I have an extremely restless night filled with much tossing and turning. All I can think about is what Judy said about our mom and dad. Her words, “He threw her out”, just kept echoing over and over in my head. How could my Dad have gotten that angry to do such a thing? What could have been so bad for him to ask my mother to leave? And for three months!
Not being able to take it anymore, I hop out of bed. It is already eight in the morning, so I figure my dad is already up and in his study. I just had to get to the bottom of this.
After showering and getting dressed, I hurry downstairs to my father’s study. As I suspected, he is already up, for the study door is closed. I lift my hand and then rap gently on the door.
“Come in,” my dad calls.
Inside, he is seated quietly behind his computer. His hands are moving miles a minute across his keyboard as he enters information from the files on his desk.
“Morning dad,” I say, entering fully inside. “I know you are busy, but do you think I could talk to you for a few minutes?”
My father’s fingers are still dancing along the keyboard. “Sure thing, sweetheart. What’s on your mind?”
I bite my lip. Now I know my dad is very good at multi-tasking, (with that, I mean carrying on a conversation while working) but this was something that I wanted his full attention on.
“Um, dad? It’s kind of serious,” I say quietly.
That gets his attention. After typing in a final line, he pauses and looks up at me.
“All right, Lizzie. What is it?”
I clear my throat. “Judy said something yesterday and I want to hear the truth from you.” I pause trying to calm my nerves. “Dad, did you kick mom out?”
My dad’s eyebrows go up. “W-what? No. W-where did you hear that?”
“Judy. She told me yesterday that you and mom fought and that you asked her to leave. She said that you two have been fighting for quite a while.”
My dad exhales and then sits back in his chair. “Now, Lizzie…it’s not what you think-”
“Dad, please.” I can tell he is trying hard to come up with something on the spot to cover up whatever is going on.
“You don’t have to sugarcoat it for me. I’m all grown up now. You can tell the truth.”
My dad stares at me in silence for a moment and then he rises from his chair and makes his way over to me. “Lizzie, it’s not that I don’t want to tell you, it’s just that it’s…very…complicated.”
“Please dad, try. I want to know what’s going on.”
My dad rubs the back of his neck uncomfortably. “I-I suppose I can explain the jest of it.” He then exhales deeply. “It’s your mother, She…she met someone at work.”
I can already feel my stomach beginning to turn. “O-okay…and?”
“And, they became very…close. They started spending a lot of time together during and after work and soon, I believe some f-feelings began to develop.”
I feel sick to my stomach when he says this. I can already tell where it’s going and I don’t want him to finish.
“So, your saying mom is having an affair?”
My dad hesitates for a couple seconds before nodding his head. “Y-yes. I am.”
“Wow,” I say, slowly massaging the back of my neck. Even after hearing him say it, it is still hard to believe. My mother adored my father, and I mean adored. I used to get grossed out at times for how hands on she was with him. So hearing that she had found another man? It just feels so unreal.
“I really can’t believe that mom would do that.”
“Neither did I, but she did.”
I bite my lip again. “So where does that leave you two? Are you getting…a divorce?” I am barely able to get that word out. I dread the answer so much.
My dad then exhales again. “I really don’t like having to discuss this with you. Not with you having just graduated and waiting to hear back from your graduate schools. This is the last thing you should have to think about.”
“Dad please. You, mom and Judy are my family. I definitely want to know what’s going on no matter what.” I then shake my head. “Judy kept trying to get a hold of me a few months ago, but I was just too busy to listen. Now she won’t even look at me. And now you and mom are splitting up…”
My dad looks surprised. “Lizzie, I hope you don’t think any of this is your fault! There was no way that you could have know any of this was going on!”
“I would have if I had called.”
“No, Lizzie. Stop it. The only one to blame here, is your mother for her actions. I have always taught you and Judy that your actions have consequences. Right now, your mother is facing hers. It has nothing to do with you or your sister. It would have happened regardless of whether you were here or not.”
When I don’t respond, my dad reaches over and pulls me into a hug. “Regardless of what happens, I don’t want you to worry about it. Just know that your mother and I will always be there for you, no matter what. Whether you are here in Aberdale or off in Maurana City. You got that?”
I take a deep breath. “All right. I got it.”
With that, I turn and leave my dad’s study without saying another word. My brain is still reeling from everything that I had just heard that I really don’t have anything else to say.
So, my mother was having an affair. She had decided that my father was not enough that she needed to seek companionship elsewhere. Wow.
I am still so bewildered as I sit in my desk revising my novel, for what feels like the thousandth time. My mother, who couldn’t seem to tear her face away from my father during Christmas when they kissed under the mistletoe, was now cheating with someone else. It was just too hard to believe. That didn’t sound like my mother at all.
