Time to Heal: A
we have to talk."
This is an
already completed novel about a woman on a personal journey to discover
herself, and regain her life and spirituality through Healing Touch and
had gone off to work as usual that day. Debra, on the other hand, was
numb and could hardly function. The thought of eating breakfast made her
sick to her stomach.
She was exhausted anyway. She had been so preoccupied, she hadnt
slept well for days. When would be the best time to ask? What would she
say? How would he answer? That one scared her the most. Or worse
would he even answer? Lately, hed become almost impossible to talk
Shed finally done it and now she felt even worse.
"Do you feel like you have to work really hard to keep this marriage
going?" Debra had asked Ted that morning as he was pulling on his
Without hesitation, he had said, "No."
"Then why do I?"
He had barely glanced at her as he walked into the bathroom.
Stunned, she had walked away. She felt as if they were barely surviving.
How was she going to make their relationship work without his help?
How could he NOT realize there was a problem? No
he knew it was bad.
He certainly didnt look happy to her. Ted had always been easygoing
and quick to smooth ruffled feathers rather than get involved in conflict.
Lately, he didnt seem to care about anything but work. His sandy
brown hair was now marked with salt and pepper gray and his face was often
lined with tension. If and when he mentioned work, he spoke through clenched
She wasnt sure exactly when they started the downward slide
sometime after Teds promotion and transfer to San Diego just over
one year ago. Debra couldnt remember the last time she and Ted had
enjoyed each others company. She couldnt even remember the
last time she had had kind thoughts about him. Almost every morning, Debra
told herself, "Im going to be less demanding. Ill be
more cheerful. Todays going to be a better day for us." But,
somewhere before the end of the day, usually earlier than later, shed
get frustrated and lose her resolve. Things couldnt continue this
Debra had her morning shower, applied mousse to her medium length sandy
colored hair and lightly tossed her natural curls before getting dressed
in her office clothes. As her blue eyes looked back into the mirror, she
hardly noticed her appearance. She had always been a low maintenance woman.
Her frame was average, with pleasant curves where they counted most. She
could possibly lose five pounds or so, but Ted had always said he didnt
like women built like boys, and she had never worried about losing the
extra inches. She hurried downstairs where she joined their two children,
Jonathan and Leanne, in the kitchen.
Jonathan, a tall gangly redhead, with blue eyes and a freckled nose, was
cramming his mouth full of toasted frozen waffle as he grabbed his lunch
out of the fridge. Leanne looked at him with disgust as she nudged past
him and picked up her lunch bag. She was a first year senior and, at times,
was appalled by her brothers early adolescent behavior.
Debra ended up dumping most of her breakfast in the garbage disposal before
heading out the door. As she drove down the block, she noticed Leanne
had met up with a couple of her friends who walked to school together
every morning. Despite her lithe figure, long brown hair, and brown eyes,
Leanne was modest about her appearance and was well liked. Jonathan was
straggling down the sidewalk all by himself. He was thirteen and was at
a difficult age in terms of finding his place among his peers. He was
only just starting to make friends since their move.
Debra was so busy that day preparing for a conference at work, she didnt
have time to think about the mess her marital relationship was in. Her
desk phone rang steadily while she typed agendas and a multitude of workshop
handouts. She delivered the originals to printing for reproduction and
then made phone calls to book conference rooms at Marina Village and ordered
food and beverages for workshop participants.
When she got home, she threw a load of laundry in the washer, tidied up
the family room, and made dinner. She was folding laundry when Ted arrived
home shortly after seven oclock that evening. Jonathan was playing
computer games in his bedroom and Leanne was at a friends home working
on a group school project. They had already eaten dinner. Ted took the
plate shed prepared for him and walked over to the couch where he
sat down and turned on the television.
Debra had been waiting for a chance to talk to him. She hoped that, if
she could get him to talk to her they could do something about their relationship.
"Ted, we have to talk."
"The ways things are going in our relationship." She sat down
in a nearby armchair.
He raised his eyebrows.
"We never do things together anymore," she explained.
"Were together now. As far as I can see, youre here and
so am I."
"You know what I mean. We dont go places, we never see anybody.
We dont talk."
Hed already tuned out and was absorbed in the television.
"Ted! Youre hardly ever home and when you are, your nose is
buried in the TV. Ted!"
"O.K." He grabbed the remote off the end table and muted the
volume on the television. "Im listening. What do you want me
I want you to spend time with me
and with the kids."
She sat forward. "Dont you care what happens to this family?"
"Im working hard to make a good living so you three can have
the comforts of life. I cant be here and at work at the same time."
He punched the volume button on the remote and the TV blared to life again.
That was always his response when she talked about his absences from home.
How could she argue with that? It was hopeless. Debra went back into the
kitchen to finish cleaning up.
