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    Remember Who You Are 42

    Tina smiled, drinking more of her water, her eyes meeting Bette’s over the top of the bottle. “Not Turnip, Baby. Turn. Up. Turnup. Boo called him that and everyone else followed suit. She had a nickname for some of the real river rats, the ones whose family lived there for generations…”

    “The From Here River Rats…” Bette said quietly, earning a fond chuckle from Tina, who nodded at her.

    “Of sorts, yes. She said he was always underfoot, that he always turned up when there was food on the table or river drama going down. And she wasn’t wrong. Turnup had an alcoholic father and sometimes didn’t have a meal to eat at suppertime and he was a tiny little thing… so most of the time, people didn’t notice he was there. And he was always around… he saw everything… heard what he didn’t see… turned up at the most curious of times.”

    “Where he is now?” James asked, looking through a list of residents he obtained from the City Registry.

    “He won’t be on that list, James. Most river folk don’t pay taxes and distrust the city. He’s still there last I heard. He was at Boo’s the day we all met Honey. It was a terrible day, I will never forget it…” Tina’s voice trailed off and she walked away from them to stop in front of the family tree. Bette took a couple steps towards her.

    Tina looked back at them, a sad smile on her face, her accent thicker as her emotions surfaced. “It was also one of the best days of my life… right up until I met you, that is…” her eyes locked on Bette’s and Bette’s heart surged in her chest. Tina’s expression was unreadable, but she looked lost, bereft.

    Without breaking eye contact, Bette spoke. “James, pick up some lunch from the Planet. Tell Kit who it is for, she will know what to send. Something for you too. And get us more coffee and some crumb cake if it’s available, not the lemon one. Tina and I need a minute to ourselves, please.”

    Chapter 42

    Bette cursed herself when she looked at her watch. They had been in The Room of Discovery for longer than she thought, and she guessed Tina had not had much to eat that day. A small breakfast earlier but now it was almost 2:00. She led Tina to her office and dimmed the lights while Tina sank into the couch gratefully.

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    1. BK! Thanks for sharing another part with us. Damn the time differnce between you and me though. It’s an hour to midnight and I have to get up in about six hours. I won’t comment today but I’m starting to read anyway because sleep won’t come easy – too warm in my low-temperature-sauna aka my flat.
      As for the drink – a glass of cold water will do ;-)

      See ya, stay safe

      • You are most welcome SG! I loved writing James in to the story. Such anchor for Bette and seems to enjoy his professional friendship with her. Glad you liked it. More to come.

    2. BK, you are an amazingly talented writer. In college when I was getting my degree in 20th Century American Literature, the southern authors were my favorite – especially William Faulkner and Flannery O’Conner as both were such rich story tellers. This chapter conjures some of the same emotions I felt when I first read their work. Additionally, it is so very easy for me to both hear and see JB and LH in their respective roles. This section of the story would make a phenomenal audio book with them doing the narration. One can dream.

      This chapter is perfection. Where to begin. Your lyrical description of a vulnerable, confused and lost Tina entering womanhood, coming to Boo’s in the storm and meeting Honey is magical. Especially the way Honey simply stepped in and helped take care of her:

      “Tina had never experienced anyone wash her feet before that she remembered. It was intimate in the way that caring for someone sick is intimate, intimate in the way that seeing someone suffering is intimate and Tina never forgot this first impression of Honey.“

      Tina’s story explains so much about the woman she grew to be. Symbolic that her transformation into becoming a woman coincided with her first experience at witnessing real love through Honey and Boo. Honey giving Tina the seeds and explaining the process of nurturing their maturation helps explain Tina’s love of gardening but it is so much more than that:

      “Protect your heart Tina, like you protect these flowers. Nurture your own soul… listen to music that makes you smile, read everything, dance in the sun but more importantly dance in the rain too. Listen to others but mostly listen to your own heart. And never forget where you came from. Never forget that you are special, and you deserve the world.” So beautiful.

      This life changing experience not only reveals so much about Tina but also highlights Bette’s gentle patience in silently listening and being present for the love of her life. I love them both. Yes,they are in fact “two pieces of the same puzzle…”

      “And Honey began to hum again, the same song from earlier but this time right by Tina’s ear so she got a good earful of the tune. It was soothing, comforting, peaceful and Tina felt her eyes closing in happiness, the feeling of being enough, of being wanted and loved washing over her again to fill the empty reserves in her heart.“

      The feeling of being enough. I will commit this line to memory as it also describes how Bette makes Tina feel. And is perhaps repeated in their lovemaking at the end of the chapter. I love how Tina tells the story with Bette and James hanging on to her every word. Each with their own takeaway. Ultimately both wanting to know more but Bette looking out for Tina and the baby. Although it is a tad humorous that Bette could not help but share her own speculation about TurnUp. And James is a dear. His character really adds to the chapter.

