Emily: Epilogue

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THE END

Emily saw a photo of Ethan in the main article in the science and technology section of the newspaper and caressed the once intimately familiar face. She made a mental note to call him later to congratulate him on his latest success. He was making history like he had always hoped and as she had always known he would.

“Emily! He’s waking up!” Ma called.

Emily smiled a peaceful, content smile as she put down her cup of masala tea and walked towards the bedroom. It had taken years of long, hard struggle before the court had finally granted her permission to adopt a child. When she first met Isaac, he was only a few months old and had the sweetest smiling face. Emily had felt an instant connection. When she took him home, it was as if she was finally whole again.

Mrs. Marlene Vaz watched her daughter’s face light up as she picked up her little boy. She had never seen Emily look as happy as she did when she was with Isaac. Even after Faith was born and they were on talking terms again, she was not able to fully understand or accept the circumstances that led up to her daughter’s failed marriage. She was after all from the generation where, when something was broken, it was fixed, not cast aside. But perhaps she had been wrong to assume that happiness for everybody lay in settling down in a marriage. Perhaps true happiness came in several different forms. All she had ever wanted was for Emily to be happy and she realized that she didn’t really care about the means to that end, especially when Isaac was the most beautiful of means.

Emily was finally exactly what her mother had always prayed she would be – complete, happy and completely happy.

******

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UBC: Post 31! I made it!!! 😀

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Emily: Chapter Twenty Six

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HERE COMES THE SUN

As relieved as Emily was that her marriage had ended on amicable terms, the fallout with her parents, weighed heavily on her heart. She couldn’t bear to spend more than a few days in the same house as them when neither of them was speaking to her and moved to her own place as quickly as she could.

However, divorces are hard, even when they are carried out with mutual consent, and there was a constant dull ache in her heart. There were more times than she could count when she stood at the brink of a complete breakdown and wished that she had at least Abbey to whom she could cry. In her stark absence though, strangely it was what Ethan had said during their last meeting as husband and wife that kept her from leaping off the edge into the abyss.

Ethan had talked about how he had realized that not everyone was cut out for marriage. “Our relationship was too much work.” he had said. “Making time, the intimacy, the emotional labour – it was all too much for me. I was devastated when we lost Grace but, I was also grateful because I knew I could never be the type of father I wanted her to have.”

He wanted to focus exclusively on research and do something for humanity so that he would always be remembered as the harbinger of progress. He had said, “There were so many times when I wanted to tell you that I couldn’t do it – bring a child into the world. I wanted to tell you that perhaps we weren’t getting pregnant because the universe was trying to tell us something but you wanted to have a child so much I couldn’t get the words out. When I told you that I didn’t have time, it was the first absolutely honest almost complete conversation I’d had with you in years. That didn’t go well, did it? You got hurt. So hurt it would appear that you went ahead and slept with someone else. You treated our relationship more callously than I would have thought you capable. I suppose you probably felt I was treating you the same way.” With a thin smile on his lips, he had declared that not all mistresses had to live and breathe.

He had recognized and accepted the end of their marriage. Planting a small kiss on her cheek he had said, “Thanks for being Mrs. Mendonca all these years but, we should be free to pursue what truly gives us joy, rather than remain chained together, forced to spend our lives together. That’s where our happiness is Emily.”

To pursue what truly gives us joy’ Emily had thought about what Ethan had said more and more with each passing day and if they had made some sense to her when they were first spoken, months later, they felt like wisdom and courage rolled into one. She wished her parents would understand.

*

On one miserable day when she was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, her phone rang, flashing Abbey’s name across the screen. She fumbled as she answered the call.

“Abbey?” she almost whispered, wondering if she was dreaming.

“No Emily, it’s Clive. You need to come to the maternity ward of St. Martha’s right away.”

“What? Why? Is everything alright?” Emily asked panicked as her own troubles were forgotten momentarily and she began to fear the worst for her sister; the night of her own traumatic labour flashing in her mind.

“Just get down here as soon as you can.”

“I’m on my way…” Emily said. She grabbed her keys and ran out of her flat.

When she got there, Abbey was holding a cherubic baby girl in her arms. Her parents were standing by the window with their backs towards her. She didn’t care. She was grateful just to see their familiar shapes. She felt like the sun was beginning to shine through the heavy grey clouds again. Abbey called her to her side.

“I couldn’t stomach the thought of you not being present when she was born. I didn’t want you to miss the first few hours of Faith’s life, Em. Do you want to hold her, God-ma?”

“God-ma?” Emily sputtered, as Abbey nodded in confirmation. Emily felt tears sting her eyes as she took the swaddled baby in her arms. She inhaled her delicious newborn baby smell and for some reason, that soothed her. She looked at her sister glowing in her motherly newness and whispered, “After everything? Are you sure you want to entrust me with such great responsibility?”

Abbey looked hard at Emily. “You’re my baby sister Em. Personally, I think there are much better ways to end a marriage than the way you went about it. Yet, from what I’ve been told, I think I can understand why. You were unhappy. I don’t need any further explanation. When Faith made her appearance, I realized that although I was mad at you, I wasn’t angry enough to ostracize you any longer. Besides, nothing you can ever do can cause me to write you off forever. I love you, you weirdo.”

