Chapter Forty Two
When I was younger, I noticed that my parent’s didn’t look at each other the way two people in love should look at each other. They always looked at each other like they were two friends separated by time.
They looked at each other like familiar strangers.
Time had changed them, and they weren’t husband and wife anymore. Just two people trying to figure out where they lost themselves.
That was my parents. They had changed so much from the people they had met. I remember the yelling. The screams in the middle of the night. I could still hear doors slamming, and glass shattering from their scuffles.
I remember Sawyer being my only salvation. He was always there, even when I didn’t want him to be. He was there when all the bad things happened. When the glass shattered, doors slammed, or yelling escalated to screaming matches. He always believed they would work it out, because they were mommy and daddy.
I wasn’t as optimistic. I remember on our twelfth birthday, when Sawyer and I blew out the candles on our cake, I made a wish. I wished they would just leave each other. I wished mom and dad would finally realize they weren’t right for each other.
My wish took a few more years to come true.
Maybe the reason why i’m thinking about all of this, is because dad finally got it right after all this time. He finally realized where his heart belonged. It took an uphill battle but he did it. I guess he was a beacon of hope. Sometimes you have to fall in love a couple times and break your heart to finally get it right. To get it right for that one person waiting at the end of the finish line.
I think dad got it right this time. I could only wait until I did too.
“Vivi, wake up.” Sawyer nudged me softly. I groaned and buried myself deeper into my comforter. I wanted to sleep until I had to return to school. I had royally screwed everything with Ty and Blake. “Vivian it’s time to get up, dad is asking for you.”
I huffed and sat up in bed. “He’s here already?” I furrowed my brows. I could’ve sworn mom had mentioned he would be here next week? Or did she mean this week? Honestly, my mind hasn’t been all there lately.
“Yeah him and his fiancée, I forget her name, but she seems nice.” Sawyer supplied for me. “Go take care of yourself and come downstairs for lunch.” he advised me with a soft hesitant smile.
“Lunch? But I thought-”
“You overslept…again.” he informed me wearily. I nodded and watched as Sawyer got up to greet dad and his fiancée, whatever her name was.
I rubbed my puffy eyes, I was pretty sure they were swollen from crying. It had been three days since Blake had ran from me in the park. His eyes, absent of any recognition of who I was. I thought I would have to brace myself for an angry Blake. It didn’t occur to me that I was going to see a lost Blake. A lost and betrayed Blake. Ty was no better. He had been radio silent since I went over to his house, and he asked me to choose him.
I don’t know how I feel about that. Of course I liked Ty, what was there not to like? I had hurt him too, but it felt different with him. I was sad when Ty ignored me and dodged my calls. I was sad because I was losing my friend. But with Blake the loss seemed terrifying? Like I had the unrelenting belief that whatever happened between Ty and I, we would be strong enough to survive it.
However, with Blake it was walking into the unknown. I didn’t know where we stood. I didn’t know how to brace myself for the end, and when it happened, I became….lost. Yeah, I think that’s how I would describe it. I didn’t want to face the world when I knew I had did such a horrible thing to Blake. So my room had been my bubble. I’d been lying around in the same clothes for three days, and I’m pretty sure I stink.
I took a quick sniff and grimaced in disgust. I smelled like I had lived under a bridge for ten years, without an ounce of soap to my disposal.
Begrudgingly, I took a shower and let the hot water pour down on me. I let the hot water run down my back, loosening up my stiff muscles. I closed my eyes and tried to clear my mind. I tried to think of other stuff. Shower stuff.
What year did Mallrats come out? Was it before or after Chasing Amy? Who did Alicia Keys marry? I know she’s married….or at least in a long term relationship with someone. What year was Kennedy assassinated, I should probably pay more attention in my history class. I wonder what animals do when humans aren’t around. Do they talk to each other?
Still none of my shower thoughts helped. Because as soon as I thought them, they were easily eclipsed by the night in the park. They were overshadowed by the many nights in the park. I don’t think I could ever go back there again. That place was tainted now. It was the beginning and end of Blake and Vivi.
After my long shower, I slipped on a pair of black stockings, under my maroon skirt. Then I slipped on my beige long sleeve over it and paired the whole outfit with my new ankle boots. I tied my hair in a sleek pony tail and slathered a little mascara and lip balm. I wanted to look pretty on the outside because I felt so ugly inside. It was a fair balance.
Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to make a good impression on dad’s fiancée. She would be family soon, and the least I could do was support dad. We weren’t in the best place in our relationship, but we were better off now than we had been at thanksgiving. I had thought about what he had told me, about Sawyer being worth the fight.
I realized a little late, that I didn’t want Sawyer to be the only one worth fighting for. I wanted mom and dad to be worth it too. I wanted to fight for them not with them, because that’s what family is. We fight to stay together.
Clambering downstairs, I found mom and dad chatting and laughing. Then I saw a woman with stunning red hair, layered in a long v-cut enter the dining room with a dish of lasagna. She laughed at something dad said. Mom and Sawyer joined in too and began to laugh too.
I stood, rooted by the stairs. They all looked so picturesque, like they were all meant to be there. Mom and the woman my dad would soon marry, were talking like they could be old friends. Not the ones who didn’t have anything to say to each other. But the kind that fell back into place with ease. Dad watched them with a content look, like he had finally found his peace.
Then I took note of the way he looked at the woman. He didn’t look at her the way he ever looked at mom. He didn’t look at her like he was itching to run. Dad looked at her like she held something for him. Something more than he thought he deserved. He looked at her like-
“Vivi, are you okay?” Sawyer asked, concerned. I blinkef once and stared at Sawyer who left his seat in the dining room to check on me. “Are you okay?” he repeated with a frown.
