Judith lay in her bed looking up at the dreary popcorn ceiling. Fifty…fifty…fifty. She kept thinking it to herself as though just trying on the age to see if it would fit. How could she possibly be fifty? Just yesterday she was looking forward to a life full of grand dreams. Now she was nothing but a middle aged failure at life.
She knew why, of course. She'd lived her life for everyone but herself. She'd gotten married right out of high-school, had three babies before her twenty-first birthday. Why had she gotten married so young? The answer came swiftly to her mind. Because it was expected, of course. Her parents never expected or wanted her to go to college. Getting married was what poor girls did in those days. It was the only way to survive.
Judith crawled out of bed and straightened the covers. She turned to look in the mirror. Who was that big fat blob, anyway? After having five kids, her body would never have been the same as before, but years of eating Big Macs, and greasy fried foods had taken its toll. Disgusted, she covered the mirror with a sheet from the dirty clothes basket and proceeded to dress for the day.
She didn't expect that Joe would get up before one in the afternoon. She glanced over where he still lay snoring. He'd been on a ten year long drunk or somewhere thereabouts. They never spoke much anymore or anything else for that matter. She supposed he was as unhappy as she was.
They had a few good years in the beginning. He was a good looking man in his younger years. Judith realized pretty early on that they really had nothing in common. They had stayed together for the kids for the most part. And because neither of them had anywhere else to go. She had always felted needed, though. Until now.
Judith didn't blame them for not coming around anymore. She knew it was mostly because of Joe and his drinking. They sent her letters now and then and chided her for not getting a fancy computer so they could do emails and something called skipe. With having to send what money there was to the younger girls to keep them in food for school, she couldn't afford a computer.
The boys had both offered to send her money, but she knew that if Joe got wind of it, it would just go for more booze. George had even offered for her to go out to live with his family if she would only leave Joe, but Judith wouldn't impose that way. The kids deserved a life free of the reminder of their horrid childhood.
Joe had been mean even before his drinking days and had made the kids so miserable. He beat the kids if they even moved wrong. Judith was always too afraid of him to do anything. If she'd stood up for them, he would turn on her. It was a house that everyone walked on eggshells. She wondered if the children blamed her, after all, she blamed herself. She could have taken the kids and left him. She just didn't have the courage.
Now that the kids were gone and making lives of their own, she stayed. Perhaps it was her way of punishing herself for all of it.
Judith went downstairs and glanced at the sink full of week old dirty dishes. Ignoring the mess, she started the coffee maker and went to get the paper from the front porch. It was Saturday and garage sale day. Maybe that would cheer her up some. Turning to that section, she saw that sure enough, there was at least a dozen today.
She drank her coffee while making her list. Garage saling was an art to Judith and they had to be listed in the right order for her to not backtrack and waste gas. Hurriedly, she drank the last bit of her coffee. It was almost seven and the early bird always got the best selection.
Judith went to every sale and collected her last dog-eared paperback and stuffed bear at the last sale. She paid the woman and looked down at the table of jewelry that she stood behind. She picked up one opalescent ring and looked it over. It had a wide heavy band etched with a pretty design. Just costume jewelry, but it was pretty. She added it to her other purchases.
When she got home, Judith knew immediately that Joe was awake and it was barely ten o'clock. She could hear him rattling around in the kitchen. He looked around the corner and saw her unloading her armful onto the couch.
"How much more do you think this house will hold, Jue?" he said, crankily as he flipped the top on the beer in his hand. He was standing in the doorway giving her the familiar evil glare that filled her with dread. She knew what was coming. "If you weren't off galivantin' and spending money we don't have, you could have cleaned this stinkin' house. You stupid fat cow." He shook his head in mock disbelief.
Her fiftieth birthday and all she wanted was to start her life all over again. Just when she thought he was going to forget it and sit in his chair, he threw the beer bottle at her, striking her on the temple. She blacked out and didn't even feel it as he walked over and continued to punch her.
