Looking For Love: Part 5 of 6
Part 5: Trouble and Love
After that night, things between my Dad and Ms. Kilpatrick started going down hill. The relationships between the two sisters and I became more and more strained with each passing day. Clearly, they were her girls and I was his. We were not equals in any way and we all resented it. I know that Dad and Ms. Kilpatrick argued over me a lot. Her view and his view on how I should be handled were as opposite as black and white – or should I say – red or white! Anyway, things were changing fast – and not for the better. Worst of all, the special and cherished relationship between Ms. Kilpatrick and I was falling apart. Even though I admired and loved her more than ever, I could sense she was growing more disgusted and un-happy with me each day. Things were so different with the relationships she enjoyed with her two daughters and the one she had me.
Within hours after Jennifer’s belt whipping in Van Horn, all was forgotten and she and her mother had quickly returned to being best friends. The same held true for Karen. Even after the awful punishment session with the strip for her failing grade, there was not only forgiveness – there was renewal of trust and more love than ever. There were no questions and neither her initial shortcoming nor the resulting punishment was ever brought up again by either of them. They kept the slate clean and that provided them with the foundation upon which their mutual respect and unconditional love for each other flourished.
My case was so different than that of Karen’s and Jennifer’s. I was grounded for nine weeks. Every day, something about it would come up. Questions, explanations, lack of trust, hurt feelings and cross words. I could feel Ms. Kilpatrick’s disgust for me growing steadily and that filled me with a hurtful shame. It created a vicious and destructive downhill spiral from which I could find no escape. Feeling like a failure was not going to cause me do better in school? Did Dad really think taking me off the soccer team and away from my mentor was a positive thing? At times I wished I were back living in that hell with my drunken mother. In any event, the way things were progressing, it was just a matter of time before Dad and I would be living alone again. There was no way things were going to keep going like they were. Then, by the grace of God and the wisdom of Ms. Kilpatrick, something happened that would change my life – all of our lives forever.
It had reached a point where Karen and I hardly spoke. Before long, I had made some poor choices that included a couple of new friends. Searching for attention and acceptance or just being stupid, I followed my new friend’s examples and secretly started smoking. Every day at lunch, we would sneak off campus and gather between two houses where we kept our pack of cigarettes hidden. Looking back on it, I know I wanted to get caught. But as a group, we were trying to avoid detection.
One afternoon, a notice requesting that I appear at the front office arrived at my Journalism class. Responding to the summons, I reported as requested. After handing the notice to the receptionist, I was instructed to take a seat. As I waited, my two new friends arrived with their notices and were promptly seated along side of me. As we waited, Ms. Kilpatrick entered the room. After giving me a glaring look, she passed by and entered Mr. Marcel’s office. A few minutes passed, and then the receptionist instructed me to join Ms. Kilpatrick and Mr. Marcel. As soon as I entered the room, the door was closed behind me. The first thing I noticed was the pack of cigarettes on Mr. Marcel’s desk. By the brand and the manner in which the pack was folded closed, I knew exactly where it had come from.
Ms. Kilpatrick was standing at the back of the room and leaning up against the wall. I could feel her angry eyes drilling into the back of my head. Breaking the silence, she asked me a question. “Carla, before you answer this question, I want you to think long and hard. You know my feelings on honesty – right?”
Without looking up, I responded, “Yes Ma’am.”
Pointing to the desktop in front of me, she asked her next question “Have you ever seen that pack of cigarettes before?” I responded by admitting that I had and that answer drew the next question, “Carla, have you been smoking?” Thinking I could wiggle my way out of the situation I responded. “No Ma’am. I was with some girls that were smoking – but I wasn’t. I know how you feel about smoking.”
“Oh really? Are you sure about that Carla? You’re telling me that you weren’t smoking?” From the tone of her voice, I knew I was busted. Nevertheless, I was not about to admit to both lying and smoking – so I went on. “I wasn’t smoking.”
As the last word left my lying lips, Mr. Marcel spun around in his chair and switched on the VCR behind his desk. To my horror, there it was. The recording showed us arriving and sneaking up between the houses, it showed Bobbie fishing the pack out from behind the gas meter, taking one out and passing the pack to me. I could clearly be seen tapping my smoke from the pack before passing it on the Kathy. I watched with dread as the recording showed the matches being passed around and each of us lighting up our cigarettes. Just as the image showed me exhaling, she quizzed me again. “Carla, were you smoking?” To which I had no option but to be truthful and responded, “Yes ma’am – I was.” Then she asked the next question that I knew was coming, “Did you lie to me?” Again, I responded, “Yes Ma’am – I did.”
