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A Family Returns - a fiction short story

Updated on August 30, 2014

Paul, Mackenzie and children arrive

Jenny had just finished putting the icing on the warm cinnamon rolls she had made for Paul - his favorite, when Sam walked in the kitchen, picked up a cinnamon roll and took a huge bite out of it.

"There are delicious, Jen," he said taking another bite.

"Sam, these are for Paul and the kids when they get here - and they should be here soon - don't eat them - save them for the kids. I want to make sure I have enough for everyone," she pleaded.

"Jen, if we need more cinnamon rolls I'll make a run to Cin-A-Bon, but these smell so good, I have to have one," said Sam. "I've always loved your cooking," he said bending down to kiss her, leaving cinnamon crumbs and icing on her lips.

"Baking - it's baking," said Jenny

"Cooking and baking," said Sam tapping her behind and leaning in for a more passionate kiss.

"Sam, for heaven's sake, the kids will be here any minute," said Jenny.

"That's all I need, Jenny, is a minute," said Sam as he swept her up in his arms and walked upstairs to the bedroom with her, Jenny protesting all the way.

"I love it when you say 'no'," said Sam as he laid her down on the bed passionately kissing her.

"It just means I have to be more persuasive," he kissed her behind the ears, on the ears, along her throat and down her chest to her breasts.

"Oh, Sam," moaned Jenny.

"Yes or no, now?" asked Sam

"Yes," murmured Jenny,

An hour later, Jenny was nestled in Sam's arms, luxuriating in the afterglow of their lovemaking. After all these years, Sam still excited and aroused her as if she were still a teenager. It was downright embarrassing sometimes, but lovely at the same time. She felt relaxed and happy with Sam, as she had been her whole life with him.

Had Paul, Mackenzie and the kids not been arriving soon, Jenny would have stayed there in bed with Sam until morning.

"Sam, we have to get up." Jenny glanced at the bed side clock. "Their flight landed a half hour ago in Portland. They really will be here anytime.

"Oh," groaned Sam. "I was just drifting off to sleep."

"I know five grandchildren who will be very unhappy when they arrive, if their grandpa isn't up, alive and raring to go," said Jenny as she pulled the covers off Sam.

Although Sam and Jenny had felt some disappointment in having only one child, their son Paul and his wife Mackenzie had made up for the 'only child syndrome'. They had started having five children, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, a year after they had been married.

Paul and Mackenzie had been childhood sweethearts - they met and started dating at thirteen years old. Their love of sailing had brought them together. It was amazing, but neither one had looked at another since the age of thirteen. It was if they had known right from the start they belonged with each other. They had remained girlfriend and boyfriend all through middle school, high school and college together. As soon as they graduated from college, they had gotten married - stunning both Sam and Jenny and the Larens by eloping to the island of Fiji. There they sailed around some of the islands in the south Pacific Ocean and by the time they returned six months later, Mackenzie and Paul were expecting twins.

What a time that had been. Jenny and Kate, Mackenzie's mother, had helped them through the pregnancy. And, by June, when Sydney and Steven, now nine years old, were born, Paul, Mackenzie and the twins were off to Boston where Paul and accepted a position as an architect in a sailboat building firm. Paul now designed and built sail boats - his passion from childhood. His old bedroom was full of sail boat models he had constructed and put together over the years.

Meanwhile, Mackenzie and Paul just kept making babies and Sarafina, now eight years old, Sabrina, now seven years old, and Tabitha, now five years old all came along nearly one year after the other.

Suddenly, Sam and Jenny had five grandchildren - and they loved them dearly and loved the craziness when they visited. They wouldn't have had it any other way. Finally, Jenny was happy to have the 4,000 sq. ft. house when they visited - they needed the space with seven of them coming and that's how Jenny liked it.

Sam, meanwhile, was in his glory with five grandchildren. He was like the Pied Piper of Boothbay Harbor. The five of them followed Sam where ever he went - and all five LOVED lobster fishing. In fact, it was all they wanted to do when they visited Grandma and Grandpa MacAllan. So, Sam and Jenny would take them out on one of the lobster boats and show them lobster fishing. They took to it like Sam and Tabitha had even taken 'Toby, the lobster' home as a pet much to the consternation of Paul who 'hated the slimy, smelly things.'

Jenny and Sam had just finished dressing and were coming down the stairs when Paul, Mackenzie and the children arrived.


