Long Kiss Goodnight

Long Kiss Goodnight

A FIGHT FOR LOVE AND GLORY

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I drove back home in silence, feeling numb. I haven’t processed everything I said to my mother tonight. I still can’t believe I spoke with her. She’s here and she’s real. What’s even more real are my feelings for her. I love her, I never stopped, even as angry as she’s made me over the years. There was sort of a sadness in her eyes, I haven’t seen in a long time. Sometimes I would catch the same look when I was a little girl; wondering what could possibly make her feel that way. Was it me or Kennedey? Was she sad because of us? I didn’t know what the problem was then, but as my father told me and as Mom said herself, my sister and I weren’t the cause for that sadness.

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I arrived home and found Jaylen in the living room waiting up for me. By the look on his face, he knew I had not been to the store. He knew I’d gone to see her. Jaylen walked over to me and held me tightly in his strong arms. “It’s going to be alright, Baby. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. I love you,” he whispered. I began crying, softly and let myself go weak under Jaylen’s support. I didn’t know what I would do if I didn’t have him here.

I carefully pulled away from Jaylen and stared up into his eyes. “I talked to my mother,” I said. Jaylen nodded. “I know. Are you okay?” I lowered my head, briefly. “I don’t know. I’m numb, just numb,” I answered. “No pressure, but do you want to tell me about it?” asked Jaylen. “Is the baby asleep?” I asked. “Yes, she woke up once for a bottle when you were gone, but went right back to sleep.”

“Look, Baby, I know I haven’t been dealing with everything in the best possible way since Mom came back. I’m sorry that you felt like I was shutting you out, but I didn’t intend to. This is all so much for me right now. Even though I’ve had several days to get used to the fact that my mom is in my life again, it hasn’t sunk in. I need all of you. My father, sister, Marsy, I need all of your support. In turn, I’m not going to judge Kennedey anymore if she wants to forgive Mom.”

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“You don’t ever have to apologize to me, Ma. I know this is hard for all of you. You’re going through something I could never imagine. Were you able to say what you needed to your mother?” asked  Jaylen. “I don’t know if it’ll ever be enough, but yes, I told her how I felt. Everything about the way she raised us and how she acted as a mother to why she’s here now. Jay, my mother told me she was at the wedding,” I said. Jaylen was stunned. “What? How?” he asked in surprise. I repeated to Jaylen what my mom told about her coming down to Miami from New York and watching the ceremony in the shadows. Jay wanted to know what stopped her from saying anything at the time. I told him that mom didn’t want to ruin our wedding. Jaylen was also blown away at the thought that Mom was in the same borough he grew up in.

“Mom told me she loved Kennedey and I. I’ve never heard her say those words before. The little girl in me wants to believe her, but the woman I am today is cautious. She told me things about herself I was never aware of. I didn’t get the feeling she was telling me to get sympathy points. Matter of fact, I think this is the most honest, my mother’s ever been.” I shared with Jaylen what my mother told me about her hating herself and feeling sad when we were younger. I told Jaylen that Mom confessed her love for my father, but he isn’t the reason she’s here, although I’m unsure how much I believe that. I pretty much told Jay everything Mom shared with me tonight. He listened with patience and compassion. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Even though I said what I had to say to Mom, there were so many other questions I had. She said she hated herself, was that during the time she claimed she was depressed? I’m still unsure how much I believe her about that. But after seeing her tonight, I’m more inclined to think there is some truth behind what she told Daddy. Either way, this will continue. I know I can’t figure everything out tonight and I’m not even going to try. Dare I say I’m exploring the possibility of having a relationship of some kind with my mother? I don’t know and I don’t have the answer.

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I went upstairs to check on Marsy, I should’ve known she would be wide awake. “Hey Fat, what are you doing up? Huh, Stinky Pooh? Your daddy said you were asleep. Were you waiting for Mommy?” I asked, pulling her close. Marsy let out a laugh and giggle. I blew a raspberry on her stomach and rocked her a little.

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“Yeah, it’s okay, boo. Mommy went to see her mommy. You haven’t met her. She wants to meet you boo, but I just don’t know,” I whispered. I continued rocking Marseille in my arms until she fell back to sleep. My family is all that really mattered in this world and I’m not sure if Mom coming back will heal it or damage further. One thing is for certain, Mom is here and she isn’t going away.

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A CASE OF DO OR DIE

Kennedey’s POV

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Mama showing up at my house like that completely blew me away. It’s only been a couple of days and I haven’t spoke to her or Reagan since then. I didn’t know how Reagan would react to me going to see Mom and then chickening out. I guess it’s not that important, she’s going to feel however she wants. I needed to see my mother for me regardless of how my sister felt.

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The stress I’m feeling these days is starting to overwhelm me. I haven’t been able to focus on work and I’ve hardly come into the gallery. Counting today, this is only the third time I went to work since Mama arrived. It just occurred to me, I’ve been referring to Mom as Mama a lot. I used to call her that all the time when I was little. For me the name Mama is more endearing that Mom. Maybe on a subconscious level, I want to feel that again toward her. I was this little girl at the same time I’m a grown woman and I want my mama.

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I shook my head and turned my attention back to my computer. I’m attempting to answer several emails from buyers and auctioneers who were interested in my work. Thankfully Aziza has covered my behind the last several days for me. She’s a life saver and I didn’t know what I would do without her.

Although I got a lot off my chest when I spoke with Mama, I’m unsure if it made me feel that much better. All it’s done is open up the possibility for more questions and things I wanted to know. How depressed was she back then? What caused it? And how bad did it get? I’ve had a bit more experience with depression than Daddy or Reagan has. Not that I’ve dealt with it myself, but some of the kids at the West Island Youth Center, where I volunteer has some degree of depression or another mental illness. Many of the kids come from broken homes and are in foster care. It breaks my heart to see so many young people dealing with an awful disease, many don’t know about and continues to be stigmatized.

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Mom said she loved me. I wonder if she always knew that or did she realize after she’d already left? What else did she do in New York? She had to make money, did she work while out there? I just realized she wasn’t the only one who missed out on the last ten years. There is so much about her life I have no idea about.

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Between running a new gallery as a first time business owner and Mom coming back into our lives, it’s a lot for me to take on. I’ve thought of little else since the night she showed up at Reagan’s. Everything is so out of whack. I yearned for balance to come back into my life, but I didn’t know how to get there. Another thing I’ve been unsure of being my relationship. Not just recently has it become strained, but over the past couple of months, it’s been harder and harder for Micah and I to get any alone time. His band, Edge of Anarchy has gotten a lot more attention and gigs now and they’ve raised the money needed to record their first album independently. Micah’s been busy as ever with his music, while my art and the gallery have taken over my life. Now everything is on the back burner and my mother is front and center.

Not only has it been hard for Micah and I to see each other, but he’s going out on the road in the near future while finishing the album. Micah said how much he would love it if I came out for a few dates on his club tour to see the band play, but I’ve told him I had little to no time to leave. I’m concentrating on my own career and I can’t just take off to see him like some groupie. The truth is, Micah is expecting so much from me as his girlfriend, but he hadn’t really thought much about what I’m dealing with as far as work goes.

 

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After I told Micah about Mom coming here, he’s tried to reach out to me and show me support. He’s called me a few times from a few out of town gigs he’s had and Atlanta, where his family is, but other than that, we haven’t seen too much of one another before tonight. He was in town for a few days before the band had to go to Starlight and work with a new producer on some tracks they were laying down. Most girlfriends I supposed would be more angry and feel ignored by their boyfriends in my situation with Micah. Don’t get me wrong, I love him, but it’s kind of telling that I haven’t really missed his absence these last couple of months. I’ve especially haven’t given much thought into wanting to see him now that Mom is in IP.

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The thing with Micah is, don’t get me wrong, he is a good man, but the thing with him is that he can be somewhat on the selfish side. He wants me to be there for him, but he hasn’t shown up to any of the gallery parties I’ve hosted or any of the community functions my gallery has sponsored over the last few months. I know he’s never seen eye to eye with my family. It’s not that they don’t get along, but Micah feels as if he just doesn’t have much in common with Daddy or Jay. He’s alluded that my parties for potential buyers has been plagued by corporate gain. I took issue with that because he knows I would never sacrifice my integrity in the interest of corporations. Yes, there are some associates of Reagan, Jaylen, and Daddy’s that are affiliated with corporations or own their own that have come and bought some of my work, but I don’t receive any other kind of monies or sponsorship from them. That and the fact that some of these same people have donated to the Youth Center based on my connections I will not apologize for.

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“Kennedey, did you hear me?” asked Micah, bringing me back from my thoughts. I looked over at him, not realizing as to what he was ranting and raving about. “Sorry, I have a lot on my mind. What did you say?” I asked. Micah rolled his eyes. “I’ve been trying to tell you how that last engineer was trying to shake the band down for more money. If things continue to go this way, we’ll have to do the mixing ourselves. It’s total bullshit. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this because you’re not even listening.”

Now it was my turn to roll my eyes. I only spoke to Micah briefly about Mom coming to the house the other day. I didn’t go into details of my conversation, but he claimed to know how tough that was for me. “Look, don’t get an attitude, Micah. Have you forgotten everything I’ve told you? My mother was just here, sorry if the trials and tribulations of album recording is not first on my radar at the moment. I’m dealing with a huge life change. You wouldn’t know anything about that, though,” I snapped. “Maybe I don’t know because you hardly tell me anything, Kennedey. I know this is hard for you. It’s hard for me to see you going through this. But what do you expect for me to talk about if you’re not talking to me?” asked Micah.

I don’t know what it is, but I knew I was tired of going around and around with Micah every few weeks.He wants so much from me right now and I can’t give it to him. The more I think about it, the more I’m starting to believe it will be much easier for me to deal with everything alone, meaning not with him. I’m being pulled every which way and I’m unsure if my relationship can stand the test of time. “What is it that you want from me, Micah? Can you think about me for once and not your music?”

“Excuse me? But I do think of you, Kennedey. I think of you all the time. Yes, my music is important to me, but so are you. You’re shutting me out like you always do, ” answered Micah. “I’ve talked to you about my mother, but I haven’t figured all this out yet. Stop trying to force things!” I exclaimed. “Why are you getting so mad?” asked Micah.

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“Because you’re frustrating me. You’re just like Reagan’s husband, don’t know jack what we’re going through. But Jay is sincerely there for Reagan,” I replied. “And I’m not there for you? Don’t compare me to Jaylen, we’re two totally different people. Easy for you to act like he’s so great. He’s in your family, while I’m not and don’t think that I don’t notice how you all treat me. Especially you,” accused Micah. What the hell could he possibly be talking about? “What’s that supposed to mean? How do I treat you?” I demanded.

“For one, you didn’t even want to tell me at first about your mother coming here. I practically had to force it out of you. You guys have all these family gatherings every week, but you don’t say anything about it,” replied Micah. “Don’t even start with that. You have made it abundantly clear you have nothing in common with my father and brother-in-law. The times I have invited you, you were always busy with the band or Lake. That time on that houseboat, my father tried talking to you, but you barely spoke to him or Jaylen. Even after Reagan got pregnant and we were out to dinner with Daddy, you acted like you wanted to be somewhere else. I stopped trying after a while, can you blame me? You get what you give in return”.

