The Pinkie Promise

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Chapter 12

A few hours had passed, and while Sherry was fussing with last minute details for her date, Liz helped Gabby and me pack our belongings. As Gabby placed her suitcase on the floor, it bumped against my bookshelf causing a small, floral-print box to drop to the ground. Its contents poured out. Photos were neatly fanned across the carpeting, as though a dealer had just spread a fresh hand.

“Sorry, Pepper,” Gabby apologized as she bent to pick them up. “Oh look! Your prom picture!”

“Give me that!” I joked, “What a dork he was.”

“What was his name,” Liz asked, as she studied the picture.

Beside me, stood a gangling boy about seventeen with slick brown hair, wearing a white tuxedo. The ruffle around his neckline barely made his chin visible. He had a six- inch, pink bow-tie, and I wore an off the shoulder, pale-pink gown, nothing fancy.

“Michael Nelson,” I recalled, “he was goofy.” Then Liz told us he was killed in a car accident. We felt bad for trashing him, and we tucked the photo back under the pile.

We sat on the edge of my bed, sifting through a few more snapshots. Most of them were in chronological order. Finally, Gabby found one of us from the night of the Bicentennial. It was almost identical to the photo Liz had on her piano of the four of us.

Whenever we visited my parents, Collin and I always stayed in my old bedroom. I can remember browsing through that box on certain occasions, searching for a feeling of comfort. This time, I merely glanced at it and passed it back to Gabby.

“Hey look,” Gabby said, as she pointed something out to us, “the Rosen’s.” In the background of the picture were the Rosen’s standing near their vending booth on the fourth of July. I took a second glance, and it wasn’t Mr. or Mrs. Rosen that caught my attention, instead, it was the apron Mrs. Rosen was wearing.

My heart began to skip a few beats, and I could feel my body begin to warm as though I were being immersed in a hot bath. The color must have drained from my face in an instant. I yanked the photo from Gabby’s hand and studied it. It was looking me straight in the eye. I rifled through the remaining pictures as fast as I could, but when I couldn’t find the particular shot I was hoping for, I made an excuse for my abrupt exit.

“I feel full…I think I’m going to go for a walk,” I hinted to Gabby, trying to get her attention.

“Go ahead I’m going to finish packing first,” Gabby told me.

“One walk a day is enough for me,” joked Liz.

That was exactly the response I was hoping to get from Liz. I needed to get Gabby alone. I motioned to her again and when Liz wasn’t looking, I winked at Gabby in order to get her to follow me into the hallway. There,I told Gabby something was wrong. I needed her to look at something, but before I could explain it to her. She looked at the photo. With my index finger I pointed to what had captured my attention earlier. Gabby’s eyes popped.

“Are you going for the walk too?” Liz asked Gabby. Understanding the urgency, Gabby nodded. “Well, I think I’ll be going home then,” Liz told us.

“We’ll walk you down,” I anxiously offered.

I remained relatively quiet on the way to Liz’s while she got all the details for Gabby’s departure the next day. the fie-house journey felt like an eternity. Once there, Liz hugged us goodbye on her front steps, unaware that what I actually needed was inside her house.

“I can’t leave without saying good-bye to your mother.”

Liz called for her mother as we entered the house. Maggie Townsend stepped out of the kitchen, and I offered my goodbyes first. “It was wonderful seeing you again Mrs. T” I told her.

As Gabby did the same, I worked my way near the piano. I was certain neither Liz nor her mother was suspicious of my find, but I didn’t want them picking up on it.

“Can you girls stay for a cup of coffee,” she asked.

Knowing it would get her back in the kitchen, I stalled. “No coffee for me...but I'd love some of your hot chocolate though,” I said.

“Before I forget,” Liz told Gabby, “let me get my address book. I don’t want it to be another twenty years.” Liz walked down the hall to her bedroom.

I quickly motioned to Gabby to come stand next to me. I picked up one of the photos from the piano and showed it to her. She squinted at me as if unable to understand my need for such urgency.

I showed her the photograph of us from the bicentennial, each wearing red, white and blue.

“Do you want some marshmallows?” Mrs. Townsend yelled from the kitchen.

“I'll pass thanks.” I yelled back as I pointed to a profile of someone in the background. It was Mrs. Townsend. She was wearing an apron given to each lady by the festivity committee to wear at the bicentennial celebration. The men were given blue smocks that wrapped around the back much like an apron.

