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    Remember Who You Are 44

    FROM 43 –
    “Tina’s one of us, we would have searched all night for her. It was your damn flag that led us to you, ya know that?” he grinned, and Bette looked at him incredulous.
    “Wh-what do you mean?” she asked through chattering teeth.
    “It was higher than those reeds on the bank. I saw it and knew that was you. We just had to get the kayaks in to reach ya…” he laughed, relief on his weather-beaten features and if Bette ever had an urge to kiss a man she would have kissed him right then and there. On the cheeks of course.
    She was ushered into the small cabin to find Tina trying to get her life jacket off but her hands were shaking too much. In the light the extent of Tina’s injury was evident, a large bruise forming on the side of her head and she would have one helluva a black eye. Her lips were blue and her fingers like prunes as they fumbled with the latches.
    “Oh Baby” Bette said, stepping close to tenderly help her remove the jacket, throwing it to the floor as she lifted the water logged tank top to check for other injuries. Other than some scratches and insect bites, there were no other injuries. She helped her get her pants and underwear off then pulled a warm sweatshirt over her head. Getting down on one knee Bette guided Tina’s feet in the holes of the sweatpants someone left for them when she noticed blood running slowly down the inside of Tina’s legs.
    It was then that she saw the blood clots in Tina’s wet underwear laying next to her in a heap with her other clothes. Picking them up, Bette saw that Tina’s underwear and crotch area of her pants were soaked through with blood.

    44

    ***
    Bette sat back on her heels in complete shock. The sweatpants pooled at Tina’s feet as Bette held the bloody clothes in her hands. She watched the slow descent of blood as it made it’s way down the inside of Tina’s leg, bright against the creaminess of her skin. She froze, almost hypnotized by the slow trickle of red, another following in it’s path. She felt surreal, like she was watching herself watching the blood, unable to stop.

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    Comments

    1. The introduction of YaYa was really what the doctor ordered. Another person who already had connection with Tina, but one that Tina didn’t know.

      Loved that Ya was pretty much able to size Bette up but not in the sense of dogging her out for being an alpha warrior princess. Bette tended to be B&W upon first meeting, but was easily mellowed by the 50 shades of gray of Tina’s personality. Tina had always had to “roll with the punches” which means hardly any jet black or pearl white approach to life.

      Like how Bette was willing to patiently wait for YaYa’s instructions and then found herself marching in step whenever Ya said to “GO”. YaYa had met sooo many people in life’s stressful and unbearable circumstances that she knew when to give the Bettes’ of the world a firm hug and shoulder, but not too much (that made me chuckle) 😘

      Soooo looking 4ward to finding out how much YaYa ay have protected and sheltered Boo&Honey from the hate rocks and cruel grenades tossed by gangster “Don” back in the day. Ya seems like the type of person who would have known that NahLeans would be the perfect city of refuge.

      In Tibettes’ one-sided dual with the river in a raging storm, got to admit that it is “misfortune” personified to have Tina get knocked upside the head AND cut in the groin. 😫😖. Damn! But at least the baby survived her Mommie’s ordeal.

      Turn Up and Rosie’s visit immediately brought the southern drawl out of Tina to the point that Bette had to chuckle. I hadn’t realized that Turn Up had made the hand- carved toy FOR Tina; and not for their expectant baby. How sweet. Once we found out the toy was a little “river mouse” to remind Tina that she had all along been accepted in their community. Wonder if he carved a “TK” on it somewhere 😘

      Indeed you were right BK that, “that” little momento healed up decades of pain and sorrow in Tina. The river peeps are just down-to-earth folks who, even in their scuffles, know how to show pure love. They walk-the-walk.

      Lastly, Bette is gonna have a horrible time leaving Rosie. That little girl has captured her heart completely!🥰

      • DT
        How delightful were Yaya and Bette! You nailed it – the river folk ARE just down to earth and know how to show appreciation and walk the walk. I am dreading the time when Bette will have to leave Rosie. It will come, their life is in LA after all and at some point Bette and Tina will have to go back. I will have to think of some way to add some drama to this… I will be thinking on it over the next couple days. :)
        Thank you Dumplin for always reading, always making me laugh and always diving right in to analyze and dissect each chapter!!
        BK

    2. Lovely, lovely chapter…. at least Tina and Bette are on the mend. This concussion is a serious thing. The infection seems to be waning as indicated by the fever. The baby appears to be thriving and Bette and Tina are enjoying some much needed rest. Dr Yaya is an angel. Thank goodness she has what she need to treat Bette and Tina.

