“You’re so worried about healing this big rift between me and Dad, so worried about how we’ll get along after you’re gone,” Nola said the word 'gone' sarcastically, over dramatizing it for effect, “you just don’t get it.”
“What, what don’t I get, should I not care about you, about how he’ll be to you if I’m dead?”
“No, that’s not it, you should, I guess, but it’s not the only thing…”
“Nola, I know it’s not the only thing, I would like to take care of everything, so many…but I don’t know how much time I’ll have. I have to take care of what I can, do the important stuff first…”
“But you are the important stuff, you are the one…you are the one who might be leaving and we, our…this sucks, the way we are, our relationship sucks as much as mine and Dad’s does, more.”
“How can you say that? Look, I know I’ve made mistakes. I...I’d do a lot of things differently…”
“Tell me that, Damn it, tell me stuff like that! I need to know what you regret, I need to know that you know how badly you fucked up with me, that you wish…that you wish you could have loved me.”
“Nola! I’ve always loved you.”
“Yeah, maybe, but not as much as him, never as much as him and you blame me for that.”
“Nola, that’s not true, it may have seemed like …”
“It’s not my fault.” And with that Nola began to shake, to physically vibrate. She seemed wild eyed, like a caged animal pent up finally set free, yet disoriented, not knowing which way to go.
Kate took a step closer, tried to pacify her, to speak calmly, soothing, the way she would to a wounded child, “What’s not your fault, honey, tell me?”
“I got to live just because he died. You would never have had me if he hadn’t died. How do you think that feels, to know that I’m the replacement kid? You blame me for not working out the way you hoped but it’s not my fault because no one could replace Ethan…no one could replace any one but even if they could no one could replace Ethan because you would never have let them. Even if I’d been perfect you never let anyone in to that…space, that space that was his. You let me look, you let me see what that kind of motherly love looked like, you told me stories of how much you adored him, how everyone loved Ethan. You let me see what being loved like that might look like, but you never gave it to me, never let me touch it or feel it for myself.”
Nola was pacing now, tears streaming down her face, black eyeliner and mascara streaking down her cheeks, her body wracked with sobs, her breath exaggerated and gulping. “Don’t you think, don’t you know that was worse torture than any way Daddy could have treated me? You sold me a bill of goods about motherhood, painted me this glorious picture and then denied me the chance to have any of it.”
“But do you know what’s worse? I don’t even know if it actually exists at all in real life. I mean, did you really love Ethan like that? Or was that all just another delusion, just the way you dreamed it should be, so you convinced yourself that’s the way it was. But the truth is, the truth is you just told me all that stuff to make yourself feel better, to make you feel like a better person, a better mother. That way you could forgive yourself for not loving me…that way it could be my fault for not being like him or Ethan’s fault for ripping out your heart when he died but you never blamed yourself.”
Nola began to scream, her fists held tightly at her sides, her whole body rigid, “But it was your fault, Mom, yours and yours alone and I will never forgive you! Do you hear me, never! So take that to your grave with Ethan. I hope the two of you will be very happy together rotting in the mud!”
Kate stared at Nola like a dazed deer caught in headlights. Her mind swaying, trying to take in what she was hearing, what she was seeing. She tried to think of what to say next, but her thoughts were jumbled, words seemed garbled in her throat like she had tried to swallow marbles and couldn’t get them down, she was silently choking on the impact of all her daughter had said.
Nola stood, finally still, and glared at Kate, glowered at her with an intensity that seemed to give off heat. For one second they stayed locked in each other’s eyes, one enraged, one choking, both staring, frozen. Then Nola shook her head slightly in disgust and spit on the floor in front of Kate’s feet. She turned around and thundered out of the room. When Nola reached the front door she grabbed her bag from the hook off the hall rack so violently that she tore one end of the brackets holding it right out of the wall. As the screw was stripped from the wall it made an awful scraping sound and bits of plaster crumbled. The rack swung down on one end, sending everything hanging on it flying to the floor with a thud. The empty hall rack teetered on the wall for a moment as Nola stared at it. Then she walked out the door, slamming it with all her might, harder than her father had slammed it hundreds of times, harder than all the slammed doors of a lifetime. The frosted glass window smashed, the rack fell off the wall the rest of the way, and books went flying off the shelves in the parlor.
Kate stood in the kitchen doorway taking in the carnage. She just stood there looking for a long time, holding on to the edge of her mother’s Hoosier cabinet for balance. Eventually she felt her throat loosen, her mind slowly stopped reeling. She closed her eyes and the shattering of the door glass replayed in slow motion in her mind. Each falling shard seemed to loosen the grip that held her stuck in that stunned silence, like all the pieces of her she’d been trying to hold together finally just fell apart. There was nothing left but a few jagged fragments clinging to an empty frame. She opened her eyes.
She knew something had to be done. She knew this had to be fixed; it couldn’t be left like this. And for the first time she realized it was up to her…she would have to repair this all by herself. She just didn’t know where to begin.
six words: see ya soon - minor eye injury still needs healing