Published Jan 1, 2011

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Page 1 / 30

I wish
That I could make you turn around
Turn around and see me cry ...

~ Phil Collins, "Against All Odds"

I wish
That I could make you turn around
Turn around and see me cry ...

~ Phil Collins, "Against All Odds"

My son Keith looked so proud on that day. And his little sister Layla was a lovely doll standing behind him, his "best woman" as he called her. Even though they were six years apart, they had always been so close. He asked her to stand next to him at his wedding.

It was a beautiful day, a beautiful ceremony, a beautiful bride who never came. The music played, we all turned, and she wasn't there.
The murmuring started instantly. I looked at Mrs. Julia Brasington, the bride's mother, who looked back at me with a stricken gaze. Mr. Brasington was a blur in his tuxedo, moving from usher to usher, gesturing angrily. The bridesmaids were shuffling their feet, the groomsmen jamming their hands into their pockets.

From the corner of my eye, I saw Layla tap Keith's shoulder, and lean over to whisper in his ear.

"Thank you, Vinton."
Another bleak day. Or perhaps not. How would I know? I haven't seen the sun for a year.

Keith hadn't left the house for days when Layla burst in one afternoon, threw her shopping bags on the floor of the kitchen and announced that Irene Brasington had married a counter worker from the local deli. She laughed until she choked on sobs and stomped upstairs to slam the door of her room.

Keith stood and said he was going out for a ride.

His funeral was two days later, very well-attended.
Layla wept until she ran out of tears.

And from that day going forward, she was different. The sunshine vanished from her eyes, from the windows and from the skies.

For weeks afterward we did not answer our phones.
When the police came, they spoke to both of us. When the media came, only Cort answered the door. It didn't matter if they brought along news cameras, microphones, tape recorders or onlookers. He was always civil, but his answer to news outlets was always the same.

"We are heartbroken by this turn of events, but my son's death was an accident, plain and simple. I have no interest in discussing the matter any further. Please leave my family alone to grieve in peace. Thank you."
Cort did not grieve. Cort worked.

Cort only spoke of all of this once--when he read the paper's account of the funeral. He said that Irene should have handled this differently, right before he threw the paper into the fire and went back to his accounts and ledgers.

Layla doesn't cry in front of me now. Somehow, her dry cheeks hurt me even more.
"I just want you to know that we had nothing to do with any of this," Julia Brasington said to me while drinking a martini for lunch. "We've disowned Irene."

"I suppose she's happy now," I said, diplomatically.
"I have no idea," Julia says crisply. "I told her she was no longer welcome in the house. Her father said she's called a few times, but I won't be speaking to her, not after she embarrassed me and made a fool of herself to marry a dishwasher. Her sister says she's living in a cottage near the golf course."

I knew it well; it was the groundskeepers' storage shed before they moved into a better situation. If I remember correctly, they vacated because of rats.
"I really don't know what she could possibly be thinking," Julia sniffed. "She's never worked a day in her life. She doesn't have any money, or a thing to her name besides what we've given her. Henry told me that she sold the car he gave her for her eighteenth birthday to buy that house. Kids these days ..." She drank deeply.

"She couldn't have possibly gotten anything close to what it was worth. She has no clue what she's gotten herself into."

Irene Brasington abandoned my son and forsook her inheritance to marry a man who couldn't give her anything but a baby, and sold a hundred-thousand dollar car to scratch up enough money to live in a place that wasn't good enough for landscapers to work in.

I feel sick.
I saw Irene one day.

She was on the Main Street Bridge, at the center of what appeared to be a photo shoot, smiling, laughing, staring serenely into the distance as the photographer snapped pictures. She was pregnant.

Layla brought me the city's main business magazine two months later. Irene was on the cover.

I had Vinton buy every copy in town and shred them. Perhaps that was not the original intent of the publishers, but it made me feel better.
"One mani/pedi/soak, a mud facial, and a swedish massage. That'll be §802.91."

I handed my card to the spa receptionist to process. The spa treatment would take up the remainder of the afternoon, but I would be home in time to spend the evening at a dignitaries' dinner with Cort.

Layla was busy studying for the MCAT exam. She had decided to attend medical school, and the preparation took up her nights.
"Be right with you," the nail technician said, cheerily.

I turned to see Irene.
She flinched, and her smile faded instantly. "Err, um, excuse me, Mrs. Hudson." She went over to the receptionist and asked in an accusing whisper,"Is she my next appointment?"

"She is," the receptionist said, and turned away.
Irene swallowed hard and led me to her station. She offered me a seat which I did not take. We stared each other down. Her eyes dropped first. "How have you been, Mrs. Hudson?"

I ignored the pleasantry. "This is a little strange, seeing you like this. I remember buying a gift for your debutante presentation not too long ago."

"Ah ... well, that was a different life."

"I suppose. Are you happy now?"
She licked her lips nervously and nodded, too many times.

"I suppose that's what counts."