      This is an amazing story. I feel the emotion from both Tina and Bette. Tina did not see all the blood but she could see in Bette’s eyes that she may have lost the baby. Fortunately, Bette can tell her that they have not lost the baby, but in her heart she knows its still a possibility. Dr Yaya is an amazing medical practitioner in insisting Bette stay with Tina, assist Tina and be with Tina as she goes through the days after her injury. She knows that Bette needs Tina as much as Tina needs Bette. It is obvious that Yaya see things that many other would miss.

      Turnup officially telling Tina that she is a river rat was touching. And a fitting momento was the sculpture for the Water Mouse aka River Rat. Now the address for Boo has been lost. But surely the remember the city. And surely they know Honey’s last name. James will find them. It may take a few weeks, but James will come through for Tina and Bette.

      Now, when will they be able to go home? Maybe they should catch a train in Charleston and go to New Orleans. Wasn’t that where Boo said she was? Maybe by the time they get to New Orleans, James will have some information. And if Tina cannot fly, she may want to take a side trip? She needs to heal from this accident completely before she gets on a plane. Their jobs can wait. Tina’s health is priority one.

      Love, Love, Love this story. Love the river people. Yaya – the mysterious Swed who is a medical practitioner to a community who probably really needs her. And another member of the community who accept Tina and Bette as being loving partners without a thought. Amazing….

      Thank for this chapter…

      • Oh Martha what a great comment. Concussions are serious. My only experience is with is back in the day when I played soccer and a teammate got one during a game. She had to stay in a dark room for many weeks and receive physical therapy. Scary whenever the head is involved.
        I love the idea of a train ride, is that a thing? I guess anything can be a thing in a fictional story. You have given me food for thought, thank you! Healing is def the priority, that is 100% true.
        I love love love that you love this story. Thanks for sticking with it, always showering me with long, thoughtful, in depth comments. It is appreicated!
        BK

    3. Wow great chapter, I am so happy that Tina and the baby are alright. Ya ya is a delight and little Ro is just stealing Bette’s heart isn’t she. Maybe Turn up will remember the address where Boo lives. He has had the letter long enough, I’m sure he has stared at it over the years and wondered why he didn’t give it to Tina when he was told to.

    4. I had things to do when I woke this morning but seeing your post made them take a second place!

      Thank you for this update which has had me crying and laughing in almost equal portions.

      I love Yaya! I love Bette’s relationship with Rosie! Let’s face it I love the whole story!

      Looking forward to your next post, thank you for sharing your storytelling talent, stay safe in these difficult times and post again soon, please.
      SG

    5. Thank you, BK, for another fantastic chapter. I’m so relieved that Baby KP is safe and sound.
      Like SG I had planned for an early trip to the market, do some shopping for my mom but with “news” from T + B I had to read first.

      Yeah, tears and laughter, what a great start to my day. With Dr. Yaya you introduced another wonderful character. The name had me think of “The divine secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood”, one of my favourite movies. She is a real blessing for both Bette and Tina. Loved how she immediately understands the strong bond between these two and takes care of them. She sees that it’s not only about medical help but emotional healing as well. Her taking care of Bette gives B the necessary break in protecting Tina. Focusing on Bette for a moment and taking over was beautiful
      Her hug and that quote made me smile: “Ok. Good cry, that’s enough.” That and her praise of Bette’s immediate medical help was just what Bette needed to hear, to make her understand that she did good, no need to question her ability of taking care of her partner.

      It’s wonderfully written how Bette is way beyond total exhaustion but still finds strenght in Tina to tend to her wife, be the calm in the storm. I love that Tina focusses on Bette, on her well-being. Endearing to see how in tune Tina is with Bette as well. We saw that part in length at the beginning when Bette was sick. But most of the times the blows were aimed at Tina and she needed Bette’s love and caring. On top of that Bette hardly lets anyone see her weak. Always the warrior, like you wrote.
      I love how Tina sees through her facade. This: “Tina wasn’t fooled. “Lies…” she teased, ….. She could tell Bette was hanging on by a very thin thread…”

      I’m happy for Tina that Yaya could give her some part of her birth mother to cherish. Her story of a very happy young mother, loving her small baby to no end is something for Tina to treasure. As well as her comment that she’s pure and sweet like her mother. Well, I hope that’s what she is referring to, not that Tina’s takes after her mom in aspects of drama!
      Turnip’s gift on top of that (love the carving!) will hopefully change Tina’s view of her childhood and install a very positive feeling of family and roots in her. All drama at the river aside, every visit gave Tina – and Bette too – more positive to remember than negative.

