Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal : Chapter One Hundred and Thirteen : My life now


Wednesday early morning — 2:47 A.M. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

“Jill.” Jacob shook her shoulder. “Jill.”

Lying next to him, Jill was sweating and shaking her head. Her hands were up near her face and she was crying. Her lips were moving. He leaned close to hear what she was saying.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” Jill whispered.

“Jill!” Jacob said again. He shook her shoulder.  “Wake up!”

Jill opened her eyes. Seeing Jacob’s face, she threw herself into his arms and cried. He stroked her hair and her back. He kissed her neck. When she seemed to have stopped crying, he leaned back. She was asleep. Confused, he lay her back on her pillow. Her head had not hit the pillow when she started crying and shaking her head.


Jacob’s voice was insistent. Jill opened her eyes. She looked confused.

“Jacob, what’s wrong?” she asked.

He clasped her to him.

“What is it?” she asked. “What happened?”

He explained waking up to her crying and the ‘I’m sorrys’. He told her about holding her while she cried then finding her asleep again. She looked more and more confused the longer he spoke.

“I was crying?” she asked.

Touching her face, she felt her tears. She sat up and leaned against the headboard.

“What’s going on Jill?” he asked.

She smiled at him.

“Could you bring me a bottle of water?” she asked. “I’m going…”

She pointed to the bathroom. Jacob watched her naked body move into their bathroom. Getting up, he pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms. He went out into their suite’s main room to get a couple bottles of water from the refrigerator. He returned to the room, and their bed, with the bottles. Jill came out of the bathroom and put on a short silk robe.

“Do you mind if I…”

She pointed toward Katy’s room. He shook his head and followed her to Katy’s room. Leaning over the bed, Jill kissed Katy’s cheek and whispered ‘I’ll never leave you.’ She stroked her daughter’s hair. Katy stirred but didn’t wake. He put his arm over Jill’s shoulder and she tucked herself into him. He gently led her back to bed. He helped her out of her robe, and stripped off the pajamas, before getting into bed.

Lost in thought, Jill lay on her side looking at him. He leaned up against the bed board and she lay her head on his lap.

“What’s going on?” he repeated.

“I had this awful dream,” Jill said.

“Awful how?” he asked. “You kept saying you were sorry over and over again.”

“I saw everything that happened, you know last year? From Trevor leaving, the bee sting, Katy and Paddie’s big fight, Katy being abducted, marrying you and even going on this trip. I saw it all from Katy’s perspective. It’s weird because Delphie was saying she was traumatized.”

“You’ve been upset by what Delphie said,” Jacob said. “We talked about it a lot yesterday. You talked to Megan about it too.”

“You’re probably right,” Jill said. “That’s why I had the dream.”

“I didn’t say that,” Jacob said. “This doesn’t sound like any old dream. What did you learn from Katy’s perspective?”

“Oh, right,” Jill said. “Katy was fine with Trevor leaving. The party where she was kidnapped? She thought it was a fun spy game. All the stuff at the apartment? She was glad we moved. She loves you. Knew who you were the moment she met you.”

“She’s an amazing girl,” he said.

Jill nodded.

“What was traumatizing?” he asked.

“Me,” Jill said. “The thought of losing me. Seeing me so upset when Trevor divorced me; freaking out when Trevor was killed; checking out when with Trevor’s parents; waking up at the hospital by herself. I guess it’s been her fear for a long time.”

“Did you find out why?” he asked.

“Trevor,” Jill said. “He told her once if she wasn’t a very good girl, he would kill me. So every time I was gone and she didn’t know where I was, she thought he’d killed me. When I was emotionally gone, she was terrified that he killed her ‘good Mommy’ and now she had ‘bad Mommy’.”

“Why would Trevor say that?” Jacob asked.

“Who knows?” Jill asked.

“Wait,” Jacob said. “What did he want her to do?”

“I don’t know,” Jill said. “Nothing she remembered. She was so horrified at the idea of losing me that’s all that she experienced.”

“He didn’t rape her?” Jacob asked.

“Oh God,” Jill said. “I hope not. Do you get that sense?”

“She’s too close, Jill,” Jacob said. “My fear and love for her gets in the way any psychic impressions.”

Jill nodded.

“Do you have any Mommy intuition?” he asked.

