Torn

     Catherine sat cross-legged on Jenny’s couch in the morning of a rainy spring day, staring blankly at
the envelope on the coffee table in front of her. Baby Caroline Anna Chandler sat still in her lap. Turning
a plastic ball over and over, as if looking for the top. Catherine dipped her head and pressed a light
kiss into her baby’s hair as she watched the envelope suspiciously. It was no comfort to the babe, she
knew, but somehow holding her, kissing her, gave Catherine the comfort she needed. She traced the
carefully drawn ‘Catherine’ with her eyes, as if the envelope would spontaneously combust.
     
     “What do you think?” She asked the baby, who paid no attention to her. “Caroline?” She was
procrastinating now. Maybe if she played with the baby, the letter would go away. “Care-Bear...” she
cooed, but the child made no acknowledgment.
     
     “Are you gonna open that thing, or just stare at it?” Jenny laughed as she rushed by, hurriedly
getting ready for work.
     
     “I’m not sure.” Catherine answered honestly, her eyes true to the envelope.
     
     “Well, at least find out who it’s from.” Jenny raced back into the kitchen.
     
     “I know who it’s from.” Catherine answered quietly, not caring if Jenny heard her. She watched her
baby play with the ball, the infinitely identical turns never failing to fascinate the child. The envelope
seemed to call to her, tempt her.
     
     Jenny rushed back in, a breakfast bar held in her mouth and pinning her hair up in combs. She
looked down at the coffee table to see the envelope still there, untouched. “Oh for goodness sake,
Cathy!” She set the bar on the table and had ripped the envelope open before Catherine could object.
     
     “No! Jenny, wait!” She sat forward, little Caroline held securely to her with one arm.
     
     Jenny’s brow was furrowed in confusion as she read the letter. “I don’t get it. Who sent this?” She
searched the paper for some kind of clue to a name.
     
     Catherine sat back solemnly, the baby held close. “What does it say?”
     
     “Dear Catherine, I’m sorry.” Jenny read aloud. “I was wrong, and nothing can change that. Please
come home. We’re waiting.” Jenny flipped the paper over and over again, still searching for a
signature. When she finally gave up, she looked down at Catherine who had gone ashen and blank.
     
     Catherine cuddled the child close to her, but the little girl wanted no part of the smothering comfort.
Caroline pulled herself forward, trying to create a separation unsuccessfully.
     
     “Cathy?” Jenny searched for her attention. “Cathy? Is this from Vincent?”
     
     Catherine’s wide, fearful eyes found their way to Jenny. “No.” She answered blankly.
     
     “It sure as hell sounds like it is! Is this his handwriting?” Jenny had fire burning in her eyes and her
voice rising to such a volume that the baby gave in to her mother’s smothering. Jenny shoved the letter
under Catherine’s nose.
     
     “No.” Catherine answered, still blank, devoid of any emotion.
     
     “Then who’s is it?” Jenny demanded. There was no response. “Cathy?!” Again, nothing. “It is, isn’t
it? What a...” Jenny bit back the stronger curse word, “jerk!” She finally settled on the term. “Sends you
out in the cold, literally, and then wants you to just race back to him! What an absolute... jerk!!” Jenny
threw the paper back on the table.
     
     “Yeah.” Catherine agreed absently with a sigh. The baby was squirming again, but Catherine
loosened her grip only slightly, her attention fixed on the paper on the table.
     
     Jenny noticed the child’s fidgeting and immediately took it upon herself to care for her. “Come here,
Care-Bear.” The baby slid easily out of Catherine’s arms and onto Jenny’s hip. Jenny caught the ball as
it fell and handed it back to her little charge. “You don’t play with any of the toys I’ve bought you. But you
can’t get enough of a simple ball from your Uncle Joe. You’re a strange little bug.” Jenny poked the
baby’s nose, which elicited a delighted giggle.
     
     Catherine stood and began to pace. She ran her hands over her jeans nervously, thinking at the
speed of light.
     
     Jenny and Caroline watched her intently with concern. “What are you going to do?”
     
     Catherine shook her head, her pacing never slowing. Suddenly, with resolve and determination, she
snatched up the letter and tore it up. It was vindictive the way she did it; the pieces couldn’t be torn
small enough for her.
     
