The nights following what I have officially deemed the “Living Nightmare” were hard to bear. Insomnia was worse than ever and each day was harder to live through. My trust had been severely broken and I’m not sure if I will ever recuperate from it. Dominic told me everything that happened between him and Cora and he explained why he felt trapped and backed into a corner. He admitted that he had purchased his house from Kingsley and had fabricated the story about the house belonging his grandparents. I asked him why he would create such a lavish lie when all he had to say was he purchased it from a different realtor. He explained that he told me a story that he would have loved to have been true as he never had a relationship with his grandparents or mother. He said his mom did move to London, but it was when he was a child. He and his sister were in foster care until he turned eighteen. He then joined the military to escape his loneliness and find direction for his life. He reassured me that he did not lie about his sister and Jack. She really was ditched for a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas and Jack existed and does have autism.
When all was said and done, I decided I could never trust Dominic again and officially called it off. He was destroyed by everything and decided to sell his house and move out of state. He told me he planned to frequently drive back to visit Jack and his sister, but he couldn’t handle the memories in this town. I couldn’t blame him.
I started going to therapy sessions once a week, which gradually became once a month, to once every other month. I still suffer from bouts of insomnia here and there, but for the most part I get sleep. My slumber isn’t restful by any means. Often, I wake up in a sweat from my night terrors. Images of Cora and Ludo falling off the cliff haunt me. My therapist tells me to breathe through it, remind myself it is just a dream and Cora cannot hurt me anymore. I finally moved out of my tiny apartment. I now rent a townhouse on the Westside of town. I’ve taken up a new hobby of painting. It calms my nerves and gives me something to focus on. My bedroom wall is canvassed in paintings of Ludo. My favorite is one of Ludo with a tennis ball poking out on one side of his mouth. His eyebrows are crinkled and his big brown eyes as round as ever, begging for me to throw the ball. He’s the toughest loss by far. I’ll never forgive Cora for what she did. My therapist thinks I should practice forgiveness and learn to let go of my anger, but I can’t. Not yet at least. Ludo died protecting me and I failed him. He should never have been in that predicament.
I went through the five stages of grief as any person would do. I spent days in denial. I joined the Search and Rescue team in hopes that Ludo would come running out of the brush to me. I bargained with God. I begged God to give me Ludo and I promised I would start attending church. When God didn’t deliver, I became angered. What kind of God would do this? Why would an innocent life be taken from this world like that? Why? Finally, two stages hit me at once. Acceptance and depression. I reasoned with myself that I was okay and moving forward in my life, but whenever I paint, I let my hand control the brush and my mind goes blank. I always wind up painting a picture of Ludo from my memory, where he now lives on forever.
Eventually, I still want to adopt a dog, but I’m not ready yet. I quit my job and went back to school. I started working as a veterinarian technician to help animals and make up for the fact that I couldn’t help Ludo. One time, someone rushed in a boxer who had been hit by a car. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him, I thought it was my Ludo. The anguish I felt was jarring. I ran to the back office and sobbed. I was rendered useless and my supervisor sent me home for the rest of the day. She wanted me to rest, but all I did was mope in my despair alone at home.
I often think about Dominic and how easily I was fooled. I made a vow to myself to never be as naive as I was ever again. I asked him once how he responded to my location so quickly that dreadful day. He swore up and down that it was coincidental and he was going camping with Ludo. Part of me wonders about his alibi. After we broke up, I felt like I was being followed a time or two and once, I could have sworn I saw Dominic’s face in my rearview mirror. I guess I will never really know for sure.
Cora played me like a fiddle and I danced every jig she demanded of me. I made another vow to myself to never be anyone’s puppet ever again. Ellie and I are still the best of friends. She is the only person on this planet who truly understands how tremendously mind melting and traumatic these events were for me. I asked her to move into my new place and rent the second room. She agreed and will move in next weekend. It will be nice not to be alone anymore. My thoughts scare me and I can’t handle the quiet. Ellie is the one person I have left from my old life. I’ve had times of doubt that she should be with me in the future. Sometimes I want nothing more than to leave everything from my old life behind, but my therapist said I would regret cutting ties with Ellie. She said that Ellie is my link to Ludo and I need her for the days that are unbearable. I hate to admit it, but she’s right. I need Ellie in my life.