12-02-2012, 07:48 PM
Brenda Creed flipped through her collection of sheet music for an appropriate piece to which to practice her violin. What was she in the mood for? The Meditation theme from Thais? No, she did that yesterday. Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings? Too depressing; it always made her cry. Ah! Here was one--The Partita in D Minor for unaccompaied violin by Bach. She hadn't played that one in a while. It would cheer her up, divert her from the lonliness and frustration in her life.
She set up the sheets on the music stand, sat down on her stool, and began to play. Her fingers danced across the fret of her beloved violin, her greatest if not her only joy in life. The Partita resounded throughout the house, clear and sweet and beautiful. Whenever she played, her spirits soared, free of the misery Artie inflicted upon her with his snide remarks and cutting sarcasm. True, he never physically abused her, but his tongue was just as brusing as a fist.
Brenda had met Artie at Washington State where she had been studying music and he was a communications major, working at the campus radio station. When she first met him, she thought him witty if not downright hilarious. He, in turn, fell hopelessly in lust for her, with her silky blonde hair, ample bosom, and tight little tushie, as he put it. After graduation, Brenda had a shot at making the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, with Gerard Schwarz conducting and composer Alan Hovhaness providing the most moving scores she had ever known. Artie, however, pleaded undying love for her and proposed marriage. Her mother persuaded her to give up the opportunity at the SSO, saying that a violin was no substitute for a husband. Artie was a good man, she said, and would take good care of her. Bowing to parental pressure, Brenda consented. They were married a year after graduation.
As time went on, however, she realized her mistake. Artie went from witty to sarcastic to downright insulting toward her and to anyone within earshot. He thought himself a tonic, but to Brenda he was a pill, and a bitter one at that. They had no friends, virtually no social life to speak of. Her violin proved to be better company after all. If she could go back in time, she'd dump Artie and join the Symphony in spite of her mother's insistance. But, the damage was done, and now she played alone, always alone.
She fumbled a few sixteenth-notes in her musings about her life. She sighed and turned back to the first page. Focus, she told herself. Don't get distracted. Concentrate.
She took up her bow and began again, checking the clock. If Artie didn't stop at a bar, he would be home in about an hour. She had to stop practice before he arrived to avoid a scene, or at least his insults about her playing. If you'd work more on the house and less on that damn violin, this place woudn't be such a pigsty! Why waste your time practicing? It's not like you have that much talent, anyway!
She shut Artie out of her head and kept practicing. Her violin was all she had now. She was talented! She would show Artie that she still had worth as an artist and a human being. Her music was her freedom, her very reason for living, and no one, not even Artie Creed, was going to take it away from her.
A week and a half had gone by since Dimitra took on the challenge of caring for Mr. Webber's foster children. With the help of God and her family, as well as the children themselves, they had made tremendous progress. A large room next to the dormitory was emptied and scrubbed out to create a separate dorm for the girls, who were all too happy to have a place away from the "icky" boys, who themselves were relieved to be free of the "icky" girls.
St. Vincent de Paul donated fresh bedding for the children, even a small one for Kira. Kira was all over her new "big girl' bed like a playful puppy, scrambling, hopping and diving under the fresh blankets. The ragged clothes were discarded, and they all had "new" shoes that didn't pinch their growing feet. There were even winter coats for them.
The bathroom had been sanitized for the first time in months, it seemed. Now the children could bathe without fear of cross-contamination. The older children had no qualms about regular bathing, but the younger ones needed a little more persuading. The two youngest boys had a screaming aversion to soap, and Dimitra had a battle royal to get them into the tub. Having raised three boys of her own, she had plenty of experience to draw upon.
Heather was her aide-de-camp with the younger children. Dimitra didn't know how she could have functioned without her. She was like a second mother to them despite her tender years. Tall for her age, she was practically an adult, yet there was so much she did not know concerning her changing body. It was all Dimitra could do to calm her down when she got her first menses, carefully explaining to her about the process taking place inside her, and congratulating her on becoming a woman. She made sure Heather had all the necessary supplies for this time of the month.
Roland was still a child in many ways. Playing basketball, he was poetry in motion, but when it came to performing basic chores, or even coming down the stairs, he was awkward and stumbling, tripping over his growing feet, almost a man's size. He was always hungry; Dimitra had to constantly remind him that the others had to eat too, and not be so greedy. But her could not help it. No matter how much he ate, his stomach always demanded more.
Buddy, Buck and Jamal were thick as thieves, always plotting some sort of mischief. Little Chris tried to tag along, but was always told that he was "too little". Aaron and Austin, the two brothers, were practically joined at the hip, they were so close. Derek was the ray of sunshine in the house. His smile could brighten a room in a blackout. Brandy was helpful enough, more out of fear of punishment than anything. When Dimitra was moving the girl's things into their new room, she found some bits of food and some coins among Brandy's things. She discovered that Brandy's mother had been convicted of shoplifitng and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In other words, she practically taught Brandy to steal. Dimitra made a mental note to keep an eye on her, and to lock up her purse when she was here.
China was still a hard sell. Angry, withdrawn, she scowled at Dimitra whenever she crossed her path. She trusted no one, not even Heather. Dimitra looked beyond the hardness of China's eyes and saw the pain of an abandoned child in them. She would have to make a special effort to reach out to her. It would take time, but with God's help, Dimitra knew she would win China over.
Tanvi was a dark beauty. She had lost her family in a house fire, rescued by a fire fighter. She used words which made no sense to Dimitra, as if she spoke another language altogether. Her hair was a jet black and her teeth were a dentist's dream, so straight and white they were. It was a joy to see her smile.
Kira, only four, was still a baby in many ways. She had recieved little in the way of toilet training, and was so affection-starved she clung to Dimitra like a monkey. Dimitra had to pry her away so she could get some work done. And Baby Mia, the youngest, was in the worst shape of all. Burned, maimed, and missing her left hand, she just sat there, staring with those big brown eyes. She was not responsive to any type of stimulation. Dimitra wondered if Mia was brain-damaged as well. So much suffering for one tiny baby, she thought. She did not even try to talk. She put whatever was given her into her mouth, regardless of what it was. Every time Dimitra looked at her, she kept thinking of Christopher back in the hospital, his neck and face burned, though not as severely, his eyes bound in gauze, blinded by the blast of the Vegas Bomber's pipe bomb.
No, she told herself. She was here to forget all that. Christopher fully recoverd, God be praised, and now these children needed to recover from the traumas of their own lives. She would see to that. And they would heal her as well from her own trauma.