Not Done Yet

Summary: The women of Elwood City have plenty of problems, problems that seem overwhelming, but they aren’t going to let these problems stop them. In this piece, each of these women has a problem, but none of them will let these problems stop them. They’re Not Done Yet.

For reference, Kate is 15, DW is 18, and Arthur’s generation is 22 years old.

Warnings: Rated T for adult situations, drug references, some foul language, and minor sexual content. More warnings may be added as needed, but the rating will not exceed T/PG-13.

Can also be found here.

CHAPTER ONE
They were gone. Jane reached for her nightstand and slid the drawer open. She leaned over to really peek in there to see if the bottle was there or not, to see if it was empty or full. She wasn’t surprised to find the bottle was completely gone.

The previous day, Jane had gone in for dental surgery to get a dead tooth removed. The surgery itself was painful, and her doctor prescribed enough hydrocodone to get her through the next week pain-free.

But her husband was an addict. David had burned his hand very badly four years ago, so badly that he needed surgery and opioids to get through the pain…and then he never stopped. For the next year, he was able to get more pills from his burn injury and the grafting surgery to fix it, but then his doctor cut him off, fearful that he had an addiction. David was already there, and within days, he had taken some of Jane’s pills that she had left over from a previous knee surgery. Then it was Thora’s medicine cabinet, fake trips to the ER claiming painful sprains, and recently he had intentionally injured himself just to get pills.

As Jane lay there, forced to take simply Tylenol for her surgery woes, she wondered what she was going to do about the situation. Kate had a knee surgery coming up in a few weeks. She’d tweaked her knee during soccer season, but it had never gotten better. The doctor suggested she needed the surgery so she could grow properly and without pain, so Jane discussed the matter with her daughter. Kate wanted to wait until the school year was over, so they scheduled the surgery for the Monday after school ended. That was three weeks away, and Jane was petrified.

So far she’d been able to keep her husband’s addiction a secret from the kids. Kate had no idea, DW had no idea, and Arthur hadn’t been home to have any idea. That was the way she wanted it, but since Kate was about to have surgery, a painful surgery where her pills would be at risk from her father’s needy hand, Jane knew his secret was probably about to come out. She just didn’t know what to do about it.
**-**-**
Francine stood over the layout board and admired her handywork. She’d received a job the previous month editing at a local magazine, and the next issue sat before her on the interactive board. Francine looked over it with a smile on her face when she heard the door click behind her. Before she could even react, the leading editor had entered. He placed his right hand on the edge of the interactive board to steady himself. His left hand? It was on her right ass cheek, gripping it so snugly that Francine knew he could probably feel her underwear.

Her smile and happiness faded instantly. Her work helped her forget that the boss she admired for years was a scumbag piece of trash who loved women, and not in the right way. He was always touching her, always trying to get her to bend over. His eyes were always on her, and Francine felt trapped.

Because she was so new in the position, she was afraid to approach Human Resources (HR) for fear they’d let her go on the spot. She was also afraid to speak up to such a leader. He was the best magazine editor in all of Metropolis, and Francine needed his connections in order to get anywhere in her career. What she didn’t need? Well that grip for one thing.

“This looks good,” Thornton nodded, his hands still in their original positions as a slight smirk formed on his lips. That smirk wasn’t from the layout. It was from the grab he was performing.

Francine slinked away and rushed to the filing cabinet nearby, “I had to scrap this entry. The writer was told to edit into our formats so we’d stop having to do it for them. They refused so I cut their entry.”

Thornton agreed with her choice, “That’s fine. I’ll handle the repercussions,” he said in a low voice. Francine could tell he didn’t like her walking away like that. He wasn’t done yet, but Francine didn’t care. She was starting to feel sick in her stomach, and she knew this guy was the cause. Thornton cleared his throat, “Well, I want the final layout sent to me before five so I can give final approval tomorrow. Are you close?”

“I’ll send it right now. Remember, I have to leave early today?” Francine asked. Thornton nodded and agreed to the new arrangements. He left, and as soon as he was gone, Francine sighed heavily and sent him the layout. Then she got her things and left the office, heading towards an appointment she didn’t actually have.
**–**–**
Fern was almost afraid to open the two letters from publishers. She had just gotten off her shift at the Greasy Burger and decided to check the mail. She’d sent off manuscripts weeks ago, so when she saw the responses, she was happy to finally have them just to get their final word. Seeing that she had a cardboard box in her room filled with rejection letters, she doubted she would have any success.

