Sydney did not leave her bed for days. She did not come out of her room. She did not eat much. All she did was cry her eyes out and when she had no more tears to cry, she stayed mute and refused to speak to anyone. Adeline has done everything in her power to get her daughter to move, all to no avail. She tried to make her see that she did not make a mistake. She tried to convince her that she would survive this. However, Sydney was not listening to a word she says.
It was yet another morning, one week after the failed wedding to be precise; Adeline was going into Sydney’s room with a tray of food. She had decided that today, she would make that stubborn child eat some food whether she likes it or not. Walking into the room, she was not surprised when she saw the pillows lying on the floor, the sheets scattered over the bed and Sydney curled in the form of a ball with her wedding gown tightly clenched to her chest. Sighing, she went to place the tray at the edge of the bed.
“Sydney,” Adeline picked the pillows from the floor. “For once I wish you could stop messing up your room when I clean it.” She said. Placing the pillows against the headboard, she added. “I brought you breakfast. Get up and eat.”
Sydney did not move. She continued to hug the dress and look out into space without uttering a word. She seemed to be distracted, as if she were in a world of her own. Adeline heaved a sigh. She hated the silent treatment Sydney was giving her and she hated it more when she pretended as if she was deaf, as if no one was talking. Taking a deep breath, she calmed herself and tried again.
“Sydney,” she sat on the bed, moving locks of black luscious hair away from Sydney’s face. Looking at her child’s face, she saw her puffy eyes and red nose. She looked helpless, like she was drowning. Indeed, she was drowning. Drowning in pain and misery. “Sydney, please get up and eat something.”
“I am not hungry.” She replied, moving her head away from her mother’s touch.
“That’s what you said last night.” Adeline sighed. “Please eat something.”
“I am not hungry.” She repeated, turning her back to Adeline, the wedding gown still clasped to her chest.
Groaning in frustration, Adeline rose to her feet. “This is not healthy. You have to eat.” She said, reaching for Sydney’s elbow. “Come on, get up.” She gently dragged her towards the edge of the bed.
“Let me be!” Sydney was irritated. “I said am not hungry!” She glared at her mother while yanking her arm from her grasp. “Take the food away.” She added, moving back to her previous position when Adeline took her arm again.
“I am not going to watch you die! Do you hear me?” She raged, reaching the wedding gown with her other hand and pulling from Sydney’s grasp.
“Mother, give that back!” Sydney yelled.
“No.” Adeline left her daughter’s arm and moved away from the bed, the wedding gown mobbing on the floor.
A look of panic crossed Sydney’s face and she quickly scrambled out of bed. “Mother!” She gasped, following her mother to repossess her dress. However, Adeline run across the room, then climbed the bed and descended at the other end. Now fuming a Sydney was on the left side of the bed, while she stood at the right.
Lifting the dress up, she asked in an angry tone. “So this dress is more important to you than your own health? You are willing to starve yourself just so you can stay in bed with this thing! Uh… that is it. I have had enough of it! This…” She raised the dress. “I am getting rid of it.”
“No!” Sydney gasped, a look of horror crossing her puffy face. She could not let her mother destroy her dress. No, she would not. That dress meant a lot to her. It gave her many memories, both good and bad. However, the good memories were what she was fighting to preserve. She wanted them to stay with her and holding it in her arms brought back all those memories. She recalled the memory of the day Anderson first saw her in it at the bridal store. His eyes had been the softest she had ever seen. He had stared as if she were the most precious thing on earth, as if he would do anything for her, as if her happiness was all he wanted. That day, he had looked the happiest she had ever seen him and she wanted to preserve that memory. She wanted to memorize it, to nurture it and not forget it. She wanted to keep it in her mind and forget of the sad look she saw in his eyes that night she broke up with him. She really wanted to forget the look of horror, shock, disappointment and hurt, she saw in his eyes. Because, remembering it brought tears to her eyes and she would rather remember him with a smile than tears.
The sound of fabric, ripping, snapped her out of her reverie. To her horror, her mother has torn her dress. There was a long rip from the neckline down to the back, which went round to the front side of the dress. Her jaw dropped and eyes flared as she stared in total horror.
“Mother!” She screamed, tears running into her eyes. Her heart beat quickened and the tears fell on her cheeks.
“I am sorry, but you left me no choice.” Adeline said.
Sydney’s hands turned into fists by her side, her tears ceased as a vein pumped in her neck. She was angry. No, angry was an understatement. She was infuriated. Her breathing turned rushed as she stared daggers at her mother. “How dare you!” She screamed, lifting the pillows Adeline had returned to the bed a while ago and flung them at her. “How dare you destroy my dress!” She reached for the sheets and tore them off the bed, tossing them on the floor. The tray fell with it, toast, coffee and bacon spilled everywhere. Not giving a damn about the mess she made, she added. “It is the only thing I have left from Anderson.”
“How do you expect to get over someone if you still hold on to things that remind you of them?” Adeline raged. “The wedding is over. So get used to it already. You did not marry him and you will never marry him.” With those words, she ripped more of the dress.
