36 | Letting Go and Secrets
When I hear something hit my window in the middle of the night, my heart jumps to my throat and my first thought is that a burglar checking in to see if anyone was home.
Yeah well, Mr. Burglar, I am.
When the series of pebbles hitting my window pane continue, I finally get up from my bed and walk up to the window, opening it and leaning down to see a familiar mane of dark brown hair being pulled at in frustration.
“Grant?” I call out, still unsure what he was doing here. Shouldn’t he be at Uni?
He looks up, slightly relieved that I finally answered his calls. “Leah, back up. I’m coming in there.”
I don’t get to ask him anything as he starts climbing and I go back to hide myself in my comforter. Whatever it is, he will tell me anyway if he was coming here to see me. “Are you ever going to use the door like a normal person?” I ask when he finally jumps inside my room.
He gives me a slight, forced smile and joins in on the bed, hiding his legs under the blanket. “When we don’t have secrets to reveal anymore.” He mumbles.
“What are you talking about?”
“Nothing. Mom and Dad would have known that I was here and wouldn’t stop their questioning.”
I raise my brows. “You’re not going to see them?”
He shakes his head. “My plans is to leave before sunrise.”
I perk up at that. What could be so important that he drove back home in the middle of the night to see me. “What is it, Grant? Everything okay?”
Grant merely shrugs, looking around, not meeting my eyes. “How are things with Axel?”
My breathing stops for a minute and I freeze. Could he know? Did- did Kevin tell him? Or was it Tracy or Maggie? Is this why he’s here? I go to speak but before I can, he cuts me off.
He sighs, messing his hair even further. “Remember, I told you I have something to tell you and told you to remind me about it before I leave for college?”
Unintentionally, I let out a breath of relief. So It’s not about me, okay. I shake my head. “You left without saying anything to anyone. You didn’t even pick up my calls.” And I forgot about it too, kinda.
He gives me a pained smile. “Yeah, well. I cowered away and escaped the whole telling anyone about it. The guilt and the secret itself has been eating me from inside for a long time now, so I’m here - to talk like you did.”
I gasp. “What is it, Grant? Wait, are you gay? Because if you are, just know that I’m not homophobic. Neither are our parents - we’re quite -”
My rambling is cut off when Grant starts speaking, a faraway look in his eyes- longing and a small smile playing on his lips as he reminisces the story.
“You know, Lee Bear, when I was in high school, I was quite the player. I loved the common notion of the ‘cool kids’ that floated around due to movie and fictions and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be liked, loved by everyone. I wanted to be the center of attention. I wanted everyone to look at me when I stepped in the room be it the teachers of the students - and they did. I was quite a popular kid, good grades, linebacker of the football team, a little help here and there and everyone was in love with me.”
He meets my eyes, the smile highlighting the pain in his eyes. “But with the good things, I did some pretty bad things back then too.”
“Like the temporary girlfriends.” I say in a whisper.
“Like those girls.” He nods, looking away at the point of flashback focus. “If I’m being honest, I was never interested in that part of the popularity. I was okay with casual, fun flirting without getting involved with anyone unless it was something real, as short as that reality was. You have known me forever, you know I’m old school at heart wearing a pretend shield over it. But apparently, being a virgin in high school is supposed to be embarrassing. The teen me, the stupid, idiot me, I agreed with it, even though I didn’t think so. So when my friends started playing girls and got me involved too, I didn’t refuse. After a while, I got used to it. That is, until her.”
The last word was uttered so softly that I almost don’t catch it. “Her?” I ask.
“Her.” He says firmly. “Waverly Bells. The most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes on. With a cute button nose, big, brown eyes, silky brown eyes - the girl caught my attention at first glance. She was a new transfer student and had been immediately labelled as an outcast because of the braces she still had and her clothing style. To me, she was still beautiful, so different from everyone. She was the clear reality when everyone was playing pretend. I was interested in her and I showed it.”
