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V. C. Andrews


  Wildflowers #2

  V.C. Andrews

  Copyright (c) 1999

  ISBN: 0671028014



  When my grandmother drove me to Doctor Marlowe's for my second group therapy session, I sat in the car for a few moments and thought, girl, just have her turn around and take you home. What good is it going to do you to tell your troubles to these three rich white girls, although I did think Cathy, or Cat as Misty called her, wasn't as well-to-do as Misty and Jade seem to be.

  As we drove into Doctor Marlowe's driveway, I saw Jade's chauffeured limousine pull away, so I knew I wasn't the first to arrive. I couldn't help wondering if Cat was coming back. The whole time Misty talked yesterday, Cathy the cat looked like she was sitting on a cold, wet park bench, ready to leap off and scoot into a dark alley the first chance she got. She sighed and squirmed and looked at the ceiling and the floor, everywhere but at us or at Doctor Marlowe. I think if she could have crawled under her seat, she would have.

  My story wasn't at all like Misty's. It wasn't about spoiled rich boys and big houses with ballrooms and such. I wasn't going to complain about all the meaningless toys and dolls and clothes I was given. What I was given probably wouldn't fill a corner in one of their rooms anyway. And I wasn't going to describe parents who couldn't see eye to eye about their egos. The last thing my momma worried about was her makeup, her complexion, and whether or not her hair and clothes were in style. I couldn't even begin to imagine Daddy going to fancy gyms and wearing expensive sweat suits. If Cathy the cat thought Misty's descriptions of what she called a hard life were hard to swallow, she'd surely choke to death in Doctor Marlowe's office once I began telling about, my life.

  The thing is, did I want to begin? What were these girls going to tell me about me and my troubles that I didn't already know myself, huh? What did Doctor Marlowe expect out of us? I couldn't tell Misty anything that would help her yesterday. She wouldn't be able to tell me anything that would help me today. And that Jade. . . I was sure she'd be sitting there with her nose pointed at the ceiling, refusing to lower herself to look my way. I bet she'd make me feel like she was doing me a favor just staying in the room while I talked.

  I had tossed and turned and fretted about it quite a while last night, worried they might laugh at me or think my story was beneath them. I didn't want to go in there and have to look at their smiles of ridicule.

  Granny looked at me, surprised at my hesitation.

  "What do you plan on doing, Star, just sitting there in the car all morning? You know I got chores to run."

  "Coming here is a waste of time, Granny." I looked at her. "It is!"

  "Yeah, well the doctors and the judge don't think so and that's what counts here, Star, so you just better get on in there. I can't abide any more trouble. Not with this old heart ticking down like some tired old grandfather clock," she said.

  Granny knew that was all she had to say to get me to do what she wanted. There was nothing I feared more for myself and my brother Rodney than her having another heart attack. She was the only one left in the world who cared about us and loved us, and she was the only one we cared to love.

  I opened the car door and started to slide out.

  "Okay," she sang to the front window, "I guess there's no sugar for me this morning."

  I shook my head and leaned over to give her a kiss on her plump right cheek. Then she grabbed my hand as I turned away and held it so tightly it sent a shiver down the bone and into my spine. Her face was like one of her pieces of antiqurethina, full of tiny cracks, still beautiful, but on the verge of shattering the moment it was tapped a bit too hard.

  Granny and I had the same eyes, only hers were just a bit rounder and somehow still lit up with hope more often than mine However, this morning her eyes were full of worry, making them look heavy, so heavy she looked like she wanted to just close them and lay her head back on that double down pillow she claimed was full of good dreams.

  How I wished I had a pillow like that.

  Granny had had so many troubles in her life, troubles she had buried so deeply in her mountain of memories, I never even knew about them. She didn't want me to know. If I asked her too many questions about her own youth and her own hardships, she would just shake her head and say, "You don't need to feed the hatred living in your heart anything extra, Star. Your momma and daddy done enough to provide it with a feast that's kept it too fat as it is."

