some who actually cared, or perhaps those looking for a piece of an inheritance”, she thought.
 
This made the entire situation even sadder for Victoria.  Her mother has died and yet a mere handful of people show up at the service.  A tear trickles down her cheek and she squeezes David’s hand for reassurance. David takes Victoria’s hand with both of his making sure the message of his sorrow would flow through his touch.  The Reverends’ voice echoes in the tiny chapel of the Funeral home.  She hears the words but somehow she does not understand them, she is floating away in another dimension, forgetting this place, forgetting this time, not wanting to face the realism of her mothers’ death. She thinks of how careful her mother was, how strong and so very careful, the news of her falling down a flight of stairs left Victoria broken and torn. So broken by the death of her mother she does not realize that her father is not present at the service.  Reverend Collins stops speaking and begins to circulate the crowd shaking hands and giving his sincere condolences.  Approaching Victoria, he extends his hand and leaning in, tells her that he must speak to her alone; the reverend’s face is serious as he tells her that it is most vital that he speaks to her soon.
 

Next Day


The clouds hover over the house as if to reflect the mood and the atmosphere of the day.  Victoria dressed in a grey suit, white blouse, matching shoes and her hair pulled back tightly as if she were an old-fashioned librarian.  The look did not suit her personality but did portray her somber serious mood.  It is the day after her mothers’ funeral and the lingering feeling of lose and abandon fill her every fiber of being.
Flashes of her mother’s face appear in the mirror as she applies her make-up.  Victoria, startled by this encounter, steps back and then realizes that she is thinking so deeply and focusing on the lose that she is actually seeing things.  Disturbed by this notion of being haunted by her mother’s memory upsets Victoria even more.  She takes Jake by the hand and proceeds to her car and to the meeting with the Reverend.  The song on the radio reminds Victoria of all the good times she has had with her son, Jake, and how much he loves to sing and dance to it.  She taps Jake on the arm and signs with one hand that “our” song is on the radio.  Jake is excited and starts to sing, “Here she comes walking down the street singing, Do Wa Diddy, Diddy Dum Diddy Do.”  Jake is off key, not in rhythm with the music at all, but the sounds are beautiful to her ears.  For the first time in days, Victoria smiles.  Victoria arrives at Reverend Collin’s home and parks her car.  She and Jake make their way to the front door when she sees that the door is ajar.  A sudden fluttering feeling in her stomach along with the rush of blood to her head makes her dizzy.  She knows something is wrong, very wrong.  She pushes the door open slightly and at that moment pushes Jake back and his eyes out of view of the bloodied body.  Victoria hears her voice, seemingly so far away when she realizes that she is screaming.  A hand touches her shoulder. She jumps and is shaking with fright.  As she turns slightly she sees that it is David.  She crumbles into his arms as he hears him saying, “It’s alright, I dialed 911”, “Take Jake and go home.” “I’ll take care of everything.”  Crying, confused and scared, she drags Jake by the hand and leads him to the car.  Driving home Victoria changes direction, she needs to find her father, she thinks.  She drives Jake to Teddy’s job and takes off to the family’s home in Sarasota.

Going Home

The drive to Sarasota is longer than she remembers.  Thoughts of hate and revenge flow through her mind.  Her knuckles whiten as her hands tighten around the steering wheel.  All she can think of is confronting her father, the Bastard that killed her Mother and murdered the reverend.  She has no idea what she is going to do but thoughts of killing him are most frequent throughout the entire ride.  Arriving at the house, she looks at the finely manicured lawn, the wrought iron gate and the magnificent bay window in the front of the house.  The light breeze blows the branches of the palm trees and the hand crafted wooden swing sits in the front yard as it always had from years before.  She approaches the grand front door, the mahogany door with its huge lion head knocker.  The memories flow through her, along with it the fear of what may lay waiting behind the door.  She knows in her heart that her father had inflicted all the evil that had come to her family for all these years, and she knows that she must stop him.
She lifts the heavy planter that is near the door and that hides the key to the house.  Placing the key into the hole, she turns it and her heart begins to beat faster, her palms sweating in anticipation. Coming back to this place and finally finding the truth that had
been hidden for so long frightens her.  It is hard for her to breath; every step she takes is a step closer, she can barely contain herself.  As she enters the huge Fourier with the crystal chandelier and hard wood floors, she thinks of the times she had come running in from outside, shoes muddied and clothing dripping wet from the rain.  She felt free when she was in the rain, running and playing as if one with nature.  She thinks of how odd it is to have only felt free in the rain.  The distraction of her thoughts makes her jump when the floor boards creek as she walks across them.  She concentrates on the reality of her mission.  She likes to call any outing, whether it is to the Super Market or to the Mall for a major sale a mission.  Her father called outings or excursions a mission.  Odd, she thinks to herself as she crosses the long hall past the formal dining room and into the kitchen.

