Hi everyone, first and foremost, thank you for your reviews they're always very appreciated.
Now, I know that I've taken time to post this chapter, I'm sorry, but is has been difficult to write. Anyway, it's long to compensate for the delay.
Ps: Immi, thanks for guiding me through the maze of idea and helping me when Mojo wasn't around ;)
I'm watching Sara. She is still holding my hand as we are both sitting on the couch. I wait for her to speak, I have things to say but I let her be the one to start this conversation because she's the one who has been cutting all communication between us.
Our relationship has hit a rough patch, to put it mildly. A few months ago I decided to take care of what was bothering me. I had come to the conclusion that the knot of my problems with Sara was Greg; therefore I went to have a chat with him, so he'd understand that purposefully or not he was inferring in my relationship with Sara.
Sara got pissed to say the least when she found out, not even giving me a chance to explain myself, give my point of view of the story. She gave me the cold shoulder, which hurt me and made me angry.
Five days ago there was a car accident and until the very last moment I wasn't aware that she had been involved in it. Actually none of us did – except Sara and Greg of course, we just had the call for an emergency and every team in the area rushed there, I think I almost passed out when I recognized Sara's car… or at least what was left of it. I dropped off the case and went to the hospital to make sure she was okay, that's actually the only time I saw her, when she was unconscious from all the pain killers she had taken.
And until a few minutes ago, I had convinced myself that even under such circumstances she didn't want me around. Yes, she did call and left a message on my machine saying that she was alright and that she hoped I was okay, in about that many words. It turns out that she stayed at Greg's family… so I suppose that's one way to say that she didn't want me around, once more I'm kept at bay, and I know it's not how our relationship should work. I should be the first one she turns to when she's having a hard time and I think almost dying in a car accident qualifies as such a time.
I've stayed awake all those days, trying to shy away from the truth. The truth is that our relationship isn't working; it's just falling apart, disintegrating pieces of my heart in the process. I've always been aware of the fact that I was more involved in our relationship on an emotional level, only now I'm realizing or rather I can no longer fool myself into thinking that Sara will join my wavelength at some point.
"I'm sorry for being harsh with you the last time we spoke," Sara says calmly.
She wasn't harsh, that's an understatement; she lashed at me, blowing things out of proportion, and that hurt deeply.
"I know…I was…" she trails off. "I don't think you can fathom how angry I was to find out that you went to Greg to ask him to stay away from me," her voice is even but the irritation is palpable. She takes a deep breath to calm down, and squeezes my hand a little bit. "It can't work like this… when you have a problem you take it with me, you don't handle things like that…" she says quietly.
"I did tell you about it… I did make it clear that your relationship with Greg made me insecure…" I point out, my emotions already weakening my voice. "But you just… you wouldn't understand… I just asked him to give us a chance to be… I just wanted us to have a chance… and it's like I was the only one."
"That still didn't give you the right to do what you did," she says softly.
I stand up and go silently to the kitchen; I pour myself a glass of water and drain it in one go. I'm always the one to be depicted as the bad person, like right now, she doesn't say it but she's clearly thinking that I'm the bad guy in the story. Even if she doesn't like my choice, I did it with our interest in mind.
Sara stood up as well and is now looking at me with confusion. Any other day I'd find that endearing on her, but today I find it irritating; because right now it's just another proof that she's not in this relationship with me.
"Sometimes I wonder if you actually want to be with me," I confess.
"Why would you think something like that?" her brow furrows even more. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to be with you."
"Most of the time it's like that you were fighting against us rather than with me. I mean…you're not really in it," I shrug.
"What do you mean, I'm not in it?"
"I mean just that Sara; it's like I was the only one to fight to make this relationship work. You're not…"
"I'm not what?" she encourages me. "Just tell me Cath, whatever it is I'm ready to work on it."
"You… you don't talk to me, ever."
"I do talk to you…" she affirms.
"No you don't. Every time I ask you a question, getting an answer from you is like pulling a teeth out. And that's the proof that you don't trust me," I reason.
"I trust you, Cath," she protests but her voice is still calm and soft.
"Really?" I ask with a frown. She looks at me with confusion, like I was making things up. I sigh. "Every time something meaningful happens I'm never kept in the loop… I'm just the afterthought," I illustrate my point. "You always turn to Greg first. If I ask you what's going on, you don't tell me anything but he doesn't have to ask and you confide in him," I snort bitterly. "Notice how he's the knot of every issue we have…"
"I don't have any issues involving Greg," she states her expression is grave now. "So you thought that what? That it'd be okay for you to ask him to stay away?" she shrugs.
"Yes," I confirm. "I went to see him and told him that he was a good boy, but that he had to stay away, so you and I could focus on being an 'us', with me. He's not with you anymore and he should understand that," irritation creeps into my voice, she refuses to understand my point, like it didn't matter anyway. "Forgive me for wanting us to build something," I add in a whisper.
"We can't build anything if you don't trust me and destroy what matters to me," she states with hurt in her voice.
"See that's my problem right there, whatever you're having with Greg matters to you more than what you're having with me… don't you see anything wrong with this picture?" I narrow my eyes at her.
"Greg is my best friend, of course my relationship with him matters …"
"Oh come off it!" I cut her off harshly. She looks at me with confusion which angers me, because I'm tired of her willingly denying the facts. "He's not just your best friend Sara," I continue. "He's your ex-lover! And for you to act like it wasn't the case pisses me off…" I look away and try to temper myself.
