Monday, March 4, 2019

1.11 Not The Same

Mario's invitation to spend time at the spring festival seemed to come at the right moment while her siblings were meeting Devin. Her friend was in charge of babysitting her little sister and asked Bellandra for help.


Lately the two were spending a lot of time together and the boy could say that he already knew her enough to realize that something wasn't okay with her.

"Something is happening to you. It's making you... not sad exactly but..."


Even with her eyes closed, Bellandra could feel his gaze caressing her face. In such a short time Mario had become someone important to her that she could implicitly trust.

"It's about my father." She said, still with closed eyes.

"Oh." Was Mario eloquent answer.

Bellandra turned her eyes to the ground just as some drops of rain began to fall, her gaze followed one, observing how it was losing itself on the lines of the tiles.


"Ramira and Franco began asking about him a couple of days ago." She whispered.

He looked at her with a sad smile and it was enough to start telling him everything that had happened since the day her siblings had  asked her for help.

"They're meeting him right now and I don't know what to think, what to do." All the feelings that she had contained within her began to pour like the rain that was falling on them. "I want to meet him but at the same time I don't want to. And I know it's not his fault, that he didn't know about us but... I just want to go back to a couple of weeks ago, just want the things to be the same as always."

"But it's never going to be the same." He said in a tender voice.

"I know."


Silence accompanied the following minutes, until Mario understood that Bell didn't want to continue talking. At least for now.

"I don't think this rain is good for my little sis. There's a toddler area here at the park, we could leave her indoors while we watch her from the dance floor."


"I'm dacing under the rain, I'm dancing under the rain." Mario started to sing, out of tune.

Her own laugh surprised Bellandra. "You know the song is singing in the rain, right?"


"Well, it's similar." He said shaking his hand, shrugging it off. "Although technically now I could say I'm singing in the rain."

"If that's what you want to call it." She said without malice, looking at him tenderly.


"Oh you wound me."

She laughed again, he's alwaing making her laugh.


"Thank you." She took his hands when the music changed to something slow.

For the first time in the afternoon, Mario was speechless.


But words were not necessary while they continued dancing in the rain.

Some songs later, Mario proposed to watch the stars.


"In bridgeport and with a sky covered in rain clouds?" Bellandra questioned the boy's logic but sat down next to her friend anyway.

"Oh hush you, I'm trying something here."


"Yeah?"

"Yes, if it's well received."


"It is."


Sunday, November 11, 2018

1.10 Interlude: Devin

If Devin could describe how he feels right now, he would say his emotions are a boat sailing adrift, without clear course but wanting to arrive somewhere. But he is not a ship despite the feeling of sinking in the open sea.


He still can not reconcile the fact that he is now a father, well he always was one but he wasn't aware of the fact thank to Zoe. Indescribable rage seizes him when he thinks of her, but as always it's a fleeting feeling, something temporary. Devin knows that it's not just Zoe's fault, he was to blame too. And the circumstances, they were never in favor of two of them.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of his phone.


Caroline again. It will be better to avoid her for now, his fiancee is a can of worm that at the moment he doesn't feel like opening. The fallout of that conversation will going to be huge, knowing how self-centered and conceited she is. He's not sure if their relationship will survive, they've been having a rocky time for a while now and this isn't some of their indriscretions that they usually turn a blind eye on. The thought leaves him oddly relieved.

Devin looked at the time, Zoe and the children should be arriving any moment now. 


It's a strange feeling to see Zoe with a child in her arms and not being able to avoid imagining his children in that position, held by their mother. Those kinds of things that he's never going to have the chance to experience leave him bitter.


Zoe avoids his eyes and he wants to be angry with her but the children with anxious faces distract him.


The smile that he gives them is genuine, there's a strange feeling seeping into him as he investigates them with his gaze. Ramira has Devin's mother eyes and Franco is the perfect blend of genetics.

They're beatiful, is the main thing in his thougts and a powerful desire to embrace them takes hold of him.

But he restrains himself. Not yet.


The twins are bubbly, they talk over each other and often finish the other's words. Ramira is the most extroverted of the two and Franco seems to be her grounding. They complement each other perfectly.

