Below you will find a submission for the writer’s challenge by a wonderful new writer, Lydia Pellow. Again I would like to remind people that they may join the challenge and share your work by submitting an email. I hope you enjoy the following story as much as I did and that you will consider honoring Lydia Pellow with your positive comments. Remember that these challenges are not about the grammar or spelling it is about the content. You can find this submission on the “The Berry Mike” page along with the other writer’s challenge submissions.
The Scarf’s Message
The clock showed 11:11. Melissa realized she had seen that time everyday for…a month now? It seemed as if it were a message and if she hadn’t been in such a state of grief she might realize what that message was. She realized that she could barely form reasonable thoughts let alone decipher messages. Most days she could barely get out of bed. Getting dressed and going anywhere were beyond her thoughts. What finally showed her a glimmer of light was the book. The book seemed to just appear in her life. It was like those numbers on the clock. Being in such a state, you really don’t care about what time it is, it is really all the same. Yet, every time she did look at the clock it was always 11:11 that stood out. Strange, just like the book. The book appeared after she cleared off the chair by her bed. She had to do that because when she put one more thing on it most of it fell to the floor, as she contemplated how she would be able to sort the pile and put it away or just leave it, she saw the book. It was beautiful. Gorgeous colors, Melissa as an artist, really appreciated colors and the book had orchids outlined in gold. On the inside the pages had the same orchids, it was lined and it was blank.
Melissa had put it on the ever growing pile of reading material by her bed. She picked it up everyday for a week and just held it. On the eighth day, she padded into the living room for a pen on the way back to bed the clock said 11:11.
Melissa wrote for over two hours that day. It was if the book and the pen had a mind of their own. The words flowed. She wrote everything she could remember about her daughter, Corrine. It started with the night she was born. July 11th was a beautiful day but as night started to fall, a storm started. She had felt contractions throughout the day but thought they were the false kind that she had read about. The storm knocked out all power. Melissa lived 50 miles from the nearest town. There were no phones and her pain was so bad she knew she couldn’t drive. Between contractions, she did what she knew she had to do to get ready for her baby.
She birthed Corrine at 12:04 AM by candlelight. It was the hardest thing she had ever done at that time. She counted all her fingers and toes while cleaning her. Corrine mewled just a bit so Melissa put her nipple to her mouth and as she suckled, they both fell asleep.
In the morning Jo, her best friend, came over to check on her, the phones were still out. Jo was amazed that Melissa had done the whole birth by herself by candlelight. That is how their lives went. Melissa and Corrine muddling through life. Corrine had given Melissa a courage she never thought she had until her birth. Melissa was strong and liked being independent. Men were great sometimes AND they were a distraction. Melissa had her art and now her daughter and didn’t want that distraction. When she found out she was pregnant, she didn’t tell Tom, her sometimes boyfriend. She was too embarrassed as she was the one who forgot her birth control pills when she went to visit him for a few days. She kept thinking she’d tell him but he never called and she never saw him again. When it came to men her “picker” seemed off and she never picked the right ones.
Baby Corrine and her painting kept her very busy and she fell in love with her happy baby. She never knew she could fall in love so deeply and unconditionally.
Corrine grew up and those were magical years. Melissa had an inheritance left to her by the father she never knew. It was enough for her to buy her plot of heaven, five acres with a small house on it in the middle of the forest. If she budgeted she had enough to last ten years. When Corrine came along she realized it might last only five. Melissa got busy with her passion, her painting and her happiness with being a mom and having a perfect child helped her work. The painting flowed out of her brushes. It wasn’t hard for her to find a few galleries who wanted her paintings. Her best gallery was in Madison. The owners of the gallery loved her and Corrine. When they made the six hours car ride down to Madison to deliver work, the gallery owners, Peter and Zane opened their home to them and begged them to stay a few days.