She always makes it difficult. I know she's not good at being intimate and opening up, she has issues, but who doesn't? I have issues too, I don't like being vulnerable and open anymore than she does; but the difference is that unlike her I do try because I think we are worth the risk.
"You don't let go of him… and I feel that it's your way to tell me that I'll never be enough, that whatever I give you it'll never be enough; that you'll always need him and what you two had. It's unfair, because I shouldn't be put in his shadow, yet I am," I look upward, forbidding myself from crying. I take a deep breath to compose myself.
"Cath… Greg and I are just friends now. I can't change the fact that we've been lovers, but it's over and now I'm with you."
"But you're not really in it with me," I keep on. "I can see that we're not as intimate as you were with Greg, we don't have the same complicity…and…"
"Stop, you can't compare things like that," she says softly. "Greg and I were intimate long before becoming lovers. I mean, he and I have been friends for close to ten years now. You and I had to struggle to have a healthy relationship, then a friendship and then what we have now. It'll never be like Greg and I, and I don't want it to be, it'll be ours and it'll take time, but we're doing fine so far," she speaks with an even and soothing voice.
"You don't trust me…" I'm losing the battle with my emotions.
"I do trust you, Cath, why do you think otherwise?"
"You don't talk to me, you don't confide in me."
"I do talk to you…" she protests.
"Not about what matters to you! You've been moody for months and every time I tried to make you talk about it you've dismissed me."
She sighs with exasperation. "The reason I've been moody is because my best friend was treating me like a stranger for no reason; but you've made it clear that you never wanted to have any discussion involving Greg so I've respected that… I want to talk to you Cath but sometime you don't want to listen."
"Right, turn this thing around like it's my fault now," I snort angrily.
"In this case it is!" she replies hotly. She takes a deep breath not to lose her temper. "You went to Greg behind my back and basically sabotage our friendship…there's nothing that gives you that right… you should never do something like that, never," she says firmly. "I… I'm not some…" she trails off. "I'm a person, an adult at that, so don't do this… don't take liberties like that… that's all I'm saying. That was a bad judgment call," she says with an even voice.
"You didn't leave me any choice!" I explode. I don't know what pisses me off more, her condescending 'I'm Sara Sidle and I never do anything wrong' attitude or the fact that she's not listening nor trying to understand what I'm telling her.
"You never take anything I say seriously; I've told you many times before that I was uncomfortable with your relationship with Greg. Yet, every time you've just dismissed it as something that will pass… and I have to watch you being closer to him than you are to me, being constantly reminded of how little you're involved in our relationship… I pushed him away so you'd give me a real chance, because I deserve one," I pant with rage, hot tears streaming down my cheeks.
I sigh with frustration at her lack of understanding. Besides Greg might be our biggest issue, but there's more to it and I can't pretend everything is fine anymore.
"It's not just that Sara… I can see you being distant at times, just as if to say that what I had to offer wasn't enough, or attractive enough… and I know I can't… I get needy, I need to see you, to feel you close to me… I need you to be mine and only mine… and I can see that you don't feel the same and it hurts…I can't help thinking that I'm just a fling for you… you never feel like I do… and…" I trail off and try to catch my breath.
Sara's looking at me without any emotions; once again I don't reach her. I'm beginning to think that I never did to begin with. "I need someone who wants me the way I want them…"
"What…what do you mean 'someone'?" she pales a bit.
"I can't do this…" I let out with a tired breath.
Those words get a reaction from her; she frowns looking at me with a little panic in her eyes. "I'm tired Sar… tired of feeling alone when I'm with you; tired of having to push you to be involved with me; tired of feeling like I was the only one fighting here… I'm just tired of it all…" I shrug feeling sadness and exhaustion deforming my face in a wince.
She comes close to me and takes my hands into hers. They are cold at the touch; her skin feels dry and rough covered with cuts, her left one is completely covered with a bandage. "Cath, I'm with you at one hundred per cent, I just want to be with you. I want this," she cups my face with one hand, forcing me to look at her. "I want this, I want you, and I don't care how many times I have to reassure you on that fact," she delivers a sweet butterfly kiss on my lips. "I want to be with you and I'm ready to work on any issues we have."
Yeah, that strategy sure did wonders those past three months. She says that now, but nothing will change, I mean every time it's the same, I tell her about my issues, she assures me that it will be fine and in the end nothing changes. Well no, that's not true, my heart does get a little more wounded every time that happens.
She's still covering me with tiny kisses. The contact is soft in spite of the cuts on her lips, tender even, yet it makes me want to cry in anguish. I feel like suffocating because it's like she was refusing to understand me, to understand my issues. For the first time she reminds me of Eddie, he knew I was weak for him and he used it against me. And stupid as I was I gave in only to have my heart handed back to me in pieces.
Sara's my weakness, her touch is thinning my reason. I've been there before and right now my instincts are blasting all my alarm bells, telling me that this is a trap and I'll get hurt, again. In spite of it all I still want to have faith in Sara, in us…
"Do you love me?" I ask in a whisper.
She clearly looks surprised at my question, and while she's working her jaw around silence I feel my heart leaping up my throat and staying there to cut my airways. I take a deep breath not to throw up, I move to the side to get away from her but she tries to put her arms around my waist. I fight her embrace and I take a few steps away.
"I do, Cath."
"Yeah clearly, so much that you almost choke over it," I reply this time my voice is full of resent.