He sighs, shaking his head as if it was a mistake. “When my friends learned about it, they thought it would be another one of my fling - another hump and dump. But I had never been interested in sex, and even with Waverly, I wasn’t. I just wanted to get to know her more. I did get to do that and we came close. It reduced her bullying and she kinda got some friends because of me. My friends were pressuring me to just go for it, do it and what not but I knew I couldn’t hurt that girl. So I asked her to be my girlfriend. We took it slow but eventually, we did it - we had sex. Mostly because of the peer pressure I was getting from my so called friends but she told me she didn’t regret it. I can’t explain how happy that had made me.”
When Grant talks about this Waverly girl, he has this quite smile on his lips, his whole face lighting up like a Christmas tree, and I know for a fact that he loved that girl.
“We made quite an amazing couple. She could tame my wild side, made me see what a jerk of friends I had and I took her on adventures her completely religious Christian family would never dream of. I was most possibly in love with her.”
“Why didn’t you ever bring her over? You never told me and I’m guessing Mom and Dad didn’t know either.” I say.
He nods. “They don’t. Her parents, they didn’t like me. I was what they saw as the guy their daughter should stay away from but I loved her, Lord, I love her. I wanted her parents to accept me first, make sure that they won’t interfere my relationship with Waves if I wanted to take any further.” Grant meets my eyes, tears shining in his own. “I would have married her, Leah. I can’t even count how many times I had thought of the two of us like that. But things didn’t work out as planned, they never do.”
He looks away, getting up to go and stand by my desk, playing with the only snow globe I had from Tracy as my Christmas gift. “A few months into the relationship, she didn’t go to school. And I would have shrugged it off but Waves was never the one to ditch classes - that was the one thing I couldn’t bring her to do. When I got to her place to know why, I found her alone, cocooned on the couch, crying. Her parents were at work and her younger sister at school. She had sneaked in back after her parents left so they wouldn’t question her. After a lot of insistence, she gave me the news that slid the ground beneath my feet. She was almost two months pregnant.”
I gasp at the news and more so when I saw him wiping his tears. Different and pretty ugly scenarios started running in my mind. God, did he leave her when he found out she was pregnant? No, my brother was better than that.
“I was scared, I was still a teen and I didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t ready to become a parent and neither was she. And that’s what made me stay, you know? The fact that what she must be feeling back then. So I stayed by her side and let her cry on my shoulder. After that, we talked. She was scared too, like me. More so because her parents would probably disown her. I reassured her million times that I would take care of her if that happened but she loved and respected her parents too much.”
I go behind him, turning him around and hugging him and he sobs, hiding his face in my neck. I barely manage to get us to sit back on the bed. He then lies down, his head in my lap as he continues. “When her parents found out, they didn’t disown her or tell her to abort, since killing an unborn is not accept in their church. But they banned her from seeing me. I was devastated, specially when it was the girl I loved so much carrying my child. Her parents were mad at me for ruining Waverly’s life, as they put it and refused to accept that I was in for a long time. I wasn’t playing her.”
“The final nail in the coffin was when Waves’ father left them, using her pregnancy as an excuse to get together with his mistress. Though everyone knew the truth, her mother still blamed me for everything that went wrong and decided that she’d leave the city and go back to London, her maternal homeland. I almost died, Lee. But I was too much of a cowards to get help from Mom and Dad, to tell them everything that has been going on. I was scared to see them shaking their heads at me, eyes disappointed. What they thought was just a rebellious teen phase was a self destruction phase when my girlfriend left the country with my unborn baby.”
Taking a pause, Grant clears his throat and wipes his tears. “Waves and I - we kept in contact because of her younger sister. Both of them kept me updated on the pregnancy progress and together, we made a plan to somehow get Waves here before her delivery. I had to beg Mrs. Bells to let me be there for when my child would be born and she had made me promise that I would never contact them ever again after this favor. I wasn’t going to keep it, obviously, but I had agreed.”
“The last month of the pregnancy, Waves and I were inseparable. It was summer so school wasn’t a headache and I always had lies about parties to be with her. And finally, on June 11, my first child was born - my beautiful daughter - the forth most woman girl I would ever know after Waverly, Mom and you. We named her Neveah.”
“It’s such a beautiful name.” I could only whisper, a small smile making it’s way on my lips at the knowledge of being an aunt. And I wasn’t even aware of it.