After glancing through the letters, she realized it had happened again, but this time was much worse. She had been barred from submitting to one of the agencies until she had a legitimate agent helping her with submissions. Fern wanted to do the work herself, but she’d considered getting an agent, to the point that she’d sent some manuscripts to a few in the Metropolis area. None were interested; she’d been rejected by just two and decided against sending to a third, fourth, or beyond.

Fern sighed as she tucked the letters under her arm and walked upstairs. Her childhood home was exactly how it had been years ago, and now she was twenty-two with the kind of job a sixteen-year-old should have. She was miserable. Her college plans to be a writer failed when she couldn’t do the college math they required her to do. Tutoring didn’t help and Fern’s GPA fell so far that she lost a scholarship she’d won for her writing in previous years.

With no money, she had no choice but to move back in with Mom and Dad (namely because you had to be enrolled to live on-campus in the dorms). She got a few odd jobs around town, but the Greasy Burger had been her home for the last two years. She worked the midday shift, which caused her to push through the lunchtime rush with a handful of other people. She hated it, but the hours helped her write every day, once she washed off the fast food smell.

After her shower, Fern sat down with her latest work. It didn’t have the fire that her older pieces did, but she was going with an idea that she hoped would gain attention. The protagonist was similar to another popular character of the time, and the antagonist had all the traits they needed to make a likeable villain. It wasn’t really a mystery, more of a drama with a murder element, but it was something to work on that might make her more than minimum wage at a fast food joint. She’d have to keep going despite her gut telling her that she was selling out. She just needed to keep writing, and one day her book deal would come.
**–**–**
Sue Ellen looked up from her notes to jot down the latest name being scribbled on the board. The language wasn’t tripping her up like it used to, but attending college in France had its own issues. She’d been there for two years to fulfill some dream of her mother’s, and it was starting to take its toll. She was working on a graduate-level degree in France in history, which was amazing. But being so far from home? That had gotten old over a year-and-a-half ago.

Her goal, until her mother pressured her, was to reenroll at Metropolis University for their graduate program in world history. She already knew her professors, and she was already comfortable with what her requirements were. It was a dream, and she submitted her application to attend without a second thought.

When her mother saw the acceptance level, she immediately showed disappointment and started exhibiting depressed behavior. Sue Ellen had no choice but to ask her mother why she was so upset, and when she shared her dream with Sue Ellen, she felt guilty for not talking to her first. She decided to check it out, and she found a French university that would take her current credentials and give her the equivalent of the degree she wanted. It would be three years of what Sue Ellen considered to be hard labor, but her fluency in French thanks to her undergraduate language courses made her comfortable.

Within six months, she knew she’d made a mistake. The course material wasn’t what she expected, nor was the workload. She knew graduate school was harder, much harder than any undergraduate program, but she never expected that all-nighters would become a regular occurrence. Sue Ellen was chronically sleep deprived, and her grades showed that she was barely getting by. She was afraid of failing, namely because she would lose her place and have to admit defeat to her mother.

But that idea was starting to look pleasurable.

When class dismissed, Sue Ellen took a bus to her apartment, a microscopic, toiletless room in a tall yet narrow building that Sue Ellen had grown to hate. Living in the heart of France had many downsides, and this was one of them. Sue Ellen had hoped to bring a bookcase. That dream disappeared when she realized she lived on the fifth floor of a building without an elevator. When she saw her room was only slightly larger than a shoe box, she had everything shipped back except for her clothes, which were hung and stacked everywhere she could find a place.

Tiny living was starting to make her sick, but the atmosphere in the country was making her feel worse. Terrorist attacks weren’t a distant nightmare anymore, and both her and her parents were worried about Sue Ellen becoming a victim in these attacks. Sue Ellen wanted to leave as soon as things started getting tense, but she was only halfway through her program. Now she was only slightly further along and things were worse.

