Closed Door

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Part 60

Dear Diary,

As I cried I tried to yank the sheet to cover up the bits that had become uncovered in our dreamlike whoopsie. 

He complained, “Hey, it’s cold.” 

I sniffled, “Then take the comforter.  You’re not the one that’s … that’s …” 

Then we played a little tug o’ war.  “Give it …” 

“No,” he said huskily.   

“Yes.”  When he still was acting weird I told him, “Give it or I’ll show you all of my nasty scars.” 

He turned loose of the sheet after that and I thought I was free enough that I tried to get off the bed to find what had gotten flung off the bed.  I got one foot down on the floor and I was unceremoniously picked up and plopped in his lap where he was sitting against the headboard. 

I squawked in protest but Cal said, “Hush unless you want to wake up Feena.  Because I am telling you, whether she is awake or not we are going to have this conversation.”  So I remained where I was; stiff but grateful for his warmth.  

“Did you enjoy what we were doing?” 

“That’s not the point.” 

“We’ll get to that.  Now answer the question.” 

“I won’t.” 

He snorted.  “You sound like Feena.” 

“Obviously.  She’s my daughter.” 

“I was referring to her age and stubbornness, not the cute factor.” 

That shut me up.  Then quietly I told him, “Cal … I … this … this … I’m sorry.  I never meant to … I mean you have to be … and now you are sacrificing even more.” 

He snorted again and asked, “Did absolutely anything you just said make sense?” 

“Of course it does.” 

“Actually, no it doesn’t.” 

“Yes it does.  But even if you don’t think of it as a sacrifice the truth is that we can’t … on so many levels … not least of which is that I’m a total disaster.  Everything I touch …” 

Bracingly he told me, “Aria … people die and people mess up … it doesn’t make it your fault.” 

I was shocked at how baldly he’d said it.  “Cal … you just … can’t … can’t understand … can’t feel …” 

“Why can’t I?  Huh?  You’ve been pulled pillar to post for several years.  Even when you weren’t, the people in your life came and went in your life and it was totally out of your control.  Probably made your feel powerless.” 

Irritated I told him, “Don’t use psychology on me.” 

“I wouldn’t if you didn’t need it.” 

My feelings hurt despite the fact that I knew I deserved what he was saying I told him, “So you admit that I’m nuts.” 

“I admit you’re driving me nuts.  Now hush.  Daniel … what he chose to do and where it eventually led … that was just messed up.  No one can say you didn’t honor your vows; that you didn’t stand by him for as long as you could.  But as harsh as this is going to sound Aria … he’s dead … let him rest in peace.  You drag his ghost around with you like a security blanket.” 

If I had been shocked before I was doubly shocked that time.  I tried to push out of his arms but he wouldn’t let me.  “God Cal, how can you say that?  I’ve moved on … but … Geez … all I have to do is bother to look in a mirror and see what a mess I am … the reminders I’m going to carry for the rest of my life.  Some crazy nurse said they were battle scars and I should learn to appreciate them for that.” 

“Aria …” 

“Seriously Cal … you’ve never seen them … they’re bad and they’re never going away.  And the ones on the outside are nothing compared to what I carry around on the inside.  I try and do the right thing … I want a different life for Feena … but I … I … for me … just …”  I shook my head.  “And then to realize that I’d been hanging onto you when I should have been encouraging you to have a real life … to heal from what Lily did to you so at least one of us could … “  I couldn’t finish. 

“Aria, so you care about me?  I don’t mean as a brother or as a cousin … by marriage I might add … but as a man.” 

I moaned.  ¿Usted loco, qué piensas que decir llevo?” 

He said, “I’m going to take that as a yes.  And if you are going to fuss, give me a fighting chance and do it in English so I can understand.” 

“Don’t be difficult.  I rarely if ever speak Spanish around you except when we are at the produce stand.” 

“We’ll talk about how difficult you are another time.  You aren’t going to distract me that easily.  So you’ve discovered that maybe you still have feelings.” 

“Like a freaking hungry bear after a long hibernation,” I groused. 

His chest bounced with his silent laughter.  “Good.  Sounds promising.” 

“No Cal, it doesn’t.” 

“Why?” he asked honestly puzzled. 

“Because I’m not … not … I can’t be … casual.  Daniel … he … look … Daniel is the only guy I’ve ever been with.  I’m not saying that you’re … you know … but come on … you’re a guy and you’re free of Lily … but it is so soon you obviously can’t be looking to … and I’m just not casual.  And … and I have Feena to think of even if I do want to … you know … experience life.” 

“You mean you have an itch.” 

This time I did jerk away.  “God Cal … you make me sound like a cat and you’re a scratching post.” 

This time he nearly laughed out loud.   “Aria, you are going to make me lose what hair I have.” 

