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    Another Left Turn – Chapter 12

    ‘It’s . . . is this a golf course?’

    Bette leaned forward in the driving seat, craning to see the view up ahead to her right. Tina leaned back obligingly. The Lexus slowed to take a turning. In the back seat Angie and Rocco exchanged a glance.

    ‘She sent us to a golf course?’ Bette asked, equals parts disgusted and mystified.

    ‘I think it looks nice,’ Tina said.

    Bette looked unconvinced but they were on a single-track, circular driveway and it seemed resistance was futile: Bette Porter was going to eat dinner at a golf-course restaurant on a Saturday night and that was that.

    ‘Dear God . . .’ Tina heard her mutter as they parked up and undid their seat belts.

    ‘Aunt Helena told you it was good, Mom,’ Angie said.

    Bette gave a sceptical-sounding grunt, but soon she was following the others along an immaculately landscaped path, past a ‘sculpture’ of a blue pig and towards the oversized pinewood door that was the entrance to Cork Fire Kitchen.

    While they waited in the reception area, Tina could not take her eyes off Angie. She looked so grown-up in skinny light-blue jeans, a dove-grey tee-shirt and a tailored black jacket. The ever-present Yeezys and a peace-sign pendant kind of gave her age away, but she’d put on another little growth spurt and was now as tall as her Mama T.

    Bette saw Tina’s gaze and knew it was an effect of not seeing their child every day, as Bette did. When Angie and Rocco were several feet away, looking at a large map of the Temecula Valley, she put her hand on Tina’s waist and caressed it. Tina turned.

    ‘She’s changing again, isn’t she?’ Bette said, looking at Angie too.

    Tina smiled, a little verklempt, but luckily the maître d’ appeared.

    ‘Hi,’ she said, ‘may I have the name?’

    ‘Rocco Pozzi,’ Rocco strode over.

    ‘Bette Porter,’ said Bette at the same time. Tina and Angie both looked at Bette, who blinked rapidly but didn’t look at Rocco as she added, ‘Two separate parties.’

    ‘Of course,’ said the maître d’ and checked her table plan. ‘Your tables are ready.’

    They checked their coats and then Angie and Rocco were shown to a two-seater with a great view of the fairway, while Bette and Tina were taken to a corner booth.

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    Comments

    1. “Bette,’ Tina said, her eyes almost drowsy with love, ‘I left you because you kept failing a test it was impossible to pass.’ “

      Wow! This chapter makes my heart sing. It may be only one scene but once again the writing is so incredibly articulate and beautiful and actually advances the story a lot. Any doubts I had about Tina finding her way back are gone.

      I love how Tina studies Bette and recognizes that she is older and has changed physically but she loves those changes and loves Bette more than ever. I love that Bette is more than okay in her own skin and that they are both at a place where melting into one another to find that safe place is where they know they belong. I love that they are talking about adopting another child and so in tune with their love for Angie. Lastly, in one brief paragraph you have been able to let the reader know that this couple is going to be okay. That Tina is really figuring things out:

      “And then she felt a huge gush of love. For the warm breeze that lifted her hair. For the taste of mint that lingered on her tongue. For the softness of the stars hanging above the trees. For Bette, for Angie, and finally, maybe, for herself.”

      You are a truly gifted writer:

      • Hi Billy! Thank you for reading this chapter :-) I am so pleased you are enjoying the story. This chapter came very easily. I love writing them being loving to each other, in a way even more when they’re overcoming a problem.

        You are completely right to be hopeful for Tina. She is doing the work! I was watching a TV show once (Call The Midwife, maybe?) and someone said that there are only two reason why anyone does anything: fear and love. That stayed with me. Tina is discovering the power of love, including love for oneself. It is BEAUTIFUL.

        Thank you, Billy. Your encouragement means a lot & I could not be happier knowing my writing made you happy x

    2. Yes to all that Billy said. I admit I actually popped popcorn to sit and read this and it was such a delight that I’ve decided to take the rest of the day off. My favorite line was this –
      “it was hard sometimes to see beyond the blaring headlines of their relationship, to the fine print,”

      So much to unpack there and that about sums up this complicated relationship. Your last line also resonated because if Tina never really loved herself how could she ever properly love Bette. Layers, Largo… your writing has layers. Thank you for this. Happy Memorial Weekend for those state side and well wishes to everyone else….
      Peace
      BK

    3. I second and third all that has been said. You write so that the reader is in a boat in a moderately flowing stream, drifting along easily seeing spectacular scenery and having insights into the thoughts and paths of the minds of the characters. Everything flows easily even if its not what we expect. We believe that Bette and Tina are real for we feel their pain, their anguish, their fears and and their hopes. It is truly a beautiful journey.

