CHAPTER 87 - I DON’T DESERVE A HAPPILY EVER AFTER
“Sounds quite drastic, doesn’t it?”
“Does it?” I frowned. “It’s a clear cut ending.”
“A brutal ending, you mean ...” she frowned, staring at the papers. “I mean, I get what you’re trying to do, but ... it feels like ... overkill.” She pursed her lips. “After all that drama, to end it like this ... it’s brutal, too brutal.”
“Even for you?”
She chuckled. “Yeah, even for me ...”
I sighed, dropping my head back. “Told you, I’m a terrible writer. I don’t even know why I’m doing all this.”
“Because ...” Silvia chuckled, coming to cuddle to me, “Dr. Martin said it would help.”
“How? It has helped a lot more to just ... be with you.” I admitted, placing a kiss on her forehead. “You’re the only medicine I need.”
She grinned. “Cheesiness aside, it really does help. It’s a way of ... pouring yourself out. And once everything’s out, then you can ... move on. Or try to.”
“But I have ... or sort of.” I played with her hand. “I mean, what we have ... that’s me moving on.”
“I would believe you ... weren’t it for the nightmares.”
I sighed, rubbing her arm. “They’ve been fading.”
“Yes, but ... they’re still there. That’s the whole point of all this.” She looked up, staring into my eyes. “We agreed, Jake. We’re not leaving anything untested. Whatever it takes.”
“I know. It just seems futile to just ... write. What can writing do for me?”
“Oh, you’d be surprised. Writing helps much more than you think. At least that applies to some people.”
“You didn’t need to, though.” I pointed out.
“Because I had you.” She grinned, pecking my lips. “You were my cure.”
“And you are mine. So why-”
“Because it helps nevertheless.” She laughed silly. “Maybe next time try something a little less ... messed up?”
“Mmh ... so it’s really terrible, huh?”
“I wouldn’t say terrible. I think you’ve just ... watered it down a little too much in the last chapters.”
“Well, I wasn’t gonna leave it at that. I may add the scene.”
“That would be worse.”
I frowned. “Thank you for being so kind, eh.”
She laughed, pulling up to kiss my cheek, the way you do to a toddler that’s acting up, of course. Sometimes I think she’s convinced she has 2 children. “Don’t get me wrong, babe, I support you in this. Really. But ... ending the book with your-well, his death, just like that, is already terrible. Ending it with the actual scene, like, in detail ... it’s only worse. I think you forget what genre this is.”
“It’s supposed to be a biography of some sort. And it wouldn’t be out of character for me, even fictional me, to die like that, would it? I mean, if I went back to prison, I would probably rile up the wrong dude.”
“Yes, but if it’s a biography, why end it with you-him dying?”
“Well, it’s not supposed to be an accurate biography. Besides, it’s kind of poetic, isn’t it?” I shrugged. “After all that death wish part. It’s poetic to kill me the moment I realize I do not want to die.”
“No ... it’s overkill.” Silvia laughed. “And readers would hate it. Besides, how can it be a biography if you stray so far from reality? You’re not dead, are you?”
I grinned, pecking her lips when she pulled up. “Maybe I’m a ghost.”
“Right ... well, this ghost better change the part where I become a whiny insecure little daisy, because I don’t like that. At all.”
“Oh, come on ... you lost your memories, your whole life is gone ... you don’t remember who you are.”
“Yes, but amnesia doesn’t work that way. It blocks out your memories, it doesn’t change your personality.”
I bit my lips, unsure whether I should say it or not. In the end, she seems healed, but ... you never know. “It does when it also blocks out one huge event that altered your personality.”
Silvia frowned, staring at me. “You really think that? That I am who I am because of what happened with Matilde?” The sole fact that she can say the name, talk about that, without bursting out crying or hyperventilating or anything, it means she really has healed. Sometimes even I find it hard to believe it, but apparently, she has indeed healed.
“Well ... I’m not saying it defined you, but ... it certainly did leave a mark.” I mentioned. “And it’s normal, these things have a tendency to do just that. I should know.”
