The Jablonsky Family

Submitted into Contest #103 in response to: Write about a character looking for a sign.... view prompt

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Crime Fiction Horror

This story is taken from a manuscript in progress:

FAMILY SECRETS/Breaking the Code of Silence.


“A Family Secret is a secret kept within a family. Most families have them, the nature and importance vary. They can relate to taboo topics, such as alcoholism, rape, etc."

Kathy desperately longed to find release from her anger and resentment. She struggled daily, praying for signs from her Higher Power. She humbly begged God to remove all her defects of character and she knew that her resentments were a burden that she, on her own, was not capable of removing. 

She had been married to Rocky Jablonsky for eighteen years. During those years her anger and resentment had gradually been smothered and buried. The two defects were sandwiched between layers of denial and mounds of adipose. Rocky had married a hottie and ended up with a fatty. As he liked to tell people, “I warned Kathy if she didn’t lose the weight I wouldn’t stay.”

“Did she listen?” “No!”

“Not only did she get fatter and fatter, she got crazier and crazier.”

“I mean really, did you honestly expect a guy to put up with that kind of shit?”

Rocky Jablonsky was a snake. Truth be told that would be an insult to the serpentes family. He was actually more akin to the black mold species, spreading virulent toxins that slowly attacked the well being of those he came in contact with.

His wife, Kathy had fallen in love with him when he was only partially a snake. 

She’d seen the seeds of snakehood, but chose to ignore what deep down she knew she should turn and run from.

She was...stupid. Let’s be generous, and call her naive. 

She believed her love could change Rocky. More precisely she truly believed she could rescue him from the path he seemed so inexorably bent upon following.

She occasionally spoke with his mother, hesitantly seeking information that would explain what had happened to her son and how he’d become the man he turned into.

Rocky’s mother once confided in her, “Kathy, I think it was the drugs that made him change.”

Kathy held back her smile as she knew how painful this was for the woman to say. She loved her son but was horrified to observe the results of his atrocious behaviour.

Perhaps his mother was correct, had he not had a predilection for the reefer, things might well have been different. Had his addiction been confined to only the marijuana, this story may not have turned into the nightmare it became.

But Kathy was a dreamer, a cockeyed optimist as some might say. 

She believed that if you only saw the best in people, well, then they would eventually become that reality.

As already mentioned before, she may have been a little naive. Okay, stupid was actually a more accurate description. At the very least, her stupidity rendered her blind.

When Kathy met Rocky, her youngest sister, Michelle, was only seven. 

Michelle had been a rather late arrival to the family. 

Kathy was seventeen when her family adopted her. The seventeen years age difference created a relationship where she was more a mother than a sister.

Kathy loved Michelle with all her heart. She longed to have children and her nurturing of Michelle went far beyond that of a doting sister.

When Rocky came into their lives, Michelle was smitten. Here was a man that had managed to win her beloved sister. That was all Michelle really needed to see. In her experience, if her sister loved this man, then there was no reason not to trust him.

For Michelle, Rocky immediately became both like an older brother and in some ways a father also.

Michelle and Kathy had a great dad. He was a wonderful father and loved all his children deeply. When the family adopted Michelle, he was in his late thirties and in many ways, a little too old for a baby that arrived with some complications. 

He had been young when Kathy was born and they had more or less grown up together.

She, as a first born, and a Leo, had very little patience for his shenanigans. 

Her father had been the youngest of 12 children and in some ways behaved like the spoiled baby that his older siblings had helped create.

Kathy had a rather strong character and little talent for holding back when she was annoyed. As she matured she often found herself treating her father like a child.

She recalled one heated argument, she in her sixties, her father in his eighties. 

He’d had a little hissy fit over some inconsequential matter and ended up storming off to his room. He stood in the doorway and with genuine puzzlement turned to Kathy and said, “Why is it I always feel like a child when we argue? You need to be more respectful and treat me like your father.”

Kathy’s curt reply, “Well if you acted more like my father and less like a spoiled child, I’d treat you differently.”

The evening did not end well.

So, Kathy and Rocky married.

It was, relatively speaking, a good marriage. They spent the first four years alone, with Kathy frantically doing her best to get pregnant. As she approached her thirtieth birthday, her chances became slimmer and slimmer and with a total hysterectomy at the age of 29, her hopes to have a child of her own vanished.

This did not deter her. She simply set about finding another way to make a family.

She and Rocky eventually were able to adopt several children. Kathy was overjoyed to become a mother and loved her babies unconditionally. She knew that no biological connection could make a bond stronger than the one she experienced with each of her children. She was content.

Her contentment was to be rather short lived as the family chain grew tauter and tauter.

The weakest link in that chain was Rocky.

Over the years he became increasingly more withdrawn and rather sullen and angry. His temper was very unpredictable and when aroused, made life hell. The proverbial ‘eggshell walk’ became routine in their home. 

Kathy struggled to maintain the image of a happy, well adjusted family. In reality, they were anything but. 

Rocky became more and more distant, eventually spending most of his time in his garage, tinkering with motors and other ‘manly’ occupations. It was here that he indulged in his use of cannabis. 

Kathy knew about his use of this substance, but was unaware that his addiction had escalated to heavier drugs and was naively unaware of how this behaviour was affecting their family.

When she was thirty-four, they adopted their second child. Kathy had recently bought a small business and found the stress of raising two children and keeping the store going too much to handle.

Her parents offered to send her teenage sister to help her.

What they failed to tell her was that they were having some ‘troubles’ with Michelle.

When she arrived in the Jablonsky home, her problem with alcohol became immediately apparent. Within a very short time, the ‘help’ she was sent to provide became more of a burden.

