Remie – I’ll Never Forget You
Linda Kane Paavola
October 2008 – Waverly, South Carolina – Pepper
Pepper Ann Hollister stood outside the large, charming blue Victorian house with the wrap around porch located just on the outskirts of Waverly, South Carolina. The porch railings were painted white and the decking a soothing blue that matched the shutters placed beside every window around the house. Two inviting white double rocking chairs with bright floral print pillows adorning them were placed diagonally to each other with a small glass-covered wicker table between them. It looked like a cozy conversation area. There were red and white geraniums blooming in full force in the wooden planters hanging from every section of the porch rails. The ivy that was planted among them was trailing down nearly to the ground. All the plants would probably die off soon with the cooler weather coming.
She could hear children’s laughter coming from an open window and screen door of the house. The days for having those open letting in the weather would come to an end soon. She stood in the same spot on the sidewalk almost transfixed, unable to move. What was she getting herself into? She knew in her heart that this day would come eventually. She had dreamt about it and all the different scenarios that could occur, but was she ready for it to happen today?
Her long, red, wavy hair was blowing wildly in the cold breeze coming off the ocean shore. She loved letting it hang loose rather than tying it back. She only tied it back when she was working. She’d forgotten her gloves back at the Bed and Breakfast she was staying in, wishing now she’d taken the time to go back in to get them. She wanted this day to be special, but had she waited too long? It couldn’t have been any different, she’d just found out a little over three months ago. Was it only three months? It seemed like a lifetime. Actually it was a lifetime, her lifetime! Why had it been kept a secret? She wondered how this could have been kept from her for so long. There were too many questions and she wanted answers, but she was also afraid of what she might find out with those answers.
As she was standing there on the sidewalk, totally lost in thought, a man came up behind her. She jumped and almost screamed with surprise when he touched her shoulder. She just stared at him as though she was looking through him to his very soul. Actually, she was still thinking about other things so she had to ask him to repeat the question she finally realized he had asked her. “What are you doing out here in this weather?” She then actually saw him, or rather his deep, azure blue eyes that seemed like lasers slicing through her. He was taller than she was even with her four inch heels. His face was tanned and she could tell he was muscularly built even with his flannel shirt buttoned up to the second button and his brown leather jacket unzipped.
She finally came out of her reverie and realized he was looking at her strangely. So, without thinking, she just blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “I was just taking in the view. I don’t do that often enough.” The man said, “I’m totally with you on that. It seems like life passes us by and we forget to enjoy each day.” Then he said, “Are you going in or leaving?” Pepper said, “Oh, I was leaving and I’d better get going, I’m already late. See you later.”
As she was walking away, she turned to see if the man was still watching. He was. In a way, she was glad, but in a way, it scared her. She was wondering who he was. Did he know ‘her?’ He must, the way he asked if she was going in or leaving. Would he say anything and give her away. Would he make “her” run? She certainly hoped not. She finally found “her” and didn’t want to lose “her” again. This was just not the day to go to the door though.
She decided to walk along the beach for a while, taking off her heels making it easier to walk in the sand, hoping to come up with an idea of exactly what she was going to do. She knew when she had heard the children’s laughter that this was not the time. Not tonight. Because of the cold and windy weather, she was the only one on the beach which was definitely her preference today. The gulls were squawking as they were flying overhead. All of a sudden one did a nose dive into the water and came up with a fish. Well, at least he was happy.
After her beach walk, she headed back to her rental car, still no resolution as to how she was going to handle the situation. She didn’t want to stay in town very long for fear of someone recognizing her or at least thinking they recognized her. She had to weave around a bit to get back to the Interstate. On her drive back to the quaint little Bed and Breakfast she was staying at two towns away, she had more time to think. It didn’t help. She still didn’t have any answers. She had thought or at least hoped that maybe her visit to Waverly would have helped her make some decisions, but it hadn’t. She was no farther ahead than she was when she arrived in the area earlier that afternoon from Ft. Myers, Florida.
