The Girl Most Likely To ... - Part 38

The Girl Most Likely To ... - Part 38
by Barbara Lynn Terry

Chapter 1 - Mom gets a present, too.

The girls were having so much fun opening their presents, that they didn't see Madelline come in. After going in the office and talking with Jack and Jan, and reading the report from Hazel, she went out in the living room. Jack and Jan slipped quietly out the door.

Joy, seeing Madelline standing there, fished around in the pile of presents, and found the one she was looking for.

"This one simply says, Mom." Joy stood up and gave Madelline her present.

"What is this?"

"It is to say thank you, mom, for being a decent mother to us, and for helping Rachel."

"What has Rachel got to do with you thanking me?" The girls looked at each other, and then they said in unison, "everything".

"I still don't understand."

"Mom, Rachel came here nine days ago, wearing nothing but a flimsy, very thin, summer dress. Sharon got her in the house quickly because the poor girl was shivering. When she was in the house, you didn't say one bad word about her. We accepted Rachel as our sister, our friend and our confidante. We wish you a Merry Christmas, mom, and many more to come."

"Rachel, how do you feel about this?"

"I don't know, exactly. I'm still kind of...uhm...well, in a...uhm, fog. I really don't know what I did the first day I came here, to make the girls accept me as I am. I..."

"You, excuse me for interrupting, but it is necessary. You didn't have to do anything, but be yourself. You showed us a frightened little girl, who only wanted love. We gave you sisterly love, and Daddy, Jan, Mom and Hazel, as well as Ms. Wells has shown you parental love as well. No, sister of mine, you didn't do anything. It is we who did it. We took you in to our hearts and loved you like any other girl in this house. I'm going to miss you, you brat." Rachel ran to Sharon and gave her a tight hug.

"Thank you, Sharon. I will always remember the short and meaningful time I have spent here. I'm just going to be down the road. My sisters can visit me any time, and remember, I am still going to be going to school here on the grounds for the remainder of the semester. So, we will see each other every day, and we will talk, and I will let you know all the gossip, and then I will probably visit for a while and then maybe walk with a few of my sisters back to my home, and..."

"Whoa! Whoa, girlfriend, whoa! Slow down. My ears can only hear so fast." There were giggles.

"Sharon, I will never forget what you and my sisters have done for me. Even years from now, you will all be in my heart. And you know what? We don't have to lose contact with each other. Remember in the movie 'The First Wives Club' where the four girls kept in contact with each other? Well, we can do the same. If I write to each of you and say BBQ at the end of my letter, that means you had better be there." There were more giggles. "I love every one of you, the same way as you have loved me. But, like I said, I am only down the road, so there will be no excuses as to why you can't visit, or at least call." Sharon hugged Rachel in a tight hug.

"I love you, sister Rachel." The bond between these two room mates was unbreakable, even separated by a couple of miles, this bond was to prove as tight as a German hair braid.

"I love you, too, sister Sharon."

"Well girls, since this will be the last formal Christmas Rachel, Janice and Melanie will spend with us, what say we take a few group pictures for keepsakes?"

"Yes, mom, that is a very good idea." Madelline went in the office to get the camera.

"Alright, girls, now I want the taller ones in the back, the shorter ones in the middle and the even shorter ones in front, and all in front of the tree. In fact, I think it would better if you all sat..."

"Excuse me, Melanie's mom had said. You go and stand with the girls. I will take the picture."

"Wait! This would not be a group picture without Jack, Jan and Hazel here. Let's wait until they get here."

Madelline went in the office and called the three house parents and told them what they were planning on doing. All three assured Madelline that they were on the way.

"They said they were on their way. Girls, if we are going to have a Christmas house picture, it is important all the members of the house be here. That includes the house parents. Since we have a volunteer photographer, we can all be in the picture." They heard a siren sound just once.

"Naomi! It's Naomi! Mom, Naomi has to be in the picture, too."

"Alright, Connie, yes that would be good."