“I think what’s interesting about my dream was that it was all Katy’s perspective. I saw and felt things as if I was Katy,” Jill said. “My adult Mommy is horrified at the idea of anyone harming Katy. But seeing from inside Katy, I see how strong and bright she is. I had a glimpse into what she feels and cares about. It was like a gift.”

“Why were you sorry?” Jacob asked.

“I never knew how scared she was of losing me,” Jill said.  “I mean, I bought the Jill doll. I knew she had some problems, but I thought it was from working all the time. I didn’t realize…”

Jill fell silent. She rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling.

“What?” Jacob asked.

“Trevor’s parents continue to push this Grandparent thing,” Jill said. “Even knowing Katy’s not Trevor’s biological child.”

“I thought the Child Advocate assured you it wouldn’t go through,” Jacob said.

“Katy’s terrified of having to live with them or even spend time with them,” Jill said. “I wish I knew what they wanted.”

“Whatever it is, we’ll work it out,” he said.

Jacob stroked her hair and pulled her head back to his lap.

“How do you feel?” Jacob asked.

“Tired, agitated and a little dizzy,” she said. “Why?”

“It’s almost like you had the kind of dream Katy and I have,” Jacob said. “A vision.”

“Why would I get a vision?” Jill laughed. “That’s silly. I was just worried because of what Delphie said.”

“No really, Jill,” Jacob said. “You have all the post symptoms.”

“Why would I get a vision?” Jill repeated.

“Because you’re pregnant,” Jacob said.

“I am?”

“With a Marlowe male.”


Wednesday morning — 8:25 P.M. MDT Rose Hospital

“How’s the acupuncture business going?” the doctor asked when he entered the treatment room.

“Slow,” Blane said. “You probably heard about Jake and the secretary? Anyway, I’m the COO at Lipson while he gets everything sorted out. I just see patients a couple nights a weekend and every other Saturday.”

“That’s a lot.” The doctor picked up Blane’s chart to review his test results.

“It sounds like a lot but everything is actually really good,” Blane said. “Mack’s growing and very healthy. Heather is started school to get her aesthetician’s license. We’re even starting the process to adopt a child out of foster care.”

“You seem really happy,” the doctor said.

“Happier than I’ve ever been,” Blane said. “Ever. How’s my health?”

“Still no virus count for the Hep C,” the doctor said. “I think you kicked it. Your T-cell count is good. Happiness will do that.”

“But?” Blane asked. “Just tell me.”

“Your liver’s not doing so great,” the doctor said.

“When has that not been true?” Blane laughed. His smile faded when he looked at the doctor. “What do you mean?”

“I’m putting you on the liver transplant list,” the doctor said.

“Transplant list?” Blane asked. “It’s that bad?”

“I’m hoping your acupuncture will be able to keep your liver going until a match is found,” the doctor said.

“Oh,” Blane said. “I told Heather not to bother coming. Just a routine visit. She’s going to want to know everything. Do you mind if I call her?”

The doctor nodded and began checking Blane’s vitals. Heather answered on the first ring. Blane gave the phone to the doctor. Dazed, Blane watched the doctor tell his wife that his liver was failing. He was dying.

How could his liver be failing? Now? When everything was perfect?

The doctor touched his shoulder and gave him the phone back. He heard Heather assure him that everything would be all right. He made some mouth noises and hung up the phone.

“Do you think I’m going to die?” Blane asked the doctor.

“You will definitely die, Blane,” the doctor said. “The question is when. And I don’t know. Honestly, HIV positive patients don’t often get livers except from family. We should screen  your family.”

“I’d never ask them to…” Blane said.

“They would want to,” the doctor said. “You have to give them a chance to love you.”

“Did you tell Heather that?”

“I did,” the doctor said.

“She’s probably already asked,” Blane said.

“That’s why I told her,” the doctor said. “Listen, when we met, your virus count was through the roof and that was before you caught Hep C. You’ve been sick for a long, long time.”

“But I’m not sick now,” Blane said. “I’ve never felt better.”

“Then it’s a good time to do this while you’re strong,” the doctor said.

The doctor patted Blane’s leg and left the room. Blane dressed quickly, paid his co-pay and left the doctor’s office. Sitting in a Lipson Construction truck, he wondered what he should do next. Out of nowhere, he felt a desire he hadn’t felt in over eight  years.