Wanting to clear my head a bit, I leave home three hours later and spend my day buried in books at the downtown bookstore. There happens to be a 40% off sale, so I get to work searching for deals. I end up deciding on a few books; one for prepping to start graduate school, another for landing the right literary agent, and another for tourist destinations in Marina Beach. With me going there in a few weeks, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
For a while, it seems to do the trick and I completely forget about all the craziness at home. But as soon as I get back into my car, it all comes rushing back. So much so, that finally I can’t take it anymore. I need to speak to my mom. Now.
I quickly turn my steering wheel in a U-turn and head up the street toward my grandparent’s house. If my mother was really having an affair, I want her to say it to my face.
I arrive at the house in almost thirty minutes, with the outdoor fountain greeting me as I pass on the way to the door. The palm trees sway as I head up the walk way.
When I reach the front door, I press the doorbell and knock three times.
“Lizzie!” My grandfather says, giving me a hug. “How is one of my favorite granddaughters? You enjoying being a college grad?”
“I’m okay and I certainly am,” I say, forcing a smile. “I can’t lie, it’s nice to be done with all the responsibilities from school.”
“I’ll bet! You’ve worked so hard this year! Your grandmother and I are very proud of you!”
I beam. “Thanks.”
“So, what brings you here, my dear Elizabeth?”
I clear my throat. “Well, to be honest, I came to see my mom. I really need to talk to her.”
“Ah, I see.” My grandfather stretches. “Unfortunately your mother went out to run an errand. You can wait for her if you would like. She should be back soon.”
I feel guilty, but I can’t help but wonder if it was really an errand she was running. Was he sure it wasn’t a trip to see her special someone?
“I don’t mind waiting,” I say, “I’m not really doing anything today.”
“Good, I could use the company. Your grandmother is out as well.”
I then follow him into the family room.
We spend the next forty minutes just chatting on the sofa discussing school, my major (Communications with a minor in creative writing), my novel and even graduate school.
“So I am waiting to hear back from four other schools,” I was saying. “I’m really hoping for the University of Maurana City though. The program and the faculty are exactly what I am looking for. They also seem to have a higher employment rate upon graduation.”
“That sounds excellent,” my grandfather says with a nod. He then adds, “I’m also sure, having that Dawson boy nearby is also a plus.”
I can’t help but blush slightly at that. While I am very on about the program, I can’t deny that there was a little truth to that. With the Beta Gamma Kappas becoming an official sorority, Michael graduating and starting his new job, me applying to graduate school and querying agents, all while trying to maintain my high gpa, I haven’t had much time for anything else. Michael and I had barely spent any time together in the past six month, making us cherish any holidays when we would have free time to spend with one another. That was probably a big reason why he wanted me to move in, and each time I think about it, it is sounding more and more like a good idea.
“I must admit, he is a big plus,” I then say with a little smile.
My grandfather laughs. “I assume then things are still going well between the two of you?”
“I’m glad to hear it.” My grandfather then sits up slowly. “I think that boy is a keeper.”
I can’t help but smile at that. “I completely agree.”
After that my grandfather leaves to get a start on dinner, leaving me sitting on the couch. He does ask if I want to come back later, but I decline. I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight if I don’t get some answers from my mother.
It is almost another twenty minutes before I hear the front door opening. The voice of a woman sighs heavily and I recognize the voice as my mothers. Summoning my courage, I leave the family room and enter into the hallway.
Sure enough, my mother is standing in the hallway putting her coat away. She turns and looks at me in surprise.
“Lizzie! Goodness! What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you.” I can feel my nerves kicking in. “I-I thought we should talk.”
My mom shrugs. “Sure dear. Is everything all right?”
I shake my head. “No, it’s not. It’s far from it.”
“This is about Judy isn’t it?” My raises her hands. “Don’t worry Lizzie. She’s just going through adolescence. You did too. It will pass.”
“I don’t think so,” I say quickly. “Her anger is a lot more than just ‘“adolescence.”’
“Oh?” My mom raises her eyebrows.
“I think it has to do with what’s going on between you and dad.”
My mom tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Honey, nothing is going on between me and your f-”
“Mom, please. I’m not stupid. I could sense there was something going on from the way you two acted when you were in the same room together. Not to mention the fact that you have been staying here for the past three months?”
My mother looks taken aback.
“Yes,” I say, not giving her a chance to answer. “Judy told me. She also told me how you and dad have been fighting and that he is the one that asked you to leave.”
My mom is now looking very uneasy. “Lizzie,” she starts, but I’m not finished.
“I asked dad about it and he told me something, something that I find very hard to believe. So I want to hear it from you.” I pause for a moment to calm my nerves. “Mom, are you cheating on dad?”
Even before she responds, I already know the answer. Her eyes can’t seem to focus on me as they dart all around the room.
“Lizzie, I don’t know think we should be discussing this-”
“Just tell me truth, mom. Are you?”
“Lizzie, I don’t-”
“Mom!” I feel my patience waning. “Are you cheating or not?”