Naomi came in the house and saw the sly looks on the girls' faces.

"Okay, what have you all been up to?"

"About five feet, five and half inches," Melanie quipped. The girls just giggled.

"I want the house parents and Naomi in the back, with the taller girls in front of them, the next taller ones in the middle and the shorter ones in front. And so we can see the tree and the presents, maybe it would a good thing if you all stood on both sides of the tree. I can get a complete picture with this camera."

"You've taken group photos before."

"Well, yes and no. I take photos of trees, flowers, birds, ducks, swans, fishermen and a lot more. I photo shop these to my greetings cards that I sell over the internet. So, I can get you all in the picture, as well as the tree and all the presents, if you all stand on both sides of the tree. Each girl should have a copy of this picture, to remind yourselves of the wonderful girls you spent a very special Christmas with. I see this camera has a date and time stamp. Should I put the date and time on the picture?"

"Yes, Mrs. Roberts. This way when somebody asks why we were opening presents after Christmas day, we can tell them the very merry Christmas story that comes from the heart."

"Sharon, is it? That was beautiful, dear. You girls are so young, and yet way ahead of your years in maturity. I can see that my daughter has fallen in with thieves, because for the short time I have been here today, you girls have stolen my heart." The girls, being girls, got up and gave Melanie's mother the biggest hug she will never forget. "For a minute there, I thought I was going to need CPR." The girls just giggled.

While they waited for Jack, Jan and Hazel to get to the house, Madelline slipped in to the office and called Eve Reinhardt and told her what was going on. Eve told Madelline she was on the way. It took Eve under ten minutes to get to the house from the truck stop. Eve came in the house.

"So, what is this I hear about you taking a house Christmas picture and not inviting me?"

"Evie! Evie!" Joy ran to Eve and gave her a big hug. Hugs in this house were, if anything, tight, because it showed solidarity. "Wait! Ms. Wells has to be here, too."

Madelline smiled, and went in the office and dialed the admin building. When Ms. Wells' receptionist answered, Madelline told her that Ms. Wells was needed at the house for a very special house Christmas picture. The receptionist put Madelline on hold, and a couple of minutes later, she told Madelline that Ms. Wells would be there. This was going to be a keepsake to have near the heart for ... for ... for always.

Ms. Wells came in the house, and at the same time so did Jack, Jan and Hazel. Melanie's mother lined them right where she wanted everybody, and as she got the whole group in the frame, she said smile. Jack not only smiled, but held up his new watch, pointing to it with his right hand. Cheeky, but effective.

"Grandma Wells, I want you to know that I have really learned something by being here. I know I will still be going to school on the grounds until June, but if I don't get a chance to see you, I just want you to know that my being here has taught me a great deal. I have learned that I can't be selfish, I can't be self centered, I can't be stingy, and I can't force my thinking on others. These are my sisters, and the staff are my parents and grand parent, and always will be. I have only been here nine days, but it doesn't seem that long.

"Naomi, if it hadn't been for you, I might not have found myself this quickly. You have played a great part in how I am right now. I will still have therapy on the grounds for the rest of the school year, and maybe even the summer. But, I want you to know that sisterhood is forever, and can never be broken. If I call you and say BBQ, you had better be there with the chips and cole slaw." The girls and Naomi just giggled.

"And just what will you do, if I don't come?"

"I will hunt you down with the hounds, through meadow and forest, through muck and ruck, and even in the fog. I will find you and run you up the tree I will find by the silvery moon."

Naomi took Rachel's hands and began dancing with her around the living room, as she sang By the Light Of The Silvery Moon.

"By the light of the silvery moon
I want to spoon

All the girls were clapping in time to Naomi's singing. Then all the girls started singing along with the second verse.

If Melanie's mother was in awe of this house before, she was absolutely reeling, now. She could not believe that this woman in a sheriff's uniform, could take time to get involved with these girls. She couldn't believe what she was seeing, even if it was right in front of her eyes. As they started the third verse, Melanie's mother found herself singing along. People have to watch out for this house, because what they have, is very contagious. It is a disease known as randomactsofkindnessitis. It is very contagious. It could even cause a pandemic.