As Sue Ellen flipped through a French newspaper and saw the horrors of both France and beyond, she wanted out, but she had no idea how to leave. She didn’t want to shatter her mother’s dreams, and she knew her former classmates that followed her semi-dead travel blog were happy for her success in a foreign land. But Sue Ellen was miserable, and she felt as if she was living someone else’s life. She needed a change before she got too fed up, but she had no idea what to do. Part of her knew she needed to stay put to make everyone happy, but a larger part of her was ready to run off to somewhere, anywhere but here, to see what else she could find.
**–**–**
The sound of crying woke Jenna from a light nap. She felt her belly and realized she was still pregnant. The crying was coming from her dummy next to her. It cried loudly for some reason or another, so she tended it to it. Tears streamed down her face as the fear came back, but she wiped them away as she heard her boyfriend thunder into the den from his bedroom, his headset still on.

“Can’t we just take its batteries out or something?” Frank asked. Jenna, once again, assured him they couldn’t just remove the batteries. Frank scoffed, “Well I don’t see the point. No real baby acts like that.”

“Well it’s good practice, not that you would know that,” Jenna said fiercely.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“You know exactly what it means! You move me into this hellhole after knocking me up, claiming this will be an equal partnership, but you stay in your room all day playing video games instead of helping me clean up, helping me with this stupid e-baby, or getting a job! You’re pathetic, and I should just move back in with my mom!” Jenna spat.

Frank’s demeanor changed immediately, “You’re not going anywhere. You are going to have my baby here, in my home, and you will take care of it. I never said anything about anything.”

Jenna wanted to tell him that he had, but she knew better. Him moving her out of Elwood City and into a tiny, ramshackle house an hour away was a ploy, a sign that Jenna should’ve seen. She was trapped here with him, an abusive deadbeat who expected her to do everything. If she didn’t do as he said, there would be consequences. Sometimes it was a slap across the face, but when he was really mad, he locked her in the bathroom for days. The bathroom was half broken; the toilet didn’t work and the sink’s bowl was cracked, making it too messy to use. The tub halfway worked, but it hadn’t been cleaned in forever. She wasn’t allowed to touch this room because it was her prison, her little place of hell.

He hadn’t put her there in a while, but her outburst won her a night or two in there. Frank had no second thoughts about putting an eight-months-pregnant woman into the room. He threw the e-baby out the front door, causing the crying to dwindle before crackling to a stop. Jenna couldn’t help but cry as she sat in her tiny hell. How did she ever get to this place?
**–**–**
Muffy sauntered through the lobby, her large white sunglasses still gracing her face as she moved to the express elevator. She held her head high as the doors opened, revealing an empty car. She stepped in quickly and pressed the Door Close button to make sure she stayed alone. She pulled off her sunglasses, revealing bloodshot eyes with dark circles under them. She checked her phone, which was nearly dead, to see how long she’d been at it. By her calculations, she’d been awake for four days straight.

She was back at her high-end condo in Metropolis for the sole purpose of taking the day to herself. Working for her father’s corporation, a property management firm, was difficult work, so difficult that she worked tireless hours just to stay ahead. Ed paid her decently for her work, which was good. He and her mother had cut her off the day she graduated from Metropolis University with a business degree. If she wanted money, she’d have to earn it, but they offered her a spot at the new company. Muffy took it, which helped her work alongside her brother, Chip. Well, more like below him.

Muffy was a grunt despite her Crosswire name, and Muffy was beginning to doubt her parents’ kindness during her childhood. They spoiled her endlessly for years, and it didn’t end when she graduated from high school. They paid her way through college, providing her with a high-end apartment just blocks from the school. Bailey helped them hire another man, Charles, to drive her to and from her classes and other destinations, helping her college years be even more blissful than her grade school years.

But everything changed when she graduated. The lease on her apartment was up, so she had to leave, and the driver was suddenly gone. Muffy was on her own with no resources. Thanks to her connections with the company, she was able to stay in a penthouse five blocks from the office, but she was really house sitting for the people who really owned it. They were investors with the company and respected Muffy’s work, but they weren’t going to let her have the apartment.