     “Good for you, Cath!” Jenny praised. Catherine kept tearing. “Yay!” Jenny cooed to Caroline, who
was watching Catherine in terror. “Yay for mommy!” Catherine tore at the paper. “Cathy, I think it’s
dead.” Jenny giggled. Still Catherine ripped the paper. Jenny’s smile fell. “Cathy? Honey, are you
okay?” Catherine tore vigorously. “Cathy! Catherine, stop!”
     
     Catherine froze. The final pieces fell from her hands, making the livingroom look as if it had snowed
inside. With a shaky breath, Catherine took her daughter from Jenny. “Thank you for babysitting last
night.” She mumbled to her friend. “I’ll see you later.”
     
     “Cathy... are you okay?” Jenny, concerned, searched her friend’s face.
     
     “Yeah.” Catherine answered unconvincingly. She hooked the diaper bag over her arm and easily
took the ball away from her child. Slowly she left the apartment. “I’ll see you later, Jen.”

     

     Catherine stood at attention as Father entered the access tunnel to the old storage house by the
dock. They stood at a distance, observing each other. Catherine’s heart was plummeting as she ran
her speech through her head once more. Father stepped toward her first, testing out a smile at her.
     
     “You got my letter.” He stated.
     
     She nodded quickly and stiffly. She searched the tunnel quickly to be sure that he hadn’t brought
Vincent, or anyone else, with him as she had wrote him not to.
     
     “You didn’t bring little ‘Viola’.” He spoke gently, trying to fix the void between them.
     
     Catherine shook her head. “Daycare. I didn’t want her to be here for this.”
     
     “Catherine,” Father began quickly, “I cannot apologize enough for everything that has happened. I
have hurt you, I’ve hurt Vincent, and worse, I’ve hurt the twins. I’m so sorry. Vincent needs you. If this
year has taught me anything, it’s that. And your son-“
     
     ”Stop!” Catherine was backed into the ladder and coward there for the duration. “I can’t. I can’t do
this. I can’t take it anymore. Between you and Vincent, you’ve well stripped me of any strength I had to
guard myself. I’m tired Father. I’m tired of fighting with the two of you. You’ll never trust me, no matter
what I do or how I try to prove myself. And Vincent...” she faltered for a moment, “Vincent will never
choose my judgment over yours. You’ve got him well trained.”
     
     “Wait a minute, Catherine...” he tried to interrupt, but she didn’t stop.
     
     “That’s fine. That’s alright. That’s how you’ve raised him. That is how his son will be raised as well.
And... maybe... that’s okay. Maybe that’s how it should be.”
     
     “Catherine-“
     
     ”I...” it was becoming difficult to speak, her throat was closing up, “I think it might be best if I don’t
come back... ever.”
     
     “No, it wouldn’t!” Father implored.
     
     “You were right.” She was shaky and bitter. “You were right from the beginning. Mine and Vincent’s
relationship... it’s just been a lot of heartaches. I mean, honestly, Father, how many time have we been
nearly caught or killed? We can’t subject the children to that.”
     
     “Catherine, please stop!” He was angry now, his face turning flame-red.
     
     “I love him. I do love him, Father. But I can’t fight anymore. I don’t have the strength.”
     
     “You have the strength of a hundred women, Catherine. You’re just coming up with excuses.” Father
accused.
     
     “I’m not ‘coming up’ with anything. All of this is what you’ve said. I’m just agreeing with you.” she
took a breath to keep herself standing. “I’ve given him a son... he’s given me a daughter. We can’t ask
anymore of each other.”
     
     “Catherine,” Father’s voice came, dark and foreboding, “if you walk out on them, I will loose all
respect for you.”
     
     Catherine swallowed hard and then took another deep breath to make herself move. “Vincent left,
Father. No matter the circumstances, he walked out on me first. I won’t put my daughter through the
constant uncertainties of a father who may never come home one day.”
     
     “He did come back!” Father shouted.
     
     “No, he was dragged back, just as you said. And I’m sure that he had no intension of seeing me as
soon as he got back. I’m sure it wasn’t until you told him about his son that he ever wanted to speak to
me. Am I getting pretty warm here, Father?” She stared at him, lips pursed in anger, waiting for
confirmation. Father didn’t answer. She was calm and solemn again. “It’s better this way. Everyone
where they belong. No risk of anyone getting hurt again.”
     
     “Yours and Vincent’s love was a testament to all of us, Catherine. It taught us to take those risks in
the name of love. That should mean something to you!”
     
