|Breath by breath we'll leave this behind
Author: Len Bon PM
I won't grieve - it's not yet time. . . each breath breathed is keeping hope alive.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - Casey M. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 9,501 - Reviews: 6 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 08-28-12 - Published: 04-28-12 - id: 8068097
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
You sit across the table, looking at Derek, and sitting next to your youngest daughter, Lizzie. You push away the memory of the last time you had been here when a fire had broken out and you had been brought back by the boy in front of you that had the brown hair and eyes. You thought how much more enjoyable Nora's meal would be if you could hear the laughter of your daughter, but you have been to many a therapy session at this point, and know that the likelihood of her returning to this current scenario unscathed and happy is pretty low. It kills you inside.
When Nora told you she was pregnant with a child, you didn't really believe it. You had always been so careful, always using contraception and just avoiding the chance of pregnancy, though apparently not enough. You had to admit that you hadn't wanted to be tied down, you were only 28 and still trying to reach partner status at your law firm. Similarly, you had always pictured settling down to be with somebody that just wasn't Nora – she was just somebody for you to have a fling with, if you were being honest. A few weeks prior the decision had been made to break up with her, though you were attempting to do it gently when she broke the bomb-shell. Still, you accepted fate, and decided that for the sake of your reputation, your future child and Nora a marriage proposal was on the table; bitterness didn't really appear until the word "Yes" escaped Nora's lips in response to the ring you pushed across the table towards her.
The words of Casey in the therapist's room are repeating themselves, over and over and over in your head, creating a loop. You are laying on the sofa, acting as a bed whilst you are temporarily staying at the McDonald-Venturi house, and all you can hear, other than the dripping taps from the connecting kitchen, is the whispering of Casey from earlier that evening. Self-hate and guilt are eating you alive as your mind punctuates each word further than Casey would ever say. You are wondering if Casey had meant each words to effectively render you not only speechless but fill you with a remorse that makes you want to explode – knowing Casey, probably not. Still, the outcome of the session earlier if you now having a burning need to escape and run away, because you can't help but blame yourself for everything. With this, you fall into a fitful sleep, filled with those words that are plaguing your every sense.
"I've always been told that if you can't do something right, don't bother at all. . . I wasn't doing this right!"
You hadn't felt the same bitterness at the birth of your second child, you second daughter. Instead, you felt a rush of warmth and devotion to the bundle that Nora had held in her arms, knowing that this was love without strings, like the last time you stood on the maternity ward in a hospital. It was wrong, you were aware of that, as you looked at the blue-eyed, smiling 5 year old child that asked if she could hold her tiny sister, the best sister in the world.
When Casey had been born, not only had you felt a little remorse at the situation, but you couldn't stop the niggling chip of blame as well as the whispering in your mind that she was an inconvenience and a burden. When Lizzie was born, you had felt only a sense of fulfilment because it was completely natural. In fact, as you held your second daughter for the first time, you think you feel love for Nora for the first time in your life, and it is shocking; when Casey had been born, only bitterness was quietly directed towards Nora, not love like this. Similarly, you then caught site of Casey, she had been glancing, on tip toes, over your arm to look at the bundle of happiness in your arms, and as wrong as it was, you knew that you'd never love the two girls in the same way.
You didn't doubt that you loved Casey, she was half you, after all, but you couldn't ever push the bitterness of it being her that trapped you into a loveless, unhappy relationship, and so the love was never really appeared completely unconditional. You were instantaneously playing favourites with your children, and it was not working to your eldest's favour.
You're awoken by a loud crash from behind you, startling out of your slumber – and if you're honest, that isn't such a bad thing. Waiting for your heart to slow slightly, allowing it to return to normal rates of beat by taking deep breaths, and as laying still as possible, you listen. The tap turns, the creak making it obvious, before a rush of water sounds. Moving slowly, you get up and head to the dark kitchen.