Melissa had a steady income from her paintings. Enough to pay her expenses buy a few luxuries plus put back money for Corrine’s college years. It wasn’t a lavish income but it was enough for her to keep painting and spend a lot of time with her daughter. They were very close, until the later teen years.
Corrine had been a happy well-rounded girl with a lot of interests, music, acting and science. When Corrine hit 16 she changed. Her mother often wondered where her perfect child had gone. Some days Corrine thought her heart would break from their fights. That was the summer she started working at the Dairy Queen in town. Corrine wasn’t a beauty in the magazine model or movie star sense and she wasn’t self-conscious. She knew her self worth and her confidence and smile showed her true beauty. Most boys her own age were intimidated by her confidence. Some were interested in her but didn’t know how to approach her with romantic intentions. Her mother saw this and was relieved to know that she didn’t have the same low self-esteem as she had at that age. It saved her from making poor choices. When she started working Corrine changed, first, it was a shortness and then Melissa had a feeling that Corrine was lying. She was sure that mention of a boy would follow but it never did. When Corrine came home later and later, Melissa’s mom radar sensed a change. Corrine would lie about where she was and her mom would know it. At first, Melissa said nothing then one night when she was three hours later than usual she had worried and was just about to call the State Patrol when in walked Corrine all casual and wearing a beautiful scarf. Melissa lost it and yelled, “Where have you been? I have been so upset and worried that you’d been in an accident.” Corrine looked guilty and said, “Just talking to Meagan when we closed up the DQ.” When Melissa still yelled, “Where did you get that scarf?” in an accusing tone, Corrine stammered, ” Meagan gave it to me!” Then clearly upset and covering something she yelled, “Why do you have to be such a nosy bitch.” She went to her room and slammed the door. Corrine had never talked that way to her mom. They both cried themselves to sleep.
What Melissa didn’t know was that her daughter was falling in love with an older man. Her boss, Mike was years older than her. Mike had gone to college for a few years before realizing he was wasting his parents’ money and his time. His dad had a heart attack and his mom needed him back at their business, the Dairy Queen. When he hired Corrine, he knew she was smart and beautiful and the way his heart beat when she was near he also knew she was trouble. He was four years older than her so he kept things on a professional level. After closing chores, Corrine would come into his office to give him the deposit and they fell into conversation. First it was surface things, like an interaction with a customer or a funny thing that happened but as her deposit was always to the penny, Mike started to trust her and instead of double-checking everything right away, they would talk about everything. He loved her sense of humor as well as her intelligence and she was so easy to talk with. The more they talked the more they became good friends. Corrine would come home later and later and that would put her mother and her at odds.
When the scarf incident happened, it confused Corrine; she had never lied to her mom. Why did she make up the story about Meagan? The feelings she had about Mike were confusing and having no experience with guys she wanted to talk to her mom about them, but felt that men was a topic her mom either didn’t know much about or wouldn’t share. When she asked her mom about her father she saw her mom grow red with shame and guilt and she never really answered it. Corrine felt deep within her that it was a subject that had this secret surrounding it and to keep the peace, she learned not to go there. It made her mom visibly uncomfortable.
Melissa wanted to explain, about her dad a few times but being a single parent did not leave much time for reflection and she was just as confused about his “role” as ever. She could barely remember him at all and thought of him as the “sperm donor.” She never heard from him since Corrine’s conception.
That summer was hard on both mom and daughter. Melissa tried not to pry into her daughter’s whereabouts, but at the back of her mind she was concerned. After the scarf incident, Corrine tried to tell her that it wasn’t unusual for her and another coworker to talk and forget about time and not to worry when she was late. She made a concerted effort to never be three hours late, usually no more than two.