They're perfect.


It's Franco's completely innocent comment of "Bellandra looks a lot like you" what brings forward the thought that he'd wanted to avoid the most, his eldest isn't here. She doesn't want to meet him.

"Yet." Had said Zoe on the phone the evening they arranged this visit. Devin fervently wishes it to be a yet but he has his doubts (and fears).

He invites them to enter his home, he already has a light lunch prepared.


It's the most awkward meal he has had in a long time and he works in the film industry. The twins make the effort and the atmosphere starts to relax.


The rest of the visit was listening to one anecdote after another, his children are full of life and they seem happy. They aren't afraid to ask about what they want to know or express their opinions. And it's thanks to Zoe he admit it, she seems to be in her element, motherhood suits her. 


He cannot help but look at her. Some of his anger lessens but he knows he isn't ready to forgive her yet. Someday, he thinks.


At the end of the day he accompanies them to the exit. 

Ramira takes his hand immediately and he can not help but smile, a warm feeling spreanding through him. But even better is feeling her little arms around him when she says goodbye.


Standing at the entrance, he thinks that the apartment seems more empty than ever. He runs his eyes through the corners looking for traces of the visit. Looking for things that aren't there, of the person who was not here today.

He imagines what could have been and think that maybe, just maybe, one day his wishes can be a reality.




Tuesday, October 2, 2018

1.9 Approaching

Franco looked sideways at his older sister. Since they learned that their father is a famous actor, Bellandra spends several hours reading the celebrity section in the newspaper or researching in the library's computers, but never wants to talk about him.


"Bell..." Franco started tentatively, thinking about how he was going to explain to her that together with Ramira they'd decided to meet their father.

The teen sighed and left the paper on the coffee table.

"I have homework to do for tomorrow."

Normally, Franco give up at that moment but this time it wouldn't be like that. So with all the determination of a nine year old boy he followed his sister and sat in front of her. She's not going to ignore him.


"Ramira and I have decided that we are going to meet dad."

"What?" She asked softly.

"What you heard. We want to meet Devin."

Bellandra threw the pencil at the table in frustration, her concentration to study had evaporated with her brother's comment.

"The truth is that I don't want to see him yet." 

Ramira chose that moment to to join the conversation.

"We could tell mom that only we two want to see him." She said looking at the sad face of his older sister. Although Ramira didn't understand why Bellandra didn't have the same desire as her and Franco, she didn't want to make her sister feel bad.


The three remained silent for several minutes.


There was so much seriousness in her siblings' faces that Bellandra couldn't deny them what they wanted.

"I'm going to talk to mom for you." She finally said, knowing that that was what the twins wanted,  the help of their older sister. "But I still don't want to see him, so I'm going to tell mom that this is from you two alone."

"Thank you, Bell."

"You're the best, sis."


Hours after talking with her eldest daughter, Zoe took courage and called Devin.


Zoe, ignoring the knot in the pit of her stomach, asked if they could see each other since she had something important to talk about with him.


Devin found himself in front of the house of the woman he always had in his thoughts. The call of the previous evening had left him intrigued, and a bit worried too.


Zoe was nervous on the phone and had choked several times, at the end she sighed resignedly and asked to see him. But resigned why?

When the door opened, he saw that Zoe's nerves from the night before were nothing compared to the ones reflected on her face. The greeting was awkward and Devin remembered clearly that the last time they had a full conversation had been the day he had informed her of his engagement to Caroline.

They sat on a sofa, the house had been enlarged a little since the last time he had visited, and he wondered, like so many other times, if she had someone in her life. It wouldn't be surprising, she was a beautiful woman inside and out. If so, he hoped it wasn't a draining relationship like he had with Caroline.

Devin shook his head, it wasn't time to think about his troubling fiancee when Zoe was in front of him sitting stiff like a rock.


"I think I'll have to be the one to break the ice."

Zoe thanked him with a smile. "Sorry, I'm really nervous."

"I can see that, though I don't understand why."


The woman was silent again, trying to find the right way to explain it to him.

