Hypothetically, Of Course

Chapter 6: Someday – By Nickelback

10:03 P.M.


"Mom?" Bella adjusted the phone under her chin as she stumbled into her apartment after fumbling with the bag on her shoulder, the keys, and her anxiety.

"Islabelle, she's here." The older woman breathed into the phone softly. "She's just gone into your old room to take a rest. Just wanted to let you know."

Instantly Bella broke down, slumping against the inside of her closed apartment door. "Mommy, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. What am I supposed to do now?"

Janet sighed, feeling the stress of her granddaughter and daughter trickling down to her. "In life, we make decisions. They aren't always the best ones, but we have to deal with the outcome. You know how you and Lea are, just as close as Chinese rice balls, she'll bounce back."

Bella ran a clammy hand through her hair, concentrating on her mother's wisdom. "I'm so confused. I feel so confused. I thought that this was the right thing."

"It might have been, baby, at the moment. At different moments, this may have been the right thing. But at this moment, you're faced with bigger fish to fry, so you gotta make sure that you fry em', well and good."

Bella laughed, softly. "Mama, you always know how to make me smile. Don't you have to work tonight?"

Janet sighed, "I'm supposed to be finishing up this last research bracket on the patients, but I'll let Carol handle that. I never take any time off. But, if they beep me, or call me in, I'll go. Isla should be sleep real soon, and if I have to go in, I'll be back by the time she wakes."

"Mom. Thank you, so much, for being God right now."

"Child, please." Janet exhaled, sharply. "Joan Of Arc, maybe, but not god. You get some rest. She'll be home later on tomorrow."

"Don't force her to come back if she doesn't want to, okay? I understand why she's so upset – this isn't about me. It's about her stability."

"I understand. Now take your busy behind to bed. It's calling for you, it told me so, earlier."

Bella laughed at her mother's humor, said her goodbyes and hung up. Realizing that she had been sitting on the floor in front of her door, in the dark, she rose slowly in her ridiculous pumps and made her way to turn on the lights.

The tranquility of her apartment seemed fragile now; empty, as if the foundation was cracking and the whole thing would collapse on her, the most inconclusive feeling ever.

A shower couldn't fix everything, but it might set them into perspective.

Bella turned the stereo on, and made her way to the hallway bathroom.

11:25 P.M.

Knocks at the door jerked Bella out of her conscious stupor, her mind steeping into the deepest parts of her situation, holding back the tears that she wouldn't allow to cause the stress on her face.

Standing up slowly from kneeling on the inside edge of her couch in sweatpants, t-shirt, and hair tied, she stumbled slowly.

"Who?" She said, barely above a whisper. No answer.

"Who?" She said once again, a bit louder, to find that her voice couldn't reach above a normal octave.


The door flung open, Bella almost ripped the handle off. "What. Do you want?"

Lance took a step back, startled. "To speak to you and Lea."

"She's not here, she's with her grandmother."

Lance glanced around her, as if searching for someone. "Is this a bad time? You seem rushed."

Bella stared at him, blankly, and open the door wider to allow access into the empty apartment. "Come in."

11:28 P.M.


Lance stepped in, calmly, sullenly glancing around as his footsteps took him farther into the apartment.

They were doing well, that was certain.

The walls were decorated finely, spotted with floating frames and portraits, ranging between family outings and modern art illustrations. It was a room full of memories; impossible to take in all at once.

Realizing that he'd been in a daze, Lance glanced behind him to find Bella returning from a room to the right. She'd changed out of the shorts she'd been wearing, and into a pair of bright sweats, but the same baby tee. Under his scrutiny, Bella glanced away awkwardly.

"You can have a seat." Bella said, gesturing to the couch in the center of the room.

Nodding his head courteously, the silence seemed to accentuate the nature of the tension stuck between the two of them.

"Do you want something to drink?" Bella asked, and walked briskly into the kitchen without waiting for a response.

Lance took the moment to rise from his seat and follow after her, admiring the pictures mounted on the wall.