“Well, your father has made it no secret that he doesn’t care for my career choice. He’s worried about some lifestyle he thinks all musicians lead and you’ll end up struggling one day. Ray puts Jay on a damn pedestal, like that’s his best friend. Yes, he loves Jay, he’s fucking rich and owns his own damn business!” said Micah. “Watch your mouth. My father didn’t exactly approve of Jaylen right off the bat either, it took time. My father is a very reasonable and fair man. He was willing to give you a shot, but you always shut down any attempt he made to reach out to you. You never wanted to go golfing with him and Jay or go to a game. You never tried!” I shouted angrily. I wasn’t about to let Micah make my father out to be the bad guy. He can say all he wants about me not sharing with him, but saying things that weren’t true about my father, that I won’t allow.

“Oh, I’m sorry I’m not some country club sell out. You also know I’m not into sports. I barely make it to my brother’s games and he’s only in the minors!” Micah shouted back. It was out of his character to get so mad so suddenly, but I didn’t care how he felt at the moment. I’m so sick of Micah making Daddy, Jay, and Reagan out to be the bad guys.

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“I’m so sick of you coming down on my family. They are not sellouts. They don’t prostitute themselves to the highest bidder. Just because they enjoy a trip or two to a country club doesn’t make them bad people. There was a time in this country people who looked like us wouldn’t be allowed into a country club. My father and brother-in-law work hard for what they have and can enjoy themselves however they want. You don’t even know Jaylen. All you see if the name brands and the flash. Jay is one of the best men I’ve ever met. He loves my sister and their daughter unconditionally. He’s also been there for me as a big brother. Also, you damn sure don’t know my father. Now, he is the best man I know. He’s done everything for Reagan and me my whole life and he’s hurting right now because of my mother, but he’s putting all his feelings aside for our sake. I don’t say jack about Lake’s hating ass. It’s been forever, yet he still can’t move on. I tolerate his ass because of you!”

“I don’t care how much they work, because I work my ass off too and I damn sure will not patronize any place that was built on institutionalized racism and segregation to the highest degree. Maybe your Daddy and Jaylen have forgotten that they’re black men, but I’m reminded every single damn day. Just like some blacks when they get a little money and forget where they come from. Then again, you said Jay’s parents had money too, so maybe he has no idea where he came from!” yelled Micah. The anger had built up and Micah is pushing all my buttons. The IP country club has only been around for a few years. It damn sure didn’t exclude anyone.

“Don’t you ever in your life say my father doesn’t know who the hell he is! He’s not rich, but he’s worked his whole life to take care of us. My father is a strong black man and he knows exactly what that means. He’s also one of the people who taught me to love my chocolate skin tone and told me how beautiful I was. You don’t know a damn thing about my father and I suggest you stop now, before I say something to you that you’ll regret! Do not try me, Micah!” I yelled in return.

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I’ve had it with Micah and his funky ass attitude toward my family. He can be so selfish at times; always thinking of himself. “You’re so self-absorbed. Always thinking how my problems will somehow affect you. You can’t even consider that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. All you’re concerned about is your damn music!” I accused him. “And all you think about it the gallery! You keep shutting me out. Why are you turning this around, Kennedey? You do this every damn time!”

“I can’t do this anymore, I can’t,” I said, throwing my hands up in frustration. “You can’t do what?” asked Micah. “This, this back and forth with you. I’m going through too much in life Micah. The mother that abandoned me ten years ago all of a sudden wants a relationship with me and I’m trying to run a business that’s been my whole life’s work. I don’t know if it’s the best thing for us to be together at this point,” I replied. I just told Micah I wanted to break up. I hadn’t expected the words to come out of my mouth, but now that they had, there was no going back.

Micah stood quietly for a moment. “What are you saying, Kennedey? Are you breaking up with me right now?” he asked. I looked up at him. It seemed like forever had passed before I finally opened my mouth again. I couldn’t believe what I had to say, but it needed to be said. I had no other choice. “Yes. I think we need a break, Micah. We hardly see each other anyways. You’re going out on the road soon and I have my family issues to contend with. I just think it’s best,” I replied. Micah shook his head in disbelief. “Don’t do this Kennedey, please. I love you, you know that! We can work out whatever the problem is,” he pleaded.

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I shook my head. “No, Micah, I don’t think we can. This is for the best I believe. I can’t give our relationship the time it needs, deal with the gallery, and everything with my mother at the same time. I’m drowning right now. Sometimes I literally feel as if I can’t breathe,” I responded. “You’re only doing this because you’re scared, Kennedey. There’s always been a part of you, you didn’t allow me to get to. I know you’re going through a lot right now, but we love each other and we should be there for each other. I’m here for you, I love you,” repeated Micah. Tears sprang to my eyes, as I realized my relationship at this point was over. I didn’t want to break up with Micah, but I had to.

“No, Micah. Please don’t fight this. It’s for the best. I can’t be the girlfriend you want and I need to be alone as I deal with all of this right now. I’m really screwed up about a lot of things and being in a relationship isn’t healthy for me right now. I love you, but I have to let you go,” I replied, quietly. My stomach was in knots as I thought about how much I loved this man, but I don’t know if it’s enough.

Micah stood silently searching my face, hoping that somehow I’d change my mind. “So you don’t even think we’re worth fighting for, Kennedey? How can it just be over? ” He asked. “I don’t have much fight in me. I’m sorry Micah. Please know that I know what’s best for me. You’re only making this harder,” I replied. Micah ran his hand over his head. “Do you really love me, Kennedey? I don’t know if you really do, because if you did, you wouldn’t be able to stand there; cold and heartless.”

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“Of course I love you, Micah. I just told you that. You can’t stop the inevitable. We both have a lot on our plates. You’re going in one direction and I’m headed in another. I’m sorry, but this is the way it has to be for now,” I said. “This is how it has to be for now? No, you wanted this, therefore it’s going to be like this for good. Don’t call me or come for me Kennedey. I’ve held my hand out to you since the first time we went out, but you steadily slapped it away. You don’t get to choose when and if you want to pick back up. Fine, its over, I’ll never bother you again, Kennedey. Just don’t come crawling back to me when you need to be picked up! Don’t come for me at all!” shouted Micah, as he made his way to the door. I hastily followed after him.

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“Fine, you want to turn on me, just because I can’t be with you right now? Go on, be weak! I didn’t want this, but I have to do what’s right for me!” I yelled. Micah quickly spun back around. “Don’t ever put this on me or accuse me of being weak. You can’t handle a strong man, Kennedey. Weak is what you want every man except your father to be because it’s easier for you to discard them. You wanted this, then you’re going to have to deal with it!”

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I didn’t want to acknowledge what Micah said about my father. I refused to believe that was true. “I’m glad I get to see this now about you before I go and make an even bigger mistake down the line. If that’s the way it is, then so be it!” I exclaimed. Micah shook his head one final time before storming through the front door and into the night. I stood there feeling numb. Micah was so angry. I didn’t like being the reason for that, but this is what’s best. Micah doesn’t want to be in my life ever again. If that’s the way he wants it, then that’s the way it is.

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LOVER MAN (WHERE CAN YOU BE?)

Apollonia’s POV

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I was lying in bed in my hotel room all by myself. I’m used to being alone, but I’ve found over the last couple of years, it’s harder and harder to do so; to not have someone there. I ache for my children, now I ache for Marseille, and I even find that at times I ache for Raymond.

There are many thoughts going through my mind. I’ve been thinking about both of my conversations with my daughters. Kennedey was hurt and still afraid like that little girl in Miami. Reagan was mad, but beyond her anger, I ultimately saw how badly she was hurting. Even if they forgave me some day, how can I fully forgive myself for what I did? Dr. Ambrose says the key to forgiveness is that you must forgive yourself. I supposed there is some truth in that, but I need for Reagan and Kennedey to be okay with me. I want another chance with them, although I know more than anyone else that I do not deserve it.

As much as I’ve thought about the girls, my thoughts for whatever reason keep bringing me back to Raymond. I had a dream about us last night. I found it pretty odd because I hadn’t dreamt of my husband since before I left him. But in this dream, our relationship wasn’t antagonistic. He was making love to me. Yes, making love, something I never considered sex with Raymond about back then. I do love him, but it took me years to realize it

Raymond was good to me. He treated me like a queen and in turn I treated him no better than a dog at times. He mentioned when we spoke the other day that there were good times in our marriage, but I never seemed to remember any of them. That’s not entirely true. Every year up until the last year before I left Miami, Raymond tried to plan something special for our anniversary. To be quite honest, I rarely was up for any kind of celebrating and I can only think of a handful of times I truly enjoyed myself on any kind of outing with either Raymond or with our children.

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On our fifth anniversary, Raymond surprised me with a trip to Key West in the Florida Keys. He saved up enough money for us to stay at the Blue Tides Beach Resort. By this time I had been in the US just under ten years and there were many things about home that I missed. Sure, when I lived in Trinidad I couldn’t wait to leave, but sometimes I thought how rather simple life was for me and one of the rare times I felt happy. Trinidad wasn’t worldly or big enough for me back then. Now that I’d been living in Florida, I wanted to experience so many things about my culture that I’d lost. I started to think how dressing up for and celebrating Carnival wasn’t limiting back then, but could be quite exciting when I allowed myself to relax.

I never fully grasped this American life and all it had to offer. I guess it’s one of the many reasons I fought to keep my accent and instill small things that reminded me of Trinidad when I was living with my family. But, no matter what I did, it wasn’t the same. Anyhow, Raymond drove us to The Keys for four days. The girls stayed back in Miami with Carmen. One thing I never really did for myself was cooking. I knew how and I had to cook on a regular basis once I became a wife and mother. Even though I tried mimicking my Nani Giselle’s cooking of traditional Trini foods, I never put much effort or heart into it. No matter how closely I followed her directions, my dishes never tasted like hers.

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On our second night in Key West, Raymond informed me he planned a private dinner on the patio overlooking the water. It didn’t seem like anything special to me. I lived in Florida and I was from a tropical climate, that wasn’t out of the norm for me. Sand and water was all around. This was no ordinary dinner, however. I didn’t expect that we not only had private chef preparing our meal, but the chef was Fareed Daniels. He was a very famous chef from Port of Spain back home.

Raymond informed me Chef Fareed was a client of his at the gym. Raymond got him in tip top shape to run a marathon in Miami and Fareed was very thankful. To show is gratitude he offered to cook any meal anywhere Raymond chose. My husband informed him that he wanted to take me away to The Keys for our anniversary. Raymond knew how melancholy I could sometimes get about home and he knew I missed my Nani’s cooking.

