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In the Crosshairs of a Mother's Eye

By Rebecca Crawford

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Copyright 2003 Rebecca Crawford




 It was graduation day for the senior class of 1988, and the graduates were abuzz getting into their caps and gowns.  The auditorium was filling up with expectant parents and the talk of the crowd could be heard by the graduating class.

    It was Elizabeth Foyer’s birthday today, so she had two reasons to celebrate.  She was now eighteen and soon to be given her diploma releasing her into the adult world.

    Elizabeth stood in front of the mirror looking at herself in her graduation gown.  Her best friend, Robin, stood beside her chattering excitedly, but Elizabeth’s mind was far away as she reflected back on her life.

    When Liz, as she had always been called, was five years old her parents were killed in a head-on collision in Butte, Montana.  Her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Shamblee took her into their arms without a thought.  Liz had been around them since she was born, and she felt at home with them.  They helped her through her pain and she helped them through theirs.  There were a lot of tears shed that summer of 76’.  Liz’s grandparents surrounded her with love and patience which came in handy during her teenage years.

    Liz and Robin LaCrosse became good friends when Liz had moved to Helena, Montana, where her grandparents lived.  From first grade Liz and Robin did everything together.  There were many nights the two of them slept over at one or the other’s house getting up on the roof lying there looking at the stars, talking about their future and what it held for them.  Liz and Robin always swayed toward the tomboy side of their personalities.  They climbed trees, and went on endless nature walks wondering what Helena had been like hundreds of years ago.  Many times they would take off their shoes and walk the creek beds discovering the aquatic life that inhabited it.  It wasn’t out of sorts for them to arrive home with dirty, muddy, or wet clothes.

   Then the teenage years hit.  Liz and Robin spent more time in the bathroom than any room in the house.  They would fix their hair this way or that.  Their terrible and over done attempts at makeup became better as the years progressed.

   Boys were now on top of Robin’s list.  Liz liked them, and felt that pull toward them, just not like Robin.  Liz had to be literally threatened with friendship to get her to go to the junior high dances.

    Liz wore her strawberry blond hair shoulder length, slightly curling in toward her face, and she always hid her blue green eyes with it.  Robin had no real choices with her naturally curly black hair, which enhance her sable brown eyes.  The boys seemed to migrate to Robin at all the dances.  Liz guessed that was the reason she really didn’t like coming to the dances, she felt like she was second fiddle.

    When their high school days came, Liz and Robin blossomed.  The boys were always knocking at the door.  Grandpa Shamblee always sat in his rocker in the living room with the newspaper in hand, and never made a move toward the door when he heard knocking. 

He knew it was for Liz.  He would holler up the stairs for her, “Liz! It’s another one of those boys!”  Liz would blush, “Coming Grandpa!”

     Liz was turning into quite an attractive young lady.  She reached five foot seven in height and had a slender build with ‘size B’ bosoms.  She hated the up and down look the boys gave her.

    Liz dated Johnny Sly in ninth grade, who was envied by a lot of the boys in her grade wishing they had her for themselves.  Robin dated different boys; she hadn’t found one that struck her interest completely.  The two went out on numerous double dates with their boyfriends.  Liz and Robin managed to keep their friendship close and not let the guys get in the way of it.

    Liz and Johnny dated all through high school.  Johnny always wanted more than Liz was willing to give.  When their senior year hit, Johnny, broke it off with Liz, but she understood and they remained friends.  Her interest in boys hadn’t been all that grand anyway.

    “Liz do you hear me!” Robin asked, hitting her on the arm.  “I’ve been standing her talking to you for ten minutes, and you haven’t heard a word I’ve said.”

    Liz came out of her daze, turning to Robin, “Sorry, it’s just; I’m going to miss you.  You’re going off to college after this summer and I’m joining the Army.

    “Why did you join the Army anyway?” Robin asked.

   “Why are you going to college?  We both want to get out of Helena and see the world.”  Liz hugged Robin’s neck.  “But we’ll stay in contact with each other, promise me that.”

    Robin put out her pinky and giggled, “Pinky swear on it.”

    Liz wrapped her pinky around Robin’s, “Pinky swear.” They had done that from the time they were kids.

   The school principal came in, “Class, class, your attention, please!”  He waited for them to quite down.  “Its time, so line up, we need to file out and into our chairs.”