     Catherine pulled herself up on the ladder, ready to climb. She set her head on the backs of her
hands. “Give my baby a kiss from me. Tell him I love him.”
     
     “No.” Father’s voice pierced her heart. “You have no son. He isn’t yours anymore.”
     
     Catherine nodded slowly once, and climbed up into the warehouse. She slid the box back in place
and walked away. Far away.




Lift The Veil

     Anna and Jacob snuck quietly into Vincent’s chamber and silently crossed to the desk. They
watched Catherine, sitting in the chair, arms folded on the desk, and her head set on top. Jacob looked
inquisitively at Anna, who shrugged and continued to watch her mother. They starred for a while longer
before Anna reached out cautiously and touched her mother’s head.
     
     Catherine sat up as fast as lightning. Her eyes took a moment to adjust to the setting and she
blinked hard to make her vision come faster. She found her two children watching her with calm,
unblinking eyes. “Hi.” She breathed easier and gave them a half-smile.
     
     The twins didn’t speak. Jacob looked to Anna who’s eyes never left Catherine’s. Anna tilted her
head and craned her neck forward, her eyes locked with her mother.
     
     Catherine found herself unable to break the hold Anna had on her. The little girl seemed to burrow
through Catherine’s eyes, to see inside her. The connection seemed to go on forever as Catherine
squirmed in her seat.
     
     Finally Anna stood up straight and looked at Jacob, who was waiting, eyebrows raised. Anna
shook her head and shrugged, at which Jacob’s shoulders fell and he sighed his disappointment.
     
     “What?!” Catherine finally burst out. “What are you saying in there?” She demanded, breathing hard.
     
     Slowly Anna returned to her mother and sadly shook her head. “You couldn’t hear me, could you?”
     
     Catherine was slightly taken back. Anna had been trying to reach her on the same level as she
spoke to Jacob. “No, honey. I never know what the two of you are doing in those heads of yours.” Her
words were to put them at ease, but she was too displaced to put any feeling behind it.
     
     Both children sighed audibly, obviously terribly disappointed. They crossed around the desk to
Catherine and perched themselves on either arm of the chair in which she sat. Anna let her head rest
on her mother’s shoulder, and Jacob set his head against Catherine’s.
     
     “Grandfather said that you had something to tell us.” Jacob told Catherine quietly.
     
     Catherine closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She looped an arm around each child and held
them securely. “I want to wait for your father. Okay?”
     
     Both children nodded. But Jacob sat up and shifted himself to look at Catherine. “You’re leaving,
aren’t you? You’re taking Anna and you’re never coming back. Aren’t you?” He asked quietly, sadly.
     
     “No.” Catherine assured both children sincerely. “No, it’s nothing like that, Jacob. It’s just difficult to
say and I want your father to be here for it.”
     
     “Where is he?” Anna sat up, alert and looking around the chamber.
     
     “He...” Catherine closed her eyes, “went for a walk. He needed to think some things through.”
     
     “What kind of things?” Jacob chimed, falling back against her.
     
     A deep timbered voice answered him, coming from the entrance of the chamber. “Many things.”
Vincent emerged into the candlelight. “Relevant and irrelevant. Big and small. The turning points, and
the precious calm before the storm.” He stood before the threesome and starred calmly down at
Catherine. “And I’ve found that, for you, there was no other recourse. How could you have faith in me
when I had so little in you? You did what you believed best for you and Anna and I have to respect that.”
     
     Catherine’s eyes were closed as she shook her head. “That was not what I wanted to hear.” She
spoke, barely audible.
     
     “What do you want to hear, Catherine?” Vincent knelt in front of her.
     
     “I don’t know.” She groaned, frustrated. “I wanted you to yell, scream. I wanted you to blame every
stupid little thing on me. I wanted you to send me away, just to prove myself right! And...” she shook her
head, “I wanted you to blame yourself entirely. I wanted you to throw yourself at my feet and beg my
forgiveness!”
     
     “I’ve thrown myself at your feet, Catherine.” He interrupted.
     
     “Don’t!” She implored. She breathed now, trying to collect her thoughts.
     
     “I don’t know what you want of me.” Vincent touched her knee, helplessly. “But whatever it is I will do
it.”
     
     “I don’t know.” She rolled her downcast eyes.
     