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Raymond arranged with it Chef Fareed to prepare some of my favorite dishes using Nani’s recipes. I couldn’t be more blown away by the arrangement. Everything, the atmosphere, the wine, and the candles were so beautiful. Calypso and Soca music filled the air. Once I tasted the curried chicken, fried bake, and macaroni pie Chef Fareed had made, it instantly brought me back to my roots. It tasted so good, almost as good as Nani’s. The dinner ended perfectly with some of the best sugar cake I’d ever had in my life. Now, twenty years later I still remember how everything tasted. For one special night, Raymond made me at ease and like I was in the braces of my grandmother. Raymond had always told me how much he loved me and for one of the few times, I allowed myself to believe him and feel it.

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I don’t know, maybe I was feeling something for him too that night. I was being petty when I told Raymond he could not make love to me if I was not in love with him. I said that when our marriage was the rockiest and just months before I left. But on this night in Key West, I felt a real connection to him as Raymond made love to me. Maybe it wasn’t love back then on my part, but it was for him. I believe Raymond could feel the connection too, and that’s why it’s one of my most memorable times with him.

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IS IT A CRIME?

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I’m giving Reagan and Kennedey all the space they need right now. Kennedey asked me to give her room and Reagan, I don’t know, but our conversation seemed incomplete to me. It’s only been two days since I’ve seen either one of them. I had no plans on returning to New York until I had the chance to sit down with my daughters and lay everything out on the table for them. I don’t know what I’ll do if I must return to New York. In all honesty, I don’t want to go back. I thought about opening a dance studio out there, but now it seems that I couldn’t find happiness in that. I wanted to be near my children. I guess I’m secretly hoping they’ll welcome me back and suggest I stay on IP permanently. I could only dream of that. To be a mother to my daughters and a grandmother to Marseille, that is my dream. Nothing would make me happier.

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Raymond continues to be on my mind tonight. I don’t know what it is about tonight that is making me think of my husband. Maybe it’s the dream I had. Maybe it’s because I woke up hot in my bed, or maybe its the small pulsating thump I felt inside. I don’t consider myself a very sexual person. I can go months and I’ve found out years without it with no problem. But when I do have sex, I want it to be good, I need it to satisfy an urge inside of me. I can count on one hand the amount of lovers I’ve taken in the past and I use that term loosely as I never loved any of those men other than Raymond. Now that I think of how smooth Raymond’s body used to feel pressed against me or the look of his cocoa brown skin against mine is making those same urgent needs run through me. For the first time in years I’m yearning for my husband.

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Even through our arguing and conversation the other night, I felt the same electricity between us. There were many things that needed to be said. No, I didn’t like everything Raymond told me and I know he didn’t like everything I had to say, but it was imperative that we get all our grievances out. In a way, I think having the argument is what we both needed. Maybe it’s the way for us to finally move on.

There are some other things I wonder though that I didn’t ask him about. That nurse for one. Kennedey mentioned that I ruined a good relationship her father was in. I knew of no other women Raymond had been with so she must’ve meant that woman. I don’t know how he felt about her and I assume she was a warm body for him until the day I came back. It really doesn’t concern me what his relationship with that woman was. They weren’t together now and he is my husband. No, Raymond is not enirely the reason why I’m here. And I don’t know what will happen in our marriage. My children are my first priority.

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I rolled back over and pressed play on my small MP3 player. Out came one of my favorite songs by my favorite artist, Sade. How fitting that this is the track that automatically played. It provided the perfect soundtrack to the way I’m feeling tonight about Raymond and myself.

I laid there and allowed the smooth easy rhythm calm my nerves and sensations. All it really did was make me imagine what would happen if Raymond was right here and found me in this most vulnerable state.

He takes her love, but it doesn’t feel like mine

He tastes her kiss, her kisses are not wine, they’re not mine

He takes, but surely she can’t give what I’m feeling now

She takes, but surely she doesn’t know how

Is it a crime

Is it a crime

That I still want you

And I want you to want me too

My love is wider, wider than Victoria Lake

My love is taller, taller than the Empire State

It dives and it jumps and it ripples like the deepest ocean

I can’t give you more than that, surely you want me back

Is it a crime

********************

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Lustful, sensual, sexual, enticing, swirling through my head and releasing out my body. I tried closing my eyes to get some sleep after Sade stopped singing on the last track. But all I saw when I closed my eyes was Raymond. All of a sudden I wanted, no needed to see him. There are things I want to say to him. Maybe it won’t be the same, maybe he won’t respond to me so easily like back in college when he came running into my bed. I don’t know what will happen if I go to Raymond tonight. Something may happen between us. Surely if it did, he would be reminded how good being with me felt.

I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to Raymond. I can’t take anymore lying around in this damn hotel room. I quickly showered and got dressed. I put on my stiletto heels that showed off my legs. Raymond always loved my legs and he would be reminded what lies beneath. He didn’t get away from me over nearly thirty years ago and he won’t get away now.

*********************

ONE NIGHT ONLY

Ray’s POV

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I took away a lot from my conversation with Apollonia the other night. One, I began to believe that she’s sincere about wanting a relationship with Reagan and Kennedey. Another thing is that she regretted some of the things she did over the years. What I also learned that yes, there were some injustices committed by me in the marriage too. I’m not sure if I spent the last ten years blaming Apollonia for everything that went wrong in our marriage. I guess I didn’t want to acknowledge that I had a hand in making her feel unhappy or that I could’ve or should’ve known something more than just the blues was troubling her. I had a responsibility to take care of her and I turned a blind eye to the depression and a deaf ear to her complaints. Granted, no I didn’t recognize her illness as depression, but I needed to do more to help her.

Maybe I didn’t want to see it. Perhaps it made me feel less of a man that I could not keep my wife satisfied and stay with her family. I bear the burden too, it wasn’t only Apollonia. I’m not a perfect man, I didn’t know what a healthy marriage looked like on account of my parents. There was more I could have done to prevent Reagan and Kennedey growing up in an unhappy household. That, I’ve failed them in. I didn’t want my girls to know what a single parent household was like. That and being head over heels in love with Apollonia pushed me to stay with her all these years, even after she left.

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The argument we had the other night, needed to happen. Apollonia finally opened my eyes to some of the complaints she had throughout our marriage. I didn’t want to really deal with what Apollonia claimed she wanted back then. I continued to sweep everything under the rug. I can agree that in some ways I denied her. I didn’t purposely try to deny her dreams, but maybe on a subconscious level I didn’t want her going after them, I was afraid she would find stardom and leave me. Not necessarily the girls, but I.

I’ve hidden the fact that’s what I was mainly afraid of. Apollonia would get out there and realize she didn’t need me or the things I provided for her. I covered it up with the thinking that she could never leave her own children; that she would never leave her own family. I didn’t believe it until the morning she left. It’s ironic, I prevented her from reaching for the stars, afraid she would leave me once she had them in her grasps, only to have her go anyhow in the end.

********************

I’LL KEEP HOLDING ON

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I thought about going out to grab some late night Chinese food when I heard a knock at my door. Who could it possibly be at this hour? I walked straight to the door in the kitchen and opened it. Apollonia was standing there on my front porch with a curious look in her eyes. I never expected her to just show up at my door like this.

“What are you doing here, Apollonia?” I finally asked. “I needed to speak to you, Raymond.” I held the door opened and motioned for her to come inside. I led her into the living room. I didn’t know if I was up for this tonight, but whatever it is must be important for Apollonia to come all the way out here and see me.

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“Would you like to have a seat?” I asked. “No, I’ll stand. Look, Raymond, I didn’t mean to show up here in the middle of the night. But there were many things left unsaid the other night. The fighting I could’ve done without, but I feel like for the first time, you were hearing me,” said Apollonia. 

 

I took a step closer to her and looked her straight in the eye. “Well, I think for the first time, I allowed myself to listen. Apollonia, what’s happened in the past, I don’t want to do anymore. I don’t want this constant regret and resentment toward each other or our failings to continue on. The cycle must end somewhere. If not for you and, but for our girls, and our grandbaby. Marseille deserves to grow up in a family that doesn’t constantly fight. I share some of the blame of making you feel like your dreams weren’t attainable. I was scared”.

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“Scared of what?” asked Apollonia. “A lot. Mostly, I feared that if you somehow made it, you’d leave us. I never truly imagined my worst nightmare would ultimately come true,” I replied. “And my worst nightmare is that Reagan and Kennedey will reject me. I had the chance to have their love for fifteen years, but I put that in great jeopardy when I walked out. Now, I’m unsure if I’ll ever have it again,” said Apollonia.

“You see, the thing is, you never lost their love. You’re their mother. Of course they love you, they always have. That’s not something that easily or ever goes away. Reagan and Kennedey are hurting this much because they love you so much,” I assured her. “But I don’t think I’m deserving of their love,” she countered. “I can’t tell you whether or not you are. You’re going to have to prove yourself. I also meant it when I told you I will not tell either one of our daughters how to feel about you. They must come to the decision whether or not they want a relationship with you.”

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“I suppose that’s fair. But there are some things I don’t feel are fair at all,” said Apollonia. I looked at her quizzically, unsure of what she could mean. “Such as?” I asked. “As important as it was for me to speak with you about our children a few days ago, they are not the sole reason I came here tonight. Sometimes I wonder if it was fair to either one of us to enter into our marriage under duress. I resented you and my father because I felt you stripped away my choices. I was bullied into getting married long before I was ready. I’m unsure if I ever wanted to marry back then. I didn’t have the chance to find that out. I started my life out with a little baby girl and a husband at such a young age. I didn’t even know what life was all about yet. Only in the last ten years have I really started to figure it out. It wasn’t fair to either one of us. Now that I think about our marriage and where it will end up, I think, would it be right for us to not give it a fair shot somewhere down the road?” questioned Apollonia.

I admit, I was stunned at the words coming out of Apollonia’s mouth. Was she telling me she wanted to work things out with me somewhere down the line? She’s made it very clear on more than one occasion that she’s here for our daughters, not me. I’m not completely sure how I feel anymore.”What’s changed?” I asked. “What do you mean?”

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“Just that, you kept telling me that you didn’t come here for me. What exactly are you trying to say?” I inquired. My heart began to beat faster as I waited for her response. “Look, Raymond, the way I see it, is that, I never entered into any other relationship during the time we were separated. What I had with Maurice was nothing more than an arrangement. I never loved him or had feelings for him. But you did enter into some sort of a relationship with your nurse. It wasn’t just some fling from what Kennedey told me,” replied Apollonia. I was now curious as to what Kennedey told her mother about Marcia and me. “Kennedey would be right. It wasn’t a fling.”

“What exactly was it then?” asked Apollonia. I let out a deep sigh, trying not to play this game with Apollonia of trying to guess what was going on in her head. “It wasn’t some sort of a relationship, it was an actual relationship that I was in,” I answered, bracing myself for what would happen next. Apollonia fixated her emerald green eyes squarely on mine. “Did you love this woman?” she asked. There it was, what I knew would come out her mouth. Apollonia wanted to know how deep my feelings for Marcia went.

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I nodded my head. “Yes, I did.” The expression in Apollonia’s eyes almost went cold at the sound of my words. “Do you love her now?” she asked. I glanced out the window, realizing the conversation was becoming more uncomfortable by the minute. What did Apollonia want me to say? “Do you really want to have this conversation right now?” I asked. “Yes, because if we don’t have it now, when are we ever? You’re the one who was saying our marriage is directly connected to our family. I’m dealing with my daughters; we both are. We also need to deal with our marriage. As much as I’ve avoided having this conversation with you for over ten years, I can’t hide any longer. Now answer my question. Did you love that woman?” demanded Apollonia.