  "What is it, Granny?" I asked as she squeezed my hand.

  "You give Doctor Marlowe a chance to help you, Star. Don't shut up all the doors and windows, child, like you done so many times before. You're too young to become someone's lost cause, hear? Your momma likes to wear them shoes, but you kick 'em off."

  "Yes, Granny," I said smiling.

  If I had inherited just a small piece of that steel spine of hers, I would surely make it through all the rain and wind on the road ahead of me, I thought, and there was plenty still to come.

  She let go and I continued out of the car.

  "And don't look down on those other girls just because their families got some money," she warned me.

  I shook my head at her.

  "What do you know about people with money, Granny? You haven't ever had any rich friends to complain about, have you?"

  "Never mind your smart mouth, child. I don't have to have rich friends to know having lots of money doesn't mean you don't need any sympathy and a helping hand. Those other girls wouldn't be here otherwise, would they?" she pointed out.

  She was a smart one, my Granny. I guess something could be said for the school of hardship, too. Granny could be the valedictorian of that school and graduate with honors, I thought, not that it was something anyone would want or be proud of, especially Granny.

  "Okay, Mrs. Anthony," I said. Whenever I called her by her name, she knew I was teasing her.

  "You hold your tongue in there, child, and be civil, hear?" she warned me firmly.

  "Yes, Granny."

  "I'll be back the same time as yesterday," she said and started away.

  I watched her drive off, a little old lady, not more than five feet four inches tall with shoulders still capable of holding up the responsibilities my much younger mother couldn't tolerate. Granny still had plenty of grit and walked proudly with her head high.

  Granny always kept her smoke-gray hair brushed back and tied neatly in a bun. She wore just a touch of lipstick, but no other makeup, ever. Her eyeglasses were really the only frilly thing she

  permitted in her life. They were fashioned like -expensive designer glasses with dark frames. It gaveher just enough of a touch of style to make her comfortable with her public appearances, and she loved it when her older men friends kidded her and called her Miss America.

  She was once a very pretty woman. She didn't look her sixty-eight years, despite the tensions and disappointments in her life. Granny wasn't as much of a churchgoer as most of her friends, but she had a deep faith in the goodness of people and the promise of an everlasting paradise at the end of the difficult journey. In her mind there were always people worse off, and she put more of her strength and energy into feeling sorrier for them than she did for herself. There was nothing she taught me that was more important to her than to despise and avoid self-pity. She said it was like "shackles around your ankles, keeping you chained to disaster and defeat.

  Instead, you pick yourself up when you get set back some and move on until it's time to stop and put your trust in the Lord," she advised.

  Maybe you had to be old to believe like that, I thought. I wasn't ready to simply accept

  disappointments and defeat and move on. I refused to bend and I let whatever winds that blew at me know it. I'd break before I'd bend. Granny told me tha
t was just defeating myself, but I still had the need to scratch and claw, kick and punch and spit into the faces of those who made my life miserable.

  It was supposed to rain all day in Los Angeles and the clouds were blowing in from the northwest and thickening rapidly as the hands of the wind molded them like clay. Doctor Marlowe's large Tudor house looked darker, the windows reflecting the gray skies. It was a very big house, the biggest house I had ever been in, and here in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Brentwood, too.

  There was nothing to reveal that Doctor Marlowe's house was a place where she treated patients, or clients, as they liked to call us. I guess that was deliberate. Doctor Marlowe certainly didn't want us to feel like freaks or anything. She wanted us all to be relaxed like people just visiting, but I had no other reason to come to this part of the city where so many rich people lived, no other reason than supposedly getting my head put back on straight.

  However, no matter what the courts and the schools and the other doctors had said, I still didn't believe in the value of coming here even though Doctor Marlowe used words as her medicines. She prescribed different ways of thinking about things, used questions the way other doctors used X-rays and always tried to turn your eyes around so you were looking into yourself instead of at her.