Pandemonium and some happy news

Five grandchildren burst through the door and jumped into the arms of Jenny and Sam hugging and kissing them. Little Tabitha, the youngest, was dragging Toby, the lobster with her.

"Grandpa, Grandpa, Toby needs water fast," gasped Tabitha. Sam set off with Tabitha immediately to find a bucket of water for the lobster.

"That blasted lobster has to go everywhere with her," said Paul. "We can't just have a dog as a pet like every other American family - no,we have to have Toby, the lobster."

"Oh, Paul," laughed Mackenzie, "if we didn't have Toby, the lobster, you wouldn't have anything to complain about." Jenny kissed both Paul and Mackenzie.

"Grandma, I smell cinnamon rolls - can I have one?" asked Steven.

"Right this way," said Jenny as she lead everyone into the kitchen.

"Mom, I'm going to tear myself away from the cinnamon rolls for a minute and bring the bags in," said Paul. "Mackenzie, save me a roll, please, before the kids eat them all," said Paul.

"I will, dear," said Mackenzie.

"Mackenzie, how are you dear?" asked Jenny as she passed out cinnamon rolls to the children.

"Fine, Mom - we're all doing fine. The kids did well in school this year and are all promoted to the next grade and Tabitha starts kindergarten in the fall." said Mackenzie.

"Oh my, Mackenzie, whatever will you do with all your spare time come fall?" laughed Jenny.

"We're moving away from Boston, Grandma," said Sabrina, " and . . ."

"Sabrina - you weren't supposed to tell," said Sarafina, "that's Dad's news to tell."

"Whoops!" said Sabrina, "Mom - I forgot - will Dad be mad at me?"

"I think your father will survive this," said Mackenzie.

Just then Paul came in lugging many suitcases and overnight bags and Sam and Tabitha came upstairs from the basement dragging Toby, the lobster in a bucket of water.

"Dad, Sabrina told grandma your moving news," said Sarafina.

"Sarafina, you don't have to be such a tattle-tale," said Steven.

"Oh,Sabrina can never keep a secret, she always has to tell everything," said Sarafina in disgust.

"What's the moving news?" asked Sam. Paul winced - "Mom, Dad, I'm sorry, I meant to sit down and talk to you about this in an orderly fashion, but I see the news is already out there. Let me get the luggage upstairs. All right, Sydney, Steven, Sarafina, Sabrina and Tabitha - family meeting pronto in our bedroom with me and Mom," said Paul.

"Toby, too, Dad?" asked Tabitha. "No, Tabitha, that lobster stays right here," said Paul, "and everyone grab a bag on the way up the stairs," he added.

Paul and his family trooped upstairs. "What's going on?" asked Sam.

"I don't know," said Jenny. "Mackenzie said Tabitha was starting kindergarten this fall, then I asked jokingly what would she do with all her spare time and then Sabrina blurted out they were moving from Boston, so your guess is as good as mine," said Jenny.

"From the looks of that luggage, they appear to be moving in here," said Sam.

"Let's not jump to conclusions," said Jenny.

Suddenly, five very quiet and serious children came down stairs one right after the other in single file. "Dad says we have to go to bed now, it's been a long trip, we're tired, and we'll see you in the morning," said Sydney, as she kissed both Jenny and Sam. Then, Steven followed kissing them both, followed by Sarafina and then Sabrina, who said, "I'm sorry Grandma, for forgetting and telling Dad's moving news," as she kissed Jenny and Sam. Then there was a huge sigh - it was Tabitha, "Grandpa and Grandma, I'll take Toby upstairs with me to the bedroom now, and I won't spill any water on the rug," she said as she also kissed Jenny and Sam and then lugged the pail with Toby inside upstairs with her.


The Big Decision

About ten minutes later, Paul and Mackenzie came downstairs. "The kids are all in bed and hopefully sleeping, so can Mackenzie and I talk with you two in the family room?" asked Paul. When everyone was seated, Paul said, "Mom, Dad, I apologize for all the pandemonium when we arrived and for Sabrina blurting out the family news that Mackenzie and I want to talk to you about."

"There's really no harm done," said Mackenzie, "we just wanted to tell you our news first, but Sabrina has never been able to keep a secret, and not that this is a big secret, but we just wanted to tell you our big decision first and together," said Mackenzie.

"And. . .?" asked Sam.

"Mom, Dad, Mackenzie and I have decided to move the family back here to Boothbay Harbor," said Paul.