      Rosie. How sweet is she? I’d say the little on adopted Bette as her second mother. Her greeting had me laughing: “Always wear a life jacket ‘cause Ms. Tina almost died!” So Bette already left something behind with the river people. Not the flag pole but the wearing a life jacket.
      I love those people. Like Bette thought: “Sometimes the river folk were so layered, so complicated. …. Bette liked things to be black and white and the river was a hundred shades of gray. Clear boundaries were her friends, but here things never seemed like they appeared.” Yes, exactly. And Tina seems to be a lot like them.

      Love it love it love it. I’m sure I wanted to say so much more but I gotta go for the moment. Have to fix a Tirami Su for a meeting with friends.

      Have a great weekend, BK, thanks again for your writing, stay safe and healthy.
      Cheers
      Kiwi

      • KP
        As always you zero right in on the heart of the chapter. You and Martha putting off your morning plans to read this chapter is such a compliment that all I can do is humbly say thank you!
        I saw the Divine Secrets of the Yaya sisterhood a long long time ago! Something about passing on a pair of jeans or something?? I shall have to look that up!
        I love how you see the way Bette and Tina each pull strength from the other, and they balance each other out so perfectly I think.
        I hope your Tiramisu turns out perfectly! I am sure it was a big hit with your friends.
        Be well, stay safe!
        BK

    6. Hi BK,

      What a truly brilliant chapter!

      It is a shame i couldn’t delay my tasks so i could read it right away!

      What can i add to the comments from my fellow readers ????. They wrote some really good comments and pointed out so many things that happened in this chapter, truly brilliant!

      I am so glad that Tina and Bette didn’t lost their baby, my heart couldn’t handle it if that happened. So thank you for sparing them and us that faith!

      Bette is such a strong woman, always trying to protect and take care of her Tina and it was so heart warming to see how YaYa gave her the time to let go of the emotions she held inside and then said Ok, Good cry, that’s enough. She was the mother figure Bette never had, who simply held her and told her it is ok to let go of her emotions. Just like Tina, who knows when to reach out to Bette, hold her and doesn’t let get Bette away when she doesn’t want to talk about her feelings and try to turn the conversation, Tina gently steers her back to it.

      YaYa, what a fantastic new character, another woman who knew Tina when she was born, telling about Tina’s mother and how much she loved Tina. Seeing straight away the deep connection Tina and Bette have and telling Bette numerous time to go and hold Tina, she saw that they both needed to heal emotionally and physically . A amazing woman!

      The present of Turnup, the River Rat sculpture to simpel tell Tina she belonged to their community, a truly gift for Tina which will give her more peace in mind and spirit.

      I want to adopt Rosie, she is so adorable and has complety taken Bette’s heart. When Bette and Tina leave it will be hard on both of them. Tina was already sure that Bette will be a great mother to their baby but seeing how Bette and Rosie interact set it in stone.

      I love this story, a emotional rollercoaster, pulling your emotions and feelings in many directions but so worth it!

      Thank you for this incredible story!

      Stay save and healthy ????????????

      • BiBi
        Thank you for reading and commenting. I want to adopt Rosie too! Can you imagine having that little bundle of energy around all the time! I think Yaya added such a new dimension to things, clearly seeing that Bette needed Tina and Tina needed Bette and that the emotional healing could only take place if they were given the time and space – and permission – to do so. :)
        I so enjoy your comments and thoughts, thanks for taking the time to let me know what your thoughts are after each chapter!
        Stay SAFE my friend
        BK

    7. My goodness BK. I finished the chapter and then read all of the comments. Your writing certainly brings out the best. I could not agree more with all that has been said and have very little original thought to add. Perhaps just a few select observations:

      Bette’s sheer resolve to do what was needed to protect and help Tina and her capacity to love so purely and completely just blew me away. It was as if all of the layers of their often complex history were peeled away and laid bare once and for all. Bette’s love for Tina is so vast and large and pure and clearly the River folk all sense it and see it right away. Their Tina is very safe with this woman. I really love that you take us inside of Bette’s mind and we get to know what she is thinking, see what she sees, feel what she feels. I could seriously write all day about this aspect of your writing.

