“Lina, so how are you?” he said, remembering the feel of Idelina’s body.
Her body was a magnet. He lightly touched and then stroked Idelina’s back. She didn’t pull away. Instead, she looked deeply into his eyes and tucked her chin. He moved in for a kiss and she met him halfway. As often happened in the years they were together, he became lost. She was like a jungle. The flora, easily identified, but the whole of it, deeply mysterious and steamy. When making love, they unbridled their passion, and discarded the need for control. Like the rhythm of the tides, they flowed, forgetting the past and the future awaiting them. Laying together, their bodies sealed together by sweat.
“She is so beautiful, so grown. She reminds me of a fruit we used to eat in Brazil, sweet and sour at the same time, the seeds are very odd looking,” Idelina said.
“How in the world does a fruit remind you of Aria? That’s odd” asked Miles
“She seems different in character somehow. When I, well, I left, that’s so hard for me to say. She just seems different.”
“Well, Aria is still very spacey. That kid’s head is in the clouds a lot.”
“Maybe that’s our fault. I think we kept her thinking things were normal the way they were. I should have told her the flat truth about why you were gone, or at least as much as I understood. It was so wrong of me to make her think that you were a sailor on a voyage when she was little. And then me leaving. She just seems nervous and sad.”
“I haven’t noticed. Do you think you might be projecting?”
“What do you mean?” Idelina said tersely.
“Calm down, I just mean you’ve been gone and maybe you feel guilty about leaving us and maybe you’ve transferred what you think she should be feeling.”
“I do feel guilty, I made a mistake, well, it wasn’t a mistake, I had to leave. But it was a mistake to leave her. I had to protect her.” Idelina turned her face away from Miles. “Poor Aria, she was probably so confused. And you, did you have a reason why you left us? How did you think she would be? Did you even pay attention?”
“Kids are resilient. It probably builds character and if she has problems she can see a shrink when she’s older. Plus I came back didn’t I? She’s a fine girl, she’s not mad.”
“How do you know Miles? How do you know that she’s okay? You have never felt comfortable facing discomfort. You are still irresponsible, immature, and self-centered. If you were with us maybe…” her eyes were becoming glazed over, staring out into space.
“Who’s been taking care of our daughter for the past two and a half years? That’s irresponsible? Where the hell were you Idelina? Where?”
“Who was supposed to be there when she was eight to help protect her? You weren’t there! I had to go to work. I was late to pick her up.” She got up and started putting on her clothes. “Well, you won’t have to worry about taking care of her anymore. Aria’s coming home with me and I’m filing for divorce.”
Remembering his mission, “Come on now Idelina, can’t we talk about this?”
“You have no respect for me and you can’t even see who Aria is. How are you a good example of a man? You can’t even protect your own daughter.”
He tried to hold back his defensiveness and think of Aria, but he blurted, “What kind of mother leaves her child?”
“The kind that has to do what she must to protect her child. That’s what kind. Get out Miles.”
He grabbed his shirt. “Lina, I loved you, I never stopped.”
“Miles, I think Aria was molested when she was eight.” Idelina sat on the bed in only her underwear looking small and pitiful.
“Who? What?” He held his arms out to the side, palms up.
“When you were gone. That three years you were gone. An old neighbor, Herr Rausche. I was so ashamed I couldn’t protect her, and you left me in a situation where I had to work late and not take care of my child.”
“Wait a minute. How long have you known about this? Where is this pervert? How do you know she was molested? Shit, I feel like I’m going to vomit.” His shirt hung from his hand, touching the floor.
“A couple of weeks before I left, I put two and two together after all those years. Herr Rausche was a known molester. He’s dead. He deserved it,” Idelina sobbed.
“How do you know that she was molested? Did she tell you?” He had made his way over to Idelina, close to her face.
“I let her stay with him one afternoon before anyone knew he was a pervert. I let her stay. I am so ashamed. That’s why I left. I failed as a mother to protect her and I was so ashamed of myself.”
“Tell me how you know what he did.” Her shoulders trembled under his hands.
“I don’t for sure. I just know. I’m taking Aria back to Germany. I’m going to let her know how sorry I am, how so ashamed of myself I am. He’s been taken care of. He can’t hurt her anymore.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before? And what do you mean he’s been taken care of?” There was a look in her face he’d never seen before, almost animal-like. “Idelina, what have you done?”
“Don’t ask me that. You don’t want to know.” There was a wild fire in her eyes.
He lowered his voice, “Lina, did you have something to do with his murder? Did you take your father’s gun? You know they blamed me for that?”
“I said, don’t ask me,” she snapped and narrowed her eyes.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he pleaded.
“Because you would have run. Run away from any discomfort. You wouldn’t have done anything to protect her. Now go, get out.”