Hey there! Starting a new thread, to keep it fresh.
For those who were...confused by my two characters calm conversation, I'm posting the earlier convo between Lisa and her friend Julie. This is where Lisa first explains to Julie. Is it too long? Do I repeat myself? Does the conversation sound real? What could I add that would make the friendship between the two seem more real? As always, there is little of the five senses in here. Any suggestions of what I could put in and where?
ANd where the heck are my buddies??? We could use MORE. MORE authors, writing. THis is a darn small group!
Angie was napping. This was the best chance she was apt to get to call Julie. Making herself a cup of tea for courage, she curled up in her favorite chair before dialing.
This was not going to be an easy story to tell Julie!
“Hey, how are?” Julie answered.
“I hate Caller ID. Ruins the surprise.”
“But you know I love you! I always answer when I see your number. You’re not backing out on our plans tonight, are you?”
“Aw, come on, Lisa! I’ve been dying to talk to you! You won’t believe who I saw last night!”
“Forget it. Wanna know, meet me at Rocky’s.”
“Julie, I can’t. Honest. Come here instead.”
“To your place? Why can’t you meet me at Rocky’s? You always just want to hang out at your house!”
“Really, Jules, I have a good excuse this time.”
“You’re not sick?”
“I don’t have a babysitter.”
“You don’t even have a cat! Oscar will be fine. They’re serving free munchies from six to eight and there’s going to be a band playing on the roof. Nothing too crowded, you don’t even have to get dressed up. Stop being such a…stick in the mud!”
They both laughed at the phrase Mrs. Henner, their foster mother, had often used to describe Lisa.
“Listen, Julie, I can’t. Really. We’ll get a bottle of wine or make those raspberry Margaritas we had all last summer and sit out on the porch. You can put on any CD you want and we’ll turn it up loud, rock-the-neighbors-loud. Maybe some guys will walk by. It’ll almost feel like Rocky’s! Besides, I have company. Someone I want you to meet.”
“If you got a dog, I’ll kill you! You are going on that cruise this winter.”
“No dog,” Lisa laughed. “I promise. And I am coming on that cruise. But tonight-“
“Oh, my Goddess! Is it a guy? Do you have a guy there? Bring him! I promise, I’ll be good, no getting drunk and telling embarrassing stories!”
“No! Believe me, it’s not a guy. Boiled lobster? Corn on the cob? Margaritas, good conversation, my house? Please?”
“Fine. Okay. Whoever I’m meeting better not walk on all fours, though!”
“I promise. Six o’clock?”
“Yeah, six. I’ll get the booze. Lots of it.”
In between shopping and cooking and cleaning, she had managed to keep Angie up from her usual afternoon nap, figuring that the baby would go to bed early, and she could explain a baby’s presence in her apartment to Julie in her own time. She had scheduled her shopping trips at Angie’s naptime and had kept her awake until 5:00, when to Lisa’s horror, Angie had simply refused to stay awake another second. Now she didn’t know if Angie was taking a short nap or was planning to make this a longer stretch. She had thought to feed her at six and hope she slept until 10 or 11. Now her last bottle had been at three. Angie might wake up hungry anytime.
Julie arrived carrying more alcohol than the two of them could drink in a week. Lisa met her on the porch, and after an awkward hug around the grocery bag full of drink-making supplies, Julie asked,
“Okay, where is he? I brought enough booze to get whoever it is good and drunk.”
“I told you, it’s not a guy. And she doesn’t drink. At least, not alcohol.”
“Is your grandmother visiting?”
“No,” Lisa grinned, holding the door open, “she’s young.”
Angie lay on a big blanket in the middle of the living room, trying to catch her own waving foot.
“You’re babysitting!? Jeez, Lisa! Why didn’t you just refuse? We had plans!”
“Just put that bag in the kitchen and chill. It’s a long story.”
“It better be a long story that includes someone having an exciting Saturday night!”
But once Julie had put the bag down, she returned to the living room to stand over Angie. Within 30 seconds, she was scooping the baby into her arms, cooing softly. Lisa threw the lobsters into the boiling water and turned on the asparagus.
