Excerpt 5 – The Fight

That night I went to bed with mixed feelings. Due to the time difference I had now gone two nights in a row without talking with my children or husband. Guilt was replacing bliss as

That night I went to bed with mixed feelings. Due to the time difference I had now gone two nights in a row without talking with my children or husband. Guilt was replacing bliss as I thought of my family running around in their usual routine without me, and all of a sudden I was homesick. I missed my girls. I tossed and turned as I simultaneously replayed moments from the day in my mind and pushed away at the tugging need to overanalyze what I was feeling. After about an hour of torture, I gave up and swallowed a sleeping pill. Twenty minutes later I was in rem state, oblivious to the chaos in my heart.

The next morning I rolled out of bed around 8:30 to find Charlie watching his favourite cartoons, and actually sitting quietly in the living room. Knowing those moments were few and far between, I decided to let him be and made my way to the coffee pot. Realizing that my sister was still asleep I stepped in and told my brother in law that he could get going to work if he wanted. I could watch Charlie until Stace was up. He didn’t seem to want to look me in the eyes, which was odd, but to be honest, not totally out of character for him either. He loved my sister and nephew dearly, but he was kind of an odd duck. He was likely the most god fearing person I had ever met, yet worked in the casino business. If that isn’t weird, I don’t know what is.  In any case, I decided to let it slide, and instead turned my attention to the coffee pot. Not wanting to be idle while Charlie was sitting quietly, I decided to do some quick tidying so that Stace wouldn’t wake up to a mess. Once the kitchen was in a decent state, I spent some quality time with my nephew. As an only child, I noticed quickly how independent he was compared to my two kids. Despite him being completely content to just play on his own, we hung out all morning, and had a really great time. We played with a remote helicopter, some dinosaurs and swam in the pool. He had just learned how to swim that May and was already crossing the pool by himself, I was so impressed!

“Hey, you cleaned the kitchen?” she said and sat down on the other long chair next to the pool.

“Mommy we’re playing shark attack!” Charlie exclaimed. I was inwardly happy that my nephew was having a good time with me, considering I’d only ever seen him via video calls during the past few years. 

“Yeah, how are you feeling?” I asked her; One, because she had told me the night before that she may not want to go out the next night because she was overtired and two, because I knew that she had a bunch of running around to do that day in preparation for Charlie’s birthday party.

“Great! It felt good to sleep in!’ I leaned over to glance past her shoulder and was shocked to see that the clock on the wall showed that it was nearly 11! It didn`t escape me though that she wasn’t going to thank me. I rolled my eyes when she quickly diverted her attention to Charlie to tell him to get out of the pool, and to get dressed. Although it wasn`t verbal, I felt slightly better with my quiet retaliation. 

Time was getting on; I knew the guys would have likely been out late, but I remember them telling me to pop by around lunch.  

 “So I was thinking of heading downtown today to meet Matt and his friends like you suggested yesterday.” 

I knew it was going to be touchy no matter how I brought it up, so I figured that I wouldn’t beat around the bush and just get it out. Rip it off like a bandaid.  And even though I had had some reservations in broaching the topic, I was still grossly surprised by her reaction. Especially since I had been going on what SHE had said to me JUST the day before!  I had been truly hoping that she would have wished me a good day and that would have been the end of it. However, all of a sudden, everything changed.

Almost as if in slow motion, I saw her expression move from questioning to anger, and then finally to disbelief. I watched her as every motion passed so blatantly across her face and then asked incredulously “what’s wrong?”

“I was talking to Dave last night and I have to agree with him, that’s it’s wrong for you to be hanging around another man while you’re married” I guess that explained his awkwardness around me that morning!

To tell you the truth, I have to say that I was rather stunned that I had been able to go along with this charade for as long as I had, knowing that Stacey isn’t one to walk too far past the line in her everyday life.

I had been expecting a change in perspective to come out eventually but was rather disappointed with the timing in which it decided to do so. 

“You can come with me if it makes you feel better” I tried.

“You know I have tons of errands to run for Charlie’s party!I can’t hang around downtown.”

“ We were going to go down to Freemont street today, which I haven’t seen before, besides he has a girlfriend, remember?”

“He didn’t seem to remember his girlfriend last night when he kissed you goodbye” she retorted, with such an air of pretentiousness, it almost made me laugh. 

In all honesty, I had been shocked that she had even seen that flighty moment, it had happened so quickly and not wanting to seem as guilty as I had been feeling, I back pedalled to explain to her that it had been an accident.

“ Yeah right!” she rolled her eyes at me and turned to walk back into the living room.

 “Stacey! I’m married, why would I kiss some random guy that I’m not even attracted to just for fun?”

“oh please!, I saw the way you looked at him!”

“What do you want me to tell you? That I hated how nice he was? That I didn’t like the constant massage he was giving me?” “Puh-lease!  (It obviously didn’t take me long to revert to being a teen around my sister) if you were in my situation you would have done the same thing! You know that my marriage has been crap for the past few years! And you have no idea what has been going on!“ 

I was terrifyingly close to sobbing. I swiftly made the decision that being angry was the best avenue to take to avoid a full on breakdown. So I held on to that and continued my defense. 

`So forgive me if I like the attention he was giving me! It was all innocent and besides, we were going to tell his friends the truth today!”

She had looked skeptical at this statement and decided to try a different angle that I thought had been both petty and childish.