Corrine and Mike kept things on a mostly professional level. Mike could hardly stand it but Corrine was just too young in age. Yet, she was more mature than most women he met. She was so confident and it was very attractive. Mike and Corrine became very good friends discussing everything from books to fishing. Fishing of all things! Corrine told him that her two “Uncles” Peter and Zane would take her out on their boat when they visited Madison to bring more artwork. Corrine had declared at age five, ” I want to fish!” They lovingly obliged her by buying all the gear and learning all they could about it. It turned out that Corrine was much better at fishing than either of them; they gave up the charade of liking it through the years but loved taking Corrine out on their boat to do her thing. Mike loved to fish but since he’d come back to town he had too much responsibility and work to find the time to go up to the family cabin on the lake. He would tell her fishing stories and she had quite a few of her own. They joked who was the better fisherman all the time and Mike would say “Someday I’ll take you fishing and then we’ll see.” Corrine would laugh and tell him “You most certainly will.”
The summer flew by and Corrine worked more than she originally wanted just to help out and truth be known to be close to Mike. Corrine and her mom only got down to Madison once to the disappointment of her Uncles. It was a tense drive, Melissa tried talking with her daughter but she had her headphones in most of the time or slept. Melissa really wanted to talk with her daughter about boys but Corrine never gave her the chance. Melissa figured there would be another time.
When school started again, Corrine was very busy but kept her job at the DQ on the weekends. It wasn’t for the money, although, that’s what she told her mom. It was for being with Mike. He was still the only guy she cared about and she was starting to think the feelings were mutual.
Corrine graduated from high school and worked at the DQ almost every day of the week. She loved working there not only for the customers who enjoyed her efficient service, but she enjoyed the way she got close to her coworkers. When they were busy, they had to hustle and count on each other but when there was time, they would turn up the music and be silly teenagers. Mike hired an assistant manager, Debbie, who was a single mom and really needed the money. She fit in with the younger kids and they all loved and respected her. In fact he noticed they worked really hard when she was around because that is what she modeled. She was perfect. Corrine could confide in her and talked to her about a guy she liked. Debbie had great advice and already knew who the mystery guy was. It was hard for Debbie not to notice the electricity around them. Everyone noticed they were great friends.
That summer, Corrine was turning eighteen. Mike could hardly wait and he planned a surprise for months for her birthday. He asked her if they could finally have the fishing contest. He wanted to bring her up to the family cabin on her birthday. Corrine and her mom’s relationship was already very tense and each rationalized that this was natural. Corrine needed to make the break that was coming when she went off to college in September. She was going to Northwestern outside of Chicago a good 7 hours drive and it would be a hard adjustment for them. Melissa had read every book on teenagers that the library had since their tough time last year and it made sense that Coring was creating a distance in order to get used to the separation they would soon have. Didn’t all teenagers do this to some extent or another?
Mike and Corrine were getting very close, nothing physical but their friendship was as close as best friends. There was an undercurrent of electric physical attraction but Mike made it clear he wouldn’t go there until she was eighteen. Still the heat when they were together was palpable. They trusted each other and confided their deepest secrets to each other. Mike told Corrine that he wasn’t happy running the DQ that was not his life’s purpose and since he hired Debbie he talked to his mom about him going back to school. This was great news to his parents. His Dad had gotten his health back and they had always known their son was not destined to take the business over forever. They liked and trusted Debbie and had the idea that Debbie could run the DQ and possibly buy it from them. One thing the heart attack did was put their priorities in order and they wanted to enjoy the time they had left together.
Mike asked Corrine to spend the evening of her birthday with him and go for an overnight to the lake cabin, just the two of them. This was hard for Corrine who had to work up the courage to tell her mom. Not the truth though. She told her mom that she was going to spend the evening with Meagan and the girls at Meagan’s lake cabin. To make it easier for her mom, she said, “Since I was almost born on July 11th, we’ll celebrate all day and bring in the 12th with a toast. Melissa was so eager to please her daughter she actually bought the whole idea. They did have a great day together shopping and she fixed her daughter’s favorite birthday dinner. They toasted with Champagne at 12:04. Melissa drank most of the champagne and got a bit maudlin about her baby growing up so fast, then promptly fell asleep on the couch.