My insecurities all bubble up and mingle to turn into a violent rage. I'm furious; furious to have let myself be vulnerable again and trusted Sara not to hurt me; furious that I've convinced myself that this time will be different from the previous. In the end Sara is like all the others…
"So, I'm just a fling to you? All this is nothing but a joke…"
"How can you say something like that? It's not true… Cath please…"
I want to scream, to shake her senseless, anything to make her understand what she's putting me through. I told her from the get go that my heart was on the line. I told her that I loved her and she never said it back; I told myself that she was showing it, but now I know that the reason why she hasn't said it was because she didn't feel it. I wish she had just taken a knife and plunged the blade in my heart, cause the physical pain would somehow be bearable.
"I want to be with you Cath, I do… I do… I… I do have feelings for you…" the more she tries to say it, the more it looks like she had swallowed lemons.
"You can't even say it!" I spit in anger. "I love you, I love you so much I… I gave you my heart and soul," I chuckle rancorously. "All I get is less than nothing…" tears spill out of my eyes. "I can't do this anymore Sara…" I pant while trying to wipe off my tears. I'm heaving, smothering my sobs.
"I love… you… Cath," she says weakly almost chocking down.
"Shut up…" I beg. "You don't mean it… you're just saying that now…"
She comes closer to me and tries to take me in her arms, but I fight her. She doesn't give up though; she embraces me, delivering salty kisses on my lips. "Please, please Cath… I want to be with you… I love you…" she repeats over and over again. "We can work this out…"
I get weaker at every kiss and a part of me wants to cave in, but my pain is much greater so I just push her away a little more. I have to push her physically away for her to stop. Her face is crestfallen, her eyes sunken with tears and she looks fragile but I don't fall for the doe eyes anymore; I know I'll be the one hurting again in the end, just like it has been the case since the beginning of our relationship.
I look away, pushes my fingers against my eyelids, trying in vain to stop the torrential flow of my tears. "I can't… it's over," my voice breaks the first time the words bubble out of my throat.
"No… no…" her voice comes as a strange sound now.
"We're done… it's over," I repeat with more conviction.
She kneels in front of my and circles my waist with her arms. "No, no… please… we can fix this… we can work it out… please…" she implores.
Her tears are wetting their way through my shirt, the hot liquid is burning my skin; it's hard not to feel for her, but she has broken my heart for good and I know I can't be with her when she doesn't want to be with me. She's begging because she doesn't want to be alone, not because she feels the same as I do. In the end the difference in our emotional wavelength killed our chances. I knew from the beginning that it wouldn't end well, and everyday with her was just another proof that she didn't love me like I love her… and she still doesn't… maybe it's just for now, maybe not… either way I don't have the energy left in me to wait and find out. I've been hurting much more in this relationship than I've been happy.
I let her weep on her knees, crying myself out as well "Let me go," I plea.
"No… please… I'm begging you…"
"Sara, let me go, damn it!" this time my touch is harsher, almost violent. I have to firmly grip her arms and force them open to get out of her embrace, and walk away. She stays down on the floor crying.
"I want you to leave… we're over," I repeat again before moving to my bedroom, needing to feel safe. Once I'm in my sanctuary all hell breaks loose.
I've always thought that I had felt pain before… now I know that I was wrong, it was nothing compare to what I'm feeling right now.
I can't breathe.
I'm holding onto Cath, struggling to find oxygen. She's trying to move away, but I don't let go, afraid I might drown in my own despair if I do. I'm on my knees and my whole body is protesting against it but I don't care, my heart is being ripped apart and I can't let that happen.
"Sara, let me go, damn it!" Catherine spits at me as she's fighting the steel embrace I have around her hips.
I'm begging for her not to go, not to leave me, not to put an end to our relationship. But she doesn't listen to me, she just fights me so she can get away. When her body is disconnected from mine it's like a limb was ripped off of my body. I can't do anything else but cry my eyes out, suffocating.
"I want you to leave… we're over," she says again and I can't help the sob escaping my throat in response.
I crawl to the counter and try to find the strength to get on my feet. When I do, all I want is for the earth to open up and swallow me, just to put an end to my misery.
I bury my face in my hands, salty water pouring out of my eyes. I came here to fix things and I end up with a broken heart.
I knew we had issues but not to the point of breaking up. My mind is racing and I want to go see Cath, at the same time I don't know if I can take another round right now. I'm fighting to breathe properly, plunging my hands in my hair before balling them into fists with anger and despair. Guilt is invading me, increasing my anger, I want to bash my head against a wall for not being able to express myself properly, for messing things up, yet again.
I love Catherine, I do. I wasn't ready to say it but my actions showed it; obviously not enough because she had to ask me if I actually had feelings for her. I was so surprised that she'd doubt it that I froze for a moment. Then no matter how hard I tried the words wouldn't leave my throat. I've never been good at intimate confessions, and those three words have always been difficult for me to utter, especially in a romantic way.
I know I have feelings for Catherine, just like I know that my heart is in pieces right now.
"Stupid… stupid, stupid," I bump my fists against my skull.
I ruined it, I always do the same. I do it all wrong, what is wrong with me? Why am I so inept at relationships? It's not fucking rocket science, then why can't I do it right? It's like sick cycle, every time I get close to someone at some point I ruin it all; I hurt the people I care about the most. I don't do it intentionally, but my inaptitude to deal with my own emotional issues always gets in the way.
"Fucking hell, do something Sidle!" I order myself. I keep hitting my head as if it could give me the answers I'm cruelly lacking.
I don't want it to be over. I can't let go just now, I have to do something. I refuse to let go, I'm not going to accept her decision without fighting for it.