"There's something I should have told you a long time ago." She began with a trembling voice, he looked at her worried.

"What's wrong?"

Zoe ran her hands through her hair and breathed deeply.

"I have four children." She started tentatively. "Three biologicals and one adopted."

Devin looked away from her toward the window, a strange heaviness had settled in his stomach. So she was married or at least she'd formed a family with another person. During all the years they hadn't seen each other, Zoe had been persistently in his thoughts and a very selfish part of himself had wanted her to stay single.

"So are you married?" He asked still not looking at her.

"No, I am a single mother." She said biting her lips.

Devin turned sharply.


"What?!" He couldn't avoid exclaiming. He didn't understand why that response had altered him, his heart had accelerated as if his body had understood something that his mind couldn't.

"I never told their father." Zoe continued speaking as if Devin hadn't interrupted her. "I tried several times to do it but... I always cowed..." She lowered her eyes to her knees. "I'm sorry Devin, I should have told you."

Devin kept looking at her, understanding in his eyes and words trapped in his throat. "I am a father... all this time, all this years." He clenched his hands tightly. "And you never told me. Why?"

Zoe opened her mouth to say something but Devin interrupted her. "Why?! WHY?!" He got up suddenly and started walking around the room, Zoe watched him without saying anything.


"I'm a father and I don't even know the name of my children! How old are they? Are they boys or girls? What color are their eyes?!" He took a deep breath looking away. "God, Zoe. Why?"

She approached gently "Bellandra is fourteen and the twins, Franco and Ramira, are almost ten years old."


"Twins." He said with a forced laugh. "You shocked me so much that I didn't stop to think that you could only get pregnant twice while being with me."

In the middle of his tirade, Devin went to the door and Zoe immediately followed him.

"You're leaving?"


"I don't know! Like I don't know anything about my children or why are you telling me all this now?!"

"Because they want to know about you." She said through clenched teeth, trying to stay calm.

He stopped short and turned to her with a mixture of emotions. "They want?"

"Yes, they want to meet you. Well, Ramira and Franco want to meet you."

"And Bellandra?" He tested the name in his mouth. It was the first time he said his daughter's name and it left a bittersweet taste.

She thought of the way to say it delicately so that the blow will not be so strong. "She needs more time."

"So my daughter doesn't want to know me." He said getting angry again. "This is your fault."


"Hey! It's not all my fault. I was going to tell you when I got pregnant with the twins but that same day you told me that you were engaged to that Custard woman. A relationship that you denied to have a few days before, in case you don't remember."

"That has nothing to do with this." He said raising his hands up.

"Of course it does, do you think that didn't weigh on my decision?!"


"And Bellandra? You have no excuses for hiding that pregnancy?"

Zoe gave a frustrated cry. "I was nineteen and pregnant of an upcoming actor that traveled all the time. I was scared of your reaction, of you acusing me of trying to hang on to your fame. And when the twins came and you were engaged my fears transformed into what would happen if you wanted to take them to raise them with your fiancée." Some tears had fallen from her eyes.

Devin looked at her closely, the whole fight had left him tired and empty. "I would never..."

"I know, Devin. I know. It was my fears talking and fears sometimes are irrational."


The silence that came after the fight went on for a long time, the man's eyes searched every corner of the room looking for a sign of children but, except for a video game console, there's none. When he looked at her again, he found Zoe's eyes watching him intently.

"I'm not ready to forgive you."

"I know." She said in small voice.

"But I want to know everything about them."

Zoe smiled tremulously. "Come to the couch again? Better to be comfortable for everything we have to talk about."


They talked for the rest of the afternoon, Devin absorbed every detail that Zoe shared trying to recreate memories that he would never really have. It was unfair to be new in his children life, to accept that perhaps his eldest daughter will never want to meet him.

When the door closed behind Devin, Zoe stood in the middle of the room thinking that their life would not be the same anymore.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

1.8 Of Evading And Telling The Truth

Bellandra invited a classmate to her house with the excuse of studying to avoid a conversation like the one they almost had that morning. It had not been necessary, because by the time Bellandra returned from school her mother had already gone to work.


