HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ME?
When leaves started changing color from green to yellow, it was clear that the summer was over.
One October morning, David decided to spend some time with his daughter. The Autumn festival arrived in town the last week, so he thought that taking Elisabeth there could be fun. He placed Lizzie, as Kate used to call her, in the stroller and headed towards the festival grounds.
When they arrived at the festival grounds, nobody was around. David looked at his watch, it was showing only 8.35 AM.
“Hmm, maybe we’re too early, Liz,” he said to his daughter, but she probably didn’t pay attention, because she was attracted to the colorful balloons.
“Bloo, bloo,” said Elisabeth as she stretched to reach one of the balloons.
“It’s baloon, Liz, say baloon,” corrected her David.
“Baloon? Baloon! Baloon!”
David let Lizzie out of the stroller.
By now, Elisabeth already knew how to walk. Although she wasn’t completely sure about her steps, it didn’t stop her from discovering her surroundings. David wasn’t the one who was constantly behind his daughter. He always thought that letting the kids learn new things alone was for their best. Kate wouldn’t have probably let Elisabeth out here, she would be afraid that Lizzie could accidentally fall into the pond or walk towards the road, some wild animal could harm her or someone could do something to her and so on… The reasons would be indefinite.
When Elisabeth walked towards the haunted house, David looked in her direction just in time. He didn’t mind letting her walk around, but the ghosts and other spooky creatures could leave a bad imprint in Elisabeth’s memory. He walked to get her before she could enter inside.
“Here you are, you little adventurer!”
At first, Elisabeth giggled, but when she understood she wasn’t going to go inside, she started crying.
“Come on, Liz, Daddy will buy you something sweet, ok?”
“Naa, naahaah!” Elisabeth protested.
David felt bad prohibiting something to his little girl, but he knew he couldn’t let her in neither with him accompanying her. He would probably get scared more than her anyway… And he couldn’t let her know her dad wasn’t the brave one.
David has put Elisabeth down on the ground so he could get her the promised treat. She seemed to calm down a little, or she was just too concentrated on the treasures hidden deep inside her nose. David gave her a small chocolate cookie and picked her up from the ground.
But as soon as there was no cookie anymore, Elisabeth started crying again.
“Liz!” called David at her, because he started to get annoyed. She looked at him, stopped for a moment but then she started crying again, even louder this time. After a while, when Elisabeth was at her loudest, someone called at David from the distance. It was Kate’s friend, George O’Connor. David remembered him from Kate’s birthday party so he went to say hello.
“Hey, George… it’s been a while!”
“Yes, two years, if I’m not wrong,” smiled George.
“Oh, really?” wondered David.
“And who is this little lady?” asked George as he looked at Elisabeth.
“This is Elisabeth,” said David.
“Elisabeth? Oh, right, right! She grows up so fast! I haven’t recognized her, because I remember her as a small baby,” said George to David and smiled at Elisabeth.
“Yes, she does. It was her first birthday in May,” smiled David.
“So she’s only one year old? She has a lot of hair for her age.”
“Well, she is almost 18 months now… Yeah, she really does have nice hair, it must be Kate’s genes because as you see, I don’t have much hair… Even you have more than me,” laughed David.
“Ha ha!” laughed George. “That’s true! Anyway… How is Kate? I haven’t heard from her in a long time…”
“Well, I guess she’s fine. We’ve recently moved into a new house, you should come to visit us sometime!”
“Oh, I know… I should, I definitely should come to visit,” said George.
“Great, I’ll tell Kate and we can settle a dinner!”
“That’d be nice!” said happily George. “So now, that you moved into a big house, I guess Kate could finally take her birthday gift home,” said George.
“Oh, right! The horse! I’ve completely forgotten!”
“Don’t worry, it’s not that I mind. I was rather wondering why she stopped coming by to take Bella for a ride,” said sadly George.
“Oh, I know… I’m sorry George, but she really didn’t have much time recently… taking care of Elisabeth became her full-time job.”
“I can understand that, but tell Kate, that Bella would be really happy if she could go for a ride or participate in a race. I would have taken her for a ride myself, but I slipped on ice the last winter and since then I have been having some serious problems with my back.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, George. Don’t worry, I’ll speak with Kate about this and I’m certain she’ll be happy to get back in the saddle!”
“Very well then. I’ll be going now, a friend of mine invited me for the lunch so I don’t want to be late. Have a nice day! Bye bye!”
“Bye George! I’ll see you around!”
Elisabeth was silently listening to their conversation. When George left, David asked her if she’d like to take a greeting card with her Daddy, but she probably didn’t understand him as she shook her head horizontally while saying yes. David just smiled and took her in the photo booth.
Since Elisabeth is only a toddler, she didn’t have to pay anything.
