More lies and subterfuge uncovered. Sometimes I wonder how I’ve survived all this time being this stupid. I found out that Daniel was getting military pay, it’s just that it was 50% of what he was paid on active duty. He hid that from me so he could spend it on drugs and “entertainment” … so he could “find some happiness in his miserable and lonely life.” Yes, that’s a quote. I’m not sure I want to know what the entertainment was though Daniel has tried several times to tell me. The look in his eyes and the grin on his face tell me not to listen, to get away from him when he starts down that path. The doctors said it was a form of self-medication; I’ll hold onto that thought rather than the specific details.
It isn’t really the money that is the problem however. When they finally released Daniel from the hospital he acted like he was fine and that everything was grand and on schedule … right up until he got to the house and then with his parents’ help he packed up all of his stuff and moved back to their home. It was all planned beforehand to keep me from saying anything to his doctors. Trish was there too, but it was to try to talk their parents out of what they were doing. Trish’s husband Mack – the real estate lawyer – was really getting bent and told Mr. and Mrs. Lowery that he wouldn’t have any part of this nor was he going to help them transfer Daniel’s benefits into their name; now that he’d seen what was really going on he wouldn’t have any part of it.
“What benefits?” I asked oh so innocently, not knowing the Pandora’s Box I was opening.
Once I’d heard that Daniel had been getting money and misusing it while I’d been working my tail off at the salon and at everything else I could think of – even working in the garden by the light of the moon just to keep food on the table – I finally had had enough. I am seven months pregnant and I have to protect our baby if nothing else.
I talked to the social worker at the hospital and he helped me to arrange to be Daniel’s payee. That means that while technically the money and bank account still has Daniel’s name on it, it is only as a beneficiary should something happen to me and he doesn’t have direct access to it; I’m responsible for using it to pay his bills. Daniel also has been court ordered to adhere to the treatment plan designed by his doctors and he must attend any and all counseling sessions that are assigned as well as take the medication he has been prescribed as it has been prescribed. If he doesn’t he’ll skip the hospital and go straight to jail. It was the only compromise the judge was willing to make after he heard from the hospital what had been going on.
Mr. Lowery has kind of been in shock for the last week or so. He hadn’t expected people to start turning against the way he has been handling things, especially not his daughter and son-in-law whom he was counting on for legal help and advice. I don’t want people to turn against Mr. Lowery, or Mrs. Lowery, or Daniel for that matter. But the man has to see that he isn’t helping Daniel. He can’t fix Daniel by praying over him, not when he has such anger and bitterness in his own heart. I’m worried about them. But I’m not sure what I can do at this point … and they’re only making it harder for all of us.
Cal and his wife came by tonight, brought me the kind of Chinese food I could never afford even though I love it, and to see if I needed anything else. When I saw there was something still on their minds even after I told them I was fine I asked them to just go ahead and spit it out. Cal looked in pain so it was Lily that told me, “Uncle Fred and Aunt June want you out of this house. They’re going to put it on the market and sell it since you won’t give up Daniel’s benefits check.”
“Huh?” I hadn’t even thought about that being a possibility; hadn’t wanted to think about that being a possibility. “What? Wait! I … I’ve got receipts and everything that I’m not using that money do to anything but pay his bills, the rest is in savings and I can prove it to the penny. I don’t even use it to pay the rent here; that comes out of my salon money.”
“They said if you don’t move willingly they’ll turn off the electricity and evict you for holding over. They showed Cal that you only have a month-to-month lease and that they can choose to not renew it any time they please for any reason.”
“That’s … that’s true,” I admitted. “They needed a lease for some kind of insurance inspection they had to have. But … but I’m … where will I go?! Do they really hate me that much?”
Cal said, “Of course they don’t!”
At the same time Lily said, “Yeah, they do. They have to blame someone because Wonder Boy has some nuts and bolts loose.”
Cal winced. I told her, “Don’t say that. So long as he stays in therapy and takes his medicine the doctors say there is a good chance that he’ll get better. He’ll be on meds for the rest of his life but things will eventually be near normal so long as he is careful and …”
“Honey, you’re fooling yourself. Daniel only goes to therapy because if he doesn’t he’ll go to jail. And nine will get you ten he’s not taking his pills right … he has his mom believing that the side effects are worse than what they are curing and that it’s all just poison. She’s taking him to some naturopath or something like that.”
