The truth hurts. We’re always told to be up front with others: don’t play with anyone’s mind or heart, honesty is the best policy, give a little bit of heart and soul and all that, right?
Mom could leave out a few small, relatively speaking, details and feel she didn’t do anything wrong. Dad could just flat out deny things—and people—existed and everything’s still bomb. Not a care in the world. I never inherited those genes. A part of me always wondered if I was adopted. Either that, or someone held a gun to their heads and forced them to copulate.
But I had held secrets too. Not that I was afraid of them; it was just no one really needed to know—or maybe they needed know certain bits of information. If only I could have compartmentalized those thoughts. Tell this, but not that; let him on to this, but not that; and to maybe, just maybe wait for that right one before getting intimate. And maybe the wait requires receiving a wallop or two to the body to clear one’s head—or to at least see what you’re up against.
I didn’t want to have it end like this—to walk five- miles up the South Hill in silent sadness. My ears ached and as much as I wanted to scream and cry all the way home, I couldn’t do it. I also felt the excruciating painful fact that I had to admit to Krys it happened. The wrenching feeling the plan I had did not work out the way I wanted.
I walked into the house without a word.
“Jen?” Krys called from upstairs.
I closed my eyes…I had two choices: try to walk past her and say nothing or tell her everything. She walked halfway down the steps, unintentionally blocking my pathway to the sanctuary of my room.
“Where did you go? I had to walk home and—”
“Don’t want to talk about it, Krys,” I replied as I slipped past her and climbed the stairs to my room.
“Oh my God. What happened?”
“Not talking about it,” I replied as I closed my door. Not that it stopped her as she simply walked in anyway and her sights instantly zoomed in on my ears and face, and the fact that my clothes screamed out I had been in some kind of fight.
I was a strong-willed woman. I wanted to be so strong I didn’t need a shoulder to cry on…but my resolve crumbled.
“I told him, Krys. I told him, and….”
I leaned on Krystal and just let it all out. I cried. More than I ever had before. The tears just wouldn’t stop.
“You told him who you were?”
“Did he hit you?”
“Yes,” I sobbed into Krys’ shoulder
. “Did you hit him back?”
“No.” I had to smile a bit at that.
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.”
Why did I tell him? Did I think it would all end in sugar and rainbows?
I stepped in front of my mirror. Puffiness. My face looked like Hell, and my ears looked like Hell’s dogs had gotten a new chew toy. Just as well—it was time to face the facts.
“I was completely honest with him and I deserved what I got.”
“No, you look at me. You did not deserve it. We need to call the police. No, first we need to go kick his ass and then call the police.”
I closed my eyes and shook my head. “No. No, it’s over.
It’s better for all this way.” “What?”
“And that doesn’t worry you?”
“It terrifies me,” I replied as I set the earrings on my desk and took off my dress, “but I don’t think he’ll say a thing about it.”
“I’m putting too much faith in him, aren’t I?”
“Yeah, just a bit,” Krys said as she attempted to touch my ears. I shied away from her hand.
I sighed in defeat. “I have to though. I don’t have any other options.”
“I just do,” I replied as I sat on the edge of the bed.
“Killing him would cause too much of a panic.”
I had come across as such a strong-willed person and here I was completely gutted and almost back to the status of James.
“Are you going to be alright?” she asked as I took out a T-shirt and a pair of sweatpants from my dresser and then sat back down on the edge of the bed.
“Peachy...may take a bit.”
“You should throw those away.”
“Not yet...it’s too early.”
She moved forward and forced me to stand up. “Let me know if you want to talk more.”
She gave me a large hug, and I will admit I felt a little better. The hole in my heart wasn’t growing any larger at that point. Sure, it was real huge—one could drive a truck through it. Krys left the room, closing the door as she walked out. I picked my dress up. It was ripped and tattered, particularly at the knees.
I threw it on the desk and then walked over to my dresser. What was supposed to be a wonderful start to a real relationship had crashed. I wanted to think of it as a kind of a false start—and perhaps there would be a chance to do it over.
“Give yourself time, Jen,” I whispered, “and him too.”
I got dressed and tried my best to hide the damage to my ears by covering them with medical tape and using my hair, but Aunt Lydia saw through the ruse, and she wasn’t too pleased.
“He ripped them out?”
“Both of them?” she asked, as she removed the tape to clearly see the cuts.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied as she took a penlight out of a kitchen drawer.
“Whatever we do, it’s going to hurt…” Aunt Lydia continued to prod and poke at my ears until she brought out a medical kit.
“I know, if I don’t do anything they’ll get infected—”
“I was referring to Matt.”
The injury didn’t warrant a visit to the emergency room, but she was determined to do something about it. She applied several types of ointment…all of them blazingly hot and stinging. She also spat out several things she wanted to do to Matt and all of them, like the ointments, were unpleasant, blazingly hot, and stinging.
