Sorry to leave everyone hanging. I made a promise to myself to stay off the computer this weekend and it looks like I did a pretty decent job.
Chapter II - Claire
By the end of the Summer Daddy started having Alice over for visits. He was living with some friends in their basement. It was dark, damp and cold down there, but Daddy never complained. Alice was pretty sure it was because he never went down there except to sleep and by then he was always too drunk to notice. Alice liked going to visit Daddy because his friends had a little girl almost her age and they would play together for hours.
Then Daddy met someone else.
To Alice It seemed like overnight that Daddy was getting married to Sandra and had started his whole life over. Just like that. Alice tried very hard to get her new stepmom to like her. She smiled and was polite and tried to helpful. Unfortunately she was so nervous that she often made things worse. She dropped things, spilled things and broke things so often that Sandra finally asked her to stop helping. That broke Alice’s smile and again she tried to become as small and hidden as possible.
Every other weekend Alice dreaded the trip to see Daddy. She didn’t understand why she had to go. Sandra clearly didn’t want her there and Daddy ignored her while she was there. He would start out happy to see her. He would even talk to her for a few minutes in the car, but by the time they got to the house, the conversation would end.
She tried to entertain herself as best she could. She would read the few books she owned until the covers fell off and then daydream that she too was riding her horse across the prairie with the wind in her face and the sun on her back. Or that she was fighting against all odds to overcome some evil villain or national threat. Entire weekends would go by that she had her nose buried in a book. Then she would look up and it was time to go home again.
Home, for Alice, was never Daddy’s house. Sandra made that very clear to her. She was the “other woman’s” child and Sandra only put up with her being there because the divorce agreement stated that Daddy had to take Alice every other weekend. Sandra had her own daughter, Claire, who was the apple of her eye and both made it clear to Alice that she was only to be tolerated.
Oh how Alice wished that Claire would like her. Would want to play with her or even just to share her toys with her. Unfortunately, this was not to be as Claire despised Alice. Claire had to share her room and her bed with Alice when she came to visit. Clair would complain about how this injustice had been forced upon her. Why should SHE have to share her bed with what was probably a bed wetter and at the very least annoying?
Clair was five years older than Alice and was everything that Alice wasn’t. She had long, thick hair that fell in waves. Alice had thin, stringy hair that hung like straw. Claire was athletic and graceful while Alice was gangly and clumsy. Alice so wanted to be like Claire that she would pretend to be Claire when she was at home. She would imitate Claire’s smile, her walk, even her laugh hoping to make herself feel just a little better about not actually being Claire.
All of this acting like Claire only made Mommy angry. She would yell at Alice and chide her for acting like an idiot. “Be Alice or go to your room” she would say. Alice spent a lot of time in her room, pretending to be anyone but herself.