“Yeah, it was and so was she. We were so happy that day, nothing - and I mean nothing could have made me unhappy.” He hides his face with his hand and starts sobbing again. “But I was wrong, so wrong. A month later, during Nevaeh’s monthly checkup, the doctor told us that she was malnourished. They suspected that it was because of the mother’s mental stress and not having consumed enough nutrients which was true. Whatever had happened in those nine months of pregnancy was way too stressful for even me and Waverly’s kid sister, I could only imagine what she must be going through. And the news of our daughter being malnourished was even worse.”
Sitting up, he sighs looking at me with pained eyes and notices that I’m crying too. “She died a month later, Nevaeh, a week after her two month birthday.”
I gasp, putting all the pieces together. “So that is why you want to be a pediatrician.” I voice out loud.
He nods tiredly. “Losing my daughter was the worst thing ever, Leah. I would have kept my promise and had never interfered with Waves’ life after that summer if that meant my daughter being alive. Getting to see her once a year instead of never - I would take it without thinking twice.”
Tears streaming down my face don’t seem to stop, no matter how much I try. “And you didn’t tell us.” I say, slight offence in my voice.
He gives me a tired smile. “There were many reasons behind it, Lee. First, Mrs. Bells was positive on not letting me be a part of Waverly’s life. She didn’t want to involve our parents and have to be trapped with the court for the matter so she never minded. She told me herself. Second, I was in a very bad state, after knowing Waves’was pregnant, after she left the country and after Nevaeh died. I couldn’t even think straight, walk straight, let alone be courageous enough to go to my parents and tell them the biggest douche baggery, the biggest failure of my life. And third, I was, still am, a coward. I couldn’t protect my baby, my girlfriend I loved so much, not even you - my little sister.”
I shake my head at his self blame. “No, stop. You’re not a coward. Whatever happened with me and Sean, it never involved you.”
He sighs and looks away but doesn’t argue. “Waverly couldn’t take it. Losing Nevaeh was the last straw after her teen pregnancy and her dad’s abandonment. Stress and depression ate her up. She would lock herself up in her room for days. She stopped eating, stopped talking and once, she even tried killing herself. I was there that day, and when I stepped in to stop her, she flung the knife at me, cutting my chest right over my heart.”
I gasp again, at all these new revelations. “That tattoo - it’s to hide your scar?” I ask. Grant had gotten a tattoo on his chest, right over his heart before leaving for college. It was a big, dark black cross and ‘hope to die’ written in beautiful calligraphy along with some weird Greek letters.
He nods. “That and it was in the memory of both of them - Waves and Nevaeh. The Greek letters spell our names - the three of us - the family we never came to be.”
His words hit that sensitive chord in my head and I can’t imagine, can never imagine myself in his position. Fuck me, I had been crying over my stupid heartbreak over a boy who didn’t even care and here, my older brother has been hurting from inside with such a huge weight of his secrets and pain on his chest.
“Grant....” I whisper and reach out to him, hugging his torso from the side. “What happened to Waverly? Did she - did ....?” I trail off, not wanting to say those meaningless ‘I’m Sorry’s.’
“No.” He breathes out. “No, she didn’t. My interference had delayed her supposed suicide and by then, the ambulance was already there to attend to us. I was there, leah, and Lord, it was the most horrifying sight to see. Waves had put a fight when they had tried to take her, and in that moment, I couldn’t recognize the sweet shy girl I had fallen in love with, she was someone completely different, someone I didn’t know.”
He gives me a small, sad smile and pecks my temple. “She was declared mentally unsound and dangerous if she was to stay at home. Mrs. Bells got her admitted in the local mental asylum. She left the country with her younger daughter, the pain of losing her husband, granddaughter and now her daughter too was, well, it was unbearable. I kinda understand her their but I still hated her for leaving Waves alone here. So I would make regular trips back home to see the girl I love, the girl who has changed so much from what she was. But, God, I still love her so much.”
I smile at that. That’s the brother I know. when he loves, he loves forever. “My regular trips to the asylum helped her, or so the doctors said. They told me that the medicines worked better when the time between my trips was less and Waverly seemed better than when too long had passed between our meets. It was at this summer that they gave Mrs. Bells a call on Waverly’s improving health. She was still not completely sane but she wasn’t as dangerous as she had been when she was admitted.”