Emily began to cry and looked up at her parents. They were still looking out the window. “Dada…” Emily said hoarsely.

Mr. Vaz responded by turning in her direction, but, he made no effort to move towards her. Mrs. Vaz, on the other hand, strode to her daughter and said, “I love you too Emily” and pulled her into an embrace.

Emily revelled in the warmth of her mothers’ touch, yet pulled away quickly. She got off Abbey’s bed and walked towards her father.

“Dada, I know what I did was unacceptable. I can’t possibly begin to explain exactly how sorry I am. I know I disappointed you. Please Dada, please talk to me again. I can’t take it anymore….please…” her voice had fallen to a mere whisper.

Mr. Vaz looked hard at his daughter for a few minutes. Then he reached out and touched her hollowed cheek. As was his simple way, he said, “Okay…”

For so many months, Emily had been living under such thick cloud cover that it often felt like her life was a perpetual rainstorm and she had no shelter. Suddenly, the clouds dissipated and Emily was basking in the gorgeous sun again.

******

Come back tomorrow for the last chapter in Emily’s tale. If you’ve only just stopped by and would like to catch up, please click here.

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Emily: Chapter Twenty Five

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END OF LIFE AS WE KNOW IT

In a daze, Emily walked to her room and collapsed on her bed. She was awakened at around midnight by noises coming from the hall and was unsure of how long she had been asleep. Her stomach was rumbling. She hadn’t eaten in over twenty-four hours. She wondered whether her parents had called Abbey home. Perhaps Abbey would appeal her case to their father if she wasn’t too appalled with her herself. She stifled a sob and walked out into the hall where she found that it wasn’t Abbey making the noise.

He was.

He was sitting at their family dining table, exactly like he had all those years ago. Ethan. There was grey hair at his temples – something Emily had not noticed till that minute. He was the last person she expected to see and as she tried to get her heart to start beating again, she reached for the door frame to steady herself. She couldn’t make eye contact with him. She needed some time. She needed food. She needed rest. Why had he come? Did he already know somehow? Could her father have told him?

Ethan excused himself from the table and walked towards her as she hurriedly back stepped into her room.

“Look, Emmy, I’m so sorry for what I said yesterday. I was in the middle of something and I didn’t really mean it.”

Emily looked at him and said nothing. He didn’t know yet. Oxygen filled her lungs once more.

He put his hands on her arms tenderly and continued, “Aren’t you going to say anything? I took the first bus I could to get here to apologize because I was a real jerk. Whatever our problems, I’m sure we can work it out.”

Emily stared at him. “No, Ethan.” she mumbled. She wanted to tell him that she had slept with Arun only because she had been furious after their conversation the evening before. When Arun had come and offered her a shoulder to cry on, she had succumbed to the temptation but, the Ethan in her mind called her a weak woman who couldn’t handle a fight without running into the arms of another man. Anger was no excuse for cheating.

“What do you mean ‘No’? Of course, we can…”

“I’ve…I’ve done something really stupid. I…” She would tell him that she had been lonely and insecure while he had been assiduously working in the research lab. But again, the Ethan in her mind told her that while she had retreated within herself for so many months, he had chosen to channel his grief into more productive avenues and not into another woman. Loneliness was no excuse for sleeping with someone else.

“Whatever it is, I don’t even want to hear about it right now. I think you should start packing and we can go back in the morning. We can work things out.”

“Ethan…it won’t work. I screwed up.” She needed to make him understand that she missed their closeness. That she just needed to feel desired again and gave in to that primal urge. But, the Ethan in her mind told her that he had waited and waited for her to return to normal. She only had to give him some time before he wanted to be physically intimate once more. Not making love regularly was no excuse for infidelity.

Ethan kept talking about how nothing mattered and how they would have to forget about the past and begin again. “Emily? Let’s work this out.”

Emily took a deep breath. She realized that none of her arguments even touched the main reason for what had happened: Grace. After she had lost her, everything had gone pear shape. That was what she would tell Ethan. That’s when the Ethan in her head said, “When you lost Grace? YOU? You selfish woman! We lost Grace. WE lost her. They gave her tiny, beautiful, still body to me to bury. I had to take her to church and watch as they lowered her into the ground. WE lost our child. You never saw it that way. It was always about you. I needed someone to grieve with as well, but you weren’t there. You withdrew into your shell and wouldn’t come out. I did the only thing I knew; I buried myself in my work so that I could forget what it felt like to hold her cold stiff body. I couldn’t make love to you. I couldn’t take the chance that we could get pregnant again. I love you and had to watch you suffer without being able to help. I couldn’t go through that again. I couldn’t. I am not strong enough to suffer another loss like that again. I can’t. I…and you…you’re nothing but a selfish bitch!”

It was then. At that moment, that Emily realized that she was responsible for what had happened. For the first time in all those months, she saw things from Ethan’s perspective. What had she done! There was no way to lay all the blame on Ethan. It had all been her fault too. She thought back to how initially Ethan had tried to hold her to comfort her those horrible nights she would wake up screaming and how she had always pushed him away. She realized that she had not let him in and selfishly, as the Ethan in her mind had described her, thought it was only her right to grieve the loss of Grace in the manner she chose. She had pushed him away. She had messed up. She deserved Ethan’s anger and was no longer deserving of him. She could see no way to save their marriage.

