Chapters 10/a. – 10/b. from my new novel, Blessed By Light. (Amounts to about 6 pages.)
LIES. I GOT SO GOOD AT IT, at telling lies. I could tell the truth about so many unexpected things, and in unexpected places – like in the Press. I even garnered a reputation for being so direct, so outspoken and honest, that when it came time for me to tell my lies, everyone believed me.
I was not sleeping with the famous gal, and she was not sleeping with me.
And that became the truth, for decades. The accepted truth. Until we grew out of our need to fuck each other, and we really did become just friends. Just the closest of friends.
She outlasted my first wife. And took a very generous backseat to my second one. And life, in all its complexities, and heartbreaks, and profound question marks, went on.
The only lies that were left were the ones I was telling myself.
When my first wife left me, taking my daughters with her; when she told me to grow up, I did just that. I grew up. I stopped all the coke and I stopped fucking the random fans. For a time, my escapades with the famous gal, along with everything else, came to a halt and it was just sober me, alone with my right hand. And she came back to me – my wife came back.
And then the only lie left was the big one: I kept telling myself I was happy.
I know you avoid telling the whole truth an awful lot, but do you ever tell real lies? I mean, grown-up lies; the kind you can only tell as a complicated adult; the kind of adult with a wandering eye, or a questioning heart.
Not the kind of lies you told as a child – the kind you were talking about earlier this evening. The lies you told to try to save your skin; to not get found out about something small, something so simple and uncomplicated that you’d done, because you were so afraid of those dreaded spankings.
And I have to just add right now, how much you amuse me. To hear you talk about your fears as a little girl – to actually see you reliving that fear in the expression on your face. And now you can’t get enough of those bare-assed spankings.
Well, I guess maybe you can, at that.
But I’ll tell you a secret, honey. I’m not done with you yet. You mull that over if you want to. I like that little potting shed. You get real well behaved out there.
I know you were never married, so maybe you never had to convince yourself that a decision you’d made, a vow you took, was carved in stone. That there was no going back because those words “for better or worse” were interpreted as covering a multitude of sins – divorce was out of the question.
That first wife of mine, you know, she eventually strayed. And I found out but she never knew that I knew. It was sort of my gift to her – let her have her secret life. Her world that was untouched by my fame, that was just about her and what she wanted and needed. Emotional things that I guess I couldn’t give her.
Maybe I should have confronted her. Maybe she mistook me as someone who didn’t care enough to ask her to explain herself, her indiscretion. Maybe I should have called her on it, because it wasn’t too long after that, that she made the announcement about needing her own room. Then my pain and my anger, my humiliation were so deep that all we did after that was yell – at the top of our ugliest voices.
My mortality is weighing on me tonight.
I need so much to feel forgiven.
WHAT A BLESSING YOU ARE to me. And it’s so late. You were so sound asleep – just dead to the world. When I woke you, it was 4:12 A.M. You know what you said? You said, “What am I gonna do with all this bubble wrap?” It was funny. What were you dreaming about? Do you even remember?
And by 4:17 A.M., I was going in you; lying on top of you, and going in, and you were trying so hard, for my sake, to wake up. You spread your legs for me and I got on you and you were wet already. How did you do that?
Maybe that bubble wrap dream was more interesting than it had initially sounded. But whatever the reason. It was dark, it was god-awful early or god-awful late – take your pick – you were trying so hard to focus, to be awake with me. And through some miracle, you were wet for me and I was going in. And even though I was still stuck in this not so good place, this place that was asking so much from you – “Please try to reach out to my daughter, okay? Use social media, maybe. She’s always on her damn phone. Just try, okay? I’m so worried about her” – I know it was the last thing you wanted to hear while we were making such disjointed love, but you stuck with it; you stayed right with me and we did make love.