I berate myself a few more times then run to Catherine's bedroom. I enter without knocking, she's sitting on her bed, her elbows on her thigh, her face buried in her hands. I go to her and kneel in front of her for the second time.
"Get out… leave me alone," she says weakly.
"No, I'm going anywhere…" my voice is shaky and my mind is racing at great speed, making it hard for me to think. "I don't want it to be over…" I plead taking her hands in mine, holding onto them tightly in spite of her effort to cut the contact. "I don't want it to be over… I love you Cath," I say in one breath. The words sound foreign in my mouth even though I know they truly represent what I feel.
She looks away, but I put a hand on her cheek to force her to look at me.
"I mean it, I do… Cath."
We stare at each other silently, with watery eyes. I only see doubt and sadness in her, I hate myself because I know that I'm the one responsible for everything; I want to put the joyful sparkle back in her eyes, the one that was there when she looked at me when we got together.
"You love me uh?" she echoes my words, there's no warmth in her voice, just bitterness and disgust.
"I do," I affirm before trying to swallow the golf ball in my throat.
"In that case, I want you to stop seeing Greg," she demands, unflinching. I feel like I had just received a breath cutting punch in the guts.
She glares at me sombrely. She's algid, as if she knew exactly what she was asking. For her it's the ultimate proof of love… for me it's too high a price to pay.
If my life was a house, Greg would belong to its foundations, cutting him off of it would make my house crumble down, making it forever unbalanced. I need the balance, I need to feel grounded. I had to fight tooth and nail to get the balance I have right now; I can't let go of it because my life does depend on it.
But I don't want to lose Catherine, I don't want us to be over; at the same time I know I can't give her what she wants from me. I can't respond positively to her ultimatum.
The lines of her face are disturbed with anger. "It's either me or him. You can't have both," she state firmly. "I can't keep on like this, keep pretending I'm okay with it when I'm not; pretending that I'm not hurt that you are closer to him than me; pretending that this is enough when it's not… it hurts too much… I can't let you stomp on my heart like you do…"
"Don't ask me that… please… you can't ask me such a thing… please… anything but that… don't ask me that…" I beg with a shake of my head.
Her expression is hard and cold, unforgiving. "If you love me, you'll do it," she says firmly. "You're mine and I don't want you hanging around with him anymore, because he's keeping you away from me."
Something snaps in me at her words, it all feels wrong, the hurts is there but distant. But it all come back suddenly it all rushes back to my veins and chest, like a red iron marking me deeply. I want to fight for this, but I can't do what she's asking me. I can't win, I lose no matter what, only in one case I won't be able to deal with the consequence of it.
I can see everything falling apart, and I'm powerless to hold it back. I slump down with resignation, letting go of her hands. I want to tell her that I'd do anything, give a kidney away, eat glass, go to hell and back, but what she's asking is off the table. She might as well ask me never to see my family again.
She snorts with a mean with a contrite smile. "We're over," she says with venom. "Get out."
"Get the hell out of my house! We're over, you hear me? Over!" she screams.
I stand up slowly, I look at her but she refuses to look at me, completely shutting me out for good. I walk out, dazed, numb by this white hot pain destroying me from inside. I rush to the kitchen sink when I suddenly feel sick. Bile sets my inside in fire, it's moment before I'm dry heaving. I splash my face with cold water and rinse my mouth, but I still feel nauseous.
I turn my back to the steel basin and lean against it. My legs give up on me again; I slide down the counter and find myself sitting on the floor. I sob silently again. I'm suffocating, I wish I could go back in time, make everything right again.
I lift my head up at the sound of steps, I'm hopeful for a second that it's Catherine coming back to me, saying that she didn't mean it, that she was just upset and that we're going to be fine again. I blink tears away when I see Lindsey's snickers.
She's standing there a few feet away from me, looking at me with a hard stare. The role are reversed, I'm the kid and she's the adult; I do feel tiny next to her. I try to compose myself again, I use one of my sleeves to erase the tears covering my cheeks. I struggle to get back on my feet, using the counter for support. I look down at my feet first before affronting her stare.
"Don't you have practice, today?" I snivel.
"Practice was cancelled… told you that three days ago," she states with a flat voice. I look at her with dread. "I was in my room doing my homework… screams disturbed me… or maybe that was the sound of my mother crying her eyes out… couldn't say which," she pretends to consider with a shrug and a pout, her blue eyes darken considerably. I look at my feet again, unable to sustain her stare. "You know what I can't figure out though?" she asks rhetorically. "Why you're here… doing… nothing about it," her voice is sharp, and her words are cutting through me like knives.
"Linds… it's not easy…"
"Since when is it supposed to be?" she spits.
I grit my teeth, sudden anger gripping me. Lindsey is a bright girl and she has been through enough to be a little more mature than most people her age, that and emotionally strong. I know she feels like she has to be strong for her mother, but she's still a teenager who sometimes is oblivious to the shades of grey.
"I can't give her what she's asking me…"
"Fix it or get out of here," she says, ignoring my words.
I'm panting, my mouth is dry and I can't find anything to tell her. If I did find something to say it wouldn't matter anyway, the only thing that matters is that I failed Catherine and her by extension. I pass a hand over my face and take a deep breath.
I reach out for one drawer open it and take a spoon out of it, I put it on the table, Lindsey looks at it emotionlessly then returns her gaze upon me. I can't bear her stare, so I look away; the need to get out of here grows to the point of choking me; so I all but bolt to the door past Lindsey.
