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Another Way, Another Life

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51 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 17th June 2012, 23:12

Jo looked at Liam, he looked so miserable. “I’m sorry Liam, I didn’t realise you don’t like church that much.”

“Just shake me in case I start snoring.” The boy said sarcastically only loud enough for her to hear.

“Okay.” Jo giggled, the thought of Liam starting to snore was funny. The young girl turned to Catherine. “I don’t wanna go to Sunday school.”

“That’s okay sweetie, you don’t have to go. And don’t be shocked but the church will be different than your church at home. Okay?” Catherine pushed some lose hair out of Jo’s face, to make sure she got a proper look at the little girl next to her.

“Okay.” Jo looked a little bit worried at all the people they hugged each other, and were all so touchy. Jo wasn’t used to this openness. At her old church everyone just sat down and were still not very much talking, most of them prayed until the sermon started. But here it was like a family meeting for a Sunday lunch, not that she ever had a lunch like this. Her eyes wandered around curious taking everything in. Once in a while she looked at Liam to check that he was still awake and not meditating again. Jo was surprised how much she liked the sermon and she loved the singing. After the sermon an older lady next to Catherine smiled and said. “Are you joining us for some cakes and drinks?”


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52 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 18th June 2012, 22:04

Liam looked at his mother, shaking his head slowly, but she ignored him and smiled at the old lady.
“That sounds very nice. What do you think, Jo?”

The little girl nodded. As long as Catherine would be with her she felt safe.

“That gives you a chance to meet some people of the church if you plan on coming here more often.”

Jo nodded again, looking from Catherine to the old woman. She slowly got used to the fact that Americans were obviously very different to the Brits, especially in terms of being open and friendly. Jo was still insecure when people talked so openly with her, but since Catherine was with her she slowly stopped worrying.

“Tea and cake is served in the common room next to the church”, the old lady said. “You can follow me if you want.” The moment she turned her back on them Liam rolled his eyes.

“You didn’t say anything about having tea with creepy protestants afterwards”, he hissed.

“We’re not going to stay forever, it’s just a good way for Jo to meet some new people”, Catherine replied, then they followed the old woman out of the church into another room. Many people were standing around and chatting to each other, and there were also a lot of kids Jo’s and Liam’s age. Jo kept holding Catherine’s hand while Liam stood being them with crossed arms. An old couple came up to Liam and started talking to him.
“Oh, you have a funny accent, where are you from?”, the woman asked.

Liam looked almost grumpy. “Ireland.”

“Oh, Ireland, do you hear that, Bill?” The woman turned to her husband who grinned. “You don’t look that Irish…”

“Yeah, because everyone in Ireland has red hair, freckles and wears green every single bloody day”, he replied sarcastically, but then he felt his mother’s hand on his shoulder, squeezing it tightly to let him know that he shouldn’t be so rude. He was just about to say something when he spotted a girl about fifteen, with long, blonde hair and legs so long they could go on forever.
“Holy Saint Patrick…”, he mumbled, totally forgetting that his mother stood right behind him.

“What is it?”, Catherine asked, but it wasn’t hard to tell where Liam was looking. She raised her eyebrows while her son kept staring at the older girl. “Ahem…Liam?”

“Hm?” He didn’t even blink.

“Why don’t you go talk to her instead of staring like that?”

“What?” He suddenly realized that his mother caught him checking out that girl. “I…I wasn’t…” His cheeks flushed and he turned to Jo. “So, you’re planning on going here every Sunday?”


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53 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 18th June 2012, 23:19

Jo looked over at the girl, she knew by now that Liam liked older girls. “Erm yes maybe. I like the hot chocolate.” Jo looked shy away from Liam. “Don’t worry you don’t have to come along all Sundays.”

“There you are, my husband told me about our new little family. I am Maryann and you are?” A pretty woman a little bit older than Catherine. Jo stepped closer to Catherine.

“Oh unfortunately just this young man is my son Liam and this is his friend Josephine from school.” Catherine smiled.

“It is very nice to meet you. All three of you. I hope to see you more often here.” Maryann smiled, she liked seeing new faces. “Oh excuse me, I see someone I haven’t greeted yet. See you around.”

Not long after that Catherine, Liam and Jo left to get lunch at the diner on their way back to the O’Doherty’s home. “What do you wanna eat guys?”

“Can I have a hotdog, please Cathy?” Jo asked she was getting lesser shy around Catherine.


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54 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 19th June 2012, 20:40

Something in Catherine’s face changed, her smile vanished in no time and her eyes revealed a hidden sadness. There had only been one person who had called her Cathy, and that was more than thirteen years ago. Now and then some people asked her if they could call her Cathy, but she didn’t want to be called like that, it just reminded her of something she didn’t want to be reminded of. When Jo looked up after she didn’t get an answer, the older woman quickly forced a smile.
“Of course you can have a hotdog, sweetie. Do you want any dessert? The pies are really good here.”

“That would be nice.”

“Okay…eh, Liam? How about you?” She turned around and saw that her son was staring at Cindy, the girl whose parents owned the diner. She was definitely too old for him, but Catherine had already noticed that her thirteen-year old son liked older girls, which worried her a bit. She was aware that it was normal for boys that age to be interested in girls, that was not the problem, but Liam only seemed to be interested in older and more experienced girls. “Liam?”

“What?”

“Do you want pie?”

“Sure.”

Catherine turned back to the counter and ordered the food. When they sat down and Jo took a sip of her soda, she smiled friendly at her. “Thanks for going to church with me today, Cathy.”