My mom looks at me quietly for a few seconds before letting out a sigh. “Look honey, this is a very complicated situation-”
“How so?” I feel my nerves calming down and rather my anger building. “It’s a simple question. Yes, you are, or no, you’re not. Which is it?”
“Lizzie, what you must understand is that some things are not so black and white. There are a lot of factors in what is going on between-”
I scoff loudly. “Oh my gosh!”
Was my mother seriously going to keep dancing around the question? It was so obvious the answer and all she was doing was making me even angrier.
“Just answer the question!” I snap.
My mother’s eyes widen. “Lizzie!”
“I want to hear you say it! Now!”
“Elizabeth Junette Drake! Watch your tone!”
I frown. “Why? Because you don’t want me to make you say it? That you cheated on dad with some guy from your work?”
“Lizzie, it’s not that simple-”
“The hell it isn’t! I can’t believe you would do that to dad! I thought you loved him!”
“Lizzie!” My mom looks shocked. “Of course I do! This situation is just very complicated.”
“Oh really?” I raise my left eyebrow. “Please enlighten me, mom. Explain to me what good reason you have for doing this to dad.”
“I didn’t do this to him.” My mom exhales. “Honey, if you must know, your father and I have been a bit at odds for a while. Back in September he got a job promotion which as I’m sure you’ve seen, has got him working a lot more than he already does. It’s put a bit of a strain on us, for we haven’t been able to do much as a family or much of anything else. I was really happy for him, but maybe I was just lying to myself.” My mom runs a hand through her hair. “I started working late at work to keep my mind occupied and while doing so, I became close to a fellow employee. He would also stay late to correct papers and do his lesson plans. We got then got to talking, and…I don’t know.”
I nod my head. “So where does that leave dad? Or Judy for that matter?”
“Judy?” My mom looks confused. “This has nothing to do with her.”
“But it does, mom! Whatever happens with you and dad affects her too, especially if you two are thinking about,” I swallow, “divorce.”
My mother shifts backward uneasily. “Lizzie, I-I can’t really say for certain what’s going to happen. While divorce may be a possibility…I-I just don’t know.”
I still feel like I’m trying to take it all in. I feel like I am in an alternate universe. How could my mom cheat on my dad? How?
“Do you love him?” I say finally, disgusted by my own words.
“The guy you are sleeping with.” I surprise myself by even saying this.
My mother is just as shocked. “Elizabeth!” she exclaims.
I try to contain my composure. “Well you are!”
“No, I’m not!”
“Yes, it is true that I have been confiding in a man from work, but I have not been sleeping with anyone. I can’t believe you would say such a thing!”
“And I can’t believe you would do this to dad.” I shake my head. “You used to tell me that he was the only one in the world for you.”
“Things change, Lizzie. People change. Their dreams, wants, needs and desires. Sometimes they change with others, sometimes they don’t. When that happens, you just have to move on.”
I can’t believe what I am hearing. “So are you saying you want to move on from dad?”
“I’m saying that no one can predict the future. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. You’re still young, Lizzie, so it’s hard for you to understand. Sometimes, things just happen. No one means for it to, it just does.
I honestly am at a loss for words. It truly is like my mom is a different person. My mother who had pushed me to take a chance with Michael just three years ago, was now basically giving up on her own love; on my father! What had happened to her?
I find myself suddenly overcome with such sadness, that I don’t even know if I am angry anymore. Although I try to keep them from coming, I feel tears escape my eyes. This was all just surreal. It was too much for me.
“So that’s it,” I then say, trying to keep my voice from choking. “You and dad are just done. Just like that?”
“Lizzie, I didn’t say-”
“I-I don’t want to hear any more of it mom, please. I’ve heard enough.” I turn my head from her trying to shield my tears. “You’ve made it very clear how you feel. So, I hope you’re happy with your new life. Because you’re sure giving up a lot for it.”
I then turn and head for the front door not daring to look back. As I turn the door knob, I hear my mom call to me,
“Honey, I’m really sorry about all this.”
I just freeze for a few seconds, staring at the knob. This was not the home I was expecting to come home to. Just last summer, we were all so close. A family of four going with my uncle Rick and aunt Viola on a family camping trip. There was laughing and fun and most of all, my parents were so blissfully in love. Now a year later, they were on the verge of divorce. I just couldn’t believe it. How could too people who loved each other so much come to this?
“I’m sorry too,” I say, glancing at her over my shoulder, “but I feel sorrier for dad. Having to go through all of this because of you. I hope your happy.” I then walk out the door ignoring my mother’s pleas for me to return so we could talk it over some more. I just can’t. I’ve really heard enough.
As I head down the walk way to my car, I can’t hold it in anymore and finally break down. I feel my chest tightening heavily. Judy wasn’t speaking to me, my dad was in pain over being betrayed and my mother was in love with another man.
It seemed that our perfect family unit had been completely shattered and I had no idea how to put it back together.