"Mrs. Hudson, I never meant for things to turn out the way they did. I ... I heard about Keith's passing, I'm so sorry."
"How did you mean for things to turn out, Irene?"

I could see his car riding away from our house for the last time, heading for the river's side.
"I ... I just ... well, things just happened, you know?"

"No," I said. "I don't know at all. Tell me, please. Tell me why you did it. Tell me what you couldn't tell him to his face. Tell me, Irene."

"I fell in love, okay?" Her voice was too loud, it echoed above the relaxation music and water fountains. "I mean, me and Keith, the only reason we were together is because we were told that we SHOULD be, and when I met Mike, I felt something that I never felt with Keith. I'm sure this isn't really what you want to hear, and I'm sorry. But Keith and I should have broken up a long time ago."
"Yes," I said. She looked surprised.

"Yes. You should have broken up with him, not accepted his ring and promised to be his wife knowing all along that you didn't mean it."

"I tried," she pleaded. "I tried to break up with him, but I just ... I couldn't hurt him ..."
I sighed. Irene had convinced herself that she had spared his feelings. She hadn't seen the misery in his eyes as he stood in front of that altar alone, his shoulders trembling as he held back the tears. She hadn't watched the haunted look on his face fade into despair. "What do you want from me?" she asked, and stood up. Her defenses were raised now. "I think about Keith every day--" "Do you? For all I know, maybe you do. It must be pretty terrible for the daughter of a lawyer and a college professor to have to work a day spa to make ends meet. Don't shake your head at me. I already know where you live, and I already know what you gave up just to get it. I hope your husband's worth it, Irene. I hope he makes you happy. Because it would be a crying shame for you to have broken so many hearts and still not have found what you were looking for."
"Stop it!" she screamed in a whisper. Her face was burning red. "I don't need any more lectures. I already beat myself up over this. I left home to get away from this. I don't want to hear it anymore! Do you think I wanted this to happen?" "Of course not. I think it's a lot like you said, things 'just happened.' And I think you let them happen because it was easier that way. But keep telling yourself that it's not really your fault. Maybe it'll help you on the day that your son comes home crying because the girl he likes won't talk to him anymore, and you have to look him in the eyes and try to explain why people are so cruel."

I went back out front, where the receptionist stood waiting. "Madam, would you like a credit to use another time?"
"Put it back on my card," I ordered. "I don't think I'll be coming here again." "Another drink, madam?"

"Yes, Vinton. If you'll just bring it upstairs and have a fire started in the master sitting room."

"Right away."
I did not see Irene again after that, but I heard the smug whispers. Then Julia Brasington began to appear in public with her grandson by her side more and more. And then the rumor mill truly began to turn: Irene and Michael were on the rocks, Michael was tired of being a "family man," Irene was moving back in with her parents to take a break.

Irene and Michael were divorced.

And so this was the end of her love. A broken home, her life ruined, and my son's life, over. All summed up in a single sign in the window of the picturesque gardener's shed: "For Sale."

I shattered the window with the nearest stone, and screamed at the sun which no longer shone for me.

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#25isarpgistaJan 12, 2011

So tragic... But a great, great, great story! I think Irene should have break up with Keith before all the preparations for a marriage ceremony... She was cruel in not to think about his feelings. Even to be a good person you need to know how to break up hearts... Poor Keith... \:\( I hope you make moe and more stories! You're very, very, very talented! \:D

#26FlatterFeb 8, 2011

uuuh... what a surprisingly sad story \:confused\: and so matter of fact'ly told. I found the unusual narrative style very impressive, it helped tremendeously in making the story stand out. Congrats!

#27emilymarie0201Feb 20, 2011

Fabulous!! I love it \:D

#28orlovVIPApr 26, 2011

Beautifully narrated, beautifully written, sad and touchingly honest!\:wub\:

#29lillypad625Jun 20, 2011

<strong>you are a great writer!!! thanks for sharing your story</strong>

#30simsjeanieAug 17, 2011

What a sad story! And the worst: you didn't leave the chance to say: this one was the evil person! Yes, that's like things happen. Nobody wants to harm - take the easier way - and then, at the end, when you have to discover all that pain was in vain... That's the hardest part. But I loved to read it. You told it in such "calm" way that touched me even more. Thank you for that! \:wub\:

#31MelanieByrneAug 18, 2011

Very good story! A bit sad but you know very well how to describe their feelings. \:\)&nbsp; I'm not much of a story reader but my mom told me I had to read this one. I think it's because it's only 1 chapter and not too long that makes it so appealing and easy to read. Great work! \:rah\:&nbsp;&nbsp;

#32YvonAug 18, 2011

Sad but beautiful! \:\)

#33eviSep 23, 2011

Very good story and these pics are incredible!\:rah\:

#34keesababeFeb 25, 2012

\:wub\: I loved this from the beginning straight till the end! My only disappointment was that there wasn't any more pages after page 30...!!! \:rah\:

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