A stream of bright sunlight woke Judith. She turned over and put the pillow over her head. Groggily, she thought she'd better get up and get ready for church. It was her only social event anymore and she went even though she knew that everyone looked at her in pity and talked about her behind their hands. She sat up and opened her eyes.
"Judy, come on! Get a move on, girl. You're gonna be late for school." A voice yelled down the hall outside her room.
Judith looked around in total amazement. She was in her old bedroom in her parent's house. Except the house had been torn down years ago. Her parents were both dead.
The room looked the same as it did when she was a teenager. She jumped out of bed and realized at the same time that she felt as light as a feather. Looking down at herself, she shrieked. What was going on? Where was the rest of her?
She ran over to the dresser mirror and looked in. In the mirror was not a fifty year old, three hundred pound woman. It was a girl. A girl that she only vaguely recognized as herself. Her shiny dark hair hadn't yet ever been assaulted by a box of bleach.
Real panic set in as she looked around. What had happened? The last thing she remembered was Joe getting ready to rough her up. She sat down on the edge of her bed and looked down at her hands in her lap. Her young, slim, pretty hands with an opal ring on her middle finger. The same ring she had bought at the garage sale. It was the only thing that was the same. David Cassidy's face was on the front of her night shirt with 'His girl' printed on the top. She looked around the room. Oh, my God, she thought. She was really in the seventies again. Was she truly getting a chance to start over again? She ran her fingertips over the ring. Somehow, that ring had done this. She looked up and grinned.
How would this work, anyway? Was she here to change a few things and would return to the present or was she here to stay and relive her life?
"Judith Jolene! If you want a ride to school, you'd better be down in five minutes."
Oh, wow. The voice was really her mom. She wanted to run down and hug the daylights out of her, but instead she made herself go to the closet and throw on some clothes. She had no idea if it was winter or summer. She slid on a pair of blue jeans over slim hips and pulled a cottage top over her head with red embroidery. Fascinated with her reflection, she smiled at herself as she ran a brush through her long straight hair.
She ran down the hall, wondering what year it was. Her mother stood at the bottom of the stairs holding a set of car keys.
"About time. Get your bag." She nodded toward the chair where Judith's school bag was. "You'd forget your head if it wasn't attached."
"Thanks, mom." Judith hated asking, but she needed to know what was going on in her life. "What is today's date?"
"It's May fifth. Only two weeks to graduation." Anna Taylor smiled proudly at her daughter.
"Oh. It's 1981? Why am I still wearing a David Cassidy nightshirt?" Judith looked at her curiously.
Chuckling, her mother, looked over at her. "I asked you the same thing last week and your answer was, 'But it's my favorite even if it's a little small'. What is with you, today? Are you feeling well?"
"Fine, mom. I just have graduation jitters, I guess. I don't know what I'm going to do after school is over." Judith tried to cover her nervousness. There was no way she could remember what classes she had or where they were. High-school was a lifetime back.
"Well, we'll be planning a wedding soon, I hope. Has Joe asked you, yet?"
Judith looked over at her mother, shocked. "I don't want to get married. I want to experience life. I might go to college."
"Oh, honey, did you two have a fight?" her mother asked, looking concerned.
"No. Nothing like that. I just think I want to do something with my life before settling down." she said, not wanting to argue with her mother, already. "I could go to the community college for a year or two and decide what I want to do from there. If Joe doesn't want to wait for me, then he doesn't love me enough." There, that should sound adolescent. Judith almost laughed at herself. She wasn't going to say that she had no intention of marrying Joe or ever seeing him again if she could help it.
"Well, you'll have to get a job to pay for it. I'm sorry, Judy, but with you dad not bringing in any income, we just don't have the money to help." Anna said, frowning.
"It's okay, mom. I can do it. I'll get a job at the sewing factory or something. Don't worry." Judith patted her mother on the hand and then spontaneously gave her a kiss on the cheek. "I love you, mom." She got out of the car in front of the old high-school. In 2013, they had since torn down this building and built a new school. Now, she had to remember where her first class was. She remembered a few of her teachers from her senior year, but not the order of the classes.