I noticed not once had Apollonia bothered to use Marcia’s name. Would it make her seem less than a person if she acknowledged it? “She has a name.” Apollonia then threw up her hands in frustration. “I don’t care what her name is, do you love the woman are not?” she asked impatiently. “I didn’t just stop loving her after we broke it off, if that’s what you want to know. I can’t tell you for one hundred percent certainty what exactly my feelings for Marcia are in this moment. You coming back threw me for a loop. I don’t even know how I feel about you. Marcia is a good woman, of course I began to love her at some point in our relationship,” I said.

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Apollonia scoffed. “So typical of a man, your penis knows no loyalty. You think you found something else and follow your penis to greener pastures. But in this case, you didn’t leave me for her. I left you. And she became my stand in,” she replied. “Don’t Apollonia. Marcia was much more than some stand in. Don’t degrade what we had. You don’t know her or what it was like between us,” I said. “I don’t have to know her to know she doesn’t hold a candle to me! At least you could’ve done was find someone with similar caliber to me!” exclaimed Apollonia.

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“You need to really pump your brakes. Marcia is a very beautiful woman. Don’t attack her because she provided me comfort when it was your choice to not be there in the first place!” It all of a sudden occurred to me that Apollonia wasn’t on the offense, but merely on defense. She felt threatened by my relationship with Marcia and the possibility that she had been replaced. When Reagan told me her mother showed up at her wedding, I was just as shocked as she was. Surely Apollonia saw Marcia sitting beside me. I don’t how long she knew about her and if that was the first time she may have seen her. “Don’t throw that up in my face because you’re the one who betrayed our marriage first!” said Apollonia. “Are you serious? Who ran out on whom? You told me about that punk Maurice. You got with him and had something, whatever it was way before I met Marcia. So you betrayed our marriage first,” I argued.

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“Maurice disgusted me and I’m not talking about physical betrayal. You know more than anyone that I didn’t connect my emotions to sex. The couple of times I was drunk enough to let Maurice touch me and even force himself on me in my condition had no bearing on how I felt. You had feelings for that woman, you loved her at some point. It was more than just sex; you were emotionally connected. I never felt any special way about any man before or after you!”

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Did Apollonia just say what I think she said? “Maurice forced himself on you? How could you not tell me that the other night, Apollonia? How can you say it so casually like its nothing?” I asked, astonished. She waved her hand as if dismissing what I’d said. “Because it was nothing. The bastard spiked my drink a time or two and I could not really do anything about it, okay? It’s stupid really because I continued to live with him. Trust me, Maurice didn’t break me. I never spent my nights up thinking about all the bullshit he pulled while I lived with him. I had bigger worries on my mind. I’m fine, Raymond,” replied Apollonia. I didn’t know whether to shake her or take her in my arms. “Enough with that. You still can’t give me a straight enough answer about your nurse, but you had the woman sitting front and center at my own daughter’s wedding! She was in my place, where I should’ve been!” exclaimed Apollonia.

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“You have some nerve coming down on me about who was at Reagan’s wedding. For your information, Reagan personally invited Marcia; she wanted her there! You weren’t around, remember? You left, so don’t you dare come into my home dictating to me about my private life! A life you chose to not be a part of. If you had any kind of relationship with our daughter, who would’ve had a seat at the table and the big dance! Forget your pettiness for one second Apollonia and think about what you’re saying. Reagan cried and cried that you weren’t a part of the planning process. I couldn’t make it better, Kennedey couldn’t not even her own fiancé. The only person that mattered in the world to Reagan wasn’t there; you weren’t there for our daughter!”

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Apollonia’s eyes filled up with tears.”Don’t you think I know that? I hate myself for it! I can never get that time back. I will never share that special moment with Reagan. I missed everything. I missed their graduations from high school and college, I missed Reagan’s first runway show, Kennedey’s gallery opening. I missed the birth of my only grandchild. I think about these things nearly every second of the day and I can’t make it stop and I don’t know if it will ever stop! I’m going to fight for my family like I never fought before. I don’t know what will happen between you and me, but we owe it to ourselves to find out, don’t we?”

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Apollonia’s chest heaved in and out as she tried to catch her breath. Without another thought in my mind, I stepped to Apollonia, taking her into my arms. It was as if I were in a trance. My mouth connected with hers with hunger and passion. Apollonia grasped at my back, nearly clawing me. Her mouth was so warm and her lips were so soft. I pulled away briefly and looked down at her. “Is this why you came here tonight?” I asked. “Yes, it’s what I’ve wanted all night.”

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Instantly I thought back to our argument, so I wasn’t the only one who felt the electricity between us.

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Somehow, some way we were back in Apollonia’s dorm room, ripping each others clothes off. I ached to be with her and she longed to have me. These last ten years hadn’t happened, not even the last twenty-five years. I was holding on strong, doing everything to hold onto the years we had so long ago. It was almost like one of the songs Apollonia and I slow danced to at our reception. The only thing that stood between us was her small bump and our child growing inside. I was holding on, and I’ll keep holding on until I no longer could:

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Holding back the years

Thinking of the fear I’ve had so long…

Holding back the years

Chance for me to escape from all I’ve known

Holding back the tears

Cause nothing here has grown

I’ve wasted all my tears

Wasted all those years

And nothing had the chance to be good

Nothing ever could yeah

I’ll keep holding on

I’ll keep holding on

I’ll keep holding on

I’ll keep holding on

So tight

**********************

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I don’t know how or when we got to my bedroom. All I know is that I was slowly kissing Apollonia while taking her clothes off and she was taking off mine. I gently laid her down on the bed and stared into those same hypnotic eyes that captured me all those years ago. I almost didn’t think that this night would ever come again. Now Apollonia was in my arms waiting for me to make love to her. She had a look of lust and wanting in her eyes, a look I hadn’t seen in over twenty years.

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I began to kiss her neck and slowing but assuredly made my way down to her breasts. I grabbed and touched every part of her body that could fill my hands. And she grabbed at me with a passion I’d never felt from her before. I raised myself up for a moment and looked down at her. Her body hadn’t aged a bit. Her skin was as soft and supple as ever. She was absolutely beautiful. Just like the first time I laid my eyes on her perfect body, Apollonia hadn’t changed one bit. Finally, we were as one again and connected to each other. Everything took me back to those days we shared in college; all the memories.

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Apollonia squeezed my back and moaned my name like she hadn’t since college. She wanted me, she needed me and I wanted her as much as ever. I steadied my groove just enough to keep her lingering and longing for more then I went back in. “Raymond…” she whispered in my ear. As we got into it more I noticed for the first time in a long time, Apollonia was being totally submissive to me. She allowed me to work her body any each way. I could tell with certainty she enjoyed every minute of it. The body doesn’t lie.

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Apollonia felt out of this world, almost or just as good as the first time I made love to her. Love, was I making love to her now or a memory? I didn’t know and I was in no position to figure it out. Our pace sped up simultaneously and our bodies were in total sync with each other. I felt Apollonia getting excited as she screamed out my name. After nearly an hour I too became excited and exploded with Apollonia. I slumped down on top of her. Our chests touched as we heavily breathed in and out.

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I rolled over, staring upwards. I glanced over at Apollonia, whose eyes were fixated on some unseen mark on the ceiling. She told me this had been on her mind tonight. How could I not know that? I used to pick up Apollonia’s scent when she wanted sex so easily when were together.

Maybe I’ve lost sight of her somehow. While I made love to her tonight, I kept thinking about us back in college. Maybe this was only a night with a familiar stranger. Apollonia always took me to a place I never wanted to return to during our lovemaking. She was hypnotic and had the ability to put me in a trance without a moment’s notice. Even though I felt her; felt connected to her tonight, I had a feeling that something was different. Something wasn’t the same. Could it be that I’m still angry for what she did or something else? I can’t put my finger on it, but tonight isn’t like any other night we’ve spent together.

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“Are you okay?” I asked her. “Yes. I’m just thinking about everything. I don’t know what to say, Raymond. Even though I told you I’ve thought about this happening tonight and I thought about it off and on for the last few days, I didn’t really know for sure if it would happen. This isn’t something I was planning on,” she said. I closely examined her face. She didn’t look the same as she turned over to stare at me.

There was a look of vulnerability in her eyes. Apollonia was afraid; afraid of what may happen next. There it was, right in front of me. After nearly thirty years after we first met, I saw it in her. The part of her, she never allowed me to reach. The part of her, she deemed as weak. The vulnerable side of her. She had risked herself tonight and opened up to me like she’s never done before. Not so much with her words, but her body and the way she communicated with me. Apollonia was waiting for me to tell her what happens next. What decision I’ve come to about us. She wanted me, but she didn’t have to say the words. She let her heart speak. How I’ve wanted to see this in her for so long and now that I have, I’m not sure if it’s what I want any longer.

*********************

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I waited for Apollonia to fall asleep, then I got back up and went downstairs. I opened the door to the patio and stood looking at the peaceful, serene sea and the sleepy islands out there. But beyond Isla Paradiso, I saw Miami, then I saw Appaloosa.

Appaloosa is where we went after my wife walked out on our family over ten years ago. It was the place I thought was best for my daughters and I to start a new journey and begin to heal. I found solace there. I learned many things about myself as a man and a father. I never had to be braver than I did as I took on that extra role as both parents to my children. I had to be strong for them, but I mainly had to be strong for myself; because if I allowed myself to cower just once in the aftermath, I would never come back. I would’ve lost myself.

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I became a stronger man in Appaloosa when I found out that I could endure anything; I could master the game with the card that had been dealt to me. I guess I first had to be a “man” and be strong after my father left my mom, sisters, and me. It was now my job to be the man of the house. As an eleven year old kid, how would I know to do that?

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What had my father ever taught me? Maybe throw a ball, tie a tie, and shine my shoes. He told me that it’s all about presentation. All about how people of the world perceive you. If you hadn’t made it to the person who were supposed to be, then you had to fake it until you made it. You could never be weak, you had to be strong and never let them see you sweat.

No other person had touched my soul the way Apollonia had. She controlled my heart from the moment I laid eyes on her. And then for nearly thirty years she continued to control it. She did whatever she wanted to with it. She twisted it, lied to it, and ultimately broke it. I never thought my heart would begin to heal, until one day in the hospital in Appaloosa, I met a woman, a nurse came into my life. I didn’t know Marcia would be that one when I first met her, but over time, I began to laugh again. I didn’t see the lonely dark clouds anymore in my future.

For a while, I had largely forgotten about the ache in my soul that longed for Apollonia. I was happy and Marcia gave me that. Yes, I loved my daughters and they’ve brought me unspeakable joy and happiness, but even they couldn’t touch me in the way their mother had. Or tear apart everything I thought Apollonia and I were. I didn’t have to wear a mask with Marcia. As the man that I am, she didn’t expect me to be strong all the time. She made me it okay to show my vulnerabilities; she made me feel safe.