    The class began forming a line, as they had practiced.  Everyone was seated in alphabetical order, which made it impossible for Liz and Robin to sit together.

    Robin and Liz hugged again then looked each other in the eye.  Robin had misty eyes, “I guess this is it.”

    “No, Robin, this is the start of a wonderful beginning of the rest of our lives.”

    “Let’s go.”  Robin felt silly, “before I cry and mess up my makeup.”

    They got into their places in line and began walking out of the back of the auditorium and down the isle that led to their seats in the front row with the rest of the graduating class.

    The ceremony came off without a hitch.  They all walked across the stage and received their diplomas.  Afterward, there was punch and finger foods in the cafeteria for everyone.  The senior class went outside to do group photos.  Grandma Shamblee took pictures of Liz and Robin together.  Grandma felt that Robin was partly hers because of all the time she had spent at her house.  Grandma walked up to Liz, “I’m sure proud of you, Honey.  Your mother and father would have been too.  You always were just like your mother, bright, beautiful, and looking for adventure.”

    Liz grabbed Grandma Shamblee by both arms, “I love you Grandma.”

    “I love you too, Honey.  Now enough of that get over there with your friends.”

    Liz leaned forward, kissing Grandma on the cheek and giving her an adoring smile, and then she bounced off into the circle of new graduates.

     Robin stood jumping up trying to see over all the heads in search of Liz.  Finally spotting her, she made her way over.  “Liz, happy birthday, I have something for you.” Robin handed Liz a small blue wrapped box with a bow around it.

    Liz, carefully opening the box, looked inside, “Oh, Robin, you didn’t have to do this.”

    “Yes I did! Or I would have never heard the end of it.” Robin gave her a smile.

    Liz reached in the box pulling out a half heart on a gold necklace.  “Robin this is beautiful!”

    Robin pulled her half out from under her gown, “I have the other half.  This way we will always feel like we have a part of each others heart.”

    Liz love Robin like a sister, “No matter what we must never lose touch with each other.”

    “Hey, you’ll be harder to find than I will, you’re the one going into the military.” Robin laughed.

    “Well, if need be, you can always call Grandma Shamblee she’ll know how to find me.”

    Robin faced Liz, “I will.  Besides you’ll be back for visits won’t you?”

    “Of course, as much as I’m allowed.”

    “Now that we have that settled, let’s go to my house and get ready for the graduation party tonight.”

    Liz hated parties, but knew she couldn’t miss this one, “Alright, but I have to get my clothes first then I’ll be over.”

  “Okay, Liz, but hurry up, would you?”

    Liz walked away from Robin heading for her car, “Alright! alright.”

    Grandma and Grandpa Shamblee had bought Liz a 1983 Dodge Colt four months before her graduation.  Liz had about driven the wheels off of it the first day she had it.  Robin’s parents bought her a 1979 Mustang when she was seventeen, Liz rode with her everywhere until she got her own car.

    Waiting by Liz’s car was her ex boyfriend, Johnny Sly.  “Hey, Johnny, what’s up?” Liz couldn’t understand why he was there and not hanging around one of his sleazy girl friends sowing his wild oats.  That’s why they had broken up to begin with.

    “So, who are you going to the dance with tonight?”

    “I’m going with, Robin.”

    “Oh, well, that’s a great dance partner.” Johnny smirked.

    Liz, still had feelings for Johnny but wasn’t about to let him know. “Very funny, Johnny, why are you here? Did your free loving girl friends get all booked up for the dance?”

    “No! Don’t be so mean!  I came to talk to you, Liz.  We dated for three years and I thought we were still friends.”

    “We are, Johnny, it’s just been hard for me.”

    “If it will make you feel any better, I’m sorry I hurt you.”

    “Yeah, well, thanks Johnny.”

    Johnny gave her that ‘sad sack’ look he had always used on her when they dated, “Since you won’t go with me to the dance, will you at least dance with me a few times?”

    “Okay, a few dances won’t hurt me.”   

     “I’ll see you tonight then.”

    “Bye, Johnny.” Liz got in her car, pulling out of the parking lot headed for home.

    She didn’t want to dance with Johnny, but she told him she would.  At least she knew one thing for sure, the feelings she still harbored for him, would remain her secret.  Besides, she was leaving Helena in August, that’s when boot camp would start at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

    Liz pulled into the driveway of the two story wood frame house of her grandparents.  She got out going upstairs, passed her grandparents in the living room,  “Hi Grandma, Hi Grandpa.”  They smiled at her.

