Chapter 4 - Zoe's story
"So you became the assistant mom, then, Zoe?" asked Jack. "How did that work?" he continued quickly.
"It wasn't easy at first. I was all thumbs, and the rest of the kids didn't like it," Came the quick reply. "Some things were OK, like giving them medicine, or helping feed the little ones when they couldn't do it themselves. That was easy, as I said, but.." She stopped.
"I an understand that, but that should not have caused them to resent you." responded Jack.
"No, that wasn't it," said Zoe slowly, "It was other things, like taking temps and things they resented. In our house temps were taken with rectal thermometers, and the boys especially did not like me poking around. I could understand that, but Mom was Mom. If she said do it, she wanted things done. Too much to do in the house, she would say. If the boys refused, she might wail the tar out of them, and have to do things herself. That made her even madder."
"So they came around?" asked Jack, now inquisitive.
"The little ones did. Mom told me to spank them if they refused, and sometimes I did. They got to the point they preferred me hitting them since i was easier. Thank God all this didn't happen very often. I was happy when I went away to school."
"I'll bet," responded jack. "That must have been some stress."
"It was, but I learned a lot. When I got to school, I became sort of a tutor for some other students who were just learning things for the first time."
"Really, in what areas can I ask? That is, if you don't mind?"
"No, not really, as i said, I learned to take temps, give sponge baths, give pills and some other things that came in handy later."
"Anything in particular?"
"Jack, this is getting a bit embarrassing, maybe we change the subject. it was a long time ago."
"OK Zoe, sorry for embarrassing you. Let's enjoy our drinks and have a nice dinner." Jack looked into Zoe's eyes, and saw she was somehow sad, and did not want to push the subject further. She might say more when she was ready.
As the evening progressed, Jack and Zoe learned they had a lot in common, and they both knew somehow that there was something between them. They apparently enjoyed each other's company, and, except for the minor tiff when Jack was prying, the evening went well.
"Well Zoe, how about desert?" asked Jack as the waiter cleared their pates from the table.
"Just some tea for me, Jack. I'm full from that meal. It was wonderful." Zoe looked into Jack's eyes and he sensed a spark.
"Tea it is," he responded, looking toward the waiter who had returned to the table. "Two cups of tea and some Amaretto, if you please."
"No Amaretto for me Jack. I have to work early in the morning."
"OK then, two teas and one Amaretto sir, if you please." He returned quickly with their tea and Jack's aperitif, then left again.
"Zoe," started Jack, "Sorry about intruding into your personal life earlier. it was rude of me."
"No apology needed Jack. Sometimes I just feel embarrassed about my early life before school. I had no time to really grow up; instead I was an assistant mother. I know why and she needed the help, but it left me without a social life for a long time. I missed that, and embraced it when I went off to college. No real regrets."
"I'm glad of that," Jack responded as he reached over to touch Zoe's hand. "Because I hope you had a good time tonight, and this is the start of a new friendship. I would certainly like that."
Intertwining her fingers with Jack's, Zoe responded, "I feel the same way Jack. You are an interesting man, and I look forward to getting to know you better.I had a great time tonight, and I hope we can do something again soon." They looked into each other's eyes, and knew they were meant for each other.
The waiter brought the teas, and Jack's Amaretto, then left them to themselves.
Zoe sipped on her tea, looked over at Jack, and said quietly, "So tell me about you Jack? Turnaround is fair play, after all."