      I can see where Tina has almost come to the epitome of the cause of her behavior. I don’t think it’s unusual for people to “assume that someone knows or if not the they should have know” standard to people they profess to love and care for. Tina is becoming clear that if you do not communicate something to another, you cannot assume that they will have a clue. And since this is so striking in her life, I cannot see her making this mistake again.

      They are getting to a more stable relationship, but I still feel that they are still a little stiff with each other. They still seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop even though they are both hopeful that things are moving in a positive direction. I see a problem with the trust element of their relationship. And they still have a ways to go.

      I have only one question. What was all of that discussion between Tina and Bette on who was going to pay for Rocco’s and Angie’s dinner? Since I did not know if this was a date for Rocco and Angie and also for Bette and Tina until they were seated. I am not familiar with the dating rules on who picks up the check for such dinners and the rules and responsibilities of parents. I presume its whatever is in agreement at the time of event between the parties. That would indicate that Tina and Angie had some agreement that Bette was not in on. But in the back of my mind, Bette and Angie are guest of Tina’s for the week courtesy of Helen’s hospitality. I only bring it up in that it just seemed a little awkward for Bette. Perhaps its just me being sensitive to Bette’s position in the relationship at this point.

      Thank you for this magnificent chapter…. keep it coming….

      • I could be wrong but I think from Tinas perspective it was about giving Angie some freedom. From Bette’s perspective it was about determining what was going on between Angie and Rocco. If is was a formal date-date then Rocco would have paid. If it was just them going to dinner and sitting at another table then Bette was prepared to pay. That the kids split the check didn’t help Bette at all. I didn’t think anything beyond that. Kind of like Bette and her reaction to eating in the restaurant on a golf course. To me it was kind of cute and shows that some parts of the old Bette are still there. And Tina loves that part of Bette.

      • Thanks, Martha! :-) I love your analogy of the story like a stream. And you’re right, Tina is indeed on the cusp of a big breakthrough. And yes, she is not likely to relapse into ‘mindreading’ mode with Bette again either.

        Trust is very important in any relationship, but when someone has had the experience Bette’s had with Tina, there needs to be something clearly different in the person before you can give your heart into their keeping again. So Tina’s recovery is key.

        On paying the check – I’m sorry if it was confusing! My idea was that Bette is being old-fashioned and protective. She is used to paying for Angie when they go out, but if Angie and Rocco are on a date, then she kind of thinks Rocco should pay – but then she’s conflicted on that because she feels in some way deposed as Angie’s provider if he pays… She basically paints herself into a corner and Tina’s solution is simple: leave them alone, lol

        Thank you so much for reading & commenting. I hope you have a lovely weekend! x

    4. I associate myself with the comments of Billy, BK and Martha.
      I really enjoy the journey you are taking us through this story particularly the flashbacks.
      It’s nice to have them communicating without drama but with a real intent to discuss and come to a conclusion with a real desire to end up together.
      Loo forward to your next post.
      SG

      • Hi SG! Thank you for reading and commenting :-) They are getting there, aren’t they? Thank you for all your encouragement. It means a lot. Have a lovely weekend! x

    5. Thank you for the chapter!

      ” I just wanted someone to notice. Just ask me why I was acting like a fucking crazy person!’” – Don’t beat yourself too much. The reason that nobody notice – because in reality you never acting like a crazy person. Never during six season of TLW you never acting like Jenny Shector – typical molesting victim. That’s why this story about your sister in interrogation tapes was absolutely nonsense (and many fans never thing about it like a canon)
      And even in this story like i remember their divorce was common decision (and it’s Bette who suggested it) – so maybe it’s time and for Bette get some responsibility for their failed marriage?