Catherine tried not to let her see how much she struggled when she heard that name, and instead put on a smile. “You’re welcome.” She hesitated for a moment. “Ehm…Jo, I don’t mind that you give me a nickname, in fact it’s really nice, but would you mind not using that…other name?”

Jo looked surprised. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t want to offend you and-“

“No, no, you didn’t offend me.” Catherine shook her head. “I don’t mind if you call me by a nickname. If you want you can call me Katie, that’s what my friends back at university used to call me.”

“Okay.” The young girl nodded and went back to her soda.

Liam pretended that he hadn’t paid much attention to their conversation, but when his mother wasn’t looking he threw a quick side-glance at her. He didn’t know what it was with that name, but from the way she looked when Jo mentioned it he assumed it had something to do with that one subject she didn’t like to talk about.
Catherine started talking with Jo about church in order to change the subject before her son got the chance to get all curious.


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55 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 19th June 2012, 21:48

On the way back Catherine noticed that Jo was shivering. “Sweetie do you have a warmer coat at school?”

“No that is my warmest coat. I always wore this coat in winter in Oxford and I was warm enough. But here it is already so cold.” Jo’s teeth were actually shattering.

“What are you doing next Saturday sweetie?” Catherine asked, while she wrapped her arm around Jo’s shoulder.

“Erm I think I am in the library reading. I haven’t finished the reading list yet.” Catherine looked at Jo.

“Good that means you have time to go with me shopping. You and me girly we are going to Boston. Liam you finally get the day alone at home.”

“And I was worried I have to go with you.” Liam said sarcastically.

“But Liam…” Jo giggled, “you are a boy you can’t go to a girls day.”

Liam rolled his eyes.

“I would like this very much. I’ve never been to a girls-day. Mother always ordered a tailor to come in with several new clothes for me to try on. And those would then be altered so that they fit me perfectly.”

“It is time for a real shopping day then. I’ll pick you up right after breakfast and then we are heading out for Boston, I think it is best if you stay at our house again makes it easier.”

“Okay.”

Later that evening Jo hugged Catherine tightly as if they were saying goodbye forever. “Thanks you for this weekend and everything. And I am sorry I called you Cathy, I won’t do it anymore from now on I call you Katie.”

“Don’t worry about it. Have a good night sweetie. See you on Friday.” Catherine kissed Jo on the top of her head and let the little girl hop happily upstairs.

Jo couldn’t wait until next week she did all the reading she planned to do on the weekend. She never studied so hard as in the coming four days. And on Friday after school she went with Liam home, her school bag was full with more books and she had a second bag with her sleeping over things. And a third bag with secret stuff in. She also got a letter from her cousin and her piano teacher she planned to answer. Her cousin Lorelai had sent a picture of her, Jo and Jo’s Aunt Marian. It was from the summer a year ago shortly before Jo’s aunt had passed away. And she also had her essay back on which she got an A+ and wanted to show Catherine the essay. She was looking forward to go shopping for the very first time.
Liam unlocked the door and Jo followed him in she went into the kitchen and started to unpack the third back. It had lots of food in it. “Hey Liam, I have a surprise for you and your mom. Wanna help me make dinner?”


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56 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 20th June 2012, 20:35

“What?” He looked surprised at his friend and that big amount of food she brought with her. “You can cook?”

“Not really, but I spent the entire week reading through cook books. I’ll try to do my best, but I can’t promise anything.” She smiled, then she walked straight into the kitchen where she unpacked her bag. Liam appeared behind her, his hands in his pockets, leaning against the fridge.

“What is all that other stuff you brought?” His eyes were fixed on the two other bags.

“Oh, just school books and all the things I need for sleeping over.” She turned around and looked at him. “Where is your mother?”

“She’s still at work, but she should get home soon.”

“Then we can surprise her. Would you like to help me?”

“Sure.” He stood next to her. “Just don’t shoot me if I mess up anything…”

She giggled. “I would never shoot you.”

Liam looked at her quietly for a moment. He hadn’t seen her giggle like that very often, the few times she laughed it was more a quiet, almost reserved laugh, as if she was scared someone would tell her to stop. He was surprised that preparing dinner was more fun than he thought. He never cared for cooking, but the two youngsters had a lot of fun making dinner and creating a mess in the kitchen- which they quickly cleaned up before Catherine came home.

“Kids?” Catherine walked into the kitchen and raised her eyebrows in surprise when she saw that they had set the table and there was actually ‘normal-looking’ food on the plates. “Did you order this?”

“No, Jo brought it and tried to cook something for us”, Liam said.

“And Liam helped me”, Jo added.

“That is so nice of you.” Catherine pulled Jo into a hug, and then kissed her son on the forehead. They sat down and Jo was actually so talkative that she told many stories from home, especially from her older cousin Lorelai and her love for horses. After dinner they watched TV, and around ten Jo got really tired and said she would go to bed, especially since they had to get up early tomorrow for Boston. She was sleeping in Liam’s room again, and this time Liam made sure there were no ‘milk stains’ on his bed sheets. He didn’t sleep on the couch, he slept in his mother’s room. The bed was big enough for the two of them, and he didn’t admit it, but he liked falling asleep next to her. He knew he was kind of old for that, that’s why he never did it, but now that Jo was sleeping in his room he had an excuse.
It was eleven when Liam went to bed, although he wasn’t tired at all. Catherine came soon afterwards, also in her pyjamas, her long hair neatly braided.
“You’re sure you’ll be okay alone for an entire day?”, she asked while she sat down next to him.

“I’m thirteen.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Yes, it is. It means that I’m not a baby and I can take care of myself. Besides, I have been alone many times before when you were at work.”