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Safe was never something I felt with Apollonia. There were so many highs and lows in our relationship. From the highest mania to the lowest points in my life, I experienced with her. When it was good, it was out of this world, when it was bad it was earth shattering. I’ll never experience those kind of extreme emotions again. I don’t want to. It’s a part of my life I missed until I realized I had what I really needed all along. Love that didn’t fade, love that didn’t deceive, love that didn’t betray, love that didn’t hurt, love that was loyal, love that was strong, and most of all love that was unconditional. I experienced that with Marcia for the first time in my life.

Marcia was so gracious and selfless that night we separated. No matter how much I could see that I was breaking her heart, she let me go. She set me free to figure out the next step in this everlasting journey. She had such a forgiving attitude that it almost made me sick to know I was the cause of the hurt she was feeling at the time. I didn’t deserve her. She gave one hundred percent of herself to me, but I wasn’t all in like she needed me to be. My thoughts were somewhere else. I also believed my heart lies with someone else.

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I went back upstairs and watched Apollonia as she slept. How I’ve dreamt of this moment over and over that someday she’d come back to me. I waited for every knock at the door, every telephone ring, every single car that drove by, hoping that it was her coming to say she made a mistake and that she wanted to come home to us. But no, she never came in all those years, until tonight. As she lay there, I knew that nothing would ever be the same between Apollonia and me. Something broke long ago and there’s no fixing it.

At this moment, I just knew it; I knew that the love I felt for my wife was gone and it had been for a very long time. I’m no longer in love with Apollonia. I’m in love with someone else. I think somewhere deep inside my feelings had changed, but I hung on to a memory that didn’t exist anymore. How could I have not known? I guess I needed to see Apollonia, one more time before I knew for sure how I felt. I needed this closure or whatever it is that’s happening. I can’t let it go on like this, there would be no tomorrow until we dealt with today.

*********************

I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU

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“Raymond? Raymond wake up,” Apollonia called to me early the next morning. I hadn’t realized that I’d fallen asleep on the sofa. I peered up at Apollonia, who was now fully made up and dressed back in her clothes. “What time is it?” I asked. “About seven.”

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I hadn’t been to sleep that long. I remember coming back in here and sitting around thinking about my childhood and my father and when he died. I also thought about my time in college with Apollonia, when I first heard I would never play in the NFL, to Apollonia telling me I was going to be a father. I went around in the circles of my life. Wondering how I got stuck in a whirlpool, unable to get myself out. I wondered why it’s taken me twenty-five years to get to exactly where I needed to be. “You didn’t sleep upstairs,” Apollonia stated more as a statement rather than a question. “No, I didn’t.”

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Apollonia nervously looked out the window, anywhere to avoid my eyes for a moment. “Something has changed, hasn’t it?” she asked. I stood up and nodded my head. “I think it has,” I replied. “What?” asked Apollonia. “I think we’re two different people in different places right now. I don’t think we have what we had back in college. I’m not stupid, I knew you didn’t feel as strongly for me back then as I did for you. I guess I figured I had enough love for the both of us.”

“I was the blame for that back then. Somewhere over the years, I don’t know when, but I grew to love you the same way you loved me. But I was afraid to acknowledge it, and I was mad at you, so I didn’t want to confess it. I never should have blamed you for the way my life turned out, Raymond. Matter of fact, I should thank you,” said Apollonia. “For what?” I asked. “For giving me the two greatest joys in my life. But I was too stupid to realize it. I messed it up; I messed our family up. How could I have ever done that?”

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“Apollonia, it wasn’t, it isn’t all you. I take responsibility for my actions. As the provider, I should have provided you with everything you needed. All the support, encouragement, and understanding that you deserved. I put a roof over our heads and food on the table, but I should’ve done much more than that when it came to you. You were sick and I didn’t see it. I didn’t want to see it. You were a caged bird I prevented from flying. But you were also stronger than you know. You dealt with your depression and other problems with no support system for over twenty years, all by yourself. You were sick, but you cared for our girls with the best tools available to you. You suffered in silence, but I didn’t see anything except what I wanted from you.”

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Apollonia began to softly cry. “I was so messed up and I didn’t know to what degree. I was suffocating and I thought by leaving I would be setting all of us free. All I ended up doing, was ruining our daughters, and make you question your love for me. Do you? Do you still love me, Raymond?” she tearfully asked. I let out a deep sigh. “Apollonia, you will always be the love of my life. As the mother of my children, I will always love you.”

“Then, why don’t you think there is still a chance for us? Maybe we need to see if this is worth fighting for. Get counseling or something,” said Apollonia, her eyes begging. I slowly shook my head. “I think we both know we’re not in love any longer. You love me and I love you, but you’re holding onto a memory you want back. And that’s all it is and we need to cherish that, but neither one of us will ever attain it again.” Nothing was more painful than the realization that my marriage was over. That part of my life is gone. “Is this the end? Is this it for us, Raymond? It seems like only yesterday my father walked me down the aisle and I said I do. I don’t want to believe it can be over so quickly.”

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“I think we both know it’s over.”

“Is it because of Marcia? If you’re no longer in love with me, are you in love with her?” Apollonia asked, stoically. “Even if I never met Marcia, I’d believe our time had passed,” I answered. “But, are you in love with her?”

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“Yes, I am.” Apollonia quickly looked away, biting her lip as it began quivering. “I guess I shouldn’t have expected that I could leave for so long and you’d be waiting right here for me to return or feel the same way. I don’t regret last night. I knew something was different, I knew something had changed. But I figured whatever it was, we could somehow try to work it out. And I can see that you no longer love me the way you used to. I say those words, but my heart doesn’t want to believe them. I just want to say to you that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything I ever did to you. I’m sorry that I hurt you. I didn’t know it, but I loved you then and I love you now. I always will,” she said.

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Apollonia suddenly let out a loud cry, burying her face in her hands, she slumped down to the floor. I rushed over to her. “What is it, what’s the matter, Apollonia?” I asked, alarmed.

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I lowered myself to the floor and reached out my hands to console her. Her body began shaking violently, as small whimpers escaped her mouth. I put my arms around and rocked her. “It’s going to be okay,” I said, as I stroked her hair. “Why, Raymond? Why did we turn out this way? How did my life become this!” cried Apollonia. Her screams and cries were bone chilling. I’ve seen Apollonia in low moments, I’ve seen her cry and ache, but never like this.

“Nearly every day for twenty-five years, I have hurt or been angry. I didn’t know I needed help. I hate what I did to our daughters. I’ve ruined them, Raymond. I’ll never be able to change what I did. I pray everyday that I can wake up from this nightmare, I want it to all end!” I didn’t know what to say, so I continued to whisper that things would get better; that it wasn’t as bad as she thought. I held onto Apollonia until her cries stopped. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to just break down like that,” said Apollonia.

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“Don’t apologize. Everything will be fine and you didn’t ruin our daughters. No you can’t go back in time; none of us can. All we can control is now and what we will do in the future. I know Reagan and Kennedey inside and out, you should have the chance to get to know them too. Reagan is upset, she’s angry, but she’s hurt even more. Overall, she wants your love and she wants to forgive, she just doesn’t know how. Reagan has a big heart, she loves very hard. She’s stoic, much like you and tends to keep a lot in, but she’s yearning to get it all out. Kennedey, has a big a heart as her sister. She’s the youngest and she looks up to Reagan, but more than anyone, she’s wanted your love and approval. Kennedey wants you to validate her. I can’t do that for her, only her mother can. I know I said I would stay out of it, but I’m telling you now, go to them. Go to our children and tell them everything you’ve told me. It must come from you. They need to hear it from your mouth.”

Apollonia tearfully looked into my eyes. “You’re right. I think I have been afraid to try reaching out a third time, so I’ve put it off for the last few days. I want to talk them so badly. I want to sit down and look in their eyes and tell them how much I love them and that I’m sorry.”

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I helped Apollonia off the floor and faced her. “I guess there are some things we need to talk about. But we don’t have to do it now,” I said. Apollonia nodded her head. “Yes, we do. Look, I should get out of here. I have some things I want to take care of.”

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Touching her arm, I pulled her into my embrace. She laid her head on my chest. “We’ll always have last night,” I said. “I know you don’t love me that way anymore. And I wouldn’t want you if I couldn’t have all of you. I’m not mad and I understand that you must move on,” replied Apollonia. “It’ll be okay,” I soothed her. “I know. But today, nothing is okay,” she whispered. I knew she would be okay. Apollonia is a fighter. We’ve gone through a lot together, only to end up here.

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Apollonia pulled away from me and I kissed her on her forehead. She said goodbye and I told her I would call her in a couple of days. I went back into the living room and sat down. My mind was spinning as I thought about the events of last night and this morning. It’s over, it’s really over.

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Our love story has finally ended. I shook my head as to clear it. I looked over at the bookshelf and saw a book of poems Kennedey had gifted me just a month earlier. She’s been wanting me to come to some open mic night with her for weeks and she wanted me to be well versed in some of her favorite poems. I grabbed the book off the table, determined to get my mind of my wife and the way my heart was feeling at the moment. I opened the book to the middle and landed on a poem by Robert Frost. I could hardly believe my eyes as I read the final passage:

Ah, when to the heart of man

Was it ever less than a treason

To go with the drift of things,

To yield with a grace to reason,

And bow and accept the end

Of a love or a season?

Yes, our season had passed. I don’t know what lies in the future, but there are many things I must take care of in the meantime and amends I needed to make.

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ALL MY CHILDREN

Apollonia’s POV

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Ever since I returned to the hotel from Raymond’s I thought of little else other than what we said to each other and his encouragement to see Reagan and Kennedey again. Yes, it stung when I realized that something significant had changed between my husband and I. I felt it last night as we made love and I knew I was holding onto nothing more than an imperfect beautiful memory. Not only is Raymond my one and only love, but he is the love of my life.

No matter what comes in the future, I’ll never find another man like him. And the thing is, that doesn’t scare me. My whole reason for existing is to get better so I can be there for my family. I don’t crave to have a man beside me. Raymond is one thing, that is different. I knew there was the possibility he would reject me after all these years, but I had to try. No, he wasn’t my initial reason for coming here and I didn’t expect those old feelings, to rise up inside me again, but they did and I had to answer them.

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I emailed Reagan and Kennedey the following evening after I’d seen Raymond, asking them to meet with me out somewhere. I waited around all night to see if I would get a response or call back from them. Kennedey was the first to respond to me and said she asked Reagan about it and they’ve agreed to see me tomorrow night. My heart leaped when I read Kennedey’s message. Something told me that she had to do some convincing, so her sister would come along. The fact that Reagan is inclined to talk to me again, gave me a lot of hope.

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I drove my rental car downtown to the Golden Spot Tiki Lounge and Grill. The hostess sat me and I waited for Reagan and Kennedey to arrive. I was just as nervous now to see them as the first night I showed up at Reagan’s door. I had gotten there early, maybe a little too early. After twenty minutes Reagan and Kennedey walked to the back patio. I couldn’t tell what they were thinking or feeling judging from the stoic expressions on their faces. They glanced at one another, then took a seat across the table from me.