"Don't go…" her voice stops me on my tracks. I turn around to look at her, her expression is undecipherable. The rules were clear, and I accepted them, the spoon now lying on the table is a testimony of my acceptation and failure; I'm confused as to why she'd ever want me to stay now. She contains her emotions but I can see a hint of anger mixed with pain in her eyes. "She's scared… that's all…don't give up easily…" her voice is firm so she doesn't appear like she was begging.
I swallow hard and look away for a second before looking at her again. "I can't give her what she wants… I tried not to hurt her… but I failed…" I look away again to stop my tears flowing again. I'd say I'm sorry, but I know that if I do she'll take it as an insult. "I can't give her what she's asking…" I repeat as a fatality. "I just can't…" I chuckle sadly, she has the pride of her mother. "You take care," I say before turning to the door again.
I hear her snort bitterly. "I'll be too busy cleaning your mess for that," she spits. "Don't bother coming back," she says with despise, whatever we may have shared just burnt down into ashes, like my relationship with Catherine.
I don't really realize what's happening, I know I drive to my apartment but for some reason I can't stay in it because I feel myself slowly slipping into insanity; it's like something very malevolent is bubbling to the surface, something so scary that it sends chills to my bones; I focus hard to block everything out and I leave my apartment again. I have one last notch on my safety belt and I will hang onto it. Years before I would have let my destructive instincts win, now I have some restrain or at least I can keep a clear mind a bit longer.
The need to hurt myself is like Damocles' sword above my head, and right now it's swinging on one single thread. I want nothing more than to shut the pain I feel in me right now; I need to numb myself for survival purpose; yet I know that if I give in it'll be a long walk in hell to get back on healthy ground.
"Kems!" my son Keenan exclaims as my eldest son Finley who's sitting next to me puts down his cards revealing four identical cards.
"Oh come on! Dad! I've been signing to you for ages now!" my cadet, Thaddeus, who's sitting at the table across from me next to Keenan, moans with a laugh.
"I wasn't sure!" I defend myself with a chuckle.
I must say that I'm happy to have a close relationship with my kids. I'm not saying it's always easy, especially since I'm on my own but we get by. Losing Beth threw the whole balance of our family off, but it brought us even more together because we were all lost and grieving. They lost their mother, and I lost my wife and best friend. Sure our family wasn't perfect before, it's still not now, and will never be, and since we lost Beth it will always be incomplete; but my children and I are making the most of the cards we've been dealt with.
"We have to change our signal then because we've been losing for the third time in a row," Thad keeps on.
We're playing a card game, each partner are on one side of a table, everyone has four cards in hand, four cards are displayed on the table and changed once everyone is done trading; everyone trade card until they can gather four identical cards. The player with the four of a kind hand must make a discreet sign to their partner who's the only one to call the hand by saying 'Kems'. If the other team notice what's going on and guess the four of a kind hand they shout 'busted' and win the point.
It's a funny game really, although I think I'm crap at explaining it, I mean I tried playing with my siblings once and it took me more than an hour to make them understand how to play. It took my sons five minutes to get the point across… that's how bad I am.
The four of us are laughing, Keenan reminds everyone of the score before gloating with Finley. We all decide to have two more hands before watching a movie.
There's suddenly a loud knocking on the door. We all turn to the entrance of our home, the noise has to start again for us to realize that it originates from my office. My sons put their cards down and start cleaning the table.
"Guess we'll watch the movie without you," Keenan smiles softly.
I feel bad about cutting our moment short, even though I know that they perfectly understand and cope with my job. Still, one can never have too many good times with their family.
"Sorry lads," I apologise nonetheless.
"Right, I'm sure you planned this interruption because we were beating you," Finley jokes. I hook an arm around his neck and affectionately rub his hair.
"You got that right smarty pants," I reply before letting him go, not without a kiss on his crown. "There's dinner…"
"In the kitchen, don't worry, dad, we got it," Keenan as he's putting all the cards in their pack.
"Alright," I raise my hands in surrender. "Be good now," I advise before turning to the door leading to my office, mechanically glancing at my watch. When I notice the time I turn back around to Finley. "Call Charlie and ask her if she's coming back home tonight or not and if she needs a ride," I instruct.
"Sure," he grins. "Dad…" he calls me hesitantly. "I really want us to finish our talk…"
"So do I," I assure him.
"Anytime," I wink before resuming my walk.
I exit the main house cross the small lobby then enter my office; the banging on my door hasn't stopped nor lessened intensity. When I open the door I discover a bad shaped Sara. She has a bruised face and I wonder if her body hides more wounds.
"Are you okay? You look like you've been in a car wreck," I ask with concern.
"I was, five days ago but that's irrelevant," she pushes her way in my office. I immediately notice her sharp tone and pick up on the anger already on the surface, if I didn't know any better I'd say that she just bumped into me with her shoulder accidentally.
I close the door and watch her pace, I notice fresh wounds on her hands, yet I can make out scratches on her upper arms.
"You know I thought we had… an understanding…that… you," she points a finger at me "That's you weren't like the others… that we had…" she growls. "I fucking trusted you!" she shouts.
I don't say anything, in fact I haven't moved away from the door yet; I'm 'taking the temperature' so to speak. I need to know what brought her here, and the only way to do that is to let her get off whatever's weighting on her chest.
"I've been watching my life going down the drain… and it occurred to me…that you weren't like the others, nope you are much worse… you're just a sneaky and manipulative son of a bitch!" she pushes the ball of her palms against her forehead.
I'm surprised, taken aback even by her sudden hatred, but even more I'm intrigued as to what is the cause of this.