When she entered, she realized they were home. Luggage was piled near the entrance, and judging by the noises emanating from deep within the penthouse, they were breaking back in the queen-sized bed Muffy had slept in for the last six months. Muffy grew nauseous, but then she grew worried. Where was she going to go?
**–**–**
Ladonna looked up from her breakfast. The sun had finally come up enough to cover their yard with bright light. The moment was quiet and beautiful, but it wouldn’t last. Within moments, she heard the grunts from the master bedroom. Ladonna shoved the last bit of her toast into her mouth and chewed quickly as she rinsed her plate and washed her hands. She rushed into the room just before she finished.

As she expected, her mother had seen the light and began her day. Today was one her of her bad days, and upon seeing Ladonna, she started trying to get herself out of bed. She flailed and cried out as she moved towards the opposite side of the bed. She didn’t recognize her daughter. No, this was a stranger that she had to get away from if she wanted to keep her life, not that she had much of one.

Ladonna noticed the signs when she moved back to Louisiana with her mother for college. Her parents had divorced while she was in middle school, and throughout high school, they worked out what they were going to do. Ladonna was homesick, so going back south for college seemed like the right fit, and her mother decided to go with her. Bud and the others remained in Elwood City with their father, but these women went on a grand adventure back home.

But things weren’t right. Ladonna would come home from classes and find her mother wandering the property, not knowing where she was or how she even got there. She constantly called Ladonna the wrong name, starting with the name of her siblings before moving to more obscure names. Ladonna looked them up, and at first they were her mother’s siblings, cousins, and other family members from her past. Then the names became unrecognizable. No one was named Susanna. No one was named Mary Sue. She picked those names up somehow, but none were right.

Ladonna finally got up the courage to talk to their family physician. Her mother had a yearly physical, so she forced herself along. Once in the room, the doctor already saw the signs. When Ladonna pressured him before leaving, he told her what he thought—her mother had early-onset Alzheimer’s, which wasn’t good. She gradually went downhill, and Ladonna had to drop out of school to take care of her.

Now Ladonna was twenty-two, and this was her life. Her mother was rarely lucid. She rarely knew who her daughter was, where she was, who she was, and so on. The world was small for her yet her schedule was rigid. The sun awoke her, then she would try to get up on her own. She often forgot where she was going, and she fell without assistance. Ladonna had to help her with everything, but it was getting ever harder. Her mother often wet herself because she no longer remembered what it meant to need to go to the restroom and how to get there. Eating was just as difficult, especially on days when Ladonna was the enemy. She couldn’t feed herself, so it was up to Ladonna, if she could get it done at all.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beyond, Ladonna’s day revolved around her mother. The only beauty she had was at night, when her mother slept with the sun, snoring softly in her room. During that time, Ladonna could finally clean the house, do laundry, and think about her life.

Last night she thought about her family in Elwood City. None of them knew what was going on with her mother. Whenever her siblings would call, Ladonna would lie and tell them she was in the garden or out with her local friends. In reality, they hadn’t made contact with any of the locals. Her mother had forgotten about them anyway, so why should Ladonna try to maintain the relationships? None of them could help her right now. No one could.

Ladonna was on an island surrounded by her mother’s illness, but things were becoming grim. She was beginning to feel like she could no longer take care of her mother, but she didn’t know what to do with her. She didn’t want to pawn her off on a nursing home, but she needed help around the house. The doctor had given her local pamphlets that gave her resources, and she found herself studying them almost daily. Her mother’s symptoms were at their peak. It would only be a matter of time before she would be completely out of it all the time with zero recognition whatsoever.

Ladonna hated it, but she had to handle this problem on her own. She’d put up with her mother a little while longer, and she would keep her secret another day.
**–**–**
Bitzi looked up from the bar as the guy she’d been checking out for the last hour finally turned to give her a better view. She sighed heavily as her eye finally locked onto the wedding band on his left hand. She wondered if he was married or not, and the way he pushed back shots was only further evidence. He was almost too tipsy to hold himself up on the barstool, and as Bitzi gestured for a refill, the bartender cut off the once-attractive guy. Bouncers were immediately summoned. This hot drunk wasn’t going down without a fight.

“What can I get you?”

“You know what, never mind,” Bitzi smiled, sliding a twenty to the bartender as she lowered herself from the stool, “Keep the change,” she added, grabbing her purse and heading towards the door. The bartender, who she thought was named Robby, was a regular at the bar, though Bitzi was still there more often. He knew her well, and he nodded to her. He realized that tonight just wasn’t her life.

