The Arrangement Part 2
Abby stood in front of her bathroom mirror fixing her hair. She was meeting a friend for coffee at 10:00, and then they were going shopping. She admired her reflection in the mirror. Abby was good at styling her hair, and someone had even suggested that she could work in a salon. But that would not be good enough for Abby.
She was the second child of Rev and Mrs Dunne. She had one older sister, Livy. The two sisters were distinctly different. Livy was more like her mother, slender, petite, light brown hair, and loved gardening and reading. Abby was more like her father, taller than Livy, darker hair and with her father’s no nonsense attitude. Livy was not able to finish her fourth year at university because their mother became ill and she had to stay home to look after her till she died in February.
It was at their mother’s insistence that both daughters attend university. Livy loved it from the beginning, and immersed herself in her school work and friends. Abby was not too keen on going to university. Her mother made sure she had enrolled before she left high school, and Abby thought the summer was going to be awful because she was dreading going to university in the fall. To take her mind off it, her mother helped her get a job in a fashionable women’s clothing store. This was right up Abby’s alley! She loved it, and her employer saw that she had a real flare for helping people choose appropriate outfits.
In the fall, and unlike Livy, Abby grudgingly started her classes university. But Abby was surprised when she got there because she realized university broadened her social circle immensely! This was one benefit she had not thought of. And the young men were hanging around her like bees to honey! She dated a lot, hung out with her girl friends, and did actually do some studying, enough to achieve decent marks.
In her second year, she met a young medical student named Kent. They were smitten! Kent was finishing his medical degree that year, and the next year would be his internship. In the spring of 1943, when he had finished his internship, they were married. Rev and Mrs Dunne were so pleased for her, and the wedding was perfect in every detail under Abby’s watchful eye. Abby felt pretty smug about getting married before her older sister. And since this was the first wedding in the family, it was done in great style, as only Abby would approve of.
When Abby was at the front door of her house adjusting her hat, the phone rang. ‘Who could that be?’ wondered Abby. It was Livy, and she did not sound well. Livy wanted to see Abby, but Abby told her that she had plans for the day, and would come over to see her after Kent and her had supper. But as it turned out, it was too late to go see Livy that day, so Abby called and said she would visit the next day.
When Abby arrived at their fathers house, she was greeted by Livy. ‘Livy!’ she said, ‘You look dreadful! What have you been doing with yourself?’
It was very obvious that Livy had been crying, her eyes were red and swollen, and her face was pale with red blotches.
Abby said, ‘Livy, have you been losing weight? You look awfully thin.’
Livy managed to nod, and offered a weak smile and said, ‘I don’t feel like eating.’
‘Whatever is the matter with you? Haven’t you got over mother’s passing yet? You have to get out and live again, Livy. Have you talked to father?’ asked Abby in rapid succession.
‘No, we hardly see each other,’ Livy told her.
‘Well, what is going on? What is the matter with you?’ Abby retorted.
Livy blurted out, ‘I think I might be pregnant.’ She felt very awkward telling Abby this, and did not want to meet her eyes. She felt so ashamed.
For once Abby was momentarily speechless. ‘How can that be?’ she asked, ‘I mean, Livy, are you sure? How could this happen? I don’t remember any young man in your life.’
She told Abby about meeting Edward at a dance for the enlisted men, and that things went a little too far. Livy struggled for composure, and hung her head in shame.
Abby reacted very strongly. She was practically shouting at Livy, saying things like, how could you be so careless, and what will father say? And if you are pregnant, what are your plans for the baby?
Livy knew their father would react even more angrily that Abby. She is, after all, a ministers daughter, and what will the parishioners think of a minister who’s daughter is pregnant without the benefit of marriage?
‘Livy, have you seen a doctor?’ Abby asked, ‘I mean, who knows, maybe you aren’t pregnant, maybe you are sick or something.’
Livy said she had made an appointment for the next day. The doctor confirmed her worst fears. Before Livy had a chance to do it herself, Abby told their father of Livy’s situation.