Lisa Grady, who was Judith's best friend was waiting for her on the steps and luckily they shared the first two classes. By that time, she had found a copy of her schedule in one of her folders and the day went fairly smooth.
It was at lunchtime that she realized just how much she had changed through the years. Lisa was looking at her like she had two heads when Judith was excited over a history lesson.
"What is with you, today?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" Judith asked, finishing her milk.
"Yesterday, you couldn't wait until school is out. You were even thinking of skipping out for the last two weeks. Today, you are in love with old Mr. Bowers history class."
"Actually, I'm thinking about going to the Juco next year. I'll have to work to pay for tuition…" Judith began.
"Really? What about Joe?" Lisa looked shocked.
"I suppose he can go, too, if he wants to." Judith said, pretending to misunderstand.
"Judy, you can't lead a guy on like that and then just drop him. Joe loves you." Lisa said, earnestly.
"Joe doesn't love anyone." She said, angrily. "I want a life, Lisa. A real life. Not just marriage and babies."
"Joe isn't going to like that. Where did you get that ring?" Lisa grabbed Judith's hand and looked at it closely. "There's another guy isn't there? Oh my God!"
Judith didn't know what to say. She couldn't tell the truth. Maybe, it would be the best way to break things off with Joe, though. If he thought there was someone else, he would back off.
That night, Judith had counted on the younger, milder natured Joe to take it in stride when she told him that she was no longer available. She should have known better.
They were sitting in Joe's car, parked along one of the back roads on the outskirts of town. She realized that she should have done this in a more public area.
"Bullshit, Judy. I would know if there was someone else. I don't know what game you are playing." He was furious.
"I have things I want to do, Joe, and our relationship is getting too serious. I want to go to college and maybe see something of the country. I'm not ready to get married, yet," Judith told him, nervously. She could see the signs of agitation in him that usually meant violence was about to ensue. He hadn't showed his true colors before they were married the last time.
"We have talked about this for six months. What has changed now? Somebody been putting this crap in your head?" He took his hands off the steering wheel and was flexing his fists.
Judith reached for the door handle knowing he was going to do something. Before she could open the door, he grabbed her hair and pulled her head until she was looking into his handsome, twisted face.
"You aren't going anywhere, Judy and you belong to me. I've put a lot of effort into this relationship and I'm not letting you go that easy." He crushed her to him and crushed his mouth against hers. She tried to pull away, but wasn't strong enough. His fingers dug into her arm as he unbuttoned her jeans with his other hand. "You'll be mine now."
He finished raping her and managed to beat her up pretty badly as she tried to fight him off. Judith was barely conscious as he opened the door and kicked her out of the car. She lay on the side of the gravel road and looked up in a daze as she saw his foot come down, crushing her head.
Judith woke up this time with the knowledge that Joe had killed her twice already. She was in her bedroom again at her parent's house. She appeared to be the same age and same time as the last time. Why this kept happening, she had no idea, but she was still wearing the opal ring.
She got up and dressed before her mom yelled down the hallway.
"Judy, come on! Get a move on, girl. You're gonna be late for school."
She was right. It was the same day. She ran down the stairs, ready to greet the day. Judith knew that she would have to be more creative to avoid Joe. Maybe, her parents could help. She could tell her mom about the abuse and how afraid she was of him. It wasn't exactly true. He hadn't touched her, yet.
In the car, she turned to her mom. "Mom, do you have to go to work, today? We could both play hooky and have a talk? I really have a problem and need someone to talk to."
"Oh, honey, I have a presentation today." Judith looked out the window in disappointment. Anna saw how upset she looked. "I could get away this afternoon. Why don't I come and get you from school at lunchtime? We could go over to the park and make an afternoon of it?"
Judith looked at her gratefully. "Thanks, mom. I'll look forward to it." She smiled at her mother as she got out of the car this time.