Kathy would often be woken up by a drunk, maudlin sister begging for her to come to her apartment and take care of her. Kathy’s fear of asphyxiation, usually prodded her to dress and go check on her seventeen year old sister across the street.

The night she was woken late had been the end of an exhausting day. Her sister’s drunken plea for help was simply more than she could handle. She reluctantly woke Rocky and begged him to go over to help Michelle, making sure that she had a bucket to throw up in and was safe enough to “sleep it off.”

He arrived back home about an hour later, grumpily assurring Kathy that her sister was ok.

The next day, things were very strained in their house. Michelle had come over for breakfast, taking the children so that Kathy could open up the store. Kathy did her best to demonstrate tolerance for her sister's slip the previous night, believing that if they spoke about her drinking, a solution might be found. Nothing she said seemed to smooth the palpable tension that had Michelle wound up tightly.

Over the next week the atmosphere became increasingly more uneasy, with Kathy doing her best to figure out what the problem was.

She was only mildly shocked when her father arrived from fifteen hundred miles away to pack Michelle up and take her back to their home.

The flimsy excuses given puzzled Kathy, but she seemed to have little choice other than accept the story she was fed.

Over the next ten years her marriage slowly deteriorated. She and Rocky became more and more estranged and to her great sadness, so did the relationship with her parents and sister Michelle.

Her marriage ended in a violent eruption, where Rocky was charged with physically assaulting their oldest child and kicking their middle daughter in the stomach, knocking her down a short flight of stairs.

This violent act finally removed the blinders of denial that had shrouded Kathy's judgement for years. She called a help line, listened to the advice she was being given and took action which temporarily protected her children. When the social worker arrived at her home, accompanied by five police officers, Kathy was given three choices.

  1. Rocky left the house and she and the children could stay.
  2. Kathy and the children left the house and Rocky could stay.
  3. Kathy and Rocky stayed in the house and the social worker took their children.

The woman was very clear and Kathy was grateful that with the assistance of the police, Rocky packed a few belongings and was escorted out of the house.

She naively believed her marriage was still salvageable. Rocky was required to seek counselling and supervised visits with his children, but as the first year of separation drew to a close, Kathy began to realize that her dream of rebuilding their family was not to happen.

It was the summer she decided to take her children to visit her family for the first time that her whole world cracked and fell apart.

Her sister, by now twenty-seven, married with three children of her own, confessed a rather disturbing story.

She told Kathy the real reason she’d left ten years previously.

The night Rocky went to the apartment to ‘help her’, he had also raped her.

She had told their parents, who implored her not to tell Kathy, as, in their own words, “it would create problems in the marriage.”

Kathy was devastated. She couldn’t believe she’d been so blind and beat herself up for not having adequately protected her baby sister. She was beyond angry that she'd missed all the signs that in retrospect showed exactly how Rocky had groomed the object of his twisted desire.

Michelle was distraught that she’d finally confessed her ‘betrayal’. She was unable to reconcile the story that portrayed her as having seduced her sister's husband and the reality that the rape had nothing to do with seduction

Their parents refused to talk about it.

Rocky claimed that he was innocent.

His actual excuse was, “they’d both been drinking, she’d asked him to have sex with her and besides, she was almost eighteen.”

Michelle’s quiet defense was that it was NOT consensual. She became hysterical when Kathy urged her to go to the police and over the years demanded that her sister maintain the secret. She was ashamed of what had happened and believed that she was to blame. Her position on this never wavered and Kathy felt obligated to honour her sister's request. However, as the years passed and she more carefully watched Rocky's behaviour, her suspicions that he was a very bad man, with the capacity to hurt other children grew.

She watched him use their children to divide and conquer. The more she struggled against his tactics, the more it made her look like the ‘problem’.

Her resentment and anger built.

She knew in her heart of hearts that the person it was harming the most was herself. More importantly the poison seeped out and affected those she loved. The people she least wanted harmed, were the ones most hurt by the toxicity of her resentment.

Kathy’s determination to release negative feelings for Rocky resulted in an oath to say at least one good thing about him every day. She often had to stretch and dig back a long way to find a memory that portrayed him in a positive light. 

She knew it was a bad day when the best she could come up with was, “I have two sisters, my husband only raped one of them.”

Most days she could put the memory of Rocky’s betrayal behind her and choose to concentrate on the good things in her life. And even though she did not consider him to be a good thing in her life, she was wise enough to understand that through him, many good things had come into her life.

With years of therapy and diligently practising a program of recovery, she was finally able to put her resentments to rest.

She became content with the concept of “Letting go and letting God.”

With many, many years of practise she finally found deep peace from the repetition of one of her favourite prayers.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

The morning that her daily readings included one by Angela L. Wozniak, "I wake each morning with the thrill of expectation and the joy of being truly alive. And I am thankful for this day.", Kathy knew that a deep healing had occurred and that life was indeed good.

More on the nature of family secrets:

“A Family Secret is a secret kept within a family. Most families have them, the nature and importance vary. They can be shared by the whole family or kept by an individual member. They can relate to taboo topics, rule violations or complex issues such as homosexuality, adultery,infidelity, divorce, mental illness; crime such as rape or murder; physical or psychological abuse, child sexual abuse; human sexual behavior like premarital pregnancy or teenage pregnancy; substance abuse including alcoholism. More simple secrets may be personality conflicts, death, religion, academic performance and physical health problems. Any topic that a family member thinks may cause anxiety may become a family secret. Family members often perceive keeping the secrets as important to keeping the family working, but over time the secrets can increase the anxiety in the family.The confidentiality of family secrets revealed by a patient is a common ethical dilemma for counselors and therapists.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

July 18, 2021 01:21

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1 comment

Tricia Shulist
14:20 Jul 24, 2021

That was sad, but still hopeful. Thank you.


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