"Paul, Mackenzie, that's wonderful," said Jenny, "Isn't that right, Sam?"

"Absolutely, son, Mackenzie, we'd much prefer you and the children be right here in Boothbay Harbor," said Sam.

"But, what made you make this momentous decision?" asked Sam.

"Well, Paul has grown tired of the stuffiness of the old Bostonian families that he works with at the sail boating firm and we feel the children would have a better childhood growing up here in Boothbay. He is so fond of his own childhood growing up here and so am I," said Mackenzie.

"You're leaving the sail boating firm? What about your architecture and design career? You are doing so well and you have made quite a name for yourself Paul. Even here in Boothbay, we hear you are the top designer of sail boats on the east coast. Are you sure you want to make a move here now?" asked Sam. "You're so successful and in a lucrative business in Boston, son," said Sam.

"Yes, Dad, but we want the children to have a typical Maine upbringing and experience. Maine is a haven for children and a great place for them to grow up," said Paul. "Success isn't everything in life. Anyway, there are different types of successes in life, Dad, and family is so important."

"Mom, Dad, the children love it here in Boothbay, actually more than Boston. Sarafina loves lobster fishing and is determined to be a lobster fisher woman some day," said Mackenzie. "And Steven and Sydney are crazy into sailing like Paul was as a child and would benefit being around my dad with the sailing business and all," she continued. "And, then there's Tabitha with Toby, the lobster that she brings everywhere - what a better place than Boothbay?" And all four of them laughed.

"Well, Paul, Mackenzie that's wonderful and we would love to have you return. What will you do here Paul?" asked Jenny.

"Well . . ., if Dad will have me, work in the lobster business," said Paul in a rush, giving his father his big,warm grin. "From the land end of the business, I hope," said Paul.

"What? The lobster business? Well, son you are certainly welcome to come into the business, but I'm so surprised!" exclaimed Sam. "Are you sure that's what you want to do?"

"Yes, Dad, as you said so many years ago, it's good for the children to know their lobster fishing heritage - you, grandpa, great-grandpa and so on. As Mackenzie and I get older, we realize the importance of that and of Mackenzie's side of the family with the sailing business. There's a lot Mack and Kate can offer the children also."

"But, you'd give up the sail boating architecture career, just like that?" asked Sam.

"Dad, I can still do that on the weekends and in spare time - I can just design a sailboat for one client at a time here in Boothbay. Mackenzie and I really want to build something for the children and it's all here in Boothbay, not Boston," said Paul.

"This is a quieter and more authentic lifestyle for us, here in Boothbay," said Mackenzie.

"Well, I'm thrilled and couldn't be happier," said Jenny. "When are you planning on moving up here?" asked Jenny.

"We just did tonight," said Paul. "We sold the brownstone in Boston, packed up the furniture and put it in storage until we find a place here in Boothbay," said Paul. "I hope you won't mind if we stay here with you two until we buy a house," said Paul.

"Mind, of course not - We'd love to have all of you - this is my greatest dream - all seven of you around me indefinitely. "Oh, Sam, aren't we happy?" asked Jenny.

Jenny looked over at Sam, who was speechless, because he had tears in his eyes. That was affirmation enough. Finally, Sam cleared his throat and said," I guess tomorrow I get a new sign for the business, 'MacAllan and Son Lobster Co-op,' " said Sam, also finally realizing his dream.

"You might have to make that 'MacAllan, Son and Granddaughter' if Sarafina has her way," said Mackenzie and they all laughed.


Reality Sets In

The next morning they were all awakened by Paul yelling, "Tabitha - get this lobster out of our bedroom - what is it doing in here anyway?" Jenny jumped out of bed and ran to the hallway to find Paul standing in his boxer shorts holding Toby, the lobster. Tabitha came running out of her room.

"Oh, there you are Toby," she said nonchalantly, taking Toby from Paul. "You have to get back to your pail, Toby. No crawling around here at Grandma's," she said.

Jenny had to cover her mouth with her hand to hide her smile. "Tabitha, that thing gets loose again, and I'm throwing him back into the ocean," said Paul. "Ugh!" he said as he wiped his hands on his boxer shorts.

"Sorry, Dad, it won't happen again," said Tabitha as she carried Toby back to her room.

Paul looked up to see Jenny. "Sorry, Mom, I didn't mean to wake up the whole house. But, sometimes Tabitha and that lobster are a bit much," he said.

"So, I see," said Jenny. "Just don't be too hard on my granddaughter," said Jenny. Paul smiled at her sheepishly.

