Authors: Brandy Jellum
“Liza.” Reid says my name softly as he approaches the railing. I
turn away from him and begin crossing the bridge the rest of the way.
“Liza… please wait!” he calls after me, but I continue to ignore him. I
turn right on the path, along a secluded pathway with vines and flowers
entwining amongst one another above my head.
A firm hand stops me a few steps underneath the trusses. I turn
and see Reid fully for the first time. He looks like he did that Saturday
morning when he appeared at my apartment: dark circles under his
eyes, hair disheveled, and his clothes unkempt and wrinkled all over.
The only thing missing is the scent of alcohol. “What do you want,
Reid?” I ask harshly.
“I… I… uh…” Reid stumbles over his words. He brings his hand up and runs it through his hair, causing it to be messier than before. He holds up a loaf of bread I hadn’t noticed in his hand and flashes a boyish grin. “I… uh… well… I thought we could feed the geese.”
I glance at the loaf of bread and back at him. A laugh escapes my
lips before I can stop it. I clap my hands over my mouth in an attempt
to stifle it. Reid stares at me, tilts his head to the side, and furrows his
eyebrows. “I’m sorry. That isn’t funny.” Reid only nods with his head. I
cast my eyes away for a moment before I snap my head back to him and glare. “Wait a minute… how did you even know I was here?”
“I followed you.” His voice doesn’t waver. He says it so simply, like it isn’t a big deal.
“You followed me?” I raise my voice. I hear the sound of wings
fluttering as birds fly off the vines above us. “How long have you been
following me?” I lower my voice.
“From the office to your apartment to here.” Once again, his response is so simple.
“Isn’t that stalking?” I stare at him and shake my head. “You
disappear for the rest of the week and now you’re stalking me? Do I even want to know where the bread came from?” He starts to laugh hysterically, his laugh sounding like sweet music to my ears. “What is so funny?”
“I wish I had a mirror so you can see the face you are making,” he says. “It’s priceless.”
“This isn’t funny.” I’m angry now. “You left me hanging… we have
Not to mention that you’ve kissed me twice and asked me to be your
date to the biggest event of the year.
But I don’t say that out loud. “You just up and disappeared.”
Reid brushes past me, and I turn to follow him. “I had something
important to tend to.” As I follow him, I can’t help but think about how
nice his butt is in his dark blue dress pants. I eye the outline of his
rumpled button-up white shirt, accentuating the shape of his muscular
arms, with one end of his shirt tucked in and the other dangling out.
“Are we just going to keep walking, or are you going to tell me where
the hell you have been?”
“I’ll tell you if you will sit down with me.” We clear the pathway
with the vine roofing, stopping where it opens up to a very concealed
and intimate area. A single wooden bench sits close to the pond with flowers blooming on both sides. It’s set back far enough in the corner of the park so that others walking on the other side of the pond can’t
see us. Reid motions to the bench and waits for me. “Sit down, help me
feed the geese, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
I glance around, my nerves on the edge. Sitting here, alone with
him, I can’t deny the urge to reach out and touch him. To press my lips
against his. But damn it, I can fight off the urge. I have to. I can’t deal
with another rejection from him when my body craves his. I nod once,
pass him, and sit down on the bench. Reid takes a seat next to me, and
our arms brush against one another. This is the closest we have been
since Monday. My body is humming with pure energy and the desire
to take him, right here and right now.
I fight the feelings down as best as I can, tucking them away just barely beneath the surface. I stare straight ahead, listening to Reid breathing in and out. Out the corner of my eye, I see him open the bag of bread and pull out a slice. He hands the piece over to me, and
our fingers touch and linger against one another’s. A bolt of electricity
swamps my body, and I hear Reid take a sharp breath and then tense beside me. I pull my hand away, taking the piece of bread with me. I rip off a portion and throw it in the water, where geese appear out of nowhere and swarm it. Reid and I say nothing as we go through the loaf of bread, each of us ripping off pieces and tossing them to the
geese. I squeal when a goose tries to nab a piece of bread that fell close
to my foot and mistakes one of my toes for food.