In a flat, hollow voice she said, “I slept with Arun yesterday.”

Ethan let go of Emily so quickly, it was like she had a current of electricity suddenly running through her. “You what?” he asked in a voice that was a little louder than a whisper. When Emily didn’t say anything, Ethan asked again, “You did what?”

“I slept with Arun,” Emily repeated, her voice drained of all emotion.

Emily looked at Ethan and saw tears in his eyes. She hadn’t expected those. She could almost feel her heart breaking for hurting him like that. “I’m sorry E…” she started to say shakily when Ethan strode over to her. Emily recoiled, half expecting him to slap her as the situation rightly warranted.

Then he put his arms around her.

“Thank you” Ethan whispered.

******

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UBC: Post 29

Emily: Chapter Twenty Four

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SAY IT ISN’T SO

A few moments after she rang the bell, Mrs. Vaz opened the door. “Where have you been baba? We’ve been trying to reach you on your mobile for so long. And Emily, we’re not running a hotel. If you want to change your sheets please don’t just throw….” Mrs. Vaz stopped talking. Concern appeared on her wrinkled face as she noticed her daughter’s swollen eyes. Emily pushed her aside and mumbled, “Sorry about the sheets. I left a note.”

Ma followed her into the living room, the concern turning into worry as she asked, “What is it, Emily? What happened?”

“Nothing, Ma. Just. Please leave me alone for a while.”

It took a great deal of willpower to remain silent and respect her daughters’ wishes. Emily couldn’t stomach breakfast and, unable to sleep, spent most of the morning pacing up and down in the hall.

When Emily refused to have lunch, her mother pleaded, “Emily, what is it? You’re going to wear out the floor pacing up and down like that. Will you please tell us what happened? You’re scaring us.”

Emily looked at her parents. She had always assumed that Ethan and she would look like them about four decades later. After what had happened, that vision was dying very quickly. She wasn’t sure she could find the correct words to explain to them how badly she had screwed up. However, she knew that they deserved to hear the truth from her and not from any other wagging tongue. She sighed and said softly, “I think you need to sit down…”

Mr. and Mrs. Vaz held hands as they sat on the sofa, steeling themselves for what was to come. Not in their wildest dreams did they imagine Emily would be saying, “…and then last night, I slept with Arun Shetty.”

“What?” Ma gasped horrified.

Emily hung her head. “It was a momentary loss of judgement. I am so disgusted. I don’t know what to do.”

“A. Momentary. Loss. Of. Judgement.” Her mother repeated the words in staccato. “Emily! Is that your justification for breaking your marriage vows? Jesus, help me! I asked him to spend time with you! What was I thinking?”

“Do you remember nothing of what the priest said at your wedding service? Has nothing we have tried to teach you and show you by example left any impact on you? You slept with another man?? Oh my sweet Jesus, give me strength! Poor Ethan!”

Her father got up and walked out of the room. Emily watched him go and broke down into tears. “I’m so sorry Ma. I’m so sorry….”

Mrs. Vaz stroked her sobbing daughter’s head and stared blankly at the door through which her husband had disappeared. She didn’t know what to say. Emily needed comfort that only a mother could provide, but, she had slept with another man! In the Vaz family home! Mrs. Vaz was seized with the urge to burn the sheets from her daughters’ bedroom. Emily had done something that her remorse, however heartfelt and deep, wasn’t nearly enough to provide her with the comforting blanket of forgiveness. Ethan was like a son and Emily had done the unthinkable. Mrs. Vaz shuddered involuntarily and asked, “How are you going to tell him?”

Emily shook her head. “I don’t know. I know I can’t delay it forever. I was going to call him this morning. I can’t make myself dial his number. I think I need to give it a couple of days and work up the courage to face him.”

“Hmm…” responded Ma. Emily knew she wasn’t convinced but she was too exhausted to make her case. She said nothing, leaned back against the sofa seat and closed her eyes.

It could have been minutes or hours later when Mr. Vaz called out to her, bringing her out of her temporary peace. She rose and joined him in the master bedroom.

He refused to look at his child. In a hard voice, most unlike his usual self, he said, “Emily, you need to find a place of your own to stay. When you do, please don’t come back here. What you did was unforgivable. I would throw you out this instant, but, you are my baby girl and I always thought you were a perfect little angel. Seems that was nothing except a father’s foolish fancy.” His voice wavered and he looked at Emily for just a second before resuming his gaze out the window. “Find an apartment and get out of my house.”

It was as though she had been stabbed in the heart repeatedly with shards of ice. She knew that her parents would be angry, it would have been naïve to think otherwise, but to be thrown out of her home? Her father couldn’t be serious.

“Dada…” she implored.

Mr. Vaz got up and left the room, rubbing the paunch that had grown larger over the years. Their conversation was over.

******

Emily screwed up and how! Thanks for coming back again today. If you are new and want to catch up, please click here.

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