He wanted to get high, go to a bathhouse and have sex with a dozen nameless men.

Shaking his head at himself, he put it out of his mind and drove to a work site. His life was too great to mess it up now. He pulled into the site parking lot and stopped. For a moment, the longing to return to his old life was overpowering. Hearing a knock on his window, he looked at the site manager’s smiling face and remembered who he was.

He was Blane Lipson, gay man, married father, recovering addict, with family and friends who loved him. His family would help him no matter what, even if it meant giving him their liver. That was his life now. He smiled at the site manager and returned to his day.


Wednesday evening — 5:25 P.M.

“Where’s Charlie?” Noelle asked. “I thought we were going to watch our shows tonight.”

“He went to martial arts with Nash and Teddy,” Sandy said. “Your Daddy went with them so we could spend some time together.”

“Girl time?” Noelle flushed red with excitement.

“Girl time,” Sandy said.

“What will we do?” Noelle asked.

“I thought I could do your hair. We have that mother-daughter tea tomorrow,” Sandy said. “If you want, and only if you want, Mrs. Heather said she could come over to help with make-up.”

“Miss Tanesha too?” Noelle asked. “Yes please!”

“We can also just spend the night together,” Sandy said. “It’s up to you.”

Lost in thought, Noelle tapped her chin.

“What if we do both!?”

“What do you mean?” Sandy asked.

“We could have dinner, maybe go some place fancy,” Noelle said. “Then we could have the girls over.”

Sandy smiled. Noelle had a marvelous way of enjoying every minute of her life.

“Sounds like a great idea,” Sandy said. “Where should we go?”

“I don’t know,” Noelle said. “Where’s a fancy place?”

Sandy laughed.

“Can we go to that place you and Daddy had your first real date?” Noelle asked. “Daddy told me all about it.”

“Avenue Grill? It’s not super fancy,” Sandy said.

“That’s okay,” Noelle said. “This is a historical journey.”

Sandy smiled at Noelle’s exuberance.

“Mommy?” Noelle asked.

“What’s up?” Sandy asked.

“I have something to talk about,” Noelle said.

“That’s good. So do I,” Sandy said. “What do you have to talk about?”

“You first,” Noelle said.

“Teddy asked your Dad if he could take you out to the movies,” Sandy said.

“Really?” Noelle asked. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about! Teddy asked me to the movies and I didn’t know what to say.”

“What did you tell him?” Sandy asked.

“I told him that I have a Mom now,” Noelle said. “I would ask her if it was all right.”

“Nash wants to take Melinda out,” Sandy said. “You could go together so it won’t be so scary.”

“Seems kinda scary,” Noelle said. “Plus, we never talked about… you know.”

“What?” Sandy asked.

“Sex,” Noelle leaned into Sandy to whisper. “Girls in my class talk about it all the time. One girl asked me to set her up with Charlie after he dropped me off yesterday. They say that’s the only thing guys want.”

“You’re ten!” Sandy said.

“Almost eleven,” Noelle said. “That’s pretty old to still be a virgin.”

“You knew all about sex when I met you!” Sandy said.

“I didn’t think I would have sex,” Noelle said. “It was just kind of… abstract. Like a painting then. Now…”

To shocked to do anything else, Sandy laughed.

“How about this?” Sandy asked. “Why don’t we talk about what you want to do about Teddy at dinner? We can ask the girls about sex when they come over.”

“Great idea!” Noelle beamed.

“Ok, we’ll leave in ten minutes,” Sandy said.

Noelle ran to her bedroom to change. Sandy went into her room to change her top. Staring in the mirror, she had no idea how to talk to this girl about having sex. She was a baby when she’d first had sex. Sandy shook her head. These kids brought her to the strangest places. She made quick calls to Heather and Tanesha to set up their girl’s night later on.

“Ready?” Noelle asked.

“Ready.” Sandy said.

Noelle took off down the stairs. Closing the door to the apartment, Sandy was sure this was going to be an interesting night.

“Come on!” Noelle said from the stairwell.

Shaking her head at life’s twists and turns, Sandy trotted down the stairs to catch up.

Denver Cereal continues next week…


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