      • Hiya Zhenya! Thank you very much for reading and commenting. :-)

        I agree Tina is being hard on herself here. I hated how TLW depicted Jenny – highly stereotyped and victim-centred rather than survivor/thriver. GenQ could also easily have said the coroner recorded an accidental death. That would have removed the ‘failure’ from her story.

        A writer of canon has to fill in ten years, which I did with various things – including, as you say, a divorce that was somewhat mutual, based on very complex stresses. If I don’t lay enough blame with Bette, then I’d only say that the story isn’t finished yet. :-) I’m not going to say I’ve never doubted my decision to include the tapes. But Tina’s COMPLETE absence of family is weird, if you’re writing canon (and you’re not as gifted as Spumoni, with the wolves, haha), and the more I thought about it, the more I began to see a possibility.

        Sorry about the long reply, but I’ll just add one more thing. I’m a Tibetter. Maybe you’re not? But I started writing this story to help me feel better about two characters who I want to have a ‘happy ever after’. I could not recognise ‘love’ in the way GenQ dealt with Bette and Tina AS THEY WERE LEFT at the end of TLW. To me, unless Tina has been in some way ‘not quite rational’, the GenQ couple are just two people who don’t belong together. That’s a conclusion some writers reach (and maybe it’s the actual intention of GenQ?) – but nope, I like them too much to accept that. And I’ve actually really enjoyed exploring the whole subject of what forgiveness is, and self-forgiveness, and growth, and honesty. The tapes might be ‘nonsense’ but they’ve given me a lot of deep things to think about.

        Thank you again for reading my story, and for your comments! It is much appreciated. I learn a lot from them. Have a lovely weekend! x

        • Largo

          I am with you on the tapes. They give you something to work with given the writers gave nothing for a background for Tina.

          As for the comment about how a molest victim “act”, There is no set in stone way people process and rationalize their trauma. Some are able to put it in a place and move on other not so much. Tina seems to me to be a combination of both. The one constant with molest victims is that if they don’t get help it eventually will reel its ugly head in some manner.

          K

    6. Hey Largo,

      Wow – what an awesome chapter!!! I went back & reread Chpts 10 & 11 before reading chpt 11 to get every in line in my head.

      The detail & characterizations are just fantastic. You have certainly captured the essence of both Bette & Tina. I have faith that these two will figure it all out & get to that happy place & together.

      I enjoy their banter with each other & how they seem to read each other’s mind at times. Terrific!!!

      Looking forward to their next step.

      • Hi Collins! Thank you very much for reading, and back-reading, and commenting. :-) I am also relieved that their worst days are almost behind them, lol

        They are such an interesting couple to write, aren’t they? You have done a great job with them too. I appreciate you reading my story. Keep up the writing! X

    7. Largo, this was another great chapter! Many thanks for the opening—YAY, vestiges of the snobby elitist Bette remain, though your more mature Bette is able to be skeptical but open to being wrong. Tibette better be prepared to always reserving a table for four whenever they go to a new restaurant so they’ll have space for all of the plates. And Bette racing off to chat to the owner after the meal, rather than be one-upped by a teenager!

      If this chapter was easy to write, part of that must be because of the deep dive you have done into canon and GQ, as well as the intense, careful, imaginative and disciplined thinking about the characters you have been doing. I had noticed the JB’s face was less expressive than before but couldn’t not figure out what was missing, but you are dead on—JB as Bette did express a lot of Bette’s emotions using her jaw. I don’t think she has done that with other characters (except maybe Major Stone) so maybe she was not aware of it when she had the fillers done. Though, my gut tells me that JB is very precise about her work and has an excellent handle on every tool she uses. I used to imagine her rehearsing her lines in front of a mirror to get the facial expressions right.

      The “little” details you slip in, as if they are throwaways, but are jewels of insight—Angie’s ever-changing responses to the “A’ necklaces.

      Then there were the several gut punching moments. Others have mentioned your great “blaring headlines of their relationship” but the rest of the sentence was such a punch to the gut. I had to stop reading for a while, lost in my own histories. I also confess to the “testing” of the shrinks, dooming them to failure.

      Thank you for returning to Bette’s return of her ring. I had understood it’s significance for Bette. It was only when reading this chapter that I understood how momentous it must have been for Tina—it may have been the only selfless act someone has done for her. How fortunate that she recognized it.