  I admit that she made me think about

  everything twice at least, but it still hadn't made me feel any better about myself or the things that had happened to me and my brother. I wasn't going to walk out of this big house and her office one day and be picked up by loving new parents, was I? She wasn't going to wave a magic wand over my horrible history and make it dissolve into thin air like some bad dream. I'd still be what Misty called an orphan with parents.

  It was a good description. My mommy and daddy weren't dead and buried, but they were dead to me even though there were no funerals. Instead of a procession to the cemetery, there had been a parade of lies and crippled promises limping along from the day I was born until today, until this moment, all of it parked outside, still following me everywhere, waiting to be told where to go.

  Me too, I thought, I'm waiting to be told where to go. Doctor Marlowe wanted to take me to some second chance, some new start full of new hope. She wanted me to believe that the only thing holding me back was myself. She made it sound like I didn't long for a real family and a nice home and nice friends, and I had to be talked into it. Right.

  It made me angry just thinking about how she wanted me to blame myself. She expected me to discover what was wrong with me and fix it rather than point to a drunken mother and a deserter and deadbeat for a father. I wasn't ready to excuse them or forget them and it would be a cold day in hell before I would ever forgive them. Granny was right about the hatred gnawing away at my heart, but for now, I didn't see anyplace else for it to be.

  Doctor Marlowe's maid Sophie opened the door for me and stepped back quickly as soon as she set her eyes on me. Maybe she thought I had something contagious. The doctor's sister Emma was nowhere in sight, which was fine with me. She was a big, heavy older woman who always looked at me as if she thought I might steal something from the house. I know I made her so nervous she couldn't wait to get out of my sight. I didn't want her there, anyway.

  As it turned out, I was the last to arrive. They were all sitting where they had sat yesterday with Doctor Marlowe in her chair. She wore a navy blue dress and had her hair brushed down. I thought it made her look older. Maybe she thought she had to look that way with us. She was tall and lean with long arms and legs. Yesterday, we asked her why she wasn't married, but she wouldn't tell us. She claimed she was the doctor here. She'd do all the asking. It was on the tip of my tongue to say, "You're just hiding behind that like you say we hide behind stuff, too," but I promised Granny I would try not to let my mouth and tongue have a mind of their own.

  Jade and Misty glanced at Cat and then at me with self-satisfied smiles on their faces because I had been wrong about her not showing up. After Misty had told her story, I predicted Cat would quit group therapy, but if anything, she looked a little better than she had yesterday. Her hair was neatly brushed. She wore some lipstick and she wore a light-blue cotton dress with loafers. Doctor Marlowe looked pleased about it too. Maybe we were all a good influence on Cat, I thought. At least someone might get something valuable out of this. It was just that I would have guessed Cathy would be the one least likely.

  "Good morning, Star," Doctor Marlowe said with a warm smile on her face. Whether she meant it or not, she did make me feel like she was happy to see me. "Morning."

  I took my seat and looked at Misty, who seemed the most anxious of all for me to get started. What did she think I was going to do, I wondered, entertain her?

  "It's getting so dark outside:' Doctor Marlowe said and turned on another lamp. "We're in for a storm. So? How are you all today?" she asked.

  Jade was the only one who really responded. "Tired," she said with great effort. She was dressed as stylishly as she had been the day before. Today she wore dark blue silk pants with a sash, a ribbed cotton bodysuit and a cardigan sweater tied over her shoulders like some fancy college girl. It all made my red and white dress and scuffed loafers look like some hand-me-downs Granny had found at a thrift shop.

  Misty was in jeans and sneakers and wore a Tshirt that said Mommy went to Paris and all I got was this stupid T-shirt.

  "Still not sleeping well?" Doctor Marlowe asked Jade.

  Jade had a way of turning her head so her chin always stayed high. I hated admitting she was pretty, but she was. Those green eyes made her special.