September 1970 – New York City, New York – Anna and Lawrence
Anna Louise Hollister and Lawrence Andrew MacAllister met in high school at a football game. They were sitting next to each other in the stands. He was two years older than her but there was instant chemistry. He teased her saying he couldn’t resist her beautiful wavy red hair and she told him that his glasses made him look so studious. They ended up talking throughout the entire game, forgetting anyone else was around. After the game they went out for a hamburger and milk shake and continued talking into the night. Anna just happened to look at her watch and realized it was one AM and her father told her to be home by midnight. She was going to be grounded for sure. But this night was worth it. She lucked out and snuck in the house, her parents were sleeping so she didn’t get caught.
After that night, Anna and Lawrence were nearly inseparable. He was going to be graduating at the end of that school year and she was afraid that would be the end of the relationship. Lawrence decided that there was no way he was going to leave Anna after graduation. He knew what he wanted in life and he wasn’t about to give her up. He applied to the New York Business University in New York City so he could stay near Anna and still get the Business degree he had planned for during the last four years. He had to work at a nearby car repair shop part time to help pay his tuition. His parents helped supplement his tuition and books as much as possible but he wanted to do this as much on his own as he could. He didn’t want to bleed their retirement funds dry, so he worked hard at both his part-time job and his college studies. But above all, he made sure he still had time for Anna.
May 1973 – New York City, New York – Anna and Lawrence
Anna was finally finished with high school. It seemed to draw out forever, especially after Lawrence had graduated. They had seen each other several times a week since they had met and talked on the phone every day. Now they planned on getting married as soon as she graduated. She was only going to be single for two more weeks and there were a lot of last minutes plans she had to complete. She had applied to the University of New York with the hopes of getting a home economics degree. She had always loved to sew and create designs and thought that would be a natural degree for her. She was beyond excited when she’d gotten the letter of acceptance right before Christmas last year. The school wasn’t too far from the New York Business University that Lawrence was attending and they had already found a cute, but very tiny apartment in between both schools. They didn’t need much since they had each other. She had a part time job at a nearby hometown dress shop called THE CLOTHES HANGAR to help with expenses and Lawrence was still working at the auto repair shop. He was doing very well and learned enough that he was promoted to the night shift supervisor. He was keeping his grades up too. They both knew money would be tight and their time together would also be spread thin in order for both of them to get through school and pay all the bills. They didn’t think they’d have any problems.
June 1973 – New York City, New York – Anna and Lawrence
The wedding was small, but beautiful and everything Anna had ever dreamt about. Anna had been holding her breath hoping the weather would hold out since they were having an outdoor wedding at a small open chapel on the edge of Central Park. They lucked out. It was warm with a light breeze that made it comfortable with the shade of the trees helping block out the rays of the sun.
Since they were trying to save money to pay for school and future household bills and Anna didn’t want her parents to use up what little retirement money they had, Anna bought a simple white sundress from THE CLOTHES HANGAR where she worked. The owners gave her an employee discount. She asked her best friend to be her Maid of Honor and told her she could wear any nice dress she had. Even Lawrence just wore the only suit he had. He had asked one of his co-workers to be his Best Man and he wore a suit as well. They had picked some wild flowers in the park for her bouquet. It wasn’t the extravagance of the wedding that mattered. What mattered was that they would be married after the ceremony and would be together forever.
They took a quick weekend trip down to Washington, D.C. for a honeymoon. They couldn’t afford anything extravagant since they were both going to be paying tuition for college in the fall. They didn’t care where they were just as long as they were together.
