I get home twenty minutes after the final bell rings, as usual. Dad is sitting in the kitchen, working on his laptop. He's the vice president of some big company. I don't really pay attention, and he doesn't really give me details. All I know is that it brings in the money, and that's all my father seems to care about.
I quietly get a glass of water from the tap, looking around for mom. She isn't in the living room. "Where's mom?" I ask dad. "I don't know." He shrugs, typing away. Of course not, I think to myself. That would be to much effort.
I sip the last of my water, and put the cup in the dishwasher. "I'll go check upstairs." I say, knowing he isn't listening.
Our house is pretty big. Not a mansion or anything like that, average size, I guess. Mom hired a professional decorator to decorate the whole house, when they bought it. We have everything that you would need to make your house a home; family portraits, from five years ago, mind you; a wood-burning fireplace, which is never used; and a pool in the backyard, which is my favourite place to be.
When I get upstairs I check the den, the bathroom, and finally her bedroom. When I find her, she's laying on her bed, wearing jeans and a red t-shirt. She's sleeping, or passed out. Either way, I close her door quietly, not wanting to wake her up.
I start my homework right away. I don't have too much today, I just want to get it out of the way. I sit at my desk and pull out my science homework. The purple binder matches the purple of my walls. Caroline and I picked out the colour. Purple and black take up the majority of my room; purple walls, black lace curtains, black bed sheets and dark stained wood furniture. It's almost an elegant look; Caroline says my room is fit for royalty. I'm really not sure if my room is that nice, but I agree with her anyways.
I don't get far on my homework before I hear dad knock on my door. "Adrianna, I'm going out." He is vague and his tone is clipped and short. He looks down the whole time he speaks. I try and get eye contact with him before I speak, but he seems to be really focused on fixing the crease on his blue button up shirt.
"Where?" I ask him, anyways. "I just have to do something. I'll be back some time tonight." Suddenly, I get a gut-wrenching stomach ache. I know where he's going and it's not good. It's not right. It's sick, actually. All I can do is hope mom doesn't wake up until morning; when he is back home. What she doesn't know can't hurt her, right?
"Mom and I will be waiting." I reply to him, hoping to tug on his heart strings a bit. "Yeah, okay." It is obvious he doesn't have any, as I hear the front door slam and his car start up. How many times has he done this? How many times have I heard the same excuses? How many times have I had to comfort my mother, while she cries, wondering when he'll come back? Every time he does this, I think that it's the last time. This is the night he's going to end it all. This is the night he's going to pick us over her. This is the night he will fix it. This is the night we can start over.
Mom doesn't really stick up for herself. I think she's scared. She's scared he'll actually pick that slut over us. To be honest, a part of me is, too. But the stronger, more optimistic part of me, tells me he would never. We are his family. We love him for better or for worse, and he knows that. Mom really loves him. She really thinks that he'll stop, she forgives him every time. I don't think she'll ever stop forgiving him.
I'm really not sure if I could forgive him, not because he's hurt me like he has, but because he's hurt my mother. My mother may not be the best person on this planet, but that does not mean she deserves a man like him. Sometimes I wish she would just divorce him. We'd be better off without him.
I look out my bedroom window and watch his black Range Rover pull out of our driveway. Maybe he'll get in a fatal car accident tonight; if he can't man up and end it himself, maybe that's our only other hope for it to end.
Life is filled with "maybe's".
I close my science homework, only half completed, and put on my favourite bathing suit. The feeling I get when I glide through the warm water in my pool doesn't compare to anything else. When I swim, I don't have to think about reality. I can pretend. I can pretend and hope and dream and wish. It's just me down there, nobody else. Nobody to judge me; nobody to hurt me; nobody to disappoint me; nobody for me to disappoint.
I keep swimming, until it is dark outside, and my toes are wrinkled. When I get out of the pool, I am overcome with cold air, and I hurry to my towel. I sit on my blue lounge chair and surround myself in it. Dad wont be home for a few more hours, I'm sure. I wonder if he's thinking about us right now. Me and my mother, Peggy. I wonder if he wishes he could turn back the clock and change everything, just like I do.
