Our Own Pastoral

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OUR OWN PASTORAL

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Forbidden love in three acts

All characters are of majority at the time the sex takes place.

ACT I — The Stranger

I was seven when my mother died of complications from a fall she suffered while we were hiking the Appalachian Trail. I was devastated and thought my world was ending. My father had been killed during the last days of Desert Storm, a few months before I was born, and as I was an only child of a single parent who herself was an orphan; I stood at the abyss at a far too early age.

The Park Rangers and the hospital staff were sympathetic and helpful. They got in touch with a Deacon from my mother’s church that in turn got lawyers involved and within a week, I was staying in the Deacon’s home with his family while preparations were finalized for a funeral.

After the funeral I sat on the living room couch of my hosts while they spoke quietly with a man in a suit. After about twenty minutes, they came in from the kitchen table and introduced me to the man.

He told me he was a lawyer, and that my mother had retained his firm to be the temporary executor for her estate back when she first moved to our town. Though it sounds lofty, it was just a life insurance policy and a will that named a woman I’d never heard of as the real executor of my mother’s affairs and possibly, if she agreed, the aforementioned woman was to become my guardian. The lawyer told me he’d sent papers and a letter from my mother to the woman, using overnight mail, though he’d not yet heard back from her. But who was she?

After the lawyer and the ladies from the church who’d attended the service left, I went into the room the family had made available to me and cried myself to sleep. I’d never felt more alone in my short life, profoundly alone.

Two days later a cab pulled up in front of the Deacon’s home. A tall man, who walked with a slight limp, got out of one side, paid the driver, and came around to the curbside. He opened the door and stepped back to allow one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen get out. They walked up to the porch together. Five minutes later the lawyer returned.

The Deacon and his wife, the Pastor from the church, the lawyer, and the man and woman from the cab, talked for an hour. Papers were taken out of folders and passed around the table to be read. I sat in the living room with the Deacon’s two children, watching to see what would happen. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the two people who’d arrived in the cab. Though I couldn’t be sure, I thought the two strangers had tears in their eyes.

After few moments when everyone was quiet, the man spoke one word: “Okay!”

The Deacon’s wife came to get me and brought me to the dining room table where all the other adults were still seated.

As I approached, the man stood, and offered me his chair.

Once I was seated, the lawyer spoke.

“Meagan,” he said, calling me by my more formal name. Most everyone called me Meg, but by being formal, I knew he was about to say something important.

“Meagan,” he repeated. “Your mother left very specific instructions for you that, because of your age, we want to honor. If you were older, we’d be more open to other options. But you’re not, so I’d like you to know, everyone at this table is in agreement as to what the best course is for you.”

“May I,” the beautiful stranger interrupted, turning to face me and not waiting for permission.

“Meagan, my name is Andrea. A few years ago, my brother met your mother and, in a very short time, they fell in love. But he was called to war and killed in battle. Or so we thought.”

“I didn’t know your mother,” she went on. “As I was in Europe going to school, I only knew my brother was killed and that I was needed at home.”

I looked around the table. Everyone was quiet and focused on what Andrea was telling me.

“We had no knowledge of your mother or of the time she and my brother had spent together before he went to war. After a friend of my brothers told your mother of the tragic events in Iraq, your mother moved back here where she bore and raised you. After the friend thought my brother had died, he stopped contact with our family.”

She paused to allow me to take in this information.

“As she was heartbroken over her loss,” she continued, “over the past seven years your mother never once called back to our town to stay in contact with any of my brother’s old friends. In fact, none of us knew where she was from, so we were unable to contact her. And believe me, we wanted to reach her.”

The man with Andrea reached out and put his hand over her own hand.

“Yesterday, we received a package and a letter from your mother’s lawyer. There were copies of documents, official papers so to speak, and a letter explaining the circumstances surrounding the passing of your mother. We came immediately.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Though there was not time for your mother to marry my brother before he shipped out, your mother knew that biologically, I’m your aunt. Also, because she had no family bostancı escort bayan of her own, she knew that if something happened to her, the only possibility for you to have a family was to see if I’d be okay with acting as your guardian until you reach majority.”