The next day Melissa noticed the energy Corrine had all day. She was bursting with excitement and took excruciating care when getting ready and packing for a night. She modeled 4 different outfits for her mom and Melissa got caught up in the excitement of her daughter. She did notice that when she left she looked ravishing. She looked older than her 18 years, more like twenty-one. She gave her mom a big hug and said, “I love you, Mom! Thanks for birthing me!” as she nearly skipped out of the house, Melissa noticed the scarf trailing from around her neck. She wiped away a tear of happiness and whispered, “Your most welcome, I love you!”
Corrine met Mike at the DQ. Mike could barely say anything, his eyes grew big as he stammered, “You are so beautiful!” and then ”Happy Birthday!” At that moment, he threw his arms around her and gave her the kiss he’d been saving for so long. It was everything both of them imagined. Maybe better. They nervously got in his car, where Mike had loaded baskets of food and drink. As they drove, their nervousness quickly faded and they fell into easy conversation. They arrived at Mike’s family’s cabin in about an hour.
Mike had thought of everything. He lit candles and put out a beautiful tablecloth. He served her all the food he’d prepared. He also brought a bottle of wine. Neither of them drank so with a small glass each they both felt a bit of a high, which helped with their inhibitions. They both flirted shamelessly with each other. At the end of the meal, Mike brought out the dessert. A little cake decorated with beautiful pink and purple flowers and in the middle of the largest flowers, sat an engagement ring. Mike asked, ” Corrine, love of my life, will you marry me?” He also added, ” I am enrolled at Northwestern for fall!” Corrine was surprised and happy. Corrine could barely take it all in, finally she said, “Yes, yes, yes!” She threw her arms around Mike, pushed him to the floor for their second long and passionate kiss. Soon they were peeling each other’s clothes off and staring into each other’s eyes beside the romantic fire. Mike made a plush bed of blankets on top of the rug by the fire and they spent hours exploring each other’s bodies as they had spent over a year exploring each other’s minds.
Their first time was awkward but as the night wore on their lovemaking was like their friendship, deeply satisfying. They knew one another and could read each other. With a nod or a sigh they could decipher the language of love. They woke up the next morning high on love. It didn’t matter that they only had a few hours of sleep. Mike playfully swatted her backside and said, ” Corrine, it’s time for you to prove your fishing skills!”
Corrine decided she had better call her mom. Melissa could tell that Corrine was very happy over the phone. She told her mom a bit of the truth, she said she was at the lake with Ashley and would be staying most of the day; she’d be home later that night. Melissa was concerned and told her the weather was going to change later that day with severe storms. Corrine said, “Don’t worry mom, I’ll be careful.” She said, ” I love you so much, thanks mom!” Melissa got in a ” I love you too, Corrine, have a great time!”
After a nice breakfast, they cleaned everything and walked down to the boat. It was a small boat and they threw their gear in. They were giddy with love for each other and the day was bright and beautiful. When they were out on the lake for a while, Mike looked around and realized someone had taken the life jackets out of the boat. He hadn’t noticed it until they were a long way from the cabin. They were both great swimmers and the lake was calm and clear, still Mike voiced his concern. Corrine laughed jumped on his lap and kissed away his fears.
They spent the day with their poles in the water but not really concentrating on fishing. They were too busy talking, kissing and holding each other. They talked about living together at college and getting married the next summer.
Corrine wondered out loud how her mother would take it. She shuddered but realized there was nothing her mom could do except finally accept it. She was 18, and her life was her own now. She felt she could do anything she set her mind on. Having Mike with her felt right, they were a tight team and his love and support would make everything easier. Their love came easy probably because they had spent a good year just being friends. She was content.