     “Catherine...” he released the breath he was holding as he collected his words. “A long time ago...
what seems like forever, I made a promise to your father.” Catherine’s eyes came up to meet his. “Now
I’ve broken that promise and there’s nothing I can do to change that. But, I will do whatever is necessary
to redeem myself. That’s all I can do. I will not walk away from you this time. We’ll face this together.”
Still she starred enigmatically into his eyes. Vincent tilted his head and shrugged. “You’re stuck with
me.” He teased.
     
     Catherine smiled, and then giggled. Finally she took a deep breath and unwound herself from the
children. She sat forward and wrapped her arms around Vincent’s neck, holding him as close and as
tightly as he held her. She held back tears of relief as he whispered softly in her ear.
     
     “I’m here. You’re safe now.”
             
     Finally, she let go and sat back, nodding in sync with him as they breathed.
     
     “What about us?” Anna sat straighter and looked between the adults.
     
     Catherine wrapped her arms back around Jacob and Anna. She set her head against Anna’s side
and laughed ironically. She groaned as she came back up to face Vincent. “This one’s gonna be a little
bit harder.”
     
     Vincent nodded his agreement and sighed. “Well,” he began, “it’s time to tell you the truth.” He
looked into the children’s expectant, almost terrified faces. “You two... both of you...” he fumbled,
“before... you should know that...”
     
     “Oh, for god’s sake!” Catherine burst out. “There’s no easy way to say it, so you may as well just
blurt it out. You’re twins.”
     
     Jacob and Anna looked at each other and then back at their parents.
     
     “You’re twins.” Vincent confirmed, waiting for a reaction.
     
     The pair looked back at each other again, brows furrowed. “That’s it?” Jacob shrugged. “Well, we
knew that.” He fell back against the chair.
     
     “What?” Catherine spun, nearly knocking Anna off balance.
     
     “How could you know that?” Vincent leaned in.
     
     “How could we not?” Anna laughed. “If we were any closer, we’d be the same person!”
     
     “Well,” Catherine looked between them, “why didn’t you tell us?”
     
     “You didn’t want us to know.” Jacob shrugged and pushed Catherine’s hair back off of her
shoulders. “We figured, as long as we were still able to do things together, it didn’t really matter.”
     
     Catherine laughed in wonder. She looked up at Vincent, but he was speechless. “Well, do you have
any questions or anything?”
     
     “Who was born first?” Anna immediately spoke up, bouncing with excitment.
     
     “Anna,” Jacob sighed, “it doesn’t matter.” He insisted, obviously tired of the subject.
             
     “Yes it does!” She told him definitively and then looked back to her mother, waiting for an answer.
     
     Catherine smiled, completely bewildered. “You were Ann.”
     
     “See!” She sneered at Jacob. “I am the oldest!”
     
     “We’re the same!” Jacob whined. “Mom, tell her!”
     
     Even as she starred, Catherine knew that she must look ridiculous. She starred at Jacob, slack-
jawed, her eyes shining. He had just called her ‘mom’. She pulled both close, almost on top of her, and
held them tight. “You are exactly the same!”
     
     “I have a question.” Vincent suddenly spoke and all three sets of eyes met his. “You named her
Caroline.” Catherine nodded, lost. “Why do you call her Anna?”
     
     Catherine smiled and spoke primarily to Anna as she told the story. “Her full name is Caroline
Anna. After I decided not to come back, I wanted any little scrap of what I had lost. All I had was my
daughter, really. I started calling her Anna. It was just something small, insignificant, that brought me just
one step closer to what I had once had.”
     
     “Anna,” Vincent spoke softly, touched, “I was abandoned as an infant.” His daughter starred at him,
eyes shining. “Anna was the woman who found me and saved me. She brought me here. You should
be honored to be named for her. She was as extraordinary as you.”
     
     “What would you have named me?” Jacob vied for Catherine’s attention.
     
     “Jacob.” She answered, smiling and nodding. “Your grandfather and I have been bitter toward each
other for years. But,” she smiled up at Vincent, “I think we’ve determined that everything that’s passed
between us has been as much my fault as it is his. It’s a common ground we’ve never had before. It
makes everything so much less complicated.”
     
     There was a bit of silence in which Catherine and Vincent just smiled at each other. Anna and
Jacob glanced between their parents.
     
     “Sooo....” Anna spoke nervously, “does this mean you two are getting back together?”
     
     Catherine and Vincent broke out laughing simultaneously. Vincent stood and pulled Anna off the
arm of the chair.
     
     “Come on. Let’s get you two ladies home.”
Back to Fan Fiction home page
On to Part 19