Cece stomped her right foot on the cold cement below her for Oakley to stop moving around, he immediately felt the vibrations and stood still so she could finish grooming him after her chilly ride that evening. She smiled to herself, and moved around to the front of him, pulling his head toward her hand where a sugar cube sat and pressed a kiss to his dark brown nose. One small white patch circled his eye, and she ran her thumb across it as he sucked carefully on her hand. He was so beautiful, and more importantly, he was hers. She glanced up as she saw the barn lights flicker, and knew it was time to go inside for dinner. She clicked her tongue twice and brought him into his stall, covering him with a warm blanket and snapping it closed underneath his girth. The lights flickered again. She grabbed her iphone, and quickly texted her mother.
“Cool your jets, I’ll be in, in a minute, dinner’s not going to get cold that fast”
“Lol, very funny, Dad and I have something exciting to tell you, we just got the call, hurry up,”
“It better not be another baby” she sent a rolling eyes emoji.
The three dots showed up as she waited for her Mom to respond, and when they disappeared, either she was writing a novella or she changed her mind. Cece quickly slipped off her tall boots, and slid into a pair of slippers and glanced behind her at the large blue house. She smiled to herself, pulling her jacket a little tighter around her middle, and moved quickly to the porch door at the back of the house.
“Yes, absolutely, of course,” Jim hung up the phone, a smile appearing on his face, he was beaming. Pam moved from the kitchen into the large dining room where Jim was sitting at the table. Although it had been three years, this house had truly become their home, and it was the epitome of everything she’d always wanted. A large open concept dining room and kitchen, with a huge wooden table and a bench on one side. It was both country and modern, and fit their style perfectly. Olivia was sitting on the counter next to her, helping her mother stir the pasta sauce kicking her feet wildly in the air, giggling. Her red hair cascaded down to her shoulder blades, straight as a line, and her blue eyes were striking. She caught everyone’s attention who saw her.
“Daddy!” She’d been holding that in through the entire phone call. Jim walked over and pulled her off the counter top and into his chest, she snuggled against his flannel shirt, popping a thumb into her mouth; some habits die hard.
“Pam, you are never going to believe this,” He shook his head in disbelief, glanced down at the floor, and then back up at his wife.
“I got the job,”
“What?!” she exclaimed, dropping the spoon on the counter, and moving away from the sauce.
“They’ve offered me the job, I can’t believe it,” he scratched his tamed beard in disbelief.
“I told you! You’re fantastic Jim, the boys on the basketball team love you, you’ve made so many friends from being on the PTA, you were a shoe-in,” she brought his face to hers, cupping it, and kissing him long and hard.
“Ew!” Olivia giggled, pressing her forehead against her parents, she ran a circle around her belly with her hand.
“Livvy, you just wait, one day, you’re going to want to give someone a kiss too,” her and Jim glanced at each other and spat raspberries on her chubby cheeks. They moved away when they heard the back door open, and Cece walk into the kitchen.
What’s up? she pinched her thumb and pointer fingers together.
Cece moved toward the bench, and sat down, pulling her hair into a messy bun and moving her attention back to her parents.
“Your Dad and I have some really exciting news!” they’d become excellent at signing and talking at the same time over the last few years
“Dad’s gonna be your teacher!” Philip ran into the kitchen, sliding into his usual seat next to his father, and grinned fiercely.
Cece furrowed her eyebrows, glanced angrily at Philip,
“You know I can’t understand you if you’re not looking at me,” she spat at him, pushing her glasses up her nose.
Pam moved to the table before any more could be said, Philip loved to torment his sisters whenever he could, snd Pam wasn’t about to let him spoil a surprise that could go one way or another with their teenage daughter.
Jim and Olivia sat down, and she immediately began grabbing at silverware on the table pretending to eat off the empty plates. Cece looked at her and snickered,
There’s no spaghetti yet, silly girl
Olivia laughed and touched her fingers to her cheek, she knew.
Olivia’s entire life had been immersed in signing first and then speaking. She spent most of her time with her sister, when she was home from school of course, and ‘Ollie’ as she was referred to, only by Cece was enamored with her older sister. She twirled her sisters curls when she was tired, falling asleep many nights in bed next to her, while Cece played on her phone until she, herself, succumbed to sleep.
Cecelia adored her, and any chance she got, she was with her baby sister. With her parents permission, she’d started bringing Ollie out to the barn more, getting her used to being around Oakley, and with watching eyes from her father or mother, she’d walk Oakley around their fenced in ring, Ollie atop, smiling the entire way. She hoped her sister grew up to be exactly like her.