You are just what I need – always. Just what I need, when I need it. I can only hope you feel the same thing about me. That if, some dark night, you’re ever tortured by all the lies you’ve told, by the infidelities on all sides, the disappointments, the rage and bitterness; the years of working too goddamned hard to get the whole fucking world to just love you, and when it does, your whole family goes down the toilet with you because you can no longer figure out how to just be happy – if you ever have one of those awful nights, you can wake me at 4:12 A.M. and I will do whatever it takes to get it up for you, honey. I will.
I texted my daughter at 3 A.M. I wasn’t gonna tell you this, but as long as you’re up.
She texted me right back, I was astounded that she was awake. She has to work in the morning. But there she was, awake, texting me back, and guess what? Here comes a photo from her, too. Another damn tattoo.
How am I supposed to reply? How nice? That’s lovely? It’s hideous, if you ask me. And she was kind of asking me, so I just did my “dad” thing and focused on her bank account. “Those things are expensive. Watch how you’re spending your money.”
And of course she was pissed. It was just a simple text in reply to me but her pissed-off-daughter tone came through loud and clear.
But what am I supposed to say? I remember when she was born; I remember giving her baths, and how pretty she was. Her skin was so soft and just perfect, you know. Now it’s covered in ink.
And she doesn’t want to get married. Not that that’s the answer to everything, but she isn’t even dating. She goes to her job, and then she’s alone in her apartment, constantly taking pictures of everything she does with her goddamned phone, and when she stops being a loner-narcissist for five minutes, she goes off and gets another tattoo.
I worry about her; I do. She’s got so much money, because I gave it to her. But she’s lost in a world that I don’t understand, and that I don’t think is gonna be good for her for very long. She thinks she’s satisfied, but I don’t know.
My other daughter, the older one. Well, you know. I hate to have to say it, but she’s perfect.
Don’t ever tell either one of them that I said that.
I know all of it makes you feel uncomfortable – they’re not your flesh and blood. They’re strangers to you and too protective of me. But if for any unforeseen, unexpected, convoluted, crazy reason an opportunity comes up for you to reach out to that younger daughter of mine and just be her friend, I hope you will. And don’t let her overwhelming and outspoken personality scare you. Inside, she’s just a frightened little baby girl.
And I know it. I did it to her, you know. I did that. By leaving them all when she was too young. By leaving her stranded when she was drifting. When she really needed her dad, but I just couldn’t be one.
“You don’t get to tell me what to do, you know.” She still says that to me once in a while, when she’s really hurting. Even though she’s not 13 anymore, she’s fully grown. “You don’t get to tell me what to do because you left.”
And then we’re both hurting. We’re hurting like crazy.
Well, hallelujah, right? Finally, a topic she and I can both relate to.
I know. You’re right. I’m allowed to have my happiness now. I know I am. I’m allowed to be happy – regardless of what I might have done, or said, or denied in the past. What I created or destroyed. You’re right. We’re all – each of us – allowed to be happy. Because life goes on, and we’re responsible for how we choose to react to things, how we choose to respond to our experiences. I’ve tried to make reparations with my girls, you know – emotionally. I think we’re all in an okay place with one another, regardless of the occasional drama.
But sometimes I still just feel so guilty. Just so guilty. For something I did, for my own mental survival, over 25 years ago.
I love those girls. I love them. It was their mother I couldn’t tolerate anymore. She wouldn’t let me off the hook for anything.
And it was the pot calling the kettle black by then, you know. She was fucking around on me with her boyfriend. They were doing all that coke. She was living high on the hog off of all my fame.
But I didn’t want to tell her that I knew all her little secrets.
I didn’t want her world to crumble, didn’t want her delicate mind folding like a house of cards because I needed something to be left sane in her because I needed her to raise my girls. I was always on the goddamned road.
Christ, you’re right. I know you are.
When am I gonna let it go?
It took two lonely, fucked-up childhood sweethearts to tear that marriage to pieces. It sure as hell did. I wasn’t alone in creating that nightmare by any stretch.
Do you wanna go back to sleep, or are you up now?
Okay. Let me just lie here with you then. Just lie here and remember what love is and how it feels. Just for a little while.
I’ll put the coffee on in a minute.
c: 2018 Marilyn Jaye Lewis