We take our trip to the UK. We get on a Benjamin's company plane and we fly for hours. Harrison sleeps, because as excited as he was, once we got to the beginning turbulence...he fainted.
I gave him Benadryl and hoped it would keep him out for the whole plane ride.
Benjamin and I don't speak for the first half. But he likes to talk, so I knew it wouldn't last long. As soon as my headphones died he starts talking.
I roll my eyes.
He smiles. "Alright. I won't say anything else."
"Or so you say now. In a few more minutes you'll be recalling the time we found out your were allergic to bees."
"You remember that?"
I roll my eyes again.
He stays silent. "So after this is over I guess we'll be getting divorced huh?"
I sigh. "Come here, Benjamin."
He sits down beside me, cocking his head. He kinda looks like a puppy.
"Harrison has been notably happier." I remark.
He smiles brightly. "I know isn't it wonderful! I think...I think I'm doing okay. I hope that taking him around my childhood home will bring us closer. Maybe we'll even make a few memories that he'll always remember. Oh and I brought Polaroid cameras. I know, know—"
He's so fucking long winded. Never yes or no.
I kiss him gently. Finally some peace and fucking quiet. He cups my face, kissing me back.
The only thing he's good at.
I look him over. "Wanna join the mile high club? Again?"
His eyes dart to Harrison.
I grab his face. "He's fine. He's sleep. We'll go in the bathroom."
I stand, and he takes my hand, following me into the bathroom.
• • •
He's mostly quiet for the rest of the flight. We touch down pretty early, and we make our way to his family's manor, with him carrying Harrison to the car.
As soon as we step foot into his house I smile. I can't help it. I loved it here.
His mother rushes up to me, hugging me closely.
"Oh my dear! How you've grown! Let me take a good look at you."
I smile. She frowns looking down at my hips.
"Mother," Benjamin steps in front of me, his hand in Harrison's. He's groggy, half asleep, but able to walk.
She gasps. "Is this?"
Benjamin nods. "Surprise!"
His mother looks at Harrison then at me and then Benjamin.
"This is my grandbaby?"
I nod. "His name is Harrison,"
She picks him up kissing his cheek. "Oh he's wonderful. The spitting image of Benjamin!"
I look away. This whole house...I thought I wouldn't bother me but...
I snap my head to her voice. I don't speak for a moment.
"Jessica is that...really your child? You had a child?"
What is she doing here? What could she possibly—
I turn around and cock my head with a smile. "Hello mother."
She comes toward me hesitantly. I need a drink. A very strong one. My heart hurts.
I chuckle. "You know my name mother. Why do you keep saying it?"
I want to leave here. I want to leave here and go back to the US. Who's stupid idea was this anyway?
Oh yeah. Of course. The old man. A pain in my ass even in death.
Her hands touch mine. They're like I remember. Cold, and trembling. The fear hasn't left her eyes. It's like he's right behind her, waiting until everyone turns their back, to ring her neck.
Maybe he is.
She pushes my hair back. "My baby."
I want to leave. I don't want to be here.
"How are you doing mother?" I ask.
She just gives me a pained smile. Does she love him? Is that possible? Maybe he beat it into her? Is that why...sometimes even I miss him. Not him, but...
Is that love? Is that why I still feel things for Benjamin? Because people kept saying I would marry him. Because I kept thinking I love him.
Was it beaten into me? Is that why I can't shake it?
I want to leave here.
"Jess," Benjamin says, "We'll give you all some privacy."
No. Don't. I don't want her sad eyes focused on me or her cold hands in mine. I want to leave.
"Okay," I whisper.
Mother hugs me tightly and starts crying as soon as they leave. I don't know why. Did she miss me? Or is she sad he's gone?
If I told her...that I'm part of the reason he's gone will she be sad? Or happy?
Relieved or enraged?
"My baby. You were all alone. I'm sorry. But... thank god you're alive."
Maybe I'm like my mother. Maybe that's why I could leave Harrison. Maybe it's a gene. Like how...she could watch him beat me through the crack in silence.
Maybe...maybe instead of hearing him into this cruel world, where even a mother can only watch on in horror, I should've just killed us both.
Maybe that would've been better for both of us.
Then he wouldn't suffer. I wouldn't have to watch my mother, with bruises that still haven't healed. It's been a month. How hard did he hit her?
I touch them. She takes my hand putting it back in her own.
She keeps saying that. She keeps crying.
"I know that I was useless. But I'm just so glad...you were alive. As long as you're alive," she bugs me tighter.
But I can't help but think what a low bar that is. As long as you're alive...
No matter the suffering, the pain, the fear. As long as you're alive. If you a worthless life, living is only pain.
What a waste of time. What a waste of effort.
"Did you love him?" I ask.
She freezes. "W-who?"
Who? The fucking moon. That's who I'm talking about. Sheesh.
I say nothing.
"My feelings about your father...are complicated."
"Were," I spit harshly. "He's dead now."
She smiles sadly. "Yes he is. But...the feels for the dead don't disappear. They live on in the hearts of the living. I'm sure you understand."
I scoff. "I feel nothing for him."
She sighs. "He wasn't always that way. Power changed him. Consumed him—"
"Do not—" I clear my throat, steadying my tone, "Do not defend that man to me."
She stepped back. "What is your boys name?"
She widened her eyes. I glance away. "I didn't name him."
Mother frowns. "Do you hate me, my daughter?"
I decided to tell her the truth. "I don't hate you, mother. I feel sorry for you. I don't know you enough to hate you. You're just the pitiful doll who used to look on, powerless to pull her own strings."
She starts to cry. I smile.
I don't do that anymore. That's why...even if I wanted to I can't feel sorry for her.
I was broken. She also endured abuse, but somehow, she still has tears to cry, and I can't muster them to save my soul.
If I could cry, maybe it would quell the hellfire inside me. If I could feel, maybe I could heal. If I could feel the sun, or joy, maybe I could find a reason—a reason of my own, to keep living.
But...I can't do any of those things. The superficial sensations the grace my skin do not go deeper, and no joy is in my heart.
I pat my mother's shoulder. "Don't bother crying mother. It won't help. It won't change anything. You take care of yourself. And...try not to show Harrison those bruises alright?"