Finding Truth in a Twisted Past

Victoria makes her way down the stairs to the basement.  She had never been down there, it was forbidden when she was a child.  The stairs creek as she descends.  At the end of the stairs, she sees for the first time the forbidden place, the place where all the secrets can finally be free.  There are several rooms; the door to the right, she discovers, is open.  Victoria slowly opens the door all the way to notice a remarkable antique desk, bookcases and pictures of airplanes on the walls.  The room looks, just as she would have imagined her father having decorated it.  She is not surprised to see the somber nature of the room; it certainly did fit her father’s personality.  She imagines him sitting behind that desk, perhaps thinking of ways to kill her mother.

Victoria thinks, “How sick is this man?  How horribly sick is he?”

 She moves toward the desk, examining the contents of the room, wishing her father were here, so she could finally confront him.  Victoria picks up the silver letter opener, it is beautiful, and the handle is of a lions head with pearls and diamonds.  Thoughts of killing him flow through her head again as she grips the letter opener tightly.  Going around to the front of the desk, Victoria sit in the finely crafted leather high back chair.  For a moment, she feels a presence, but dismisses it and contributes the feeling to nervous energy. Victoria opens the draw and discovers a sealed envelope addressed to her.  Using the letter opener she takes the letter out, she looks at it for what seems to be a long time before she opens it.  Staring at the writing, she knows the letter is from her Mother.  This is what she had been waiting for; she will find the truth in the madness that had been part of her life for so many years.  Shaking, she begins to read:
 

My Dearest Victoria:

If you are reading this letter then it is obvious that I have passed.  I need to let you know a few things so that you can go on with your life.  One is that I love you very much and that I will miss you.  I love Jake also and you need to take care of him.  The other thing is that your Father is not who you think of feel that he is.

“How could she say such things?” angry from what she is reading tears stream down her face. She puts the letter down for a moment to compose herself.
 

He loves you very much and has done every thing in his power to protect you and this family.  I was not able to let you know the truth until now. Moreover, you must believe me when I say that your father is a good man. He would have given his life for you and your sister.

She cannot understand this, this is the man who made life a living hell, and this is the man who...She reads on:
Your father works for the government and his actions toward the family has been to protect us from the backlash of his work.  I cannot possibly get into detail but everything your Father has done was to protect you.  Your sister Vienna is not dead she had been sent away to be protected.  We staged her death to protect her. You see, many years ago, your Father while on a mission in Austria came across several international spies and the direction the mission took was not pleasant.  Moreover, for this, your Father suffers and hides the truth.  His mission was to locate and destroy certain documents; along with this, an unfortunate situation occurred.  Several people were killed during this mission. The family members of those misfortunate individuals held animosity towards your Father and have vowed to seek revenge.  The outcome has been that you girls had suffered and many of our family’s horrific events were merely due to this issue.  I know that you have come to this house to find information and proof that you father had murdered me.  This is not the case.  Your father tried to save me, just as he had protected this entire family for so many years. Your Father loved me, as we loved each other. The only other loves he had was for his girls. The truth is, your father works for the CIA. Please love your father and treat him with the respect and dignity he deserves.  Now, my Dear Victoria, this is where it gets very difficult for me to tell you.

Your David is the son of the man who was killed many years before, due to your fathers hand in this mission.  Your father had no other choice and David has come into our lives, your life, for revenge. We had not known or we would have stopped the relationship years ago.  It was not until just before David’s accident.  David is working undercover, and has been for the past ten years for the Russian Quadrant that threatens world peace. He is part of a terrorist group and he has been looking for the opportunity to murder all member of this family.  David is smart; he manipulated you, and is still doing so.  His love for you may be real but his hate for your Father is stronger.

Stunned by what she is reading Victoria fails to hear the approaching footsteps.  Suddenly, she hears the floor creek and looks up.

“Daddy”, As she bolts from the chair still clutching the letter opener, Victoria rushes to her father.

