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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Falling Apart Again

This story is a sequel to Falling Apart.
Feel free to read that story first if you aren't sure you remember it, although it is not necessary to read the first one to understand this one. :-)


When I first met him, he looked so sad. I had no idea why, but I fairly quickly learned that he had been through a painful divorce. It was obvious that he had – and still – deeply loved his ex wife, but I really couldn’t understand why. She was an utter bitch to him!
She kept his kids from seeing him, and verbally abused him whenever they talked. It was enough to make me want to strangle her! The good thing was that she also made it a point not to talk to him more than strictly necessary.
I was already openly gay before I had ever met him, and seeing his pain… Well, it moved me. I wanted to comfort him and heal him. I did the only thing I felt I could at the time… I offered him my body.
The first time, that was all I offered – my body. The next few times, I tried to keep my heart out of it, but before I knew it, I was hopeless in love with him. Of course, it didn’t make things easier on either of us that he was almost 20 years older than me – I was 23 when we met, and he was 41.
It took him a while to warm up to the idea of being with me, but eventually – after we had been together about a year – he admitted to loving me, and I had never been happier in my life! Vowing to avoid the mistakes of his previous relationship, we were fairly attentive to each other, and spent a lot of time learning about each other’s interests. I was honestly astonished when I found out that he was wealthy! He had never acted like a rich person around me, but that was probably for the best, since he was certain I wasn’t simply after his money.
Ten years passed in near bliss, and then, one morning… I had a nightmare. I dreamt that 30 years had passed rather than 10, and that he was in an elderly care facility with Alzheimer’s. I worked with him as his care giver, but he had absolutely no idea who I was!
I woke up in a horrible sweat, and brushed actual tears from my eyes. I breathed a sigh of relief to find him still asleep next to me, and took care not to wake him as I wrapped my body around his. I wanted to squeeze him tight, and never let go.
I know people age, and that it’s inevitable, but I sincerely prayed that my nightmare never came true.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, sensing that all was not right with me.
“I had a terrible terrible nightmare!” I informed him, but refused to give him any details. After all, it really was a possibility, and I didn’t want him to think I’d ever consider abandoning him to avoid such a fate.
He cheered me up by making love to me, and then took his time getting ready to go to work. He was the boss, and could come and go as he pleased. Me – on the other hand – I had to go meet with my first client of the day. As a physical therapist, my clients visited me at a clinic, and while I did have some flexibility in setting my schedule, I largely had to follow the clinic’s hours of operation.
I kissed him before rushing off to work, and he promised to take me to dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary. I’d forgotten all about that! I grinned, kissed him again, and was off.
Two days later, I was still numb from shock. What am I supposed to do now?! I would give anything – even my own life – to be living my nightmare at this moment!
Why? Why did the one that I loved so much have to get into a car accident and die? There wasn’t even a chance he would survive since he was already dead by the time anyone had gotten to the car to check on him.
A large semi had crossed into oncoming traffic, plowed into him – dragging his car 20 or 30 feet – and finally crashed into a tree. It turns out that the driver had a sudden aneurism; that he was probably dead before crashing, but the sheer bad timing of it killed my lover on an otherwise lightly trafficked road.
I couldn’t get out of bed, and when I thought about things too much, I soaked a pillow with my tears. I couldn’t eat, and often drank until I passed out just to escape the pain. By the third morning, I was seriously contemplating joining him in the afterlife.
“Get up!” A voice demanded angrily.
“No… I’m never getting up again,” I mumbled.
“Are you seriously going to make my father cry from heaven?” The voice – which I finally recognized as Andrea – asked me fervently. “He’s watching, you know! And I’m certain that he would not want you to miss his funeral because you’re wallowing in drunken self-pity.”
Ouch! Wait, funeral? I scratched my head. Now that she mentioned it, I remember that there is supposed to be a funeral today. I tried my hardest to crawl out of bed, but ended up falling onto the floor, and couldn’t move.
