Life is Often Difficult
We all face times during our lives when we feel as if we’re living in an alternate world, as if all the bad things that appear to be happening aren’t really happening. Or so we wish. We place ourselves in predicaments and then finding ourselves blaming everyone else or God for the outcome.
In today’s excerpts we find Marty again up to her neck in trouble. In our previous chapters we found Marty’s mother, Kaja, having disobeyed her parents and ending up abandoned and alone. Just when Kaja believes she has solved all her problems, her own pride rears its ugly head and soon she realizes that her daughter, Marty, is repeating the same mistakes, only in twofold.
When we last left our story Marty had eloped and married Sonny Morley. She had a son and was living in Brainerd, Minnesota with her husband.
Marty has resigned herself to being poor and living in a tar-paper shack but can’t accept the behavior of her husband. Sonny’s philandering has gotten him into a great deal of trouble and when he finally decides to go to school in Minneapolis, Marty is somewhat relieved.
Kaja’s heart condition has stabilized and she and Christian move back to Mooreton and rent their home in Minneapolis to Marty and Sonny.
It isn’t long before Sonny begins staying out late and spending his meager paycheck on liquor and women. In desperation to feed his family, Sonny is caught robbing a gas station. Marty is devastated when she discovers his partner in crime is another woman. Sonny is sent to St. Cloud Prison and Marty must survive on her own until he serves his time.
Our story picks up when Marty decides to pay her first visit to Sonny in prison.
Minneapolis September 1939
The September rain pounded on the roof like a herd of stampeding horses. Marty sat watching the raindrops splash against the window, dreading her first trip to visit Sonny at St. Cloud Reformatory.
Six months to a year in jail. Maybe parole for good behavior. Momma had wanted to bring her home the minute she found out but Marty refused. Living with Momma would only make is easier to leave Sonny for good and she didn't want to take the easy way out. Sonny had already written several letters begging forgiveness, begging her to take him back.
Today she would see him for the first time since it had all happened. Bertie insisted she go and at least give Sonny a chance to explain. She'd decided to do it for Bertie. After all she had been good to them. She and Ronny had a warm place to live for the winter and plenty of food. They'd even found a small Lutheran church to attend. It reminded Marty of St. Paul's in Mooreton and the days of her childhood with William.
Of course God would want her to forgive Sonny, but could she forget? She'd already decided to go home for Christmas. But if William's furlough was granted, how would she explain Sonny's absence?
She stood up from the table and put on her coat. Bertie was already waiting in the car, and it would be a long two hour ride to St. Cloud.
Marty kneaded her hands against her skirt, trying to disguise the cold, clammy feeling that had manifested itself soon after she'd arrived at the reformatory. Forty minutes had passed and the waiting was making her nauseous. If only Bertie could have stayed with her, but only one visitor was allowed at a time and today she was it.
Marty looked around the stark gray visitation room and tried to take comfort in the realization that twenty other women were sharing her frustration but it was of little consolation.
Feeling awkward and out of place, she smiled at the woman in the next chair. She couldn’t help noticing the deep, dark circles that rimmed her eyes and the scrawny arms that poked through the sleeves of her wrinkled gingham dress. Her dingy brown hair was pulled back in a knot too loose to disguise its tangled roots.
Marty cleared her throat. “They don't seem to care how long they make us wait do they?”
The woman eyed Marty suspiciously. “It's always that way.”
“How--how long have you been coming?”
The woman shrugged. “Bout three weeks, I guess.”
Marty licked her lips and forced a smile. “This is my first time.”
“What's your old man in for?”
“My old--ah--I mean my husband robbed a gas station.”
The woman nodded. “Mine got drunk and beat me and the kids.”
Marty's jaw dropped open. “And you're visiting him?”
“Ain't much else to do, I guess. He'll be on my doorstep soon as he's out, anyway.”
Marty felt a blanket of fear tightening around her and for a moment she thought she'd stop breathing. Then the door opened and the prisoners were ushered in. Her eyes circled the room until she spotted Sonny. She bit her lip to fight back the tears.
His muscular body was gaunt; misery had painted an ugly portrait of shame over a face that was once filled with pride. The sadness in his eyes compelled her to throw her arms around him, but then she remembered the instructions they'd received: no touching allowed.
Taking a deep breath, she sat down across from Sonny. “I--you look terri- I mean tired.”
“I didn't do right by you, Marty. Can you ever forgive me?”
Marty bent her head, a teardrop trickling down her cheek.
“Please look at me, baby,” Sonny pleaded. “I don't know what happened. I panicked.”
Marty brushed the teardrop aside with the back of her hand and looked straight into his eyes. “What about the woman in Duluth?”