“Pepper,” Mrs. Townsend startled me from behind, causing me to drop the picture, “here’s your hot cocoa.”

“Thanks,” I said, bending to recover the frame.

Liz returned with her address book. She and Gabby exchanged pertinent information. I sipped my drink and knew I needed more time. “Can I get a few of those marshmallows after all and how about one of those tasty brownies?”

“Sure, Honey. Do you want one too?” Mrs. Townsend offered Gabby.

“Okay, and on second thought,” Gabby told her, “I’ll have a cup of coffee, black please”

“I’ll help you, Mom,” Liz said.

With both of them in the kitchen, I turned towards the picture and drew her attention to the apron. “The same apron as Mrs. Rosen!” I placed my index finger over the straps and pointed it out to her. She studied it momentarily then looked at me in disbelief.

“No way, Pepper,” she whispered, “not Mrs. Townsend.”

Gabby looked at me and covered her mouth with one hand, stifling a small gasp. “Mrs. Townsend?”

“Mrs. Townsend what?” she startled us from behind.

“Oh, oh...nothing. We were just saying how you make the best brownies,” I said, as I fumbled to set the photo in its place. Mrs. Townsend studied me, then the picture. I shoved Gabby towards the door, “We really should get going. I didn't realize the time and...”

“Yes, Ive got so much packing yet,” Gabby pretended.

“But you haven’t eaten your brownies.”

I apologized, then reached out and snagged it from her.

“I’ll eat it on the way home.”

“Me too.” Gabby said, as she took hers. Then we quickly hugged Liz.

“Call me, Gabby, you too, Pepper.”

As I reached for the door, a hand grasped my shoulder. “Aren’t you forgetting someone?” Mrs. Townsend tapped me from behind. I was sure she knew I was onto her. I hugged her in a half-assed manner, anxious to get home. Once outside, Gabby and I did not even make eye contact with each other until we reached the street light, fearing Mrs. Townsend might be watching us.

I could see her silhouette through the window. Slowly, it disappeared. “Pepper, do you think she could have done it?”

“It makes sense,” I told Gabby on our brisk walk back to Mom’s house, “if she knew what Mr. Townsend was doing, it makes perfect sense.” “But how and when? Gabby inquired. I have no clue Gabby but we need to get this info to Butch.” We both agreed Butch needed to know immediately. No more dragging our feet. He had been forgiving once but this was too important.

We opened the door to find Sherry looking better than she had all weekend. Her hair hung freely, a few loose coils suspended near her cheeks. Her make-up was applied with precision, lips of red raven and eyes lined in charcoal gray.

“You look great,” I told her.

“Sensational,” Gabby added.

“Can we talk to you for a second before Butch gets here?” We escaped to my room. I didn’t hold back at all, “We think Mrs. Townsend strangled him.”

“What?” Sherry gasped.

I knelt down and began sorting through my box of old photos until I came across the one with Mrs. Rosen in the background. I showed it to Sherry again.

“My motha’. So what?”

“Remember the women were given those aprons to wear...”

After studying the snapshot, Sherry reached her hands back for my mattress to brace herself and then sunk to my bed when it finally registered.

Oh muy God! It’s pink!”

“Were telling Butch tonight,’ Gabby said softly.

“How did you? Where did…”

“The photo of us on Liz’s piano,” I explained.

“We have to make it right with Butch,” Gabby frantically added, as she devoured her nail tips. “We owe it to him.”

Sherry began creating the possible scenarios leading up to Mr. Townsend’s death. “What if Liz was in on it somehow? What if she went back with Mrs. Townsend?”

“Never,” I exclaimed.

“No way!” cried Gabby.

“Why not?” she questioned, “a few days ago we never would have thought Mrs. Townsend was capable.”

“But how could Mrs. Townsend allow Liz go to prison for something she didn’t do?” I asked.

“She wouldn’t have let it get that far,” Sherry added.

I asked Sherry what she meant by that, and she began to explain.

“Reasonable doubt…she never had any intentions of letting Liz take the rap for it. Mrs. Townsend would have been called to testify, and I’d bet all my unfertilized eggs that Mrs. T would have taken the stand any good attorney worth his pay would cast suspicion on Mrs. Townsend - since she had motive too. The jury would be eventually left with reasonable doubt and would be forced to find Liz innocent.”