Lisa said nothing when Judith told her she would be taking the afternoon off to spend time with her mom and it helped to avoid the awkward conversation that they had had before.
Precisely at noon, Anna pulled up to the school to pick up Judith, who was waiting outside with her bookbag. She slung it into the car as she got in.
"Hi, mom!" She said, brightly. It seemed more than miraculous to get to spend the afternoon with her mom. She hadn't realized just how much she'd missed her.
"I stopped and got us McDonalds. She held up the bag before putting the car in gear."
"Great. I really enjoyed my classes today. I wish I'd paid closer attention before." Judith told her.
"You've always been a good student." Her mother said as she drove out of the parking lot.
When they got to the park, they walked to a cement picnic table close to the water. There were ducks swimming nearby.
"Thanks." Judith said as Anna handed her the food. She knew that it was a sacrifice for them to eat out. Her mom had went out of her way to make this special.
"Now, Judy, if you are pregnant, I'm sure that Joe will take responsibility. He seems like such a nice young man."
Judith looked up at her mother in shock.
"We'll just move the wedding up a few months and everything will be fine."
"Mom, I'm not pregnant." She said and then was just as surprised by the disappointment on her mother's face. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize that you might think that. Joe and I haven't even…um…slept together."
"Oh. Well, what could be bothering you, then?"
Judith chose her words carefully. "I've noticed some things about Joe. Some things that I don't like and he kind of scares me. He gets angry very quickly and sometimes I think he is going to hit me." That should do it, she thought. It wasn't exactly a lie.
"Sometimes, men do get a little angry. It's normal, dear. It doesn't mean they are going to hurt anyone. I'm sure that he wouldn't ever lay a hand on you. He is such a little gentleman. I couldn't have picked a better man for you. You are just getting a little nervous. Has he asked you to marry him, yet?"
Judith wanted to scream out that he had already murdered her twice. Instead, she just looked at her mother and said, "I've decided that I don't want to get married-not to him and not to anyone else. Not for a while. I want to go to college next year and do a little living first. I'm going to apply at the junior college for the fall."
"Judy, I'm ashamed of you." Anna said, angrily. "You would accuse a man of abuse just so you can dump him for college? You have spent months leading him on. His parents are our friends. What are they going to think?"
"Mom, I'm not accusing him of anything, but having more of a temper than I feel comfortable with. I was hoping that you would understand. I don't want to get married and I'm not in love with Joe. I thought I could be happy with him, but lately, I've realized that I want other things. I want to go to college and get a job as a professional. I want to make some real money and be prepared if I should ever decide to get married and have children. I'm not saying that I never want to get married. I just don't want to do it now and I don't want to marry Joe. I'm not asking you for help. I'll get a job and my own apartment. I would have liked to have your moral support, though." Judith looked bitterly out toward the ducks.
"Judy, how can I support you when you are walking away from a marriage that would ensure your security for the rest of your life? No, I can't approve. Getting a job and your own home is not as easy as you think."
There was nothing else that she could say to convince her mother. Perhaps the only way was to show her. Could she make Joe angry enough to show his temper in front of her parents? She could try with her father, but usually he did whatever Anna wanted.
"I'm going to invite Joe over tonight. I'm going to tell him that it is over. I'm sorry, Mom. I'll find a job and be out of the house as soon as I graduate." Judith, who hadn't even touched her lunch, got up and went back to the car. She waited there for her mom.
The drive home was quiet and tense. Judith was heartsick that this would create a rift between her and her mom, but she didn't know what else to do.
When they got home, Judith went straight to her bedroom. She picked up the phone to call Joe when she realized that her mother was already on the extension. She was talking to Joe's mother, Annette.
"Well, if she is going to cut it off, she should have to do it in front of us all. Can you all be here by seven?"
"Sure Anna. I just can't believe this. Judy seems like such a level-headed girl. Maybe, together we can change her mind."