“Yes, but ...”
“That doesn’t mean you’re not who you were supposed to be. I’m just saying that, maybe, without that trauma, you would be ... a little different.”
Silvia scrunched up her face, and I knew what she was thinking. “You’re not considering that, are you?”
“Jake.” She punched my arm, and I laughed.
“No, I wouldn’t do to you what our mutual friend did to his wife ... happy? With her it worked, though.”
“It’s different. Erasing fresh memories is one thing, uprooting the whole stack of memories that accompanied someone throughout life ... that’s a whole different animal, in fact he didn’t even try it. It would mean obliterating someone’s entire existence, wiping out their personality. It would be insane and awfully cruel.”
“I know, but ...” I bit my lips. I know she’ll get mad for this, but I guess that marriage is also spitting out the truth and nothing but the truth. “Sometimes I kinda wish I could have met you before. To see who you were before ... everything.”
“I doubt I would have been much different.”
“Maybe yes, maybe no. Who knows.” I cuddled her closer, and kissed her temple. “So ... is it really that terrible?”
“The ending? Yes. Horrible. But hey, that’s just my opinion, you’re the author here.” Silvia claimed. “I still don’t understand why did you have to write a whole book about us, though.”
“It’s not us. Well, not the us we are. It’s ... you know, sliding doors.”
“Yeah, like ... what would have happened, had you-uh ...” I cleared my throat, realizing I was about to dig up something she still isn’t entirely over. Well, she did forgive me, but ... you never know with this woman.
“Had I not forgiven you for cheating on me with your ex?” Silvia filled in for me, eyebrow arched. “While I was pregnant, might I add.”
“Yeah ... that ...” I winced, flustered at the sole remembrance of the shitty stunt I pulled. “You’re never gonna let me forget it, huh?”
“Never.” She half smiled. “But I’ve forgiven you. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here, would I?”
“Mmh ... I wanna think that’s true, but ... maybe you’re here mostly because of the little monster there ...” and there it goes, the siren, “speak of the devil ...”
Silvia laughed, sitting up. “Don’t call her that. It’s your daughter.”
“She’s demonic. I can’t explain it otherwise.” I glanced at the clock. “It’s 4 am, for Pete’s sakes.”
“Kids do that, genius.” Silvia stood, going to grab her robe. I guess it’s a good idea not to go see our kid half naked. “By the way, why did you change it?”
“What?” I sat up as well, raking a hand over my face.
“In the book, it was a he ...”
“Oh, that ...” I shrugged. “Well ... I don’t know, I guess I don’t want Leanne to feel it’s about her. I mean, say it gets published, or say she finds it in the attic when I’m dead and she reads it ... I don’t want my daughter to feel like I didn’t even want her to begin with.”
“Yes, yes, I know what I said about adoption. But I changed my mind quite soon, you know that.” Hell, I changed my mind at the first echo. The first time I saw there was a kid in there, heard her heartbeat, the first time I realized it was indeed happening ... I guess I also realized I hadn’t just messed up. I-we had created a new life. And I know I wouldn’t have lived with myself knowing her with some other family, knowing my own offspring wasn’t where she was supposed to be ...
I’m pretty sure that, had we given her away, in a few years or months, I’d have barged into the adoptive family’s house in search of my daughter. Better not cause any more drama, right? God knows this kid’s gonna grow up totally messed up, with such a father, I’d rather spare her the most traumas I can.
Silvia grinned, coming to peck my lips. “You’re a good father, Jake. Stop beating yourself up with what-ifs.” Silvia caressed my cheek, smiling tenderly. “She’s here now, she’s happy, we’re happy. That’s all that matters.”
“She’s barely 1 year old. She’s not happy, she just barely even knows where she is.”
“She knows you, Jake, she recognizes you ...”
“I know, I know ... I’m a good dad, I will keep on being a good dad. I know. I’ll keep repeating that until I believe it.” Which will probably be never, but oh, well.