The rest of the week, Ted did not arrive home from work before nine oclock
in the evening. The most he said to the children was, "Goodnight",
when they poked their heads around the entryway of the den each evening
before going upstairs to their bedrooms.
He was apparently working on an insurable loss projection system for a
new prospective client, Sprint Telecommunications. He had told Debra he
wanted the contract assigned to him no matter how much work he had to
do to get it.
One evening, Jonathan approached his mother in the kitchen, "Mom,
are you and Dad going to get a divorce?"
She stopped loading dishes into the dishwasher. "What makes you say
"Well, you hardly ever talk to each other. You know Denny, the guy
I play soccer with? He said that was what it was like just before his
parents split up."
"Jonathan, your father is very busy at work. Hes under a lot
of pressure to produce a huge project right now to win over a new client.
Its very important to him." She put her arm around Jonathans
shoulders. "Things will eventually slow down a bit and hell
be around more." She wasnt sure who she was trying to convince
more, Jonathan or herself.
"How about you get ready for bed and Ill make you a snack?"
He looked up, "Popcorn? The real stuff, the stuff you cook yourself
instead of in the microwave?"
Debra agreed as he scooted off to get ready for bed. By the time it was
ready, Jonathan was already in his pajamas. The aroma of freshly popped
popcorn and butter alerted Leanne and she arrived in the kitchen right
Leanne, who was in a particularly cheerful mood because her team had won
their after-school volleyball game, fetched sodas for everybody. The three
of them moved into the family room where they sat around the coffee table
and took turns reaching into the bowl for handfuls of popcorn. As they
munched away, they chatted about things they missed in Sacramento and
the things they liked most about San Diego.
Saturday morning arrived and Ted was up at the crack of dawn getting ready
to go to the golf course for his weekly eight oclock tee time. He
and a few of the guys at work played golf every Saturday morning, weather
permitting. The courses are open year round in San Diego and it rarely
rains so that meant he played almost every Saturday. Debra didnt
resent his golfing Saturday mornings. What she minded was the fact that
he often worked late and, on the days he did not work late, he took off
to the squash courts. She felt he was avoiding her.
Debra followed Ted into the bathroom where he picked up his shaver. "Ted,
maybe we should see a counselor. Maybe an outsider could help us get things
back together again."
Ted looked at Debra as if she was insane. "You go to the counselor.
Youre the only one here who thinks theres a problem. I dont
think we have a problem except for you nagging me." He turned on
his electric shaver, which buzzed noisily. There was no point in trying
to talk to him with that racket.
"Heck," she muttered to herself, "theres no point
trying to talk to him period!"
Debra headed down the stairs and walked outside, slamming the door behind
her. She started hoofing it down the block at a steady pace. She had barely
gone half a block when she almost collided with one of her neighbors who
was coming out of the gate of her own yard.
"Im sorry. That was close, I almost nailed you," Debra
"Thats O.K. Close only counts in horseshoes, darts, and hand
"I hadnt heard the hand grenades one before." She laughed.
"I tell you, in the mood Im in, I wish I had a hand grenade."
Debra noticed she was attractive, with long chestnut hair swung up in
a ponytail and a trim figure dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. She wore
tennis shoes and was carrying a water bottle. She was about Debras
age, but she looked like she was seriously into exercise. "Liz,"
her neighbor said as she held out her hand. "Im new in the
neighborhood and Im about to go on my morning walk. It looks like
you have energy to burn. Care to join me?"
"Sure, Im Debra," she lightly clasped Lizs hand.
"I noticed you move in a while back. We moved here a few months earlier."
They started to walk side by side down the sidewalk. "So, whos
the hand grenade for?" Liz asked.
"Ive got one of those too and some days I wouldnt mind
blowing him up either."
They both laughed.
They chatted about the weather and scenery. After they had walked a few
blocks, Debra said, "I dont usually go for walks. This feels
pretty good. Actually I dont usually do much of anything that doesnt
involve work or chores."
Liz looked at Debra and raised her eyebrows, "Why ever not?"
"I work full-time and between that, chauffeuring the kids around,
and taking care of household chores, I havent been able to fit much
"Sounds like youre another one of those Super Mom types. Well,
if you give me a chance, Ill sure help you fix that!" Liz declared.
"I discovered that sacrificing yourself to your husband and children
wont get you anywhere. At least not anywhere I want to be. My kids
are grown up now and living on their own and I sure dont see them
bending over backwards to stay close. I could give that, after all
Ive done for them speech, but I long since realized that doesnt
carry a lot of weight."
"I cant imagine the kids being gone and having time to myself.
I dont know what I would do with it."
"My husband, Kurt, and I have since made some kind of life together,
but if it werent for me taking care of myself, there would be nothing
left of me. Granted, Im still working full-time, but I make sure
I get out for walks every Saturday morning and the occasional weekday.
