Family Inheritance

Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich Read Free Book Online
Authors: Terri Ann Leidich
and
Laura were ten years old. They were outside her old schoolhouse in Minnesota, and
the three of them were jumping rope as Helene watched from the sidelines. Their frilly
dresses bounced around them as the ribbons in their pigtails streamed and bobbed
with each jump. Helene stood there with her long, straggly hair and an old hand-me-down
dress that her mother had gotten from somewhere. As their young legs jumped to the
rhythm of the rope, their sing-song voices filled the air. “Helene’s daddy is a drunk.
Helene is a big, old frump.” Then the three faces turned toward her and continued
their ditty. “Go away, ’cause we won’t play, not today or any day.” Helene tried
to smile at the absurdity of her dream, but a shudder passed through her.
    Coming back to the present, Helene observed the fake smiles on Catherine and Stephanie’s
faces and tuned in to today’s conversation.
    “This one isn’t much different than all the other women Mark has had affairs with,”
Stephanie said in a bored, monotone voice. Then taking a long drag on her cigarette
and exhaling, she stared off into space before adding, “It just means I’ll get a
month at a spa and the new Mercedes I’ve been eyeing.”
    Even though these conversations had become “normal” with this group, Helene was always
surprised at the nonchalance in which the topic of infidelity was handled. How can
you talk about it so casually? Doesn’t it rip you in two? She didn’t talk about Bill
to these women. In fact, she didn’t talk about her life at all. Until recently she
had accepted her life as it was because she knew life wasn’t perfect, and hers was
certainly a lot better than most. She wasn’t about to rock the boat to which she
was clinging. But she wasn’t going to make Bill’s infidelity or her worries a part
of casual conversation with these women either.
    After Stephanie finished her drink, they walked out to the tennis courts. Stephanie
was already unsteady on her feet, and Helene wasn’t sure how she would be able to
play tennis today. She wondered the same thing week after week, but Stephanie always
managed.
    Tennis was hard for Helene. She felt as though she had to run harder, hit harder,
and play harder than anyone else just to stay even. In fact, life felt that way.
No matter how hard she played or tried, she still came in last, or third, or second
place, but never first. Over the years, she had accepted that fact and settled for
being in the game.
    They just finished their second set when Nick called to her, “Hey, Mrs. Foster, I’m
off in an hour. If you’re still around the club, I’d love to play a set with you.”
    Helene smiled. “Thanks, Nick. But today’s my day for errands and this is my last
set. I’d love to take you up on it another day. Maybe next Tuesday.”
    “Sounds great.” Nick smiled as he turned toward the clubhouse.
    “I don’t know why you bother with that lowlife,” Catherine scowled.
    Helene peered at her in surprise. “He’s not a lowlife. He’s a nice, hardworking
young man who enjoys tennis.”
    A malicious grin crossed Stephanie’s face. “Aw, Helene, Catherine’s just miffed because
she couldn’t get him into bed the way she has most of the young men around here.
Nick won’t be bought off, and Catherine doesn’t know how to handle the rejection.”
Catherine made an obscene gesture at Stephanie and sulked off to shower. Stephanie
headed back to the lounge.
    As Catherine and Stephanie went in opposite directions, Helene watched and wondered
why she socialized with them. Because you’re familiar with the behavior, a small
voice from within Helene’s mind suggested. No, I’m not, she silently argued, then
she realized that Catherine and Stephanie reminded her of her father—drunk and surly.
    It was funny how money could clean up even the ugliest habits.
    As Helene watched the two women stagger away, she suddenly began to understand that
the ugliness was still there.
    “Why do we keep

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