“Ah, hon, she was only a hitchhiker I picked up. I don't even know her name. You must know I love you too much to cheat on you.”
“I want to believe you,” Marty sobbed, “but it's so hard.”
“Look, baby. Just stand by me through this and I'll make it all up to you.”
Marty sniffed and cleared her throat. "I won't be a quitter like my mother.”
Sonny eyes narrowed. “I want you to give me another chance because you love me, honey, not because you want to prove something to your mother.”
“I must love you or I couldn't come to his horrible place,” Mary cried.
Sonny was about to speak when a shrill bell signaled the end of the visitation. He stood up and called back over his shoulder. ”Please come back next week. I love you.”
As Marty stood up to leave, she noticed the woman she had spoken with earlier. “Excuse me, I don't mean to pry, but I wondered if this was the first time you --I mean is this the first time--”
“Is this the first time they put him in the slammer for beatin on me?” The woman smiled slyly. “Been bout once a year so far.” She turned and walked towards the door.
Trembling, Marty rushed to the restroom and emptied everything from her stomach.
Mooreton, North Dakota December 1939
Marty pressed her forehead against the window as the train pulled into Mooreton. She'd missed Momma and Daddy terribly these past months, especially since Sonny was still in jail and Annie was furious with her after she'd refused to bring Ronny to Brainerd for his second birthday.
It was a relief to be spending the entire month of December away from Sonny's family. It had been almost four months since Sonny had been in jail, and Ronny had stopped asking for him. They would have to get acquainted all over again when Sonny was released.
Marty waved as soon as she spotted Kaja and Christian standing in the depot. She jumped from her seat, gathered Ronny in her arms and pushed her way through the crowded aisle. As she stepped down from the train, her eyes misted. She had been determined not to cry, not to make a spectacle of herself, but the sight of William standing behind Christian, crumbled her most steadfast resolve.
William ran to meet her. “Hey, how's my girl,” he called, stretching out his arms.
She rushed into the safe haven of William's arms, desperately aching to be a child again. Too choked up to speak, she clung to his neck.
“Don't I even get a hello?” William teased.
“Momma didn't tell me you'd be here,” Marty replied, trying to compose herself. Hugging him tighter, she giggled. “Gosh, it's good to see you.”
“I'm afraid that was all my doing, sis. I wanted to surprise you.”
Marty turned to Kaja and Christian. Hugging and kissing them both, she tried to read their eyes. Kaja had been livid when she'd heard about Sonny's stupidity and even more so when he asked Marty to forgive him. Now Marty wondered if they'd kept the truth from William as she'd requested.
“It's so good to be back home again, Momma. I guess I won't be mad at you for not telling me about William.”
Kaja's eyes danced at the sight of her grandson. “I can see the boy has grown much taller since we left Minneapolis. Give him to his grandmama.”
Ronny wiggled and pouted, but Marty still placed him Kaja's outstretched arms.
“The child is a stranger to me now, but by the time you leave, he will love me as much as he loves Annie.”
Marty stomach churned at the mention of Sonny's mother. Was Momma hinting?
“Ah, Annie hasn't seen Ronny since August, remember, Momma?”
Kaja gazed at Marty in silence.
Marty glanced over at William and began to chew on her bottom lip. “Did Momma tell you about Sonny?”
Kaja turned to Christian. “Put the suitcases in the car, my husband, so we can go home and have a good visit.”
His hazel eyes twinkling, William put his arm around Marty.
“Momma said you had quite a story to tell me and would explain everything when you arrived.”
She should have known Momma would dump this in her lap.
Kaja's eyes whispered back in reply, on whose lap does the truth more rightly belong.
William's brow furrowed at the sound of Marty's deep sigh.
She smiled up at him and swiftly linked her arm in his. “Let's talk over some krumkake and lefsa. I've been dreaming about good Norwegian food since I left Minneapolis.”
Christian had brightened the old house with a fresh coat of paint to its white siding and complimented it with slim lines of black trim.
Marty sat at the kitchen table, her eyes following William as he carried her luggage up the long staircase to the bedrooms.
“Daddy, I see you've replaced the old yellow curtain with a spanking new wooden door. At least I won't have to worry about Ronny climbing those stairs and taking the tumbles I did as a child.”
Christian nodded. “Your momma insisted that everything be the very best for you and the child. Come see, we even have the toilet inside now.”
Smiling, Marty glanced at the walnut door just off the kitchen.
“I was certainly hoping things would be a little modern by now, Daddy.”
Kaja began to set the table while watching Ronny gleefully playing on the floor with the pots and pans. She winced as he applauded his new surroundings with two large aluminum covers.
“Come, child, Grandmama will get you some crackers.”
