Dottie sent for her sons and her niece. She loved her niece beyond all.
She had lost her first child, Pearl, and was unable to climb from her depression. Her sister, Jean had given birth to a daughter, Barbara, three years ago. Dottie disliked Barbie for no other reason than she was alive and healthy.
Jean was pregnant with her second child, when Pearl died. Somehow, Dottie ‘felt’ that the child Jean was carrying was her Pearl. When Jean gave birth to another daughter Dottie was sure this was the reincarnation of Pearl.
Dottie’s husband, Phil, took a job a distance away, thinking the change would be good for Dottie. Furnishing a new home, meeting new people, should remove Dottie from her darkness, and alter her twisted perceptions.
It was shortly haver the birth of Jean’s second daughter, Karen that Jean became ill. Soon she was unable to take care of her children. Dottie would not take Barbara, but would take baby Karen.
Karen was nine months old when Dottie took her, and called her Pearl.
For two years Dottie was the mother of ‘Pearl’, then Jean recovered. Dottie was pregnant with another child at the time, and would not travel until after the birth.
She had Edward and when he was six months old, travelled with her ‘children’ and Phil to Jean’s city. She did not prepare Karen for what was about to happen.
When they arrived, the despised Barbara greeted Karen happily, and she and Phil, and baby Edward were ignored.
Karen didn’t know who she was, where she was, or who Jean was.
This led to some dissension between the sisters, but Dottie was convinced she was right.
After three weeks, Dottie left Karen and with her husband and son, returned to their city.
Karen was abandoned in a state of confusion where her ‘mother’ left her with ‘strangers’.
This had its toll on her, but she was too young to articulate.
Back in their city Dottie raised Edward then became pregnant again and had Allan.
Years passed and although there were visits, it was not until Karen was seven that Dottie and Phil and their sons moved back to the city and lived near enough to be seen every day.
Dottie wanted to keep her sons away from Barbara, whom she continued to loathe. She considered Barbara a bad influence. When her sons misbehaved, she blamed Barbara.
One day, when her boys were seven and five, they went up to the roof then down by the fire escape. When Dottie found out, she was hysterical, blaming Barbara.
Although it was proven beyond proof that Barbara was no where around at the time, Dottie still felt it was somehow Barbara’s fault.
As the years passed, Dottie kept close to Karen, and eschewed Barbara who didn’t notice, busy with her life, her friends, her world. After all, a girl of fourteen is farther from a girl of eleven, and two boys of nine and seven, then a woman of sixty is from those in their thirties.
She was happy when Barbara married a man her parents disapproved of and was declared ‘officially dead’. To her, Barbara should of died instead of Pearl.
As the years passed, Dottie’s sons grew up and moved away. Jean and her husband found warmer climes. When died all she had was Karen. But Karen had her own life and rarely called, much less visited.
When Jean’s husband died, Dottie moved across country and the two women lived together.
Karen rarely visited, and called every other week. Dottie’s sons called every week and visited as often as Karen.
Dottie fell sick and it was clear she was going to die, so she had Jean call her sons and Karen to come visit her. Allan came first, but couldn’t stay, he was in the midst of a business crisis. Edward came and was his usual distracted and distant self.
Dottie longed to see her ‘Pearl’, who finally arrived.
“Karen….” she called with such love. Karen looked at her, then took the near chair.
Dottie began telling her all the things she needed her to hear, and when she was done, Karen shrugged.
Dottie was stunned that Karen could act so nonchalant.
“I’m dying Karen, can’t you show any sorrow?”
“Aunt Dottie, you made me think you were my mother, so that when I came home I had a massive psychological trauma which I am only beginning to deal with now… now that sixty five years old. So that’s on you. Another thing on you is that you always blamed Barbara. Eddie and Al used to do things knowing you’d blame Barbie, and they’d get by… they lost respect for you long ago.”
“Why are you saying this?” Dottie cried.
“Because you need to know. ” Karen said, strolling out.
Dottie lay there feeling completely alone, and only Jean was there when she died.