The shocks were not over with. Cal said hesitantly and only after a long pause where I tried to absorb what I’d just learned, “Aria you need to know, they … they’re talking to a lawyer.”
Suddenly cautious I asked, “Why?”
“They’re investigating the possibility of helping Daniel divorce you. They … uh … they don’t think … um …”
Cal had stuttered to a stop. I looked at Lily and her worldly wise smirk and she told me, “They think you fooled around on Daniel, that the baby isn’t his. Is it true?”
If I had been able to get my head between my knees I would have but since I couldn’t I wound up waddling to the bathroom and puking my guts up and nearly passing out. I don’t have the words to describe how I’m feeling.
Cal and Lily offered to stay but I told them they didn’t need to, that I had a lot of thinking to do, and they both looked relieved … but at least they looked like they felt guilty for being relieved.
Of course it isn’t true that I’ve fooled around on Daniel. I never even thought about it. Why would Sleeping Beauty even consider fooling around on Prince Charming … he’s her … her savior, her dream, he fought the dragon to be with her. I just don’t have any idea why they’d think such a thing. I didn’t think I’d ever even put myself at risk of someone thinking that I’d do such an awful thing. The pastor said one time that he refused to even be alone in a room with a member of the opposite sex just because people can take things the wrong way and he never wanted to hurt his wife with even the hint of scandal. I took that to heart and played by the same rule. I still ask if a nurse can be in the office when I’m talking to Daniel’s doctors. This is awful.
Part of me is surprised and part of me isn’t that Cal and Lily were the ones that got nominated to deliver the news. They had marital problems early on too when people kept asking when Lily was going to have a baby and she flat out told them she didn’t want kids. It caused a bit of frostiness until everyone took the time to get over it and move on. So Lily has had her differences with the family, and she’s also a little on the rode hard and hung up wet side despite the fact that her daddy is some important something or other up in Tallahassee and Daniel’s family is … well, a little proper and stiff on occasion and don’t appreciate her uniqueness. Cal could have been a lawyer but instead chose to be a county deputy, a member of the Green Team, which kind of makes him a bit of an outsider as well on occasion. He works bad hours in really bad parts of town, sometimes undercover, and as a result can be kinda cynical and pop the fantasy bubbles held by the rest of the family which they hate. Daniel’s family can be a bunch of Pollyannas at times.
But none of that really matters right now. It doesn’t matter who told me – it might one day but it doesn’t right now. Now I just have to figure out how to deal with this next thing I’m faced with.
Where do I go? This little one bedroom house is the only real home I’ve known since my grandfather passed away. I don’t count the seven foster homes in the three years before I graduated. Those weren’t homes; those were just way stations. The only constant in my life during those years was Edgewater. And now even that place seems to have been lost to me.
Now this house. Is God shutting all the doors and forcing me out the window because He has some kind of purpose for me out there? Or maybe it is my baby that He has a purpose for. They say life is made up of problems that only occur to make you better prepared to face the next problem. At this rate I’ll be the woman of steel. I don’t even want to imagine what troubles must lie in my future if I’m supposed use what is happening now to predict for how bad they are going to be.
I’ll never be able to afford even half of something like this little bungalow here in Tampa on what I’m barely bringing home from the salon. And we have to stay in Tampa so we can find work. Not to mention I’m seven months pregnant; who’s going to want a roommate that is knocked up and ready to pop? But there is no way I’m going down without a fight. No way. I might not be able to do this for myself but I sure as heck will do this for my baby. And for Daniel too.
Maybe Daniel can’t appreciate what that means right now. Maybe he never will. I can’t control that. I love him … not the same way I used to, but it is still love. That difference in how I love him doesn’t change the fact that I have a responsibility to him. We made vows on our wedding day. Daniel may have broken his but only under the duress of his sickness. I don’t have that excuse and I refuse to use it.
Daniel needs to be in therapy and he needs to take his medication so that the therapy can actually help. I love Mr. and Mrs. Lowery too but this time they are wrong and they’ve gone too far.