At the doorway, you glance in, seeing a figure bent over the breakfast bar, his shoulders clearly slumped forward. You are just about to say something when the figure moves, and you catch his face as he turns and his face becomes illuminated. Derek looks distraught, and you aren't sure if that is because it is exaggerated by the low lighting that is coming in via the living room from the outside street lamps, or if the boy is truly feeling that much pain. Then, just as loud as before, the glass he was holding slipped from his hand, landing on the floor, and just like before, you feel yourself jump and your heartbeat increase with the startlement.
You watch on, unsure as to what to say, as Derek swipes the dustpan and brush from the breakfast bar before bending down. It is followed by the sound of glass clunking, and you feel a little confused, partially because this is the early hours of the morning.
Again, you finally form a sentence in your head, a comforting one, to tell him that you are all feeling the same, and you move across the threshold into the room. Then, as you are able to see the top of his head, and his face, you hear the dry retching and heaving emitted by the boy. His shoulders are shaking and the sobs are coming heavy and loud, and you are immediately stumped as to what to do. It is suddenly clear to you that perhaps you aren't all feeling the same, because you are pretty damn sure that Derek is feeling this a lot harder than you or Nora and maybe even Lizzie.
As soon as the divorce papers had been filed and sent to you, you'd left, without a backwards glance. Okay, that wasn't true because you had thought about your two daughters and their lives, but somehow that hadn't been enough to have stopped you moving 500 miles to New York. Okay, that wasn't true because you had actually filed for custody of your youngest daughter, Lizzie. However, that had looked like it would be unsuccessful considering Nora had fought tooth and nail to keep her, claiming custody over your favourite child. It struck you as odd though that Nora was quite happy to offer you sole custody of the elder of the two girls. It struck you as even odder that it seemed you and Nora had found common ground once again, and it was similar to before, the inconvenience and burden of Casey. Guilt should really have eaten you alive when you not only rejected custody of Casey, even when you continued access to Lizzie but when Casey and Lizzie both found out. Instead, you brushed it off, and tried to ignore any of the niggling voices reminding you that Casey was your daughter too, and that your blatant shunning had slowly turned her into an attention-seeking perfectionist as she hoped to gain your affections over the years.
You are glancing at the boy who is hunched over the breakfast bar once again, not in a dissimilar manner to the night prior. His hair is as messy, face as pale and distraught but within the brighter light of morning, he looks so much more dishevelled – there is clearly a touch of stubble on his chin and jaw where he obviously hasn't shaved, as well as a ruffled look to his clothes, despite them being new to this morning. You are hit with the feeling of being far too pulled together, clearly not hurting about your daughter being in the hospital as much as the 17 year old. A thought hits you out of nowhere, do you love Casey as much as Derek does?
Your thoughts are torn from that, however, as George enters, causing a strained tension in the room when Derek tenses. George for his part acts like he doesn't notice, and you observe as he opens the cupboard holding the glasses. You stop being the hopeless observer but mould into role of liar, or you prefer to think of it as protector, when George questions where two glasses have gone, and knowing that it was his own son's 'carelessness' you jump to say it was in fact your clumsiness. You aren't sure if it because you think Derek is under enough stress already, or if it is simply because you've always had a soft spot for the boy, but its enough.
You knew you should've spent more time with Casey, and reminded her that you love her unconditionally, especially with all the fuss she went to to make sure the evening was 'perfect' (although it had turned out to be quite disasterous). That wasn't how the it all panned out, though. Instead, you spent the time with your youngest, barely letting her out of the hug that had been initiated, as well as the children on the Venturi family. Your daughter had been slaving away in the kitchen, trying to make everything the best it could be, and instead of even thinking about her, you had simply warmed to children that weren't even yours, most notably Derek Venturi.
To be honest, you hadn't even really spared a thought for Casey and how she may feel until said boy that had charmed you all evening, made you think that a boy would've been better to have as an eldest child, the one that was an entrapment originally. When the person that supposedly loathed Casey rang and told you that she was crying and that you had to come back, it really should've been the first indicator, and not an indicator as to you being a bad father (there had been many warnings for that throughout the 15 years of Casey's life). As your had rushed back, you didn't even think that perhaps the fighting was a front for something.
