by Darya Charkashyna
Art by Clay Song
Issue: Audeamus (Winter 2011)
The first one fell slowly. It was as if it was still unsure, “Do I fall or do I stay?” The ones that followed answered. The pale, ashen shade of the carpet welcomed this cascade. The fall was the first one in many wounds that had come to greet with their sneering faces the already limping heart. Sitting on the harsh, cold leather of the modern-furniture styled couch, the harsh realizations hit like air bombs from war planes. Staying quiet was not an option when the missiles hit their target. The sound would be horrifying to any passerby, but there were none, and that meant the echo would be around until it chose to leave. The agony my soul had put away on those days two years ago, and the pain of now must have joined forces in the battle for my feelings, and my tears were the cold blood of the slowly dying soldiers…
While living with my mother, I could safely ignore anybody my father met or his relationship with that individual. However, when one night he called, he suddenly could not be ignored.
The AT&T Ringtone rung on my green, Pantech AT&T phone. My eyes wandered toward Caller-ID, it said: “Papa”. I looked toward my Pre-Calculus textbook and the Practice Test page, and then back at Caller-ID, picked up the phone and slid it open.
“Hi honey. How was your day?” said my father. He even sounded genuinely interested.
“It was okay Papa, how was yours?” my lame attempt at keeping conversation.
“It was good. I actually called to ask you about something.”
“Okay, go ahead.”
“You know how I told you about the woman I am seeing, Sarah?”
“Well, on September 3rd we are planning to get married, in Tahoe.” The part of my brain that contains Reason, Feelings, and Repulsion blew up. I have met the woman, but I have never had an honest-to-good conversation with her, how could I know she was even a good person for my father to be spending the rest of his life with?
“Oh, I see,” that was all my mind could muster at the moment.
“So I was wondering if you would like to come… As in, attend our wedding?” I took a deep breath and answered,
“I’m sorry Papa, but I cannot attend on that particular weekend.”
“Why not?” I could even here the puppy-dog sadness in his voice. I struggled to think of something to say to not give away any feelings, and said,
“It will be strange for me if I came, and I just do not want to, it will be awkward for me. It’s not just because I barely know her, I can’t really explain it. I’m sorry”. Silence was on the other end for a few seconds. And then,
“Oh. I understand.”
“Okay Papa, I have to go, I have homework. Bye.”
He did not ask me to come anymore after that call, and when he came back, he did not even call me to say how the wedding went. I think I was grateful, the thought of my father taking his vows at the alter with a woman who was not my mom, was hard to comprehend in my mind, even worse would be hearing that it actually happened. I had bigger things on my mind to deal with, I had a Pre-Calculus test coming up, World History project to finish, and my mother was dating another man. She did not love my father anymore, so she was happy for him when I told her about their wedding. She was surprised, but happy. I guess my father was too much of a weakling to tell her, I had to.
“I love him”.
“Really?” I answered with fake happiness, “Wow, that is so cool, and he loves you back right?” My mind recoiled at the thought of my mother loving anybody besides my father.
“Yes,” she answered thoughtfully, but right away, as if she used flash cards to study for this coming test, “He does, and he even proposed to me”.
“So, what did you answer to him?” The phrase “proposed to me” still echoed in my thoughts.
“I said yes.”
“That’s awesome! So, when’s the date?” The air was escaping out of my lungs faster than I could catch it back.
“We have not set a definite date, but it will probably be within the year”. I should have not asked about when it would be, maybe then she would never be sure on the date and thoughts of the wedding would magically cease to exist? Too late for that now.
It was the first time in a while I could not speak. I pulled my dead-cold feet from the gray carpet onto the emotionlessly colored couch. I could feel with my feet the wetness of the couch that bore my tears. I let my fingers feel the echoes in the walls. Memories brought along more pain, and the more I tried to shut the world out, the more it came gushing in.
One memory was of my mother and her boyfriend arguing. But, why all the arguments my mother and her boyfriend always had were always resolved? Sometimes I wished for them to have one big argument and never talk to each other again, so that neither would be given a chance to erase all the horrible things said or done. However, he never could hold out for long because he loved her. My father, on the other hand, stopped doing that. The arguments piled up like a mountain of bills that needs to be paid, you keep trying to ignore it, but the bills do not want to be ignored, and the table falls with the heavy weight. Then you realize the time has come to pay them. My parents must have realized that around two years ago.
I liked the man she was going to marry; he was much more caring then my father had ever been. This one actually cared how my life went. Although, my father did care, he truly did, but not a lot, not like my mother always cared. My father, with all his faults, was still my father, a man gone from my life. On the outside, I had no care for the man, but on the inside it was as if a vital organ was missing, not the heart or stomach, more like the pancreas or liver.
I tried to shake all thoughts from my head as I stood up from my cold cell and dragged my suitcase-like backpack to the staircase. It must have not worked because I could not stop sobbing. I told myself to stop, but my eyes and my mind had differing opinions. My ears still echoed with the laughter of my father and mother while he was fixing her computer a few days ago. A mere few days ago! At some seconds while climbing the never-ending, pale-ashen color of sadness it seemed as if it happened in the last hour, and at some it felt as if it was years ago, during some evening when my father made barbecue and it was slightly burnt, but I did not care and my mother pretended not to, and we were watching funny Russian television shows, and they actually made you laugh, unlike the American ones with laughter inserted into it, and there is nothing left to laugh about.
As I sat at my desk absent-mindedly doing my Pre-Calculus homework, I contemplated what my life would be like if my mother’s “fiancé” joined us. I thought of waking up in the cold mornings and walking downstairs to make myself cereal after the warm morning shower. I imagined taking out my cereal box from the high shelf on the high, white cupboard above my head and pouring some into the bowl, turning around to get the milk and seeing him already holding it for me smiling and saying how it was a good morning. I would be startled and probably yell at him for frightening me, but then I would laugh and say thanks, and go on with my cereal making. This seemed like a good way for the future to turn out.
And then, I thought how we would go on some weekends to San Francisco. He and my mother would walk lovingly together and I would have to walk in front of them because they were going too slowly along the dusty street and I wanted to get to Sephora before it closed, the vast amount of lip-gloss and mirrors still mesmerizes me to this day. Every time I looked back to see if they were coming they would be laughing and smiling into each other’s eyes, exactly like my parents did on the good days, when there were no arguments. However, this video in my mind was not new, it only had one actor changed, my father. The laughing would not be the same without him. My parents’ laugh was light, expanding, smiling, and a familiar tune to me. A song I knew by heart, one of those songs you could sing everyday of your life and never tire of the same melody. This one had the same chords, yet something felt different. It was the same let-down I experienced when I heard a remix of my Someone Like You by Adele on the radio, it was much worse than the original.
No matter, I would forget of this as I forgot of my parents’ divorce two years ago. These thoughts would not be as hard to put away as the divorce. It would be as easy as putting a box of old board games on a high shelf, a very high shelf on the high, white cupboard. Besides, I had a Pre-Calculus test coming up and a World History project to finish…