“Josh!” Andrea chided sternly. “You are lucky that I decided to come check up on you! We still have a few hours to get you cleaned up and ready to go.”
She pulled me to my feet, and then bullied me into the bathroom. I was wearing nothing but my boxers, and she tossed me into the shower – after setting the temperature to mildly scalding – without bothering to care if I removed them or not.
“Wash up,” she ordered, making sure to remove all shaving equipment and other sharp or pointy objects from the shower. “When you are done, I’ll shave your face for you, because I don’t want you to accidently cut yourself.”
I grumbled, but did as she commanded. An hour later, I was showered, shaved, and wearing a new suit she had bought me specifically for today. It was black with a very subtle dark blue pin-striping. It had a matching dark blue satin tie, and shiny black shoes to go with it. I think I looked good in it, but I honestly didn’t care enough to check.
She – having indicated satisfaction with how I looked in my outfit – took some time to change into her new outfit, also bought specifically to wear at the funeral. It was a knee-length white dress underneath a sheer black silk layer. It was held tight to her slender waist by a dark blue satin sash, and belled out elegantly. She had a small trio of satin roses in her hair – two black and one dark blue.
Leave it to her to feel that a funeral was a time to get dressed up. I would have gone in some gray sweatpants and a T-shirt had I remembered to go at all without her help. Although, dark blue was Randy’s favorite color, so it made sense that she incorporated it into our outfits.
The ceremony was held at Randy’s favorite golfing club, right out on the green. The actual seating area was covered by a large mat to protect the grass from being ruined, and considering the high quality of the benches offered, my guess is that they were owned by the club for weddings. Posh ones.
In the front row, Andrea guided me to sit next to Amelia and RJ, and then sat next to me. Amelia was wearing the same ensemble as Andrea, and I was surprised to see that RJ more or less matched me. Looks like Andrea – and possibly Amelia – had picked out something for all of us to wear.
Amy – the ex-wife – sat on the bench behind us, and while she didn’t cry, she did seem very sad. I wondered if this was genuine, or a show put on to support her children. She didn’t hold my attention long enough to care either way.
RJ was red-eyed, but managed to keep it together during the service – whereas I was a complete wreck. I tried to be quiet as I cried, but the tears simply would not stop. Andrea and Amelia both squeezed my hands, and had absolutely no qualms about wailing out their grief for the whole world to hear.
There was an awkward gathering after the service. The body was mangled so badly in the accident that there wasn’t much choice but to cremate it, and so he was already in an urn – which would probably sit somewhere in the house we had shared. During the gathering – in which people were supposed to share memories of him, I was too raw to listen. I was too hurt to try speaking.
I went straight to the club’s bar, and started drinking. Fairly quickly, Andrea located me, and ordered me to follow her to her car. She probably figured that allowing me to get belligerently drunk would be disastrous, and I didn’t particularly disagree.
Back at the house I now owned all by myself, I waited patiently for her to leave. I had made my decision, and I didn’t want her around to see me do it, and probably try to stop me. Not many people just let someone kill themselves after all.
“Here,” Andrea practically barked as she thrust a tequila sunrise in my hand. “If you want to get drunk, get drunk, but don’t you dare harm yourself in any other way!”
I wondered if I was so easy to read, or was she simply being overly cautious. I slowly drained my glass in one long swallow as I watched her chug tequila straight from the bottle. I had just enough presence of mind to seize her keys from her purse, and hide them when she wasn’t looking. No way in hell was I going to let one of Randy’s precious daughters drive drunk and die in an accident mere days after an accident had claimed him.
I accepted another drink from her, and half-heartedly clinked glasses with her as she said. “Tonight, we will drink our sorrows completely away, and tomorrow we will get on with our lives. Got that? Absolutely no wallowing after today; daddy would not have wanted that.”
My lips twisted with a tiny wry smile. A 25 year old who still called her father “daddy,” and she had the nerve to tell me not to wallow. Whatever; maybe she was right. Maybe I just needed to commiserate with a fellow mourner, and then decide to move on. Who knows? Only tomorrow can tell.
I groaned as I woke up the next morning – or was it afternoon by now? The sun was far too bright, and I covered my eyes as I willed the throbbing in my head to go away. I was hung over, and I knew it. Today was not going to be fun! Thankfully, I had already taken 2 full weeks off of work. To be honest, I still had no plans to go back or anywhere ever again.