      So they are headed back to the river. Bette is so sweet: “Will this trip involve rope swinging from dangerous heights? Because you know, I’m kind of an expert in that area…” When Bette calls Tina water mouse my heart melts. This is officially my favorite chapter. Until perhaps the next one. Thank you so very much.

      PS. Love that one of Honey’s songs reminded Tina of Honey and Boo and her self worth and provided the impetus to show Eric the door!!

      • Billy
        Your comment was very touching. I read it twice. Such high praise that I am not sure is deserved if you knew how much time I spent writing and rewriting and changing this chapter in particular. For some reason it felt important to get that first telling of Honey’s introduction to Tina right. It sets the tone for her future interactions or conversations of Honey but also explains past hurts, feelings and how she became who she is. So complicated for sure. I wanted the day to slowly unravel for Tina, things beyond her control but that would have lasting meaning – starting her period, having her one safe adult (Tom) also be unavailable to her. All to get her to a point where meeting Honey and seeing H with Boo was impactful. So glad that you saw that too.
        Isn’t the feeling of being enough something we all struggle with to varying degrees? I think so. I think Bette is really challenged by this as well – as evidenced by her come apart when Tina loses the baby in the original L Word (not this story). She unravels when Tina does.
        They are headed back to the river. And it will take some time to find what they are looking for there but it will be worth the trip, I hope. I can’t always predict what story flies from my fingers when I am typing. I don’t plan it out but just write and then re write.
        Thank you for your kind words, for always commenting and for noticing the little things that make this story fun. This site has given me an escape of sorts during a stressful time and it is readers like you who comment so thoughtfully that motivate me to continue.
        All the best!

    3. Sometime when reading these stories, I identify with Bette and sometimes identify with Tina. In this story, I think I identified more with Bette – hearing Tina’s story on the day she got her first period. And not really having any idea what the hell is going on. Then after her parents were arguing with each other for a much longer time than usual and hearing her name from time to time, believing she is the cause of the argument. Tom at least recognizing her problem and directing her to go get a pad to put in her panties and probably getting Lucy to take her clean clothes in which to go to school in was what she needed to meet her immediate needs. But then rejecting her that afternoon without much of an explanation was a cruelty which he probably just did not recognize. He was simply to immersed in his own problems and knew that Boo would take care of Tina.

      I see Tom’s cruelty, but I also see the torture he feels in his own life due to his choices and his own behavior. He was not in a place to be the loving father Tina needed or disserved. I believe he wanted to be, just simply could not be because of who he was. I see this through Bette’s eyes – and that is why I shed tears just as Bette did. It was a horrible moment which occurred a long time ago for which Bette could do nothing about except to give comfort and assure Tina that she was loved and supported.

      I can feel Bette feeling Tina chill of the rain, the uncomfort of wet shoes and socks, the hunger from the lesser than complete meals from the prior night or breakfast and possibly lunch. I can feel the uncomfort of the first day of one’s period which you have stomach discomfort and a lack of energy. I feel the wet rain pouring on Tina’s body soaking her to bone and chilling her as she tries to press on her journey to Boo’s house. I feel the confusion that Tina see’s when Boo has a guest and the reluctance to interfere with her socializing. I feel the warm of the house and Boo taking Tina in her arms and comforting her. I feel the kindness and the care administered by Honey. I feel the warmth and the cleansing of the shower and the awkwardness of potentially being somewhere which is not convenient to my hostess. I feel the comfort of having Tina’s hair combed and the singing from Honey and the smell of food Boo is preparing. I taste the soup and feel the satisfaction of food which hits the spot. And I feel the comfort of the sofa gaining the much needed sleep and rest and feeling of being safe, warm and cared for. And I feel the warmth of these two women, one known and one unknown and their care for Tina in her moment of need. And in Bette’s eyes I am grateful that these two women were there for Tina when she needed them.

      Tina now needs to go back and read the article on Honey. She was so upset, did not read what the article said and that is an important key as to why Boo left! It may not have the entire story, but since it involved Honey’s wealthy family disowning her because she was gay, it may have posed a choice for Boo. Stay on the river and let Honey go or go with Honey and begin a new life. And it is with that choice, she leaves the river. Tina was in her senior year and was about to leave for college in a few months. She was not visiting Boo as often as she did and was becoming more independent as time goes on. Unfortunately, she was with Eric.

