"The turn I have just taken
The turn that I was making
I might be just beginning
I might be near the end"
- Enya, "Anywhere Is"
This is the end.
No worries, my story will continue. Only it is going to be a different story. Not just a new page, no, a new book needs to be written, and this is its first chapter.
Farewell, my hero, for the time has come to seek a new dawn. Somewhere beyond the horizon lie the answers to most of the questions that have been torturing me. A few of those, however, will remain unanswered forever, and I'll grow accustomed to their ever-nagging presence in my mind, like unwelcome guests who have decided to permanently stay with me. To use a different metaphor: While the majority of questions can be laid to rest, some will find no peace, walking blindly through my imagination like the Undead, driven by pure instinct, ravaging everything that happens to cross their path, the Walk of the Damned.
I've lived for this love. I've done everything in my power, always to the best of my abilities, to make it work. Never before had I really loved a man like Tony Micelli, not even, in the best of times, my son's father. It was pure chemistry, the effect it had on me (and him) chilling and fiery at the same time.
Still we never took our feet off the brakes. None of that lascivious casualness which seems to have become the dish of the day everywhere you look. We were behaving like adults who had responsibilities, and at the same time we were behaving like children. Even Jonathan and Samantha felt clearly what was going on while the two of us were still platonically pretending.
When the kids had grown up, we knew the time had come. Our time. All the dreams that had been amassing over the years were now lining up to demand fulfilment like dedicated movie fans after a night of camping in front of the box office. Give us what's rightfully ours, they claimed their right. And we did.
It was quite different in everyday life, though. For a year we were living as fianc s. But how do you do that when you're a forty-ish couple who had been living platonically for years, with previous marriages and a boss-employee relationship to boot ? We had no idea.
Moreover, there was that damn social barrier between us. Inner city boy versus high-society girl. Brooklyn versus Harvard. We never admitted it, but it was always there. Looking back on it I must conclude that Tony and I continued to live in different universes even after we got together.
He knew. He was suffering. He had been for quite a while. That's why he had decided to go to college again. To make something of his life. He didn't want to be my housekeeper until Judgement Day. The day he realised he wanted to be a teacher was the day that our paths started going in different directions. From that point onwards there was no turning back.
Looking back on it, I realise that. It's all so clear to me now.
But now it's too late.
I found an old picture of Tony and myself the other day. It was taken the day Tony declared his love for me. More, I found the last letter Tony wrote me. Six months before "it" happened. I'm reading his lines over and over again, trying to find something between them that would give me an indication as to why events were to take this terrible turn.
I can't find anything. Every word breathes love, yearning, and even more love.
I never took the time to answer that letter.
My responsibility for what happened, I know, is significant. Jonathan tried to talk me out of that when he visited me at the hospital. He's a good son, and the best that ever happened to me. Does a mother's love grow in sync with her son ? I think mine does. And I'm happy for him that he's still living with Samantha. As long as he doesn't find the perfect relationship, she's the best roommate he could wish for. And vice versa. Moreover, they need each other now, in these darkest of times.
And I need them. I'm unable to remember the last time I fainted previous to that day last week when the phone rang and some detective from the Seattle PD very formally introduced himself to me.
Call me insane, but the moment he said "Seattle Police Department" I knew what had happened. The next thing I remember is waking up in a bed at the hospital. Very quickly it became apparent that I must have been out for almost a whole day. Jonathan was there. I cried in his arms.
It hadn't been a dream.
Not even a nightmare.
And I was painfully reminded of the time Mother passed away. For days afterwards I was refusing to accept it had really happened, was stubbornly trying to convince myself it was just a nightmare which would be ending soon and I'd wake up, meeting Mother for breakfast and pretending to be suffering her quips while really quite enjoying them.
It was Tony who saved me from the brink of insanity. I never thanked him for that. He never asked for a Thank You. It wasn't his style. In that he was rather un-Italian.