“What’s majority?”

“Sorry. Until you’re 18.”

“Are you going to guard me?”

“No honey, not by myself. You see, there’s more to the story you need to know.”

“What?”

“Meagan, this is my brother; the man your mother loved. As it turns out, he was not killed in battle. He was only wounded. Meagan dear, I want you to meet your father.”

I didn’t understand at first. My father was killed before I was born, or so I was told. This man was alive. I guess the shock of the past weeks events or my young mind couldn’t grasp what was being told to me. I got agitated and started to cry.

The Deacon’s wife got up from her chair, picked me up and carried me into the living room and sat us both down on the sofa. I lay with my head in her lap until I stopped crying. I was terribly confused and very frightened.

After a few minutes, the man with the limp came in from the other room and very awkwardly kneeled before me. I could tell he was experiencing discomfort.

I looked in his eyes and saw they were tearing up, so I reached my hand out and watched as he grasped it in his own and brought it to his face and just held it there for a minute before releasing it. Then he spoke.

“Meagan. I’m your father. My name is James. I want to ask you if you’ll come to live with my sister and me. It’s what your mother wanted for you.”

“How do you know that?”

“She wrote Andrea a letter. In the letter she asked, if the day ever came when she couldn’t care for you, or if something happened, then she wanted Andrea to be your guardian.”

“Why just Andrea?”

“Because she thought I had died.”

“Can I see the letter?”

“Of course,” he said, turning to the pretty lady at the table. “Andrea, please bring Meagan the letter.”

Andrea brought the letter in from the other room and handed it to me. It was handwritten in cursive, so I had a bit of trouble reading it.

“Will you read it to me? Please.”

“I will,” James answered, taking the letter from me. He began…

Dear Andrea.

We don’t know each other, but if we’d met, I’m sure I would like you an awful lot. I can say that because your brother James and I were in love and hoped to be married when he came back from his tour in Iraq. Your brother’s quiet, generous nature endeared me to him the moment we met. He often said he’d had a great upbringing, and if his character was testament to his early family life, then I’m sure you are cut from the same cloth. It’s why I’m writing you at this time.

The day I received a call from Jerry Smith telling me of James’ death, was the best day and the worst day of my life. You see, earlier in the day, I’d used a pregnancy test to find out if I was late because I’d become pregnant while James and I were together. I was.

I have the most beautiful five year old child you can imagine (I named her Meagan after your mother’s middle name). She’s strong, curious, and quiet, like James was quiet. She wants to know everything, and answering her daily avalanche of questions is one of the great pleasures of my life.

I know you’re wondering if I am authentic or if somehow I am trying to trick you. I’m not. James was the only man I’d ever been with. He’s the father. Also, I’ve taken out a life insurance policy in case something happens that takes me from my beloved daughter. I’ve had a lawyer put the potential proceeds into a trust to help pay the expenses a guardian will incur if that person or family needs extra funds. There’s also plenty left for her college expenses, should she decide to go on to further her education. The remaining balance of the money becomes hers when she graduates high school and there’s no restriction on how she will use it. I trust her good character is already set.

If you’re reading this letter, something has happened to me causing the lawyer to forward it to you. You may be angry at me for keeping knowledge of your niece from you. I understand. I will try to explain.

I’m an orphan. As such, I’m uncertain of how a family is supposed to deal with tragedy. I admit, I did not handle the death of James well at all. I’m not certain what I would have done with myself, or to myself for that matter, had I not been pregnant.

I also understand this letter may be the most unfair intrusion into your own life as possible. However, I promise you, once you know my little Meagan; you’ll see the part of her that she most assuredly inherited from your brother. Please, please, give her a chance.

I cannot say more. I don’t know you. But if you’re like your brother was, you’ll know what to do. I offer my most heartfelt apology.

My sincerest regards,

After James read the letter, there was more conversation amongst the people in the other room. It seemed no one knew quite what to say or do. ümraniye escort Andrea eased everyone’s mind when she sat on the couch next to me.

She told me she and my father were going to stay in town for as long as it took for me to grieve and to adjust to the new circumstances. She asked the Deacon and his wife, if they were okay with me staying a bit longer. They were.