Ever since the paper passed a policy where coworkers could not, under any circumstances, have a relationship of any sort that could be considered sexual in nature, she’d been barhopping and frequenting dating apps in an attempt to find a man. Bitzi was lonely now that Buster had left home, and she knew this was about the only way she was really going to get anywhere in the dating world.

As she walked up the street, the cool night air helped her sober up. She tucked her jacket a little tighter around her as she came to the bus stop. There would be one last line tonight, and she knew she needed to be on it. Bitzi checked the schedule and saw she didn’t have long to wait, so she stood and looked around the area. Elwood City was most beautiful at night, especially after ten o’clock when almost everyone was gone from the streets. The night life in the area was lacking, and the bar Bitzi frequented was really inside a chain franchise that closed sharply at midnight. They were closed on Sundays too, at least the bar half, but it was a better location than Eli’s Pub, which was open until four and had some of the worst people Elwood City had to offer. When a bar fight is needed even for a brief bathroom run, it’s time to find somewhere else.

Bitzi’s frustration faded as the bus came into view. She was sick of this game, and she wondered if tonight would be the night she finally decided to give up this stupid game. She’d keep the dating apps, not that they were helping any, but the barhopping needed to stop.

“Hey, Bitzi,” the bus driver said in monotone as she boarded the bus. Bitzi swiped her card and took a seat behind the driver. No one else was on the bus, and no one else got on along the route. The bus driver dropped her off right outside her condo complex, and Bitzi walked inside without incident. She put away her things and sank into bed without a second thought. Yep, she was done.
**–**–**
Belinda looked up from her chart and saw he was out of bed again. Her trouble patient, an old man whose mind was fading, just couldn’t stay in his room. And since he’d just had surgery, he had a blood trail down his arm from a ripped out IV. Belinda sighed as she and her fellow nurses jumped on the guy, and soon he was back in bed again with a new IV in a different place along him. When he was settled, he was strapped into the bed, which caused more protests, but it was doctor’s orders—if he got up again, he’d get strapped in.

Belinda was sick of this endless cycle, but she’d been working graveyard shifts for over a year now. There was no way out of it, according to her boss, but Belinda knew otherwise. Her son, Binky, had some friends that had become nurses, some of them inside Elwood City General Hospital. Despite their young age and inexperience, two of the five nurses he knew were now working better shifts to accommodate their families.

Despite Mei-Lin, Belinda was at the hospital all night, which caused her to sleep all day. Her daughter was fifteen years old and needed her mother, but losing sleep to do anything was too much for Belinda. She was always with the problem patients. She was always fighting battles while at work. She couldn’t just take time to be with her daughter when she should be sleeping. She just couldn’t do it, and it was starting to make her miserable.

Her husband ran the house, a task he was starting to get sick of, and he often left notes letting Belinda know how much they miss her. Because Charles worked first shift, he was gone before Belinda got home, and Mei-Lin was always on her way to school. By the time Belinda left for work, her husband was going to pick up Mei-Lin from band practice. On occasion, they’d see each other at red lights along the way, but usually, Belinda went days without seeing her family.

As she finished documenting her problem patient’s crazed behavior, she thought about something a coworker had suggested before she took a job at another hospital in Metropolis. She told Belinda to file a report against the hospital, letting officials know their work schedules were unfair. She could write the director first and see if that would be enough of a threat to change things, but part of Belinda wanted the shock factor. She wanted the hospital to pay for keeping her prisoner like this. Belinda wanted revenge, but she didn’t know how to get it. She just knew she needed it soon.
**–**–**
Anita could smell the alcohol on his breath as he sauntered in. Her husband had been drinking in his office again, and judging by his stance, he didn’t care. He nearly fell forward as he took off his shoes, causing him to leave his left shoe on as he got into bed. Anita groaned but said nothing. She just grabbed her pillow and cellphone and moved into the other room.

She’d been resisting such changes. Ever since her son, Alan, made his way through college just to refuse graduate school and accept a low-paying office job in Chicago. His parents had scrounged to make sure he had everything he needed, but his sudden decision was a low blow. His father took it hard, turning to the drink to cope with the pain of his intelligent son crippling under the pressure. Anita saw no point in it, and it was her goal to start trying to franchise her business in other cities now that she was having to pull longer hours to accommodate the demand. Now that he was forcing her out of her own bed, part of Anita wanted to leave entirely, getting out of town and out of her dead-end marriage.

