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Mom repeated herself.
I tried to interrupt her, “Mom, we know this is a shock, but…”
She cut me off. “Mike, stop. Savy… I can’t…” Tears were running down her face, still completely pale. “I should have said something sooner. I should have seen the two of you and told you.”
I was confused. “Mom, what are you talking about?”
“Give me a minute.”
She stood up and walked into the kitchen. It sounded like she was making tea.
I looked at Savy and she at me. The love and happiness that I’d seen there just a few minutes before were gone, replaced with fear and apprehension. I squeezed her hand, then brought it to my lips and kissed it. Savy bent her head down against my shoulder and I rested mine on top of hers.
We sat in silence.
Mom came back into the living room, carrying a cup of tea. She slowly sat across from us and set her tea on the table. She looked at Savy and I together and sighed.
“I should have told you.”
She took a second to compose herself.
“Mike, your father, Tom… you know we didn’t have a happy marriage. Obviously… since we divorced. At first it was a good marriage and when you came along, he was proud of you as his boy. When you were still a little boy, Tom started to change. He just… withdrew, from both of us. He didn’t seem to want to spend time with us. He stayed at the office and when he wasn’t at work, he just stayed away from us in the house.”
“And then one day, I came home from work and his car was already in the driveway. When I came inside, he was sitting on the floor, crying. I had never seen him cry before. I hadn’t seen him show emotion in years, really. When he saw me, he stood up and asked me to sit in here so he could tell me something important. I still remember his words and how they hit me.”
“‘I’ve been having an affair,’ he said.”
“I asked him how long and he said five years. I was crushed. He wasn’t just having an affair, he was having a whole separate life. And then he said that there was more he had to tell me. I waited for him to say he was leaving me. I shouldn’t have cared, but sometimes even when your marriage is hurting you, you don’t want it to end. He told me that she was dying. That she had breast cancer and it was terminal. I was in shock. I didn’t have any idea how to respond to him.”
“He kneeled down on the floor in front of me. He wasn’t done. What more could there possibly be? ‘I have a daughter.’ Savannah, he’s your father.”
I heard Savy, in a hoarse whisper, “What?”
“I’m so sorry, honey. I should have told you.”
I felt Savy pull away from me. The realization hit us both like an avalanche.
“You had no other family here. He begged me. You would’ve been put into the system or sent to your family in the Philippines. He pleaded with me to stay with him and take you in. I didn’t speak to him for days. I was shattered.”
“But it wasn’t your fault. You had nowhere to go. I thought it might even save our marriage. I still loved him. God help me, even after all of it, I still loved him. And so I said yes.”
“I think if you were anyone else, I couldn’t have done it, honey. I would have seen his betrayal every day. But you were, you are, such a sweet child. How could anyone not love you?”
Tears were streaming down Savy’s cheeks.
“I did my best to treat you like my own daughter. I tried to make us a family. It wasn’t enough. He still left. Whatever he wanted out of life, it wasn’t me and it wasn’t a family.”
Mom looked at Savy. “I’m so sorry, honey. I do love you. You are my daughter. I don’t want you to be hurt.”
Mom stood up and asked me to wait for her. She took Savy’s hand and lead her upstairs.
I can’t begin to describe how stunned I was. My father had had an affair… a second family! I was furious.
But Savy, she was…
I slumped forward and my head fell into my hands. I closed my eyes and could see Savy. I could see her as a laughing, smiling child. I could see her on stage, playing beautifully. I could see her laying next to me. I could feel her hand on my face, then brushing her fingers through my hair.
Little things jumped out to me. She had the same gold flecks in her eyes as I did. Her nose seemed a bit taller at the bridge, which I’d kissed so many times. Her chin had the same definition.
When mom came back downstairs, I wasn’t sure how much time had passed. I was in complete shock. She sat down next to me and put her arm around me.
“I wish I had told you sooner.”
“What do I, we, do now, mom?”
“I don’t know, honey. We’ll get through this. We’ll find a way. It’s so much to process.”
I looked up towards the stairs. “How is Savy? I need to go see her, talk to her.”
“She’s devastated, of course. Just give her space tonight. This is just so much.”
My head fell into my hands again. Holding back tears was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do.
