My First - Jason & Katie(2)

By: Melanie Shawn

“The flight was fine. I am on my way, and I will be there in twenty minutes, Sophiebell. I can’t wait to see you, too!”

“Okay, hurry,” Sophie pleaded, but then followed it up with the command, “but drive safe!”

“I will. See you soon, doll!” Katie tried to cover the stress in her voice with ebullience as she said goodbye and hung up the phone.

It’s 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, she told herself, repeating the mental math to herself. My return flight to California is at 7:00 p.m. Sunday night. All I have to do is get through the next four days (preferably without having a nervous breakdown!) and then I can wing my way back to my lovely, safe, predictable life in San Francisco.

Let the countdown begin.

It had been ten long years since Katie Marie Lawson had set foot in Harper’s Crossing, the town of her childhood and her youth, the town that was in many ways responsible for making her the person she was today. It was definitely rife with memories, both beautiful and dangerous.

There were so many things about Harper’s Crossing that Katie had buried deep inside, and sometimes she wondered if she had buried the good along with the bad. She could already feel the effervescent rising of those memories to the surface, and she worried about what would happen if only the dangerous memories came up, with none of the beauty to temper it.

But, she had to keep reminding herself, this weekend wasn’t about her, it was about little Miss Sophie Hunter, who was getting married to Bobby Sloan, Jr. the youngest of the five Sloan boys. Sophie had called her, ecstatic, three months earlier to announce her engagement to Bobby and to ask Katie to be her maid of honor.

Katie breathed out a sigh as she pulled back onto the highway. Nothing short of the apocalypse or her beloved Sophiebell’s wedding (the two events which anchored the opposite sides of the ‘cosmic scale of awful to wonderful possible events’ in Katie’s mind) could have brought her back to the apparently panic attack inducing town that had raised her.

Sophie (or ‘Sophiebell’ as Katie had called her since Sophie was six and decided that she was Tinker Bell) was the closest thing Katie had to a sister.

Katie was an only child. She and her mom, Pam, had gone to live with her Aunt Wendy in Harper’s Crossing when Katie was four, immediately after her parents divorced.

Craig, Katie’s dad, had come to visit his daughter exactly one time since she moved to Harper’s Crossing. It was one month after she and her mom had arrived that Craig had taken Katie to Tasty Treats for a double scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

He had talked about how much he loved her and assured her that the divorce and the move had nothing to do with her. He had also promised to see her once a month…suffice it to say, he didn’t keep that promise.

Katie had not seen her father since that cold October Saturday, 24 years ago.

Growing up, she had always just assumed that he had stayed away because he and Aunt Wendy “did not see eye to eye” as Katie’s mom always said (although, now, as an adult, she was leaning toward the theory that it was because he was a shitheel).

Honestly, if Katie’s memory served, she hadn’t really seen a lot of her dad even when he and her mom were still together. It had seemed to Katie that ‘pre-divorce’ it was just Katie and her mom and then ‘post-divorce’ it was Aunt Wendy, Mom and Katie.

She never really missed her dad. Sometimes she would miss her idea of what having a dad in her life would be like. But never the man who had fathered her, she really never knew that man, and what she had known, had been unpredictable. Promising to come visit her once a month and then never showing hide nor hair of himself ever again really just seemed par for the course where he was concerned. It was just the last in a long line of broken promises that had characterized their father-daughter relationship, and – even at four years old – Katie didn’t remember being terribly surprised when the months rolled around and he didn’t.

She had always credited the fact that she didn’t miss him terribly to how full her life had been, how utterly surrounded she was by people who loved her. Although she would sometimes get lonely in Aunt Wendy’s house. Aunt Wendy had a full time job and Katie’s mom usually held down two jobs just to make ends meet, so there was a lot of time that Katie was alone with her just her imagination and books to keep her occupied.

But, oh boy, how that had changed the summer before Katie’s 7th grade year!

That was the summer that Sophie Hunter (AKA Miss Sophiebell) had moved into the house next door to Aunt Wendy. And right away – literally, Katie thought, starting immediately on moving day – Sophie had become Katie’s shadow. Not that she minded or anything! Katie loved finally having someone, anyone other than a doll, to dress up and play tea party with.

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