Helen was in front of her parent’s farm. Helen grabbed her luggage from the car and made her way to the front porch from the snow-covered path. Helen looked at the three-story house with a large tree with a swing made of rope and a wooden plank. A wooden Wayfair fence bordered the front yard. Helen remembers making snow angels during Saturday afternoons with her father during her childhood.
Helen’s life was pretty decent growing up until the mid-summer when she was fifteen. After going on a date with her classmate named Randy, she got a bad reputation. Word circulated throughout the small community about her sleeping with her ex-boyfriend. Her father kept her on a tight leash, only allowing her to go to school and home. Helen was already slightly overweight, but the rumors and her parents not letting go out caused her to become obese from depression.
“Alright, let’s get this over with.”
Helen walked up to the porch. Before ringing the doorbell, she let out a sigh. In Helen’s hesitation, the door opened. A caucasian woman hugged Helen with dirty blond hair in her late forties. Her name is Catherine Hoffman. She is a medium build woman who is about 5′6 in height and has few wrinkles that exploit her middle age. Catherine wears a red plaid flannel shirt, blue jeans, and timberland boots.
“Well, look who decides to come home,” Catherine replied as she hugs her daughter.
“Well, get on in here,” Catherine replied. Helen walked in with her luggage in tow.
“Where is dad?”
“He is out back chopping wood; come on back. He has been waiting to see you.”
Catherine escorted Helen through the house to the back door. Helen sees that her mother already had put up Christmas decorations. Helen remembers helping her mother decorating a freshly chopped Christmas tree that her father had bought.
Helen was glad that her mother had already decked the house for the Christmas season. She would have hated to turn her down, as celebrating Christmas was against Islam.
Moreover, her bonding moments setting up stockings along with the fireplace and baking holiday desserts were long gone over the years. After a brief shortcut through the house, Catherine and Helen stepped off the back yard porch patio and approached a man chopping wood. His name is Paul Hoffman.
Paul Hoffman is an older man in his mid-fifties with long salt and pepper hair tied back into a ponytail. He had a mid-size beard with graying strands of hair. Paul wore a khaki color jacket, camouflage hunting cap, blue jeans, and steel toe timberland boots. Paul was a hulky fellow, as his physique was athletic.
Paul was a man that was no stranger to hard work as he possessed carpentry, hunting, and military skills. Paul displays his juggernaut strength as he swings the ax against the wood on the chopping block with ease.
“Paul, Paul; look who is here,” Catherine yells while pulling Helen by the hand. Paul’s face lights up when he lays eyes on his daughter.
“Is that my little sunflower?”
“Yeah, dad, it’s me.”
“Get over here and give yer old man a hug,” Paul replies as he embraces Helen.
“Where is Brian?”
“In school, where else would he be?”
“Oh, that’s right!”
At lunchtime, Catherine made lemonade and ham sandwiches. Paul and Catherine were eating, but Helen did not eat.
“You haven’t touched your food. Are you okay,” Catherine asked.
“Yeah, I am fine.”
“Then eat up before the bread gets stale,” Paul replied as he chews his sandwich.
“I am not hungry right now,” Helen stated.
That was slightly untrue. The food she ate for breakfast had already digested and was ready for another meal. However, Helen was fasting, and pork was no longer part of her diet plan.
“If you are on a diet, just say so. I mean, clearly, you look like it since you lost a lot of weight the last time we saw you,” Catherine replied.
“Mom,” Helen whined with frustration.
Helen did not like being reminded of how overweight she used to be.
“Leave the gal alone. If she is not hungry, then let her be.”
“Well, if you don’t want to eat, I’ll save it for Brian when he gets home from school,” Catherine replied.
“So where is this boyfriend of yours. You said that you were bringing him,” Paul inquired.
“Oh, he’s at a hotel. He had some online work to do and needed the hotel’s wifi.”
“Sunflower, we have internet! We aren’t total hillbillies,” Paul replies with condescending humor.
“What does he do for a living? A man better has a good job to take care of my little girl,” Paul stated with a serious tone.
“He tutors English and Arabic online,” Helen replied.
“Arabic, that’s odd. Who the hell wants to learn Arabic. The last time I heard that jibber-jabber was in Iraq twenty years ago.”
“Dad, Arabic is not jibber-jabber; it’s a beautiful language once you get to know it.”
“Hell nawl honey, I am good on that,” Paul states before guzzling his glass of lemonade.
It was harder for her to come out to her parents about her current religious belief after Paul’s remark.
“I hope we get to meet him. Is he a nice Christian man? That is very important that he believes in Jesus,” Catherine replied.
Helen had a sarcastic look on her face.
“He’s very religious and believes in Jesus,” Helen stated.
Helen satisfied her parent’s curiosity about Khalil’s religion. In her Islamic studies, she was taught that Jesus was an important prophet in Islam known as Isa in the Arabic dialect.
“Well, that settles it. I like him already! The question is, when are you two getting married.”
“Dad, there is something I need to tell you...”
Just as Helen was about to confess, a caucasian woman in her mid-fifties walks through the door. Her name is Josette McThorton; she is 5′7 in height and weighs about 182 lbs. She wears a flora bell hat and peacoat and a long wool dress. Josette is Paul’s younger sister. Josette is that annoying aunt with an Edith Bunker’s voice. She can be belligerent when asserting her opinion. However, her intentions mean well.
“Hell ya’ll, I am here,” Josette replies.
“Josette, what are you doing here?”
“Well, Catherine called me and told me that my favorite niece is in town, and I had to come to see her!”
“Hi, Aunt Josette, hi cousin Mary!”
“Well, there you are,” Josette replied as she hugged Helen.
“Well, don’t you smell heavenly? What perfume are you wearing? Josette squealed with excitement.
“It’s a body oil called Jamaican Fruit I bought in Detroit.”
“Maybe you can send me a bottle.”
“I sure can.”
“Why don’t you stay for a spell. I just made some lunch,” Catherine replied.
“I can’t stay for long. Let’s have dinner tonight,” Josette suggested.
“Sounds great. I’ll bring Tracie and Gilbert.”
“Since you are here, I hope you and my daughter will get alone this time. The last time you saw each other, you two fought like cats and dogs after Randy. You know those two are married now.”
Randy was Helen’s boyfriend who lied about sleeping with her. Helen confides with her cousin Tracie about Randy’s lie. However, Tracie always liked Randy and believed him. Tracie sided against Helen and started mistreating her out of jealousy. Months after Helen left for college, Tracie married Randy.
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