"How are you doing?"
Patterson Monroe asked after what seemed like an eternity of silence. He
eyed Stephanie Lake carefully, unsure about exactly what feelings were churning
deep down inside of her.
"Numb," she muttered
as she stared blankly down at her hands as they rested in her lap. "I
just...can't believe that no one was there. You'd at least think that one
of the Callisons would have come to the memorial service!"
"Steph, considering the
circumstances, I'm sure you can understand." He reached across the
table and forced her to take his hand so that he could give it a gentle squeeze.
"Douglas wasn't even
there and she was his secretary."
"Honey, you know that his
mother just died, too."
As Patterson continued to
watch her carefully, his heart broke for her. No matter what horrible
things that Annabelle Lake had done, no matter what kind of turmoil she'd thrown
at the Callison family---a family as near and dear to him as his own---she was
still Stephanie's mother. No matter what had happened, there was still a
bond of love that a child has for her mother.
"I...I know," she
sighed. "I just...thought that...maybe...."
"Look, Dane and
there," he nodded as he tried to find positives to out-weigh the negatives,
"so was her mother. It's not like we were the only two people
"Dane and Sara wouldn't
even speak to me." Stephanie took a deep breath as she tried to fight
back her tears. "Heck, they wouldn't even look at me."
"Well, Sara's mother was
nice enough," Patterson nodded. "I thought the arrangement of
flowers that she brought was quite beautiful."
"Yeah," she smiled
briefly as a warm memory flooded over her. "Roses. Red roses
were always Momma's favorite flower. That was really nice of Aunt Joyce to
"See, it wasn't all
bad. It really was a lovely service."
As her eyes began to fill with tears, she quickly turned away to hide her sudden
outburst of emotion.
"But what happens
now? What am I supposed to do without Momma?" Stephanie bit
down on her bottom lip to keep it from quivering. "I...I just got two
more bills in the mail this week. There's no way I can pay them!
How...how am I supposed to be able to afford to live without Momma? I
can't...I can't do it on my own!"
"Yes, you can!
You're Stephanie Lake, the most popular girl at Albanyville High!"
Patterson smiled broadly in hopes that his positive outlook and good humor would
prove contagious. "You can do anything!"
"I'm not in high school
anymore, Paddy," she sighed. "I'm in college...and not doing
very well at it, either, I might add. My days of being the most popular
anything are over. The only thing I could get voted today would be town
"Steph, you're being way
too hard on..."
"Excuse me," the
deep, booming voice came from behind them. "I really don't mean to
interrupt, but, young lady, that voice!"
Both Patterson and Stephanie
turned around simultaneously to see who was speaking to them and they both
furrowed their brows with curiosity.
"Oh, please forgive
me," the man chuckled as he reached into his breast pocket. "Let
me give you my card."
Stephanie took it from him and
looked at it intently, not quite understanding what it meant.
Mr. Willis Lowell - Producer
lady, have you ever thought about working in radio?" Willis Lowell asked as
he inspected her carefully. "You have the most perfect voice.
So full of emotion and character!"
"Well, I...I never really
considered it before." Her eyes darted from the stranger to Patterson
and back again.
"Um...Mr. Lowell, what
are you trying to say?" Patterson spoke up as he eyed the card intently.
"What I'm trying to
say," Mr. Lowell sighed, "is that this young lady could be quite a
success. Look, I'm running late for an appointment. Miss, if you
ever decide to pursue a career in radio, don't hesitate to look me up. I
really think I could use a voice like yours."
And with a courteous nod of
his head, Mr. Lowell was off just as suddenly as he had appeared.
As Stephanie continued to
stare blankly at the card, Mr. Lowell's words continued to echo inside her
head... "A career in radio...."