HI STEVE & HELEN,
ON OUR BALCONY OVER-
LOOKING LAKE COMO. POS-
ITIVELY BEAUTIFUL! WE LOVED ITALY – EVERY PART OF IT! HAVE LEARNED
TO DRIVE ITALIAN STYLE –
GOD HELP ME WHEN (OK IF) I GET HOME.
SWITZER. TOMORROW. IT'S BEEN A FABULOUS TRIP WITH MANY "HAIR RAISING EXPERIENCES.
SEE YOU SOON, Louise
Helen read over the postcard, turned it over, looked at the picture, and had two questions:
Is the water really that blue in Italy? and Who is "our"? Who is Helen with??
"You're looking pretty puzzled about that postcard," Steve said from across the room. He was standing in the kitchen over one of the marble-top counters, cutting carrots for the salad he was making for dinner. "Is there something wrong with Louise?"
Helen shook her head. "No – at least, I don't think so. I'm not sure." She stood up from the dinner table, the postcard between her thumb and index finger, flapping it up and down. "She's having a great time in Italy."
"Well, that doesn't sound like something to be puzzled over," Steve said as he finished the last of the carrots, "what are you thinking?"
With a sigh, she looked at the postcard again, and replied, "I think she's met someone in Italy, but she didn't say who, or if this person was an acquaintance or new love interest or what."
"Maybe a new love interest for her could be good," Steve suggested, sweeping all of the cut carrot pieces off the cutting board and into the salad bowl, "I mean, after the divorce, and losing the custody battle for the kids…"
"Yeah, and the divorce and losing the custody battle was literally only like a month ago!" Helen said, "and then she got her passport, and flew out of the country to who knows where, leaving all of her messy problems behind!"
It was Steve's turn to sigh as he took the glass salad bowl, and made his way to the refrigerator. Opening the door, he replied, "Helen, honey, you're going to have to accept the fact that your sister is an adult, and can handle her life the way she wants to, no matter how messy it is."
Helen walked toward the fridge behind Steve, reaching over him to place the postcard against the white surface, and secure it with two magnets. "But Steve, her kids. They're wondering where she is! And we can't just keep making excuses for her, she needs to come home. They need their mother."
After putting the postcard up, she resumed her place at the dinner table, flopping into her chair, and continuing, "And their mother only. Louise doesn't need to be bringing a new man into their lives this early!"
Steve closed the fridge and looked at Helen with a smile. "You don't even know if she's with a man right now. And if she is, that's her right; it's her life, and you as the older sister just need to be there for her, and support her as she is dealing with a lot of major changes."
Helen looked away from Steve toward their glass porch window, crossing her arms. He was supposed to be on her side, agreeing that Louise needed to calm down, come back to the States, and take care of business. She was almost thirty-years-old, but you wouldn't be able to tell that with all of the irrational decisions she'd been making since her divorce from her husband Kevin.
Louise acted as if it wasn't that big of a deal to her; she knew that if she and Kevin were to divorce, there'd be no way that the judge would allow their kids to live with her. She had no job because Kevin was the household provider, and the only money she had was from a savings account that her parents had provided for her, and put money in for her until she graduated high school.
After the divorce, Louise moved back in with her parents, and started looking for work, thinking that maybe having a job would help her in the case to keep her children. But without her own living situation to keep them in, and no jobs getting back to her, the judge ruled in favor of Kevin.
It was like the final straw for Louise. She packed her bags and left, and didn't tell anyone where she was going. It was only recently that she began sending postcards to Helen from different places – first different states in the country, now more recently cities in different countries. She'd left a five- and three-year-old behind to travel the world for who knows long with Lord knows who, and Helen couldn't stand to think about her sister's poor choices.
The warmth of her husband's hands against her arms startled her, and she turned to face him as he knelt down to kiss the top of her head.
"I know you're worried," he said, "about Louise, about her kids, about her life. But worrying about it all won't bring her back. It won't strike wisdom into her. All you can do is love her through this."
"How am I supposed to love her through this if I can't even write her back, Steve?" Helen asked in frustration.
Suddenly the doorbell rang, causing Helen to sigh again. "It's the girls with Mom and Dad," she explained, "Mom called and asked if they could spend a few nights here to give them a little break."
As Helen got up to go to the door, Steve simply stared after her with concern. It had been a couple of months since everything with Louise began, and as much as he wanted to be strong for Helen, it was also wearing on him as well. Helen was so worried about her sister and her nieces that she could barely do anything around the house anymore. Thankfully, she still found the motivation to go to work, but as soon as she got home, she wasn't the person she used to be.
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of arguing at the front door. He stood up from his chair and made his way to the foyer, where he saw Helen…and Louise. With a man by her side. He was a Hispanic man, almost shorter than Louise. His jet black hair was slicked back, and he look terrified hearing the sisters argue.
"What do you mean you married him, Louise?!" Helen was yelling at her.
"I mean what I said, Helen!" Louise yelled back, "we're married, and I'm back to get my life together, and to get my kids back!"
Steven came behind Helen, and placed his hands back on the sides of her arms. He didn't dare try to input his opinion on the matter.
"Does he even speak English?!" Helen asked incredulously.
Louise scoffed. "Well how racist is that? Just listen to yourself, Helen! Yes, he speaks English. It may not be that great, but he can understand it well enough!"
Helen crossed her arms and asked, "What are Amber and Ashley going to think? Did you even consider them before going off and marrying someone they didn't know? Someone you don't really know? Have you even gone over to Mom and Dad's to tell them any of this?"
Louise stepped back from the front door, defeated. She even put both of her hands up.
"You know what, I thought of all people, you'd understand, Helen," she said, "I thought, surely, as my sister, you'd understand the pain I was going through, and understand that I needed to go out there and find myself. I thought you'd be happy to see that I'd found someone who loved me for me, and who was willing to be by my side as I try to fix my messed up life. But I guess not."
Helen was unfazed. "You still didn't answer my question, Louise. Which tells me, you haven't told Mom or Dad. Or your kids that they have a new stepfather."
Helen turned towards Steve, biting her lip, then running her fingers through her short blonde hair before letting out another one of those sighs. Her fingers ended up covering her eyes after going through her hair.
"I'm assuming you want me to talk to them?" Helen asked, her eyes still covered, as if she couldn't bear to look at Louise and her new husband.
Louise looked a little shocked, but quickly regained her composure. "I mean…Helen, you don't have to do that…"
Another sigh, and Helen freed her eyes from her hands. Blinking a few times, she said, "They're supposed to be here any minute now, Louise. I'm sorry, but I can't get you out of this one. You and – your husband are welcome to come inside to wait until they get here. But once they do, you'll have a lot of explaining to do."
Helen then stepped aside, cuing Steve to also step aside, allowing Louise and her husband inside. As they stepped inside, Helen saw her parents' black Escalade driving down their street towards their home.
"Well," Helen whispered to Steve, "this should be interesting."
💙 Mishy 🦋