"A heart suspends, then bends it into three
A broken piece of what we used to be."
— "The Loose Ends Will Make Knots" by Stars.
You remember thinking that a winter wedding could be beautiful.
Much as you might dislike the bride, you could easily imagine how lovely Gabi, dressed in white, could look while standing in snow with a red bouquet in hand. You imagined a church with untouched snowfall gathered on the lattices, the wealthy people of Salem dressed in furs and jewels, and you…
In your mind, you saw yourself dancing with Will at the reception, huddled together in the winter air, your hot breaths visibly mingling between you as you held him close.
It was a nice idea.
But, of course, it doesn't snow the day of Gabi and Nick's wedding. Everyone is there, but they're there to witness your public humiliation as your boyfriend stands up before the good people of Salem and admits to having knocked up the bride.
Your pretty picture starts to crack down the middle.
One of the most painful experiences of your life, and everywhere you go, people seem to know about it.
You strongly suspect some local tabloid of alerting the public to the whole thing. You don't read that kind of stuff and refuse to start now, but the evidence is all around. People you've never even made eye-contact with before turn around to stare at you in class. You can't help but feel that certain patrons come into Common Grounds specifically to gawk at you.
You have to smile and be professional, and you do. It just gets harder each time.
You never wanted to be high-profile, but both you and Will come from prominent families and most of Salem's prominent families were present at the wedding. People slurp up melodrama like it's going out of style, always. When something big happens, they are going to pay attention. And Will offered them up a feast by coming clean in the most dramatic, public way possible.
Why? Why would he do this to you? It didn't have to go down like it did. Sure, Chad had blown the paternity scandal sky high by announcing that the baby couldn't be Nick's, but Will could have… Really, he could have done anything other than what he did and it would have been better. He didn't have to humiliate you.
He just chose to. Your best friend, your lover.
"Did you know about this?" Lucas asked you. When your chest felt tight enough to snap, and you could do nothing but stand there, paralyzed, as you watched Will knock down with hilarious ease all the dreams you'd built.
You remember that Will's grandmother Kate already looked sorry for you. "Look at him. Of course he didn't."
Of course you didn't.
It's more likely that Will didn't even consider your feelings at all in the moment. Contrary to what Lucas believes about his son, Will is more than capable of leaping without looking first. He has the reactionary gene. You probably weren't even a factor in his decision to blurt out the truth at the most inconvenient time.
That doesn't exactly make you feel better.
So, now people stare at you.
You really wish they wouldn't. They make you feel cheap and violated, as if people are enjoying your pain (they are).
The stares make you want to disappear. Each time, you can feel yourself shrinking back a little more behind a protective mental wall, your own private Jericho. You know better than to let yourself do that, but it's your favorite defense mechanism.
You remember telling Will to ignore the stares when he was suspected of murder (and when he was outed in a tabloid, and when…). Who cares, you said, as long as you know who you are? As usual, your advice is easier said than done.
It's not all strangers either. Your friends and family just want to make sure you're okay. They mean well. You get that. But when they force you to talk about it, you have to actually face what's happened to you, and you have to acknowledge that Will…
… that Will is gone. Gone to have a baby with someone who is not you. He's going to be a father, and this baby is going to be the most important thing in his world.
And you? You're going to be alone. Again.
This is not your happy ending.
Your parents are big believers in therapy.
Once upon a time, you gave them good reason to be.
Maybe people wouldn't guess it by looking at you, but there was a time when you struggled, and it got bad for a while. Your parents credit your therapist with helping you come to terms with yourself, and then with helping them come to terms with you.
A lot of work by a lot of people went into creating the person you are today.
You tried to explain the process to Will once, but it was hard when you didn't want him to know the true extent of your past self-loathing. You tried to give him just enough for him to benefit from your experiences, but there were pieces of you that you weren't ready to share yet, and your friendship at the time was still so new.
You don't know why you didn't tell him later.
Of course, there was always the worry that you might push him right over the cliff he seemed to be perpetually hanging over during those early days of knowing him. Back then, it could hurt to look at him, to see him in so much pain, and not just because it was like looking into a mirror and seeing yourself seven years prior.
You've only ever wanted to see Will happy.
You thought you were doing him a favor by presenting yourself as a positive example, as someone who had gone through the fire and come out unbreakable.
Except you misrepresented how bad the fire burned you, probably because you wanted him to see the bright side at the other end of the tunnel instead of the dark parts of your soul that so many people have helped you to bury.
Maybe that's why Will didn't believe you when you tried to tell him it would be okay. He's always been able to read you like an open book.
You thought that went both ways.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, you wonder if portraying yourself as so unflappable has finally come around to bite you. Will's grandmother Kate once asked you to be careful with him, and you did your absolute best for whatever good it was worth.
But, all too frequently, people seem to forget to be careful with you.
Maybe it's because you put up such a good front. If anyone were to ask, then you could tell them that it's easy enough to seem okay. All you have to do is shut down and move forward…
… and leave everything blowing in the wind behind you.
Of course, there is at least one person who knows what fragility looks like on you.
Sunlight glints off of her diamond earrings and into your eyes, and your mother looks at you with concern when she asks, "Honey, how are you doing?"
"I'm… doing," you say.
Henderson has laid out a beautiful brunch for you in the gardens this morning, and you wish you were in a place to appreciate it. He even had heat lamps set up to protect you from the winter morning chill. Your favorite muffins are on the table, your favorite juice in the pitcher. Uncle Victor's poor, long-suffering butler sees all but says little.
Bundled up in your favorite blanket, you push the eggs across your plate, separating the food into separate camps so none of it is touching.
Mom watches you do this, probably remembering years spent raising a neurotic eater. Your brothers eat as if the plate could be taken away at any moment, shoveling food into their mouths with impressive speed. Just one more way you're different.
You do your best to smile, even though it's hard. "I'm okay, Mom."
You know it's a struggle for her, but she's been so good about avoiding Will's name lately. She keeps all her I-told-you-so's to herself, and you're grateful. She never wanted you with Will in the first place. And now you're not. So, what else is there to say about it?
She pats your hand, looking no less worried. She's been here before after all. "You know, I still have Doctor Leonard's number…"
"I'm okay, Mom. It's just the weather." This time, you don't say. "You know how it puts me in a mood."
There's a reason you always ran for hot destinations. Years spent living in Texas, in Dubai, in Africa have left you dependent on the sun's Vitamin D as a vital source of endorphins. Not everyone has to think about specific sources of endorphins, but you do. Salem's New England weather has been an adjustment.
Mom clearly doesn't believe you, and not just because you're having brunch outside on a perfectly blue sky morning, but she wants you to be okay almost as much as you do.
It's been years since you had a really bad episode.
You really, really want to be okay.
"Have you talked to Brian lately?"
Speak of the devil, and he will appear.
Note: In the July 7, 2011 episode, Justin and Adrienne mentioned having participated in support groups to help them understand and deal with Sonny's sexual orientation.