I pull up my feet out of reach of the goose, lose my balance, and fall
onto Reid. He laughs gently and brushes my hair out of my face.
traces his fingers over my lips and gently presses his mouth against mine.
My breathing hitches momentarily before returning the kiss. The
soft and sweet and over all too soon. “Where were you?” I whisper.
“I had to tend to something,” he replies rather sharply. “Something important.”
“So you’ve said.”
Reid adjusts in his seat, pulling my legs into his lap, and resting his hands on top of them. I turn away, not wanting to meet his gaze.
“Liza…” I cross my arms and make a ‘hmmph’ noise, like a little child.
“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to come off rude.” I glance at him out the
corner of my eyes and catch a glimpse of sadness in his eyes. The sight
almost breaks me, and I stare at him now. “I-I-I just have a really hard
time talking about it. In fact, I’ve never shared it with anyone.” With
that, I give in and place a hand on top of his. “I was with my mother.”
“Yes…” His voice cracks. “My mother. She’s sick… she has cancer.
The doctor says it doesn’t look hopeful.”
I feel like a bitch, a total bitch. Here I am being angry at him this entire time, being rude and a complete snob, when his mother is sick and dying. What the hell is wrong with me? I know it isn’t my fault. I didn’t know, but I can’t help to feel guilty. “I’m sorry,” I say softly. “Is she going to be okay?”
A tear forms in the corner of Reid’s eye, I want to reach out and
wipe it away, but I can’t seem to move. “She says she is, but the doctors
say otherwise. That’s where I have been all week. I was with her… in the hospital.”
“I’m sorry,” I whisper. It’s the only thing I can manage to say.
“Don’t be.” He shakes his head. “She wouldn’t want that.” Reid
stands up and offers his hand to me. I respectfully decline by shaking
my head and stand up next to him. He lets out a deep sigh and starts to walk back under the vines. I follow him, taking a few quick steps
until we are walking side by side. We walk silently through the narrow
pathway. I replay all my actions lately in my head. How could I be
so rude? Well, it’s not like he’s exactly been a chip off the ol’ block. He’s
had his fair share of rude qualities. The bridge comes into view. Out in the more public area, I can relax a bit more. Reid continues to say nothing, and I glance at him. He’s just staring straight ahead.
“Tell me about her,” I say. Reid stares at me, a slight smile tugs at
the corner of his lips. “Tell me about your mother.”
“She’s amazing,” he says affectionately. “The epitome of what every
mother should be: sweet, caring, loving, and funny. She is stern when
it is necessary, but never cruel or hateful. I have never come across
anyone who isn’t affected by her infectious smile or her humor. Everyone
adores her. She goes out of her way to help others…” I listen to his
clear as day admiration for his mother and feel a twinge of jealousy.
My mother was nothing like that. She was the complete opposite. “I
remember one year, my father was out of town—”
“Why was he out of town?” I interrupt.
“Most likely a business trip. I can’t remember.” He squeezes his
eyes shut for a moment like he is trying to remember.
“I’m sorry,” I reply automatically. “As you were saying…”
“Anyways, the year after my parents split, I became obsessed with
Batman. Like so obsessed that I wore my Batman cape everywhere,
even to bed. My mother had to sneak in every night to remove it just so it could be washed.” He laughs gently as he recalls the memory.
“That year for Halloween, I, of course, wanted to be Batman. But what
is Batman without his trusty sidekick Robin?” He gazes down at me,
and I smile. “So my mother said she would be Robin, and she was.
Not the girly costume version of him but the actual Robin. Mask and all.” Reid pauses for a moment. “I know that sounds silly…”
“No, it really doesn’t.” And I’m not lying. It really doesn’t. “She sounds like a magnificent person.”
“She is…” He pauses, as if remembering more memories. “That
she is.” His smile is big when he says it. Reid glances at me and raises
his eyebrows. “What about your mother?”
