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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 26: THE FAMILY WAY

      Todd's phone rang at five the next afternoon. Lisa sat back in her chair in her office and arched her back a little as she listened for a message. She had spent so much time in her office, she wondered if her chair would become a permanent part of her anatomy. Todd's message played, then the machine beeped to signal the caller to leave a message.
      No one spoke. That struck Lisa as odd. All of Todd's friends left messages. His sisters left messages. His father left blistering lectures. Who would call and not leave a message after listening to the outgoing message all the way through?
Maybe the mystery caller was changing his schedule? Surprisingly, she didn't feel that chill that usually came when she let herself wonder about the stranger. Maybe she was too tired, too headachy about other problems, to let that bother her anymore.
      Twenty minutes later, the doorbell rang. Lisa jerked, nearly leaving a bright pink streak across the bottom of the panel where Katie priced cribs and Bob wandered off through the store to look at the baseball equipment. Sighing at the near miss, she got up and went down the short hall to the front door.
      "Hi. You're being kidnapped," Karla announced the moment Lisa opened the door. Charli stood behind her, grinning ear to ear. Both sisters wore blue jeans, plaid flannel shirts and vest jackets.
      "Huh?" Lisa found it a little difficult pulling her mind away from Katie and Bob's arguments to focus on the present.
      "You need a night out with the girls, and we are the girls to do it," Charli said. "Where's that brat, Todd?"
      "Todd, we're kidnapping Lisa and you can't do anything about it," Karla called, stepping further into the apartment.
      "Denver." Lisa sighed as she said it.
      "What?" Charli's mouth dropped open. "Todd went out of town without telling our father?"
      "How do you know that?" Lisa would have laughed if she didn't feel so strangely out of step.
      "Father always complains to at least one of us about how badly the company mistreats Todd, sending him everywhere around the country. Then in the same breath he gloats about how important he is."
      "So," Karla continued, taking up the narration, "if Father didn't gripe, then he didn't know Todd was away. When did he go?"
      "Yesterday." Her voice caught. "The coward left a note that I didn't even find until last night," she added, and didn't care what it sounded like.

      Lisa was tired of supporting Todd and making him look good, swallowing her pride and hurt feelings a dozen times a week for his sake. If the whole world knew she wished she had never married him, that was fine with her.

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