"Hey, Mom,, you don't have to get breakfast. We are all meeting Mack and Kate for breakfast this morning at the little diner at Pemaquid Point - that means you and Dad also," said Paul. "Mackenzie talked to her mom last night before we fell asleep."

"Okay, that sounds great," said Jenny. "I'll get your father out of bed now."

An hour and a half later, they arrived at Pemaquid Point and greeted Mackenzie's parents, Mack and Kate Laren. They all sat down to a great bacon and eggs breakfast and when they were finished, Paul and Mackenzie took the children out to play on the rocks and view the lighthouse museum.

"We're so happy to have the kids back here in Boothbay Harbor," said Kate to Sam and Jenny. "I think they have weathered their crisis," she said as Mack nodded yes.

"Crisis?" asked Jenny

"Oh, I see you don't know," said Kate. "I was hoping they had mentioned it by now," said Kate.

"What crisis?" asked Sam. "Nothing seems amiss to us. Are they okay?" he asked looking to Mack for help.

"I think they are now," said Mack. "We hope the marriage will be stronger than ever now," said Mack.

"Oh, Jenny. I have been wanting to tell you this for several months, but Mackenzie wouldn't allow me," said Kate. "Last night we had a talk and I think it's easier for her and Paul if the four of us discuss this. I think it's just too hard for them to face you and Sam, right now," said Kate. "Paul reveres you Sam, and he's so disappointed in himself and Mackenzie's so disappointed in herself. They are trying to make a clean break of Boston by moving back here," said Kate.

"Heavens, what's happening with them?" asked Jenny concerned.

"Jenny, Sam, several months ago Mackenzie called one night and asked Mack and I to come to Boston for the weekend. She was terribly upset and said she needed us, so, of course, we went immediately," said Kate.

"Jenny, Sam - Paul and Mackenzie told us they were getting a divorce. We were astounded and just sick about it," said Mack.

"I was beside myself," said Kate. "They had been together since the age of thirteen, married ten years and had five beautiful children and I couldn't conceive of the idea of them not being together. Fortunately, they hadn't said anything to the children yet," said Kate.

"A divorce!" said Jenny and Sam together. "What on earth happened?" asked Jenny. "They haven't let on anything to us," she added.

Kate looked at Mack, he nodded, and Kate began, "It seems Paul had an affair with the wife of one of his clients. He was designing a sail boat for them. With the husband busy at work all the time, and the wife, with nothing to do, she was the one Paul always met with about the design for the sail boat. Apparently, according to Paul, she came on to him and he succumbed. They carried on an affair for quite a while."

Sam started to speak but Jenny squeezed his hand to be quiet and listen.

Kate continued, "Well, it seems this woman and Mackenzie belonged to the same gym club in Boston, and word of the affair got back to Mackenzie - you know the wife's always the last to know, sort of situation. When Mackenzie confronted Paul about the affair, he didn't lie or try to cover it up - he just admitted to it. Naturally, Mackenzie was devastated and also furious with Paul. They talked, but Paul wasn't sure he wanted to end the affair, which infuriated her more. So, Mackenzie retaliated with a revenge affair. It was with some professor she had for a graduate course she had been taking at the university. By the time Mack and I arrived there that weekend, Paul and Mackenzie had decided to end their marriage," said Kate, out of breath.

Sam and Jenny looked at the Laren's in stunned silence. "What about the children?" asked Jenny.

"Fortunately, the children know nothing. Paul and Mackenzie may have behaved horribly toward each other, but they are great parents. They kept it all together for the children and never let on what was happening between them. Although, I'm not so sure about Sydney, and Sarafina - they are perceptive children - they may suspect something's amiss," said Mack.

"What happened with you and Mack there?" Jenny asked Kate.

"Well, Mack and I talked turkey to them the entire weekend, and gave them all the right reasons to forgive one another and start off fresh again."

"But, where were the children? Did they hear any of this?" asked Jenny

"Fortunately, they had sent all five of the kids to a ski camp outside of Boston," said Mack. "The kids were skiing all weekend."

Kate continued, "After talking with them for hours on end, finally, both Paul and Mackenzie broke down crying and both admitted they truly loved one another and didn't want the marriage to end. They loved the children dearly, the children were their lives as well as each other and they finally came to their senses. They admitted they both had been selfish, had taken one another for granted and each of them had been on separate paths, Paul busy at his sailboat architecture firm and Mackenzie busy taking graduate classes and raising the children. They realized the mistakes they both had made and how wrong they were in how they had handled their marriage. They both both decided to end their affairs, recommit to their marriage and start over again, " said Kate.