I shouldn't have to think about these things. This is not what a normal 15 year-old thinks about. I guess that's the problem; I'm not normal. I wonder if I ever will be. I think I need to phone Caroline. She'll make me feel better.
She picks up on the second ring, "Hey, Aid!" She's so perky I can hear her smiling on the other end. "Hey," She knows right away I'm upset. "What's wrong?" "Dad." "Awe, he's out again?" "Mmhmm." I nod, knowing she can't see. "What's he doing?" "Caroline, we both know what he's doing. Do I really have to say it?" "Yes. Say it." She always makes me do this. She think's that once I believe it, without denying it, I can start to forgive and move on. It never works, so I don't know why she keeps insisting. "No." "Common, Adrianna. Just say it." "I phoned you because I wanted comforting, not a therapist." "Isn't that kinda the same thing?" "No. Caroline, he's cheating on my mother and we all know it. He knows we know, but he doesn't stop. He never will. Doesn't he care about us at all?" "Of course he does, Aid. I think it's probably more complicated than that. Maybe the woman is like, blackmailing him into this or something." "Oh yeah, like she's some kind of con artist?" "You never know." "You're a fool." "Do you want to come over? Mom bought a new tub of Coffee Crisp ice cream." It's my favourite. She knows this. "I have to make sure mom doesn't notice dad is gone. I have to make sure dad even comes home." I sigh, wishing it were all different. "Okay. But Aid?" "Yeah?" "I know it's hard, but look on the bright side. At least you have a dad." Caroline's dad died when she was two, from a heart attack that shouldn't have happened to someone his age. How could I be so insensitive and forget that? "Oh god, Caroline, I'm really sorry…" She interrupts me. "Just listen. He may not be the best dad, but he is still your dad. And yes, what he's doing is a terrible, terrible thing, but just know he loves you. How could he not? You are a special person, Adrianna. Really special. I'm just sorry he doesn't treat you and your mother the way you both deserve. But know, that you'll always have me. No matter what happens, I will always be here." This is why she is my best friend. I knew she would be able to cheer me up. "Thanks, Caroline. I'll always be here for you too, no matter what." "That's what best friends are for, right?" "Right." "Well, I'll talk to you tomorrow, go take care of your mom." "I will, bye Caroline. And thanks, again." "Anytime. Goodnight, Aid." "Goodnight."
When the phone clicks off, I dread going inside, but I know I have to. I need to check on my mom to make sure she's okay. So, I dry off and hang my towel on the chair. My hair is a matted mess, and my eyes are red from the chlorine, but I don't mind. I wrench open the sliding glass door, and make my way up to her bedroom.
I'm surprised to see her awake, watching T.V., when I open the door. How long has she been awake? Does she know? "Hey, mom." I am casual and uncaring. "Hey, you." I smile, but can't help noticing the empty bottle of vodka on her nightstand. Is that a new one, or has it been there all along? "How're you?" I hop onto her bed, my happy facade working. "As good as someone can be when her husband is out with another woman."
I cringe. I hate hearing that. "Out with another woman", you might as well just say "having sex with a woman, most likely carrying some STD's and genital warts" "Nah, I think he had an important business meeting." I deny it, with little hope she'll believe me. She doesn't need this. If she didn't have this happening to her, she wouldn't need that bottle on her nightstand.
Mother tilts her head and pushes out her bottom lip, like a cute puppy. "Oh Aid, you don't need to make excuses for your father. It's his responsibility. It's his mistakes." This doesn't help. I know it's his mistake, that doesn't make it any better. She opens her arms for a hug. I collapse into her arms, naturally.
"I'm sorry, mommy." "You have nothing to be sorry about. None of this is your fault." "He's never going to stop." I tell her. I think deep down, she knows this, she just can't admit it yet. "You don't know that, Adrianna. We have to have some faith in him, we owe him that much." How can she sit there and say that we owe him faith, when he has been unfaithful to her? Unfaithful to me, even. How can she have so much respect for a man that has no respect for her? How can she ignore this, time and time again? How can she be so selfish, and keep a man that doesn't want her or his own daughter? Sometimes she makes me so angry. They both make me angry.
"No, mom. We owe him nothing."