    Liz flew up the stairs in a mad dash, opening her closet door.  Immediately she began ransacking her closet for a nice dress to wear, throwing several out onto the bed. Walking over to the bed to look over the first dress she noticed a small carved wooden box with a note on her pillow.  Liz went over, and sitting on the side of her bed picked up the box, admiring the beautiful carvings.  Opening the note, it read, “My dearest Liz, you have brought great joy to my and Grandpa Shamblee’s life.  You gave us a reason to go on when we lost your mother.  I have been saving this for you all these years, so you could always have a part of your mother’s love and remembrance with you.  We love you, my dear,      Grandma.”  The PS read, “And under your bed is something special I thought you would need for tonight.”

    Liz opened the wooden box, finding a beautiful blue topaz and gold ring.  Inside the band of the ring was the inscription of her mother’s name, Chantelle Shamblee.  Liz slid it on her ring finger, it was a perfect fit.  She held it up in front of her, the topaz seemed to capture all the light in the room, it was radiant.  It reminded Liz of her mother’s beautiful blue eyes.  A tear formed in each corner of her eyes, remembering her mother. Her mother had always been so loving and kind and then was ripped out of her life.  Liz suddenly remembering her grand mother’s P.S. and scrabbling off her bed lifted the covers to look underneath. There was a large flat box that had angel prints all over it, grabbing it, she pulled it out and sat it on her bed.  She opened it, moving aside the thin paper that was covering its contents.  Liz gasped; it was a blue velvet gown.  She lifted it from the box; it fell all the way to the floor when she held it to her shoulders.  It had small straps and a moderately cut neckline.  Inside the box with it was a hair clip that had small blue velvet flowers that hung down three inches.

    Excitedly, she went to the full length mirror on her closet door and held the dress in front of her, with the bow to her head.  It was stunning!  Taking off her graduation gown, she put the dress on, zipping it up in the back, it fit her perfectly.  She went to work on her hair and makeup, while thinking of which shoes to wear with it.  Liz pulled her hair up in the back and left small strands hanging on each side of her face, which she curled.  Before walking out of her room, she lowered her eyes glancing at the ring on her finger, “Wish you were here, Mama.”

    Liz went down stairs; Grandma and Grandpa Shamblee were waiting at the bottom of the staircase.  Grandpa whistled, “You’re as beautiful as your mother was.”

    When Liz came to the bottom of the stairs, Grandpa pulled out a beautiful wrist bouquet of blue and white carnation flowers, “These are for you little princess.”  He slid the bouquet on her.  The blue flowers were the same color as her dress.  

 “Oh, Grandpa,” she said wrapping her arms around his neck. “The two of you do so much for me.”

    “We just want to see you happy, honey.” Grandma replied.

    “You’ve always made me happy.”  The tears began welling up, “Oh, now I’m going to ruin my makeup.”  Liz fanning her hands at her eyes.

   “Robin called while you were upstairs; she wants you to call her back.”

    “Robin! I was supposed to go to her house and get ready!”  Liz ran to the phone in the living room calling Robin’s house.


    “Mrs. LaCrosse, this is Liz, is Robin there?”

    “Hi, Sweetie, yes, hold on, I’ll get her.” 

     Robin picked up the phone, “Liz!  Why aren’t you here yet?”

     “Robin, I’ll explain everything when I arrive, I’m leaving now.”

     “Hurry up!”

     “Okay, bye.”

     Liz gave her grandparents a hug and thanked them again.  She went out the door, getting in her car, and heading to Robin’s house.”

     Robin was waiting on the porch when Liz pulled in.  Robin had on a cream colored dress that came just below her knees with one strap across her left shoulder.  When Liz got out of the car, Robin ran over, “Where’d you get that dress?  It’s gorgeous!”

     “It’s a gift from Gram and Gramps,” and lifting her hand flashed the ring adorning it.

     “Oh, how beautiful, Liz!”   

     “Grandma saved it for me, it was my mother’s.”

     “I guess you’ll be the one all the boys surround tonight.”

     “No thanks, Robin, you can keep all that.”

     “Liz, give yourself some credit, you look great!”

     Liz changing the subject, “We better go.  The party starts in thirty minutes.”

     “Okay, let me get my shawl and we’re off.” Robin ran in and back out with her shawl in hand, hopping into Liz’s car.