“Tell me we didn’t!”
I felt the blood drain from my face as I turned my head to the side. Andrea sat up – clutching the blanket to her in horror. She took in my appearance, and her face paled.
I suddenly realized the full implications of her statement. I was completely naked under the blanket, and she was probably naked as well. This made my stomach turn. Andrea was like a daughter to me!
 Despite being relatively close in age, she was the oldest child of my one true love. I would never have sex with her. Not to mention she was a woman! I have been gay practically since my first lover.
“No!” I vehemently denied. “We couldn’t have! There’s no way! There has to be an explanation.”
Andrea rubbed her temples in an obvious attempt to regain her memory. It apparently didn’t work, because she sighed, and shrugged. “I don’t remember.”
“Well, let’s think this through… If we had, there’d be some evidence, right?” I theorized.
“Yeah, there would be,” she agreed, and carefully held the blanket to her with one hand as she used her other to check something. “Uh-oh…” She whispered, and stole the blanket as she ran to the bathroom.
With nothing to provide cover, and my head still pounding unbearably, I tried to get out of bed, but my hand landed in something damp. I groaned. It could be vomit, right?
Not really wanting to, I examined the area carefully, and could not deny that the evidence strongly pointed to a mixture of sexual fluids drying out on the sheets. Plus, from the look of it, possibly as many as four separate times. I wanted to be sick again.
I finally managed to climb out of bed, pull on some boxers, and slip into a robe. I eventually located my spare robe, and went to offer it to Andrea. I raised my hand to knock lightly on the door to the bathroom, and heard her crying. This made me forget to knock and just walk right in.
She was sitting on the edge of the tub, completely cocooned in the blanket. She looked up at me in something akin to near misery.
“We did! There’s no way that I could have semen inside me this morning if we hadn’t. It’s been months since I last had sex, I swear! However… I don’t remember doing it.”
She wiped her tears, and sighed. “Oh daddy, I’m so sorry,” she whispered softly.
“Me too,” I whispered gently in return, and left the robe on a hook next to her. What was my stupid-ass drunk self thinking! Why did I betray my beloved like that? It made no sense. I vowed that I couldn’t kill myself until I figured out why I had done something so horrible. Not that having sex in and of itself was horrible, but betraying my lover by doing so with his daughter was. I would never forgive myself!
I still hadn’t figured it out by the time I was supposed to return to work, and since I had also lost all desire to kill myself, I decided to throw myself into my job. This was ultimately for the best as it gave me something to do, and problems to concentrate on that weren’t my own.
The will of Randall A. Black was read, and I was surprised to learn that my lover had divided everything he owned into four equal shares. One for each of his kids, and one for me. I was now a millionaire, but I didn’t care. I would give it all up to have him back.
Months passed, and rather than feeling like I was carrying a mountain of grief with me everywhere I went, I now merely felt like I was steadily walking down a dark and narrow tunnel. I sensed that there would be a new goal in life to work towards once I got through the tunnel, and in the meantime, all I had to do was keep trudging along.
On the four month anniversary of the day he died, I brought a bottle of pinot noir and his urn out into the back yard to drink to him. I was finally ready to celebrate the good times… To a point.
“Mind if I have a glass?” Andrea asked, arriving practically out of thin air. She sat on a lawn chair next to me, and filled a glass that she must have brought out here from the kitchen.
“What are you doing here?” I wondered, a bit upset. I hadn’t seen or talked to her since that morning, and I was still furious with myself for what had happened. I tried not to take my anger out on her, but by the tone of my voice, I wasn’t succeeding.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I…” She paused to take a sip of the wine in her glass. “I can’t ignore it anymore.”
“Ignore what? I promise I haven’t been drinking. Well… aside from a little wine here and there, but never when I have to work the next day,” I hastily explained.
She gave me a look so grave that I instantly knew she didn’t believe me.
“I swear! It’s true that I was just going to kill myself, and then I thought about drinking myself into an early grave instead, but then I realized that he wouldn’t want that. So I have been good,” I babbled on to assure her.
She slowly nodded twice. “I believe you.”
I heaved a great sigh of relief.