December 1974 – New York City, New York – Anna and Lawrence
Lawrence finished his degree the middle of December by taking classes each summer semester and also taking the maximum credits allowed every other semester. He decided if he was paying tuition, he wasn’t paying any extra by taking the maximum credit limit rather than just getting by with the minimum amount for being a full time student. He wanted to get all he could for his money. He pushed through quickly hoping to be able to get into the business world as soon as possible so they wouldn’t have to pinch pennies for an extra half year. Anna was doing well in her home economics classes and loving the fashion design classes more than all the others.
Lawrence’s school advisor told him there was an opening at a car dealership for a business manager. With his experience working at the repair shop his advisor thought he would be a shoe-in. With the praising references from both his advisor and his previous employer, he got the job immediately. He started working at the car dealership the week after graduation.
March 1975 – New York City, New York – Anna and Lawrence
After a year and a half of struggling with little money and even less time together, Lawrence and Anna were losing their connection with each other. They had totally different friends and were heading toward paths far apart from the other. Lawrence was trying to make a name for himself at the car dealership. He was working nearly every hour they were open which gave them even less time together than before. They had even started bickering quite a bit when they were together which had never happened before.
Finally, the beginning of March, Lawrence told Anna he thought they should be apart for a while and see if a separation would change their thoughts and maybe their marriage could be saved. Anna was crushed. She had not seen this coming at all. When she thought back over the past year though, she eventually admitted to herself that they definitely seemed to be moving in opposite directions. They didn’t spend the time talking, really talking anymore, like they had before they were married. School and work took so much time for both of them. They had no choices though. They had to work to pay their bills and tuition.
For the next month and a half Anna concentrated on her studies even more than she had before. She had moved back to live with her parents and cut back her hours at the dress shop so she could take an extra class at a community college. She wasn’t feeling very well most of the time but she wrote it off as stress. She just kept working and going through the motions of living. She was totally miserable.
Everything seemed to be going pretty well, until one morning when Anna woke up with the flu. At least she thought it was the flu. She couldn’t let that cause her to miss classes so she managed to keep a dry piece of toast and some tea in her stomach long enough to get through that morning.
This continued for several weeks. She looked at her calendar and couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought about this before. She was so busy worrying about the separation, moving back home, working weekends, and taking the additional class that she hadn’t even realized that she hadn’t had her period for the last few months. She went to the health clinic at school and her suspicions were confirmed. She was pregnant.
It took Anna another month before she garnered up the nerve to contact Lawrence with the news. Of course, his first question was, “Are you sure it is MY baby?” Anna was shocked! “Of course this is your baby. I have never been with anyone else. You were and are my one and only. I’m ready to try to give our marriage another chance. I still and always will love you and only you.”
Lawrence told her to come back to the apartment and they would see how things went. It was strained and they both felt like they were walking on hot lava rocks whenever they were together. Anna was hoping the baby would make all their problems go away. She was hoping she wasn’t living in dreamland, hoping a baby would be the answer because she really wanted everything to go back to the way the way their marriage had started.
Anna finished her second year of classes with superb grades. She decided to drop out of school for at least the next fall semester since the baby was due the middle of October. Anna got her job back at the dress shop and put in more hours so they would have extra money when the baby arrived.
At one of Anna’s regular doctor’s appointments the beginning of June, the doctor gave her an ultra sound. Lawrence had not been coming to her appointments with her because he was busy at work. When he came home that night, Anna had a beautiful dinner laid out on the table with the candles lit. The food was delicious. They actually had a wonderful conversation, the best they’d had for a long time. During dessert, Anna told him the results of the ultra sound. She was carrying twins. She was extremely thrilled but Lawrence wasn’t quite as excited as she was.
He was worried even more about finances with the thought of two babies instead of one. Since twins were usually early, they wouldn’t have the extra money that Anna could have brought in from working at THE CLOTHES HANGAR that they were hoping. He began spending more time at the office and less time at home. At least Anna thought he was at the office. That’s what he told her and that’s what she wanted to believe. She was busy getting ready for the babies. It seemed as though she and her mother were shopping nearly every weekend for something or other for the babies. She wasn’t extravagant; she just bought the necessities to get started. Still, those necessities added up to quite a bit of money that they didn’t have a lot of. Since they didn’t know or want to know the sex of the babies, Lawrence painted the extra room they had been using as an office a light mint green. He put the cribs together but he was spending less and less time doing things with Anna.