      Tina has reconciled a lot of her childhood into the person she is now. With Bette and their strengthening relationship, she is able to put some of that into perspective – acknowledge they have happened, realizing the effect on her life and doing what she can to rectify those effects. Sometimes an understanding of why something happens changes your entire perspective on what happened. Knowing that Tom loved her but was a weak man succumbing to his addictions and to Donna control can give Tina the ground work to understand why he acted as he did. To me he was not mean or cruel purposely, he simply was not strong enough to take control of his life and make things better for him or his children. The result, everyone was damaged. Donna on the other had purposely was cruel and harmful. She used whatever means possible to inflict damage on Tina and Lucy to benefit her own life. That is why she adored Eric. He would be far more beneficial to her life than anyone in her family. So she use whatever means possible to keep him close even selling her daughter and step-daughter for his physical pleasure.

      This story is so good. Its a true study in characters who grow and mature and find their just rewards for the choices they make. Tom, Donna and Eric have been virtually destroyed either by death or the justice system. Bette and Tina are closer and more in love than ever with a promising journey ahead with a baby on the way. And Lucy??? Well, the jury is still out on that one. And now, I hope we find out about Boo and Honey….maybe they too have been rewarded for the choices they made. Can’t wait to find out.

      I truly love Bette and Tina in this story. I love how much Tina is growing in her own self-awareness and how she is not allowing Bette to take responsibility for her (Tina’s) responses. She literally tells Bette – you can’t anticipate every response I am ever going to make. She’s right that is just not possible. After all they are two different people with two different backgrounds and many experiences which the other was not privy to. But if they remain open to communication, they can and will get over the bumps. And that is exactly what they are doing. But there will always be bumps…it wouldn’t be realistic if they did not have bumps. This story is realistic as any that I have read…

      Thank you for this chapter….you get better and better with your story as I have ever seen. Can’t wait for the next chapter….

      • Martha
        I agree. I don’t see Tom as a bad guy, but he is deeply flawed. He is mired in guilt, shame and is too weak for the marriage he finds himself in. I see him as grieving his real love (Tina’s mother) and going through the motions to raise his daughters. He could have had such a bigger impact had he rose up to the challenge but he failed miserably.
        I love that you felt the scene in which Tina arrived at Boo’s house so keenly. You described it as Bette must have imagined it – the chill of the rain, the mud, the sadness, the rejection. Really perfect how you described what you were thinking as you read it and then identifying with how Bette must have felt as well.
        I appreciate your comments and your insight. Each time I post you come back with a thoughtful, concise and well developed comment that gives me food for thought and helps me to formulate the next chapter. I am starting this weekend so it should be ready soon. Thanks

    4. Hi BK,

      I am speechless! What a incredible good chapter! It was moving me to tears and brought me a little bit relieve that Tina had Boo and Honey to fill her heart with warmth and a feeling of being loved. She never got that from Donna and Tom was a weak man who couldn’t give Tina the security she needed but one thing he did right, sending Tina to Boo that day.

      Billy, i hope you don’t mind that i want to borrow your comment?! You explained excactly what i thought and felt after reading this chapter.

      BK, you are a master in telling this story! It simply blowed my mind! And i drank ice water!

      Thank you so much for this incredible story and your version of Bette &Tina!!!

      • Thank you BiBi
        Tom was a weak man. Makes me want to slap some sense into him as they say down here. But imagine if he didn’t make a point to wait for her to get home and get her out of the house that day? I would think that Donna had something in mind for Tina if the argument was about her. Donna seems to have that mentality.
        Glad you along for the ride and thank you for your comments and encouragement as well. Stay safe

    5. Dear BK, I’m overwhelmed by this chapter, by your words.
      Heart-wrenching and so so beautiful at the same time. Your words felt like they were floating out of the screen, transforming to colour, to pictures and finally the scenes seemed to come alive. Just like Billy said: rich story telling. I bow to your talent, to your way with words and your ability to create such vivid scenes.

      Reading Tina’s story moved me to tears. All of the thoughts, emotions of little Tina reacting to her parents fighting are so palpable. Thinking of what she could’ve done wrong, to be the reason for the fight, so worried or scared that her insides protest. Wanting to shout at her parents and at the same time longing to hide in her “fort”, not to be found by anybody and to forget about the fighting. Wow, what an empathic, sensitive little woman. Responsible and protective of Lucy but maybe giving herself a sense of security by staying close to her sister.
      Her instinct to get out of her mother’s way and to avoid confrontation seem to be part of her adult self. It tells so much about why she became to woman she is now. Didn’t she avoid confrontations with Bette more than once? Getting out of Bette’s sight (for instance to go for a run) instead of facing the problem?

      Cut to the scene at Boo’s. One of your best scenes of the story, BK. Simply amazing.
      The warmth, care and love the women bestow on Tina flows out of every word you wrote. Tina’s wonder about the affection this unknown woman gives her brought tears to my eyes. After feeling alone and abandoned it seems like Tina was revived by Boo and Honey and started to live again as a young woman now, about to take control of her heart. Thanks for Honey being in the right place at the right time.