      The following is from a comment to the prior chapter that I never finished, but I think it fits here, too. I think the passage of time is is an important element of your story and I think you are handling it so well—you don’t clobber us over the head with it, but we know if events are occurring on the same day or a day or two apart. I think it is an important element because, to me at least, it is a pretty big task to bring these two together in a way that can believably last. There is so much history, so much hurt. Underlying that, of course, is that Tina is tackling her horrible past and Bette has BIG abandonment issues. They have never communicated well and (as you noted in this chapter) they (or at least Bette) hears things from the other simultaneously through two different filters: the actual words and what those same words would have meant in their past interactions. Tina seems to trust Bette. Bette can’t fully reciprocate. The reason I mentioned timing is that I see them making progress and then settling for a moment to let the progress take root, wearing the new revelations and interactions to see if they feel right, before moving forward. They have so much invested—the rest of their lives are at stake—that they don’t want to make a false step. Not a great analogy, but sort of like a series of base camps during the climb to Mount Tibette4eva.

      I only realized something very recently—I keep waiting for the “left turn.” But you are from Scotland where you drive on the left, so maybe “left turn” has a different meaning to you than for someone from the US. For Americans, left turns are a bit scary, and time consuming. UPS, a major package deliver company in the US, gives its drivers routes with only right turns because they are faster and there are fewer accidents.In car accident in the US, the driver making a left turn is almost always assigned the legal blame. So I keep waiting for the scary turn and, in fact, it is the opposite—you left-side-of-the-road -driver have been telling us that everything will “turn” (tee hee) out fine!

      • Hi Spu – thank you so much for reading this and, as ever, for your great comments :-) They mean a lot to me.

        I have SO much to say about everything, I have to try and keep it concise…

        It’s great you noticed and liked Tina’s observation about Bette’s (JB’s) jaw. I like bringing in these things because ageing is interesting to me, and deeply emotional in a long-term relationship. I don’t have a lot of friends who get work done, even non-surgical, but it blows my mind how much it alters people’s looks, both externally and the range of expression. So I wanted to register that, with them.

        Thank you for picking out the whole of that ‘blaring headlines’ paragraph. That was one that just popped out because, as you said, I’ve been immersed in these two and TLW for a long time! I read quite a lot on this site for years before I ever wrote anything myself.

        And again, the meaning of the ring for Tina just arrived as I was writing. I honestly couldn’t remember why it had made her break off her engagement then and there, and I could have looked back in my story to see what I said at the time, but sometimes it’s good to see whether I really KNOW what’s going on with my characters so I just had her speak and realised that she heard ‘Be happy’ as – like you say – someone telling her to put herself first, i.e. before them. I loved Bette so much in that whole gesture.

        On handling time… THANK YOU! It drives me crazy, trying to handle the passage of time seamlessly, so I am beyond delighted that you think it’s done well. Phew.

        I am interested in your comment that Tina seems to trust Bette. I think she does, too. I’ve tried to show her once or twice re-seeing incidents in their past where Bette loved her and she was not able to really feel it or see it, and she certainly told Wendy that, so I think yes, she does trust her.

        Last of all – the title of the story was just something I grabbed from the very end of the first chapter, which was a one-off for the fanfic challenge. Tina was driving and arrived at (what we in the UK call) a T-junction – probably a four-way intersection – and her hotel (and Carrie) was off to the right, but she turned left. It wasn’t clear that left led back to Bette – it just definitely *didn’t* lead to Carrie. So I think the title always in a way refers to that moment, when she could have turned right but didn’t? Also if you turn left, then left, then left, you go in a circle.

        I guess there’s also the connotation in western culture of ‘left’ as unorthodox, sinister, wrong – every wonky word you can think of – which is how many people would consider Tina and Bette trying to make their love affair work again.

        Sorry this ended up so long! Thank you again for reading and commenting, my friend x

    8. Largo
      Tina is definitely putting herself in a position to change and Bette although cautious is great with her patience, understanding and the small question she asks that keeps Tina opening up.

      Wendy is doing a great job, albeit Tina is helping by being honest, with helping Tina make small improvement each day.

      Bette to me is the wild card. She has stuff too and how this will come into play with Tina’s stuff will be interesting.

      K

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