Right after we moved here, I signed myself up for aerobics classes and
I recently joined a Book Discussion group at the local library. Plus I
have my hobbies. If I didnt do those kinds of things, I would die
of loneliness here. I miss my life back in Denver."
"Its hard. I still dont have roots here," Debra
told her between gasps for breath. It was a long time since shed
had any structured exercise and the pace was starting to get to her. Not
only that but, despite the fact that it was January, it was a beautiful,
sunny morning and she was wearing bib coveralls over a T-shirt. She was
Liz noticed Debras jagged breathing. "I was planning on taking
a little jaunt around the Bay. I discovered a really nice paved path that
winds through the beach and its very scenic. Now that youre
not so fired up about whatever it was that was bugging you, we could slow
the pace. Are you up for it?"
"Id like to. Are you sure I wont slow you down too much?"
"Actually, Im enjoying your company. Once we get around the
Bay therell be a sea breeze that will make you more comfortable."
Liz gave Debra a couple of squirts from her water bottle. They headed
off Honeycutt Street and down the paved road to Crown Point Park. They
were soon walking on the beach and Debra welcomed the cool breeze.
Both had moved to San Diego due to their husbands transfers, with
Liz having come from Denver and Debras family having moved from
the outskirts of Sacramento.
They talked about how tough it was to get established in a new city. Debra
mentioned her job as an executive assistant for a team of consultants
who do professional development workshops. She then asked Liz about her
"Im in advertising. As a matter of fact, I requested a transfer
and it just so happened our firm had an opening come up in San Diego,
so here I am," said Liz. "It was difficult to leave, though."
She explained that her two grown up daughters continued to attend college
in Denver and that, although they talked on the phone occasionally, her
daughters were busy with their studies and socializing so it wasnt
the same as sharing the same household.
Liz suggested they turn around and head back home. "I dont
want to be carrying you home. Well have to break you in slowly,
that is assuming youd like to do this again."
Debra didnt hesitate to agree. "Its a great chance to
let off steam and, God knows, Ive got a lot of that lately."
They decided to meet at Lizs gate at nine oclock the following
Saturday morning and Debra headed for home. She was energized after her
walk and was humming at the thought of having a new friend as she worked
her way through her weekend household chores.
Jonathan came around the doorway all sleepy eyed, just having climbed
out of bed, and heard his mother still humming after she returned home
from getting groceries. "What are you in such a good mood about?"
She told him about meeting Liz and enjoying their walk around the bay.
Jonathan nodded as he went to the refrigerator to get a glass of orange
juice. Leanne had already left earlier to go to another school for a volleyball
Ted was later than usual returning from his golf game. She felt annoyed
figuring that hed probably hung out at the golf house for a while
rather than coming home. He went up to the bedroom without saying so much
as a "hello" to Debra or their children.
Ted came down in time for dinner, but he had a newspaper beside his plate.
He didnt speak throughout the entire meal, except to ask for another
helping of meatloaf.
Debra and the children chatted amiably about their day. Debra asked Leanne
how her volleyball team did in their tournament.
"We won four games and lost two. Central won the tournament, as usual.
But, we were at a disadvantage because one of our centers sprained
her wrist when she fell in practice on Friday so she wasnt able
Jonathan piped in, "Like your team would have won anyway. Your team
is full of a bunch of losers!"
"It is not." Leanne wrinkled her nose in disdain. "Like
youd know anyway. You couldnt spike a ball if your life depended
"I could so!"
"Thats enough, you two!" Debra realized shed raised
her voice and Ted hadnt so much as looked up.
Jonathan and Leanne exchanged dirty looks, but didnt resume bickering.
Jonathan headed for the family room to use the phone to visit a new friend,
while Leanne started toward the stairs to get ready for her evening out.
"Hey, you two! Dont forget to put your dishes in the dishwasher
before you go."
They rinsed their dishes and put them in the dishwasher amid mutters and
grumbling before getting on with their plans for the evening. Debra started
to clean up the kitchen as Ted wandered off to his den and shut the door.
They didnt see each other for the rest of the evening and Debra
was sleeping by the time Ted came out of his den.
Debra groaned to herself as she got out of bed Sunday morning. Her legs
were stiff from yesterdays walk and it made her aware of how out
of shape she was. She limped down to the kitchen and poured herself a
cup of coffee from the pot Ted had made before he left that morning for
the squash courts.
In an attempt to distract herself from worrying about what was going on
between her and Ted, she tackled the yard work. She enjoyed the earthy
smell of freshly dug flowerbeds and the bending and stretching helped
her to feel more limber. When she was done gardening, she put the garden
tools away, and looked around the yard with satisfaction. Then she headed
into the house to wash up and make lunch. Jonathan was already in the
kitchen putting a sandwich together. They ate their lunches and Jonathan
left to shoot hoops in a neighborhood park.