Mom told me to do my best to try and sleep. We’d talk more in the morning. She went upstairs and then I izmir escort bayan was alone. I sat there, staring at the clock on the cable box, watching minutes tick by. It was after 4:45 in the morning when I stood up. My body felt like I’d just survived a car crash. I felt bruised and beaten. Every step on the stairs was an almost insurmountable obstacle.
At the top, I turned to the right and looked at Savy’s door. It was closed. I took the three steps to her door and pressed my hand against it. I reached for the knob and it was locked. My forehead pressed against her door.
I finally made it to my room. When I flipped on the light, a scrap of paper was on my bed. I picked it up. It simply read, “I’m sorry.” When my eyes fell back to my bed, Savy’s ring was laying there.
I fell to my knees and I cried.
The next thing I can remember from that night, I was in my car and pulling out of the driveway as the sun rose. Savy and I had watched many sunrises over the Maryland campus from a favorite bench near her dorm. The sun’s rays slowly creep up over the administration building, then dance across the trees and grass. The oranges and reds, purples and pinks, paint the white trim of the buildings that flank either side of the mall before finally resting on McKeldin Library. As I left Salisbury on Route 50, the sun rose behind me.
Four days went by and I heard nothing from Savy.
When I’d gotten to my apartment – was it still our apartment? – I was surrounded by her things, our memories. Mom had sent me an email as soon as she’s woken up and realized I’d left. She told me I didn’t have to talk to her about any of it, but that she just wanted to know I was okay. I responded quickly that I had returned to Greenbelt.
After that, nothing.
I don’t consciously remember sleeping, eating, or doing anything. I must have, but I don’t remember it.
On Monday, I dragged myself out of bed and made it into the office. Despite my growing exhaustion, I managed to make it through the day, though not without colleagues asking if I was sick. I looked like hell. I felt like hell.
At home, I didn’t touch anything. I had to believe that she would call me and tell me to pick her up any time now.
On Friday, Jeff texted me about our usual lunch meeting. I told him that I couldn’t make it this week. The next Friday, the same thing. He asked if everything was okay. I didn’t want to have this conversation with him, but I had to have it with someone, right? I asked if he could meet at the pub after dinner. A few hours later, I made my way over. Jeff was already waiting when I walked in.
“Holy shit, Mike, you look like crap.”
I did look like hell. I couldn’t remember the last time I shaved. I think it was sometime since Thanksgiving, but I wasn’t sure. I was down fifteen pounds in less than three weeks, a dangerous amount in that short of time. My eyes were almost permanently red now, with dark bags underneath.
“Talk to me, Mike. What’s going on?”
I leaned on the bar and my face dropped into my hands. “She’s gone.”
“What? Are you talking about Savannah? She’s gone? What the hell happened?” His questions were rapid-fire and hearing her name sent a sharp pain through me.
After I ordered a beer, I recounted everything to him that had happened over the past few weeks. The ring and our engagement. That we’d grown up together, thinking she was my adopted sister. Telling mom about us. What mom had said. That Savy and I were half-siblings. That she’d left her ring on my bed. That I hadn’t heard from her since. Jeff didn’t say a thing the entire time until I finished. I was completely spent. I had another beer.
“Mike… fuck. I don’t even know what to say.”
“There’s nothing to say.”
“Have you talked to your mom?”
I ordered another beer and drank it in silence.
“Is Savannah back at school?”
“I don’t know.”
We sat quietly through another beer.
“Mike, do you still love her?”
I didn’t answer. Another beer.
In my current mental and physical state, I was already feeling the effects of the alcohol. Jeff called Mia and asked her to drive over and pick us up. When she pulled up in front, Jeff opened the door to the back seat and dumped me in.
Mia started, “What are you two…” Jeff gave her a look that cut her off. “Can you take us to Mike’s place? I’ll explain everything later, but he can’t be alone tonight.”
I woke up the next morning, feeling even more like ass. The fact that I always seemed to wake up early after drinking didn’t help matters. I stumbled out to go to the kitchen. Jeff was crashed on the sofa. When I came back out of the kitchen with a glass of water, Jeff was sitting up.
I slumped onto the loveseat.