All of a sudden it seemed, the wind came up and with it the clouds and when they looked around it was ominous and dark. They had been so absorbed with each other they hadn’t noticed anything changing. It caught them by surprise. They quickly got their poles out of the water and started back but the waves came on fast and before they knew it the boat flipped over spilling them both into the cold water. Corrine was a strong swimmer but was also quite thin and the cold quickly sapped her strength. Mike held on to her but she started to panic, yelled, and hit at him, fighting to get out of his arms. Mike tried to hold on to her but she had more strength and suddenly he lost his hold. When he was rescued he had in his fist the scarf he had given her and that was all. Corrine was nowhere to be found.
Mike was taken to the hospital. He had hypothermia and was delirious. He was yelling about Corrine, “Where is Corrine?” When his body temperature returned to normal he asked how Corrine was doing. The police came and he told them Corrine was with him, he gave them her information. By the time Melissa was called she was already in a state of panic. She just knew something was wrong before the phone rang. When it rang, she could barely find the strength to walk over and pick it up, the police told her there was an accident on the lake and her daughter was missing, they added, ” Mike is okay now.” This startled her and she quietly asked, “Mike, who?” Then yelled, “Who the fuck is Mike?” She then remembered that for a year, Mike her boss had been mentioned on more than one occasion. She wrote down all the information and when she hung up she completely broke down. Feeling like a fool and idiot, why had she trusted her daughter even while having a nagging feeling about her lying all the time? Then quickly deciding that maybe she was okay, missing was not dead. She called her old friend Jo who came to drive her up to the lake. Jo must have been a racecar driver or Melissa was just lost in fear and her thoughts, they made the hours drive in minutes it seemed. They quickly found the flashing lights of the ambulance and rescue units. The quick storm had been just that, the sun was now out, and the early evening was glorious. It was hard to believe that such a terrible storm had gone through a few hours ago. Melissa talked with the rescue team but heard little of what they said. Something about it could be days before they found her. What little hope Melissa had was completely wiped away and she found that she could barely walk. She was sick to her stomach and fought the urge to throw up, yet the bile rose in her mouth until she could fight it no more. Thank God, Jo was by her side and held her while she relieved the content of her stomach. They made it into her car and one of the rescue team told her that she could go to the hospital and see her daughter’s fiancée. That word didn’t even register with Melissa, but Jo looked puzzled.
When they got into the car, Jo said, “When did she get engaged?” Melissa could barely speak but said, “Please take me to the hospital, Jo.” When they got to the hospital, Jo was more than a little concerned about Melissa, her face was white as a ghost and she could barely function. When they walked into the hospital, Melissa lost her ability to speak. As Jo approached the visitor’s desk, she asked about the man who was admitted from the boat accident. She didn’t have a name. The woman behind the desk, asked her to take a seat. As Jo motioned, Melissa to follow her, she saw Melissa staring at a man who was leaving. Melissa felt confused, ”What was Corrine’s boss doing at this hospital.” She said, “Mike?” Mike turned around to see Melissa staring and looking like hell. He immediately saw Corrine in Melissa and rushed to Melissa, crying, “I’m sorry.” This was very confusing to Jo and Melissa. Melissa collapsed slowly sinking. Jo wanted to join her but caught her as she sunk to the floor. A nearby nurse ran over and all three of them got her to a wheelchair where she started to come to. Some of the exchange must have made sense and when she became conscious, she lunged at Mike who was standing near her wheelchair. With the viciousness of a mother bear, she hit him and screamed at him. Yelling, “I knew it you bastard”, “I knew you were lying!” It took 3 people to pull her off Mike who actually huddled in a ball on the floor, crying. Melissa was someone else, a nurse came and gave her a sedative shot, and they held her until she once again collapsed on the floor. They took her to the psyche floor of the hospital. Melissa was off and on despondent and crazy wild. Finally a psychologist who was calm and patient got her to tell her story.
