The Christmas Present
Darn it, Holly's going to have a real birthday. Betty was determined. "I felt so sorry for Holly." Her twentieth birthday was coming up on August 16. Holly had moved in with her grandmother at the end of her sophomore year, in May. "She was staying with me and I only had one bedroom. The poor kid was sleeping on the sofa and she was so good." She worked so hard, did what she had to do. Always worked and helped pay her way. And she didn't complain. Betty wished she would sometimes. Betty's niece Barbara O'Connell had got Holly a part-time job in a psychiatric hospital -- billing, filing, using computers, managing. It was a scheme concocted by the aunts to help her learn how to run her own practice when she became a therapist. They loved Holly at work. They loved her at Unisys, where Betty was a senior secretary, whenever she came by. They saw her, as Betty did, as the most honest kid in the world. They believed her. They invited Betty and Holly to things, to little parties, dinners.
But there was hostility out there, too. It hurt Betty that, with most people, the first response to Holly's story was: "Her father worked so hard all his life. He lost everything." They never thought about the children, about Holly. And she was amazed at the number of friends who now came to her with their stories of molestation. She had had no idea how many women out there were holding secrets or how sheltered she and Stephanie had been. She didn't worry about Kelli. Kelli was widely capable. Heading off to the University of Colorado, she'd be taking business courses, qualifying as an aerobics instructor, studying to be a private investigator, having fun with her friends. But Holly's life was so lonely. She had good days, bad days. She could