The silence is killing you, you can admit that much. The radio in the car stopped working a while ago, according to the brown-eyed, brown-haired boy sitting next to you in the driver's seat, and so there is just an unnerving quiet with no conversation filling it. You glance at the boy that could quite possibly have been the cause of this (the child that she miscarried had to have a father, right?) and for the first time of the last 10 minutes of journey notice his hands shaking – should he really be driving in a state like this? You ask him if he is okay, and you know that he is obviously not. Your suspicions are proved correct when he ignores the question, denying you his real thoughts, but instead thanks you for covering his back this morning about the glasses. You tell him it is no problem, and then, because the moment takes you, ask him about your daughter (the eldest, least loved one).
As he tells your story after story, from her days as Klutzilla to the musical that never should've been, you don't fail to notice the way his eyes brighten, or how his face lights up a little, shedding away the fragility to his look that he has been deigning. He tells you all the stories that you never bothered to ask the girl featuring in them, Nora or Lizzie – he is telling you about a girl that if you are honest you barely know and rarely bothered to get to know. He recounts all these stories, pouring his heart into the memories, it is clear with the way he laughs at certain things (like the first time she tried to lie and ended up writing an essay about dogs), and you don't object when instead of entering the hospital car park, he goes around the block a couple more times.
The call from Nora shocked you, it was only 4pm in London, Canada, and you would've thought she had been working. You weren't left wondering however, when Nora not only cut straight to the chase. Casey was in hospital.
You dropped the phone, so unsure as to what to do, because you would never have thought your own child capable of such a thing. Then again, what parents actually expect to be heading towards a hospital, towards a comatose child? Despite the shock, and the feelings of guilt that rush over you, you weren't there, and you really should've been, considering you had been yet to return her call from a week before.
Still, you promised Nora that you'd be there as soon as possible, you hung up the phone, booked plane tickets and rushed to her side. It was probably the definition of "too little, too late" but it was the best your could do in the circumstances.
You enter into the private room that you are currently paying for, it is the least you can do for her, considering all the ill-doings you have previously bestowed upon her since she was just a fetus. She looks better than she did a week ago, when you first arrived 2 days after the accident. Despite this, she is still hurting, it is so clear from the sad look in her eyes and the slight bags under her eyes; in retrospect, it is an obvious conclusion considering that less than two weeks ago, the girl in front of you, your eldest daughter, attempted to take her own life.
You decide there that you will focus on the positive (she had been unsuccessful), and you fully commit to helping her through this. You sit in the seat, and muster up enough courage to not only apologise for missing her phone call, but asking her what she wanted. When she tells you that she was going to ask to move in with you, you are shocked, and then ask for the whole story.
Eventually, she finishes telling you the tale up to her attempted suicide, completely glossing over sections you are sure – you noticed there was no explanation to the child she had carried for 3, or so, months. The feelings of guilt and remorse are back, but also with a little hope. She is open and willing to get better, to approach with an honesty that will help the healing process.
You finish talking, and leave. When you are out the door, you see Derek, sitting in the same spot as where you left him when you entered. You allow him to know that Casey is still strong enough, and awake enough to have visitors, but instead, he shakes his head. You shrug your shoulders and leave him sitting there, waiting for him to have the courage to face the broken girl you fully believe he is in love with (and to you have no idea how long it will take for him to find that kind of bravery, so far he has had a week and a half yet all he does is sit outside her room, watching others visit, reconcile and then leave, for 8 hours a day). You can only hope he does it soon, knowing that it took you a little too long and you wish you had done it sooner, considering how much lighter you now feel.
As you can probably tell, I have really been working on length of my stories etc. Anyway, this was actually a lot easier to than most of the others, and I actually loved Dennis – as much of a dick I made him become. Still, I hope I did him justice and characterised him okay (who really knows what his character is truly like?).