A few days had passed and there was still no sign of Corrine’s body. Mike was not able to do anything, wracked with guilt and consumed by grief. His parents got him into a facility with the best care. Zane and Peter came up from Madison and went home with Melissa when she finally got the approval of Dr. Gould. Dr. Gould had gone through his own terrible nightmare two years ago and somehow, Melissa sensed his understanding of her grief in a way no one else had been able to comprehend. Upon release from the hospital, he asked Melissa if she would like to see him within the month. She was thankful for him and his understanding and felt comfortable with him whether she was raging or in a puddle of tears. Melissa couldn’t manage a smile but did say, “Yes, I will.”
Zane and Peter were excellent nurses. Putting aside their own grief when they were around Melissa, they cooked, cleaned and answered all phone calls. Melissa couldn’t talk to anyone and slept most of the time, but enjoyed the warming soups they prepared. She was so tired and so cold. Zane and Peter left after 2 weeks. There was no phone call about finding Corrine. They needed to get back to Madison and enlisted Jo and a few town friends to come every other day to check in with Melissa. Dr. Gould would call a few times a week; Melissa found she could answer his questions. He didn’t pry or tell her useless things like “It will be all right.” He listened when she would talk and that was what she needed.
Finding the journal was the balm she needed. Writing everything down was a good step in her grief. She would write about the happy times, remembering Corrine. She would write and feel the pain of Corrine’s betrayal. She would write and cry with all the rage and sadness inside her. Yet, she was doing something. It felt good to do something. She would go into her studio and stare at a blank canvas and knew she wasn’t ready. Writing was her healing.
At the hospital, Mike was not doing well at all. He had lost weight and they considered giving him supplements. He slept a lot, but they got him up and dressed and into therapy. The therapy seemed to help a little; his therapist would let him talk about his love for Corrine, his guilt for her death and his fear that he would never love again. His therapist was a woman in her fifties, named Dr. Love. She had seen a lot in her life and was a specialist with grief. One day, when Mike started doing a bit better, she gave him a small book with lined pages that was blank. She encouraged him to write. When he got back to his room, he noticed the time, 11:11. He had been unaware of time and days for a long time. He opened the book and started to write, but this was something new to him. He mostly sat and stared at the blank pages. Little by little, he’d pick up the book and write. Each day he found it easier to write. Sometimes, when he looked up he’d notice the clock and most of the time, day or night; he’d notice the time, 11:11. It seemed like a coincidence and the more he noticed it the more it seemed to mean something. One day, he started writing about how he met Corrine. When he went to his Dr. Love, he asked her if he should explain things to Corrine’s mom who had not known of their relationship. Dr. Love said, ”Write what you would want to say to Melissa, later, you may want to send it to her.”
It was hard to write to someone you didn’t know. Yet seeing Melissa at the hospital, he had seen Corrine in her face and even her eyes. He felt like a coward so he knew that he needed to face his guilt and tell Melissa everything. He started at the beginning and when he got to their last night, he asked Dr. Love, “Should I tell her about making love to her daughter?” Dr. Love thought about her answer for a long time, finally she said, “If it were my daughter, I’d want to know that she had that experience and that she was deeply and completely loved, I’d want to know.”
Without going into every detail, he wrote about the last evening they spent together. He told her of their meal and how that day was the first day, they had ever really kissed. He wrote with detail, how he felt that day, preparing everything, finding the cake and how he had found the perfect ring for Corrine. He wrote about their plans and how Corrine had worried about telling her mom who she felt would be angry and betrayed but would eventually come around, seeing how happy her daughter was. When he was done, he put it in an envelope and when he stood to go get a stamp, he saw the clock, 11:11. He shook his head and actually broke into his first smile since before the accident.
Jo came to visit early on morning and saw more life in Melissa than she had seen for quite awhile. Melissa was at the kitchen table writing in her journal. She was dressed, finally. Jo brought in a stack of mail, set it on the table and made two cups of tea. Melissa told her she had made an appointment to see Dr. Gould and asked Jo if she could drive her up there. “Of course” Jo said. She was more than happy that Melissa was coming around. They didn’t talk very much. Jo asked if Melissa had heard anything and cringed at the no answer. When they found the body, it was going to be extremely hard and this made Jo nervous. Melissa actually said as if reading Jo’s mind, “I’ve thought about the service I want when they find Corrine’s body. She told me she never wanted to be put in the ground and that she wanted to be cremated.” Melissa added, “I thought it was odd that she would tell me that, she was so young.” When Jo left she sat in her car and cried before driving slowly home.