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I smiled broadly at them, probably something they weren’t used to seeing me do. “Hello, Reagan and Kennedey. Thank you so much for agreeing to meet with me. I was hoping that we could talk. I know I didn’t get a chance to say everything I wanted to say during the last time I saw each of you.” Kennedey nodded her head and Reagan looked away. Her face was almost like stone. But I could see the truth in her eyes. They were my own and they had the same hurt look as when she was a little girl and I had rejected playing Barbies with her because I had some headache or other excuse.

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Kennedey looked at her sister, as if she was waiting for Reagan to say something. But she remained quiet. Finally, Kennedey spoke. “You said you wanted to talk to us. What did you want to tell us?” she asked. I took a deep breath and looked at Reagan who was now staring straight ahead as if she were looking right through me. “I know I have apologized to you many times when I saw you both last. Again, I can’t tell you how sorry I am for everything I’ve ever done. I know that may not mean much to, you know, but it’s the truth. I suppose I should star with the beginning,” I shared with Reagan and Kennedey what my upbringing in Trinidad was like. I felt like a fish out of water in my family because of the ambition and talent I had. My mom and pop started discouraging me dancing one they saw it had overtaken my life.

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I told my daughters how I didn’t want a normal life like everyone else and they both have my rebellious attitude. I tried to gauge how each girl was taking all of what I shared with them so far. Kennedey occasionally looked down at her hands, as if she were still shy about looking at me. Reagan continued looking mostly passed me, but I seemed to catch her attention when I mentioned my mama.

“You see, I wasn’t your typical teenaged girl. My friends knew I wasn’t into boy chasing, going down to the beach or joy riding around. I’d much rather be in a studio. I had many dreams for myself as a young girl. I was determined to leave my country and get out and see the world. I wanted to dance and choreograph for prestigious dance companies. My mom, aunts, cousins, and even your Auntie Aurora often told me I would not amount to much. Mostly I paid them and their opinions dust. I didn’t want to surround myself with small minded people. They were all like crabs in a barrel, pulling you down. There was only really one person that encouraged me to continue to dance and seek my dreams and that was my Nani Giselle, my mama’s mama. She is where you get your middle name, Reagan,” I turned to look at her. It was the first time she had made real eye contact with me since they arrived.

Reagan and Kennedey listened as I shared my plans once I came to the US and started at university. My father preferred if I went to secretarial school and get married. I didn’t want that. I soon met their father and they knew what happened after that. I looked at Reagan, who continued to be as quiet as a mouse. This was very unlike her.”I don’t know what exactly your father shared with you and your sister. I was going through a lot during the time you were growing up. I began to have depression when I was pregnant with you and it only got worse from there. I didn’t know it was depression at the time and I felt too ashamed to try and seek help for it because I didn’t really believe I had a problem. I felt emotionally disconnected from everyone and everything around me to feeling like there was no hope for anything in my life. My moods were out of whack and I became angry all the time. I didn’t find much joy in anything. I’m getting help for my depression and anxiety now and I’ve managed it a whole lot better than in the past,” I confessed.

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“Oh yeah, Daddy told us about your “depression”. What do you want us to say? You didn’t seem like any depressed person to me. You went from zero to one hundred without a moments notice. Your entire mood was foul. Because you were this sad little person, that should excuse your nasty attitude and neglect as a mother? I get sad too, but I don’t try to make it into some mental illness. If you thought something was wrong, you were obligated to get help; if not for yourself, at least for your children. We suffered because you didn’t want to deal with your problems,” scoffed Reagan.

“If you knew something wasn’t right, how come you didn’t try to get help without anyone in the family knowing?” asked Kennedey. “It wasn’t that easy, I figured my problems were because I allowed myself to be weak. I figured it was in my head, but not an actual sickness. I never wanted to hurt you girls, though. I hated that I couldn’t seem to connect with you in the way that other mothers did with their children. I would look at you two and think you were so fortunate, you had the world on a string. You had a chance to not end up like me one day. I thought to myself, I created these two beautiful creatures, yet I don’t know how to get close to them. I saw how easy it was with your father and a part of me felt jealous that I didn’t have that with you.”

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“We were your children too, Mom. We wanted to be with you, but you always seemed so disinterested,” said Kennedey. “I wasn’t interested in much of anything back in those days. Not dance, not music, nothing. It had absolutely nothing to do with you girls. I deeply regret fighting with your father so much. You girls had to listen to that and I know it scared you. But there were times I felt completely out of control, like I couldn’t get a hold of myself. I never wanted to take my anger out on you like that, so mainly directed it to your father. I only gave you a whoopin’ a maybe a total of two times your whole life because I was afraid I may go into a rage and you hurt you.” Reagan peered deeply into my eyes. She wondered about what I had just said. I told Reagan and Kennedey how the depression and hopelessness continued to consume me. I shared with them what I went through and thought about the distance in our relationship once they became teenagers. “All I know is that you weren’t there. When I looked for a mother, you were nowhere to be found,” said Reagan, on the verge of tears.

“I know we can’t get back ten years. But I want this to be a new beginning for us. I love you girls so much, that’s why this is so hard for me. I know I should’ve said that to you long ago. You were perfect and I never should have taken my problems out on you. Whether you allow me back in your house or not, I need you to believe that I love you. I hated fighting with either one of you. That, coupled with me and your father’s arguments made for a very miserable household. There was a part of me that felt as you girls got older, the less you needed me. We seemed to only make one another unhappy and I hated that I couldn’t communicate with you like I wanted to. “

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“So, that gave you the right to want to punish us by leaving? What good did that do? Just because we were nearly grown up, didn’t mean we didn’t need our mother. I think that is such a cop-out, Mom. You owed us more than that. You owed Daddy more than that. I think it’s sorry you’re using we fought all the time as your excuse to leave us!” exclaimed Reagan, speaking up. “Reagan…” protested Kennedey. I locked eyes with Reagan. “No, it’s okay, Kennedey. You’re right, it was no excuse and I’m not trying to justify it now. I only wanted to tell you what my reasoning was back then. Now, I know it was the wrong thing to do. Leaving you girls wasn’t easy despite what you may think. I hated myself for it,” I said, choking back tears. “Funny, it didn’t seem like it was easy, judging by the sad little post it note you left Daddy. You didn’t even address us or say goodbye,” said Reagan.

“I know, I shouldn’t have left that note. The truth is, I started writing a long letter to all you guys, explaining my reasons for going. I wanted to seek out my dreams and I didn’t feel like I fitted into our family any longer. I ended up throwing the letter out. I packed your baby books in my suitcase, went into your bedroom, and kissed you both goodbye.” Reagan and Kennedey scoffed. “Kissed us goodbye? When?” questioned Kennedey. “You two were very heavy sleepers and would sleep through World War III. I kissed you while you were out deep.”

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Reagan shook her head. “I just don’t understand. You can show us affection when we were asleep, but you couldn’t show us any when we were awake? Explain that to me,” she said. “It wasn’t very easy for me to show affection. If I had tried at the age you were, I thought you might reject me and I couldn’t take that,” I answered. “Well, we took a lot, Mom; a whole lot,” said Reagan, shaking her head. “Look, I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness right now, but rather than speculate, I wanted you to hear what was going on from my own mouth,” I said. Both Reagan and Kennedey remained quiet and waited for me to continue on.

I told the girls what I initially began to do in New York when I first got there. I told them about the dump in The Bronx I lived in, the one friend, Laura, my job at the bar, to the many auditions I went and got rejected from. “It was hard because I didn’t book most of the gigs I went out for and the bit parts I did receive were for way off Broadway productions. I confessed that I had failed miserably. My time at least, as a performing dancer was over. It wasn’t an easy pill to swallow.”

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“As I soon realized I would never realize my dream, I became more depressed and consumed with guilt. Even through all of that, there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t think of you. I could barely look in the mirror when I thought about what I’d put all of you through. One night, I had reached the lowest point in my life. And I am going to share with you something only a handful of people know. I was thinking how the two of you were in college and enjoying the experience of being away from home for the first time one evening. I became overwhelmed with such guilt and shame about leaving you. I had never hated myself more than I did in that moment. It’s not just because I had failed in New York that I was depressed, but it you girls. How could I have ever left you?” I wondered.

Looking at both Reagan and Kennedey I continued on. “Your Nana used to teach us a lot about the Bible and read it to us, we also had to read it when I was growing up. There was a point in my life, during the time I first starting having depression, I chose to stop relying on God and going to Him with my problems. I didn’t see how talking to Him would make me feel any better. I told you Nani once that I was very sad, but she only encouraged me to read my Bible more and pray. That may be enough for someone, but when you have a disease like, mind you need so much more. You need the right tools I now believe God provides you with. Whether it’s therapy, medication, hospitalization, or whatever else.

I didn’t think He could help me, however. This particular night I was talking to Him, not really so much as having a conversation, but asking Him why did my life turn out this way? I had these prescription medications my doctor prescribed to me for my back pain. They tended to calm me down. I felt very nervous, anxious, and scared, and I just wanted to calm down. I did something very stupid. I ended up drinking with the pills.” Reagan and Kennedey exchanged nervous glances.

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“I didn’t really think about what I was doing initially. I began to calm down and feel at ease. I’ve never been a real heavy and drinker and vodka was a bit on the strong side for me. After several minutes I continued to drink and pop a few more pills here and there. Although I felt at ease physically and mentally, I still had the pain of guilt and regret in my stomach. I kept thinking how I could never change the past and how my future was doomed. I’d been convinced I would never get out of the hole that I was in. As time wore on, I drank more and started talking to God again. I felt too awful, more so than any other time in my life,” I said, as I began to tear up. I managed to choke back the tears and tell the girls what happened next.

“I felt that God looked inside of me and didn’t like me. So after years of not speaking to Him, I did that night. I closed my eyes and I told Him that I meant no harm, but I asked that He keep me from waking up the next day. I only wanted to sleep. I don’t even really remember thinking to myself, I’m going to die tonight. That is not why I started drinking and taking those pills. I was tired of things being the way they were and nothing ever going right. I figured nothing in my life had changed in all those years, why would it change in the future? I ended up passing out on my living room floor.

My neighbor, Laura ended up finding me and called the paramedics…” my voice trailed at the sound of Kennedey, letting out a small cry. She wiped at her eyes. “I’m sorry, but I can’t believe you wanted to do that. I get you weren’t in your right frame of mind, but you could’ve died!” she cried. I began to cry softly too. “Yes, I know, but I was not thinking normally. I wasn’t well. Thankfully Laura found me before it was too late. I’m so glad I didn’t stay asleep that night. I wouldn’t have seen how wonderful the two of you turned out to be and I wouldn’t know about Marseille,” I said, looking at Reagan. She looked away quickly, but not before I saw the tears forming in her eyes.

