Fifteen Years of Lorraine
Lisa Juliet Ramsey
When Daddy was living in an apartment he'd pick my brother, Jack,
and me up on Saturdays. We'd have fun, the three of us. We'd go to
McDonald's for cheeseburger Happy Meals, over to the corner shop for
penny candy, and to the Bowl-A-Rama. Whenever it was my turn to bowl,
they'd both say something funny and I'd just giggle uncontrollably and
drop the ball with a thump. We'd have Cokes and red and blue jellyfish
candy and throw tons of gutter balls.
I can remember thinking that it wasn't so bad that Daddy didn't live
with us anymore. Since he'd been gone, he started taking us places all
the time. I thought that maybe it wasn't my fault that he left us. The
time in the car when Jack asked him if he was moving back home for
Christmas and I said not a word, maybe that wasn't the reason he didn't
come home. Unfortunately, the following weekend I was introduced to Ms.
Reason herself. I can remember the exact day that I started to hate her.
Daddy picked us up that Saturday morning and told us we'd be meeting his
friend, Lorraine, and that she would be coming with us to the train show
in Latrobe. First of all, I wasn't thrilled about the whole "train show"
idea, and I was a little hesitant about meeting this so called "friend."
Since when did Daddy have a friend that was a girl?
When we stopped off at her house to pick her up, Daddy thought it would
be a good idea for us to come in and see her dog. It was pretty cool how
the little Yorkshire terrier would run and fetch his squeaky hamburger.
It was funny when he would drop it in front of you, his lopped off stub
of a tail wagging back and forth like a teacher scolding a child. This
won me over until we got out of the car and started walking into the
stupid train exhibit.
I wasn't sure if I was seeing things clearly or if my eyes were playing
mean tricks on me, so I began to slink behind them, where I scanned the
scene, watching tiny trains roll on their black steel tracks over papier
mache mountaintops past happy plastic people jumping rope and
ice-skating on sky blue ponds. But when I saw her slender white fingers
with the cranberry tips slide in between Daddy's, I felt as though
someone had swung a baseball bat square into my throat. I could barely
catch my breath and a tear sneaked out of the corner of my eye. And I
was pissed. Pissed that I'd let her make me cry, pissed that I was at
the damn train show, pissed that Jack didn't seem to notice anything
wrong, and pissed cause at that moment, I felt my four-piece family
getting viciously struck by a semi-truck. Being only eight years old
didn't stop hatred from piling up high in my little gut.
Weeks and months went by and it didn't get any better. In fact, it got
worse. Mom filed for divorce and Lorraine and Daddy bought a house
together a half an hour away. She tried and tried to be my friend, but
her fake sweet voice dripping with sour honey made it a lost cause. I
had already made up my mind to hate her. To despise her. In fact, I
despised her from the first minute that I laid eyes on her burgundy
leather jacket and poop-brown Firebird.
Saturday visits continued at their new house and I forced my
girlfriends, Caroline and Jess, to come with me so I wouldn't go nuts.
Caroline and I played house with our Cabbage Patch Kids and planned what
kind of pets and what kind of lamps and kitchen tables we would have
when we grew up. We had fun, but she had one fault: she was nice to
Lorraine. I tried to explain to her that she was falling into Lorraine's
web of lies and obvious attempts to get her on her side. I wasn't about
to so much as force a smile upon my lips for this conniving witch. She
was a wretched home-wrecker and besides, her cooking sucked.
Speaking of cooking, Jessica was just the opposite of Caroline when she
came for Daddy-visits with me. Jess was completely on my side. We'd sign
to each other from across the dinner table, barely touching spaghetti
and meatballs covered in thick red sauce. The best part about it was
that Lorraine knew we were "talking" about her. She caught on fast, and
she knew she hadn't a chance against Jess and me.
We'd go through her make-up filled drawers in the bathroom and emerge
with electric-blue lined eyes and hot pink mouths. She hated that. She
hated it so much that one day she accused us of stealing one of her gold
necklaces. Just for that I began wiping sticky green boogers down the
front of the snow-white rabbit fur coat that she kept in my closet.
One day she tricked me into making sugar cookies with her. I almost
liked her that day. I was so mad at myself. So later that same
afternoon, I hid her precious dog in my room and told her he ran away.
Yes, I was cruel. I was an awful, hateful child. Jack was the opposite.
He got along fine with her. Everyone wished I could to the same. Yet I
was determined to keep up my blatant dislike to teach her a lesson about
being a home-wrecker.
I can remember yelling at Jack one night when we were camping out in our
tent in the backyard. I was crying hysterically and screaming at him. He
was betraying mom and me by liking her, or so I thought at the time. I
couldn't understand. One night Lorraine sat me down and tried to talk to
me about the whole situation. I could tell that she really was trying,
but I wasn't ready to give in. That wouldn't happen for a few more
I guess our big breakthrough happened when I was in high school. I was
growing up and began to look at things differently. I realized that
feelings develop between people and sometimes those feelings are
everything. I began seeing Lorraine as a person, a friend even. She
stuck up for me when I argued with my dad sometimes. By the time I got
to college, I began to like the meals she cooked. The lasagna and
rigatoni that I hated as a child somehow tasted sweet and authentic now.
I began buying her Christmas gifts and birthday gifts, and felt awful
when her mother passed away. I began to treat her like a member of my
The silent forgiveness we both understood wasn't something that came
overnight. It took years for me to forget the horrible person that I
used to see in burgundy leather, the one that drove me to Keystone Lake
in her cheesy brown Firebird with the huge golden eagle painted on the
hood, the lady that would drop me off at the roller rink in middle
school, when she knew I was going there to meet boys. I finally saw that
she was just trying to slink her way into my heart. After fifteen long
years of struggle, I finally let her in. And I was proud to call myself
maid-of-honor in Lorraine and Daddy's wedding.
© Lisa Juliet Ramsey
Originally from North Hungtingdon, PA, Lisa Ramsey now lives in
Wilmington, NC with her husband of one year and their two labrador
retrievers. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from West Virginia
University and is currently the marketing coordinator at a local country
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