Late August 1975 – New York City, New York – Anna, Lawrence, Pepper and Remie
The babies definitely decided to arrive early. Anna and Lawrence were well prepared by having the room stocked and ready just waiting for the two beautiful little red headed girls, identical twins that they were able to bring home from the hospital three weeks after they were born. They had picked out names a month before for both boys and girls, so they didn’t have to worry about that at the last minute. They had chosen Pepper Ann and Remie Christine. Ann was Anna’s grandmother’s name and Christine was Lawrence’s mother’s name. They wanted each girl to have a totally original name for their first names but still use a family name for their middle names.
For a while, it seemed as though everything would be back the way Anna was hoping. She and Lawrence were spending more time together. He loved his daughters and being a father. There were times when Anna would wake up in the middle of the night and find him in the girl’s room watching them or rocking one or the other. On his days off, he would often have one or both in his arms laying on the couch and they would all be sleeping.
November 1975 – New York City, New York – Lawrence
Lawrence was struggling with his emotions. He had been for a long time, actually ever since January after he graduated and started working full time at the car dealership. He loved his job; it was exactly what he wanted to do. But, in a way, he felt like he was being held back.
He was only twenty-three years old and married with two babies. He hadn’t even dated that much before he had met Anna. After meeting her, he hadn’t looked at any other woman in that way let alone dated anyone else. He was wondering if they had made a mistake by rushing into marriage at their young age. He did love Anna, but still, he was thinking there was something he was missing.
With his work schedule and her classes and part-time job, they had grown in opposite directions during this last year. Now with two babies already, whom he loved with all his heart, he just had to do something different. He felt as though he was in a rut. He started checking out different jobs out of town, thinking maybe that would help them, but he knew Anna was already registered to go back to college in January after she had taken the fall semester off for the babies. Her parents lived nearby and were going to babysit while Anna was in school.
The four months separation they had at the beginning of the year until Anna finally told him she was pregnant was like a start of a new life for Lawrence. In fact, before he heard her news, he had been thinking about asking Anna for a divorce. Then everything changed with the news of a baby coming. He thought maybe everything would change for the better and they could reconnect like it was when they first met. Unfortunately, too much time had passed and they were totally different people now with different dreams.
He continued looking for job possibilities out of state. He was sending his resume out to several places for job advertisements he’d seen in different newspapers he went through at the library. He had all his mail for these inquiries sent to his office so Anna wouldn’t find out. He received a letter back from a classic car dealership in Ft. Myers, Florida that was looking for a financial manager. He loved classic cars. It had always been a dream of his to buy one. He thought he’d only be able to buy a fixer-upper, but maybe with this job, he would be able to actually buy a fully restored show-ready classic one day.
He called the Total Gems Classic Cars dealership immediately after reading their letter and asked for more information. The owner was out of the office that day, but the secretary told him she would have him call Lawrence back the following day. The same secretary called him back the next morning to set up a phone interview for the following day. The next day, the owner called and after he chatted with Lawrence for about a half hour, he offered Lawrence the job. Lawrence accepted. The job sounded perfect and the salary he was offered was unbelievable. The owner said he would like Lawrence to start working the beginning of January. He knew Lawrence was married and had a child (Lawrence only told him he had one), so he thought it would be too much to ask them to move before the holidays. Little did they know that Lawrence wouldn’t be bringing his wife along with him when he moved. He had already decided he would be bringing one of the babies. He just couldn’t leave them both behind. The dealership had arranged for housing for them until he found something on his own, giving him time to look around once he got down there.