One caught his eye, in particular. A picture, sitting calmly in its frame, on one of the lamp stands near the corner of the living room. A picture of a very young Lea; Dirt smudges on her cheeks, youthful white teeth, Curly brown ringlets, those eyes, and the greatest grin he never would've expected from Lea. So pure, natural, innocent.

Cradling it in his hands, he followed Bella into the kitchen area. "How old was she, in this one?"

Bella glanced over her shoulder, briefly, exposing the hint of a smile. "She was eleven. She used to play soccer, and it was the first goal she'd ever made."

Lance smiled, imagining an eleven year old Lea in a team uniform, sweaty. "How long did she play?"

Bella laughed aloud this time, "Only for about four months. Then we tried basketball, which was another four months. Then it was gymnastics, which surprisingly lasted for about a year."

Lance laughed, softly, "What came after that?"

Bella turned around with two drinks in her hand, a fresh cup of apple juice. She still remembered, it was always his favorite. "Golf, down at the pier. That lasted less than three weeks."

Lance nodded a thank you, as she led them back into the living room. He could tell that Bella was beginning to open up again; Lea was an easy subject for her to embrace. "Everything was short lived, huh?"

Lea shook her head as she swallowed a sip of her drink, "She figure skated continuously for about six years, between age six and twelve. That, she loved. No matter how many times she almost broke her neck, she wouldn't stop until the blades of her skates were dull and she had to sharpen them. Then I could lure her home."

"What happened to that?" Lance asked, his eyes still unwaveringly focused on the photograph between his hands.

Lea shrugged, and he could feel the energy of her mood change. "I couldn't afford it anymore. I didn't have the time, and we didn't have the money. Professional figure skating is so timely and costly – I just couldn't do it."

Their eyes met as the awkward silence resumed. There were so many things that he wanted to say to her, so many apologies lodged under his tongue that it was almost impossible to swallow the apple juice she'd poured for him.

Ignoring the overwhelming feeling in the back of his throat, he pressed on. "Has she had any…influential male figures in her life?"

Bella barked out a sarcastic laugh under her breath. "Um, no. None except for my brother. I could hardly make it to parent-teacher night, tonight; Imagine time for anyone else."

The silence resumed; this time, not really awkward – but littered with unsaid words and suppressed emotion.

Bella stood up, and Lance jerked as the silence was broken with her footsteps. He followed her with his eyes, tracing the figure of her body. The silhouette of her slender, sinewy back, the curve of her backside. There were so many memories that he wanted to relive…

Bella returned, with a big purple case spotted with pink and orange dots of glitter, all in different places.

"Leyarie's Ultimate Baby Book!" it read, as she drew closer.

Sitting down again, Bella placed the case into his lap. "There are pictures, and handprints, footprints and digital copies of home videos taken of Lea throughout the years in here. You don't have to take it if you don't want to, of course, I just thought it might be a nice way to – "

Lance cut her off as she began to ramble. "This is – wow – thank you. Would you mind if I took it home, so that I can take my time with it?"

Bella shook her head, "As long as you bring it back, you can have it for as long as it takes."

Lance looked up, "As long as it takes to…?"

"To feel better about all of this."

Lance looked down again, unzipping the case. A photograph fell out instantly, face down. On its back, it read, "Bella and Lea, Day 2."

Lance picked up the photograph slowly, almost afraid to uncover the truth. Looking at the picture, he observed the two fingers that Lea had maneuvered into her tiny mouth (the same two that he'd sucked on as a child) and the way Bella had already began trying to prod the fingers away. A pure and honest moment that he'd missed.

He smiled, holding back a flurry of tears. "I don't want to feel any differently than I do right now…I know enough about the truth, already."

Lea stood up again, as if cueing his exit. Lance rose with her, towering a few inches above her gave him the ability to soul search her eyes, the way he'd always done before. In that rare moment of intimacy, he grabbed the soft dwindling hand that hung at Bella's side. She jump, alarmed.

"I really am, so sorry, that it turned out this way. But I'm not sorry that it happened. I'm not sorry that Leyarie happened."

Bella turned away, trying to suffocate tears that had been threatening to fall all night.

Lance walked towards the door, the case cradled safely between his forearm and side. "Will you call me when she comes back? I need to see her before Monday – school isn't the best place to…you know."