Melissa knows that Jo sat in her car; she was quite engrossed in writing. When she stood up she glanced at the stack of mail and as she carried it into her studio that was also her office, she noticed the time, 11:11 again. She now almost knew that if she would notice a clock it would be the same time. She wondered for a few seconds if this was like a Twilight Zone episode, it seemed vaguely familiar. Maybe she’d wake up and it would all be a dream. When she set the stack of mail on her desk a light purple envelope that was hand addressed fell onto the floor. Purple was Corrine’s favorite color; it was a thought but a thought that wasn’t in Melissa’s voice. For a moment she could see her daughter as a small girl saying with glee, “Purple is the most noticeable color, it’s my very favorite!” Melissa remembered thinking that it would be replaced in a few days or years, but Melissa stuck with purple and loved when she would find purple shoes or a purple purse. She picked up the letter. She didn’t recognize the handwriting or the name at first glance. Mike Cooper. Then it dawned on her and she nearly threw the letter in the trash. Something made her keep it and she trembled with it in her hands. She set it back on the desk and called Dr. Gould. His service said he was busy but they’d leave a message for him to call. She waited by the phone, if there were any cigarettes around she felt like that is what she needed to calm her down. Dr. Gould got the message and knowing Melissa was going to see him tomorrow, he almost didn’t call. His instincts kicked in and when it was his lunchtime, he called her. She told him that his daughter’s secret boyfriend had written to her and she just didn’t know if she could open the letter. She didn’t know if she could read it. Dr. Gould asked her if she could wait, and Melissa said that she was going to throw it away but couldn’t. There was a nagging something that wanted to see what he had to say. Dr. Gould asked her to wait a minute, went to his nurse and told her to rearrange his schedule, he had an emergency and didn’t know how long it would take. Coming back to the phone, he asked if she wanted to read it while he was on the phone. This felt comforting and she decided to read the letter. Hands shaking she opened the letter; it was pages long. His writing was actually printing and it was so legible. She read the letter. Dr. Gould could hear Melissa breathing, sometimes it was fast, and he could hear a moan or two and then crying. He just held the phone and listened, neither said a word. Melissa sobbed and Dr. Gould felt that it was the end of the letter. He just stayed on the line. Finally, as the sobs abated, he asked, ”Melissa are you okay? Do you need me to come see you?” He heard her snuffle and blow her nose. She said “No, but can I talk to you for awhile?” She told him the gist of what was in the letter and Dr. Gould listened for a long time. Melissa finally said that she needed to lie down but would see him at her appointment. He asked again if she was okay. Melissa said decisively, ” I think I am.”
The next day while Melissa was getting ready she noticed a bag on the floor. Where did it come from she puzzled? She reached for it and when she put her hand in it, she found small bottles of lotion and shampoo from the hospital. She almost set the bag down, but her hand touch something else, it was smooth as silk. She pulled it out and there was the scarf. That damned scarf! She was about to throw it when she had it near her face and she smelled it, it was Corrine’s scent and it seemed strong. How? She put it up to her nose and breathed in, just like she used to do when she hugged her sweet Corrine. She sat at the edge of the bed, had that scarf up to her nose, and took the scent in. She happened to see the clock and wasn’t surprised to see the time, 11:11. She stood up, wrapped the scarf around her neck. It was as if her daughter was in that scarf and this bolstered her. She knew then what the message was. She had the strength in her to forgive. Forgive her daughter, forgive her fiancée and most of all, and forgive herself. She wasn’t there yet, not by a long shot but she finally knew that was what she had to do. She was grateful for that.