“Okay, okay. We have enough leftovers from today, they are in the fridge, you just need to heat them up.”

Liam nodded. “Yeah, I saw that already.”

His mother looked at him. “Liam…does it bother you that I spend so much time with Jo?”

“What? No!” He shook his head. “Did I say something that made you think that?”

“No, it’s just…I just don’t want you to get the feeling that I prefer spending time with her because she’s a girl.”

“Don’t worry, I don’t mind.” He smiled slightly. “If Jo would have been a boy I would have killed her already for spending so much time with you, but she’s not and I can see that you like spending time with her, so I really don’t mind.”

A smile crossed her lips. “Sometimes you do sound more mature than you are.” She bent over and planted a kiss on his head. “Now, turn the light off, Munchkin.”

“But I’m not tired…”

“Liam.”

He sighed and turned off the light. He lay awake for a while and stared at the ceiling, but then he turned his head to Catherine whose face was hit by the light of the moon. In that moon light she looked even younger than she already was, almost like a young girl, not a mother. And so fragile…It almost scared him how vulnerable she looked.
“I love you”, he whispered, then he closed his eyes and rested his head on her shoulder.


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57 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 21st June 2012, 18:51

“Sweetie time to wake up.” Catherine gently brushed Jo’s bushy hair out of her face, to wake the little girl up.

“Urgh.” Jo moaned, turned around and dug her face deeper in the pillows. Catherine chuckled.

“Come on Jo remember our shopping trip?”

“I’m up.” Jo mumbled not opening her eyes.

“Really? So how come I can’t see your pretty brown eyes?”

Jo moaned something not understandable and sat up her eyes still closed.

“Come on it is just half past seven not so bad to get up.”

“Urgh!”

“Are you up?” Catherine asked on more time, smiled when Jo nodded and went in the kitchen to make some coffee. Jo was still half sleeping when the door opened again.

“Hey I need a pair of socks.” Liam went to his drawer, when he looked at the sleeping Jo, the sitting and sleeping Jo.

“Aren’t you supposed to get dressed?”

“Mhm.” Jo was not very chatty in the morning.

“The sun is actually shining here it’s a great day have a look.” Liam opened the curtains and let the sunshine in. “Urgh!” Jo pulled the blanket over her head to hide from the light.
Liam laughed. “You are not at all a morning person are you?”

“Not really.” Jo mumbled when she came out from under the blanket. “What will you be doing all day long while you are alone?”


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58 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 22nd June 2012, 13:52

He shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know yet. Probably working on a machine that I started a couple of days ago.”

“Where do all those ideas come from?”

“What ideas?”

“For…ehm…those things you build? And the sketches…” She felt how she was blushing. “Not that I was spying, I just saw a few of them.”

He shrugged his shoulders again. “The ideas come out of nowhere, to be honest.”

“Liam?” His mother appeared behind him. “What are you doing?” She raised her eyebrows and he knew that she thought he was only in the room to spy on Jo in her pyjamas.

“Sorry, but this is still my room, and I needed socks”, he replied, then went to the closet and got a pair of socks out of the drawer.

Catherine smirked. “Now you, little man, get out of the room and let Jo get ready.”

“Okay, okay.” He looked at the sleepy girl a last time, then he left the room.

A bit later Jo was dressed and ready to go, although she was still a bit tired. When she came downstairs, Catherine already had her coat on.

“Aren’t we going to have breakfast first?”, Jo asked.

“Yes, but we’ll have it on the way.” She held up a paper bag with bagels.

“You mean…I can eat in the car?”

“Sure.”

Jo stared at her in disbelief. “I’ve never been allowed to eat in the car.”

“Well, now you are.” Catherine turned to Liam. “You’ve got everything, right?”

“Yes.”

“And you’ll behave?”

“Not sure if I can promise you that…”

“Liam…”

“Okay, okay, I’ll behave.”

Catherine pulled him into a hug. She never left the house without hugging him or planting a kiss on his head, even when she knew she would come back in a couple of hours. “See you later, Munchkin.”

“Have fun”, he said, looking up to her, then to Jo who stood shy in the corner. He smiled briefly at her, and she smiled back, already getting flushed cheeks again.


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59 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 22nd June 2012, 15:42

Jo was sitting in the car, even in the front seat next to Catherine. Both girls had a thermos cup, in Catherine’s was coffee and in Jo’s sweet tea and they had bagels Jo was very carefully eating hers so that neither the peanut butter, not the jam nor a single crump would be left behind in Catherine’s car.

“Katie can I ask you a question?”

“I don’t know can you?”

Jo blushed. “I’m sorry, I mean may I ask you a question?”

“Sure shoot.” Catherine smiled for a moment at Jo, before she concentrated on the road again.

“Why do you call Liam Munchkin? Is that is second name?”

For a moment Catherine looked with a frozen face at her, and then she burst into laughter. It took several minutes until Catherine was able to talk again. “No it is not his middle name, Liam’s middle name is Seamus. You don’t know what Munchkins are?”

Jo shook her head embarrassed.

“Munchkins are little people in a movie called The Wizard of Oz. Have you never seen it?” Catherine was still giggling.

“No.” Jo whispered.

“That is okay we’ll watch it maybe later tonight or as soon we can. Okay? You’’ like it is a good movie.” Catherine brushed some hair out of Jo’s face. “No big deal.”

“Okay.”

“Good, so finish your breakfast it is an important meal.” Jo saw Catherine smiling and she knew it was all okay.

“So did you have a look through your closet and made a list of everything you need?”

