Don't speak, No doubt
It was a hot spring day. The classroom was almost empty, and Lizbeth could hear the birds singing outside. She was tidying the final exams before putting them inside her bag. Even though she was exhausted after a tough week, she couldn’t hide the satisfaction of watching the next generation studying so hard to change the world one day.
Opening the door of her car, she took her khaki blazer off and put it on the passenger’s seat together with the rest of her stuff. After a whole day under the sun, the inside of the vehicle was like a blazing hell, so she turned on the engine and let it cool for a few minutes while she checked her email. Driving back home soon after.
The streets were vibrant and colorful. With the sun shining bright in the sky, people seemed happier, walking up and down the streets, taking the kids to the park, shopping or simply enjoying the pleasant weather.
A bittersweet emotion invaded her when she thought about all of them living unaware of the darkness in the world. As a forensic psychology doctor specialized in traumatic experiences and psychopathic tendencies, she had seen evil—or so she thought.
For the last three weeks, she had been juggling between her full-time job as a professor at Virginia State University and the temporary one as a state’s attorney consultant. Spending many hours reading through the case’s files and checking some horrid pictures to analyze the psycho behind them made her realize how destructive the human being could be.
That monster—that was the least he could be called—had killed several women around the country. Not only had he kidnapped them and kept them captive for days in the worst conditions, but he had raped and tortured them before he put an end to their suffering. Ironically, that was the most merciful thing he did for them. He was a violent man with a compulsiveness out of control but intelligent enough to cover his tracks for almost two years, not a hint of hesitation nor remorse in his crimes.
The FBI had managed to catch him because the last victim was able to provide them with an e-fit. Before that, the only thing they had were some DNA traces that didn’t match with any database. It was frustrating and energy draining. The girl was still in the hospital, nightmares keeping her awake at night, covered in wounds, scared to death of being touched by anyone. She would have such a long way to recover after something like that...
Lost in thought, Lizbeth arrived home. After driving the same road for a couple of years, she knew every bump in it so the automatic pilot used to take over.
Glad that she didn’t have any meetings or any other obligations, she decided to dedicate the afternoon to herself. It was going to be the first day in weeks she would have time to relax.
Unfortunately, as soon as she opened the front door of her house, she found herself face to face with another kind of evil.
“Hi, Lizbeth!” she said with a condescending grin plastered on her face.
“Hello, Cordelia,” she muttered.
Her future mother-in-law was wearing high heels sandals with a summer dress and too much makeup on her face. The perfect wrapped low bun and those huge pearl earrings gave her that snooty air that characterized her.
“What are you doing here?” the psychologist asked her as she left her bag and blazer on the couch. She knew Cordelia was in the city but never thought she would be so bold to enter their penthouse without any of them being there.
Why the hell did we give her a copy of the keys?
“How rude!” She scoffed. “I came to see my son. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Not at all, but you know he works late, so why are you really here?” she pressed.
Cordelia let out a soft snicker. “I wanted to talk to you.”
Lizbeth held back the urge to roll her eyes because she knew how to behave even if all she wanted to do was to kick that woman out.
“What about?” She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned on the back of the couch.
“Let me get straight to the point.”
“Why won’t you give me a grandson?”
“What?” Lizbeth raised her voice more than she intended to; brows lifted in surprise.
“My son told me about your discussion. How come you don’t want to have kids?” she asked, almost demanded. The manipulative witch.
“It’s none of your business.”
“It’s my business when it concerns my son,” she spat back, nose scrunching in disgust.
“Whatever you say, but I’m not talking about this with you.” Lizbeth started walking away, but Cordelia grabbed her arm, making her turn back.
“You’re a woman! You’re supposed to give him an heir. In our family, you don’t do things like living under the same roof without being married! This is something he would have never done before. He could have worked as a district attorney in any big city like New York or DC, and not in this shithole. And now you also deny us this? How dare you?” Her eyebrows creased together as she talked in a nasty, high-pitched tone of voice.
Yeah, they were one of those ass-rich families that live by and for the appearances. Social status was everything for her. It made her mad that being a nobody she felt like judging everyone like that. Nicolas had worked hard, earned himself a name, and was working for a prestigious law firm. What if he wasn’t what she wanted him to be?
“Again, Cordelia. It’s none of your business.”
Breathe... Don’t let her get to you.
After living in San Francisco for a while and working in a psychology clinic, Lizbeth was offered a job as a professor at Virginia University, which was why they moved back to her hometown. Having the chance to be closer to her family was a definite plus. But, apparently, Cordelia thought she shouldn’t have aspirations and just stand by the side of her son and act like a trophy wife—one she didn’t even approve of.
“You were nothing before you met him... I don’t know how you did it, just so you know, even if you carry our last name, you’re not gonna see a penny of our money.”
“I don’t care about your stupid money or your fucking last name!” she shouted; fists clenched on both sides of her body. Lizbeth used to be very patient, but she was on the edge. A few days before she had gone to the doctor only to find out that the chances of her ever becoming a mom were scarce, the news shattering her heart. She wasn’t ready yet, but she had always dreamed about having—at least—two little monsters that matched her craziness and who she could watch grow up playing with her brother’s one day.
“How dare you talk to me like that!” Cordelia exclaimed as she opened her eyes wide in surprise.
“How dare you!” she fired back. “This is my house and you have the nerve to come here and insult me to my face!”
“It’s my son’s house!”
“I’m done! Get out of here!” Lizbeth pushed her down the hallway.
“You can’t do this!”