“I’m fine.” I assured him, before I cleared my throat and gestured to the mystery woman discreetly. “What’s your take on her? Am I going to like her?” I asked him. Sawyer glanced back at our parents and dad’s fiancée.
“She’s pretty cool, I was worried about mom liking her, and turns out I was worrying about nothing. They totally hit it off. Dad got a little annoyed when they began picking at his bad habits, but everything is pretty much smooth sailing with those three.” He informed me, “Come on, I’ll introduce you.” Sawyer wrapped his arm around me, and it took me back to us as kids.
It took me back to the screaming matches, shattered glasses, and slamming doors. They way he was wrapped me up in his arms and promised everything would be good one day.
It was one day.
“Laura, this is my sister Vivi-please hold any question-yes we are twins!” he declared quite proudly. I couldn’t help the small smile that broke through. Laura’s smile widened and she quickly pulled me into a crushing hug. A little taken back, I let her squeeze me for a second longer, before I let it register that she esd waiting for me to hug her back. I close my eyes and wrapped my arms around her and even though I couldn’t see her face, I could almost feel her smile.
“I’m Laura Love,” She mumbled, her arms still holding me. She released me and smiled sheepishly.”I’m sorry, I’m a hugger.” she explained. I chuckled and surprised myself with how genuine it was.
“I’m Vivian…but you probably already know that.” I greeted her awkwardly. What was I supposed to do, greet her honestly? ’Hey I’m Vivian, I really disapproved of my father marrying anyone else, but i’m trying this new thing were I don’t try to fuck up people’s lives. So far—no good, hahaha!’
“You are so beautiful, those pictures your father has in his flat doesn’t do you justice.” she gushed, “He told me you’re a design student at-”
“April Hale!” Dad cut in proudly, forgetting my school’s name again. This time I didn’t correct him. At least he was trying. However Laura did correct him.
“It’s Maddie Dale sweetie” she chucked, “I adore that school, how are you enjoying it?” she asked me eagerly.
I furrowed my brows and studied her. It was then that I noticed she wasn’t old at all. In fact, Laura looked quite young. How old could she be? Maybe late twenties, early thirties.
“Did you go to Maddie Dale?” I asked curiously. Laura nodded happily and let out a small squeak. “No way! What class did you graduate with?”
“Class of 2005, but that was so long ago. We just had our ten year anniversary last year and it amazed me how much time had passed.” she said, then she stared at in the same manner I had done not long ago. “I was part of this really cool club while I was there. I wonder if it’s still around.” she mused aloud.
I narrowed my eyes suspiciously, “Funny, i’m part of a club right now. It has it’s many perks, but it’s for the best of the leading arts.”
“You guys sound….intimidating.” she emphasized.
“You could even call us a small nation of overachievers.” I added with a slight nod. Laura’s eyes widened with happiness.
“You’re part of the intimidation nation?” she asked, I laughed and nodded. What were the chances I would meet an alum and one that was marrying my dad? Before my parents asked anything, Laura lifted the sleeve of her sweater and showed off a small tattoo. I recognized it immediately. It was the malin, the same tattoo I sported on my ribs.
“I would show you mine, but the parentals are here.” I whispered so only she could hear. Laura gave me a sly wink and turned to my father who was trying to follow our conversation without much luck.
“What are you two talking about?” He mumbled confused.
“I don’t think it’s something we want to know.” Mom decided, as she slowly took a sip of her wine.
Laura and I shared knowing glances at each other and didn’t bother answering dad. Though I never made the intimation nation a secret, I never actually told anyone in my family about it. But it was nice to have an inside thing for just Laura and I. It made breaking the ice easier.
Laura gazed at dad then and combed a piece of his hair off of his forehead. Dad turned his head and gave Laura’s hand a sweet kiss. She smiled at him and he smiled at her, then it seemed like there was nothing else in the world but them.
It was then that I realized, dad had found his only one.
“I like her.” I said to Sawyer later that night. Dad and Laura decided to stay in a hotel for their stay. They had left after we all went out and bought a Christmas tree. It was a little late in the game, but then again my family wasn’t very big on holidays. This year however, it seemed like the King family were making a lot of changes.
Afterwards we decorated the tree together as a family. Sawyer and I teamed up on the Christmas lights, Dad did the tinsel since he was the only one who didn’t get annoyed with the stringy stuff, Mom and Laura both pulled out the ornaments, it took forever for them to hang them all up. Mom kept reminiscing on old ornaments Saw and I had made as kids. Eventually the tree topper went up and Sawyer and I plugged in the lights.
Sawyer wrapped his arms around me and mom, Laura leaned on dad as he held her lovingly. And we all watched the Christmas tree glow in our living room. I gazed at it and was quite proud of what my family had accomplished.
Despite our strained past, we came together as a united family. I knew we would never be like those families in the Rockwell paintings, but we were us. We were crazy in love with each other. I couldn’t have asked for much more as I reveled in our family moment.
When all was said and done, we all settled in for the evening. Mom was downstairs reading a book she had bought while we were in town today. Dad and Laura checked into a hotel for the night. Sawyer and I decided it would be nice to have a movie night. So that’s what we were doing. We were in the middle of ’How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ the cartoon—not the creepy Jim Carrey one with Taylor Momsem. But the classic cartoon one.
“I like her too.” Sawyer nodded, his voice sounded sleepy. I knew he would be out like a light soon enough. “She makes dad happy, did you see how he couldn’t swipe that smile off his face?” he added.
“Yeah, I did.”
It was a look I wanted. A look I craved and only one boy made me feel like that.