"Oh how you must have been laughing your ass off… you're just like…" she mutters the rest unintelligibly. But that's enough for me to know that I'm not the real core of the problem.
"You just pulled your little strings with Catherine…and she just took it in stride… I confided in you and you just played me and everyone along… destroying everything I had…" she trails off "You're all the same… all of you… treating me like…"
She resumes her pacing and starts mumbling. I take a moment to consider my course of action. Sara has always been tough to deal with. I'm number seven on the line which mean that every single question is perceived as an aggression, therefore she throws all her defensive arsenal at me, and as a result I don't get easily through her defence lines. So far, at the exception of some 'pacific' moments, every time I've had to make her confront her deeper issues it has been through emotionally rough and violent struggles.
It's a pattern, on the rare times she felt too weak to fight she pushed herself on her own and lay her issues in the open; but every other times I had to push her or let Catherine push her, push her until she had no other option left; and that cornered feeling always resolved into violent outbursts.
There's one thing I've come to understand though, sometimes I believe that willingly or not, like right now, she leaves me an opening as if she was inviting me to strike; maybe unconsciously she's aware that it's the only way she knows how to let it all out, at least for now.
I'm not saying that she likes the emotional abuse, but rather that she has things she wants to let out and that it's her only way to cope with it.
I take a deep breath, I know for certain that we're touching a very delicate topic; and there's no way around the incoming confrontation. Sometimes I have several tries to make Sara face her issues, now isn't one of those times.
Whatever has precipitated her visit has rattled her deeply. She said once that as long as she could think clearly she'd use me as her last safeguard. For her to be here and sober from what I gather means that she's thinking clearly. There are two things now that are for certain. For one she's already on the edge – if not already dangling dangerously from the edge; therefore if I let her get out of my office without facing whatever is tormenting her right now, I lose her for good. Second, this is going to be an ugly and brutal moment.
I walk away from the door, closer to her personal space. "Had I known we were having a pity party, I'd have made some cupcakes," I state flatly. I immediately gain her attention, she stops pacing and faces me, rage oozing from her.
"This isn't a pity party," she says through her teeth.
"Got me fooled," I state with a pout. I walk away from her and sit in my armchair.
"It's a fuck you party," her voice is full of aggressiveness. "Fuck you… fuck you for violating my trust… fuck you for throwing my life upside down…"
"Right, I'm the asshole and you're the victim…sure sounds like a pity party to me."
"I'm not…" she shakes her head.
"You're not what?" I push her a little bit more. I can see her flinch a bit and I know that I've hit one of her weak spots. She composes herself again. "You're not what, Sara?" I repeat.
"Fuck you…" she repeats.
"Right, you might as well say nothing," I shrug.
She balls her fists tight. "You played me all along… You enjoy your little power… you wait for me to be good then you break me… got a hard on from it, didn't you?" she speaks with a venom laced voice. "You did it on purpose… you… " she groans in frustration. "She broke up with me… and it's your entire fault…" she says through clenched teeth.
"You can't hold me responsible for other people's actions."
"Your words… your fucking advices made her do what she did… and it pisses me off…"
"Jump," I cut her off.
"What?" she narrows her eyes at me.
"I said, jump, Sara," I repeat slowly. She keeps looking at me with anger and confusion, so I continue after a minute of silence. "You're not jumping… therefore I guess my words don't have the kind of power you give them," I make my point. "So I'll say it again, you can't blame me for other people's actions or choices."
"Don't you play innocent now… like you didn't know that you influence people when they come to you and you give them advices," she spits. "You know what you're doing…"
"And what is that Sara?"
"You fuck with people's minds! I know you're the reason why Catherine did what she did!" she explodes. "The funny part is that I'm the only one being fucked over in the story… why did you do that to me?" she asks with a wince. "Why did you…" she groans with frustration, unable to let out what's oppressing her.
I look at her impassively as she's shooting daggers at me with her eyes. It's time for me to take the gloves off and attack her head-on. I purposefully glance at my watch and let out a sigh. "Okay, times up," I announce sharply. I push myself off my armchair into a standing position. "Pity party's over, now let's grow up and talk, shall we?" my tone is unpleasant.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Sara looks at me with a mix of fear and anger.
"Nothing's wrong with me Sara, I'm just telling you that if you want to talk to me that's fine, but you'll have to address me as an adult, not whining teenager. I'm not your babysitter, so grow up," I keep on with an algid voice.
I've said it before, Sara is a tough shell to crack; but just like for everyone else there are a few buttons she doesn't like to have pushed. For one, she has a problem with authority; talking to her like I do right now irks her to no end, which means that from this very moment on no matter what I do or say she'll stand up to me out of principle and until one of us gives up.
She's breathing heavily to temper herself. "She broke up with me… and I know that what you told her made that happened… "
"Nuh-huh, what did we say?" I raise my finger. "Everyone is responsible for their own actions," I repeat firmly, almost patronizing. "If she broke up with you, she had a reason for that," I state. "Any idea on the subject?"
"Fuck you!" she says hotly.
"Oh really, we're back to that?" I snort. "Come on, surely you can do better."
My words stung her and she moves to my face but forces herself to keep a distance. "Fuck you okay? You don't know anything!" she points a finger at me before balling her fist again. She holds my gaze for a moment, fury pouring from her eyes, then she turns around and starts pacing. "Fuck you, Doc," she mutters with her back to me.
"Your lack of elaborate vocabulary might have driven her away, ever thought about that?" I provoke her.
"Go to hell," she spits.
"Ah, progress, nice," I keep on with fake admiration.