School wasn’t an easy transition for Cece. First, everyone there was deaf, or hard of hearing, and far superior at sign language then her. And when she started 6th grade there, everyone already had best friends, and many of them had deaf parents and grew up going to deaf schools. Cece was not only new to Nashville and the Tennessee School for the Deaf, she was completely unfamiliar with the “culture” of deaf people and frankly, she didn’t really fit in.
She’d of course became instantly close to her teachers. It was a small school, and many of her teachers were hearing and not only were they committed to helping Cece feel immersed, they met with her parents regularly to help with their sign, and involve them in school. Pam and Jim had found themselves becoming close friends with a few other family’s with children around the same age as their daughter, and quickly Jim grabbed on to becoming involved. Within their first year of Nashville he was hired to coach Basketball. After he finished up teaching freshman English at one of the local high school’s, he’d head to TSFD to train the boys varsity basketball team. They were good and Jim was amazed at how they communicated all with visual cues to assist each other during game play. The boys grew to love Jim, as he did, they, and the rest was history. Jim’s relationship with TSFD was a great one, and he was beloved by many of the faculty members. His charming smile, sense of humor, and ease of conversation made him someone the students loved, but Cece? Well, her opinion of her Dad being at school was slightly different.
Cee, you know how a couple months ago we found out that Mrs. Hardwick wasn’t returning to teach freshman English next year?
She nodded carefully at him, glancing over to Pam, trying to read her expression.
Well, I applied for the job, and after a lot of interviews and consideration, they offered it to me! Jim beamed at her, Olivia laughed and brought a fork up to her fathers hair trying to brush it.
“Mermaid, Daddy” she cooed, and he smiled, letting her painfully “comb” his hair.
Cece stared at him blankly, let out an exasperated sigh,
and stood up.
“I’ll be in the barn,” she grumped and moved to the sliding glass doors, her back toward them.
“It’s dark out Cece, and we need to talk,” Pam’s lips pursed as she watched her daughter move outside and across the grass, her arms folded tightly across her chest.
Jim’s smile quickly left his face and he ran a hand through his hair. Philip glanced between his parents,
“Is this my fault?” He asked.
Pam grabbed dinner from the stove bringing it over to the table.
“Can you get Livvy some food, and make sure Phil eats and starts on that homework, he needs to finish this book before we return from the holiday break,” She was tired, it had been a long day at the museum, so many new pieces had come in and Pam had gotten home late, making something quick and easy for dinner and at that exact moment, Cecelia’s raging hormones and teenage angst weren’t exactly what she’d be hoping she’d be doing this evening. Frankly, she was hoping to watch the newest season of The Great British Bake Off with Jim, and fall asleep after a glass or two of white wine. But it seemed as though this evening, it would be room temperature spaghetti and probably an argument with her eldest.
The barn was Cece’s territory. She kept it immaculate, dedicating her afternoons to feeding, watering, pulling down the hay, mucking the stalls, and then hours of riding. She’d become quite good, and the lessons had paid off. So when Pam walked in, finding Cece sitting inside Oakley’s stall, working on a sketch, she rested her arms across the half door and laid her head on them. She waited for Cece to notice her, and then gave her a half smile
He really wanted this job, you know
Cece sighed. She touched her fingers to her cheek.
“Why does he have to be my teacher? I barely have friends as it is, and Dad’s not deaf and they think that’s weird,” she scrunched her face up in disproof, “and I’m going to have to see him every day,” she rolled her eyes.
Pam opened the stall, and came and sat next to her, glancing at her sketch pad.
“What is that?” She asked.
She put an outward thumb to her forehead. Dad.
Pam sighed. Jim and Cece. While they’re relationship had become tumultuous, as she’d warned him it would. (High school changes daughters), when push came to shove, she always picked Jim. She’d been affected most what had happened that day. The day they didn’t speak of, for so, so long. Many countless hours of therapy as a family, and individually had got them through the tragedy, but there was something always in Cece’s eyes that knew she couldn’t ever get the imagine of her father out of her head.
“It’s beautiful,” she responded, rubbing her fingers along the charcoal edges, she smudged a spot on his forehead.
Cece wrinkled her forehead and looked at her mother.
“His scar,” she reminded her, and taking the charcoal pencil, she filled in the smudge with some lines, and carefully handed it back to Cece.
“You should show him,” she stood up, wiping the hay off her jeans.
“And when you do, talk to him. Tell him how you feel. I promise you, Dad being at school is going to be just fine
Sometimes parents make promises they can’t keep.