I wake up to the sound of frantic knocking on my door, pounding really. I drag myself from the couch working out a crink I have in my neck from the uncomfortable position I had fallen asleep in and shuffle towards the door.
Who the hell could it be at this bloody hour? I try to work myself up a good head of steam but give up before going too far because from the smell and sounds of things it is already mid morning and besides this throbbing headache is making it a real bitch to keep a mad on.
It now sounds as though whoever it is has taken to kicking the door in. “Hold your bloody horses fool, I am coming.” I scream loud enough for only me to hear.
I am missing something; I am pretty certain there is something quite important I am forgetting but before I can place my finger on it, I am at the door.
I fling it open and find myself looking at my husband’s, ex husband’s actually, broad back and from his body language I can tell he is having no trouble at all with his own head of steam.
He turns around abruptly and swearing like a sailor, delivers a swift kick to my shin; at least I was right about the kicking part. He looks dazed for a minute but quickly shakes that off and pins with the nastiest look I have ever seen on his sweet face.
I am too taken aback by the change in a man I have known and loved for more than a decade and a half to even register that my leg is throbbing. He is incensed; a vein is bobbing on his forehead, it really is hard to miss and thereafter keep your eyes off of.
“What the fuck is wrong with you woman?” he screams at me.
It's taken him a while to get to this point. He did the sad and soulful when he found out, pulled the pitiful and pathetic when it sunk in, tried the defiant and in denial tactic after that and then just seemed to stop.
I had thought he had totally skipped the mad and murderous stage of ‘my wife is leaving me for another man’ scene. I was happy, wasn’t I? It proved that he did love me for real, but the way I am feeling right now I do not much care for his avowals of love.
“Of all the stupid, irresponsible, inconsiderate, ungrateful things you could do.” He spits at me.
I have been a psychologist long enough to know when somebody is physically straining not to cause actual harm, and I can see it is taking all he has to keep his hands off me.
This side of him; this dark and dangerous side, is both frightening and intriguing. It is a complete turn on and I cannot stop the picture of him tearing my clothes off, pulling me onto the lawn and having his way with me from flashing through my mind.
“Brad,” I tell him instead in a voice matching my sorry state, “As you can probably tell I have had a long evening and I can’t deal with your remonstrations right now, so do me a favour and go away.”
It isn’t so much what he says; in fact it is the fact that he does not say anything that stops my monologue.
“I can’t believe I ever saw you different; ever actually believed you were more that what I see you are now.”
He was right of course, absolutely, positively, unquestionably correct but I did not wish to hear it; not from him, and certainly not if what had prompted his little visit was to rub in my face how wrong I had been.
I would have to eat humble pie, of that I had no doubt whatsoever but the time, place and to some extent the size of pie I was going to eat would be of my choosing. Nobody would make me do anything I did not want or deserve to do.
“Bradley Hart, you listen to me and you listen well.” I command of him, stretching to my full 5 ”8” ,hair mussed up by last night’s tossing and turning, eyes red rimmed and puffy from crying, skin blotchy from insufficient sleep and voice tinged with frustration at and hatred of Doug.
“I have quite had enough of your haughtiness and…”
“Jesus holy Christ, you really think I came here for myself?” he asks and the incredibility on his face cannot be an act.
“I got over the fact that you left me a long time ago Susan and dealt with the fact that you’ve never loved me as well.”
That takes me aback a bit, does he really not want me back at all? “Then what the hell is this then.” I ask, using my hand to gesture at his antics.
”Where is my daughter?” he asks literally looking down his nose at me from 6 “3”.
That stops me dead, Emily; the important thing that was just out of mind’s reach was my daughter Emily.
When I got home last night I was so shocked at what I had discovered that I locked the doors, I felt so angry that I had yanked all the phones off the sockets and turned my cellulars off. I was so irritated with Douglas that I indulged in a little too much wine and could not remember that my child would need to be let into the house at some point.
I begin to answer, really just stammer because I really did not know but Brad cuts me off with a voice so laced with hate that it tears at my already broken heart. I did not much care for the emotionless voice he had taken to using with me or the dispassionate manner in which he treated me but that was simply grating; insulting at worst.
But this, this was so cold it scared me. It was like all the love he had ever had in his big ol heart had been squeezed out and all the bits of goodness in him erased. He looked physically foreboding and emotionally forbidding; My eyes teared up on seeing my handiwork.
“I had to cut short my trip and rush back to town in the middle of the night because Trish and Ted called me in the middle of the night.” He informs me. “And why would they do something as thoughtless as that knowing full well how much I needed to get away?”
