I STILL LOOK FOR YOU - Part 23
On the drive to Iowa City, Lynn’s mind wandered back to the day she had met Bobby. Never would she have believed her life would take such twists and turns. What cruel cloud hung over her, parting to expose the sunshine and hope of a new life only to return with a lightening flash of uncertainty that she and the kids now faced. The car was quiet save for the music, song after song reminding her of another scene from the previous months of her first taste of freedom and the easy laughter that had replaced tears and constant worry.
As she got her first glimpse of the apartment complex the impression was of a two story prison. There were one-hundred units built in a square with inner mazes of more apartments. She drove through the parking area first, noting torn screens on windows and patio doors, peeling paint on the wood portions of the brick buildings and the overall look of disrepair. Even the kids were quiet as they surveyed what they prayed was not going to be their new home.
If Jack Stephen hadn’t let her know the job was hers if she wanted it, she would have brought the kids on another day but the urgency of her situation demanded that she accomplish as much as she could as quickly as possible. He had seen no problem with them coming along and added that they could get a tour of the school they would be attending, just five blocks away, if they cared to. She asked them to wait in the car just long enough to find the small office and let the realtor and the present manager know they had arrived and then had them join in on a tour of the property. The manager, Roy, was in his sixties and claimed he was all too ready to retire but with her arrival he seemed to be dropping hints that he wouldn’t be leaving as soon as planned. Lynn watched Jack’s expression for signs of a problem but he said he was sure Roy would be happy to have an assistant for a short time and that he could train Lynn during that period. Roy seemed to perk up at the idea of having an assistant and lead the group to what he claimed was the nicest vacant apartment which they would fix up for her and her family, if she got the job he had added with a wink.
The kids were polite but deadly quiet as they looked around the two bedroom apartment. The maintenance man, Mike, was busy putting in a new kitchen floor and stood to shake hands with Lynn, flashing a big welcoming smile. Jack introduced her as the new manager who would be taking over and at that Roy said he needed to talk to Jack privately.
“So when are you going to need to move in?” Mike seemed to be fine with the idea of her getting the job and she felt he would be easy to work with. That was about the only positive aspect of the day as far as she could see. She and Traci would have to share a bedroom which was going to be pure torture on each of them but this complex only had one and two bedroom apartments and she needed to get out of Mr. Spear’s property as quickly as she could. Each day she stayed she would owe rent and the utilities could go off any time. She thought of her large sunny kitchen with the patio door that opened onto the grassy court where the kids played while looking at the galley kitchen with outdated cupboards, outdated appliances and one window that was constantly in shadow from the concrete walkway of the second story apartments. “When can you have it ready?” She was sealing her fate and once again felt as if she had no more control over her life than she had living with Bill.
The kids did not want to see the school and they could not believe she was doing this to them. They took turns letting her know how lame all of this was on the drive back. They hated the apartment, they hated the town and without saying it outright, they hated her. She let them vent because she felt the same way and she was still desperately trying to figure out another plan. Maybe she would get a call from one of the factories, maybe Mr. Spear would reconsider, maybe … yeah maybe she would win the lottery while she was at it.
Jack said he’d give her a call the next day and they would discuss details which Lynn took to mean her exact start date and the other small matters of the position. The apartment would be ready in four days and she told him she could start the day after moving in. No sense in wasting time and she needed the paycheck to start as quickly as possible. What little she had left was going to have to go toward a rental truck, gas and the costs of getting the kids enrolled in school. With every fiber of her being she forced her mind to the practical matters at hand. She’d need packing boxes and newspaper to wrap breakables, she would have to ask Bobby and Kurt to help them move. She would have to drive her car and have him drive the rental truck back … back home … back to where they belonged, where her life should be continuing, back with Bobby close by, a good income and a nice place to live. The tears stung as she fought to hold them back. The kids had worn themselves out with complaining and it left each staring out the window as the car headed back to the place that was no longer their home.
That evening Lynn moved around the apartment, a shadow of the woman she had recently become. She was now uncertain of every aspect of her life and the two lives she was supposed to be in control of. Her children’s pain cut a new hole in her heart and she sadly watched them sulk over supper and gladly released them to go outside and to their friends. Bobby was working nights and she wondered if he would come over later. She almost dreaded seeing him because she would have to say it all out loud, making it even more real. She tried to feel anger and outrage at Bill, at the Spear’s, HUD at all of the betrayal, but she only felt dead inside. She was numb and even the tears that she could now shed in private, refused to come. There was nothing left but emptiness and dread. She was not strong or a good mother, she was not worthwhile or competent. If she were, this wouldn’t be happening. She had failed again, just as she always had, and the music played no more in her heart.