“Yes. I need jumper, warm socks, also I need some warm tights Mother doesn’t like why I wear trousers so maybe we find some warm skirts and dresses and of course a warm coat and a hat and gloves and also a scarf, but I thought about getting a scarf and hat from the school. Oh and I think I need some warmer boots I read in a book that it can get down to minus 30 degree Celsius here. And father said I don’t have to worry about the costs.” Jo looked worried at Catherine, she didn’t mean to intimidate Catherine by spending so much money all at once. “I would also like to get some ice skates housemother Deborah said that they normally go ice skating in winter. Sometimes we they even build an ice rank on the school green. Oh and erm… I need… more underwear…” Jo looked embarrassed out of the window. “Some girls in my house took mine and erm they wrote on them with ink. I think they don’t like me.”

“Sweetie what did they write on it?” Catherine looked worried at Jo.

“Island monkey.” Jo whispered embarrassed.


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60 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 23rd June 2012, 16:33

Catherine was quiet for a moment, then she took a deep breath. “You know, sometimes girls do things like that. It’s not a good thing, but I’m afraid it’s normal, and it happens everywhere.”

“What? That they write on someone’s underwear?”

“No, it’s more about calling someone names or teasing someone. Especially girls your age do that a lot to other girls, mostly because they are jealous of you or see you as some sort of competition.”

“But why would they be jealous of me?”

“It always has different reasons. Sometimes they are just jealous because you have more money, or because you get along so well with the teachers. You can even be nice to them, there will always be girls who are mean to you because they think you have it better than them or because they just take fun in teasing you.”

“But that really hurts, and it’s not okay. I would never do anything like that.” Jo stared at her hands.

“I know you wouldn’t, but many kids do. They often don’t realize how much they hurt you with it. Jo, honey, don’t take it personally.” Catherine stroked the girl’s cheek. “It has absolutely nothing to do with your personality, you’re a lovely girl, Jo, which is one of the reasons some girls might feel threatened by you, because you are so nice to everyone. However, it is really important not to show them that you’re hurt, you have to be strong otherwise they will continue teasing you.” She was quiet for a moment and focused on the road. “I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been through the same, and to be honest, it doesn’t stop when you get older. I mean, I had no problems in school because I always defended myself easily and other girls didn’t pick on me because it’s no fun picking on someone who knows how to defend herself. So, my time in school was nice, but you have no idea how a woman with a child and no husband is treated by other women. Believe me, it’s not pretty. Grown women don’t write on your underwear anymore, but they still call you names, not to your face but behind your back, and instead of including you, they ignore you because you’re not ‘one of them’. So, you see, it doesn’t matter how old you are and what you do, but as long as you’re not exactly like everybody else, they will treat you differently. Teenage girls do things like writing on your underwear and call you names to your face, while grown women do everything behind your back, which is just as mean, but their actions should never bring you down, you hear me? You have to stay strong, Jo.”

Jo looked up slowly. “But I’m not sure if I can.”

“Of course you can.” Catherine shot her a smile. “You already are strong. You’re so far away from home, in a foreign country, and not once you complain about anything. That already shows strength.”

The young girl smiled shyly. A bit later Catherine parked to the nearest mall, they had a lot of things to look for. Obviously Jo didn’t have any real winter clothes at all, and it was not even winter yet and the girl was already freezing. She definitely needed something warmer than this little coat she was wearing right now, otherwise she wouldn’t survive the harsh New England winter. “Ready to go, Miss March?”, Catherine asked, making a reference to one of her favourite literature figures; Jo March.


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61 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 23rd June 2012, 22:54

Jo looked amazed at the huge building. “This is all one shop?”

Catherine looked confused at Jo. “No it’s like a huge market but not just food stores. It has stores for clothes, and every store you can think of.”

“Really? So we don’t have to go outside again until we go home?” Jo was still in some stage of astonishment.

“Nope we can do all in there.” Catherine took Jo’s hand and went inside. “Okay let’s start with the underwear shop. “

The two girls went into the shop and a friendly smiling shop assistant came to greet them. “Good morning ladies, I am Tiffany may I help you?”

“I am not here for me, but for this little lady. She needs some new knickers, something very simple and girly.” Catherine smiled she saw that Jo felt a little weird talking about underwear to a stranger.

“Sure honey, would you like to come with me to the young teenager compartment?”

Jo looked at Catherine help searching. “Go on, I come along.”

They followed the shop assistant that took Jo’s measurements. “Hey Jo what about this one, it looks cute?”

Jo went pale and shook panicked her head, Catherine started laughing. “Just kidding I would never let you wear something like this.”

Tiffany smiled and went to the rack with more children knickers. “What do you think about those? You are a size S.”

Jo looked shy at the underwear. “They seem okay, I think.” The little girl was tomato red.

“Do you also need any bras Jo?” Catherine asked not implying to be mean.

“No!” Jo looked as if Catherine told her she had to walk through the mall just dressed in her new underwear.


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62 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 25th June 2012, 14:02

Catherine tried really hard not to grin. It wasn’t because she made fun of Jo, she was just very amused by Jo’s cuteness. Everything about that girl was so adorable, and seeing how much she blushed about insignificant, normal things like that made her only more charming. As much as Catherine loved her son, she often missed this level of innocence in him. He was basically born as an adult, never asked any kind of questions kids usually asked, but instead already knew the answer to everything, and in case he did ask questions, it was mostly one of those scientific questions that not even normal adults could answer. Catherine enjoyed spending time with a girl who still had all this naivety of a child in her, but was still very smart at the same time. She liked having a child around her who asked questions that a child would ask, and who blushed when it came to things like buying underwear, whereas Liam’s thoughts were already something like ‘how do I get into a girl’s knickers?’. She wanted him to stay a child for as long as possible, but technically he had never been a child in the first place.
After Jo went into one of the dressing rooms and tried a few things on, she quickly grabbed the stuff that fit her, then almost stormed out of the dressing room, directly to the checkout, where she quickly paid and waited impatiently for the woman behind the checkout to put the underwear into a bag so that nobody else could see what she bought.