For the next few weeks, they came every morning, and stayed until I went to bed every night. I gradually grew to know them and became more comfortable with having them around.

At night I would cry. But, in the mornings, I slowly began to look forward to their arrival.

After a few weeks, Andrea asked if she could take me to my mother’s grave. She said she wanted to meet her. She, James and I went one afternoon, just after it had rained. I stayed strong and didn’t cry until Andrea spoke.

“We’ve come to meet you,” she said. “I say we, because the man standing next to me is my brother James. He was not killed, he was only wounded, but it was severe enough that he was in a coma and that the time it took for him to recover allowed you to slip through the cracks of both his and our own knowledge of your whereabouts.” She went on.

“When he was sufficiently recovered to be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, he came back to the States. When he was stronger, he asked me to search for you to let you know he was alive. I did, but to no avail. And now, this.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t get to know you. Your daughter, the members of your church, not to mention my brother, all spoke with the utmost respect of the way you conducted your life. I’m beginning to see what an influence you had on Meagan. She’s very strong.”

“I speak for both James and myself. We make a promise to you. We will do the best we can with your daughter. Trust that. The best we can.” She paused for a minute.

“We will guide her to make good choices in life. We’ll remind her of you as often as we can, and though we don’t live in this state, we’ll visit you twice each year; On Meagan’s birthday, and on the day that would have been your own birthday, should you still be with us.”

Two days later, we left to start our life as a family.

For the next seven years, we lived together in the city where my mother met James. He and Andrea owned a very large apartment in the city which they inherited from their own parents who had died a year or two after James returned from Iraq. His mother died of cancer. His father was killed in a car wreck. Both James and Andrea said, it was really because his heart was so badly broken, he didn’t want to go on.

Neither James nor Andrea dated. I came to realize they were very wealthy as neither worked, but they were always busy with projects.

Andrea owned and managed three large empty lots, she’d turned into a communal garden, at the edge of the city within which she allowed people to use to plant vegetables. There were also fruit trees.

When I asked her why she wanted people to grow food, when they could just buy it at the grocers, she said the food from the garden was better because it ripened properly and didn’t have to travel far to be consumed. It was my first experience with agriculture.

James, counseled veterans, helping get them medical care, jobs, housing and working to direct them to the proper agencies to get their various needs met.

In the evening, we always ate dinner together. When I turned ten, they let me start helping in the kitchen. I learned from them, a great reverence for food and the many ways it can be prepared to be both healthy and delicious. By the time I was eleven, they let me choose the menu and do all the cooking for one or the other’s birthday dinner.

After dinner, we would each speak of our days activities. They would ask me questions about school and one or the other of them often sat with me while I did my homework.

I began piano lessons and joined a dance company to learn ballet. Both Andrea and James came to every recital, no matter how insignificant I thought it might be. They were my patrons, my fans, and some times, the only members of the audience. But I loved how they doted on me.

When I first got my period, Andrea consoled me. Though I knew about the menstrual cycle from school, the reality of how messy it first seemed freaked me out a bit. Andrea showed me the various ways I could wear a pad, and how I could keep my self from feeling unclean. She told me that the old attitudes about bodily functions change when societies mature and both gain and share knowledge about such things.

In my 14th year two things happened that made me aware of the wide range of choices when it comes to human sexuality.

First, my school had a mandatory sex-ed class that lasted one hour each week over half the school year. It was remarkable how curious I became.

I was too shy to ask James any questions, but I bombarded Andrea with everything I learned in class, and of course I had questions about the stuff my classmates talked about with certainty.

“Andrea,” I asked one day. kartal escort “Did you ever have sex?”

“Lord Almighty, Meg (by now she was calling me by the shorter version of my name), what on earth possessed you to ask that?”

“It’s just at school you see, some of the girls…”

“Now hold it right there young lady. First off, I’m not one of the girls at school. For everyone, sex, of any kind, is a very personal thing. You just can’t up and ask someone a question about their sex life willy-nilly, now can you?”