Then Melanie took her mother's hands and danced with her to the tune. The other girls were still clapping in time. Then before anyone knew what happened, all the girls began dancing with each other, joining in the song in the fourth and fifth verses.

When the song was finished, all the girls just fell down on the floor, in a dramatic finish.

"I do not know what disease you have in this house, girls, but the whole world could use a dose of it."

"Mrs. Roberts, it is called randomactsofkindnessitis. It is very contagious."

"I see that. What you girls do here is amazing beyond belief." Then she looked at Naomi. "And even a deputy sheriff comes here and gets really involved with you girls. I will never look at police officers or sheriff's deputies the same way again. This is truly amazing." Then Melanie had a really bright epiphany.

Melanie stood on one of the chairs and looked at the girls and staff.

"Ladies, I have just had a brilliant beyond brilliant idea. Are we going to abandon our home, just because we get go to our birth homes, and be with our birth parents? NO! We will stay here in Pine Meadows county and be there for the next group of sisters that come here for help. We need to help them just like we help each other. There will be a rise in the census in Pine Meadows county, but it will be worth it. Mother, unregister me from my previous school and register me in Pine Meadows Senior High School. We have to stay here, so I can help my sisters, and we can help any new girls that come here."

"Uhm, well, what about a house, or an apartment?"

"Mrs. Roberts..."

"It's Marilyn," Melanie's mother told Madelline.

"And I am Maddy for the adults. The girls just call me, Mom. There are several houses throughout Pine Meadows county for sale, or rent to buy. Janice and her mother just made a deal with Tommy's father to pay so much a month for ten years. Even if, after the ten years, they still haven't paid what it is assessed as by the county, Tommy's father will sign over the deed to the house and the property. We are very old fashioned in a lot of ways here in Pine Meadows county, and I feel that is a good thing."

"I guess we will be living here then. By the way, why do you want to live here, again?" Marilyn stifled a giggle, but all the girls did giggle.

"Oh, Mother!" Melanie exclaimed, in false indignation. There were more giggles.

They say better late than never, and this levity between mother and daughter was in hiatus for three years. Now, it is being revived, and mother and daughter are bonding in the most unlikely of places; a girls residential treatment center.

"Wait!" Joy exclaimed, looking at the next present. "Does anybody know a..." she looked at the present, again. "Does anybody know a Naomi Petersen?"

"Right here, you little minx." Joy handed her the present. All eyes were on Naomi.

As she opened the present, Naomi looked confused for a moment, until she saw that the present was actually a bottle of perfume, in the most unusually shaped perfume bottle she has ever seen. It was in the shape of a squad car with the word S H E R I F F spelled along its length.

"I...omg! I'm really..."

"Someone get that woman a box of tissues. Quick!" Sharon exclaimed

"Girls, you have really...I mean, really, touched my heart." Naomi started, looking at her present. "I am going to keep this bottle in a very conspicuous place, after it is empty. That may be a few years. I swear, that when I brought Rachel here, I had no idea I would be this close to all of you. I swear, girls, this is" Naomi did break down and cry happy tears, because this gift showed that not only did the girls trust her, but loved her as a sister.

The girls all hugged Naomi and told her that she was their sister, and this was a Christmas for the sisters and the parents of the Pine Meadows Home For Adolescent Girls. They told Naomi that they would make sure that she would be helped also, like any of the girls would be. They told her that if she needed to talk, about anything, just dial H for Home.

"You girls are really amazing. When I brought Rachel here, I thought I was actually in the wrong place. I am really lucky to have you all for sisters."

That got Naomi more hugs. The girls continued opening their presents, when Joy called out the next name.

"Call for Naomi Petersen; call for Naomi Petersen. Ms. Petersen you have a package delivery."