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“What happened next?” asked Kennedey. “I was in the ER for about twenty-four hours and then they transferred me to a behavioral health hospital,” I replied. “Behavioral health? Why would they send you there for what happened to you?” asked Reagan. I’m glad she was at least asking questions, it lets me know that she was paying attention and wanted to hear what I had to say. “A Behavioral health hospital is for mental illness and other behavioral problems such as drinking and drug abuse. But I never had a problem or tried any drugs before, let me assure you,” I answered. I described to the girls what my experience in the hospital was like. I told them that it took a few more years before I even started seeking out help for my illness.

Kennedey asked me about the man I lived with in New York. She wanted to know if it was any kind of a relationship to which I answered, no. Reagan was already aware of the abuse I suffered at his hands. I gave her and Kennedey a little more detail of my life with Maurice. I was at my lowest and didn’t think I had anywhere to go so I continued to stay with him. They already knew I had kept up with on social media, but Reagan expressed that she still didn’t like the fact that I seemed to follow her entire life online but didn’t have the courage to face her for real. She was right, I couldn’t face up to the consequences just yet.

I recalled for them what happened that made me finally leave Maurice and get my own place in Flatbush. Kennedey wanted to know how I made money after I quit my job at the YMCA. I shared that I did a lot of work in customer service and selling online. I was far from rich, despite what my wardrobe looked like. “I purchased every magazine I found you in, Reagan. And I watched some of your runway shows. Much of your style and the clothes you model inspired me. Of course I could usually only buy something at a discount or on sale, but that’s okay,” I said.

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“Finally, leading up to your wedding, I wanted to see the both of you. I almost let my presence be known, but like I told you the other night, I didn’t want to ruin your special day. I began working with a really good doctor and she’s helped me a lot. I haven’t had any attempts or overdoses since that one time I ended up in the hospital, and I’m doing so much better. I know I can’t fully begin to heal until I make things right with you. Once I saw a picture of Marseille on Instagram, I knew I had to come here and see you.” Reagan and Kennedey were quiet for a long time, perhaps letting everything I had told them to settle in. “What about Nani and Nana?” asked Reagan. “What about them?”

“Are you going to contact them? They’re your parents, they love you. I told them that came back, I felt it was only right that they should know,” replied Reagan. I took a deep breath. I hadn’t really thought about making contact with my parents or the rest of my family. I’ve been so focused on my children. It’s not that I don’t want to see them one day, but I can only deal with one thing at a time. “Eventually, I do plan on contacting them, yes,” I said. “Don’t you want to know what they said when I told them?” asked Reagan. “Okay, what?”

“They were blown away. It was very emotional for them. You’re their child. Their heart was broken. Nani wanted to come right away to see you, but Nana said no and that you needed more time for us,” answered Reagan. I deeply sighed. I didn’t really think about how my leaving effected my parents. By the time I left Miami, our relationship was so strained, we were barely speaking. I hardly went around my parents and siblings anymore. I couldn’t stand to be in the room with any of them except maybe my youngest sister, Ashland.

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“I still can’t believe it. Can’t believe you’re here. I told myself so many time I wasn’t going to see you and that I didn’t think I could forgive you. But I had a little girl. And when I first saw her, I looked at how beautiful and innocent she was and I thought that anything was possible. Jaylen taught me how to love and open my heart. When I saw Nani and Nana again during the wedding, I had to forgive them for not coming around and being there for us after you left. I’m not the same person I was three years ago. That girl was next to awful, but she was hurting. She was hurting so much and I’m still hurting, Mom. That little girl inside of me wants to forgive and forget, but I can’t forget. I didn’t want to come here tonight but between my husband and Kennedey, they were able to convince me,” Reagan let out a deep sigh before continuing.

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“I would love nothing more than for Marseille to know all four of her grandparents. I want that cookie cutter family you see in 1950’s sitcoms. I want June Cleaver’s life at times, because it was so simple. The worst day of my life was the day you left. The day you came back brought me back there, brought back all those feelings. I was scared, alone, abandoned. I don’t want to feel that way anymore, Mom. I don’t want to hurt anymore. I want to move on from this and just lead the best life possible, but I’m not sure how. Can you tell me that? Can you tell me how?” asked Reagan before breaking down. Kennedey soon followed suit, until we were all crying. Sitting outside on a warm, breezy night, reeling in heartbreak.

“I’m still trying to figure that out myself, Reagan. I want that too. I only want your forgiveness. You don’t know what it means to me that you both came out tonight. There are so many things I want to say to you girls, but it would take a lifetime. I want the chance to be the kind of mother you deserved all those years ago. I know I can’t change the past, I can only control what I do now and what’s in front of us. I only want that chance. I know I have to work for it and I’ll never stop working for it. I want to get to know both of children in a way I never did before. I want to know all your dreams and aspirations. I want to know your fears; I want to calm those fears. Please let me be your mother. Please let me prove myself to you,” I pleaded.

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“That’s one of my fears. That I’ll wake and you won’t be there. I’m afraid that you’ll leave again, even though you say you want to be with us,” said Kennedey. “I know you’re both afraid. But I can assure you, that I’m not going away. I never should of left in the first place. I want to love you, like a mother and I desperately want to love Marseille like a grandmother. When I looked at her I saw so much of the both of you in her. I said to myself, that is the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen. I don’t expect for you to just open your arms or homes to me just like that, but I hope that we can keep the dialogue open and continue to communicate. I’m not leaving IP as of now. I said I will not go back to New York until I built a bridge with you. Even now, my dream is that I can come here and be here for you. I know that seems a bit much now, but I would be less than honest if I said I didn’t want to be near you,” I replied.

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Reagan looked over at Kennedey. “Look, Mom. I’m not saying I’m completely ready to make that next step with you. This is a lot for me. I have a child of my own and a husband that need me. Jaylen’s been so patient through all of my rampages ever since he’s known me and he’s been absolutely great through all of this. He’s my rock. I’d appreciate my space and I can’t tell you when I’ll talk to you again. I don’t mind if you email me. I still need time to process these last couple of weeks and everything you’ve told us tonight. As sorry as I am about what happened to my sister and I when we were growing up, I’m sorry for what happened to you too. You were sick and needed help. You shouldn’t have gone through that alone,” said Reagan. I bit my lower lip and dabbed at my eyes. Reagan was being so honest and vulnerable right now. She was open to communicating with me and that’s all I could ask for at this point.

Kennedey echoed her sister’s sentiments. I was extremely happy about the outcome of my meeting with my girls tonight. It was tense at time and tears were shed, but at least those two beautiful creatures I gave birth to were caring enough to open a door for me, so that I could walk on in.

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AS TIME GOES BY

Ray’s POV

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I called Apollonia up a couple of days after she was here at the house. I had heard from the girls that she asked to see them. Kennedey told me that she thought the visit went rather well under the circumstances. It wasn’t easy for either her or Reagan to hear about their mom’s struggles with depression and having to go into a mental health hospital, but they were glad she eventually got the help she needed. I know Reagan is having a hard time, but I couldn’t be more proud of her, putting her anger to the side and allowing her mother to have her say. No, they don’t owe Apollonia anything, but I’m happy they seem to want to at least give her a chance. That’s the way I raised my girls and they make me happy to be their father every single day.

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Apollonia came over today to discuss filing for a divorce. It was inevitable, we both knew this was a long time coming and we needed to move on. We spoke for a while over the phone. She and I decided that we didn’t want to bother with any lawyers and we would come up with an agreement on our own. I lead Apollonia into the house after she arrived and offered her something to drink. She declined and seemed a bit nervous. “Are you okay?” I asked. “Yes, I guess I’m a little shaky. I know this is the right thing we’re doing, but I can’t help but be kind of sad at the same time. I supposed I’m worried about what will happen next,” she answered. “It is sad. I totally understand how you’re feeling. I never thought that day we said I do we’d be here in Isla Paradiso preparing to say goodbye to a bond we promised to share for the rest of our lives,” I said.

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I informed Apollonia of the amount of the sale I received from the house in Miami and Appaloosa. Since I then I’ve downsized and was able to afford a house here and recently paid off my mortgage. I had some left over medical bills I’m still paying on, but very little debt. I brought on a few new clients that operate fitness centers in Isla Paradiso and I’m their main seller of fitness equipment. I’m making nearly twice as much as I did back in Appaloosa. With the extra money I came into I was able to pay Reagan back the cost of my medical expenses that my insurance did not cover. Namely, my therapy and keeping Marcia on for a few more months.

When I told Apollonia how much her share of the house was, she initially declined. “I’m unsure if I deserve it, I’ve been gone for ten years, Raymond.”

“I know that, but you lived in the house and took care of it for fifteen years. You had a couple of part time jobs when the girls got bigger and contributed to the mortgage and other costs. It’s only right that I give you what I owe you. Weren’t you always saying you wanted to open a dance studio? Well with this money and another smaller one from the bank you should be able to open one in no time,” I informed her. Apollonia smiled. “That’s very generous of you, but actually I’ve been saving for over two years for a studio. It’s my dream. It’s kind of up in the air when and where I’ll open it, but that’s my goal within the coming year,” she said.

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“That’s wonderful. You’re realizing one of your dreams. In any case, once we get the agreement all straightened out I’ll schedule a time to hand over the money,” I said. Apollonia denied any spousal support although I offered it. She’s been making it on her own for ten years and she said she liked the feeling of being independent. Other than a few CDs and stocks we bought about fifteen years ago, we didn’t have much assets. I tried cashing in one of the CDs when Reagan got married, but I couldn’t without my spouse’s consent. Reagan wouldn’t have wanted to accept it anyhow. It was hard enough for her to take the money I did manage to get together.

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Once Apollonia and I finished with put documents and the agreement we would have it notarized. We decided that I would be the one to file. From everything I had read over the last couple of days we would have to wait six months and the marriage would be over. It all seemed very organized and businesslike, but I think this was the best way to do it in order to keep everything in order and not become overwhelmed with our emotions and what’s happened over the last ten years.

Apollonia wanted to know if I thought it would be a good idea to inform the girls right away together or if I should tell them by myself. I told her I thought the girls would appreciate hearing about the divorce from the both of us.

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The following evening I called Reagan and Kennedey informing them that their mother and I wanted to meet with them over here at my house. Reagan sounded a bit skeptical on the phone and wanted to know what it was about. I only told her that she would find out the following afternoon. Although Apollonia discussed in detail our divorce over a week and a half, we wanted the girls to know as soon as possible what was going on.  In the meantime, Apollonia has conversed with both Reagan and Kennedey, keeping an open dialogue through text and email. 

Reagan and Kennedey arrived together and came out back to the patio where Apollonia and I were waiting for them. They both had uneasy looks on their faces, worried about what we were about to tell them. “Look, Reagan, Kennedey, your mother and I wanted to meet with you over here because we were talking over the last several days about some important matters. We’ve decided to get a divorce,” I paused, letting the news sink in. Reagan and Kennedey looked stunned. “A divorce?” asked Kennedey. “Yes,” answered Apollonia. “I thought for a moment you were going to say you were getting back together,” said Reagan, seemingly stunned.