     There were already a lot of cars in the gym parking lot when Liz and Robin arrived. They could hear the band playing in the distance.  They got out, heading inside for the dance.  Johnny, who was lurking near the entrance, stopped Liz.

     “Liz, looking at Robin said, “I’ll catch up with you inside.”

     Robin knew every detail of the relationship Liz and Johnny use to have. “Yeah, don’t be long.”  She gave Johnny a ‘go to hell’ look, walking inside.

    Liz turned, looking back at Johnny while still harboring anger with him for breaking up with her, “I said a few dances, Johnny, not the whole night.”

    “I know, I just thought we could take a short walk, I need to talk to you.”

    “Alright, just a short walk, so, what’s on your mind?”


    “What about us, Johnny?  You ended that at the beginning of the year, remember?”

    “I think I made the wrong decision.”

    “Yes, well, it’s a little late now!  You’ve let all those tramps paw on you, and now you want me back?”  

 “Liz, I love you, and no matter what, I always will.  I’m a young man, I have needs and you weren’t ready.”

    “I’m still not ready, Johnny.”

    Johnny grabbed Liz and pulled her to face him, “I’m not asking for that right now, Liz.  I’m willing to wait until you are ready.”

    “Yeah?  And in the meantime what?  You sleep with your slutty friends?”

    “Low blow, Liz.  No, I wouldn’t do that to you.”

    Liz began easing up on her emotional rollercoaster.  “Johnny, since we’ve been broken up, I realized a lot of things.  I don’t want to stay in Helena.  I want to get out of here and see the world.  I may come back someday, but at this point in my life, I’m not ready for a commitment.”  Liz looking at Johnny sincerely, “Johnny, look at you, with your blond hair, blue eyes, and handsome build, you’ll be able to get any woman you want.  With your father owning the hardware store in town, you will always be here.  You’re the heir to that fortune and business.”

    Johnny knew in his heart she was right.  He had never planned on leaving Helena.  “I wish you would reconsider, but seeing you have your mind made up, just always know I’m here for you, okay?”

    Liz hugged him and kissed his cheek, “Thanks, Johnny.”

    Johnny grabbed Liz’s hand, “You promised me a dance, may I have one now?”

    Liz knew she would always have a special love for Johnny, “Yes.”

    “I forgot to say how beautiful you look tonight! You’ll steal a man’s heart away someday, Liz.”  

Liz smiled at him as they walked to the dance hand in hand. When they entered a slow dance was playing.

    “One last time in my arms,” Johnny said pulling her close to him, breathing in the faint scent of musk and wishing he had never let her go.  The other girls satisfied his adolescent cravings, but none were as pretty and kind as Liz.

    The dance ended and Liz pulled away from Johnny, “Thanks for the dance.”

    “You’re a treasure, Liz.  Sorry, I never saw that before now.  Remember, I’ll always be her for you.”  Johnny walked away mingling with the crowd.

    Liz watching him as he left said softly, “I’ll always remember you, Johnny.”

    Robin came walking up, “So, what’s up with that?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “You and Johnny, hello?”

    “We’re just friends, Robin.  I don’t want to be more than that.”

    “Just checking, I remember how badly he hurt you when he broke it off with you.  I just don’t want to see him hurt you again.”  She said protectively.

    “Robin, neither you nor I need to be tying down ourselves to anyone; we both are leaving after this summer.”

    “Yeah, I know, you just had me worried there for a minute.”

    “I’ll always have a love for him, Robin.”

    “Liz, in time, when you’re far from here, he’ll soon fade from your mind.”

    “You’re probably right.”

    “I know I a.m.!”  Robin laughed.  “Now, we came to have a good time, Liz, let’s have one!”

    “Did they spike the punch?”  Liz asked curiously.

    “No, but see Joe Faller over there?”  Robin pointing him out for her, “He’ll fix you up.”

    “I don’t want much, I have to drive, remember?”

    Robin knew Liz never drank much anyway, “I’m staying at your house, so I’m not limiting myself.”

    Liz poured herself some punch and Joe topped it off with a little Bacardi Rum.  She sipped on it throughout the evening. Liz and Robin danced until their legs hurt.  Robin had a good buzz going by the time the dance ended.  Liz never did see Johnny again that night.

    They drove to Liz’s house, got into bed and exchanged good nights.  The last thing Liz remembered before she drifted off to sleep was Robin’s snoring.



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