Eunice wondered why growing up she had wanted buckteeth, eye glasses and a back brace. Okay maybe not the back brace like poor Brittany Carlisle, who ended up quite beautiful.
For some reason she wanted a handicap, so others would know she understood their pain. She didn’t understand why she was attracted to their weakness but it gave her a powerful urge to save them. It never crossed her mind they might not need saving.
Was the same true in her relationship with Sam? Did she pity Sam as a misfit and resent him for not needing her?
He was her ultimate underdog. A diamond covered in mud needing a good polish. He couldn’t see his own worth but she saw his potential to be her ultimate soul mate. She had been excited to mold him.
She couldn’t stop percolating on improvement ideas for him. What was wrong with wanting her man to live his best life? It never crossed her mind, she might be smothering him like a puppy or treating him as damaged goods.
Some people did well with confronting their issues, while others seemed to let them go like she did. Her letting go was to lock bad things away in a safety deposit box in her brain and lose the key. Sam was different. He seemed to remember everything and let things fester getting very upset when she sidestepped issues.
In childhood she went through the insolent phase of refusing defeat, which was unique and admirable for a female. She was pre-wired to never back down. She had grown up hearing her parents blame each other, instead of owning their mistakes.
When she was wrong she denied it. The shame of having made a mistake felt yuckier. It was the lesser of two evils, admit and feel shame or deny and cover your tracks. She used little white lies like a glossy coating.
She learned the symptoms of mental illness from Martha’s agoraphobia and paranoia. It was as if their roles had reversed and Eunice had been the caregiver. She read her mother’s mood swings which ran the gamut, from self-pity to defiance and all the quirks in between.
She was inspired by her mother’s brave stories that seemed to leap from the pages of her albums. Instead of the incapacitated invalid mother, Martha was full of life in those stories, “Mother think about it, you were so brave to leave Canada for the U.S. That took such guts. Now eat your apple sauce, we’ve got to get your strength back,” Eunice said.
“It was a different time back then. I was boundless,” she said, sounding hollow and struggling with her speech.
“Now I feel lost and alone. I wake up filled with anxiety without any idea how to get through the day. Some days all I want to do is stay under the covers,” she said.
Eunice doted on her mother but Sam needed something else. He wasn’t looking for a caregiver, he wanted her by his side 24/7. It was intense like the skunk, Pepe le Pew chasing the black cat, who in every episode got an accidental white stripe down her back. Like the cat, Eunice couldn’t help meet him with cold distance when he overdid it.
“I’m afraid I’ll never rid myself of this independent trait that makes you feel unwanted Sam,” she said, “I want to make you happy but I don’t know how. I seem to eventually do or say all the wrong things,” she said.
“If you let me know when you’re feeling distant and forgive my right to ask. Last night for example, I was telling you about the new parking garage down near the courts and you got quiet. It was like invisible dismissal. I want us to look forward to being together, rather than dreading it,” he wrung his hands, as if he was agitated.
“I don’t know what you mean by dismissal. I was listening,” she said, wishing she were somewhere else.
“Do you notice yourself checking out?” he asked.
His eye contact made her uneasy.
“No! You are very descriptive. I don’t know when you will get to the point. Why does everything turn into a fight?” she was annoyed.
“How can you ask that? I don’t know when you’ll zone out, so I’m not sure where the issue started. Are you being honest with me? You can’t have it both ways,” he said, in a tone that would lead to silence.
“You get angry if I zone out, then you give up on me. I’ve got things on my mind you know,” Eunice said, dying to go do her own thing.
“Like saving the world?” Sam said, sarcastically.
“It’s good to know you don’t understand. I guess I don’t want to discuss feelings now, or ever. So how do we turn it around Sam?” Eunice asked, but was only vaguely interested. She was bored with his long assed stories and lost focus on his words.
He gazed at her, speechless.