“You won’t have to.” Silvia claimed. “By the time Leanne can talk properly, she’ll tell you that with her own voice, I can assure you.”
“Maybe.” I mean, what tells me I won’t screw it up? You know I do that a lot. The problem is, as long as I screw up my life, it’s fine, but a child ... I am the living proof of what childhood traumas can do to a person
“I’m a work in progress, baby, you know that.” I shrugged. It’s a struggle. Being a father, it’s ... much more than a struggle than I imagined. And I don’t know if I can make it. Every time I see myself doing some stupid shit that’ll traumatize my daughter for life. Or what if I hurt her without realizing? I nearly caused her mother a concussion once, what if I hurt her, too?
“We both are. But we made a promise. Remember that.” Silvia claimed.
I nodded, just not to keep on talking about it, and because Leanne was crying her lungs out. So Silvia left to take care of the little demon that sleeps in the room adjacent to ours. I think she does that on purpose. Crying out in the middle of the night, I mean. She knows she’ll get cuddles. Don’t kids all think that?
I dropped my head back against the headboard, sighing. We made a promise. We promised we’d pull ourselves together, not for us, but for her ... for Leanne.
I already did that once, though, didn’t I? I pulled myself together for the sake of my baby sis. It didn’t really work out, did it? But I guess I didn’t have the right partner. I was alone. Now I have a companion, someone that understands me without even speaking. An Angel with Horns that’s saved me in so many ways, she has no idea.
Right. I didn’t catch you up. Sorry, you might be a little confused.
So, here’s the thing. I ... may or may have not toyed with your feelings a little. The whole ... Sokolov drama? Amnesia? Prison? Never happened.
Let’s rewind, shall we? Silvia is pregnant, and she catches me with Olivia. That’s true. It’s the one part I’m the most ashamed of. It took me months to regain her trust, and I still think the main reason why she took me back is Leanne.
Then what happened? Well, a lot of what I told you, yes. I wound up sucked back into a deeply dangerous world. That’s true. Silvia got badly hurt because of that. That’s also true. The rest is just my terrible attempt at fiction.
You see, she had me watch a movie, long ago, before Leanne was born. Sliding Doors. And it kind of gave me inspiration to write a book about us. Or rather, to start from the one part of our lives that may have gone oh, so terribly wrong.
Hadn’t I resurfaced from that criminal circle in time, Silvia may have gotten the worst out of it. When she came to see me, hysteric and super-pissed, we fought. A lot. A bad, terrible fight. A literal fight, because even though she was so very pregnant, she didn’t hesitate to accept a match against me. That’s just how pissed she was. Obviously, I forfeited at the first punch she landed on my jaw.
Then we talked. And then talked some more. Long story short, we fixed things between us. Mostly, she reminded me of the promises I made to her. As long as you breathe, I breathe, that sort of thing.
I know, it sounds lame. But come on, it’s definitely more believable than all I wrote. Told you, I really suck at writing. This is supposed to be some stupid project our therapist assigned me, claiming that, if I can’t write down my nightmares, then I can at least try my hand at something fictional. I don’t know how could that help, but she thinks it will, and Silvia agrees, so ...
“Hello, let’s see who we have here ...” Silvia said, coming into the bedroom, a grinning Leanne in her arms.
It’ll sound cheesy, but every time I see my daughter, I feel this ... weird thing deep in my chest, like ... accomplishment? Happiness? I don’t know. It’s like, she’s the very proof that I’m not entirely fucked up, or I was, but I can change. She’s the one thing right I made. As long as I don’t break her, too, I’ll have done something with my life.
“Wanna go to daddy?” Silvia wondered.
Leanne stretched her small arms to come to me, and I took her in, unable to hide the smile. I kissed her cheek, and smiled some more. I’m a father, can you believe it? I mean, I can’t. Sometimes I think I’ll wake up and realize that the book was fiction, and this is just a dream.
Silvia came to sit beside me, leaving her head on my shoulder as she watched our daughter grin and giggle. At this age, most of what Leanne says is babbling nonsense, but that smile, oh, that smile is one of the things that make it easier to push through everything.