“But what about Mrs. Townsend?” Gabby asked. "Wouldn't that just implicate herself?"

“It would work the same for her. Any jury would have reasonable doubt against her based on the pure fact that they had already tried another suspect. I’ve seen it done before,” Sherry told us.

The doorbell rang. We knew it was Butch coming for Sherry. “We have to tell him what we know Sherry.” It was the first time Sherry agreed with us.

Butch looked incredible. I found it difficult to believe he was once an extremely overweight boy with flamboyant red hair and a sketchy complexion. His pleated pants and a tight ribbed shirt clung to his body. He was clean-shaven and smelled of a manly musk, not too much, just enough. For a moment, I longed for Collin.

“You look beautiful, Sherry,” he told her. “Are you ready to go?”

“Thank you,” Sherry responded, “but there’s something we need to talk to you about.”

“Oh, I’m sure it can wait till morning.”


“But nothing, are you ready to go Miss Rosen?” And he extended his arm toward her as a gallant knight would do for his princess.

Mom came in from washing dishes to greet him. She had a dishcloth thrown over her shoulder, and the faintest scent of lemon lingered in the air as she passed me. She welcomed Butch as though Sherry were her own daughter as if this was her first date.

“Butch, this is very important,” I stressed again. “Fine, we’ll be back in a few hours and you can tell me about it then.”

Really,Pepper,” Sherry hinted, “it can wait a few hours.”

Knowing how important this date was to Sherry, we let it rest, for now. We walked them to the door and wished them well. "Enjoy your dinner."

“What’s so important, Pepper,” Mom asked. Gabby and I sat on the couch. I patted my hand on the cushion, urging Mom to join us. After having hid so much from her for decades I felt a sense of loyalty to share our concerns. From there, I told her what we believed and how we came to suspect Mrs. Townsend.

Mom did not believe Mrs. Townsend could be responsible, and she suggested we remain quiet. She was outraged with our suspicions. “She’s a church going Christian, surely you can’t think her capable of murder? Isn’t it bad enough Liz was falsely accused, her reputation nearly ruined? You girls caused enough headaches during this investigation. I’d keep quiet if I were you.” She mentioned Sam’s name again and suggested we stayed focused on him, reminding us she was with Maggie the entire night. “Besides, are you forgetting Maggie and I were together that entire evening?"

It did sound preposterous. Mrs. Townsend was a gentle woman, always kind and giving. “You had better be damn sure before you bring this to Butch,” then she slammed the door behind her as she marched into her bedroom. Mom had an awful way of making me feel guilty. And she was right. We had done more than our share to botch the investigation the first time. What was I thinking? Any number of women wore those aprons that night. The fiber could have come from anywhere actually but still, I felt obligated to my thoughts. Could the pink have been a faded red at one time? Could Butch be toying with us?

Alone in my room, Gabby and I decided to tell Liz of our suspicions before we confronted Butch. We needed to see her reaction. She joined us at my house an hour later where we finally told her what we thought may perhaps have transpired that evening.

Liz took the news better than Mom had, not at all how I had suspected she would. She was almost numb to the idea, but we no sooner began to tell her, when we heard the front door open. A nasal voice blasted through the hallway. It was undeniably Sherry.

“He had an emergency! Can you believe it?”

She strode into my bedroom holding a tinfoil work of art molded like a duck.

“We were right in the middle of our dinner when he got a call.”

“Sorry, Sherry,” Gabby apologized.

“Not youa’ fault. Someone broke into the lickastoa’.”

Sherry looked at Liz, “What’s wrong with you? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”

“They told me,” Liz whispered. Sherry paused for a moment, possibly unsure of how she should answer.

“Screwed up, isn’t it?” Sherry told her.

We weren’t sure of what to say. It was awkward. How much more could Liz possibly take? Her face was expressionless. It was as though her world was being ripped to shreds again. And, I so badly wanted to take her pain away.

I tried comforting her, “Are you okay, Liz?”

“It’s odd, because I was sure she never believed me when I told her. She defended him so strongly. How could she let me live like that?”

“I don’t know.” I said. That’s the million-dollar question. I told Mom why we suspected her, but she reminded me that they were together all night and Maggie Townsend couldn't possibly have time to do it."

“Is Butch coming back here?” Gabby asked Sherry.


“We tell him then.” I said. We let him figure it out but at least we get it off our chests." I just couldn't be wrong about this.