“I’m not gonna lie, man, this is a fucked up situation. You never answered me last night when I asked if you still love her, but I’m not an idiot. I can see it in you that you do. You wouldn’t be doing this to yourself if you didn’t and the escort izmir love you two had, it ain’t something that goes away just like that… ” He snapped his fingers. “I’m not saying your situation is something you run across every day, but you can’t just do nothing. You’ve gotta fucking talk to her, at least.”
“She doesn’t want to talk to me.”
“How the hell do you know that? You haven’t heard from her. That ain’t the same thing as her not wanting to talk to you. She’s gotta be fucking devastated, man. In one night, she learns that she does have a dad, that he was a fucking bastard who abandoned all of you, that her mom knew all of this and didn’t tell her, and that the guy she’s crazy in love with and whose ring she was wearing is her…” His voice stumbled a bit. “… brother. Do you think anyone is prepared for that?”
I shook my head.
“This ain’t you, man. You never let shit tell you the way it’s gonna be. You never did at school and you never do at work.”
I sighed and rubbed my eyes.
“You’ve gotta talk to her.”
I knew that he was right, but what was I going to say?
“Take a day to get yourself together. Get yourself shaved and cleaned up. Let’s get food in you. Then you can go over there and knock on her door. Whatever happens happens, but you’re not just fucking giving up. I know what she means to you.”
I did as Jeff said. While I was shaving and showering, Jeff called Mia, since we didn’t have a car. I guess he told her everything, because when she pulled up, she got out of the car and hugged me with tears in her eyes. The three of us got burgers for lunch and, thankfully, talked about other things.
After picking up my car, we went back to my place. They wanted to make sure I ate dinner, too. By ten o’clock, I was alone again.
The one direction I couldn’t follow was to get some sleep. When my eyes closed, I saw her and when I opened them, I was alone. My fears of what she would say ate at me. When I slept, it was from pure exhaustion.
I woke up and did my best to make myself presentable. I couldn’t do anything about my bloodshot eyes or gaunt appearance, but the rest of me was okay.
And then I was behind the wheel, driving towards campus, towards Savy. I’d driven it so many times over the past months. It was one of my favorite drives, but now I just felt sick to my stomach.
Her dorm was in sight.
I parked and waited. After a short time, I was able to tailgate in.
My feet were lead boots on the stairs.
I was at her door. I held up my hands and after pausing for a moment, I knocked.
Amy opened the door.
I spoke softly. “Is Savy here?”
Amy looked over her shoulder. “Give me a minute.” She quietly closed the door.
Oh no. She wasn’t going to see me. Every horrible scenario I’d run over in my head was coming true. I was going to be sick.
The door opened.
She was in as bad of shape as I was. Her eyes were red and swollen. Her hair, lacking its usual body and sheen, was pulled back in a ponytail. She was practically drowning in her sweatpants and sweatshirt. She didn’t just look petite anymore, she looked frail.
She stepped back, clearing a way for me to go into her room. Amy had just picked up a bag and was on her way out.
She said to Savy, “Call me if you need anything.” On her way past me, she briefly rested her hand on my arm and looked me in the eye before closing the door behind her. Savy and I were alone.
She stood in front of her bed. I stepped towards her and she didn’t move. I held out my arms and she took a small step towards me. I wrapped my arms around her and she collapsed into me, sobbing. I was crying, too.
I held her and we cried, because it was the only thing we could do.
I don’t know if I held her for five minutes or an hour. She stepped away from me and I let her go. She sat on the edge of her bed, then scooted until her back was against the wall. She picked up a pillow and clutched it to her.
I sat on the other end of the bed. I was so completely unsure of myself… and unsure of what she wanted. I just wanted to mend her heart and fix everything.
She looked at me, her eyes still wet.
“I’ve missed you so much, Savy.”
Her voice was so quiet, I barely heard her reply. “I missed you too, Mike.”
I rested my hand on the bed between us. She didn’t take it.
“I still love you. I still love you more than anything that could possibly stand between us.”
I tried to look into her eyes, but she looked away.
Tears were running down her cheeks again.
“I can’t. I love you. I love you and it makes me want to die, but I can’t.”
“We can get through this.”
“Mike… you’re my brother.”
“I was always your brother. Whether we shared the same DNA or not, I was always your brother. But we became more than that. We grew up together and then we grew together. Savy, you’re the absolute love of my life. Nothing matters to izmir escort me more than that.”