"All right, you imps. Just what do you think you are doing?" Naomi said, standing there with her hands on her hips, in mock indignation.

"Opening our presents, officer, of which there are some here for a very nice lady named Naomi. Do you know her?"

"What did you girls do?"

"Naomi, you have been there for Rachel; you have been there for each one of us. You have been here whenever we called. So, we figured that deserves a reward. Since you have been a good girl this year, Santa Claus decided to give you a few presents."

"Joy, how many is a 'few'?"

"Oh, I don't know, really. Maybe three, or four, maybe five. Naomi, when we made you an honorary sister, we welcomed you to the Pine Meadows family. As part of that family, you will share in our Christmas like any of the other sisters are doing, and there will be no, 'I gotta go' excuses, either."

"Are you sure you're not all angels, and you are here to test me?"

"No, Naomi, you are the angel. You spread your Naomi dust all over and things seem to be fine, afterwards. Naomi, thank you for being our friend and not just another cop."

"Oh, Joy, I will always be here for you, all of you. I want you to know that getting Christmas presents here from all of you, is a great honor for me. It is also a great honor for me, too, to see Rachel going home with her mother, and Melanie, too."

"Do you know what Melanie did, Naomi? She actually stood on that chair and told us we all need to live here in Pine Meadows county after we leave here. She even told her mother to unenroll her in her last school, and register her here at Pine Meadows Senior High. She said we need to be close by, to help our sisters and all the new girls that would be coming here."

"Joy, I knew that first day that this was a very special place. When I saw you girls giving Rachel your cast off clothes, I knew you girls had decent hearts. If you girls want to live in Pine Meadows county, there are a lot of houses for sale, or rent to own. In my duties, sometimes I patrol the highways and county roads. I have seen quite a few houses for sale, or rent to own. I will get the phone numbers, and give them to Ms. Wells. This is quite the family, because we're all going to be living around and near each other.

"Naomi," Jack interrupted. "Look at the watch these girls bought for me out of their own money."

"OMG, Jack, that is an expensive watch. I was pricing a ladies watch like that and it was way above my budget."

"Well, these girls must have been planning this for quite some time. Come to think of it, these girls have been going in to town a lot in past couple of months, and even more so after Rachel got here. The game is afoot, Watson."

"Yes, Sherlock, I think you are right. Let's find out what they are up to."

"We aren't up to anything, officer. We were just sitting here minding our own business."

"Oh, yes, a likely story. I will get to the bottom of this Christmas gig, yet."

There were giggles all through out the living room.

"This isn't an institution, it is a regular house. What happened to the institution that was supposed to be located somewhere around here?" Melanie's mother asked. She was still amazed by all the things that girls have done in the past few hours since she has been here.

"Institution?" Joy looked coyly around the room. "Has anybody heard of an institution being around here?"

"Not me," came a chorus of girls.

"You see, Mrs. Roberts, this is a sorority house, and we are students."

"Oh? What are you students of, exactly?"

"Life, Mrs. Roberts. The mysteries of life."

"Now that, is a good subject to study."

Chapter 2 - Melanie goes home with Janice.

"Marilyn, is it? I'm Ruth, I'm Rachel's mother. You can stay with us until you find a place here. We only live about a half mile from here.

"Oh, no, I...I really couldn't..."

"Naomi, do we take them home with us?"

"It's all right with me. We do have one bedroom left. Unless they want to stay with Shaiya and Janice. "

Just then, Shaiya, Janice and Renée came in the living room.

"Where have you been? This next present is for Renée Richards."

"What? Me? I don't know say."

Renée sat down and opened her present. She stood up, and held the prettiest colored lilac dress at her shoulders with one arm, and fanned it out to the side with the other.

"This is beautiful, thank you girls."

"Wait, sis! There is something else in the box."

Joy handed Renée a shoe box. When Renée took the cover off of the box, she found the prettiest lilac pumps, with two inch heels.

"Is there something coming up, that my sisters want me to go to?"

