All Grown Up
Jack Turner wiped his eyes as he watched the Judd’s take off by car to place their daughter in Vet School in the next state. Joel was still away completing his law degree and doing rookie police work in their capital city. Joel had written to say he’d not been able to get time off to have a family get together before Peggy Sue’s departure but he intended to visit her regularly at Vet School as it was much closer to where he worked than where the Judd’s lived.
Adam and Margaret grieved as they endured empty nest syndrome over again and were glad for the frequent company of the Turners. Jack withdrew into himself and spent his time silently working with vehicles delivered for repair or service at the gas station. Both the Judd’s and Turner’s noticed this change and understood he was missing his long-time companion very much. Each set of parents hoped Jack and Peggy Sue would see they were ideally suited to each other and make it a long-term commitment. Jack had developed into a well-built handsome young man and many of the young women around town set out to ensnare him dropping by the gas station as often as they could, but he gave them all grudging cheer but kept his distance.
At first letters between Peggy Sue and Jack made their way back and forth with frequency but as her studies and practical experience became more demanding, letters in return slowly dwindled. She’d described in detail what her daily activities were, and Jack understood she was still his friend but under study pressure. Over time the letters became notes and then the notes stopped. Jack settled down to the long wait until her studies were over knowing it was her intention to return to their town. The ache in his heart eventually told him Peggy Sue was more than just a friend to him and he wanted to tell her that.
He was surprised when he learned someone called Thomson had bought out the veterinary practice in town. He searched through Peggy Sue’s old letters and located the one he sought. Thomson was one of Peggy Sue’s senior Vet instructors. Could it be the same person? He hastened to Adam Judd’s home that evening and was told that indeed the senior Thomson had retired and bought that local practice and would be accompanied by his son who’d recently graduated. Peggy Sue still had one more year to complete her degree and would be returning to join the new practice. A sense of foreboding came over Jack as he listened.
Wayne Thomson had been most impressed with one of his students Peggy Sue Judd. She grasped concepts quickly and showed excellent diagnostic skills. She had more to learn yet, but he could see a bright future for this young woman. In conversations he had with her over the years he learned she was going to return to her hometown and open a veterinary practice. She made the town sound so appealing he researched its possibilities as a place of retirement and practice while his son prepared to take over from him after some experience under guidance. Perhaps this young woman would be interested in a partnership? Peggy Sue reacted to his question with enthusiasm. Her Dad Adam had promised to set her up in practice, but it would be even better to work in a team. More chance of some time off to spend with her folks that way. She’s also be able to renew her friendship with Jack Turner who she remembered with regret she’d ignored in the high-pressure final years of study. She hoped he was still available as she missed all the activities they’d shared together.
But that was not the only surprise event of the day. Under encouragement from the father the elder son of Wayne Thomson Tim had decided to propose as he knew of his father’s plan to immediately retire at the end of the school year and relocate to Peggy Sue’s town on his son’s graduation. He’d worshiped Peggy Sue from the time they first did some of their practical study work together and his father had observed this and now encouraged him to ask for her hand in marriage. In that Tim was ten years her senior this was a shock to her, and she needed time to think about it. He was nice enough but what about that age gap and how much did their interests match. She’d never been interested enough to find out what motivated him or what his interests were. Their only points of contact had been an occasional class they’d shared over the years and of course the practical experiences which oft times combined school classes student levels. She avoided Tim while she thought these things through.
The third surprise of the day had been an announcement in her dorm she had a visitor at reception. She sped there expecting to see her brother Joel who often dropped by to see how she was doing. But reaching the desk she gasped in surprise. “Bart Mahoney, what are you doing here?” The receptionist paused her work to eye Bart suspiciously. Not the usual warm greeting of visitors she was used to. She readied her hand on the button to summon security if necessary.
Bart put on all the charm he could muster. He was well built and handsome and had many woman conquests under his belt so thought he knew everything about manipulating women to bend to his desires. He put on his fake humble face.
“I know this will be a surprise Peggy Sue, but I was just passing by from a trip to the city. My conscience has been troubling me for a long time and I had to get this off my chest. I had no business bullying you at school, or that evening when I got beaten up by Jack Turner. I really deserved that beating. I always thought you two would end up together, but it seems like you two must have lost touch as he married Claire Conway recently. I was surprised to see you were not at the wedding back home.”
Peggy Sue was sure her heart stopped beating but in fact it was only a feeling of shock and dismay. She had no confidence in Bart’s profession of shame at his actions during her childhood days. More likely it would be Patrick his brother that had a conscience turn as she’d watched disapproval of some of his brother’s actions at school. Bart would always be Bart the manipulator. But the thought of Jack forgetting her so soon and linking up with a questionable character like Claire Conway was just too much for her to take. She felt sick inside. Absence from Jack all these years of school had revealed to her just how important Jack was to her life and she’d imagined them being together on many of her lonely nights at the school. She needed to cry it out but had to get rid of Bart first so she could retreat to her room and empty those emotions.
“Well it was nice of you to drop by to see me Bart. Always good to see a familiar person from town I grew up in.” Peggy Sue felt bad about lying but she needed him gone.
“I thought we may get to have a meal together before I went on my way being fellow citizens of Hillview the best little town in the world.” Bart looked a little crestfallen but managed to project as much charm as he could muster.
“I’m so sorry Bart but this is my final year and there’s some heavy exams tomorrow I need to hit the books in preparation so it will have to be some other time.” She tried to smile convincingly as she got up to return to her room. She felt sick and wanted him gone.
Bart shrugged. “OK next time then.” He spoke with all the charm he could muster. He was not going to leave her in peace now he’d put doubts in her mind about Jack. Five minutes later he was back on the road home and chuckling at his cleverness.
To be continued.
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