My bedroom door slowly opened. The squeak caused us to turn. First mom stepped in, then Mrs. Townsend. I could feel the adrenaline race within me. Seeing Mrs. Townsend with Mom bothered me. How could she have pulled the wool over Mom’s eyes? She was like the judgment police. Mom was seldom wrong about those things. If my assumptions were true, she would be devastated.

“What do you need, Mom?” I asked nonchalantly, assuming she was just curious as to why Sherry’s date had ended early.

Without hesitation or any clear thinking on her part, Liz cried out to her mother, “You did it! All these’ve been hiding it! You knew? How could you?”

“Lizzie!” her Mom yelled, as she extended her arms to her daughter. Liz pulled away. “Don’t touch me!”

“It’s not what you think,” Mrs. Townsend tried explaining.

The rest of us remained still, as though a tornado had just swept through the room. The screaming was like an enormous explosion, followed by silence.

“Would you have allowed me to go to jail? Would you?”

“Please, Lizzie!” Maggie Townsend cried. “Please, just listen!”

The two of them shouted so loudly that neither one was capable of hearing the other. Was I hearing this correctly? Was Maggie about to explain what she had done? Neither one was listening to the other. I was about to intervene when I heard Mom yell. “Stop it, both of you stop!”

I was taken aback by Mom’s ability to silence the room. I could never remember her ever raising her voice to us when we were children. She was always so in control.

Calmly, Mom said, “Maggie didn’t do it, Liz!”

How could Mom have possibly known that? Her tone was adamant, as though she believed Maggie to be as innocent as I believed Liz to be.

The silence grew uncomfortable. I was sure I could hear my own heart beating. I looked at Mom. Her eyes met with mine. Those speckled, green pools I had known for thirty-five years were looking directly at me.

Suddenly, I was fifteen again, washing dishes while she was lecturing me. You never can tell a book by its cover!

I felt as though I were in a time warp unable to get out. I couldn’t explain it and my body began to tremble. She didn’t need to say another word. “My God, Mom...No!” My breathing became erratic, then my knees buckled. Somebody reached an arm around me, but I immediately pushed it away.

“No way, Mom! You couldn’t have…”

“Pepper calm down, please, Honey!” mom begged. “Let us explain, please!

“You, Mom?”

She extended her hand for mine. My body was overcome by weakness, and I finally fell to my knees when I heard her soft voice reply, “Yes.”

The lump in my throat was nearly choking me. I could hear my friends around me, some commotion, but I couldn’t make sense of what was being said. My vision blurred. The bicentennial, fireworks and Mr. Townsend’s lifeless body all flashed before me. “Pepper… Pepper,” I heard them calling my name but couldn’t answer or pull myself from the visions that were bombarding my mind. They helped me to the edge of my bed.

Mom was kneeling in front of me, her hands cupped in mine. Mrs. Townsend, standing beside Mom, was resting one of her hands on Mom’s shoulders.

“She knew? You both knew all this time? But why?”

“That night after the fireworks,” Mom began to explain…

“I think those were the best fireworks I’ve ever seen, Maggie.” Maggie Townsend just nodded. “Is everything okay, Maggie? You’ve seemed distant the past few days.” Maggie Townsend accidentally dropped the container filled with baked goods and knelt to salvage them. A tear trickled from her eye. “What is it? You can tell me.” Mom pried again. Mrs. Townsend asked Mom to go behind the food tents with her.

“I need you to promise me you won’t tell this to anyone… not even Paul.” Maggie begged Mom and she agreed. Maggie began to explain.

“A few days ago, I was running late for a meeting at the church. When I got to church, I had remembered something important I needed, so I quickly went back home.” Maggie continually looked over her shoulder to make certain no one was listening. At the beer tent, the men were hustling around the kegs like elves on Christmas Eve.

“I pulled up the street just as John was tearing out of the driveway. His tires screeched; he was in an obvious hurry. He went the other way and didn’t see me approaching. I was also in a rush, so I never turned off the engine. I noticed the side door was left wide open. I figured he left it that way in his haste to leave, so I went in through it never thinking anything unusual. But when I reached the kitchen, I could hear the girls’ voices inside. At first, it didn’t concern me, but then I heard them get louder, so I paid closer attention.

