karen nichols by juleshg

7 Feb

“So this is it…”  Robert said as he pushed the door open and signalled for Renee to go in ahead of him.

“Thanks,” she muttered nervously and stepped through into the large vestibule.  “It’s, ah, very nice.”

“We like it,” Robert said with a proud smile.   “It was Karen’s and I moved in after we got married.”

As the pair took off their boots and hung up coats they each searched their minds frantically for something to say next.  This was only the third time Renee had seen her father since meeting him in the cafe two months ago.  There was still an air of tension between the two of them that never seemed to dissipate.

Robert looked around nervously as if searching for something.  “I think Karen will be home shortly.  You’re going to like her.  She is a great lady.”

Karen and Robert had been married year and Renee supposed that Karen was the one to thank for the reunion with her long-lost father.  In the twenty years since her birth, Renee had never laid eyes on him but since marrying Karen last year he had decided it was time to find his daughter.

As Robert walked down a short hallway to the den Renee followed.  She noticed immediately that the house was spotless.  The white tile that graced the entrance and hallway was shining; each picture and painting lining the walls was perfectly straight; and even the leather-bound books on the oak shelves seemed to be dusted and arranged by size.

As she scanned the room Renee thought of her own home growing up.  Her mother had worked two jobs throughout most of Renee’s childhood and housekeeping was low on her list of things-to-do on her precious days off.  Most often they lived in small apartments or rented basements filled with her mother’s dusty books, three cats, knick-knacks and other assorted treasures they had collected along the way.  The two worlds could not have been more different.

Hearing the front door open Renee looked up to find her father looking greatly relieved.  She wondered instantly if this dinner party had been Karen’s doing as well.

Renee smelled Karen’s expensive perfume before she saw the woman come around the corner.  As she came in she smiled warmly at Renee and crossed the room with her hand extended.  “Renee, it is so lovely to finally meet you.”  Renee was pleased the woman had not bothered to lie and finish that sentence with I have heard so much about you.

Looking at Karen, Renee wished she had opted for something nicer to wear.  The woman was tall and wore a black pant suit that must have cost more than Renee paid for rent each month.  Over her left shoulder she had expertly arranged a long green silk scarf and secured it with a lovely silver brooch.  She had chin-length black hair that was cut into a perfect bob and Renee would have bet her last dime that Karen had a standing monthly appointment to have it trimmed by a top stylist.

Feeling awkward and sloppy, Renee quickly wiped her hand on her jeans before reaching out to shake Karen’s hand.   Women like Karen always made her nervous.   Renee bit her nails to little stubs while Karen had a perfect French manicure.  Karen’s make-up was flawless while Renee’s mascara always seemed to smudge within an hour of application if she bothered with it at all.  She wondered where women like Karen learned to fix their hair so it was pin-straight.  Renee always seemed to burn herself if she tried to handle a straightener or a curling iron.

Looking at her father’s new wife she thought immediately of her own mother and the pieces suddenly fell into place.  That was why he had never bothered to look for his daughter.  Renee would never have fit into the upper-crust world he was trying to build.  Karen and Renee’s mother were on opposite sides of the spectrum and Renee would never move far enough towards her dad’s ideal to make him happy.  Renee in her jeans and stretched-out sweater stood out like a sore thumb in this perfect, sterile world.

As she looked at the perfect woman standing in front of her, Renee knew that her father would never call her again.  This would be their last meeting.


6 Responses to “karen nichols by juleshg”

  1. ingridfnl February 7, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    I can’t help but hope that she is wrong… that this Karen is loving despite everything… and that Renee’s father find he needs her. Great connection between stories.

  2. jadamthwaite February 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    I really like the contrast between the feeling of hope at the beginning that this might be the start of Renee and her father finding their relationship, and the harsh realisation at the end that it probably isn’t. I’m glad it makes sense now to Renee though; I imagine that would help.

    • Parenthesized February 11, 2010 at 9:05 am #

      Although it’s harsh, I felt that Renee would be just fine without her father. She can consider him the road not taken and not regretted.

  3. juleshg February 10, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    I don’t see Karen as the hurdle in the relationship. I think that Renee is finally clear on her father’s insecurities.

    When he looks at the two side-by-side, he prefers Karen and her unflappable, exacting attitude over the free-spirited wild-card that Renee represents. I don’t think Renee holds that against Karen — or her father for that matter. I think she may even feel some pity for his need portray a certain image to the world.

    • ingridfnl February 11, 2010 at 1:02 am #

      no. i don’t think karen is a hurdle either. she is very much herself and is open too. renee is very mature and lovely.

  4. phoenix.writing February 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

    I really enjoyed pairing this with the first story about Renee; what was (deliberately) missing in that one was her understanding of her father’s motivations, and it seems very empowering here for her to understand it–even if it means that the two of them are done for good.

    My interpretation after reading this is that both Karen and Renee are more secure than Renee’s father is; though Karen makes Renee nervous, I feel as though the two women could interact better than Renee’s father could with the two of them. Although it doesn’t look as though Renee would fit in the world of her father and Karen, Karen seems open to having her there, and I like that. ^_^

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