Bella shrugged, back still turned. Right before he stepped out of the door, she called over her shoulder. "Yes, I'll call you when she comes back."

Lance nodded before closing the door behind him.

No matter how far Bella had run from him when they were younger, he always knew that the chapter in their life, the one that she'd disappeared in was not the finale to their story. The case under his arm only solidified that.

12:28 A.M.


There are moments when the defining action becomes the goal of the moment. Sometimes that goal is just to survive, or maybe to keep dying. And so we lie to ourselves, pretending to be content with the stagnant nature of our existence, as if waiting for some kind of time bomb to make the first move for us.

That explained Lance at one of the most defining moments of his lifetime.

The television remote danced between his hands as he flicked the screen on and off. The DVD had already been placed inside of the machine, the Home screen already displaying the provocative titles of each chapter. "Her First Day; Birthday party of 92'; First Ballet Recital; Figure Skating Regional's"

The bravery it would take to press play on that damned remote was the only thing he hadn't been able to buy in a long time. There is nothing more frustrating than that. There is nothing more frustrating than your parent's typical philosophies coming into play right before your eyes, "Money can't buy everything, son."

Fuck that.

This was ridiculous. He would just press play and watch the damned video.


"Smile for the camera Bella." A tired Islabelle ignored the orders of the woman behind the camera as she stared down at the wrinkly baby in her arms. A nurse suddenly came into view, handing Islabelle a bottle and an extra blanket.

"It will take a few more hours for her eyes to open," The nurse said, fixing the position of Islabelle's arms underneath the baby, "Only because of the premature nature of her birth, But nothing to worry about."

Islabelle nodded her head slowly, finally looking up at the camera. Curly hair wild, but skin glowing, it was the same Islabelle he'd remembered, but with dark circles under her eyes. Beautiful, youthful, this had to have been just months after the graduation that she'd missed.

Lea began to whine, the beginnings of a long cry, and Islabelle snapped to attention, beginning to rock the baby softly in her arms. "No, don't cry mama. I've got your milk right here, everything's ok."

Lea cried some more, rejecting the bottle when Islabelle touched it to her lips, turning her head away sharply. "Is she full?" Islabelle asked the nurse.

The nurse frowned, "No, she shouldn't be. Maybe she just wants to exercise her vocal cords."

The woman behind the camera laughed. As the crying continued, a worried look began to paint Islabelle's face. "What's wrong, what did I do?" She asked the nurse, beginning to panic.

"Nothing—you're doing fine." The nurse said, kneeling closer to islabelle's bedside.

Suddenly the crying seized. The camera zoomed into onto Lea face; She had opened her eyes.

The woman behind the camera inhaled sharply. "Oh, my god! Look! She's so beautiful."

Lea blinked her eyes, rolling them softly as each blinking interval allowed her to keep them open for longer periods of time. She was suddenly in a staring match with her mother. Brown eyes staring into incredible green; A moment had been established.

"She has his eyes," Islabelle said, softly, almost inaudible.

And then the camera went black, before jumping to the next scene.

Lance pressed the pause button, violently. Swiping at his face, he was suddenly aware of the tears that he'd been unable to prevent.

He should've been there. He would've been there, had he been smarter. He really, really, should've been there. And smarter.

6:30 A.M.

Monday Morning

Text Messages:

Lance: Has she still not come home?

Islabelle: No. She called and asked me to feed her fish, though.

Lance: She will be present in school though, right?

Islabelle: As angry as she may be, she doesn't have a choice. My mother knows that.

Lance: What should I say to her?

Islabelle: idk, Good morning?

8:30 A.M.


And so the day began, with Lance forgetting about his latte, Islabelle almost calling out of work, and Lea marching into school with anger on her back and a pop tart between her teeth. It's not easy being the protagonist, but someone has to do it.

Lea skipped the stairs, two at a time, sending quiet hellos to the people who greeted her while looking around for the blond boy.

Apparently she hadn't had to look far.

Hands snaked around her waist, decidedly sneaky, while reaching for a kiss behind the ear. Lea squirmed out of his grasp. "Don't touch me. I thought we made this deal a long time ago."