The photographer positioned them in front of the background, asked David to tickle his daughter because from the experience he learned that little kids come best in photos while distracted and most importantly while smiling. The photographer pressed the shutter button on his Polaroid and the photo came out instantly. David asked for one more copy so he could keep it for himself. The other would be for Elisabeth, so she could always remember this sunny autumn day she spent with her Daddy.
David put Elisabeth back in the stroller and they headed home. When they passed along the face-painting stand, Elisabeth started crying, because she didn’t want to go home until she’d get her little face painted. “You’re one little blackmailer, Liz.”
When David told her, they’d come back later, she stopped crying and smiled instead. When they got back home, Kate has already been waiting for them. She took Elisabeth to the bedroom, changed her in her home clothes and placed her in the high chair.
“Here you go, my little angel,” said Kate to Lizzie as she passed her the bottle. Before Elisabeth finished drinking her milk, Kate was already washing the plates.
“Thanks for the great meal, sweetheart,” David thanked Kate and kissed her on the cheek. Kate smiled at him. “And what about you, Liz? Was the milk yummy?”
“Yummy,” repeated Elisabeth after her father and pushed away the empty bottle. David picked her up and took her in the bathroom. He placed her on the potty and waited. This time, Elisabeth showed to her father, that she can do everything by herself.
“Good girl,” David told her and caressed her hair.
He took Elisabeth to the bedroom and put her to sleep. Then he went back to the living room, sat on the sofa and turned on the TV.
“Do you want some coffee, David?” Kate called from the kitchen.
“That’d be great!”
Kate prepared the coffee, placed the cups on the table in front of the TV and sat on the couch next to her husband.
“I love Sunday afternoons,” smiled Kate as David put his hand around her shoulder.
David told Kate about meeting George in the park earlier today. When he mentioned Bella, Kate’s eyes widened. She asked David if he wouldn’t mind staying at home with Elisabeth so she could take Bella for a ride.
David didn’t mind at all, he even suggested, that she could see if there is a racing competition today so she could participate. Kate agreed with him and asked him if he could check the newspaper for her. As she was dressing up, David found out that there was indeed a race starting at 5 PM today.
“Hurry up, sweetie! If you can make it to the Petite Pony in half an hour, you can race tonight!”
“Are you serious?” asked him Kate as she walked out of the bedroom.
“Yeah… I mean, if you won, it’d be great,” he smiled.
“Well, I haven’t trained for a long time, so I wouldn’t be so optimistic if I were you… But you’re right, it would be great!” said Kate, and hugged her husband. “Wish me luck then.”
“Show them what you’ve got, baby!”
“I will! See you later!”
As Kate left the house, the sun was already setting. It was only 4.35 PM, but the sun sets earlier in the autumn than it does in the summer. She arrived at George’s house in less than ten minutes. Kate apologized for not coming to see Bella recently, but George was pleasant as always.
“Don’t worry about it, Kate,” he said. “I know if you could, you would come,” smiled George.
“Thanks, George, I have to run now, but I’ll call you, I promise!”
Kate caressed Bella’s neck and jumped in the saddle.
When she arrived at Petite Pony, it was almost 5 PM, but because she was a well-known member, she could race without previous registration.
David’s hope didn’t meet with the reality, because Kate came second in the Brooke Derby. She was obviously out of training, but she won herself a silver cup and 950 simoleons. Not bad, Kate thought to herself, but the next time, we’ll win.
Some time passed from the day when Kate won the silver cup and eventually the first snow appeared. It usually melted with the rising sun, but for everyone it meant that the winter was coming to Monte Vista. It was only November, but all the people in town were already speaking about Christmas.
One morning, Kate’s cell phone rang.
“Hello?” Kate answered the phone.
“Good morning, Mrs. Loewe. This is Gavin Pinkerton.”
“Good morning, Mr. Pinkerton. How can I help you?”
“I work at the hospital in Appaloosa Plains. Do you know Mrs. Mary Graham, Mrs. Loewe?”
“Yes, yes, of course. Mrs. Graham was like a mother to me when I was little, she basically raised me… Why are you asking, did something happen to her, is she in the hospital?”
“I am truly sorry to tell you, Mrs. Loewe, but Mary died this morning.”
“W-what? No, no… she… no…”
“I am sorry, Mrs. Loewe.”
“And… how… she…”
“She died of old age, I assure you that she didn’t suffer. She passed away in her sleep.”
“…” Kate started weeping.
“Mrs. Loewe, we usually don’t tell people who aren’t family… But, I must tell you, that you’re the only closest person.”
“… I know… So… I suppose… you are calling because of the funeral?”
“Well, since you are not her family, the town will take care of that. I call because of something else… Actually, Mary asked me to do this…”
“Well, tell me, please… what is it?”
“Do you remember the boys Mrs. Graham took in custody after you had to close down the orphanage?”
“Oh, of course, I remember.”