“You’ve got everything?”, Catherine asked, and Jo nodded quickly, just happy to finally leave the underwear shop. They just left the shop when Jo noticed a music shop right across from them, and her eyes immediately lit up when she saw all the beautiful pianos through the window.

“Can I go into the music shop?”, Jo asked.

Catherine was focused on her watch which seemed to have stopped, so she didn’t look up and only said ‘Sure’, not realizing where Jo was heading. When she finally looked up she saw the young girl walking into the music shop, standing next to one of the pianos. A saleswoman talked to her, and Jo smiled and sat down on the stool, letting her eyes wander over the piano keys first, then slowly putting her hands down on them.
Catherine was still outside, looking through the window. When Jo turned around to check where she was, she quickly waved her at, and Catherine managed to bring up a brief smile, but she still hesitated to enter the shop. It took her another moment until she finally walked into the shop, and there was Jo, playing on the piano like a little pianist. Catherine didn’t know the song, but it was absolutely beautiful, and it reminded her so much of something she constantly tried to forget, but never really managed to forget. She was just glad it wasn’t Liam on the piano, so she tried to relax a bit and listen to Jo even though she struggled inside.


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63 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 26th June 2012, 22:41

Jo was lost in thoughts while she was playing the piano. Until she looked up and saw the reflection of Catherine. She was smiling but had sadness in her eyes. Jo stopped and smiled at the woman. “I’m sorry did I upset you with my playing? I didn’t mean to run off.”

“Oh no Sweetie, you played wonderful. Where did you learn to play like this?” Catherine took a deep breath and went closer to Jo.

“Oh Mother said a Lady needs to be able to make music so she wanted me to learn the harp but I don’t like the harp. It made my fingers bleed. So I asked Father if I can play another instrument and after some yelling and then ignoring me. Father allowed me to learn to play the piano. So Father went and spoke to a friend and while he tried to find a perfect piano teacher I played on the piano on one of mother’s parties and Graham Hart walked into the room. After he taught me a little bit I asked him if he could be my teacher. It drove Mother crazy that I found a piano teacher myself and that he is Irish. She is not a racist but she was really mad. Graham was a really good teacher. I miss his lessons.”

Jo was following Catherine to the next shop to look for coats.

“Katie are you okay? Did I say something wrong?”


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64 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 27th June 2012, 16:37

Catherine turned away from Jo on purpose, and she tried to do everything to prevent showing her feelings right now, but it was almost impossible. In fact, it was impossible. Maybe it was a misunderstanding, and Jo was talking about someone else who did not happen to be Liam’s father whom Catherine hasn’t seen since the day he left her. Yes, Jo was probably talking about someone else.

“Katie, are you okay?”

Catherine took a deep breath and turned to the little girl, trying her best to look normal. “Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I?”

“You look sad. Was it something I said?”

“Oh, no, definitely not. And I’m not sad.” Catherine’s voice almost gave her away, but she pulled herself together. For the past thirteen years she had managed to pull herself together, especially for her son’s sake, so she wouldn’t break down now, after all these years. She was scared to ask Jo more about her piano teacher, but on the other hand she had to find out if he really was the man she thought he was, or if Jo had been talking about someone else. “So…your…piano teacher…is he…does he teach other students as well?”

Jo shook her head. “He’s actually a pianist, not a teacher, but he made an exception for me because he knows my family well.” She was looking at some coats and didn’t see how the older woman froze behind her. “I don’t think they have my size here…”

Catherine didn’t move, she didn’t even blink. When Jo turned to her, she wanted to look away, but she just couldn’t move, and this time she couldn’t even hide her feelings.
“Katie?”, Jo asked shyly. She started to worry that something was wrong. “Are you not feeling well?”

She wanted to say something, but she couldn’t. She just looked at the confused girl in front of her, unable to say something.

“Katie, what’s wrong?” Jo was about to take her hand when Catherine pulled away from her.

“Why don’t you…look around for a bit longer, okay?” She barely got those words out, it sounded more like a whisper. “I feel a bit dizzy, probably from all the heat in the shops…I’ll get some fresh air…”

“Do you want me to come with you? I can-“

“No, no.” Catherine shook her head. “I’ll be back in a minute, don’t worry about it. Do you see the sales lady over there? You can ask her if she can show you coats in your size. I’ll be right back.” She managed to stroke Jo’s hair briefly, then she left the shop, trying to get out of Jo’s sight as fast as possible. When she knew that Jo couldn’t see her anymore, she sat on one of the benches and buried her face behind her hands, so that nobody else could see how much she struggled keeping it together. For the past years she had learned how to suppress that sadness inside of her, and she managed to be strong for her son and herself, but just with one sentence all the feelings she tried to bury inside of her came out at once, as if they were never gone. In fact, they had never gone away, not once, she just knew how to hide them very well, very deep down. As long as Catherine wasn’t reminded of Graham, she could deal with her emotions, and sometimes there were of course moments that she was reminded of him, but nothing hit her quite as hard as actually hearing from him by none other than her son’s little friend from England.
After ten minutes Catherine got up again, though she looked anything but fine, and she definitely felt anything but fine, but she had to do what she always did; put on a strong face.
She walked back into the store and forced herself to smile when she saw Jo trying on one of the coats.
“That looks nice”, she said, her voice still weak.