She looks at me again. "Stop taking the piss at me!"
"You came here, deal with it," I simply reply. "So… you forgot her birthday?"
"No, I've done nothing wrong…"
"Oh that's right, you're the victim…"
"Don't… use that word," she warns me.
"What word?" I ask innocently.
She snorts with a smirk. "She…" she stops herself. She shakes her head. "You're just all the same… forcing me to do something, then turning it all around against me when it suits you…" she reflects aloud. "She tells me that she doesn't want to hear anything about Greg, the mere mention of his name makes her cringe… I respect that… then she goes behind my back tell him that I want him to stay away from me… by doing so, she puts me in a funk, but I can't tell her that because that means mentioning Greg and she can't stand it… and I can't be mad, because it's not that bad right? …it's not like she was trying to erase half of my life…" she chuckles humourlessly.
She's pacing as she's ranting, there's an edge in her voice and she's not talking to me, it's more like she was talking to herself. "No, I must be understanding… because she destroyed one of the things I cherish the most, for us… somehow, somewhere it's beneficial for us… no good things can come from destroying the important things in my life… I mean…" her breathing has become laborious as if she was suffocating.
"You're all the same…" she repeats while rubbing her forehead. "I did what she wanted me to… and still she broke up with me…" this time she passes a hand on her eyes. "You always do that…"
"Do what?" I ask after a long silence.
She's looking aside, lost in thoughts. "You always give me crappy choices… I always lose no matter what…" she spits angrily.
All feelings are complicated, but of all the panel of emotions one can go through, there's one in particular that is tricky: anger. Anger can be raw, but most of the time it will be used to shade another feeling, be it fear, frustration, desire, envy, jealousy or else.
Sara is hurt by what has unfolded in her life lately, but there's much more to it; those events have triggered something in her which is more violent than usual, something she can't handle; something that runs very deep. Her emotional instability is a sign of distress, but I can't help her until she tells me what she needs.
"Why are you angry?" I repeat firmly, making sure to always channel her focus.
"She broke up with me…"
"And that makes you angry?" she doesn't answer. "Surely you know by now that the 'ever after part' is just as tough and out of reach than the 'happily' one. It's doesn't mean you'll never get it, just that you'll hurt a lot before getting there and even more to keep it that way."
"You think I'm stupid?" she bursts.
"Alright, she broke up with you… so what?" I ask jadedly.
"So what?" she repeats, surprised that I don't get her point.
"Yes Sara, so what? This isn't a dating service, or the heartbroken meeting. You didn't come here to only tell me this. If you're looking for a friendly ear, obviously you've taken a wrong turn somewhere on your way."
"Stop…fuck!" she replies. "I came here because… I'm angry because I wasn't… because she… she…because of what you did!"
"And we're making a circle again," I roll my eyes.
She grunts and grabs hold of hair as if she was about to pull it of. "All the same…" she mutters.
"Why are you angry?"
"I just told you," she states sharply.
"No, Sara, I'm asking for the real reason why you are angry."
"I fucking told you I'm angry because of what you all put me through…"
I start to close the distance between us, so I'm literally on her face. "Fine, tell me what we did then. Why are you angry Sara?"
"That's not an answer. Why are you angry, Sara"
"Right now I'm angry because you're being a prick!" she puts her finger up to my face.
"Meh, tough shit." I shrug. "Why are you angry?" I keep on.
"Stop doing that!" she holds a finger in the air.
"Answer me and I'll stop. Why are you so angry?"
"I fucking told you! Because… you… you hurt me! All of you! You, Catherine, Greg… the whole lot of you!"
"You… you all… you always do that… you always do the same!"
"Do what? Forcing you to grow up and face your issues? Yeah, apparently it's part of my job"
"Stop fucking around!"
"I'm just trying to figure out what you're whining about," I tell
"Whining? Is this a joke?" I snort. "Tell me something, you like being the victim don't you?"
"I'm warning you, don't use that word!"
Like I had foreseen she won't back out, but whatever she's feeling is coated with anger. Anger is like her armour and as long as she won't shade it I won't be able to reach out an eventually help her. I can feel that whatever her vulnerability is, it's bubbling up though, right now Sara's ticking bomb. I need to push her the right way so she explodes and lets go of her anger.
"What? Victim? Isn't that what you are though?"
"Don't… stop that," she shakes her head.
I take a step closer to her, there's now barely a metre and a half between us, her personal space is starting to shrink down.
"You come in here and whine about how the world is mean to you… boohoo look at me, I'm a victim…"
"Don't… say that word…" she's forcing the words out of her mouth, her jaw is tightly clenched and her knuckles are white from the pressure she's applying on her fists.
"Victim, victim, victim…" I repeat, still reducing the distance between us. "You're the one blaming everyone for everything… you're the one playing the victim…"
"I don't think so. Have you forgotten? I'm the master in command here. My office, my rules," I remind her with a slightly condescending tone. "If you don't like what you're hearing, the door's behind you."
She's staring at me with unadulterated hatred, as strong as her desire to go is, her need to stand up to me is even greater.
"Shut the fuck up," her tone is low, she's so edgy that her voice is trembling.
"Go on Sara, run away. Be a coward, like a good little victim. We both know how you enjoy the part."
"Don't say that fucking word again," she threats me.
I'm in her personal space now and I can see her whole body shaking a bit as she's stiff with anger.