As she settled into the guest bedroom, Anita wondered what she could do. She wanted to stay in her home and keep her life, but it was becoming too hard to bare. Her husband was in the way like never before, and she wondered how she could get him away from her and her business without causing too much hardship.

She wanted to talk to someone, anyone, but she didn’t really have anyone to call. The only alternative was calling Alan in the morning, but she doubted he would want to talk. Ever since his decision to skip graduate school, he’d been very secretive, and they only found out about his low-level job when he was covered in an article in a local Chicago paper, an article Anita found on accident. She didn’t understand why the men in her life were acting the way they were, but she knew she needed to find some sort of solution and fast.

But for now, she needed sleep. She flipped off the lamp, closed her eyes, and slipped into a restless sleep.
**–**–**
Molly rubbed James’s head as she sat down with a bowl of popcorn beside him. James was eating straight from the bag Molly had popped moments before, and now he was watching the previews attached to the DVD they were renting. Molly saw no point in them, but she wanted her brother to have fun. He’d just gotten through a recent wave of tests with high marks, so she wanted to reward him. Besides, it kept his mind off of everything else.

A few months after Molly left home to live with friends while attending college, James messaged her and told her their mother was dating. Within weeks, it was clear the guy was an abusive scumbag, a guy their mother tried desperately to get away from. Over the next few years, she tried restraining orders and other solutions, but nothing worked.

Then the day after James graduated from high school, Molly got the call. Their mother had been murdered on her way to work, and the suspect was in custody. It was who they expected it to be, that abusive scumbag she’d fought so hard to get away from. When Molly reunited with James, he was shaken. Their mother had told him the previous evening that things were looking up because there was a warrant out for his arrest. He’d robbed a convenience store for cigarettes and the police were looking for him. According to a letter he left at the scene, he wasn’t going to go down without a fight, but instead of fighting the police, he went after the woman he blamed for his hardships.

Molly and James were devastated, but life had to move forward. Molly was wrapping up her program to become a dental hygienist, so she got a job, started renting a house, and took in James to help him through college. He needed therapy, and Molly was able to get that for him by writing to local therapists and letting them know their situation. Neither of them had insurance anymore, but things were looking up. Molly had benefits now and she passed them onto her brother. Things seemed nice, but Molly wondered how long that would last.

She hadn’t told James about her symptoms. It started as heartburn, so Molly did some online research and changed her diet to keep the burning at bay. But the solution was short-lived, so she decided to use her new benefits to see what was going on. While most of her was healthy, the doctor was concerned about her symptoms. Women her age usually only developed severe heartburn quickly when they were pregnant, but Molly didn’t even have a partner, let alone the possibility of a baby. He referred her to a gastrologist, and she wanted to run a scope down to see what she could find. Something wasn’t right, so Molly went in for a biopsy to see what the questionable areas were like.

That was three weeks ago, and Molly knew she could get the call any day. She hadn’t gone online for solutions (for obvious reasons), but she already knew what it could be just from gut feeling. She knew that she had cancer. What she didn’t know was her prognosis.
**–**–**
Prunella tapped her fingers as she waited at the window. She was at the hospital, again, because of her sister, the hypochondriac. Rubella always thought she had something, from lupus to AIDS to everything else. If it had a definition, Rubella would read that definition and swear she had whatever it was talking about. She even thought she had sickle cell anemia once despite not being of the race that typically had the disease. It was troubling, especially when a very busy Prunella needed to get to work the next morning. Instead she was here, picking up her sister from yet another hospital stay.

When Rubella appeared, Prunella thought she could leave without incident, but a doctor accompanied her sister. He left her, still in a hospital gown, at the top of a hallway with a nurse. He approached and shook Prunella’s hand, introducing himself as Dr. Mano. Prunella nodded and tried to hear him out.

“I’m not a general practitioner or a specialist, but I know why you’re worried. Your sister is a very sick young woman, but it’s not of the physical illnesses she assumes herself to have,” Dr. Mano explained.