“Are you okay, Katie?” Jo looked concerned.

“Yes, no worries, it was just a bit of dizziness…” Catherine took a deep breath. “You look really pretty, Jo.”


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65 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 27th June 2012, 17:34

Jo looked worried at Catherine. The women looked still upset, but she didn’t seem to feel that she had to talk to a young girl about it. And then suddenly she remembered that Liam had told her that Catherine didn’t like piano, what if she had upset Catherine with her piano playing.

“Thanks. I think I would like to have a green coat not a red one. A red one puts me too much on the spot.”

“Okay, sure let’s look for a green coat.”

Not much longer they found a green warm winter coat, and a warm winter jacket. They found also some warm skirts and dresses, and matching tights.
When they came out of the shop it was about lunch time.

“Sweetie let’s go to the food court and get some lunch.” Catherine had regained her calmness.

“Okay.” Jo was rather quiet, she felt awful for making Catherine so upset.

“Oh there are so many different food shops.” Jo looked amazed around.

“Yes, what do you wanna eat?”

Jo grinned at Catherine. “Can we get lots of different things?”

“Sure. You sit down and I get the food. Find us a nice table maybe somewhere at the window.”

Jo watched Catherine go to the food stops and went quickly in the shop they had been standing in front. She was quick and found something really nice and got it for Catherine. Luckily everyone wanted to get some food right now so Catherine took quite long to get their lunch together and didn’t notice that Jo went in a shop.

“Okay I think I got everything.” Catherine said when she came with two trays full of food to the table Jo had picked, a nice table right at the window.

“Katie I have something for you. Because I made you sad and you went with me shopping.” Jo handed Catherine a small box.


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66 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 28th June 2012, 15:46

Catherine looked surprised at Jo, then she took the box and opened it. “Jo, that is so pretty…”

“I thought you might like it.”

“I do.” She looked up from the box. “But I can’t take it, it looks really expensive.”

“No, please take it. I’m really sorry if I made you sad, and you spend so much time with me and-“

“Jo, you don’t make me sad”, Catherine interrupted her and smiled friendly at the girl. “You’re an angel, and I love spending time with you.”

“Really?” Jo blushed.

“Yes, really.” She held up the box. “Are you sure you-“

“Please keep it!”

“Okay.” Catherine bent forward and planted a kiss on her head. “Thank you very much.”

After lunch they did the remaining shopping, and by late afternoon they headed back home. Catherine was rather quiet in the car, which was unusual, because she was always a very talkative person, but Jo knew that something in the mall had happened which upset her, though she had no idea what it was exactly and she didn’t dare to ask. Catherine, just like Jo, had thousand questions running through her head but also didn’t dare to ask them. Inside she knew she wasn’t ready to ask any of them yet, she needed to get used to the fact first that Jo really did know Liam’s father, and not only that, but also that he had been giving her piano lessons for the past years. No, Catherine knew she needed a bit more time to ask some of the things going through her head.
When they got home, Liam was lying on the couch, asleep underneath a big science book. Catherine watched him for a moment quietly, studying his baby face that she loved so much, then she picked up the book and tousled his hair.
“Liam, honey, we’re home.”

He blinked first, then opened his eyes, and there it was, that one thing, those eyes, that constantly reminded her of the one person she didn’t want to think of, but now that person was fully on her mind again, ever since Jo mentioned his name.
Catherine smiled weakly. “Hey, sleepyhead.”

“Hey…” He sat up slowly and yawned.

“Did you do anything nice today?”

“I swear I didn’t watch TV all day long. I read a lot instead.”

“Good boy.”

…and looked through some naughty magazines while fantasizing about –

“Liam?”

“Hm?” He almost startled as if he worried she could read his thoughts.

She hesitated for a moment, but then shook his head. “Nothing.” She kissed him on the cheek and turned to Jo. “And the two of us were very successful, isn’t that right, my lady?”


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67 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 30th June 2012, 14:20

Jo smiled at Liam. “We had a pretty good day. Did you know that there is a market with all possible shops under one roof?”

Jo looked excited at Liam. Liam looked a little confused at her.

“Yes it’s called a shopping mall.”

“Oh yes, erm that’s what I meant.” The little girl blushed.

“We brought dinner, roasted chicken and a basket of chips. Come in the kitchen and set the table. Jo why don’t you bring your new clothes upstairs, you should let them get washed before you wear them. Especially the underwear. But maybe you want to show Liam some of the clothes you bought.” Catherine smiled and went in the kitchen, while Jo was tomato red.
“I can’t show you my … private clothes, but I got lots of other things I got a new coat.”


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68 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 1st July 2012, 21:58

Coat. Who gave a damn about a coat? There was plenty of underwear in those bags, so what else did he want to see? But, of course, he couldn’t just tell her to show her the underwear she bought, though he was extremely curious. Jo looked like the type of girl who wore really plain, rather girly underwear, but still, girl knickers were girl knickers, and he really wanted to have a look at them.

“Sure, you can show me the coat”, he said while he helped Jo carrying the bags upstairs. He could already see that she had her hands tightly grasped around the underwear bags and he carried the ‘boring’ stuff like scarfs and gloves.
When they got into his room, Jo put on the coat, which actually suited her really nicely, but Liam was too focused on the other bags.

“Do you think it looks okay?”, she asked shyly.