“MOTHER!” Sydney determined to save her dress; she rushed across the bed to meet her mother at the other side. Grabbing the gown, she pulled. Adeline held on to some part of the dress, determined not to let it go. She pulled and Sydney pulled. Together, they tore the dress into two, both of them holding a part each. Lifting the now white rag, Sydney felt tears rushed back into her eyes. It was not long before they rolled down her cheeks. Her dress was destroyed. It was gone, finished, done. All thanks to her mother!
“This is for the best.” Adeline spoke, tossing her part of the dress on the floor. It fell in the pool of coffee and soaked in the dark color.
“I hate you!” Sydney replied to her, screaming at the top of her voice. “I hate you!” She repeated while moving her gaze to Adeline. “I hate you!” Adeline froze, not knowing what to say or how to reply to that. “I hate you for ruining my life! I hate you for making me suffer for your mistakes! I hate you!”
“Don’t mention my name!” She cut Adeline’s words short. “How can a mother make her daughter suffer so much?”
“It was not my intention to hurt you.” Adeline had tears in her eyes now.
“But you did. You have always hurt me! Ever since dad died, you have mistreated me. You hit me, you insulted me, and you locked me out of the house. You made me feel like I was useless and now because of you, I have lost the man I love!
Adeline was speechless. She had no idea her daughter felt this way. Yes, she knew she wasn’t the best mother in the world. She knew has made mistakes and hurt her daughter one way or the other. She knew her daughter was not pleased with her. However, she had no idea Sydney held a grudge against her. She had no idea her wounds were so deep.
“Sydney, I know I have made some mistakes…” Adeline began but Sydney interjected.
“Some…? Huh, not some mistakes. You made a lot. And your biggest one was stealing a baby!” Her hand got into her hair and she pulled. “How could you help an ambitious woman steal an innocent baby? What happened to your humanity? Why did you do it? Why? Why did you not just leave that poor baby alone with his mother! Why did you ruin his life? Why did you ruin our lives?” Sydney threw her part of the dress at her sobbing mother. It landed on her arm and slipped to join the other one, soaking in the ugly color of the coffee.
The past week she has stayed in bed, she thought of how differently things would have turned out if there had not been secrets. She thought of how wonderful her wedding would have been if secrets had not been revealed. She thought of how happily married she would have been to Anderson. They would have still been on their honeymoon to Paris, today if everything had gone as planned. They would have been happy. However, things did not go as planned and no matter how much she blamed Mary for the failure of her marriage, one person was to blame for everything and that was Adeline, her mother. Yes, if Adeline had not switched the boys more than twenty years ago, things would have ended differently. Anderson would not have suffered because of his mother, Hansen would have been with his real mother, Adeline would not have ever become a drunk and the wedding would have taken place. No matter how much she hated to admit it, her mother was to blame for all of this.
“Sydney,” Adeline gasped, choking on tears. “I am sorry.”
“It’s too late for sorry!” Sydney yelled, moving away from her mother. “It’s too late.” She buried her face into her palms and cried. “Now he would never forgive me. I am sure he hates me already.”
“I am sorry.” Adeline did not know what else to say beside that. She was remorseful for everything she has done. She really regrets what she has done and she plans to reveal the truth to Anderson. She had wanted to wait until Sydney got over him, so she would tell him. However, it looked like she would not be getting over him so easily. “Sydney,”
“Don’t talk to me.” Sydney stormed out of the room. Adeline followed. She caught up with her in the living room.
“Leave me alone.” She went into the adjoining kitchen, determined not to listen to her mother.
Adeline followed. “Please hear me out.”
“I don’t want to!” She left the kitchen and headed to the front door. Her fingers curled around the doorknob. Just as she was about to turn it, Adeline spoke.
“I will fix this.”
“No, you won’t.” She replied before opening the door.
“I want to fix this.”
“No, you can’t.”
“Yes, I can.”
Sydney brought the door back, closing it. Turning around with arms folded on her chest, she asked. “Tell me, how are you going to fix a problem that has happened more than twenty years ago? What? Do you have a time machine that will take you back in time so you can fix you mistake?”
“No, I can’t undo what I have already done.” Adeline said.
“I know.” Sydney snorted and opened the door again.
“But I can lessen the burden on you by telling him the truth.”
Sydney came back, looking surprised. “What?”
“I will tell Anderson and Mr. Niles the whole truth.” Adeline said.
“Mother,” Sydney gasped. “You… they will… take you to jail.” She stuttered.
Adeline had thought of that. She knew the Niles’ were powerful people and if she should confess her crimes, she could be prosecuted and jailed. It was scary to think of going to prison. However, when she thinks of the pain that would leave Sydney if she confesses, prison did not seem so scary. She knew that her child was suffering because of her. She did not marry Anderson because she was afraid he would hate her if he learns the truth. That is why she plans to tell him. She wants to tell him everything herself and maybe convince the man not to resent her daughter for what she did. She plans to make him see reason so that her child would be happy again.
Smiling, Adeline said. “It’s about time we paid for our crimes…Jenny and me.”