Aunt Lydia drove us to the high school to retrieve my car after dinner; Krys drove home as I had left my backpack—along with my license—at the school.
“When you didn’t show up for practice I thought you had gone off and eloped or something.”
“Really? And I thought I was moving too fast,” I said as Krys shifted gears and stalled the car.
“Yeah, or at least thought he took you out on an afternoon ditch.” She tried to start the car and it immediately died.
“He did, we went to the park. Very beautiful. Put it back into first, and use the clutch, Krys.”
“Riverfront?” She asked as the car roared back to life.
“No, Manito. We walked all over the park, near the fountain…and a small bridge over a pond.”
“And then the punching started?” The engine revved loudly.
“A slap or two and that,” I replied.
“And...he just left you there?”
“Yeah, yeah…he did that too.”
“I’m going to tell him off tomorrow. You know I will.”
“You have got to be kidding me!”
“It won’t do you or me any favors. Ignore him…I’m sure he’ll attempt to ignore you. I’m not going in the morning. I just can’t yet.”
“I thought you might say that,” Krys replied as we pulled into the driveway.
“Could you maybe see if he at least dropped off my books at the office?”
I spent the rest of the evening in my room attempting to repair the dress. At the time, I was sure I would never wear it again, but I wasn’t going to throw it out or use it for scraps. Perhaps I should’ve bronzed it to remember the day or placed it in a mirror frame and hung it on the wall.
If I had wanted to, I could have taken Matt down, or at least allow him to sing high tenor in the school chorus. I could have also not said a flipping word and let it all continue on with him blindly never knowing the truth.
The side of my face was still tender and I had marks on my knees. Tragically, I couldn’t say “Yeah, but look what I did to the other guy” because Matt would not have a scratch on him. I stood in front of the window, looked out at the dark sky, and tried to think of pleasant memories. My talks with Grans, my first earrings, meeting Mike, feeling what I felt for Matt. Life was not going to be a cakewalk and I couldn’t simply remove him from my mind and call it a day. I went back to my desk and opened the sketchbook, which wasn’t the best thing to do as I turned it to a new prom dress design.
There it was. A green and white, German-inspired short dress, complete with ruffles and billowy sleeves. I had it all planned out, but had not bought the material for it. I couldn’t destroy the design, but I couldn’t finish it either. It was designed for one person to see—and if he didn’t want to see me, there was no sense in continuing it.
I closed the book and sprawled out on my bed. Why did I feel like I did? It was one-part depression, two-parts acceptance, and a whooping share of confusion. I wanted this to work out. I wanted it to happen like it should have— the carriage, the mice turning into horses and coachmen; my mother and father working in the dungeon with their eyes poked out….
Or maybe I could find a way to bring them together.
Could it happen even with the younger model wife he had on the side? That still gnawed at me—the man was as bitter as wormwood with a temperament that screamed ‘I don’t give a damn’. I had to wonder what she actually saw in him. Was she an affair he had? An innocent bystander? Was she in on the whole thing? Wipe the slate off, Danny Boy and everything will be ours!
The let’s get them back together plan would never work—in any way, shape or form. I doubt they could even tolerate seeing each other’s picture. The only way they could possibly be in the same room with each other would require them to be dead, and I would have to be in a coma to be able to live with them once again.
I had his home and office address, so why not take a small trip out to the north side of town? It was too late to drive around a strange neighborhood, and Krys would never want to go with me.
I skipped my morning run the following day. I wanted to skip the entire day, actually. Just sleep it all away, but I couldn’t do it. For one, it would be lazy of me; two, I wasn’t good at just doing nothing; and three, Krys had
taken my car to school that morning and I feared it would not return in one piece.
The house was empty when I walked down the stairs, wearing nothing but a large shirt—didn’t really care who or what saw me. Well, I cared a little. There was a bit of freedom in being there by myself—a calmness that was never in my parents’ old house or when I stepped into Mom’s path at Grans’. No, I was kind of free to let my mind go—very Zen-ish.
I walked back up the stairs and grabbed the note Damon had given to me the day before listing the-man- who-helped-give-me-life-but-for-some-reason-hated-me’s campaign headquarters. It was eight-thirty; maybe someone was there. I still find it strange I was able to call his office without feeling afraid. I had always felt like I was doing something wrong if I tried to talk to him at all—like the time I was sick at school and Mom was not available.
“What’s wrong?” he replied, in what was actually half a question. The other half understood as “Why are you calling me to bitch and complain about it?”
“I’m sick at school.”
“Call your mother. I’m very busy.”
What were the odds he would personally answer?
I dialed the number to his campaign office and a woman with a chirpy voice answered.
“Thank you for calling the campaign office of Daniel Kane. This is Abbie, how can I help you?”