Shaking her head in disgust, and with a look of complete astonishment she glared at me while speaking. “Carla, will you please step out of the room, I need to visit with Mr. Marcel about how this will be handled.”
As I turned to leave Mr. Marcel cautioned me, “Carla, when you go out there, don’t you dare say a word to either of your friends about this recording. Understood?” After I nodded he continued, “By the way Carla, you don’t belong with those girls. They are nothing but trouble. Did you know that Bobbie and Kathy stole money from the cafeteria? We have been watching them for weeks. These video recordings are something else. Those two are going to be kicked out of this school and will be lucky if they don’t end up in the D-Home. You are not like them Carla. From what I hear, you’ve never been in trouble before. At this point, all I can tell you is that you are not going to be suspended or expelled over this single incident. You will however receive the same punishment that any student caught smoking at this school would receive. As for the lie you told your stepmother - that shall be a matter that you and she will need to take up at home. In this case, and only because of your special relationship with her, I am going to overlook the fact that you lied to a member of this institution’s faculty. Don’t ever let that happen again. Understood?”
After acknowledging his instructions and thanking him for his benevolence, I left his office. Back in the waiting room, I followed Mr. Marcel’s instructions. I sat in my chair and only engaged in small talk with my x-friends Bobbie and Kathy. Ten minutes or so later, I was invited to return to Mr. Marcel’s office and stand in front of his desk so that sentence could be passed upon me. Looking me in the eye, Mr. Marcel started, “Carla, as you may know, the punishment for a first-time smoking offense at Eastwood is the student’s choice of either 5 swats or two Saturdays in detention. Oh, and just so you know. Second offense for smoking is the same student’s choice plus one full week of summer detention. Third time – you are out of here!”
After quickly considering my options, I responded by agreeing to take the 5 swats. Shaking his head, Mr. Marcel looked at Ms. Kilpatrick. “Carla, after talking to your step-mom, I don’t think that is an option for you. Now don’t get me wrong. We both think that’s exactly what you need. In fact, just be counting your lucky stars you’re not my daughter, Brenda. You know, we have a rule at our home – you get it at school, you get it at double when you get home. And if she were coming home and reporting conduct such as yours – well – God be with her once her Mom took her down the hall. Anyway, the way things stand, and because of your Dad, your only option will be to serve two Saturday detentions and they must be served within the next three weeks. You may go back to class now Carla”
As I was walking to his Door, Ms. Kilpatrick stopped me and asked that I face her and look her in the eye. As difficult as that order was to comply with, I obeyed. “Carla, right now I am having a hard time even looking at you. I no longer trust you and I don’t know if I can continue living in the same home with you. I’m not going to have another fight with your Dad over this either. I have my two girls and their futures to think about. The only thing I know that I am permitted to do to you is ground you. As far as I am concerned, you can stay in your room every night and weekend for the next year. You are off the soccer team and you will not be trying out for girl’s baseball. I have never had a child act like this – you are not my child. Any questions Carla?”
I stood silent, trying to bring myself to look at me hero – my mentor – my idol - my once best friend. I knew I had hurt her – I knew I had let her down – I felt as if I had ruined everything. All at once, I lost it. I broke down, crying my heart out, “The only thing I ever wanted in this world was to be your daughter. I wanted for you to love me. I wanted to have a relationship with you like Jennifer and Karen have – they are so lucky to have you – to have your love – for you to be their mother. You are my hero – my world revolves around you. When Jennifer got caught smoking – you punished her and it was over. An hour later, you two were like best of friends again. Now look at me – I am being sent to my room forever so you wont have to look at me. It’s not fair…. It’s not fair. I need you to love me…..please ….please….momma – I need you – I love you mom….ah.” I caught myself - I had just slipped and called her “momma”.
When I looked up, I saw tears running down her face. As she extended her arms to me, we fell together and hugged tightly. As she comforted and rocked me back and forth in her arms she kissed me on my forehead. Pushing me back, yet still holding me firmly by the shoulders, she looked into my eyes and spoke softly. “Oh Carla - oh my precious girl. I do love you – I love you to death. You are right – this is not fair to you – it’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to your sisters. Your Dad is wrong on this one and I’m going to straighten it out. But lets you and me get one thing straight right now – I am your mother and you are my daughter – and I love you very much - and that will never change. We are going to fix this situation – my way”
After considering the scene unfolding in his office, Mr. Marcel offered a suggestion. “Alice, I think you and your daughter need to go on home – take a walk – go do something together. I’ll take care of your last classes today. And Carla, for what it’s worth, you are a very lucky young lady – you have one of the finest mothers that ever lived and she loves you dearly. I have witnessed that love here today.”
-- The End --