Debra baked a lemon meringue pie. She put a roast into the oven and surrounded
it with carrots, potatoes, and onions.
"Im just a work horse around here," she thought as she
finished washing and drying all of the laundry and then put Yorkshire
pudding into the oven. She was putting the folded laundry away when she
thought she smelled smoke -- it smelled more like burned food -- burned
Yorkshire. The smoke alarm started to bleat.
"Oh, no!" she rushed to the kitchen and opened the oven door.
Smoke billowed out. She grabbed oven mitts and snatched the tray of Yorkshire.
"Ouch!" The tray clattered to the floor as she burned her hand
through a hole in one of the oven mitts. She reached for a towel and retrieved
the pan from the floor, tossing it onto the stove.
Debra grabbed a chair so she could pull the alarm open and dismantle the
battery. She only felt slight relief when the thing stopped screaming
at her. There were crumbs all over the floor and most of the puddings
were burned to a crisp. Only the few toward the front of the oven were
salvageable. Debra sat down in the chair in the middle of the kitchen,
feeling defeated. It was a while before she got up to clean up the mess.
The whole family ate dinner together, but despite their chatter, Ted did
not join in. The children were pleased that Debra had made a typical British
dinner, like the ones her mother used to prepare for them when they were
still living nearby in Sacramento, even if their small portion of Yorkshire
was crispy. Debra was fed up that Ted hadnt even seemed to notice
what he ate for dinner. She could have fed him dog meat and hed
be none the wiser.
The next morning Debra tried, again, to bring up the topic of their marriage.
"Ted, please, we need to talk. We cant keep living like this.
We have to do something!"
"Oh, great. Here we go, again. Debra you pick the worst times to
want to talk. Look, Im under a lot of pressure." He pulled
on his suit jacket and picked up his briefcase. "Ive got a
meeting first thing this morning to find out the outcome on the Sprint
project. Cant we do this another time?" He hurried down the
hallway with Debra close on his heels.
"Ted, youve always got something more important to do. When
will we ever talk?"
"I cant say right now!" He snapped. "Now, please,
Ive got to get going," he sighed with exasperation as he headed
out the door.
Debra had another busy day at work. There was a huge conference scheduled
at the Convention Center. Her first task involved drawing layouts for
six conference rooms outlining placement of tables, chairs, and video
equipment. She consulted with Convention Center staff regarding the requirements
for the Continental breakfast and buffet lunch. Then, she met with her
clerical support team to delegate responsibilities for the many handouts
that would need to be typed and copies made.
Ted had returned home from work even earlier than Debra that evening.
She was surprised to see his car in the driveway. The door to the den
was closed when she came through the front door.
She tapped lightly on the door, before opening it. "Ted, how was
He waited briefly before he growled, "That son of a bitch, Brody,
took most of the credit for the modules I designed. He was assigned as
project manager of the Sprint contract."
She walked behind his desk and put her hand on his shoulder, "Oh,
Ted, Im so sorry. Does that mean youre completely off of it?"
"No, but Im not going to work under that asshole. Hes
an idiot who couldnt design a decent program if his life depended
on it." He stood up and went up to their bedroom, slamming the door.
He didnt even come down for dinner. Debra, once again, felt shut
Ted tossed and turned throughout the night. The sheets were mangled by
morning and Debra felt like she had wrestled all night to hang on to a
corner of the comforter. As a result, neither got a good nights
Ted was particularly distracted the remainder of the week. He even cancelled
his weekend golf and squash games and, instead, spent most of the weekend
in his den.
Dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, Debra went over to Lizs Saturday
morning. She didnt mention her concerns about her relationship with
Ted. At this point, it was all too confusing and she didnt feel
ready to talk about it anyway. She was glad to have a chance to relax
and think about something else.
The scenery really was incredible. Earlier on in the walk they noticed
several kayaks and team skulls gliding across the bay. As the breeze picked
up and the water became a little choppier, locals and vacationers took
their sailboats out and the bay was dotted with a multitude of colorful
sails. There were birds everywhere, seagulls padding along the beach,
pelicans dive bombing into the water coming up with fish, and ducks floating
along the shore. It was a beautiful day and they encountered people rollerblading,
cycling, walking, and pushing strollers around the bay.
Debra and Liz chatted about their jobs and their families. Debra found
her time with Liz to be pleasant and they agreed to meet again the following
Ted called in sick to work on Monday for the first time in the history
of their marriage. His mood, however, seemed to have picked up considerably
by that evening. He announced, in a tone that implied she had better not
ask questions that he would be going to Sacramento for a few days, "on
business". He certainly had her curious about what was going on,
but she decided she could wait, for now. As long as he was in a better
mood, she wasnt going to provoke him.
© Linda Pynaker August 2002.
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