My breath stops for a split second. He doesn’t know. He really
doesn’t know about my mother. I sigh a breath of relief. If he doesn’t know about my mother, it means he doesn’t know about my father,
and he certainly doesn’t know the truth about who I am. “She’s dead,”
I answer plainly and stare straight ahead.
“Don’t be. I’m not.” It’s only half of a lie. Some days, I really do miss her, and whatever dysfunctional relationship we had, it worked for us. And most days, I’m really glad she’s gone. Out of my life and never able to hurt me again. Call me cruel. Call me a heartless bitch. Call me whatever, but the woman was just as cruel and heartless.
“And your father?”
“I stopped talking to him as soon as I could get away from him.” Tears threaten to form in my eyes.
Reid stops me by the arm. He turns me so I am facing him, tucks
another wild strand of my hair behind my ear, and rests his hand on my
cheek. The world seems to fade away, disappearing behind us, leaving
only the two of us standing there. We stare into each other’s eyes, and
I try to ignore the pull between the two of us, but still find myself
tilting my head up and leaning in. Our lips are about to meet for the
fourth time when our moment is interrupted by the sound of screaming,
and a young, sandy blonde haired girl pushes between us. A tall, slightly
built man comes running towards us and stops just in front of us.
“Sorry ‘bout that.” He smiles. “It’s time for dinner, and she doesn’t
want to go home.”
“Not a problem.” Reid snaps back in a cold, strident tone.
The man, with the same shade of hair as the girl, nods his head,
circles around me and continues to chase after the girl. “Amyra! It’s
time to go… get over here!” he shouts after her.
I laugh lightly. Reid shifts on his feet and starts walking again. I jog a few steps to catch up and fall in step with him as we continue down the path. The path curves, circling back in the direction I came from, towards my apartment. The rest of the walk is silent.
We reach the parking lot of my complex, and I see his sleek, black
sports car parked next to my beat up, rusted Honda. Reid stops next
to his car, opens the door, and stares at me. “I’ll see you at work on
Monday.” I tilt my head and raise an eyebrow, questioning him silently.
“I promise I’ll be there. And this time I’m not backing out. We have a deal, after all.”
MONDAY MORNINGS MEAN
only one thing to me: an appointment
with my therapist. I wonder if Mr. Harder warned Reid about my late
arrivals on these days, and if so, what reason did he give him. Did he tell him the truth? That I am seeing a shrink? God, who knows what he might think if he knows I have weekly visits with Dr. Uria. She’s
been my therapist since I was a child, when I would act out and throw
Of course, my mother, being the loving and doting parent she
believed she was, thought I had mental issues and sought out the best
help Long Port had to offer. For the first few months after my mother’s
death, I refused to come see her, even after multiple messages from
Dr. Uria begging me to come. Surprisingly, it was Eli’s mother, Jezebel,
who convinced me to return. Who knew his mother, the drunken
socialite, was good for something other than downing mimosas. We
started off with three visits a week, then moving to two visits last year
before my internship had started, and two months ago, I started once a week visits.
I’m glad Jezzie, as she likes to be called, convinced me to go back.
Dr. Uria knows me better than I know myself, probably more than Elias
even knows me, if that is even possible. I mean, I have been seeing her
for eighteen years now, so she better know a little something about me.
I look forward to our weekly sessions, and am really excited about today’s
visit. The nightmares are creeping back in, and she’s the only
one that can talk some sense into me. I’ve never told Eli about the
dreams. I don’t know why, but I just can’t.
Since Dr. Uria’s building is conveniently only three buildings away
from the office, I park my wheezing car into my assigned parking spot
on the ground floor of the parking garage, making note to take it in for a tune up or drop it off at the nearest junk yard. I really love that piece of crap. It’s done well for me these past few years, but I think it’s on its last leg. I sling my purse over my shoulder and exit out to the bustling sidewalk.