“Thank you, Abbie, my name is Jennifer Monroe and I’m writing a report for school on our system of
government on the state level. Would there be a possible way to snag in a few minutes of candidate Kane’s time to ask a question or two?”
“One moment please.” “Thank you.”
The hold music came on the line. I was hoping maybe he would talk to me because there was a budding scholar out there reaching out to him to learn the ways of how the political machine functioned. The sad part was people
working at that office and the thousands of potential voters out there knew only Dan, good ol’ Danny Boy…and not the jerk that was my dad…excuse me, my former dad as he had family two-point-oh now.
“Miss Monroe?” Abbie came back on the line.
“Yes?” I asked. Abbie’s tone of voice was still cheerful, so I hoped she had good news for me.
“Mr. Kane has an opening for tomorrow at two o’clock.” “Excellent. Thank you very much. I will try to take as
little time away from his schedule as possible.” “Do you have a contact number?”
“Yes,” I replied and confidently gave her the house phone number. I figured he would not be the one to call me back if an issue came up and I doubted Abbie knew of anybody with the last name of Laberdee.
My uncle never got along with him. They were always on opposite sides of a room at any given time. Uncle Alan referred to him as being stubborn as Hell and the onetime he said that in front of me, he tried to apologize for it. I simply shrugged. I wasn’t going to say I agreed with him, because I couldn’t. I would have had to say he was as stubborn as Satan’s flaming, blind and fat donkey from Hell.
But, I would be repeating myself.
I hung up the phone, walked back down the steps and into the living room. I sat on the couch and closed my eyes in a desperate attempt to clear my head from yesterday.
“If you say one damn word about anything!”
“If that’s what you want.”
I didn’t want to say that to him. I didn’t want him to say all of that. The hitting I could deal with—it was the words. Why did I tell him I loved him before I told him about everything? He told me everything about him, so in that light I thought it best to be honest.
Krys came home that afternoon with Lindsey in tow, at least that’s what she said when she walked into the house.
“Lindsey’s on her way in. Everything cool?” she replied and then tossed my keys to me.
“That depends. Do you want me to lie or tell the truth?”
“Well, she’s here to work on some science homework with me and—”
I threw my head back and took a deep breath before I answered. “As long as we don’t talk about Matthew.”
“I just said you were sick. She’ll ask about him, won’t she?”
“I’ll think of something.”
“Are you still going out with him?” Krys walked back to the door and waved her hands in a come on motion.
“Wow, I’m going to have to write a novel just to cover this afternoon.” I replied.
“Well, you don’t have to mention anything. Not like that’s the first thing she’ll ask about.”
“I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. I’ll have to face the inevitable tomorrow. Might as well get a head start.”
Lindsey walked in a few seconds later. “Jen, are you decent?”
“I’m fine,” I replied—I had since gotten dressed—as she raced toward me with an expression that looked like I must have appeared dead. I admit, I hadn’t done anything with my face or hair since the previous day.
“What happened to your ears?” she asked as she peered at the bandages.
“Allergies to nickel plating.”
“And sick too? Did you get food poisoning on your afternoon date?”
“No, no. Nothing like that. We just went to the park.” I should have asked Krys about the extent of my sickness. I mean, was the student body raising money to buy me a new kidney?
“He took you to the park? Like, was it his idea?”
“Lindsey, biology. Chapter test. Study?” Krys motioned toward the stairs.
Lindsey took the hint and I followed behind both of them to the dining room.
They took out their schoolwork and Krys handed over my books—they were left at the office by a party unknown. I skimmed through them, seeing no defacements, no out of the ordinary underlines or highlights, no notes. I was kind of disappointed he had not placed an apology or some form of communication. I guess no was going to be the final answer.
“Hey, Jen?” Lindsey asked, snapping me from my thoughts.
I picked up a coffee mug from the end table and walked toward the kitchen.
“I have a question that I have been wanting to ask you since the first day of practice but—it’s a little personal.”
“Okay,” I replied as I stood in the door.
“Don’t get mad….” she began as she took her school work and laid it out on the table.
“I can’t until you ask.”
Lindsey pointed at me. “Are they real?”
“Are what real?”
“Your boobs, Jen,” Krys stated while staring at her notes. I, for one, was surprised that anyone would wonder, let alone ask.
“Yeah, are they?” And to think I worried if she noticed my eyes were more a shade of blue than brown—I’d left my contacts out.
Lindsey’s jaw dropped. “Really? I thought they did it all with silicone.”
“Hormones. Two years’ worth.”
I finally got to the kitchen to place the coffee cup in the sink, glad that the interrogation had ended.
“Do you have any tattoos?”
“Lindsey!” Krys screeched—more because of the sound of shattering porcelain from the dropped mug.
“What? I said I was still going to make some big changes. Just getting some ideas.”
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.