“The hell I can’t!” she roared, slamming the door in her face.
“I’ll tell Nicolas about this!”
“I don’t care!”
When the clicking of Cordelia’s heels faded away, Lizbeth let herself fall to the floor, back pressed against the wall, the pressure in her chest building up while the tears flooded her eyes. With a storm about to explode inside her head, she couldn’t control the shaking in her body as she cried. She had focused so much on her career, trying to fill the hollow in her chest, she hadn’t seen the rest of her life crumbling around her. It was like a tragicomedy.
Lizbeth had loved Nicolas with all her heart, but she wasn’t sure about her feelings anymore. He used to be a kind and adorable law student with messy blond hair. He used to make her laugh, and he had huge dreams about saving the world, but as the years passed, he had turned into a very ambitious man, forgetting about everything around him as he got engrossed with his job. She knew few things that hurt more than feeling lonely while being in a relationship. That sentiment of abandonment, that silence, the solitude...
After brooding over their past, present, and future, she came to a conclusion. The realization was painful beyond imagination as her perfectly planned life shattered around her. It stung and hurt, but it was for the best. Prolonging the inevitable was pointless.
Letting out a heavy sight, feeling her corneas dry, Lizbeth got up and ran upstairs. Going straight into the master bedroom, she took a few suitcases from the closet in the corridor and opened them on the bed.
“What the hell are you doing?” Nicolas’s voice startled her.
“I’m leaving,” she responded, looking at him over her shoulder. He was tense, confused, and angry, probably because Cordelia had called him crying with a dramatic story.
“You talked back to my mother, yet you’re the one acting like someone offended you?”
“She insulted me,” she said as she kept moving around and putting her belongings inside the suitcases.
“Can you stop for a second?”
“What?” She stared into his chestnut eyes, a pang of pain piercing her chest. He looked tired, but he would never admit it or take a break. Why wouldn’t he see he was killing himself? Was that the way he wanted to live? Working sixty, or even seventy, hours a week for the rest of his life, not seeing her or his friends? And he wanted to have kids? What a joke!
“She’s dying to be a grandma...” Nicolas said, his tone softer as he took off his tie.
“I’m sure that after we get married and our lives relax a little... when we have a baby of our own, everything will be as it used to be,” he rasped as he approached her.
“That makes so much sense, yeah.”
He completely ignored her remark and brushed his fingertips over her jaw, his eyes lingering on her lips as his hand moved to her cleavage and started unbuttoning her shirt. If she hadn’t been so angry, she wouldn’t have minded some tie game or shower sex—they used to enjoy those—but he was trying to avoid the conflict, to avoid that discussion they had been postponing for so long.
“What do you think you’re doing!?”
“Come on, Angel...” he insisted, a soft smile on his lips.
“No!” She slapped his hand away.
“What’s wrong Liz...?” Concern covered his gorgeous face. “We need to keep going forward... What are you scared of?”
“I’m not scared of anything. I just don’t want to have kids—now... With this new part-time job... I’m-I’m not sure I want to bring a new life into this world.” She lied, trying to convince herself. “I-I... Why do you keep pushing it? And why did you have to talk about it with your mother?” The lump in her throat was making it difficult to talk.
They had been trying for a while, but she was under a lot of stress in her job and nothing seemed to work, but after going to the doctor and learning what was really wrong, reality hit her hard. It shouldn’t have affected the way it did, but she couldn’t help feeling useless as a woman and as a professional for not being able to control all those emotions. She should have known better! Blaming herself was going to take her nowhere, but after spending most of her life trying to be perfect, she felt like a failure. And how would she tell him that the chances of them having a baby were lower than getting struck by lightning?
It was all a fucking mess.
“She’s my mother and I needed her advice.”
“She has never liked me, Nick! She’d do anything to get rid of me.”
“That’s not true. She’s cheered for us from the beginning.”
“Are you blind?” She wanted to laugh. Or cry. She wasn’t sure anymore.
“Liz, she just wants us to be happy...”
“She wants you to be happy with a rich, snobby woman! If I ever have kids, she’s not going to be around to turn them into capricious little demons like her!”
“You’re talking about my mother here...” he said in a warning tone.
“Whatever. I’m done with this.” She turned back and walked into the bathroom.
“Can we talk about it, please?” His eyes bored into hers when she came back.
“I’m so tired... The lies, the fake smiles...” she said, zipping the suitcase, not daring to look at him. She had made up her mind, but she could feel her strength faltering.
“Liz, I love you and I want to start a new chapter together...” His gaze, his cold hands, his everything was pleading her to stay.
She knew he loved her and she loved him, a part of her still did. He had been nothing but good to her, but she couldn’t keep begging for attention and support. She was tired of his overbearing family trying to control their lives. The emptiness had created a black hole in her chest that was slowly swallowing her alive. She hadn’t signed up for that.
“You have big dreams for us, but you never listen to me... I haven’t worked my ass off for so many years to end up being a housewife at the age of thirty... You want kids, but you’re never at home...” She was on the verge of tears. “We want things from life that are not compatible...” Lizbeth almost choked at the end.
After losing who she thought was the love of her life, Nicolas put all her pieces back together, making her laugh and smile like she thought she never would again... Doing that was the hardest thing she had done in her life.
“What are you implying?” Concern covered his face, making it even harder for her to say the words that had to be said.
Lizbeth swallowed hard, looking into his beautiful eyes for one last time. “I’m sorry, but we’re done.”
And with that, she walked out of the house.