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“What would you think if that’s what we had said?” I asked. “To be honest, I wouldn’t like it. Considering everything that’s happened. I don’t see how you can go back. But that little red head girl in Miami would want her Mommy and Daddy to be together like they promised they always would be,” replied Reagan. At least she was being honest, Kennedey was being very quiet. “Are you okay, Kennedey?” I asked. She sniffled a little bit. “I guess I always thought that some day you would get back together. I never imagined that you wouldn’t be together. I prayed that Mom would come back and I’d have my family again,” she answered. “Well, Baby Girl, I know we’re all going through a lot, but just because we won’t be married anymore doesn’t mean we’re not a family,” I said.

“Just seems strange. At first I thought maybe you’d come back right away Mom and you and Daddy would get counseling or something. Then I started to think we wouldn’t see you again and I wanted Daddy to go find you. As time went by I saw Daddy hurting and I looked into divorce by publication and I wondered how come after so long he wasn’t divorced yet. It’s not that I ever wanted to see you guys broke up, but I wanted Dad to move on and I didn’t feel like he could,” said Reagan. “I understand. I didn’t always think this day would come despite the things I said to your father. Even now, sitting here and discussing with you all as adults is jarring. And it’s hard,” said Apollonia.

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“We’re not getting any lawyers or going through all of that. We’ve already come to an agreement. We went and had it notarized this morning and I will be filing in two weeks.” I said. Reagan and Kennedey looked at each other. “That soon, Daddy? You just told us this,” said Kennedey. “Your mother and I have discussed this over the last several days. We see no reason to drag it on. We’ve discussed this at length. We decided it was the best thing to terminate the marriage. It took us longer to fill out an agreement for property and assets than it did for us to decide this was the best course of action. This is a long time coming, baby believe me. We’re fine with it. I mean,yes, it’s a little sad. Your mother and I will always love each other. But now is the time for our family to begin healing,” I replied.

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The kids stayed over for another forty-five minutes as we answered their questions about thesettlement,we’d agree to and how soon the divorce would be finalized. I expected Kennedey to be more upset than Reagan, but both of them seemed stunned by the news.

All I can do is look at this as another chapter in my life that is coming to a close. It’s not easy and it’s not fun. Twenty-five years has come down to this. Reagan and Kennedey seemed at ease with their mother and I there in the backyard. I could tell they were said, but I don’t think either one of them really expected that we’d get back together. This is a sad day, there’s no denying that, but it’s day we’ll get past as we look to a brighter future ahead.

*************************

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Two weeks have passed since Apollonia and I told Reagan and Kennedey we were getting a divorce. From what I know Apollonia hasn’t reached out to her parents or anyone else in her family since coming back. She tells me she will soon, but she’s dealing with something greater. Reagan and Kennedey have allowed an open dialogue to exist between them and their mother. She went back to New York to handle some business matters, but she returned as she promised. Beyond a casual text or email, Reagan and Kennedey have met with their mother for coffee. Kennedey is further along on the path to forgiving her mother than Reagan is, but she’s getting there.

Reagan hasn’t introduced her mother to Marseille just yet because she wants to make sure that her mom won’t pull another disappearing act if she lets her back in her life again. I’m so proud of my oldest daughter. She’s come a long way and her willingness to forgive astounds me. Maybe she hasn’t gotten there just yet, but she’s trying and that’s all anyone can ask for.

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I arrived at the courthouse in the afternoon to file the divorce papers. I still can’t believe it was really over after all these years. Within six months, Apollonia and I will not longer be married. I felt melancholy. I was happy to be getting on with my life, but the past will always live in my heart.

I’ve thought a lot about Marcia over these last few weeks since I told Apollonia that I was in love with her. Marcia didn’t have any idea that Apollonia had returned. I know that she had exchanged emails with Reagan and Kennedey from time to time, but neither one of them would have told her about their mother. It’s a little too soon to say what I plan on doing about what my next step in that direction will be. I want to talk to her in person, but I know jumping back into any kind of relationship would have to wait.

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Marcia won’t be so easily swayed to accept me back. We parted on good terms, but she would want to be sure of my feelings. Either way, I had to speak to her in person and not over the phone. I’m in love with this woman and she’s always made me happy; we made each other happy. I hope she’s receptive of me and knows that I had to find out how I really felt. It was the best thing for us because if I’d gone on thinking about Apollonia, that wouldn’t have been fair to Marcia.

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Another few days passed before I took out my cell phone and began dialing. “Hello? Yes, I would like to book the first available flight to Appaloosa Plains.”

**********************

Apollonia and Ray’s wedding reception video (sorry if it’s a little blurry)

Author’s note: I didn’t start off writing this chapter expecting to cover so much material, but after three days of sitting at my laptop, the words kept flowing out, almost as fast as my fingers could type. The dissolution of Ray and Apollonia’s marriage is quite bittersweet. They shared so much of a past, of a history together. Ray is the love of Apollonia’s life. Apollonia is the love of Ray’s life. But this doesn’t mean they can be together. Deep inside,they’ll always love each other through all the trials and tribulations of their marriage. Hopefully now, they can build on a friendship that is long overdue.

There is only one more chapter of Reagan Leeds: Run The World. As I typed that sentence, I couldn’t believe, it seems unreal. The story to me is much more than about Sims. It can be any story about any household in any part of the world. It’s been a part of my life since July 28, 2013, the day I wrote the first chapter, The Mirror. Well, here I am getting sentimental. As of yet, I’m starting to work on the last chapter and I hope to bring it to you in March. As always, Happy Simming.

Camille.

12 thoughts on “Long Kiss Goodnight

  1. Pingback: Long Kiss Goodnight | Reagan Leeds: Run The World

  2. This chapter brought me to tears. I’m glad that everyone was able to get some emotional healing. It was saddening to see Kennedy and Micah break up, I was really rooting for them. I agree with Micah that Kennedy wasn’t sharing enough of herself with him. I noticed that when she is scared about something, she keeps him at a distance. I feel like she will regret breaking up with Micah. But she did have a point about him and the issues he had with her family.

    For a moment there I was exited at the idea of Apollonia and Ray rekindling their marriage. I felt sad for Apollonia because she finally realized that she wanted Ray all along, but now he’s moved on. But I feel that the way you wrote their relationship and the way it ended was more realistic. Too much has changed between them. I think that Ray and Marcia have a more healthier relationship, and after all he’s been through he deserves that. I think Apollonia will find her own way, and I’m happy that her children are giving her a chance.

    You already know that I will miss this story. I feel like all the characters have grown and come full circle. That missing piece to the puzzle, which was their mother has finally been solved.

    I enjoyed watching the Youtube video, great song choice btw. They look so in love.

    I had a few questions, where did you get Aziza’s braids, they look great on your sim. Also how did you make your sims sit so long in the wedding video. I always try to make my sims sit still, but they keep getting up lol. Now I just pose them when I need them to sit.

    Like

    • Yes, it was sad seeing Kennedey and Micah break up. Kennedey is going through a lot right now and she needs to focus on herself, family, and work. She is scared, as Micah pointed out. Kennedey pretty much believes her father is perfect, but she’ll have to see she can’t hold every man to that standard.

      When I wrote the break up between Apollonia and Ray it honestly brought me to tears. It was so sad considering all of their history. A year ago, I didn’t know how the marriage would end up. But as Marcia came into the story and it further developed, I knew this would be the end for Apollonia and Ray. Their relationship is much healthier than the one with Apollonia and Ray. Marcia is really good for Ray and they honestly love each other. I think Apollonia will find her way too.

      Thanks, I’ll miss it too. I agree, the characters have come full circle and they’ll only build on that and continue to grow. Thanks, the video wasn’t as involved as Reagan’s but I thought it would be a nice touch. I thought it was cute how Reagan was also a guest at her parent’s wedding. LOL. I love that song, loved it for years and I think it matched perfectly to Ray and Apollonia’s situation and how they felt.

      I can’t recall right off the bat where the braids came from. I think I saw them on a Sim that was on a website and I looked up the link. I will check though. You have to lower their free will so they will stay seated for a longer period of time. They won’t really do anything unless they have to use the bathroom or some other important reason. At times they’ll get up. I didn’t want to take any chances of the Sims getting up during Reagan’s videos, so I used NRAAS Animator and selected the neutral stay seated option. That way they stay seated as it loops over and over. Some of the Sims were posed in Reagan’s wedding videos too.

      As always thank you so much for reading and commenting on the story. I really enjoy your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay I finally read it! I am really not happy that Kennedy and Micah broke up. I see that it is for the best, but still..it’s sad 😦 I found myself siding with Micah a lot more than Kennedy. She’s hurting and I get her pain, but her pain is also making her push Micah away. He doesn’t deserve that. While I didn’t like him dissing Ray and Jaylen or not trying harder to get to know them, I can see where he would still feel out of place and that he didn’t belong. It’s kind of hard to bond with people you have little to nothing in common with. I think they are both great people but it is best that they aren’t together. Kennedy isn’t ready for a relationship and maybe Micah isn’t sympathetic enough for her. I’m so happy Reagan is talking to Jaylen more and letting him help her deal with her pain. Okay now Ms. Apollonia..I know she did not go to Ray’s house like that. Okay she did, but still! I couldn’t believe they actually had sex. Like I knew it was coming, but I kept telling myself that they’d just talk and she’d go back home. I am really proud of Ray for realizing that they weren’t in love anymore and that they needed to part ways though. That was really big of him. It was even bigger of Apollonia to accept it. I loved Marcia and Ray together so I am more than happy that he’s going to fight for her. Sadly I feel like she’ll have already moved on or will reject him..I hope I am wrong! I’m glad to see they are all getting along better. They have a LONG way to go, but at least they are working on a relationship with each other. I am no Apollonia fan, but I am starting to respect her little by little. I put off reading this because I was busy and I didn’t want it to really end. But all great things must come to an end. At least there will still be Briah’s story. Will you continue to write for the other characters too?

    Like

    • It is hard on Kennedey. She needs to learn how to trust and be more open. Micah can also learn how to be.more supportive and at least make an effort where her family is concerned. Reagan is slowly coming around. I’m so.proud of my diva and progress she’s made.

      LOL, yes Apollonia did that. She is something else, she .knew what to wear to get Ray’s attention. Apollonia will never be typical, she’ll always march to the beat of her.own drum, and yes, she’s a little weird.

      Ray and Apollonia were caught up in their emotions, they got the best of them. Suddenly it was as if it were twenty-five years ago. Both of them were making love to a memory. I’m happy they’re able to move on. Ray will have to fight for Marcia. Whether she’s willing to accept him back, We’ll just have to wait and see.

      I’m glad you’re warming up to Apollonia and starting to.understand. I feel the same way the more I write for her.

      Yes, its almost over ! In some ways I’m.putting it off too. I’m working hard on the next chapter, its going to be epic. Yes, Bri will be back. Eventually, I’ll pick back.up with Jade. I also.plan on doing a short story based on my homeless Sim. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Like

      • Will it be like the homeless challenge? I tried that, but it was so hard. I think I ended up just deleting the family altogether.

        Like

        • No, I didn’t know there was a challenge when I made my sim. I was inspired to make a sim who lived off the land and went through tough obstacles. I have my.own challenges for Anastasia. If you go to my instagram (@livingcolorsims) I.have pics of.her on there. Thanks

          Like

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