      I love Tina’s observation of Mrs. Andrews. “Was it her hips? The easy sway she had while going around the desk or walking up and down the aisles? … Tina often thought that Mrs. Andrews could not possibly be happy with him.” First girl crush? What does Tina think of her own reaction to her teacher in hindsight?

      There are so many more moments I’d like to comment on but I took too much time to write already and it’s getting very late again. James is a gem, the M&M thing, loved Bette’s support, empathy and humor, little Tina’s jealousy of the attention Turnup got from Boo (and waffles from Honey), Boo’s explanation of Tina’s milestone of starting her period, her “Ella-moment” with Eric, everything Bette learned about Tina and T about herself.

      Excellent, BK. I guess I’m going to read it again tomorrow. There is so much going on subtextual.
      Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this gem with us. Definitey time for another La Ola to cheer you.

      Have a great week, stay safe and sound

      • Dear KP
        YES! You nailed it, thank you. Little Tina teaches adult Tina how to avoid, hide, escape confrontation. How to be observant for perceived danger and take flight when needed. You are correct in that she avoided issues with Bette by running, impulse decision making and not addressing things.
        I am glad you brought up Mrs. Andrews. I added that part really late into the chapter writing. I needed another adult to reject Tina that day but I also needed some clues to her thinking and interest and what better way than a crush on a pretty teacher??!
        Glad I earned the second La Ola, cheers to that and thank you seriously for your comments and interest in this story. I love hearing what readers think and you have been so wonderfully supportive. It is noticed and appreciated.

    6. Wow BK!
      You crushed me with this chapter. The imagery you created was so beautifully done. I agree with KP, your story telling is masterful. I was right there with Tina, brutally uncomfortable, feeling so alone, and pelted by the rain. And your creation of the character of Honey was so incredible. And the lessons she shared with Tina warmed my heart. And the way that Bette was feeling every moment of her revelation was just outstanding. Dang. What a beautiful chapter. I am so inspired by your work. Can’t wait for the next chapter!

      • RISKY KITTY my dearest
        Thank you! I am working on The Beginning now but should pick this up this weekend. You write the drama involving car crashes, spy games and intrigue and I will match you with parental rejection, a search for Honey and more James. Have a wonderful weekend my friend, stay safe

    7. I agree with everyone else that posted their comments, you are a great writer. I got lost in your story and felt like I was there with Tina. I also cried. Wonderful story telling.

    8. Hey BK,

      Wow – another marvelous chapter. So many layers of emotions and soul searching for Tina. Reaching back & seeing her as this fearful girl not having anyone day to day to count on at home. Then seeking Bob out & finding that love and devotion. And meeting Holly – seems like that changed her life – gave her hope & a goal for herself. With Boo & Holly, she mattered. Just lovely. We all wish we would have had someone like them in our lives growing up – even for a short time.

      Bette’s care for the baby & Tina is just so touching – that’s her priority right now & moving forward. Caring for her wife and child. So sweet.

      But, she’s still Bette inside with eating the M&M’s like a well laid out plan – color coded all the way!!!! Too funny!!

      And James – you have given him so much character & he fits right into the family that he has become a part of. And what a great detective he has proven to be & his sense of wonder & wanting to solve the mystery for Tina – won’t we all like an ‘adopted brother’ like James. He was soooo under utilized in OG as he was instrumental in Bette’s success – he somehow always kept the ship that was BP sailing along in thick & thin. Great guy & so glad you have given him a voice here.

      Honey’s advice to Tina was so heart warming & gave her teh strength she needed at the time & then Tina relied on it later in life as well. Awesome.

      But we all want to know – WHAT happened to them & where are they NOW???
      Cant’ wait for those answers.

      Thanks again for this terrific chapter & the backstory. It was very moving.

      As always, I bow to your super story telling skills. Still the CHAMP in my book!!!!

      All my best


      • Collins my friend
        You know I can’t write these chapters without late emails to you with ideas and conjecture. I should just put HELP in the subject line. I overthink this sometimes and get lost in the weeds. Glad you liked the final version and having James play a bigger role. I always thought he could have been huge in the L Word if they had given him more screen time. He saw so much in the office and was there through the separation and reunion. Imagine if he cropped up in GQ as her campaign manager instead of whoever her manager was? It would have done so much to stabilize that whole trajectory. We can dream.
        What happened and where are they now… you asked the two biggest questions of the story. I will get us all there, albeit slowly. HA!
        Be well my friend. and thanks

    9. BK

      Lyrical in the way you reach back into the history of Tina. Our past makes us who we are in the future. We must embrace it all to fully understand ourselves.

      Love the exploration of Tina’s past.


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