I put on my bathing suit, and headed over to the green cottage to see if Penny could come out to play. “I’m so busy, honey. I’m sorry. I ordered all new curtains and they’ll be here to install them in a little while.”
“You could leave the door unlocked for them....” I suggested, laughing at the fact that she was already redecorating the house.
“Oh you go have a good time! I’ll have you some lunch ready when you get back.” Penny shooed me out the door before I could even get in it.
The beach was basically empty, all the weekend visitors had headed back to their nine to fives and left only a few faithful beach bums. The ocean stretched farther than I could imagine and I felt like I was seeing it for the first time. The deep blues faded into grays and then into sky. The waves crashed in white explosions on the shore. I closed my eyes and breathed in the salty breeze. What had gotten into me? Was this what it felt like to be in love? Was I in love with Junior?
The sun beat down on me, I knew Anna would fuss about my lack of sunscreen, but I didn’t want protection. I wanted to lie on the beach and get red and crisp. It had been years since I had felt the sting of a sunburn, and for some crazy reason I wanted to. I needed to hurt. Pain would remind me that I was alive, pain would prove that this love I felt for Junior was real instead of a dream, pain would merge my outside with my insides. I hurt. I hurt for Mama-- it must have been so hard to for her to shatter my faith in her. I hurt for Father-- all the awful things I had done to him over the years. I hurt for Penny-- she was stranded here wiping up the mess that Mama had made. I hurt for Anna-- she had never had the sister she deserved. I hurt for Junior-- he had no idea what he was getting himself into with me.
I rolled over, buried my face in my towel, and cried. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was crying about, but I cried anyway. I thought about Father and how much I had loved him when I was a little girl. I wanted to love him again. I wanted to tell him that I was sorry, but didn’t know where to start. Why hadn’t I seen his innocence? Why hadn’t I seen Mama’s guilt? How in the world was I ever going to find peace? Suddenly I realized that it was time to read another letter. I had to keep the process moving. It was time to hear from Mama again.
I headed inside, still covered in sand. The letters were right where I left them. I hoped that Mama had some explanation for the lies that she hadn’t even bothered to tell me. I needed answers, even if they caused me more pain. I took my next daily dose back out into the sun, settled back in on my towel, and braced myself for impact.
Do you remember when your Daddy used to sing you that song? I don’t know if I ever told you why we named you Adeline. When I was pregnant with you, I got so big that I couldn’t sleep at night. Robert used to sing me to sleep. It was the only thing that worked! When I was in labor with you, I was in so much pain that he instinctively started singing to me to calm me down… He sang the first thing that came to mind-- Sweet Adeline. It was the perfect name for our perfect baby girl.
Addy, I’m so sorry. I know you must hate me for what I did. I know you don’t understand why I sat back and watched you hate your Daddy for being unfaithful all while I was being unfaithful myself. I just never found the words and never found the courage to tell you. I love Robert. You may not believe it, but it is true. I love him, no matter what I did. I had room in my heart for two, and I’m sorry that you had to find out this way. I’m sorry that you are finding out after I’m already gone.
Now do you see why I’ve asked you to give him a second chance? He deserves your love. He deserves it far more than I ever did. Call your Father, Addy. Call him and let him in again. He never stopped loving you.
All for now and all my love,
"Adeline?" Father's voice was warmer than I remembered. I did as I was told and called Father.
"Hey." I said, for lack of anything better to say.
"How are you doing?"
"I'm okay." It felt awkward. I didn't know what to say. "So, I was wondering if you could have my car sent to the beach house? I can mail the keys."
"Sure, send them out today and I'll take care of it."
"Okay, I'll mail them after lunch. Thanks." I was glad to hear his voice, but was not ready to mention the letters. I needed more time. "See you later, okay?"
"You're welcome. See you later, Adeline." I hung up the phone, my hand lingering on the receiver. I may have been taking baby steps, but they were steps in the right direction. I felt a weight lift off of my soul as I headed next door for lunch with Penny.