“Mrs. Bells, along with her younger daughter came back here at the start of the school year and the hospital discharged Waves with a permanent nurse who visited twice daily. Her younger sister took the job of babysitting her on herself. The only good think out of all this is that now, Mrs. Bells doesn’t hate me that much. Sticking around for Waves even through the hardest storm has improved my reputation.” He joked.
I could only give him a small smile. “I’m sorry, Grant, that you had to go through it all alone. I would have liked to be there for you.”
“You were.” He said, smiling softly at me. “Everyday, I would go to sleep thinking that I had nothing left in this world, I felt so empty. But every morning I’d wake up and look at your smiling face and it would give me unexplainable strength. At that moment, I wanted to be there for you and protect you and that smile of yours from every evil - one thing I failed to do with Waverly and Nevaeh - I couldn’t protect them. And I would always tell myself that I owe it to my daughter to go living a life of kindness and empathy for others, help them out of the pain I have been through. Waverly made me want to stay and show her that I would love her despite all her scars and flaws. I wanted to show her that even when her sanity had left her, she would always find me beside her.”
He sighs. “Honestly, seeing the most important girls get hurt and me not being able to do anything about it is my biggest failure. And I want to be a better man for the three of you. When you started slipping away from us after that bad breakup with Sean, you scared me. Back then, you reminded me of exactly what Waves was like after Nevaeh. And of that time too, when we got back from that cruise and you almost killed yourself because of how much you missed Sean. I should have seen it back then, how that boy was toxic for you.”
“It’s all in the past, Grant.” I say softly. “So, I’m guessing that you were with Waverly on Valentine’s day?”
He nods, smiling. “I was. It was the happiest day of my life, in a long time. I asked her to be my girlfriend again and even though she didn’t agree as she didn’t say anything but I’m going to take her smile as a yes.”
I sigh an smile. “Are you going to tell Mom and Dad about it anytime soon.”
He wraps his arm around my shoulder, pulling me closer. “Hmm. I am going to bring Waves around and let Mom and Dad meet her. That is, after I tell them about her.”
“That would be the right way to do it.” I agree. “But first, I want to meet her.”
He pulls away after a while and rubs the back of his neck. “You kinda have.” He says.
I frown in confusion. “I have? When?”
He clears his throat and looks away. “She’s Maggie’s sister.”
My mouth is hung open at this revelation and I can’t decide what is more shocking - the fact that my brother had a daughter back when I was too busy loving Sean or that one of my closest friend’s sister was the mother of my brother’s child. “So you and Maggie knew each other for long?”
He winces and nods. “Quite long.”
“Wow.” I breath out.
“She didn’t tell you because she left it up to me if or when I would do it. So if you’re mad at her, don’t be.”
I shake my head. “I’m not mad, Grant. It is all just too much to take. I can’t believe I visited the girl you love twice when you were at college!”
He chuckles. “Yeah, Mrs. Bells told me about that. She sent the pictures too. I’m kind of happy that you like her.”
“Of course I do.” I say, crossing my arms. “She’s beautiful and amazing. But, do you have any pictures of, you know, my niece?” I ask and wince thinking it was a wrong question.
He sighs and takes out his wallet, opening it and showing it to me. “This is the only picture we ever clicked together that I have. It was moments after she was born, the three of us still in that hospital room.”
There is the picture of Waverly, Grant and a cute little bundle wrapped in baby pink blanket and all of them have a tired but happy smile on their faces, even the little Neveah. “Your family is so beautiful.” I whisper, brushing the picture.
He smiles softly. “The most beautiful.” He clears his throat. “We have three more pictures, one more decent than this one. The other two from the only two birthdya’s of Neveah we ever got to celebrate.” He says sadly.
I just wrap my arms around him, letting the silence drown away both or pains and give us enough strength to find the happiness we’re looking for.
did you expect this surprise update? no? well, there you go. I'll update three more chapters by Christmas and that will be my kinda gift to you all. this chapter is my favorite, i hope y'all cry and love it too.