Prunella squinted, “You’re a mental health professional. Someone finally figured out that my sister is crazy.”

“I don’t like that terminology, but her GP recommended that she fill out an evaluation, so she did. It was a psych evaluation, and your sister shows signs of depression and suicidal tendencies. We’ve told her that we’re taking her to a facility that will help her feel better, and she’s agreed to go with us. You see, it goes beyond depression. She seems delusional, and it appears that she sometimes hears and sees things that aren’t there.”

Prunella swallowed, “I know what you’re trying to say. Our mother ended up having some severe mental illnesses. I spent my last two years of high school living with my aunt because of her, and I’ve always worried one or both of us would inherit the illness.”

Dr. Mano nodded, “Well, some of these mental illnesses have been proven to be genetic, so that could be what’s going on here. If you don’t mind, I would like to review your mother’s records. Here’s my card and that number is how you can contact me. Your sister will be at Grandview Research Hospital for three days through her evaluation. It could be nothing that we find, but her GP didn’t want to take that chance.”

“No, I understand,” Prunella said firmly as she tucked the doctor’s business card into her wallet. Prunella sighed, “Rubella has been doing this for a few years now, and enough is enough. She always thinks she has something physical wrong with her, but maybe she’s been wrong all along. Maybe she’s been mentally ill the entire time, and if she is, I trust you to take care of it. Now, if we’re done here, I have work at five tomorrow.”

“Go. I already have your number if I need to contact you,” Dr. Mano said. Prunella nodded before rushing back to her car. She took a deep breath as she gripped the steering wheel. She couldn’t believe what was happening to her sister, but Dr. Mano’s ability to find the real illness in her sister gave Prunella some comfort. She drove home and slept better than she had in weeks.
**–**–**
Marina read over the paperwork carefully, her nimble fingers flowing over the words. When she was done reading, she nodded with a wide smile to her colleague, Anthony Parker. Together they were teachers at Elwood City Academy for the Blind, and they had met up for dinner so they could discuss their lesson plans.

“I think that’s a really fun activity. Oh, how did they take your field trip request?” Marina questioned.

Anthony laughed, “Well, they haven’t said no yet, so I guess that’s something positive. I think they’ll decide within the next week or so. That exhibit starts in early April, so they need to get started on the paperwork. There’s a lot of planning that goes into these things, a lot more than you expect when you first get here. You don’t see all of that when you’re in school.”

“Exactly,” Marina nodded. She sipped her drink and passed Anthony’s paper back to him, “I’m hoping we get to hold camp this year. Money is tight and donors aren’t really doing much right now, so the school might not have enough money.”

“They’ll find a way. They always do,” Anthony assured her, but Marina wasn’t so sure. She’d talked directly to the headmaster, and he confirmed the school was running low on funds. That could be why Anthony’s field trip request was going unanswered thus far, and the committees that usually met to plan out summer activities hadn’t been assigned. If money was that tight, Marina worried if the school would close any time soon.

Anthony, who was sighted, noticed Marina’s anguish. He took her hand, “Don’t worry. The school will be just fine. I promise you.”

Marina smiled, “I hope you’re right. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Can do,” Anthony nodded, helping Marina get her bag before watching her leave. He shook his head as he watched her hips shift back and forth with each step. He liked what he saw. He just didn’t know how to say it.

A/N: So this is a story about powerful women in Elwood City getting through their issues, and I’m going to cover as many as I can in this piece. Also, I wanted to write something to be my “He-ey, I’m back!” piece on ff.net to show I’m somehow surviving this crazy thing known as life, so here it is. Each chapter will feature another installment in the lives of those mentioned above. This piece is going to stay T but expect dark stuff, adult references, etc.—y’all saw the warning. So yeah, I’m back ha-ha:D I’ll start updating my old stuff and posting new stuff that you may’ve only seen at my secret hiding place, so expect more activity from me in the coming weeks.

And just to reiterate something, I’m not done with you Travis. We’re all still sick of your disgusting pieces, and rating them M so they’re not cluttering the front page changes nothing. We all still want you off of here completely if that’s all you know how to write. So I’m not done with you. My fans just deserve better (though my hiding place is doing well so 😛 Can’t keep me down).

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