Carusso's hands reached for her again, "You said not in public. This isn't public unless someone is looking – which they are not."

"Carusso…" Lea whined, quietly, pushing him off of her. "Not today; I can't deal with your shit today, too."

Carusso followed after her, following her into the almost empty staircase while grabbing her hand as she found herself within his reach again. He tugged on her wrist gently to turn her around. "What's wrong?"

He'd gone from jokingly horny, to deadly serious within moments. Extremities were never quite her thing.

Lea jerked her hand away, softly. "Nothing."

"That's bullshit – As much as you say that I annoy you, you never act like this."

"I'm fine."

He grabbed her hand again, spinning her around. All of the grabbing seemed unnecessary. "Seriously? Don't lie to me."

Lea sighed; sometimes that persistent shit was a little too much. "I don't want to talk about it right now. To anyone."

They stared at each other for a few seconds, before Carusso took the opportunity to lean Lea against the winding banister and kiss her, softly, on the lips. "Whenever you're ready – to talk – or anything else, I'm around."

He was a weird boy, But a delicately, beautifully vulnerable weird boy, who was inching his way towards a heart that had no room for such vulnerability.

But since he had added such a large improvement to a day that will, without doubt, suck – she might be able to find some kind of room for him. Maybe somewhere in the left ventricle.

11:03 A.M.


"Leyarie, please stay behind after your classmates exit." Lance called over the shrill sound of the bell that ended the period.

Lea looked up at him from her seat, and nodded her head, wearily, while packing up her things.

As the last student left the classroom, allowing the door to close in the slow, painful way it always did, Lance gathered all the courage he could find in his pinkie toe and stood from his desk chair.

"I don't want to talk about it." Lea intersected his thoughts, not allowing him to muffle a word, while continuing to pack her things up, slowly, not looking up.

Lance stopped midstride, sort of shocked. She was her mother in print; the aggressiveness, the blunt honesty. Islabelle; In essence.

"I know; I don't really want to talk about this either," Great comeback, Lance, ole' boy. "But, we need to speak about this. I don't think we should have to be awkward around each other…"

"Why, because I share 50 percent of your genes?" Still looking down, staring into her notebook, though there was no writing.

Everything seemed to be still, frozen in time. He completely understood the teen angst thing, but he was seriously tired of being the bad guy. "You don't seem to be in denial."

Lea laughed softly, "For what? What am I denying? There's nothing to deny – it is what it is."

There was another deep silence.

"You know," Lance began, taking the moment to stretch out on a limb. "I watched the video of you and your mom; the footage from after your…birth."

Lea was still, suddenly, all fidgeting had ceased.

"And, I don't know. I just couldn't stop feeling like something was missing. I – I should've been there. And I know that this is old news to you; but I'm so sorry – sorry that I wasn't there."

"I wish I would've never met you."

The impact of her words felt like a strong shove to Lance's chest, causing him to lean back carefully onto one of the desks. She was impossible, seriously? Just tear the heart right out of the chest; no need for any knives or cutting boards. "What?"

"A month ago, I was perfectly fine with being a bastard child. Most of my friends don't know their dads; it was never that big of a deal. I never had to go outside and see kids with their pop's and feel jealous – I never gave a fuck,"

Lea looked up, and the tears streaming out of her eyes were like mountains of lava flowing out of a volcano. Bad metaphor – but that was the way he felt, too. Like an exploding volcano…emptying.

"I was fine. But now here you come, wannabe'SuperDad', and mess everything up. I can't even finish my high school education without feeling like the world is ending. I'm so tired of people thinking that they know what's best for me. Go back to your wife, and your kids – or whatever. I never needed you, I don't know."

"I don't have a wife and kids."

Lea stood up rapidly, grabbing for her belongings in a mad rush for some sort of escape.

"I don't have anyone, except for my parents. That's it."

Right before Lea reached the threshold of the door, Lance spoke again, his voice box suffocating on all the emotion he was trying to suppress.

"I made a lot of mistakes in life; I'm just trying my best to fix this one. It's the only wrong that I can right."

Lea paused, her hand on the doorknob. "Then turn left; just go away."

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