      The connection between these two women shines through in your writing and most definitely in this chapter. From the scenes on the boat with Bette tenderly attempting to clean away some of the river dirt and water and assess Tina’s injuries, trying not to give away her game face about her fears regarding the injuries and the baby, to her interaction with Jerry and initial meeting with Yaya, this Bette is running on pure love and channeling all of that love to help her beloved Water Mouse. Yes, Bette remained strong but it took all she had to hold it together. She was not about to give in to her exhaustion or fear until the deed was done and she knew Tina was safe. Bette taking the drag of the cigarette from Jerry and gladly accepting the shots of whiskey from Yaya all help the reader feel her emotional pain. And through it all, although Tina was badly injured, she was of course acutely aware:

      “Battered and hurting physically, Tina knew the emotional wounds for Bette were just as terrible, if not more so. Her warrior could only take so much, and they had surpassed those considerable limits and then some. Tina’s head would heal, the wound on her leg would close and fade away but Bette’s psyche was more fragile and needed tending.”

      This is merely one of the incredibly beautifully written passages in this chapter. Their connection so in breakable that even in her own pain, Tina could sense Bette’s struggles.

      I like all of the others also loved TurnUp aka Peter’s gift for Tina. He seemed a man on a mission with some long overdue unsaid sentiments for his friend. What a tonic for Tina:

      “Well, hell. If you thought we’d let you drown then you don’t know how scared we all are of Boo. Your mama Donna tried to take the river out of ya, but you’s a rat just the same.”

      Tina really is home. Jerry reading Robert Frost to Tina is so simple yet so telling. Revealing a literate and soft side to this gruff man as well as a clear history with Tina. Yaya is yet another amazing character – from her smile when Bette said Christina Kennard to the fact that she delivered Tina and knew Tina’s mother. She knew Tina’s mother loved her. Clearly Yaya knows a lot. I imagine she knows Boo. TurnUp’s comment that what happened to Tina had made its way up and down the river gives me a sliver of hope that the events on the river made their way to Boo as well?

      Tina will need time for the concussion, infection and other injuries to heal and the baby to continue to grow. She is in a good place for that to happen. James will be on the hunt for Boo. Rosie will no doubt spend as much time as possible with Bette. My thoughts on the sweetness of the two of them would take up so much space. They are very seriously bonded. How they will ever part is truly beyond me.

      Cannot wait for the next installment. What an accomplishment. Bravo!

    8. BK,

      Your writing certainly brings out the best with regard to comments. You have quite the well deserved following. There is not much I can add original thought-wise but I do have a few observations:

      The love between Bette and Tina is so very strong and clear in your writing but perhaps never so apparent as in this chapter. It is as if all of the layers of their complex history have been washed away and what we now have is just so incredibly pure. The shower scene depicts this cleansing very beautifully: “It was one of the most intimate moments they ever shared, and both would remember it for the rest of their lives.”

      Bette is a woman on a mission driven by this love and her intention to be there for her beloved Water Mouse and get her the necessary medical attention. From her interaction with Jerry to her initial meeting with Yaya Bette holds herself in emotional check to do what is necessary to save Tina and their unborn daughter.

      Your writing is just amazing. I love that you bring us inside Bette’s mind and allow us to know what she is thinking, feeling and fearing. This is a Bette Porter for the ages. She did her best to keep her game face on and her emotions in check and the reader went along right beside her while she also took a drag of Jerry’s cigarette and gladly drank the two shots of whisky provided by Yaya and wept in her arms, although not too much. Yaya is so amazing with Bette. Perfect in her understanding: “Go. She needs you. You need her. She’s safe. Because of you, she’s safe. So, now you can put down your shield and sleep, ya? Go.”

      The reader gets it. Yaya gets it. And through it all, enduring so much trauma and physical pain, Tina most certainly gets it. Despite everything the connection is so strong and Tina just knows:

      “Battered and hurting physically, Tina knew the emotional wounds for Bette were just as terrible, if not more so. Her warrior could only take so much, and they had surpassed those considerable limits and then some. Tina’s head would heal, the wound on her leg would close and fade away but Bette’s psyche was more fragile and needed tending.” This is but one of the very beautiful passages in this chapter. Their love is just that powerful.