He nodded. “Sure.”
It was strange seeing all those bags that Jo just got in one shopping trip. He barely got new clothes, he was often wearing things that didn’t really fit anymore, but he couldn’t expect his mother to buy new clothes all the time.

“Kids? You’re coming downstairs?”, Catherine shouted from the kitchen.

The two left the room again and headed downstairs, but the moment Jo sat down Liam claimed he needed to go to the bathroom first, however, when he went back upstairs he passed the bathroom and entered his room, going directly towards the underwear bags. He bent down and got out a few knickers which were- as expected- very girly, but he couldn’t hold back a grin when he held them up. He couldn’t help but picture Jo in them, even if there was this tiny voice that told him it was wrong to think of his friend like that, but he just couldn’t help it. Before his mother could get suspicious (and since she knew him way too well, he knew that she would get suspicious very soon) he went back downstairs and sat down at the table, though the grin was still on his face.

“What’s so funny?”, Jo asked.

He just shrugged his shoulders. “Oh, nothing…”

Catherine raised her eyebrows and Liam avoided looking at her. Damn, she really knew him that well!


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69 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 5th July 2012, 15:08

“I had a lot of fun in the mall today. We don’t have thinks like that in England, I mean we have some roofed markets, but nothing like this mall. I got so many great new things. It made me feel like a princess. Thank you so much Katie. I liked it very much.” Jo smiled at the woman and didn’t get at all that Catherine was curious what her son had been doing.

“Oh your welcome sweetie. I’m glad you had fun, it was a very nice day. Do you still have homework to do?” Catherine asked just wondering. “And would you like to go to church tomorrow again?”

“Not again mom!” Liam whined which just cause Catherine to look stern at him.

“Yes I do have homework to do, and I don’t need to go to church tomorrow.” Jo whispered the church part. “I should do my assignment it is due very soon.”

“Really when?”

“Erm November thirteen.” Jo asked very matter of the fact.


Catherine and Liam turned their heads and looked shocked at Jo. “It is due November thirteen and you are writing it now?” Liam asked aghast at Jo.

"Yes of course when else should I write it?” Jo looked innocently at Liam.


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70 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 11th July 2012, 15:47

“You do know that people don’t like other people who are super ambitious, right?” Liam didn’t want to criticize Jo, but he wanted to be honest with her.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that people like you are not liked among-“

“Liam.” Catherine looked strictly at him.

“What? People don’t like me because I know too much, and people don’t like her because she’s too ambitious. I’m just telling the truth, and-“

“Don’t pay attention to him, Jo”, Catherine said while turning to the confused girl. “Of course people like you.”

Liam rolled his eyes but decided not to say anything about it anymore. If Jo had to learn it the hard way, fine. In fact, the other kids hated people like her, so she really had to be careful not to be too annoyingly organized and perfect when it came to her school work, otherwise they would crush her. Kids were mean, and Liam knew that, but Jo didn’t, so he felt it was his duty to warn her that her behaviour would only annoy other people. He liked her of course, but he wasn’t one of those other kids, he was a lot like her, a geek.
After dinner Jo did her homework, but she still seemed a bit confused about what he had said earlier, even though Catherine had tried to change the subject. Liam, of course, didn’t do any homework, he read his astronomy magazine instead.
When they got to bed, his mother had a talk with him that he shouldn’t be so extremely honest to Jo because it could hurt her eventually, but Liam didn’t see the point in lying to her. He knew that Jo had to be prepared for the real world, however, he didn’t want to argue with his mum, so when she asked him if he understood what she said, he just nodded.
When she thought Liam wasn’t looking, a sadness appeared on her face. The entire day she had to think of what Jo said, of the fact that her piano teacher was the only man Catherine had ever loved and never got the chance to keep. She tried so hard not to think of him, but even though she hadn’t seen him personally, he was still back in her life.

“Mum?” Liam noticed something was wrong with her. “Are you okay?”

Catherine forced herself to smile. “Of course I am.”

He looked doubtfully at her. He knew her too well and she was definitely not telling the truth, but he also knew that it wasn’t his place to bombard her with questions and make her feel uncomfortable, so he only nodded quietly. “Okay…”

“Try to sleep, okay? It’s late…” She pressed a kiss on his cheek, turned off the light and turned her back towards him so that he couldn’t see how much she struggled keeping it together.


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71 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 17th July 2012, 16:37

Jo was lying in her bed, she had a great day and the excited had not yet died down. She thought about what Liam had said. Was she really weird that she made her homework days… well weeks before they were due? But she was just thoroughly, wasn’t that a good thing?
The little girl was trashing from one side to the other and only fell in a restless sleep, when suddenly she started crying in her sleep and then she woke panicked. She didn’t know where she was and why no one heard her troubles. Why didn’t her governess hear her? That why her mother wanted that her governess slept so close that someone would be there for her when she was in trouble. Jo didn’t liked it at all because sometimes she just felt like crying herself to sleep and not have her governess hover around her bed trying to make her talk. But here wherever she was, was no one. She got up shivering and scared and suddenly remembered that in the room next door someone was who was taking good care of her, really good care.
Jo lumbered into Catherine’s room and gently took her hand to wake her up. “Katie?”

It took the women just a few second and she didn’t even need to ask what was wrong. She saw the tears of the little girl in the faint moonlight and her instincts pulled her into a tight hug and into the middle of the big bed. Jo was lying in her side and when she hadn’t been so scared and tired she would have realized that she was watching Liam sleep but right now all she felt was Catherine rubbing gently her back. Jo didn’t know how long it took her but she fell back asleep and under the hawk-like watching of Catherine Jo and Liam snuggled close together and slept peacefully.