I grabbed the papers I needed from the counter, but I could hear crying. I overheard them ask Liz if she was okay, then more sniffling. Concerned, I peeked down the hallway, and hid behind the edge of the corner. I saw Lizzie sitting on her bed rocking back and forth with her knees pressed up against her chest covering her naked body. One of the girls was handing Liz her clothes. Her arms were wrapped around her legs so tightly her knuckles were pale yellow.”

“What did you do, Maggie?” Mom inquired.

“I was sure they didn’t see me. At first, I raced back down the hall. I remembered an accusation Liz had made about her father years earlier. And at the time, I scolded her for it.” Mrs. Townsend began sobbing. “I did nothing, Beth.”

Mom reached out for Maggie’s hand trying to comfort her. “What happened to Liz?” Mom asked.

“I got back in my car. It wasn’t until I was almost back at my meeting when it really hit me.”

“What Maggie?”

“Lizzie told me something once… a long time ago.”

“About?” Mom pushed for more.

“She told me… he touched her.”

“Maggie, are you sure?” Mom gasped in horror.

“I am now. It’s my entire fault. If I had been a better wife…”

Mom tried to dissuade Maggie from believing the worst. But after hearing more details, Mom was convinced John Townsend was not the man he professed to be.

Maggie shared something none of us had ever known. She had gotten pregnant while in high school and the biological father abandoned them. She explained how she had become severely depressed after giving birth to Lizzie and the first man who gave her attention, she married. For years, she was unable to please her husband in the bedroom; frigid was the clinical term she had called it. She and Mr. Townsend buried these issues and never dealt with them. Through the years, she had found paraphernalia in the house but always assumed it was his way of dealing with her problem. There were times she had even found condoms and believed he had a girlfriend, but turned a blind eye to it. She told all this to Mom.

“I never confronted him,” Maggie said. “I wasn’t able to bear the thought of him leaving me for another woman or that he could hurt Lizzie. I knew something was wrong for years. My God, I never realized it was Lizzie! She even came to me one time. How could I have doubted her?”

“You know now Maggie and that’s all that matters. I’ll help you get through this. You need to get her and you out of the house first.” directed Mom.

“I will first thing in the morning.”

Gabby brought me a glass of water and handed it to me. “Did you plan it, Mom?” I asked.

“God, no,” Mrs. Townsend defended Mom. Mrs. Townsend said she was worried because he had been drinking heavily at the beer tent that night. He told her he was staying with some of the men and would be walking home later. “But I watched as he headed towards McNurney’s. I had seen you girls going in that direction just moments before. I convinced your mother to come with me to make sure Lizzie made it home safely.”

Mom added, “There were so many folks on clean-up that it was easy to go unnoticed. We followed you.”

“Shh, he might hear us,” Maggie said to Mom as she pushed the bushes out of the way. “Are you sure they came this way?” Mom asked.

“I’m sure.”

Unfamiliar with the path, we weren’t sure if we were heading in the right direction. It wasn’t long before we heard what sounded like very faint voices. We struggled to find our way through the thick brush.

Moments later, we found him lying there. It looked as though he had been in a struggle. We thought the man he got in the scuffle with had followed him.

“John! Oh he…is he alive?” Maggie asked.

I knelt to check his pulse. He was breathing and sporadically mumbling. We must have stood over him for several minutes. We had no idea what to do or what had happened to him. But we knew he needed help.

“I’ll stay,” Maggie said, “you run and get Officer Simms and an ambulance.”

“Will you be okay?”

After Maggie nodded, I began to find my way back through the path. I didn’t get very far when I heard Maggie. It wasn’t a scream but more of a yelp. I turned around immediately and ran back. I saw him swing at her but somehow, he missed making contact with her face but he had a grip on her upper arm. “This is your fault you bitch!” he screamed. He grabbed her tighter and fought to cover her mouth. They must have exchanged words, and Maggie told him what she had learned. "You're sick, John!"

“None of this would have happened if you weren’t so messed up!” he staggered as he clutched her tighter.

She bit his hand, freeing it momentarily, “How could you? You need help!”

He lowered one hand around her neck and squeezed with all his might. I was frantic trying to find something I could hit him with. I screamed “Stop” thinking someone would hear me, but a ripple of late fireworks drowned out my attempt.

Maggie struggled to get free but it only irritated him more. The man whom she had taken for better or worse was strangling the life out of her in order to keep his secret.