Ramira was a little annoyed with her sister for how she had left that morning causing her mother to stop talking.

And also because it seemed that her sister didn't notice her friend was flirting with her.


Despite inviting Mario with selfish reasons, Bellandra ended up enjoying the afternoon with him.


Zoe's work night was not going too well, there were almost no clients to serve and her co-worker didn't want to share with her the mixes he knew. Top it off, it seemed that  thinking about him all day long brought Devin to the same bar. 


Zoe made no attempt to start a conversation and he didn't ask for a drink. She felt his eyes the whole hour he was at the disco but before she could take courage to talk to him, Devin left the place. Seeing him after so long of only hearing about him in the news was strange, and to realize that she was still attracted to him after so many years? That was a Pandora's box that she didn't want to open.

But seeing him again made her realize that she couldn't keep evading her children and to make them understand that she never wanted to deny their origins.

With that purpose she organized a family outing, her children didn't seem very happy to be outdoors but that was not going to discourage her.


The first thing she did was try to have a conversation alone with her oldest daughter, that was a lesson she'd learned a few days ago when Bellandra had suddenly risen from the table.

"Come on, let's find some eggs."

Bellandra looked at her sideways and nodded slowly, Zoe put an arm around her daughter's shoulders to hug her. "I'm sorry if the other day I made you feel uncomfortable."

"It's ok, mom. It's just that you took me by surprise."

"I know, honey. I'm sorry and not only for that but also for not trying this conversation a long time ago, you and your siblings deserve the truth. First of all I'll not make the same mistake as before and believe that I know best... so the first thing I'm going to do is ask you if you want to know who your father is."

"I truly don't know. On the one hand I want to know but on the other I don't want the life we have changed."

Zoe gave her a sympathetic smile. "You know that what you do with that knowledge is exclusively your decision, right? And your siblings. I wouldn't think of doing something contrary to what you all would like to do."

"I know that, mom."


For a long time they silently picked up the eggs scattered throughout the park.

"For now I just want to know who he is and if he knows about us." Her daughter spoke after a long time.

"Let's get closer to your brother and sister so we can talk all together."

Seeing that the previous conversation had gone well while touring the park together, Zoe decided to take the same strategy and talk about it while playing  a game.


The twins were given the same speech as the teen, only they have the decision of what to do with the information that she gave them.

"His name is Devin Ashton."

"The actor?!" Franco exclaimed while his twin opened her eyes in amazement and Bellandra just listened quietly.

"The very same. We met when I just arrived in this city and he was just beginning his career, we were both very young."

"Was he your boyfriend?" Ramira asked and Zoe stopped to think about how to explain to a ten-year-old girl that not all romances are formal relationships.

"Not exactly, no. We met at a time when we were both very focused on our careers and where he began to travel a lot for his films, so we really didn't have much time to test if we would function as a couple."

The explanation was more for her older daughter who looked at her out of the corner of her eye.

"He knows about us?" Whispered Bellandra.

"No, I never told him. The times I tried to do it, I was scared of what could happen and then as time passed we stopped talking as often as at the beginning and at some point I stopped trying."

Bellandra had one last question for her mother but she was afraid of the answer, Zoe knowing her daughter answered before she could speak.

"I think if he had found out that he had children he would have accepted them without reservation." And maybe that was the fear that Zoe had always had, that Devin would have wanted to have their children with him and with the precarious economic situation she had he was more likely to win a legal claim. Or maybe it was just her fear talking.

Bellandra excused herself saying that had to meet with some classmates in the library, although the reality was that she didn't want to continue talking about this. Her mother smiled at her and kissed her on the forehead.

The twins just continued enjoying the outdoors.


Although they continued talking about the topic.

"If you had the possibility, would you like to meet dad?" Franco asked trying not to  fall on his face.

"I think so. You?"

"Yes."


For her part, Bellandra did go to the library but not to meet schoolmates.


With trembling fingers, she typed the name Devin Ashton.

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When writing this chapter I realized that I didn't have good screenshots that would be useful for the conversation. So I hope that the conversation in the middle of an group outing has not been a bit out of place.