Sunday, August 20, 2006

Two! No More Than Two! (continued)

The Lover lets himself in to my apartment, drops his suitcase and comes to a halt. The air is thick with almost a pack of Virginia Slims and he knows I never smoke unless upset. And it takes a lot to upset me.

"Belle, you went to see her didn't you? After the last time, I thought you would have come to your senses."

"I can't help it. She's my Mom."

"Your Mom? She's probably the most selfish, self-centered human being on the planet."

"You wouldn't say that if you saw the condition she was in. How she lives."

"Belle, she chooses to live the way she does. How many times have you offered to bring her here?"

"Dunno," I shrug. Many times.

The Lover and I have what some may call a strange arrangement. He lives in another country. Has a life there complete with wife and kids whom he adores. He flies in from time to time for business and has a key to my apartment. We met on assignment. I was lonely. He was drunk. Enough said.

For the most part, we remain detached from each other (other than physically, of course). Emotions are messy. We don't like mess.

So we call it "having sex" rather than "making love". I am very particular about signifiers. Better to be specific. Better not to create any expectations.

"Whose expectations?" he once asked.

"Mine. Yours," I replied.

We kept it like this until one day, he happened to stumble on me when I had just visited Aunt Sis (do you mind if I keep calling her that? I'm sorta used to it by now). I was unable to switch off my misery and so he sat next to me, took my hand, and heard me out. The whole sordid business. Funny how we had been sleeping together for nearly two years without knowing anything about the other.

He learned how Dad left Aunt Sis 10 years ago and how she took to her bed. How the huge settlement she received from the divorce dwindled slowly as she made herself into a career invalid, moving from the swanky side of town, to that little hole in the boondocks she now occupied. How she worked her way through a series of maids until all she could afford was a gully dwarf. And that's only because a gully dwarf came free (you know, Merowene is quite good, I've got her bathing at least once a month, she's practically a lady).

Aunt Sis never forgave Dad for leaving her. Of for the "Filipina trash" he took up with. A teenage mail order bride. Thing is, he mail ordered her, before he was free to do so.

And she never forgave me, for being half Dad's. Half pariah blood. She said I looked like him. He said I looked like her. And his young Filipina bride decided she didn't like having me around. Very subtly she edged me out of his house and then his life. Young wives can do that.

Anyway, I know it's pathetic to keep trying with two people who no longer want you (I always thought in a divorce they fought over the only child) but I found I couldn't help it. After a few years without contact, I began to try and mend bridges. It was hopeless with Dad. With a young family and a wife who didn't want me around.

And as for Mom, I mean Aunt Sis, well, things didn't go so well, once I lost my temper and told her there was nothing really wrong with her. Some words remain there between you for always. She told me not to come back that time. But still, I manage to sneak past the guards at least once a year to see her. And she always ends up kicking me out.

"I don't know what to say, Belle. Why do you keep doing this to yourself? They're not worth it, believe me!"

It's easy for him to dismiss my family this way. Would he be so quick to dismiss his own? Everyone is expert at telling me what to do. Resentment rises and I choke it down. After all, the last time I lost my temper, I lost my Mom.

The Lover, who doesn't love me, is all I have left.

"I'm going to bed," I tell him, killing my cigarette.

He is sitting, hunched over on the sofa, wondering if this time he has gone too far.

Halfway across the room, I turn:

"Coming?"

17 comments:

QuillDancer said...

A study in wounded people.

Tell me, why are you posting this here, for us (not that we mind) instead of peddling it to a magazine for publication?

HmmWord verification: dearf

Jenn said...

Never thought of peddling it to a magazine for publication - as I said, when I started it, it was supposed to be funny (what with the gully dwarf and all) and then somehow it sort of escaped from my hands and twisted itself.

In sooth, I know not why I am so sad.

QuillDancer said...

Jenn, even when I am not sad there is often something dark and bitter in my writing. There must be a shadow on my soul that I cannpt see.

Have you been to my poetry blog? Bits of Me in Poetry

Grey Shades said...

This is so sad! :(

goldennib said...

This story is ripe for humor. All humor has a dark element to it. This woman is a perfect heroine, plenty of room for change of some kind. I think you should continue to develop the story.

Jenn said...

Grey: I know. :(

Nessa: Dunno...somehow what has sort of unfolded in my mind is not funny...far from it...

Jenn said...

Quilly: Checked out your poetry blog. Wow.

QuillDancer said...

Jenn, there was one particular poem on my new blog that I thought might help sooth one of your recent wounds. Did it give you a chuckle?

goldennib said...

Not funny. But humor, dark, penetrating, sarcastic, with touches of the absurd.

A thinker said...

It *is* very sad...

Family is so hard to let go of. Somehow, despite all the terrible and twisted things they can do to you, there's still that longing for their love, their acceptance, their heart.

Sorry for the pain :(

Jenn said...

Quilly: OK have to go back and read them with closer attention now...you have me intrigued, especially with the mention of "recent wounds"....:)

Nessa: The painful and the ridiculous...quite a thought...

A thinker: My dear, it's fiction...nothing to do with me...just the miscreations of my sleep deprived mind.

QuillDancer said...

Jenn -- you may actually have hit on it. My darkest writings come during times of sleep deprivation -- like my entire Senior year in college. I was carrying 18 credits, working two jobs, serving as President of the Honor's society and my best-friend was in a hospital 100 miles away dying of kidney failure. Most of my sleeping was done in a molded plastic visitor's chair, or the passenger seat of a moving car.

QuillDancer said...

Kitties at my place. Thought you'd want to know.

Jenn said...

Quilly: How awful! You sure have been through a lot - and yet you come across so bright and exuberant. Amazing!

I did go to see my favourite kitties...and left a suitable comment. Hehe.

lemontree said...

hey jenn
awesomely intirguing characters you have in your head and bring into our lives to wonder and wander. they so signify the world we live in. complicated, fabricated, even abhorable and yet so real, so teasured.

Jenn said...

Hey there Lemon! Nice to see you back. Thank you. I want to be real, but the more real I am, the more constructed I seem to be. Oh well. Life is a paradox. And I am a contradiction.

Jenn said...

Which means you're here from Justin's blog.