"I just hope Joe isn't too upset. I think it is a simple case of cold feet. She will surely come around." Anna said.
Judith had heard enough and wasn't too quiet as she hung up the receiver. She didn't care if they knew she'd heard their conversation. She was fighting for her life here. She fought down the urge to eat her troubles away. She was hungry, but she wasn't going to ruin her body again.
At least, she would have a room full of people with her when she told Joe of her intentions. Still, she was worried. She knew that Joe had inherited his temper from his father. Would they be safe if they both blew their stack?
Judith watched them drive up at precisely five until seven. She went downstairs when she knew that her mother had already put the food on the table. Joe and his parents all looked up as she walked into the room. Judging by the smile on his face, no one had said a thing to Joe.
As soon as they were seated and had filled their plates, Annette met Judith's eyes as she spoke. "I heard that you were considering college, Judy. What are you planning to study?"
Joe's head came up at attention as he waited for Judy to answer.
"Actually, I haven't really decided. I'll have two years of required courses to get through before I have to make a real decision." Judy said, calmly.
"You are just now telling me that you want to go to school?" Joe asked, sounding irritated.
"Well, I have only just decided. I want to have a good job and make some good money rather than be stuck at a minimum wage job for the rest of my life." Lately, she felt like she had repeated herself a hundred times.
"And just where do I fit in, Judy? Or have you decided that I'm not good enough for you?" She could see the fire in Joe's eyes as he spoke.
"I just am not ready for marriage, Joe. I'm sorry." She looked down at her plate, realizing that it would be the second meal that day she would miss.
Joe got up from the table and started pacing the dining-room floor. "I've already bought the ring, Jue. I was going to ask you tonight. What am I supposed to do with it, now?" He was shouting now.
"Young man, you are a guest in my home. I'm sorry that you are upset, but that doesn't give you the right to yell at my daughter for having higher ambitions than marriage. I, for one, am proud of her."
Everyone looked at Judith's father, dumbfounded, as he patted his daughter's hand.
"Harry!" Anna said, glaring at him. "These two have been dating for quite some time. I think Joe has every right to be upset."
Judith was happy that her father was standing up for her, but at the same time, disconcerted that he may be making a target out of himself. Would Joe hurt him? He was certainly vulnerable having to live in a wheelchair.
Joe sneered at them all and left the room and then they heard the front door slam shut. Judith was certain that she hadn't heard the last of him. He would be planning something.
"I'm sorry, Anna. I think we'd better be going." Annette said, standing and grabbing her purse.
"Young lady, you are a disgrace. If that boy kills himself over this you are the only one to blame." Joe's father said, stomping off after his son.
With only the three of them left at the table, Anna got up and busied herself with clearing their guests plates.
Judith, suddenly starving, began to eat her dinner that was starting to get cold. Her dad gave her a wink and turned his attention to the food as well.
Anna sat back down at the table and looked disgustedly at the two of them enjoying their food as if nothing had happened.
"Aren't you afraid that Joe will hurt himself?" she asked Judith.
"No," Judith answered. "I'm more afraid that he will hurt me." It was too bad, she thought, that he wouldn't commit suicide.
"Anna, Judy has every right to live her life however she wants. If she doesn't want to marry that boy, she shouldn't have to. I am relieved that she doesn't want to. There is something about him that rubs me the wrong way."
Judith had never heard her father stand up to her mother like that before. She hoped a huge argument didn't follow. Now that she had slaked her hunger, she just wanted to escape to her room. Instead, she stood and finished clearing the table while her parents argued it out. By the time they left the dinner table, Judith had all the dishes washed and was heading upstairs.
Laying down on her bed, she hadn't realized how emotionally exhausted she was. She was asleep in minutes.
It was sometime during the night that she woke. It took her a few seconds to realize what was wrong. The smell of smoke penetrated her nose. Judith rolled over in the dark and turned on the lamp beside her bed. Sure enough smoke was rolling in under the door. Her first thought was for her parents.