"Oh come on Sara. It's not like you were actually going to do anything. You want to be a victim fine… but be a victim all the wa…"
The sudden sharp pain in my jaw surprises me, I'm off balance with the momentum; I barely register that Sara has hit me when I feel another blow in my face, followed by another one. The next one in my stomach cuts my breath to bluntly that I'm forced to put a knee down.
"I'm a victim! I'm not your thing anymore Daddy!" she explodes. "I'm not a fucking thing… you can't use me like this… I'm not a fucking thing Daddy… I'm someone…" Sara explodes.
There we are, finally.
She's panting and her eyes are glazed over. She's not here, in my office, right now she's somewhere else, and I'm not me. We've finally reach the first step under the surface.
The pain in her fists must register with her because I can see the flicker in her eyes indicating that she's back with me, and she's realizing what she has done "I mean… Adam…" her slip finally sinks in, she brings her hands over her face. "Shit… shit…"
I knew it was going to be ugly and violent, call me stupid but I hadn't seen her fists coming into play. I mean sure I was expecting her to want to punch me, not to actually do it.
"Damn it… I warned you about pushing me!" she shouts her reproach putting her hands on her head. "Fuck," she curses herself.
She paces a few moments then kicks my coffee table several time before turning it upside down.
"You're all like him…pushing me… hurting me… treating me like I was nobody! Like I didn't matter, like I was a toy you can use as you see fit!" she screams with an accusing tone. "You treat me like a thing! She treats me like a thing! Greg treats me like a thing! Just like he did… you build me up then you crush me just because you can… destroying what I care about all the while making me choose which way I want to see things burn in flames… like you couldn't hurt me enough…"
She crushes her fists into the nearest wall before turning to me again and passing her hands over her face, pushing the balls of her palms in her eyes, before leaning against the bookshelf.
I'm still trying to catch my breath from her punch. I get on my feet and bring my fingertips to my face, confirming that I'm indeed bleeding from my nose and mouth. I don't formalize myself and use my sleeve to wipe the red liquid a first time. I move a bit closer to her, but keep a distance between us and sit on the arm of the couch.
I close my eyes for a moment just to really take in the past few minutes and adjust myself to the pain. She didn't hold anything back to say the least; it hurts really bad and it's bleeding slowly but steadily. I pass a hand in my hair and sigh.
"Then why did you let it go on?" I ask, getting her attention again. She closes her eyes tightly and shakes her head.
"Don't…" she utters with a wince. "Please…"
"Why, Sara? You're not half as clueless as you pretend to be. You might not have known the specifics all the time, but you had suspicions, yet you let it go on for months… why?"
"Why are you doing this to me?" she asks with a pleading voice, her eyes watery with incoming tears.
I forced her out of her angry armour, and now she's vulnerable, exposed. I use my sleeve to absorb a bit of blood from my split lip and nose.
"Give up already… please… don't push…" she begs.
"Why not?" she asks with frustration.
"Because you came here, you came to me," I simply answer still breathing a bit laboriously. "Answer me, why did you let things go on for months when you could have done something about it right away?" I wipe my mouth again and feel slightly nauseated when I swallow some blood.
She bumps her head softly against the bookshelf several times with her eyes closed. "Because… because I don't feel anything ever since…" she tails off. "It's like I was dead inside…" she finally confess. "I try to block the feeling out… but it kept growing…" she sobs as heavy tears are spilling from her eyes. "Because feeling miserable was better than not feeling anything at all…"
She gives up fighting me, resignation weights on her entire body and she lets herself slide down on the floor. "It like this feeling was swallowing me whole…and now I'm alone…I'm afraid," she heaves. "I'm afraid of what I could do to myself…cause I know I can't handle it anymore…" she admits, heaving with anguish. "Please, help me…" she manages to say before completely breaking down.
So this is why she came to me. She came to push the alarm button.
I watch her for a minute or two, debating with myself as to what I should do. I decide to breach protocol, I had to be an asshole to bring her to admit she needed help, and right now… well I'll blame it on the punches, but the human being inside me can't take it impassively.
I wipe the last drops of blood from my face then walk to her and sit down by her side. I move slowly so I wrap my arms around her, she lets me hold her while gut wrenching sobs rack through her body.
I hold her silently. I push my thoughts back, I'll have the time to think about the hard things ahead; think about how I can help her until we find a new solution. Yes, because my sensitivity has just created a new set of problems. I shouldn't be comforting her nor keep her from shattering into pieces.
I should just be in my chair watching her breakdown and drown; waiting for her to put it together before prescribing her something to numb her enough to forget that she's falling apart; not sitting next to her with my arm protectively wrap around her shoulders.
Well screw it. Screw the lines, screw the ethic, screw the protocol. I know that holding her is the only behaviour to have right now, acting any other way would be like handing her a gun and invite her to swallow it.
If that makes a bad shrink out of me, so be it.
So be it.
To Be Continued…
The interaction between Sara and Linds refers to a conversation they had on the chap 35 (for those who wonder about the spoon)
So, this is it, it's the end of What do you shrink?. I know, I know it lets a lot of things unsaid and unresolved but as I've said before there's a sequel in the oven, sequel which should complete that story.
Thank you all for your reviews and for following me through the ride. I personally enjoyed it all the way; I know it is not be the case for everyone, and then I'm sorry but I can't always give you what you want.
I've started bits and pieces of the sequel already, but I might take a little breather before really getting into it. (who knows, I might actually write a real one shot…)
Once again, thanks for reading, for taking time to review, for all your words of encouragement, even for the flames. Thank you, thank you, thousands times thank you very, very much. :D
Right, I'm off then but I'll be back with more soon.
Thanks for reading.