“I’m sorry. It’s just all so new to me, I thought…”

“You thought wrong in this case. For another thing, I think a conversation like this really should take place around your 18th birthday. Sex is, and should be, for adults. Capiche?”

“Capiche.”

And that was that, except for the second thing that happened that year.

I was beaten and nearly raped.

ACT II — The Hero

It happened after my ballet class.

“Hi, what’s up?”

“Meg, I had a flat. It’s being fixed now. I should be there in about 15 minutes.”

It was James. He picked me up on Thursdays after he left his office.

“Don’t worry. I’ll go to the deli on 5th. I can buy some meats and cheeses for the weekend’s picnic.”

“Honey, I’d prefer that you wait at the school. I don’t like the neighborhood.”

“I’ll be okay. It’s only three blocks.”

“Okay. But stay in the Deli and wait for me.”

“I will. But hurry or I’ll eat all the food they have. I’m starved.”

“I’ll hurry,” he said, laughing as he rang off.

I don’t know where he came from, but in the last block before the deli, a man pushed me from behind and knocked me into the alley. I was dazed, but somehow knew I was in serious trouble. As I pushed up off the ground to my knees, I reached in my pocket and auto dialed James’ phone just as I saw the man pull a knife and lunge at me.

I moved quickly, but he stood between me and the street. I was stuck.

“What do you want?”

“On your knees slut.”

“Please mister, let me go.”

“I said on your knees,” he repeated, taking a step closer to me and knocking me on the side of the head with the handle of the knife.

I fell back to the ground, and nearly blacked out. Then he kicked me in the ribs and reached down and grabbed my shirt, ripping it away, exposing me.

“Now, are you going to be a good girl and do what I say?”

“I…”

I never got a chance to answer because he kicked me in the jaw and I blacked out.

In court, my father testified that he heard the man threatening me over his phone as the connection had been made. He said he parked in the middle of the street, jumped out of his car when he saw the man in the alley, and hollered at him to stop.

My father rushed the man who stabbed him in the chest. But my father was in such a rage, he flipped the man over and with a maneuver he’d learned in the military, snapped his neck, before he too passed out.

When I awakened and saw my father bleeding, I crawled over to him and realized he lay on top of my dead assailant. I quickly called 911 at about the same time a woman walking by on the street saw us and rushed into the alley to see if she could help.

“I’m okay,” I said, over and over. “Help my Daddy. He’s been stabbed. Please. Help him.”

That’s all I remember saying before I passed out again. I’d sustained a serious concussion.

Both Daddy and I were in the same suite at the hospital. Andrea never left our sides. After four days we were discharged and went home.

As it turned out, the man was an off duty policeman. He’d a history of violence, of roughing up people he’d arrested, especially prostitutes, but because he was the cousin of some city council person, a Grand Jury was convened. For two weeks we stayed shut in our apartment, waiting to see what would happen.

No charges were filed once all the facts of the event were verified. Because of my age, I was not asked to testify. At the time, I was very grateful for that aspect of the whole traumatic incident. That and the fact my father was going to be okay.

Two days after the Grand Jury declined to indict, we were on our way to Europe. I still had a bit of a black eye, but I bought some really big sunglasses for the trip.

“You called him Daddy,” Andrea said as we were half way across the Atlantic.

“I did, didn’t I?”

“Not just once either. You’ve not called him James since the attack.”

“He is my Daddy.”

“Are you regressing?”

“What does that mean, exactly?”

“Daddy is a term little girls use for their fathers.”

“Oh. Maybe. I hadn’t thought about it. But he came to my rescue and it cost him dearly. He’s not only my Dad…, I mean father, he’s my hero.”

“How so?”

“He was there to defend me when I couldn’t defend myself.”

“Don’t fawn over him.”

“Why not?”

“Because he’s very vulnerable right now.”

“Vulnerable?”

“Yes. Here’s why.”

I leaned closer to hear. I didn’t want to miss anything.

“If circumstances would have worked out differently, he might have lost you. Remember, he already lost your mother. Also, and please try to understand this as best you can, since he woke from the coma all those years ago, when he’s at his most reflective, he tells me how much he hates violence.”

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