Julie always had been a sucker for babies. However, that wasn’t going to stop her from browbeating the truth out of Lisa.
Wandering into the kitchen, snuggling the tiny infant, Julie said, “Okay, she’s adorable. Sweet. A real love. But why the hell is she here with you? Spill. Now.”
“Okay, okay.” She turned to give Julie a big what-a-sap-I-am grin, before starting to explain. One look at her face told her that Julie expected the truth and sensed that there was trouble.
“Okay. First, though, if there’s any wine in that bag, we should each have a glass. I think I’ll need it”. How odd. I feel like a kid who’s about to get caught having done something wrong.
Sipping some Merlot and trying to crack and eat the lobster while she balanced Angie on her thighs, she told Julie what had happened, how five minutes had turned into overnight. About not being able to find the mother and not wanting to call social services.
“Have you lost your mind?!”
“I couldn’t just dump her off!”
“Oh, yes, you could’ve! I would’ve. Any normal person would! Hand me the baby,” said Julie, swallowing the last of her dinner. “I’ll hold her, you eat.”
“She needs to be changed.”
“Oh, joy. Then I’ll change her. Does she have jammies? I’ll get her ready for bed.”
“She needs a bath.”
“Lisa! I’ll wash her off good. I’ll change her, burp her, walk her. Whatever! Shut up and eat! As soon as she’s asleep, you and I need to talk.”
While Julie put Angie to sleep, Lisa finished her dinner and did the dishes. The instant the baby was asleep, Julie grabbed her purse, motioned to Lisa and headed out to sit on the porch, so tiny the two chairs bumped each other.
Julie fished around in her purse, pulling out a small tin box of mints and a lighter. She opened the tin, pulled out a joint and lit it. Julie scowled at Lisa as she passed her the joint. They smoked half of it before she spoke.
“I want to know everything you know. What do you know about the mother? Why haven’t you called the cops? What are you going to do Monday morning if she’s not back? Are you sure giving the baby back is the right thing to do? Some people shouldn’t have children, that’s why they have foster homes.”
Lisa took a long drag and held her breath for a minute, then slowly released it.
“I don’t know anything about the mother. She needed a bath, her jeans looked like they hadn’t been washed since she’d had the baby. She looked young, really young. Maybe 16. Maybe younger. She seemed to be alone.
“I thought about calling the cops. I’m still thinking about it. I guess, Monday morning, if she’s still not back, I’ll have to call someone.”
“What did your parents say?”
“I haven’t told them yet.”
Julie gave Lisa a sharp look. “Why not?”
“Because I’ve been busy, and because I already know what they’ll say.”
“That you need to make a call?”
They passed the joint in silence for a few minutes, then, in a quiet voice, Julie said, “Maybe they’d be right.”
“Maybe. It sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to do, doesn’t it? If it weren’t for knowing what happens, how long a kid can be in foster care, how scary it is.” Lisa stopped talking. Peering through the twilight to see her friend, Julie saw the tears coursing down her face. “How many homes? How many mothers? I had 47 brother and sisters before I was adopted. Forty-seven! You had at least that many, right? And never got adopted!
“No one else is going to understand this. You’re the only one. I’ve known you longer than my parents! Maybe her mother could leave her. Maybe mine could leave me and yours could leave you. But, I can’t do it. Even if it’s the right thing to do. Not yet.”
They sat quietly while Julie thought this over.
“Lisa, I’ve known you since we were 11 years old. You’ve always been a sucker for anyone with a sob story and until you moved here you brought home more stray cats and dogs and injured birds than anyone I know. Your poor parents thought they were running an animal shelter! But this is someone’s baby. Even if the mother didn’t want her, what about grandparents or the father? What if they come looking for her 2 or 3 months from now?
“Going to the cops sounds like a bad idea, but not going to the cops sounds like an even worse one! Getting caught keeping this baby and not even reporting what happened must be a crime!
“I only see two choices. Call the cops and deal with it. Or keep the baby and don’t tell. But you can’t really keep the baby. You aren’t married, don’t even have a steady boyfriend! Your neighbors will get suspicious. You’ll get caught or always live in fear of getting caught. Think! You need a lawyer. You need to talk to your parents.”