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72 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 26th July 2012, 18:50

Liam was sound asleep when he felt something. It started to tickle him at his neck, and when he slowly blinked he noticed some bushy hair next to him, and it wasn’t his mum’s. He was too tired to actually open his eyes completely, and he was very close to falling asleep again when he suddenly felt something else. A soft hand first touching his, then holding on to it gently. He didn’t really know what was going on, but it felt nice.
Liam woke up early, as always, and the first thing he noticed was the touch of someone’s hand. When he slowly turned his head to the right he noticed Jo.
Whoa, wait…Jo?!
In his bed?
Well, technically it was his mother’s bed, but still…she lay between Catherine and him, snuggled next to him, her hand holding his. He could feel how she was breathing evenly, and she looked so peaceful. A cheeky grin played around his lips as he realized that he had a girl in his bed (yes, his mother’s bed, and yes, it was only his friend Jo, but still, a girl was a girl…). It felt nice, and strangely right. That same moment he felt her moving, and before she opened her eyes he quickly let go of her hand because he knew she would freak out. He quickly closed his eyes and pretended that he was still asleep when she woke up. Jo yawned, but when she realized that she had been sleeping so close to Liam, her little heart started to race like crazy.

“Katie”, she whispered, carefully touching the other woman’s shoulder. “Katie!”

Catherine opened her eyes. “Jo? What is it? Are you okay?”

“I need to go to church.”

“What time is it?”

“I don’t know, but I have to get ready.” The little girl quickly jumped out of bed –of course on Catherine’s side, not on Liam’s- and ran into the bathroom. She felt like she had committed a really severe sin by sleeping so close to a boy. If her mother knew about that…


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73 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 26th July 2012, 22:51

Jo felt so dirty, how could have this have had happened? She had slept with a boy in one bed! A boy, real boy and she wasn’t sure but she thought she had slept really close to him, maybe they even had touched in their sleep.

“Oh God!” Jo moaned and went downstairs. Catherine had made herself a cup of coffee and was dressed.

“Sweetie you don’t mind going alone do you? Liam and I will pick you and have breakfast.” Catherine smiled sleepy at Jo, she saw that something was bothering Jo.

“Yes that’s fine.” Jo said shy.

Catherine dropped Jo off at the church, she was listening and went afterwards to the minister.

“Excuse me Sir do you have a moment?”

“Of course my child, you are new here aren’t you?”

“Yes Sir.” The minister led her aside and offered her to sit down.

“Yes I am from England and I go now here to school.” Jo was shy and looking at her knees.

“You are a far way from home. How does it feel?” The minister spoke gentle and calmly.

“It is Sir.”

“So what would you like to talk to me?”

“I did something really horrible…” Jo started crying silently.

“Would you like to tell me what it was?”

“No-o!” Jo looked up in horror at the minister.

“The Lord will forgive you whatever it is. He loves you no matter what you do.”

“But what about my mother?”

“Well you mother is not here and her judgement should not be standing over the Lord’s. Shall we pray?”

Jo nodded and together they were still sitting in the sanctuary when Catherine and Liam came in to find her. She would pray for forgiveness many more days. And she didn’t even dare to think about what would happen if she and Liam had touched during their sleep. She would never tell her mother about the past night.


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74 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 1st August 2012, 21:11

“There you are.” Catherine smiled at the little girl who looked up shyly. “Are you alright?”

Jo nodded and got up, then she said good bye to the minister. Catherine reached out for her hand. “Did you have a nice time at church?”

“I really needed to go”, Jo said. “It was very important.”

“Why was it so important?”

Jo was too ashamed to tell her that she actually sinned, and when her eyes met with Liam’s she couldn’t look at him and turned to another direction. Catherine noticed that something was wrong, and as they walked out of church, a little distance between them and Liam, she asked her.
“Are you really okay, Jo? There seems to be something on your mind…”

“I’m okay”, she answered, still not looking at Liam.

“Did Liam say something to you?”

She finally looked up and shook her head. “It’s not his fault.”

“What is it then?”

She took a deep breath. “Yesterday night…I…I was scared, that’s why I came to you room…and the bed…and Liam was there…and if my mother knew…and…”

Catherine finally understood what was going on, and she smiled at the insecure girl. “Nothing happened, Jo, and you didn’t do anything wrong. Like you said, you were scared, and sleeping next to Liam will not send you to hell, believe me.”

“But…but I’m not allowed to…I…”

“Well, it won’t be a regular thing, but not because of you, it’s rather because I don’t trust my son sleeping next to a girl, but you, Jo, did nothing wrong and what you did is absolutely okay.”

Jo still didn’t look completely convinced, but a weak smile appeared on her face. “”Thanks…”

“For what?”

“For being so nice to me, even if I do bad things.”

“Oh Jo, you don’t do anything bad.” Catherine stroked her hair gently. Liam turned around, his hands in his pockets.

“Can you hurry up, I’m starving!”


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75 Re: Another Way, Another Life on 5th August 2012, 20:59

It was the first week of October, and Jo had spent many visits at the O’Doherty house. She loved them dearly of course she hadn’t told her mother more about them. It was Friday morning and the school was bussing. The parents were expected to arrive for lunch. Today were no classes but the students were still expected to be at school. Everyone was in a group to handle a task. Jo and Liam were in the group to prepare the parking. The parents would be led to free spots and would get a ticket so they would remember where they parked. Jo was rather upset and kept pulling at her bright yellow safety vest.

“Is your mom coming Liam?” Jo wasn’t as cold anymore she wore a warm hat and mittens and of course the soft scarf.


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