“See? She knows you.” Silvia said as our daughter cuddled up to me, seemingly falling asleep. “And she loves you. I mean, she wouldn’t have stopped crying, hadn’t I told her I’d bring her to daddy.”
“She probably just wanted to be taken in your arms.”
“Jake ...” my wife – because yes, we got married, people, obviously – sighed, “you will not be like them. You’re a great dad.”
“But what if I mess up? What if ... what if I make the same mistakes? My parents, they were the best I could have ever asked for. Until all Hell broke loose, I couldn’t have asked for a better family. We were as happy as can be. But then ...”
“Just because they did that to you, it doesn’t mean you’ll do it to Leanne.”
“You don’t know that.”
“But I do.” Silvia smiled, pecking my lips as our daughter began to fall back asleep. I guess I work as a lullaby, because she falls asleep so easily in my arms, it’s like even only my face bores her out of her mind.
“Because, so far, you’ve been nothing but an amazing father.”
“I did nothing.” I pointed out. “I do nothing. I just play with her when I come home. How’s that amazing?”
“It’s precisely what an amazing father does, Jake.” Silvia rolled her eyes. “You make time for her, for us.”
“That’s just basic decency ...”
“I know.” I sighed, placing a kiss on her Leanne’s temple when I saw her finally back asleep. “I’m a whiny ass. I just ... I want to do this, but-”
“No buts. I keep telling you, we’re both a work in progress, and it won’t be easy, but we can make it.”
I arched an eyebrow at my oh, so wise wife. “Where does all of this energy come from? Last time you said you didn’t even want kids.”
“I said that before someone forced me to change my mind.” She smiled, looking at our daughter. “Now I wouldn’t even know how to live without her.”
“Cheesy.” I scoffed, and we both laughed.
“Said he who spends half of the night in his daughter’s room, just watching her sleep. Don’t think I don’t know that.”
I rolled my eyes. “Well, you never know what happens. Besides, I don’t sleep, so why not make myself useful?”
“Right. Or maybe it’s that you want to make up for the hours you don’t see her.”
“I spend most of the day in that soul-sucking place called Watson Holdings, baby. I miss most of the little monster’s moments.”
“So do I. I work, too, remember? But I know that Leanne won’t hate you or me for that. Just because we leave her with the nanny for half the day, doesn’t mean we’re bad parents, it’s what most people do.”
“I know ... but still.”
“And you say you’re a bad father?” My wife laughed. “You’ve been giving her so many attentions that sometimes I’m jealous.” She claimed. “The point is, you’re doing this right, and you’ll keep on doing it. No need to fuss.”
I inhaled deeply, eyes on my daughter. “I guess.”
“Hey, you basically raised your sister, and she turned out just fine.”
“That’s because there was her future husband there to swerve things toward the right direction.” I grimaced. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to my sister dating my best friend, but alas, she’s happy, so I guess that’s all that matters.
“Even so. You’ve been a good brother, and you’re being a great father. Just stop fussing. It’s actually not really sexy.” Silvia laughed.
I could go on describing our night, our lives and everything, but what for? We’re here, we’re happy, we’re doing this. I think I wrote that story mostly to remind me of what I could have lost, hadn’t I swerved in the right direction, hadn’t I been less selfish for once.
She says I can’t get stuck on what-ifs, but the truth is, our whole life together is a what-if. What if I hadn’t gotten out of that circle in time? What if I hadn’t listened to her, and I’d let her fight?
It was one decision, just one. And for once, it was right. I could have lost everything I’ve ever lived for, had I chosen the wrong path. That’s what’ll haunt me forever, and I guess that’s why the story ends so badly. It’s my way of saying that I don’t deserve a happily ever after. But it’s here, it’s happening. And why the hell shouldn’t it?
THE END...the actual end this time
Thank you for all the love you showed these characters, thank you for supporting me throughout this journey, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Artemis WatsonWrite a Review