She went to the door and opened it. The smoke was so thick she could hardly see and she could hear the crackle of fire somewhere in the house. She ran down the hall to her parent's room. She opened the door and saw that both of her parents were still sleeping in their beds. Not realizing the danger, she opened the window to clear the smoke. As soon as she did the fire backdrafted through the open bedroom door. The flashover occurred before she could do anything-burning her parents and herself alive.
Judith awoke with the acrid smell of smoke and the burning sensation in her lungs. She sat straight up and took a deep breath of clean air. He had done it again. He had killed her and her parents. She knew that he had set the fire, there was no doubt in her mind. Crying, she lay there wondering what she could do differently.
She needed time to make a better plan.
"Judy, come on! Get a move on, girl. You're gonna be late for school."
That was it. She'd stay home sick today. Then she could feign sick tonight so she didn't have to go out with Joe.
"Mom, I'm not feeling well. I think I should stay home." She called out and pinched her cheeks to make herself look flushed.
Anna walked into the room and looked at her daughter with concern. She put her hand to Judith's face. "Well, you do feel a little warm. Kind of late in the year for the flu. You know, you only have a few weeks left. I don't think anyone will mind if you play hooky for one day." She gave her daughter a wink.
"Thanks, mom. I'm really not feeling well, though. Maybe, it will pass in a few hours." Judith said, weakly.
"Is it morning sickness?" her mother asked, bluntly.
She sure had that on her mind a lot, Judith thought, glaring at the older woman. "No, I'm not pregnant. Joe and I have never done anything to get me pregnant."
"Well, sorry, dear. I had to ask." She straightened up. "Okay. If you are staying home, check on your father now and then, would you?"
"Sure, mom." Judith managed a smile.
She left the room and Judith drew a sigh of relief. She got out of the bed and began pacing the room. If Joe was willing to kill her rather than lose her, she simply had to get away from him. But, how? She didn't have a car. She did have a savings account with about 500 dollars in it, though. That might get her out of here. Where could she go that he wouldn't find her? She needed help and there was only one person who sympathized with her at all. She got dressed and went downstairs to find him.
He was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the morning paper.
"Good morning, Dad." She said and kissed him on the cheek.
"Morning, Honey." He answered as she took a seat across from him.
"Dad, I have a real problem that I was hoping you could help me with." She began, nervously.
Grant looked over the newspaper at her. "Okay." He folded the paper and laid it neatly on the table. "What can I help you with?"
"I've discovered some things about Joe that I just can't except. I can't marry him. I don't want to marry him. The problem is that he can get violent and possessive. Mom likes Joe and his parents too much to understand."
"So, what do you want to do?" he nodded in understanding.
"He will find a way to hurt me if I stay here. I can't tell you how I know this, but I do know it for sure. Also, he will try to follow me if I leave. I'm in a desparate situation, dad, and I need some advice."
"You think this boy is that dangerous?" he asked, surprised.
"He is psychotic. It wouldn't surprise me if he has already killed someone before. What I need is to disappear to somewhere far away from here. Somewhere he can't possibly track me down. Maybe, I can go to college and have a normal life. If I stay here, I'll have to marry him and live with abuse for the rest of my life." Judith was crying now.
Grant was listening and thinking. "Your mom and I have put back some money to give you when you married. It isn't a lot. About ten thousand dollars. Perhaps it could get you set up somewhere. I'll make a few calls and see if you can get out to your Uncle Jerry in LA. It will take a few days to get it settled."
"Dad, I can't wait a few days. He is going to propose to me tonight." Judith was thinking about the ten thousand dollars, though. It was the first she'd heard of it. Why hadn't she known about it before? Had they decided not to gift it to them, after all? Or had her mom given it to Joe behind her back? Maybe, it was that money that Joe wanted and not marriage so much. She needed to think about that.
"Well, don't go out with him tonight." Grant said, thoughtfully. "You feigned sick this morning. Flu usually lasts a few days."