Kaja placed Ronny in Marty's old wooden highchair, then bent to whisper in his ear, “Your momma's favorite time was her time to eat.”
“Oh, Momma, you make me sound like a glutton.”
Kaja scowled. “A glutton for punishment, I think maybe you are.”
Marty flushed, her mother's words chipping at her conscience. “How about some coffee to go along with that krumkake? I'll put on a pot.”
William thumped briskly down the stairs. “Hey, Christian, you've got this old place looking good. Do they still have that little grocery on the corner?”
“Yes,” Kaja volunteered, “and Mr. Swanson still runs it, bless his heart.”
William nodded at Marty. “Hey, sis, let's you and I take a walk down there. I need some smokes and the fresh air will work up a good appetite.”
Marty smirked. “I don't need any appetite for Momma's cooking, but I'll fall prey to your trap and walk along with you.”
William winked at Kaja and helped Marty slip into her coat. “Come on, let's see if you're still tough enough to put up with some good ol' Dakota breezes.”
Marty pulled on her mittens and grabbed one of Christian's wool scarves. “You're on, big brother.”
They walked slowly, hand in hand, just like they did when Marty was a little girl. Their footsteps crackled on the crisp snow covered ground, invading the silence between them.
Marty's intuition told her William was waiting for her to explain about Sonny, but the words stuck in her throat. She squinted at the noonday sun sprinkling amongst the frosted trees making them sparkle like glitter resting on a thousand fingers.
William squeezed her hand and she knew what his gesture meant. Her heart was beating so fast she was sure William could hear its pounding torment.
“You want to know about Sonny?”
He squeezed her hand again but said nothing.
Her lip quivered. “Sonny is -- Sonny and I are separated.”
William stopped walking and turned towards her. He pulled her gently into his arms. “I'm sorry, honey.”
Suddenly a fountain of tears burst from her eyes. She sobbed in his arms, holding him tightly; as if afraid he would slip from her grasp. “Oh, William, I'm afraid I've make a terrible mistake.”
William brushed his hands across her tear streaked face. “Hey, little girl, you'd better watch out, those tears will freeze your face.”
Marty erupted in laughter as she buried her face in his chest. “You always know how to make me laugh. I love you so much.”
For a moment the silence was deafening.
“Want to tell me what happened?” William said.
Marty shook her head. “I don't know if I can.”
William cupped her chin in his hand. “Give it a try, huh.”
She blinked back her tears and took a deep breath. "Sonny was--Sonny had just finished school shortly after Momma and Daddy left for Mooreton. There wasn't much money for food and rent. Ronny cried all the time because I'd stopped nursing him.” Hoping to gauge William's reaction, she paused and peered up at him.
His eyes narrowed. “Go on.”
“Sonny panicked. He -- he robbed a gas station.”
“What the hell! Is he nuts? Why didn't he go to his parents or Kaja and Christian for help?”
Marty winced at his outburst. “Maybe he's too proud for his own good.”
Her statement did nothing to pacify William's anger. His voice was suddenly cold.
“So where's he now?”
Marty covered her face to hide from the anger she saw in his eyes.
William reached for her hands and took them in his. “Where, Marty?”
She could see his shocked anger growing to seething rage and she began to stutter.
“He--he was arrested and he's in jail.” She drew a shuddering breath. “Sonny loves me and Ronny, and he's a wonderful husband. He wants to make this up to us.”
The brushing of William's boot against the snow chiseled through the crisp air. Her brother was the one man she loved more than anyone in the world, and his silence was ripping her apart.
“William, please say something.”
He began to rub her shoulders. “I could kill him for this.”
“No, William!” How could she tell him that her husband was a cheat? “Please give him another chance.”
William's eyes were clouded and distant. “Alright, I'll cut him a break - this time. But if he ever hurts you again, I’ll kill him. That's a promise.”
Marty trembled as William cupped her face in his hands and kissed her forehead. Her parched cheeks burned with the humiliation of her deceit and she hid her face against his chest.
William's voice softened. “Come on, sis. Let's get you home before your face shrivels up like a prune.”
Don't Miss The Next Revealing Chapter
As we can see from our excerpt today, Marty’s lies are slowly wreaking havoc on her life. Now she has continued her deception by refusing to admit she suspected her husband was unfaithful. Where will her lies lead her next? We can all see she hasn't yet learned her lesson.
Next week we go back to the present day and explore Stacey’s relationship with psychiatrist, Gregg Phillips.
Don’t miss the next exciting chapter of Rubies – Escaping the Curse. Of course our excerpts don’t cover every moment of our story so remember the books are available on Amazon by clicking here. Amazon Author Page
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