      Tina is very clearly home. Jerry reading Robert Frost to Tina is so simple yet so telling. They have an interesting history. Yaya’s smile at hearing the name Christina Kennard, her tender explanation of having delivered Tina, of knowing Tina’s mother, and of knowing how much Tina’s mother loved her baby daughter, bring Tina full circle on the river. The woman who loves Tina more than life itself and who helped save her life and the life of their unborn daughter is beside her. And the woman who brought Tina into the world is also there to tend to her wounds.

      And of course there is always Boo. You can just feel her presence. Turnup’s gift to Tina is so touching: “Well, hell. If you thought we’d let you drown then you don’t know how scared we all are of Boo. Your mama Donna tried to take the river out of ya, but you’s a rat just the same.” What a perfect tonic for Tina. Bette watches as he and Tina talk. Clearly Turnup aka Peter to Tina, have some long unsaid words to share. Turnup sharing that news of the accident had made its way up and down the river gives me a sliver of hope that it will make its way to Boo. After all, one has to assume that Yaya knows Boo. Of course she does. One can only imagine James and Yaya.

      Tina is going to need time to heal from her concussion and other wounds and allow the stress on her body to subside and the baby to continue to thrive. She is in a safe place to do that. Bette will undoubtedly spend more precious time with Rosie. Those two are so bonded. How they will ever separate is beyond me.

      We all know Bette and Tina will eventually have to leave the river (were that it were not so) and go back to their lives in LA – but there is also a crystal clear permanent connection to the river. I suspect the people and the place will be a part of their lives forever. What a beautiful story! What a talent! Bravo!

      • BillyBabe,
        Your comments about Tina’s understanding the abyss of emotional pain is really at the heart of this whole story. Climbing out of such a “jet black” pit of despair says life is worth it. YaYa, Boo,TurnUp, Jena Beth, Lil’ Ro, Jerry, Honey, and all the Mouseketeers have shared in the victories.

        Tina and Bette have probably not seen the totality of healing balm that they have brought to this community because they had the courage to deal with Donna and all the destruction she brought.

        My thought is that James is certainly a qualified adopted mouse-bro!!

      • OH Billy! You hit a home run with this comment! I love it. You SEE this story and tell me that I am on the right track – that what I wanted to convey to readers has, in fact, been achieved. Thank you for that. I am tremendously grateful for you and everyone her on this comment thread who take the time to weigh in and let me know what they liked from this story. I read every comment and take every suggestion to heart.
        So to you, dear Billy – and all the readers who comment – THANK YOU. It inspires me to keep writing and motivates me to make each chapter right. Thanks

    9. BK

      I love how you unravel the complexities of the Tibette relationship. Bette the strong yet vulnerable warrior and Tina the emotionally intelligent foundation that provides grounding for Bette and stability for both.

      Loving the direction, my friend and can’t wait to see what happens next.

      K

    10. Dear BK,

      Such a strong & loving chapter you have given us. You have delivered to us another chapter beyond compare.

      I cried along with Bette at every touch, every turn, every breath.

      Your character development is just outstanding & all the little details just super.

      I agree with all the comments – especially Dr Yaya!! What a marvelous character & her insights for Tina were very touching.

      Bette being the warrior when she needed to be & then the gentle, loving soulmate when she set that mantle aside & just loved Tina with all that she was.

      Excellent my friend!!!!

      Thank you for sharing & your incredible talent!!!!!

      Collins

      • Thank you Collins! Yaya was a big hit! I enjoyed writing a strong female character that can match Bette and also provide her with some nurturing, which is sorely needed.
        Thanks for your support, looking forward to reading your next chapter
        BK

    11. Hey BK! I was finally able to catch up with all of your chapters that I missed from both of your stories over the last several weeks. I love love, love how you’re moving along with both stories, and I’m so grateful that you continue to write and make tangible these worlds you’re creating. Thank for writing, and I look forward to your next update!

      Biz<3

      • Biz
        So glad you were able to catch up, it is a crazy time for everyone so I appreciate you taking the time to let me know your thoughts. I saw you posted as well, which makes me enormously happy and I can’t wait to see if Tina found Bette later today. Please let it be so!
        BKKKKK

    12. Supe Supe SuperK
      Miss you! Hope you have a story cooking in that brilliant brain of yours! Thanks for your comments and hope all is well in your part of this crazy world –
      BKKK

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