“Okay Sam,” she reset her tone, “You misinterpreted my calm demeanor. I’m not devoid of feeling and I’m sorry it bothers you,” she held her breath for fear of laughing in his face.
She thought it was cute how the mention of hurt feelings, jerked him away from an argument. He’d become remorseful for hurting her. She knew it was manipulative but it got him off her back every time.
She thought about the next plan for her posse and wondered if Terrence would crash their meeting like he did last time. Her spine tingled at the thought of his sensuous mouth.
“You take my asking questions as interrogation. There’s no sense in asking for my opinion, when you only expect a Yes Dear,” Sam said.
She envisioned Terrence’s cleft chin and how he bit his lower lip to accentuate a point.
“If I make you happy through my words and actions, you will make me happy through yours,” he said.
“Do you ever feel sorry?” he asked, with hopeful eyes.
“Sure. I’m sorry for being in a foul mood last night. I was stressed out so I was looking for calm at home. Then date night dissolved when Todd dropped by, so I detached myself and went to my quiet place,” she said.
“I find whenever I comment or have a viewpoint you dismiss me and go to your headphones,” he said.
“I went to bed wondering how to resolve our issues and fulfill each other,” Eunice tried channel Arisbel’s kindness but couldn’t find the words. She didn’t have a script and was bad at improvising!
“You’re telling me when you have phones on you are not upset with me?” he asked. His blinking eyes looking hopeful again.
This fucker was right up her ass! If only he had another outlet, he’d be less likely to pick on her.
“I guess I have work to do on myself,” Eunice said, lying.
Now she was fucked. The fuck she’d work on herself!
She thought of Terrence showing up on his motorcycle and whisking her away.
“We should have our own lives too. Not be chained up and get sick of each other. I was home a lot. Now I’ve got the diner job and friends,” she grew more uncomfortable the longer he watched her. She couldn’t hold her tongue forever and began to recognize the body tingles she got before zoning out.
“In the morning you act like nothing’s wrong, like we didn’t argue. You don’t own it,” he was upset and panting as if after a jog.
It didn’t sound like something she would do. She didn’t think his description was accurate so felt nothing.
“Okay Sam. I don’t own it. What do you want me to say?” she said.
She couldn’t tell him about her memory gaps. She felt sick not remembering. Sometimes she thought it could be Alzheimer’s but she was only 18. Then she would forget she had worried about it. The recurrence was not a joke, she was afraid of it getting worse.
“The easiest way to explain is I’m not at ease with you Sam. I feel constantly on edge. You are unpredictable and I’m never sure which Sam I’m going to get. Right or wrong, I like calm and peace so I have learned to avoid your mood swings,” Eunice said, employing her shameless method of blaming him. This poor guy is so in love! She admired herself in her compact mirror.
“So now you run to TERRENCE?” he shouted, “Do you think it helps us get closer?” he asked.
Fuck! She didn’t expect him to be so quick.
“What do you mean?” she asked. He was right she would turn to Terrence. Why couldn’t she just play nice for a couple of days, instead of antagonizing him for sport.
“Sam I’m sensitive to being picked on. You’re sensitive to being picked on. We’re the same,” she said, batting her eyelashes.
“So if we’re so similar, why can’t we agree on anything?” he asked.
Sam was a beautiful soul, an amazing guy; intelligent, caring, dependable and forever reliable. He was the moth to her flame. She wanted him in her corner. Why did she try to destroy him?
She thought about resolving things but it wasn’t her fault he kept pushing her into Terrence’s arms?
“Fine Sam! If you’re going to be like that, I’m going to follow my own path. The heck with you!” she said, throwing the first pitch.
A shadow fell across his eyes.
She alone could not remove the pained expression on his face but she was too proud to save him.
Why did it feel as if they were still children skipping rocks at the pond? Why didn’t she remember she regret it every time she started this?
“I’ve got to work now. Maybe we’ll talk about this later,” she said, although she hoped not.
“Fuck this!” she said.
Surely Terrence wouldn’t be such a motor mouth.