“Everything has changed now…”
“Not for me. I still want to marry you, to spend my life with you.”
“I need time. This is too much. I never once thought about my parents. My family was you, mom, and me. That was it. And now I know who they were and it changes everything. How do I deal with that, Mike?”
“We deal with it together.”
“Don’t you see me differently now? Don’t you see all the similarities we have?”
“I see you. You’re my Savy. And I love you.”
She buried her face in her pillow. We sat silently.
“Does it hurt you that I’m here?”
“I don’t know. Everything hurts.”
My throat was closing in on me and I could barely breathe.
“Do you… want… me to leave?”
She didn’t answer me.
I sat there forever. I wanted to hold her. I wanted to fix everything for her.
But I couldn’t. I offered her myself and that wasn’t enough. As shocking as all of this was for me, I couldn’t begin to understand the full breadth of what she was going through. It wasn’t just that our relationship had this shadow hanging over it now, it was her entire understanding of family.
I stood up and leaned over her, then pressed my lips to her head.
“I love you. I’ll do anything for you. The second you want me here, I’ll be by your side.”
I stepped away from her. I heard the door click shut behind me. I was in my car. I was lost.
I haven’t seen Savy for over five months now.
I had everything in my life and now I’m alone. At first, it was complete hell. I couldn’t function. I took all of my leave days at work and stayed in my apartment for a week. Every minute after I left Savy was torture. The clock just wouldn’t move. I was completely stuck. After a few days, I could make it through an hour without breaking down.
I think I wouldn’t have made it without Jeff and Mia. The only reason I did make it is because they promised me they would take care of Savy. The first few days, they cleaned my apartment and took all of Savy’s things to her. They would come by and make sure I had something to eat. I could barely get anything down, but they made me. They would just sit with me, not even expecting me to talk. They were all I had for a long time.
When I first went back to work, I could barely acknowledge my colleagues. They all knew something was wrong. I was making stupid mistakes. The quality of my work suffered. Finally, I told my boss that I had been engaged, but my fiancée and I had split up. She was extremely understanding. At some point, I was able to get my mind back to a place where I could at least do my work satisfactorily.
By early spring, I had settled into a routine. Wake. Work. Study. Eat. Sleep. Over and over, day after day. When I didn’t work, I stayed in my apartment. I couldn’t bring myself to go anywhere, because everywhere was somewhere I had been with her.
Whenever I emailed mom, I always asked how Savy was, though we never talked about what had happened. The answer was always the same, “She’s getting by.” Mom had clearly told me that she was absolutely there for me, but it was my decision whether to talk about it with her or not. I didn’t have it in me. Eventually, I had to stop asking.
I made a difficult decision last month. I had to move. I had to get away from Maryland. My company offered to transfer me to their Virginia location, but I needed to go farther away. I made arrangements and now here I am.
I finished my first year of graduate studies last week. My last day of work was two days ago. Everything I own has been sold or packed into two bags. I am sitting on Jeff’s sofa and tomorrow I get on an airplane.
I am moving to Spain.
I accepted a position teaching English at a small college in Mataró, north of Barcelona. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted for my career, but it would get me by for awhile. I’d taken Spanish, albeit from a Mexican perspective, in high school and figured I knew enough to get by.
Mom understands. We haven’t really talked that much. I didn’t go home for the holidays. She told me that Savy did. Mom came to see me the weekend after I decided to move. I don’t want to hurt her by leaving, but she understands.
Jeff and Mia think I should stay. I know they want to keep an eye on me. I know they think they can get me through this. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done. I honestly wouldn’t have survived without them.
I don’t know if physical space, a change of geography, will heal me, but I don’t know what else to do.
My plane touched down in Barcelona and I was almost immediately on a train to Mataró. For much of the trip, the tracks follow the coast and I rested my head against the window and watched the Mediterranean slide by. At the train station, a secretary from the foreign language department was there to meet me. I hopped into his car and he took me to my housing near campus, a small walk-up third floor apartment. We made plans for him to pick me up the next day and take me over to the college for an introduction. It was a bit after seven and I’d eaten on the flight, plus jet lag was setting in, so he left me to rest for the evening.
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