"Yes, sis," Connie answered her. "The St. Valentine's Day dance at the recreation center in town. We actually get to go to a party with style."

"I like this. Where can I try it on?"

"Come with me, sis," Connie said, motioning Renée to follow her. They went up to Connie's room, and she told Renée she could change in there. Connie told her to take a pair of nylons and wear those with the shoes. Connie got them out for her.

Renée took off her top and jeans, and started to put on the dress. Connie told her to wait, because she needed a slip. Connie got out a nice lilac half slip to go under the dress. After Renée was in the dress and shoes, and everything was zipped up, fastened and straight, they both went downstairs.

"Ladies, and gentlemen, may I introduce directly from Pine Meadows county, Miss Renée Richards."

When Renée came down the stairs, there were ooo's and ahhhs at the way Renée looked in her new dress. The girls gave her hugs, and told her she looked like a full grown woman.

"If you think this dress makes me look full grown, wait til you see me with makeup."

"I bet you're stunning."

"I'm going to go and change back, now. I don't want to get this dress ruined." Renée went upstairs and changed back in to her jeans and top. She went back down, to hear another name.

"Janice Peyton, come on down."

Janice took the gift, and sat cross legged on the floor. She carefully opened the gift. When she had the wrapping paper off, she held what appeared to be a shoe box, except this was bigger than most. Janice got up from the floor and walked over to Rachel.

"Sister Rachel, since you told us you do not have any ice skates, we decided that you should get a pair for Christmas. We had the box put under the tree with my name on it, so we could present it to you, from all of your sisters here at the home. We love you sister Rachel."

" guys."

"Oh no! Not again! Somebody get the tissues. This girl has more water in her than the seven seas."

The girls all gathered around Rachel and sang the cheer up song. During the song, each of the girls gave Rachel the biggest hugs they could manage. Eve, Renée and Naomi were also a part of this conspiracy to show Rachel just how much she was loved and cared about.

The ice skates were a size six, white, with a single blade. Of course, the price tag had been removed, but Rachel just clutched the box to her chest.

"I really...don't know...what to...say. These are...really...beau...ti...ful."

The girls all wondered how she could talk through her sobs, because she was really starting to hyperventilate.

"Sister Rachel," Naomi started, after seeing Rachel start to shake. "Please, sis, calm down, or you will black out because of lack of oxygen to your brain. You're starting to hyperventilate."

Naomi took her by one of the sofas, and asked two of the girls if she could sit there with Rachel. They got up, but stood right by the sofa, looking very concerned for their sister. Rachel placed her head on Naomi's lap, and just laid there. She closed her eyes, and thought back to how this coming to Pine Meadows had started.

When she opened her eyes, again, it was morning of the next day. Rachel had slept through the rest of the present giving, and through the night. She woke up, refreshed, put her robe and slippers on, and went down to the kitchen. She looked at the kitchen clock, and it said ten thirty.

"Morning, sleepy head," Renée's mother said, smiling. "Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, thank you for asking. How did I get from the home to my bed?"

"Naomi and Eve brought you, because you had fallen in to a deep sleep. They were afraid you were going in to a coma, but were giving you over night to see. If you didn't wake up this morning, they were calling the ambulance to take you in to the hospital."

"I remember, now. I had gotten a pair of ice skates, and I started crying. Naomi was comforting me, and the girls were singing the home's cheer up song. Did they say anything about Melanie? Her mother came to the home yesterday, when they were having lunch."

"Yes, Melanie and her mother are staying with Janice and her mother. We are kind of out of room, except for the sewng room."

"Were is Sandi and Renée?"

"They went in to town with Mandy, Naomi is at work, I'm here and Mr. Richards is in the garage, straightening everything up, and you're here. Ruth hasn't come down yet, but I heard moving around, so she might be doing a little arranging of her own. That reminds me, I need to call Naomi and tell her that you're awake. I will make your breakfast when I am through talking to Naomi."

"Mrs. Richards, I would like to try and see if I can make my own breakfast. I will have to know how sometime. Right?"