“It’s just that I can’t ignore that I’m pregnant any longer.”
I froze. My mind went completely blank. I think even my heart stopped beating. I held a cup literally two inches from my face, but did not drink from it. It felt like a full minute passed before my body and brain started working again. I swallowed to wet my suddenly dry throat.
“What?” I asked. Maybe I hadn’t heard her right.
“I’m pregnant, and there’s no one else…” She had been slowly taking tiny sips from her cup. I think she was doing that mostly to avoid looking directly at me.
“Oh… my… god…” I tried hard to quell my rising panic.
“I’m not asking for a commitment, or even a relationship. I honestly can’t bring myself to think of you in that way. It’s just that… well, the thing is,” she took a deep breath. “My mom kept us fairly separated from our father for a few years, and that was one of the hardest times in my life. I don’t want to put my child through that. I hope…” She faltered, and took another sip from her cup.
“It’s my dearest wish that you decide to be a part of this baby’s life. You can call yourself dad or uncle or even just my friend – that part’s not important, but just be there for him or her. Be a role model and a form of support. An ear to listen, a hand to help…”
I felt a weight press down on my chest. “A father…” I was going to be a father… This was a truly heavy revelation. I needed time to think.
Andrea seemed to understand because she set her still half full glass aside, and got up to leave. “I’ll come back later, after you’ve had a chance to think things through.”
I nodded. When I thought about the absolute minimum requirements to raising a child, I immediately knew that she would never need money from me – she was a millionaire too, thanks to her father. Setting money aside, all a child needed was love. It was love that Andrea wanted. She wanted me to love this baby.
I didn’t think it would be particularly hard to love this baby, but I did think that it would be painful. After all, this baby would be a constant reminder that I betrayed my beloved. However… I knew just how much it had hurt Randy to be kept from his kids. Would he ever forgive me if he knew I was considering abandoning a child of my own?
I felt like a bastard for even considering it. I called Andrea to let her know that I would be the baby’s father and that she could rely on me to be there for her throughout the pregnancy. She sobbed in relief, and thanked me profusely. This made me realize that she completely planned to bear this burden on her own, and that made me feel like an utter asshole for even contemplating abandoning her.
Over the next couple of months, Andrea decided to buy the house next to mine when it went up for sale. She had explained to her brother and sister that we had gotten completely drunk and created a baby, and they were surprisingly understanding. I sat in a corner listening as Amelia and RJ helped Andrea decorate her new house.
“I know you both feel terrible,” Amelia stated, “but I think dad made you do it.”
“What are you talking about?!” Andrea demanded in embarrassment. “Why would dad do that?”
Amelia held her hands up soothingly for a moment. “Just think about it. From heaven, he would be able to see all of us clearly. He would have known what was on all of our minds. You both got drunk and then did something neither of you would ever do. What if it was his way of giving Josh a reason to stay here? I’m sure it was breaking his heart to see Josh so miserable.”
I hadn’t thought of it like that before. I had been too busy imagining that he was up in heaven with a golf club waiting to beat me up for touching his daughter, but what if Amelia was right? What if he had a hand in this current situation? What if he wanted me to move on and be happy again?
I drew my knees up to my chest, and wrapped my arms around them in depression. I simply couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be happy again. I am pretty sure that I used up my entire life’s allotment of happiness. I needed to balance it out with at least 10 years of sadness before I had a chance at contentment, right?
Far sooner than I was prepared for, Andrea gave birth to a boy. He looked exactly like what a mixture of Randy and myself would look like, and I fell completely in love with him the moment Andrea handed him to me. Knowing that I was gay from a fairly early age, I had never imagined having children, but now that I had one, I was enchanted.
I prayed that I could be a good dad, that I had what it takes to parent a child with kindness and guidance. I stared at him, and realized that there were tears in my eyes. Andrea smiled at me, crying a bit herself.
“He’s beautiful, isn’t he?” She asked.
I nodded, too emotional to risk opening my mouth.

*******

2 comments:

  1. So completely unexpected but I'm crying! Beautiful, twisted story Mama Packard

    ReplyDelete

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