“So, the problem is, that they are going to be placed in the Rainbow house, it is the new place for children without families…”
“Mrs. Graham wanted to ask you herself, but she was to weak to do so… She wished you could take care of them…”
“Mrs. Loewe, you are not forced to adopt these boys, you can just take care of them until they come of age. As the ex-director of the Appaloosa orphanage, you have this possibility.”
“Well… Can I take some time to decide?”
“Of course, Mrs. Loewe. It will take a couple of days before the boys are moved into the Rainbow house.”
“Thank you, Mr. Pinkerton. I’ll speak with my husband and give you a call.”
“Thank you, good bye.”
“Good bye, Mrs. Loewe. Please… Make the right decision. The boys need a family…”
Kate stood in the living room and couldn’t reach for air. Why haven’t I called her in all this time, Kate blamed herself. She opened the fire in their new fireplace, sat in the armchair and stared in the fire for a long time… She remembered about her childhood, playing with the other kids in the orphanage… I have always wanted a mother and a father… Seeing the luckier children leave with their new parents always made my heart hurt. I have never envied them… I was always happy for every child that left that place. I’ve only hoped that one day even my new parents would come to take me home… Home… Something I’ve never had…
More than one hour passed from the moment Mr. Pinkerton called. Kate stood up and went to the bedroom to tell David. He was still asleep, but Kate gently woke him up.
“Hey, sweetie…” said David with a sleepy voice when Kate kissed him.
“Forgive me… I’d let you sleep… but… there is something important I have to tell you.”
David got up, made the bed and approached his wife. “So, what is it, Kate?”
“I just had a call from Appaloosa Plains…”
“Oh, from who? I thought you didn’t have any relatives there…”
“Well, not exactly relatives, but still… the only person I had there died this morning.”
“Oh, Kate… I’m so sorry… was it the nun?”
“Yes…,” said Kate sadly.
“I don’t want to sound impolite, but what does it have to do with me?”
“It’s ok,” assured him Kate. “The thing that concerns you is…”
“What? Inheritance?” David said jokingly, but the very next moment he apologized.
“Well, sort of,” smiled Kate at him.
“Sort of? What do you mean?”
“Do you remember what happened when I was forced to close the orphanage?”
“Well, let me repeat it, just in case…,” smiled Kate.
“There is no need, I remembered. There were two little brothers that had no place to go and the nun took them in the custody… right?”
“Oh, now I get it.”
“Yes. Now that the nun died, they have no place to go, right?”
“Well, not exactly… I would rather say, they have no nicer place to go… They will be moving them in the new orphanage… they call it the Rainbow house.”
“The Rainbow house? Well, then I guess it will not be that bad, right? The colors and all…”
“Sorry Kate, I cannot imagine… I am really sorry.”
“Mary’s last wish was that I took care of them…”
“Well… we don’t need to adopt them… just take care of them…”
“I don’t know, Kate. I wanted to have our own boy.”
“I know… It’s just that… I grew up without parents myself… I wouldn’t wish anything like that to any child, David.”
“Well… I don’t know Kate… I can understand what you mean, but still… I…”
“It’s completely understandable, David.”
“I don’t know what to tell you now…”
“I remember them since the moment they came to the orphanage. They looked so innocent… I wonder what they are like now. I think they are five or six so they should be going to school soon...”
“As I listen to you talking about them, I almost think that I could like them…”
“Yeah. Let’s adopt them, Kate. It doesn’t matter that they will not have our looks, they’ll have our love. I’ll love them as they’d be ours since always.”
“Do you mean it?”
“Yes, after all, Liz will have two older brothers to play with, I only hope, they’ll like her, too.”
“I am sure of it,” said Kate happily.
“Come here, sweetie,” said David and hugged his wife.
“Thank you, David.”
“I never knew what I had in you, sweetheart. You’re such a good person…,” David whispered in Kate’s ears.
“I’m happy I’ve got such an understanding husband. I love you, David.”
“I love you too,” said David to Kate and kissed her.
In the meantime, little Elisabeth woke up.
“I’ll go to make something good for breakfast,” said David and left the room.
Kate stood above Elisabeth’s crib and as she watched at her daughter, she thought to herself Soon you’ll have two brothers, my angel. Elisabeth giggled and stood up in the crib reaching for her Mommy.
Kate took her in her arms and went to the kitchen.
David was preparing Peanut Butter and Jelly for breakfast.
Kate placed Lizzie in the high chair and gave her a bowl of baby food.
Then she took a plate and went to sit at the table.
“Thanks for the breakfast, David. I needed something like this.”
“Anytime, sweetie,” smiled David at her.
When everybody finished the breakfast, David went to wash the dishes and Kate picked up Elisabeth and went to watch the TV with her.
She switched to the Kid’s Zone because of Lizzie. I guess I’ll have to get used to this channel anyway, Kate thought to herself as she imagined Elisabeth with her brothers watching the TV during the weekends.