“You’d have more hair if you would stop insisting on only having stubble.  Just because you have a few curls …” 

“All over my head Aria and we are not having that discussion right now.  Right now I’m going to tell you that I’m not casual either.  I married young because I want to be married and have a monogamous relationship.  I thought Lily was the one for life but apparently she was only the one for that part of my life.  I … I can’t regret most of the time I was with her.  A lot of it was good.  But if I learned nothing else, I learned the hard way that happiness is a choice.  Lily chose to be unhappy.  We could have worked things out.  She … she chose not to with her never ending infidelity.  I wish her luck where ever her search takes her but until she decides she is going to be happy with what she has instead of constantly wondering what she might have had I doubt she’s going to ever find that state for very long.  But I’m not going to let her and what she did take my dreams away from me.  I want a family Aria … even if it is a ready-made one.  I don’t want to wait forever because I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.  I can be patient so long as I think I have a fighting chance.  But I don’t want to have to compete with the ghost of my idiot cousin for the rest of my life.” 

“Oh Cal …” 

Suddenly he asked, “Do you have a problem with me being a cop?” 

“No, of course not.” 

“Would you have a problem if I wasn’t a cop … or at least not a traditional, wearing a uniform LEO?” 

I shook my head.  “I’m not sure what that means but no, I just want you to do whatever is going to make you feel … feel fulfilled I guess you’d call it.” 

“Can you handle that I’m not likely to ever be satisfied being the academic your father was or the intellectual that your grandfather was?  I’m not the … the landed gentry type Aria.” 

“Oh honestly, now you are being silly.  You’ve got the college education, not me.” 

“Only because you married straight out of high school.” 

“Wrong.  I didn’t because I couldn’t afford to and because … because Daniel … look, he didn’t want to go to college and … and didn’t really want me to either.  I was supposed to have a couple of kids and stay at home the way his mother had.” 

“I … I didn’t know that.” 

“It’s no big deal.  Like I said, I couldn’t afford to go then and definitely can’t now.  If I want an education I can open a book.  I do want to give Feena the chance I didn’t have though.  Somehow, some way.” 

“OK.  We’ll see that it happens.” 

“That’s sweet Cal but it isn’t your responsibility, it’s mine.” 

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you … I want it to be my responsibility … Ok, ok … I want to be part of the team responsible for seeing to Feena’s future.  She’ll always be Daniel’s daughter … but … but I’d like to share her.” 

I didn’t know what to say.  I put my hand on his chest to feel his heartbeat.  Before I knew what was going on with Daniel the only way I could tell if he was lying sometimes was to feel his heartbeat.  “Your heart is beating too fast.” 

“That’s because you are sitting in my lap, so sit still.” 


“You asked.” 

“I didn’t ask, I said … oh never mind.  You … you just …” 

“Do you have a problem with that?” 

“With what?” 

“That you make my heart beat fast?” 

“I … I  … well no.  But that’s not the point.  How do I know that you aren’t just … just …” 

“Just what?” 

“Just doing what you always do … be there for me, take care of me, pick up the pieces, ignore the potential cost to yourself.  How do I know I’m not just in the next stage of burdensomeness and you are just changing how you handle me?” 

I could tell he was staring at me in the dark even though I couldn’t see him.  He growled, “You are going to drive me … look Aria … I don’t know how to convince you.  I’m not just trying to have sex here, I’m trying to tell you I want a committed relationship.”  Sotto voice he mumbled, “But with sex.” 

I would have pinched him but he was still too bruised up and I didn’t want to hit the bad spot on his arm where I’d shot him.  Thinking to show him the error of his thinking I asked, “For how long?” 

“How long for sex?” 

“No!  Honestly!  You have sex on the brain!” 

“Most men do.  If Daniel didn’t …” 

“He used to but … never mind that.  You know what I mean.” 

He sighed and pulled me close, “How long?  Forever.  It doesn’t have to start right now or tomorrow.  But soon.  OK?” 

“What kind of forever?” 

“What do you mean what kind of forever?” 

“I mean what kind of forever?  The kind that we don’t have to hide from our friends and Feena?” 

His chest bounced again.  “Oh.  How about this?  The kind that makes me want to shout it from the roof top.”  More seriously he admitted, “I realize that … that there will be talk.  People will think what they want to.  I’m not sure I care about that Aria.  So long as Feena understands when she is old enough to have questions everyone else can take a flying leap.” 

“What about PP?  Will … will he be able to use this against you?” 

Something crept into Cal’s voice.  “Percy has problems of his own right now.  No one is saying exactly what but apparently it’s not good.  Rumor has it that he’s been shipped to Tallahassee to face a board of inquiry.” 

“Oh … oh, wow.  What about Lily?” 

“Don’t know.  Trying hard not to care.  She made her choice Aria and is not part of this discussion.” 

“Are … are you sure?  It’s … it’s only been six months.” 

“Six months since I filed for divorce.  She kicked me out of the bedroom before you even left the hospital.” 


“See? … we both have things that … well, maybe we do still need to talk more than …”  He used a phrase that completely made me want to hit him. 

“Cal!  I can’t believe you just said that!” 

This time I could hear his laughter though it was still quiet.  “Darryl is right, making you squawk is fun.” 

“And unless you want to wind up with more of a nubbin’ than he has you’ll remember that making me squawk is also dangerous.” 

The rest of the conversation devolved into nothing worth repeating as it was little more than mooney dribs and drabs of getting to know each other in a new and different way.  We didn’t have sex, it didn’t go that far even if Cal joked about it some.  I won’t speak for Cal but I wasn’t ready for it; I’m still not ready for it.  That’s a big step.  The whole thing is too new … I just wish the rest of the world we live in was as hopeful, bright, and shiney.

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