“They did it because as they drove in from dinner at 7:00 and then a movie and then dancing they found my little girl huddled by your front door tired from crying and shivering from the cold.”
He is looking at a point just behind me; I assume that is where Emily had been found by our long time friends and neighbours.
“Bradley I didn’t know Emily was there, you have to believe me!”
“Of course I believe you, why the hell wouldn’t I? You’ve gone and proved it to everyone that where Douglas McGill is concerned not much else matters; not the wishes of your family, nor a 17 year union or even the welfare of this community but for some reason, and I realize now I should have known better, I honestly believed that you would at least still have space in your heart for your own offspring.”
I try to reach out for him, to him but he pulls away and slaps my hand away in the process.
“Don’t touch me, don’t you dare touch me you selfish bitch!”
The venom in those words are a thousand times worse than the bodily harm I see he is aching to do me. I can still smell the hospital on him; Emily must have had an attack from exposure to the extreme cold and excessive crying.
“You disgust me.” Bradley says and then turns away walking home, towards the house we had shared for 11 years. He stops at the curb and without looking back tells me. “I took the liberty of applying for full custody and I am sure the judge will be more than happy to grant it, seeing as how this works out perfectly for all the parties involved.”
How I get across that lawn and launch myself on him, I do not know. All I know is I am crying and pleading and cursing and promising and clinging.
He is having none of that; Bradley pushes me off him with the same ease with which you would swat a bothersome fly. He holds me at arm’s length like an offensive odour; looks at me from crown to bare feet; “I hope he really is worth it and the sex had better be comparable to the love a daughter had for a mother.”
I am kneeling on the grass watching love walk away; I am seeing 17 years leave and the gait is sure, the pace steady and the posture unrelenting. He has made a decision to end it and so he has but I know him; you cannot live with someone for 15 years, love them for 17 and not know them, so I know he is walking away as much for me as he is for himself.
How do I tell him I don’t want him to? How do you mend a bridge you blew up a few short weeks ago? How exactly do you convince someone that you love them when at the first opportunity you walked out on them and did not look back?
My new neighbours are starting to stream out interested in the scene we have created; I do not care, what is ringing in my ear is his last statement –the love a daughter HAD for a mother.
Even after Brad stopped fighting for me and my parents stopped talking to me, my baby girl is the only family that stuck by me. She is why I still was invited over for family functions, which I attended, and get togethers, which I largely ignored.
She was why Brad and I still had occasion to see each other, when I was dropping her off or he was picking her up. She had loved me through my mistake and kept the faith.
I am sure she had the same conversations with her father that she did with me, dialogues geared towards making me remember how happy we were as a family, aimed at reminding me that families were supposed to be a unit.
It had been hard, being with Doug but it had not been unbearable because I had my little girl. Now, now I had nothing. She would not choose me again; not when it seemed that I had chosen Doug over her. Brad would never look at me again; my line was drawn in the sand, and his dad would most likely side with him.
My own parents had made their stand clear, I may have left Doug but he would hang over me always. The fact that I had chosen passion over commitment, the fact that I had not chosen to leave so much as had to leave. They would love me regardless, it is what parents do, but they would never see me the same again.
I am sobbing so hard now it is hard to breathe. My vision is blurred; I can't tell whether it’s from the tears or something else. I hear someone being asked if they are okay and someone else asking them to take deep breaths.
There is a sharp pain in my chest and my head feels a little light. Is it just my imagination or is the ground looming closer. I think my mind is playing tricks on me because I could swear somebody has just ripped my blouse off and is pressing down on my chest, but that’s impossible right, especially on a street full of people.
Oh, now I know I’m definitely hallucinating; there is no reason why Bradley would be rushing back towards me with so much concern etched into his features. And he absolutely wouldn’t be carrying me and rushing down to the end of the street towards home; no I have to correct myself, it is no longer that.
Now it is simply the block where my old house used to be. But I can be wistful for a minute, let this daydream carry over just a little longer. After all if he has come back to save a swooning swain and is now carrying said swain all full of worry towards a former love nest then surely that place has the potential to be called home once again, doesn’t it?
Wait, how come it's getting dark? I could have sworn it was morning a few minutes ago. Hmm! I must have missed the solar eclipse bulletins; either that or I have a totally messed up account of the date- the eclipse should not be for another couple of months. Doug must have bamboozled me more than I cared to admit.
Text: The words, characters and story contained herein are the original work of the writer and may not be copied or reproduced in any way. (c)
Publication Date: 02-19-2011
All Rights Reserved
Sunsets are different things to different people; to some they signify the end of a period and to others they herald the beginning of a time.