Jenny and Sam just looked at each other, not saying a word.

"After several weeks, Mackenzie called us and said they had decided to leave Boston and come back to Boothbay Harbor and start all over again," said Mack, "and we were thrilled and very supportive and encouraging of the idea."

"Mackenzie said with Tabitha, the baby, off to kindergarten this year, she wanted to work with Mack in the sailing business here in Boothbay and Paul wanted to join you, Sam, in the lobster business, and they desperately wanted to get their marriage back to what it once had been, said Kate.

"Jenny, Sam, we're sorry we couldn't say anything to you before this, but Paul and Mackenzie and just wouldn't let us talk about it with you until now," said Mack.

"Jenny, Sam, please don't be too hard on them," said Kate, "they really are sorry for what they have done to each other and their family.

Jenny had to smile - wasn't that her line all the time with Sam and Paul? "Well, they certainly have had a crisis going on for a long while," said Jenny. "They truly have never let on to us, and we couldn't see a thing wrong between them last night," she added.

Sam took Jenny's hand, "Well, all we will do is be as supportive as we can for them and the children," he said. "What's done is done and we and they can't dwell on the past. I support them fully in leaving Boston and returning to Boothbay. I think that is a smart way to handle the situation" said Sam.

"I hope they find a new happiness," said Jenny.

"Sam, I want you to know, Paul is sincere and genuine in wanting to join you in the business. I think he realizes for the first time what he has with you even though he has loved sailing," said Mack. "I couldn't be happier with him joining your lobster business, Sam. That little Sarafina loves lobstering and I predict she will be quite the lobster fisher woman one day," he chuckled. "And, Tabitha goes nowhere without Toby, the lobster," he added.

"Yes, Mackenzie and Paul told us about Sarafina and your are right about Tabitha," said Jenny.

"Well, Kate and I have to get back to the harbor. I have a client to sail around the harbor in a few hours," said Mack, " so we'll say our goodbyes now."

"Jenny hugged Kate, "Thank you for telling us all this, Kate. We'll do everything to support them and the children and we are thrilled to have them here," said Jenny.

Pemaquid Point, Maine.
Pemaquid Point, Maine. | Source

The talk

Sam took Jenny's hand and they walked out onto the rocks to join Paul, Mackenzie and the children. The children were climbing all over the rocks, dancing around Mackenzie and Jenny and throwing pebbles into the ocean as the waves crashed ashore.

Sam walked over to Paul who stood by himself looking out into the horizon. "Hey, Dad," said Paul. "I'm sure you had quite a conversation with Mack and Kate. Mackenzie and I, we just didn't know how to tell you all this," said Paul.

"Yep, it was quite a conversation," said Sam. Sam looked out toward the horizon, then he said, "Son, it's okay. Life is never easy, Paul. There are all kinds of obstacles and challenges throughout life. It's how you meet those challenges and obstacles and how you handle them that makes up your character. You and Mackenzie have been through a lot lately. Nothing your mom and I have ever experienced, so I can't give you first hand advice. I'm glad and proud of both of you and Mackenzie for forgiving one another and returning to Boothbay, to your roots. It will take time to heal, I imagine, but it says a lot about the both of you to not throw in the towel. It's so easy to give up Paul, but I'm glad to see you and Mackenzie fight for your marriage and your family and to have figured out what is important in life. You're mom and I don't think any less of you or Mackenzie, son. Your mom and I have had our share of ups and downs, our own crises and disappointments in life, so we understand from that perspective.

"Thanks, Dad, for what you have said. I'm sorry to disappoint you and Mom and Mackenzie is too. We just want to save our marriage and keep our family intact. That's why were here and it is true that it's what's best for the children - all five of them.

"Paul, your mother and I love you, Mackenzie and the children so much and we are here to support you as you go on," said Sam.

"And, Dad, I really do want to work in the lobster business with you. That's my focus now. I'll always love sailing, but to work and build something with you and for my family as well, that means more to me than anything."

"Paul, I'm proud to put 'MacAllan and Son Lobster Co-op' on the building and I always will be," said Sam. "I guess we have to get it ready for Sarafina to take over some day, anyway." laughed Sam.

Paul gave Sam his big, warm grin and hugged his father.


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