Lisa took a hit and blew the smoke out slowly. She knew that Julie was right, she couldn’t just keep Angie, she didn’t really even want to keep her, to be a single parent, to always be looking over her shoulder waiting for the real mother to show up.
But if she called the cops what would happen? She’d have to deal with whatever trouble she might be in, Angie would go to a foster home. And if the authorities found Angie’s mother, they might just give her back.
But then, where should the baby go? To a home with two parents would be great, people who would love and care for her. But how did someone go about finding a home when they weren’t even the parent?
They sat out on the porch for another few hours, until the breeze from the ocean got too cold, then they moved back into the living room. Every time Lisa tried to talk to Julie about what she might do, Julie shook her head and said, “I already told you. Call the cops.” At one point, she got up and handed Lisa the phone. By midnight, they were both frustrated and irritated with each other. They put their wine glasses in the sink, and Lisa pulled out the couch.
At 2 a.m., as always, Angie woke. Lisa got up, picked up Angie and headed to the kitchen. To try to keep from bothering Julie she took Angie into her bedroom and fed her there. When the colic started she began her nightly walking, back and forth, singing softly.
Angie’s fussing and Lisa’s soft murmurings awakened Julie. She knocked gently on the closed bedroom door, and pushed it open.
“Need help?” asked Julie.
“Colic,” was the one word answer.
Julie used the bathroom and disappeared; Lisa supposed she’d gone back to bed. Ten minutes later Julie was back, with a sheaf of papers in her hand.
“Looked up colic on-line. Printed off what they said.” Julie yawned. “Try switching formulas, could be a cow’s milk allergy. Oh yeah, all the sites said to check with your pediatrician. You might want to think about how you’re going to do that. Good night.” Julie staggered back to bed.
In the morning, over coffee and cheese Danish, Julie tried one more time.
“So, what’s the plan, Lees?”
“I’m not sure. I can’t just call the cops or social services.” She held up her hand to stop Julie’s immediate reply. “Listen for a minute. Calling the cops is scary. I don’t want to go to jail for…is this kidnapping? And I don’t want Angie to just get dropped off like we did.”
“Then what are you going to do?”
“What if I kept her for a week or two? Keep searching for her mother, find her family? Maybe she does have a grandmother or an aunt who would take her. Maybe her mother is scared enough to have wised-up.”
“Maybe not. What if no relative comes along? Or her mother comes back and clearly isn’t going to straighten up?”
“Well, that’s the part I haven’t figured out yet. I guess then I’d have to go to social services or the cops, but I’d have time to get a lawyer first.”
“You’re kidding yourself, Lees! You’ll just be more involved, more attached. It’s going to get harder, not easier!”
“I know you’re right. But I can’t live with myself if I don’t at least try. One home, with one inexperienced ‘foster’ mother is better than 3 or 4, while they look for her mother, or a more permanent home. At least I really care about her.”
“And I really care about you. I think the sooner you go to the authorities, the easier they’ll be on you.”
“I can’t yet. I need someone in my corner Julie. I need someone to talk to about this. You’re the only one who understands-“
“Oh, no I don’t!”
“You know what I mean. You understand me, even if you don’t understand why I feel I need to do this.”
Julie put up a hand to stop her from continuing.
“Obviously, you’re going to do what you want. You’re right, I do understand your point, even though I think you’re wrong. You need to talk to your parents. You’re lucky to have parents!”
Julie shot her a look of disgust.
“I’m going to see you in a few weeks, we have that pool party to go to, remember? By then, ‘Angie’ needs to be…wherever it is she should be. Got it?”
“Good, now, how about a walk on the beach before I head home?”
Lisa had a hard time sleeping that night. She kept dreaming about answering the phone, hearing Angie’s mother on the other end. In one dream, Angie’s mother showed up at her door with the cops and had her arrested. In another, the woman took Angie from her and went home. Later, Lisa saw them in the store. Angie was lying on the bottom of the shopping cart, screaming, surrounded by open packages of gum.