Chapter one – Prologue
They had argued over the color of the walls, the arrangement of the room and the furniture material. But not over the name. It had imposed itself to them with such a logic they hadn't even felt the urge to actually discuss it. Perhaps this was what life was supposed to be: a series of evident elements at times punctuated with so-called decisions that weren't even worth it. If she thought about it retrospectively, it seemed like they had followed that scheme throughout the years that had now flown away to a land of memories. They were still vivid in her head but she knew that soon enough they would become blurry.
A ray of light suddenly pierced through the room as the door got opened ajar and the shadow of a cat began to dance on the walls. She welcomed the animal on her lap, caressed him but kept her eyes fixed on the dress hung up in front of her. The lamp from the corridor was embracing the piece of clothing of a golden shade, a warm one. It looked perfect, delicate and subtle enough to shine elegantly even in the darkness of the night.
"You had chosen a very pale pink when I wanted something ivory. We argued for several days until you came back one evening with the first tin of paint echoing ivory shades. I never thanked you for it. I am sorry..."
She smiled as he settled behind her, passed his arms and legs around her frame then planted a kiss on her shoulder before resting his chin there. If someone had entered the room at this exact moment, their presence on the floor – in the dark - would have set off a wave of interrogations led by perplexity.
"It is just one of their things that nobody really understands. You know, it is Karen and Will."
Thinking about the comment Jack could have come up with, she restrained a laugh – tightened her grip on Will's arms instead. She didn't feel lonely but abandoned, at the mercy of the passing of time and she hated it. A shiver ran down her spine and made her frown, look down at her lap where the cat had fallen asleep now.
"You can be convincing when you want to. I was growing tired of your constant silence... That's why I abdicated to your plea."
A smile on her lips, she leaned her head backwards – against his shoulder – then closed her eyes. It was too quiet around, too empty as well. Not a single sound escaped from the street below, the traffic being almost nonexistent at this hour of the night in The Upper West Side. At least by day she got taken away by the effervescence of the city and didn't have time to face herself as she was now.
"I couldn't sleep..."
If until then she had meticulously kept them for herself – when in the bathroom, under the shower – she let go this time and accepted the tears to run down quietly on her cheeks. She should have been happy but the thing was that she had never done good with conventionalism when her heart told her the exact opposite. It was all occurring too quickly. She wasn't ready for any of this.
"Where the hell did she get such an idea? It can't be from us, we are not even married..."
Perhaps she had insisted too much on the poor importance of a marriage in the success of a relationship and thus set off in her daughter's head the exact opposite – causing a strong desire to try what was kind of prohibited. She hadn't done that in purpose but simply basing herself on her very own story.
"The world according to Lena offers a very different perspective. Besides, it won't change anything for us. She has left a while ago now and is old enough to take her own decisions."
His wisdom balanced her impulsive temper but left her most of the times extremely frustrated. It was a matter of envy, unreachable desires to look like him. She lacked patience and was too emotive when he always brought along the perfect ounce of maturity. At least to her eyes. Perhaps she idealized him but what could she say? She was in love with him.
"I wish we could go back to the very beginning when she was sleeping in a crib and we still had time to live... Why did it have to fly away like that? I didn't want her to leave."
Because Lena represented too much if not everything - all the elements that had given sense to her life for the past twenty years. And without her, references broke down into pieces. Too suddenly.
Will's hand brushed her forehead and planted a kiss there before burying his head in her neck, probably tasting the salt of her tears that had come to die there.
"I wish that too..."
But Will had the capacity to overcome this kind of things when she cruelly lacked it. It always brought her back to the very beginning when nothing looked easy but she couldn't help hoping for changes. It had happened, slowly enough and unexpectedly. Thanks to him. Thanks to Lena.
"Come on, let's go back to sleep. Tomorrow is a big day... Our daughter gets married."
If his fingers hadn't been intertwined with hers, Karen wouldn't have stood up then followed Will. Instead, she would have let the night pass by staring blankly at the bedroom a little girl had inhabited once. The furniture might have changed through the years but the walls had remained ivory – matching the wedding dress hung by the window. Bittersweet symbol of the passing of time and of the world, according to Lena.