Chapter 9: Choices
Mom, Dad, and I are sitting around the dinner table, an awkward silence blanketing us.
I poke around the food on my plate, not having much of an appetite. I don’t think it’s because of mom’s spaghetti (which is an understatement because let’s face it, her cooking sucks). Dad isn’t even eating much of his food either. He’s just mindlessly twirling the spaghetti around his fork, not bothering to eat it. Mom sits beside him, quietly slurping away, but I can tell her mind is elsewhere. She seems to be looking at the wall, pretending to inspect one of the French paintings she bought last spring.
The tension in our family is too overwhelming. It pours into the air, crackling with strain and anger.
I can’t do this. I can’t sit down with my parents and pretend that everything’s okay.
Pretend that I haven’t just learnt our family company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Pretend that I haven’t just been offered a deal to help my parents. Pretend that I haven’t just signed three years of my life away to be engaged to Daniel Kerrington.
Releasing a slow breath, I push the plate away, and place my handkerchief next to it. “I’m going to bed. Good night.” I greet with a false smile.
My dad’s lips twitch. “No, sit down.” He points his finger downwards at the table.
My eyes challenge him. “I’m not hungry. And I’m exhausted.” “Alexandria.” He clenches his jaw tightly.
I almost laugh. “What do you want?”
He places his fork down, his eyes completely trained at me. “Please, Alexandria. We need to talk.” The tension in his jaw didn’t ease.
I fold my arms over my chest, leaning against my chair. “Haven’t we done that enough already?” I can’t help but say that with a bit of a slight edge to my voice.
Mom decides to join in our pleasant conversation. “Alex, don’t behave like this.” “Behave like what, mom?” I start to get really mad. I bolt out of my chair.
“Be how you want me to be? I did what the both of you asked. I acted rationally. I saved the freaking company for god’s sake, even if it meant sacrificing three years of my life for it. So instead of trying to give me a lecture about my behaviour, you should probably thank me for saving both of your asses.” My parents’ stunned faces greet me.
This is the only time that I have manage to completely silence them.
“Alexandria-” My dad starts off.
I thrust my hand out to stop him from talking. “No. Don’t you dare ‘Alexandria’ me.” My mom slaps her hand on the table, her anger reflecting mine.
“Alex, can you stop being so stubborn for one second and let us talk?” She says, hard and stern. I shrug. “I know you’re mad at your father and I, but just bare with us, okay? Can you please do that for the both of us? Please?” Her tone hints of desperation.
Shamefully, I slide back into my seat, avoiding both their gazes.
“Good,” My dad comments. “I know the whole thing with Mr. Kerrington has been quite a surprise. Your mother and I are still quite overwhelmed by all of this.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” The question slips out of my mouth. “Why didn’t you tell me the company was on the verge of bankruptcy? I know the problem didn’t just appear out of nowhere today. You guys have been keeping it a secret ever since I started college, maybe even earlier than that.”
Mom sighs. She attempts to reach over the table and touch my hand, but I recoil.
“I’m sorry.” She murmurs shamefully, cheeks turning pink.
“It was my idea in the first place,” Dad cuts in. “I didn’t want to overwhelm you.” “Yes, they weren’t your problems to handle, Alex.” Mum says.
“I guess they’re my problems now, aren’t they?” I mutter.
“Alexandria,” dad addresses me again, “We didn’t mean for you to be dragged into all of this. We love you too much. The company has been barely keeping afloat these past few months. Your mother and I thought we could come up with a solution before it got worse. But it did get worse, very fast. Our company sales were depleting at a really fast rate, and there was nothing we could do about it.”
“I don’t understand how. I thought Woods and Co was doing really well.” I question.
“We thought so too,” My mum chimes in, “but there are a lot of bad people within the business that wanted us gone. Add that to the horrible sales we have gotten these two years. It’s overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, Alex. We did the best we could, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Tears started to burn in my eyes. No I’m not going to cry I’m not going to cry I’m not going to cry.
“We had no other choice but to turn to Harry,” My dad continues, now his hand covering my mom’s. “He was our last option... our fail safe if we ever needed one. We were already desperate, your mother and I. So, there was no other choice left.” Mom nods. “Harry can really help us. He can help us kick start the business again.”