  "Nothing's changed," she replied. "Why should I sleep any better?"

  Doctor Marlowe nodded. Misty tucked the corner of her mouth into her cheek and Cat stared with admiration at Jade as if she had said the most important thing and was more important than Doctor Marlowe was.

  "Anyone want anything before we start?" Doctor Marlowe asked.

  "Got milk?" Misty asked with a silly grin. Jade laughed and Cathy the cat smiled. Misty was making fun of the television commercial of course. I couldn't help but snicker myself. At least Misty had some smiles and giggles to carry around as well as the tears and rage. I secretly hoped she had enough for all of us.

  "Well, when we take a break, we'll have something," Doctor Marlowe said. She looked at me. "So, today is your day, Star," she said.

  "I don't know how to begin," I said, folding my arms under my breasts the way Granny always did when she was setting to hunker down behind an attitude or thought. "Begin any place you want," Doctor Marlowe said.

  "No place comes to mind," I said sullenly.

  "Do you remember the first time your mother and your father had a bad argument?" Misty asked. "I mean a really bad, all-out argument."

  "Maybe she didn't have a father right from the beginning," Jade said in her most arrogant, haughty voice.

  I spun on her.

  "I had a father," I snapped. "My momma and daddy had a proper wedding and all, too. In a church!"

  She shrugged.

  "Mine too," she said. "You see all the good that's done me. Now look where I am."

  I stared at her for a moment and then gazed at the other two. Each girl seemed to have the same desperate and lost look in her eyes.

  It occurred to me that despite our differences, we all had a similar way to say, "Once upon a time"

  I guess I could find mine, I thought.


  "There's no beginning I don't know as there was ever a time in my house when there wasn't trouble between my momma and daddy," I started. "I saw them be sweet to each other sometimes, but as my granny says, it was like waiting on rainbows after storms. Sometimes the rainbows came, but most of the time not I think I got so I was surprised to hear them talk to each other without one or the other shouting before they were finished.

  "I heard Misty say yesterday that sometimes people get divorced because of money problems. Well, that wasn't the only reason my parents broke up, but it sure
didn't help any that my daddy didn't make good money and was out of work often. He was a painter and a carpenter mostly but did other types of work. He could be handy everywhere except around his own house. When he did work, he worked hard, long hours. I think he had a good reputation as far as that goes, but he didn't belong to any unions and he wasn't part of any company that guaranteed him regular work. So there were long periods when times were hard for us and my momma wasn't what you'd call an efficient housewife. I don't know if Daddy would even call her a housewife. He had other names for her and none of them were nice.

  "My daddy's a good-looking man, a strapping six- feet four. Anyone would take one look at him and think he must have been a ballplayer in high school, but he always told me he was just too slow to be a good athlete. He said his problem was he thinks too long before he does something. He says he likes being precise and that helps him in all the work he's done as a painter and a carpenter,

  "Momma's completely different. She doesn't think so much before she decides to do something. Most of the time, I don't believe she thinks at all. She just does what she wants when she wants. They got into lots of arguments because of that. Daddy said she had a brain that was like a house without any doors. Stuff just went in and out. She'd say she was bound to be on old age Social Security before he did anything worthwhile. Granny used to call them Oil and Water.

  "They probably shouldn't have gotten married in the first place, but my momma was pregnant with me before they got married and the way Daddy talked sometimes, I thought he blamed her for all their hard times because of it. If she complained about anything, he would sure always be reminding her that she was the one who had gotten pregnant, as if men could also get pregnant, but had the good sense not to."

  Misty laughed and Jade smiled. Cathy smiled too.

  "That would be good. That would be fair," Misty said. "At least they would know what it's really like. I know my mother would like that. She'd love to see my father have morning sickness and labor pains:'

  "Men are babies," Jade declared as if she was standing on the top of some mountain. "If they were the ones who had to get pregnant, the human race would be listed as an endangered species:'