“I thought you were here to visit with me and my family!”

Playing the guilt card came naturally to the eldest in a family of more than one sibling and I have to say that it was an action that she had perfected over the years. As a teenager, desperate for her approval, I would have folded like a deck of cards. Present day, mother of two,with a lying and possibly cheating husband, and finally able to enjoy some minutes ALONE, I found myself armed with a stronger backbone.

Although I realized that she may react strongly to what I was going to say, I took a deep breath and continued anyway.

“You told me yesterday that I could spend the day with him and his friends, why would you change your mind all of a sudden? This is my first solo vacation, ever, and I never get to visit the city. You live here, you get to see it all the time, why would you prevent me from having a good time?“

As the last words came out of my mouth I knew immediately I had worded them incorrectly. Being slightly without practice at standing up to my older (and quite motherly) sister, and not being one to enjoy confrontation, I was nervous and didn’t truly put much thought into what was coming out of my mouth. Backbone be damned, I really sucked at this!

She immediately jumped into the defensive.

“So you’re saying that staying with me isn’t fun? I thought that we could spend the day together and you could help me get ready for the party!”

She was almost yelling at me at this point and without even noticing, my voice was getting a few octaves higher as well.

“You gave me the go ahead for today!” I yelled back. She paused when I said that so I continued with,

“I let you sleep in, I cleaned your kitchen and made sure Charlie was busy, just so that you can rest, considering everything you had to do. I think I deserve to have a day to myself and have some fun” considering I paid for my plane ticket to come here, I thought to myself.

“I just think it’s very selfish of you to plan a day for yourself when you’re supposed to be here to visit me and Charlie!”

I stared at her, in complete disbelief that she called me selfish for wanting one day to myself. 

“When you come home to visit, you don’t spend the whole time with me! You bounce around and I accommodate whatever you want to do since it’s your vacation. If I can refrain from telling YOU what to do with your time, then why can’t you do the same for me?” 

Although I know that being a full time mom is a hectic job all in itself, she often took nights off for herself. I think it was impossible for her to put herself in my shoes and I felt that her attack on me that morning confirmed that.  I was beyond livid at that point and hurt that she couldn’t support my decision to take the day for myself. I knew that a lot of my anger was being pulled from what had happened back home with Dave, but I had too much pride to tell her what was going on. I knew she’d have a ton to say, given how she had felt about him in the first place, and at that point, I wasn’t going to let her win – on anything! 

I saw her shoulders stiffen and knew she wasn’t done. Before I could brace myself fully for the rest, she continued with

“Well you’re hanging out with another man, and I don’t feel comfortable knowing your husband doesn’t know about this!” I stared at her, open mouthed, at that comment. She was reaching at this point. I hadn`t been planning on getting myself into any compromising position with Matt that night, or ever! Nor do anything stupid to cause trouble in my marriage. I’ve always had male friends in my life, it was a fact that my husband was not only aware of but had no issues with. My husband knew that men hit on me when I went out and had even caught a few checking me out when we were out in public together. He wasn’t a jealous man, and trusted me in our relationship. I’ve never given him a reason not to. And given what he had been up to the past however many months, he didnt have a leg to stand on when it came to me hanging out with someone of the opposite sex. Albeit, Stace didn’t know about all that, but I was too far gone to go back on my points. 

In any case, she didn’t seem to have had any issues with them the night before. Her husband, a devout Catholic and the apple of my parents eyes, must have talked her into changing her tune.

I took a few deep breaths, quietly counting to ten. “All I want is to go and visit the city and relax by a pool, not run errands inside shopping centers, when I could do all of that back at  home.” I retorted.

“Fine” she said “go, but get yourself there; I’m not driving you!”

 Biting my tongue, I turned on my heels, walked up to my room and began furiously packing a bag with various pool day necessities. I thought quickly that I should bring a dress and shoes in case we were going to hit a comedy club that night, thinking that I probably wouldn’t want to go in my swimsuit. I was shaking with anger at this point and as I had mentioned before, I was not one to dwell in negativity, as I hated confrontation. I didn’t enjoy the feeling, however it fueled my decision to go.

My anger accelerated my motions and within 20 minutes I was ready to go, with an Uber on its way. 

With my bag over my shoulder I slowly approached Stacey while she was working on her to-do list for the day. “Listen Stace, I’m heading out now. I don’t want to argue with you and would think it would be really fun if you met up with us later to go to that comedy club you were talking about last night. I messaged Matt and he’s going to meet me at Mandalay, then we’ll cab it to Caesars Palace . I’ll let you know where I am later on, and what I will be up to, in case you want to join.” I really hoped that this olive branch would be enough for us to move forward, but deep down, I wanted more from her, I wanted her approval. She was my older sister, and it always bothered me when we fought, but when I felt like she was somehow disappointed in me, that was worse.  

She signed. “Well I’ll probably be pretty busy with getting the house ready for the party so I don’t think I’ll be able to head out”

Knowing that my sister was super stubborn, I decided to let it go at that. So I told her I may be back for supper but that I would call her to let her know. She got up to give me a hug just as we heard the cabby honking outside. We shared a quick and awkward embrace and then I was out the door, nerves jumping with a mix of both fear and excitement. In the hurry to pack and leave, I hadn’t realized that I had left my cell phone on it’s charger on the night table.

xoxo Lilly