He was un-Italian in many respects. Not all. Some of his best, well, let's call them qualities, were quite clich . If you know what I mean.
The thought makes me smile.
I love you, Tony.
What I did was my decision. Yes, I fired Tony. What else was I supposed to do ? He was going to throw away his life. And I couldn't let that happen. Not even if he was willing to do it for us. That job offer was exactly what he had been working for to achieve. A life of his own, of independence. He had tried once before, in Iowa. It became clear very soon that something like that, a life as Mrs Tony Micelli, was not for me. I'm not a homemaker. Tony decided to let his ascending career crash-land to be with me. He returned from Iowa, became my housekeeper again.
And my lover. Paychecks and butterfly kisses. It was insanity reloaded.
He started looking for teaching jobs again. Somehow that A-list college near Seattle got wind of how brilliantly he had delivered in Iowa, and he got the job offered.
When he threw that brilliant offer in the wastebasket, I knew what needed to be done. I wasn't going to go headfirst into the wall, just because Tony didn't want to see what he was doing. I knew I'd lose him if he refused to take that job. He'd blame me for it some day and then leave me. That I didn't want to happen. I told him so.
Then I fired him.
He took the job in Seattle, adapted to the new situation. We stayed in touch, even started seeing each other again from time to time. When we were together, it was heaven. Quite often I would be looking for hours at him lying next to me, sleeping, and if not entirely happy then at least physically satisfied. That much I could guarantee, dysfunctional or not. I, too, have my clich qualities. I'm a blonde.
The conclusion of The Story of Tony and Angela is inconclusive. It ended with a bang, quite literally, but then again, it deserved nothing less. As my life goes on, it provides an opportunity for me to reflect from time to time on what transpired. Not that any kind of weapon for future romance could be forged out of such contemplation. I'm almost fifty years old, and accordingly I'm way past any desire for true love. I've seen true love, tasted what it has to offer, and will cherish the memory.
Still, when I go to sleep at night I always feel that something is missing. No, that's too simplistic. It's more like a vast chasm opening underneath me, and as the non-dimensional sleep begins to wrap itself around my existence, it pulls me down into that chasm where the souls of the Damned sigh in eternal suffering. I've never heard Tony's voice among them, and I'm glad about that. He's with me. And as long as I love him, he'll always be with me, will always be safe. Death ends many things, but it does not end love. Death and love are fierce enemies, and I refuse to believe that the eternal battle between them could eventually be won by the former.
This love, for which I've lived, has become an integral part of my existence, physical absence notwithstanding. The energy to carry on, and quite a lot of that is needed in order to do so, I mainly derive from Tony's love that is still there wherever I go. For all the false gods I worshipped in the course of my half-century, I'm now confident that a good part of the journey from here to eternity can be saved by using that shortcut we call love.
I know I'll hear the sighing of the Damned in my sleep again tonight. With their chants of suspiration they'll try to put the blame for what happened on me, as they always do. If I succumbed to their perditious attempts at seduction I know I'd go insane and become one of them. Tony's love and my love for him will protect me from that fate. Whatever mistakes I've made in my life and whatever mistakes I'll be making as my story continues, this much is true: As long as my heart beats for two people, there'll always be a ray of light even in the darkest of hours. As long as my soul continues to live for two people, never will an unanswered question make its way into my inner sanctum, spreading its venom like a virus spreads its genetic army.
This is the end.
But is it ? Nay, it is more than that. It's a new beginning born out of old memories, like a phoenix from the ashes.
I've lived for this love, and I'll continue to do so. I may have gotten a little too philosophical in the process, but this is the way for me to feel comfortable about it. Angela Bower has never been entirely emotional, true, but she has never been entirely intellectual either. I like it that way, and I feel sorry for those who always stand on either side of that aisle, for they will never be able to see the big picture, will never be able to see new horizons.
I can see all that. I'm ready for it.
And it's good to know I'll never be alone on that journey.