"This money that you've saved-could mom have told Joe's parents about it?"
"She might have. Why?" Dad looked at her for a moment before it dawned on him what she was implying. "Well, it is a good sum of money. I suppose, Joe could want it. Do you think he could be paid off to go away?"
"I don't think it would be that easy with Joe. If you did, he might try to get more. He does seem to be in an awful hurry to get married, though. Maybe, he needs the money. What if I go ahead and agree to marry him? It would buy me some time to do some investigating." She knew that he'd had shady dealings in their early years of marriage.
"I don't think that is a good idea, Judy. If he is as dangerous as you think, you shouldn't be spending time with him at all." He shook his head adamantly. "I think your first instinct to get out of here is the right one. After a while, he'll turn his attention to another girl. I don't know how your mother will take it, though. She is sure set on this marriage."
"Dad, we can't tell mom. She will tell his parents everything and he'll find me for sure. I'll write her a note telling her that I don't want to get married and I'm leaving. After Joe has moved on and things have cooled down here, you can let me know its safe and we can tell her where I am. I just hope she'll forgive me."
"I'll claim ignorance. It will take her a while to realize that the money is gone out of that account. I need to make some calls to California and get you an airline ticket. It's still early. We might be able to get you a flight out today."
"The nearest airport is an hour away." Judith said and then ran upstairs to pack. She packed only clothes and necessities into her only suitcase. She had never met her Uncle Jerry before. She hoped he would help her once she got there. The money should get her an apartment somewhere and jobs weren't too hard to find in the city. Hopefully, they could send her diploma in the mail.
When she was all packed she carried the suitcase downstairs. She could hear her dad on the phone in the other room.
"Naw. She just needs a new start, Jer. I'm sending some money with her. She should have plenty to get her an apartment and live on long enough to get a first paycheck." He pause, listening. "Yeah, actually, I think that would be great. I just bought her a plane ticket. She should arrive at 3:15 this afternoon. Thanks for the favor, little brother." He hung up and glanced at Judith standing in the doorway.
"I've got you set up for a flight at 1:00. We better get moving." He grinned at her conspiratorially.
They went to the bank first and Judith closed her account out while her dad got her a cashier's check for the ten thousand.
She got on the plane on time and it wasn't until the plane was off the ground that she relaxed. It was the first time she'd ever been on a plane and she felt exhilarated.
The plane landed in LA and she realized that she had no idea what Uncle Jerry looked like. He had no trouble finding her at the gate, though.
"Judy?" A man asked, stopping her.
"Yeah." She smiled at him.
"I'm Jerry. Your uncle." He seemed very nice and much younger than she expected. "Let me get that for you." He grabbed her suitcase.
She followed him through the airport and out into a huge parking garage. He was talking all the way.
"Your dad and I talked about you going down to the coast. There is a nice smaller town down there with a Junior college. He thought you might like that."
"It sounds nice. I would like to go to continue school in the fall. Hopefully, I can get a job pretty quickly."
Life was good for Judith for a while. She enjoyed being young again and having her entire life ahead of her. She was determined to make the most of it.
It was a few years later that she heard that Joe had gotten married. She was shocked and dismayed that it was to her best friend, Lisa. The guilt she felt was overwhelming, but she had no idea what she could do.
Judith had just gotten a great job at a Hollywood studio. It was her dream job. She would goof it all up if she went to help Lisa. What could she do, anyway? What could she tell her friend that she would believe?
It was twenty years later that Judith moved back home. She wanted to be close to her parents and she took the opportunity to visit her friend Lisa.
Outwardly, Lisa seemed fine, but Judith recognized the shattered look in Lisa's eyes. Her friend had grown timid and nervous, in a way that only Judith could see.
What done was done and there was no going back. There was only one thing to do. Judith had slipped off the ring and wrapped it in a box as a gift for her friend. She hoped and prayed that it would help. As she left Lisa's house, her hand was bare, but her heart was a little bit lighter.