I was sure he heard me yell even if others had not. I scampered along the ground, relentlessly trying to find a loose branch. I was afraid if I swung and missed, I would hit Maggie. I panicked.

So, I got behind him, ripped my apron from my waist and pulled each end taut around my wrists. Another after hours firework lit up the sky, causing a shadow of his body to present itself and a small tree stump nearby. Seizing the opportunity, I climbed on the stump and raised my arms as high as I could and wrapped my apron around his neck. I had caught him off-guard.

I pulled him backwards with all my might and lost my footing. I fell from the stump and felt his body go with me. His hands loosened his grip on Maggie’s throat. But I never let go of my grip.

“Run, Maggie!”

Maggie clutched her neck and gasped for air. It took her several seconds to collect her breath and stop gagging.

It was then that I realized I had never loosened my grasp. Maggie yelled, “Stop, Beth let go!”

It was as though I was out of my body watching from an aerial view. Out of breath and on my knees, I finally freed my hands from the apron. Maggie and I looked at each other, terrified yet oddly grateful. She checked for his pulse and found nothing. It had looked as though his neck had been broken when we fell backwards.

“Now what?” I said, my hands visibly shaking. We can explain to Officer Simms this was self-defense.

No, please Beth, how could I explain? No, no, we tell no one!”

A long quiet pause was followed up by her final decision.

“We’ll drag him down near the lake.” Maggie suggested without blinking an eye.

Without further discussion, I wrapped my apron back around my waist. She took one arm and I pulled the other. We dragged his body to the lake. We could only get him in just past the water’s edge as he got caught up on some debris and we were physically and emotionally exhausted.

We were certain he would be discovered soon, possibly the next day. On the way home we both decided Maggie would call the police early in the morning and say he never returned home. We knew the investigators would look into the man who caused the brawl. We were banking on it.

“We would never have allowed Lizzie go to jail. During the trial, I would have stepped forward to protect her.” Maggie told us. Sherry smirked; knowing she had figured this out earlier. “Why didn’t you just come forward and claim self-defense,” Sherry asked.

“We panicked just like you girls did. And I knew what it would do to Lizzie,” Mrs. Townsend added.

“Does dad know?” I asked. She shook her head from side to side.

“It’s not just teenagers who can keep secrets,” she answered.

For me, I couldn’t believe how quickly my world had been turned upside down. The things I thought to be true were not. The mother whose hands had comforted me were the same hands capable of strangling the life out of another human being. Her deceptiveness, the years of cover up - it floored me. It was so much easier when I thought it was Liz’s mother. That made sense.

The doorbell rang. We figured it was Butch returning. I was afraid of what I thought was going to happen. I figured Mom and Mrs. Townsend were about to tell Butch everything. Instead, Mom told Sherry to have a good time on the rest of her date and lovingly patted her on the shoulder.

“Mom, what are you going to do?” I asked frantically. Calmly, she turned to me and placed a hand on my cheek, “Nothing Pepper...and neither will you.” And that was it.

I certainly wasn’t an advocate for Mom going to jail, but I couldn’t understand how she and Mrs. Townsend could dismiss this. Maybe it was from years of carrying this burden with them or possibly they had themselves convinced the world was a better place without John Townsend in it. I don’t know how I would go on each day, after knowing what I now knew to be the truth.

Mom walked out of my bedroom and answered the door. “Sherry, Butch is back…”

Mrs. Townsend casually acknowledged him showing no apparent guilt as she left to go home, probably as she had many times through the years.

“Since our evening was already interrupted, what did you ladies want to tell me before,” Butch asked.

Still stunned, I Grabbed Sherry’s forearm before she rejoined Butch. She looked at me and with reassurance, slid her pinkie down to mine. And with one single expression, she had spoken a thousand words. I knew what was expected of me. Liz and Gabby walked over and placed their hands over ours. With Sherry’s back toward Butch, “Nothing,” Sherry whispered, “we say nothing.”

And we didn’t. I looked Butch directly in the eyes and becoming my mother’s daughter, I hid the truth. I leaned next to Butch and told him we just wanted him to have a good time with Sherry and thanked him for believing in us. “That’s it?” he asked. “That’s it.” I smiled.

I don’t know if I could ever look at Mom the same way again. I was sure that for weeks after, I would come to look at people differently- speculating, judging, and knowing I could never fully trust my own perceptions of others. I knew one thing for certain about Mom - she was right. I would never again judge a book by its cover.

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