“We didn’t mean to hurt you, Alexandria,” Says dad, a look of regret in her eyes. “But it was either this... Or putting Woods and Co completely out of business.”
Silence consumes us for a what seems like a long time. I don’t know what to say. I know my mom and dad have done everything they could, but is it enough for me? Is it enough to mend our broken family?
“Say something, Alex.” A small tear slides down my mom’s cheek. ”Please." I do.
“So even though the both of you are sorry for the situation you’ve put me in,” I start off, “You’re still making me go through with it? Getting me engaged to Harry’s son?”
They say nothing.
But I know the answer when I see their faces.
“I can’t believe it.” I utter.
I don’t know why, but I start to laugh. I finally realise it. How could I have been so fucking blind? My parents care more about saving their precious little company than the happiness of their own daughter. They don’t give two flying shits about me. If they did, they wouldn’t have put me in the situation with Daniel in the first place. My heart
I get up from the chair again, keeping a cool composure, trying to blink back my tears. I don’t want them to know they’ve succeeded in breaking me.
Taking a deep breath, I start to speak, “I will go through with this engagement, if it means so freaking much to you.” I can see the relief bleed through my mom and dad’s eyes.
“Alexandria, thank you.” My dad praises me.
“Wait, I’m not done yet,” I stretch out my hand, “I will go through with the engagement. But, the minute I step out of this house tomorrow morning, I don’t want to have anything to do with the both of you. Ever. You get me?”
My mother gapes. “Alex!”
“Alexandria, please. You’re overreacting.” My dad forces out a laugh. Oh he thinks this is funny? Really?
“Am I though?” I narrow my eyes. “You say you love me and you didn’t mean to put me in this situation. Okay yeah I get that. But you put me in the situation anyway. I prioritized you guys first, rather than my own life, when I agreed to the engagement. But you guys prioritize the business first, and not me, your own daughter. What do you guys have to say about that?”
My parents look at me with horror.
“I will help you keep Woods and Co. Don’t get me wrong, I will.” I push the chair back under the table as a sign of me leaving, “But after today, I don’t want to speak to the either of you again.”
They try to come in my room.
I don’t let them in.
They try to speak to me, telling me how sorry they are for doing it, but they still love me.
I don’t believe them.
They tell me that they would cancel the contract with Harry, if it means I would speak to them again.
I tell them not to bother.
They made their choices.
I made mine.
I leave the townhouse before the crack of dawn. After my parents finally give up on trying to talk to me a little after midnight, they decide to head back to their room to sleep. I wake up at six to pack my bags. When I open the door, I make sure I do it as quietly as possible, for the fear that they might bombard me again and plead me to forgive them or something.
Finally, I manage to creep down the stairs without any sound. Holding the straps of my bag, I take one last look at the house.
I don’t feel anything except heartache here.
I need to get out.
I leave the house and get into my car. I start to drive.
When I finally reach the apartment, it’s almost morning. The sunrise is a display of radiant colours. Bright streaks of red, pink and orange slowly overcome the dark blue and purple of the sky. The soft rays of light penetrate the apartment windows, illuminating the entire place.
Setting my bag down on the counter table, I turn on the light of the living room and sit down on the couch. I don’t know how long I just sit there, my hands over my face, as if I’m shielding myself from everything around me.
I want to hide in my own hands and never come out of them.
I’m want to tell myself that I’m not afraid of what’s going to happen to me now that I made all the decisions I made yesterday.
I don’t know if I made the right choices.
I don’t know if I made the wrong choices.
I don’t know anything.
“Alex?” A familiar voice sounds the room. I finally look up from my hands and my watery eyes lock with Cara. She’s looks like she has just woken up from her sleep.
“Alex? What are you doing here so early?”
I don’t say anything.
Cara approaches me with caution. “Alex, are you okay?” I shake my head no.
“Jeez, Alex, you’re freaking me out.”
I open my mouth, but there are no words. Cara slides in next to me and tilts my chin up with her fingers. I see the worry in her eyes. “God, what happened to you?”
I wrap my arms around her and all the tears I’ve bottled up since yesterday come pouring out.