Beyond the shadows, a hand shoves her father into the room.  He stumbles and falls.  Victoria gasps as she rushes to her fathers’ side. Victoria slips the letter opener into her waistband. The man in the shadows appears, laughing and waving a gun aimlessly.  Blood is pouring from her father’s head; Victoria’s head is spinning, confusion engulfs her as she reaches to hold her father.

Looking up, Victoria says, “Why David, Why?”  “Victoria you are such a fool” as he kicks Frank Lyst hard in the ribs.  “Such a fool”

Throwing his head back David laughs uncontrollably, he is rambling, “This is my Sweet Revenge Victoria, and don’t you worry, I will not kill him until he gets to look you in the eye when you die”; laughing again, he grabs Victoria by the hair, pulling hard. Her head is spinning.  David drags Victoria by the hair while telling her how he never loved her, how he used her and now she must die.  She feels the friction of the carpet against her skin. She feels numb.  Her scalp hurts bad as he drags her across the floor and throws her body against the paneled wall.  She is numb.  Frozen to all feeling.  Lost in the confusion.  She attempts to speak.  He hits her with a blunt object across the mouth; the pain shoots through her as blood trickles from her mouth.  Victoria passes out from the pain only to be woken with a hard kick to her chest.  She grabs for his leg and digs her nails into him.  David grabs her hair once again.  Pulling her up he slaps her across the face.  Victoria is angry.  She remembers the words, the words she had heard so often. The words she had loathed. The words her father spoke when she failed him.  “Buck Up”, he would say.  The words were spinning through her head, as she tasted the blood now draining into her mouth.  “Buck up” she thought as she pulled the letter opener out from her waist and plunged it into David’s groin. The shock and pain made David still.  She then pulled the letter opener out from him and thrust it deep into his chest. And twisted.  His eyes were open, open wide as if surprised.  He was surprised.  He let go of Victoria, stumbled back, grabbing at his chest, sounds gurgling from his throat, not words, sounds.  Victoria stood listless as she watched David stumble and lean up against the wall.  His eyes fixed on Victoria. He slid down the wall, it all seemed like slow motion to Victoria, much like a dream, a film.  As his hands grasped the lion head of the letter opener, he looked at Victoria, he opened his mouth, “It’s not over Bitch” as his lifeless body slumped forward and he was still.
 

A Time to Mend


(Her body drained and shaken, Victoria grabs her cell phone and frantically dials 911.  She moves towards her father slowly, looking down upon him, fearful of what she may discover.  Her hand slowly reaches for a pulse and to her amazement and delight, there is a steady pulse.)

 Holding his pale cold hand, she prays for him to recover.  Victoria feels movement in her fathers fingers and then a slight squeeze of his hand.  Joyful of this she leans down and kisses him on the cheek.  Frank Lyst opens his eyes and focusing, looks at Victoria.  The smell of the hospital brings back memories of David’s brush with death several years ago.  The memory of this angers her as she smiles at her father as to not upset him with her thoughts.  He smiles back at her, a sincere loving smile as he whispers; I love you, Victoria.  The door opens and a nurse appears with a lovely vase of white lilies.  Victoria thanks the nurse and proceeds to read the card that is attached.  Victoria feels the vase slip from her fingers as she reads out loud:

 “It’s not over Bitch.”

Her father reaches for Victoria and tells her that it is possible that it will never be over as long as David has decedents and that as long as the “Lyst” bloodline exists, the vendetta will linger on. Tears stream down Victoria’s face as she leans into her father and hugs him.

“Daddy, I will fight this, I will find all of them, I want to do what you do, I want to protect our family.”

Victoria’s father hugs her with all his strength and says:

“Victoria, we will do this together.  You and I.  We’ll protect the family.  Don’t you worry.”
 

White Lace Curtains

 Sitting at the window seat, legs bent and arms wrapped around knees, Victoria looks out onto the garden.  Its honey suckle sweet essence entwines with the scent of red and white roses.  A breeze blows lightly bringing the scent through out the entire house.  She smiles.  The white lace curtains imported from Ireland years ago blew upward and brushed at her face.  She reaches to touch the lace; the feel of the material reminds her of years before.  Before the ciaos.  She brings the material close to her face, draping the lace across her eyes.  Again, reminding her of how her life had been shaded, hidden behind the white lace curtains.
 


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