He didn’t exactly know how he was going to accomplish this, but he spent more time at the office every day trying to make some decisions. He knew if he told Anna about his plans, she would make a fuss and cry and try to change his mind. He couldn’t stand to see her upset, so he decided not to say anything to her. He found someone, through a lot of research and visiting several unsavory areas of town, who had just been released from jail that would make up very original looking false documents. He had to have an easy explanation for Anna to tell everyone about his absence without them knowing that he just up and left her and took one of the babies. This was the easiest way he could think of so she wouldn’t suffer as much. He knew she would suffer, but hopefully, this would help with the pain.
He started packing some of his and Remie’s things right after he received the job offer. He only packed a little each night after Anna had gone to sleep so hopefully she wouldn’t notice things missing. All his paper work and financial papers with his personal information listed were the easiest to pack. She would never notice those were gone. He made sure he took a picture of Anna with both babies and he had her take a picture of him with both babies. He also had photos of each of them with each baby separately. He made sure to pack several pictures of Anna and him to show Remie when she grew up, but he only took the one picture of him with both girls together, just for himself. It would be his only visual reminder of the baby he left behind. He wasn’t planning on telling Remie she had a twin. He didn’t know how she would handle knowing what he had done. She probably wouldn’t forgive him taking away her mother and twin from her life. It wouldn’t be like they were dead, they were still alive and by doing this he would be keeping her from ever knowing them. It was unforgivable, but he had to do it for himself. He knew he was being totally selfish with this decision, but he wasn’t going to budge.
Lawrence checked their bank account. There wasn’t really that much in there, but since the car dealership was going to be putting him up until he found a house or apartment, maybe he could stretch it out a month or two until he would have enough for a deposit. Then he would have to play it by ear until he caught up on cash. He had a couple of bonds that his grandfather had purchased for him when he was young, so he cashed those in. He couldn’t leave Anna and Pepper with nothing. With the cash from those bonds and the little money they had been able to save, he could leave Anna enough that she should be able to get by for the next six months at least. That’s all he could afford to leave her, he had to have gas money to get down to Ft. Myers and food money for Remie and him to get by for at least a month until his pay started from his new job. He was hoping he had enough to cover all that and diapers. Plus he would need to find a babysitter for Remie while he was working. He was beginning to panic. He just had to have enough.
He had a forged birth certificate for Remie showing she was a single birth and he had a fake death certificate made up for Anna, stating that she had been killed in a car accident when Remie was only three months old. He had similar forged documents to leave for Anna showing his death the middle of December and a single-birth birth certificate for Pepper. This would make it easier to get passports down the road if needed and anything else that otherwise would require both parent’s signatures if they were living. He didn’t know what Anna would tell Pepper, but he hoped she would follow his wishes in a letter he already had written and planned to leave her.
Each night he packed some items into his car and dropped them off at a rented storage unit on his way to work the following morning. When it was time to leave, he would still have a lot to pack the last night, but he could think of no other way. He reserved a U-Haul truck for the day before he would disappear and put all the boxes he had in the storage locker into the truck. He did this all during a supposed doctor’s appointment he’d told his boss that he had.
When it got down to the last night at home, he was so wired and couldn’t even think straight. He knew this would be the last time he would ever see Anna and Pepper and he started second guessing himself. Finally, he decided that this was the best decision for all of them. He knew Anna wouldn’t think that when she woke up, but he couldn’t change his mind. He had to live his life the way he had been dreaming about and this would be a new beginning for him. As soon as he knew Anna was asleep, he hurriedly packed up the rest of the clothes for both he and Remie and took several toys for her. He stuffed it all into his car along with Remie’s car seat. He went into the house one last time, looked around and gave Pepper one last kiss hoping she would forgive him if she ever found out the truth. He picked up Remie (hoping, she wouldn’t wake up and start crying), wrapped her in a heavy blanket and carried her out to the car. He drove to the storage unit, hooked up the U-Haul and started driving to Florida. He never looked back.