"All right, Rachel. I will be right back."

Rachel got out two eggs, two strips of bacon, two slices of bread, and milk and orange juice. She heated up the small fry pan, sprayed the inside of the pan with cooking spray, so the eggs wouldn't stick. Then she cracked the eggs and placed them in the pan. She took the two slices of bacon, and made those in the same pan as the eggs, put the bread in the toaster, and filled two eight ounce glasses; one with milk and the other with orange juice.

After a couple of minutes, Rachel tried turning the eggs over, for over easy, but she broke the yokes. She shrugged to herself, and went to start the toast. She got out a plate, and used the turner to take the eggs and bacon out of the fry pan, and place them on the plate. The toast popped up, and Rachel took it and spread it with margarine. She was ready to eat. Gloria Richards came back from calling Naomi.

"Well, I see you did very well. Have you been cooking at the home?"

"Just once, and I was helping Marlene and Janet Hastings. I didn't do any of the cooking, though, because they knew I hadn't done any when I was at home. So, they had me get the things out that we would need, and then told me to watch what Marlene did."

"Okay. The reason I asked is because I see you have the yokes broken."

"Yes, I tried to make over easy eggs, but I didn't it too good. But it still tastes good, though. I didn't use butter or margarine to fry them, I used the cooking spray."

"Well, I must say, you did do good. Making over easy eggs takes practice, dear. If you want, I can help you with that. We can practice every morning. I will let you make the eggs, while I make everything else."

"Thank you, Mrs. Richards. I would really like that."

There was a knock at the front door. Gloria Richards went to answer it. Marilyn and Melanie stood out in the freezing cold.

"Melanie, Naomi is going to warm your backside. Didn't she tell you this was as much your house, as it was ours, because you, Renée, Rachel, and Naomi are sisters, now? You don't have to knock, sweetie. Just announce to someone that you are here. The only time this door will be locked, is at night when we are all in bed. Come in, get by the fireplace."

"I'm sorry, but, I told Melanie it wasn't polite to just walk in to other people's houses."

"I'm Gloria, I am Renée's mother. She went in to town with her friend Sandi and her mother."

"I'm Marilyn, I'm her mother," she said pointing at Melanie.

"Would you like a nice cup of hot cocoa?"

"Yes, thank you, Gloria."

"I will be right back." Gloria Richards went in the kitchen to get the cocoa.

"Who was at the door?"

"Melanie and her mother. They actually knocked. I told Melanie that Naomi was going to warm her backside for that." Rachel just giggled. "Honey, go and be a gracious hostess. I have to make some hot cocoa. Put your dishes in the sink, and we will take care of them later. Would you like a cup hot cocoa, too?"

"Yes, thank you, Mrs. Richards."

Rachel went in the living room, and sat down, after giving Melanie a sisterly hug.

"How is Janice doing, her first night in their new home?"

"She loves it. Her room must have been for a girl, when there were people living there. Her whole room screams girl. The walls are pastel pink and white, and there is a ribbon of flowers along the tops of the walls. It is a really pretty room."

"Renée, me and Naomi, will have to go and visit."

"What do you think about my idea, that we all live here in Pine Meadows county?"

"I think it's great. This way we will see everybody, everyday, and we won't have to worry about distance."

"Oh! For sure, sis. Not only that, though, but, we will be able to hang with each other, too, and do things that sisters do."

"That is right. Isn't it? The more I think of the things we can do, the more I like the idea."

"I have an idea. Why don't we get everybody together, and go bowling on Sunday. I would say Saturday, but I have a date with Tom Bradley on Saturday night."

"Tom is a wonderful boy. He treats all girls and women with respect. He might want a kiss and maybe a hug, but he won't ask for anything else. I have had a few dates with Tom, as have Sharon and few of the others, but none of us have a bad word to say about him. But, girlfriend, you have to tell me all the details. Inquiring minds want to know."

"I promise, sis, I will tell you everything."

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