*Trigger warning – scene alludes to suicide*
You know that feel-good vibe you get when you make vacation plans and you start to get that small twinge of excitement as it gets closer and closer?
Well, I wasn’t feeling “excited” but with each passing day, I did feel more hopeful about getting on with my life. I was making a huge effort to regain some normalcy back into my day-to-day. It had been weeks since I had bumped into Dex and though he always lingered in my thoughts, I wasn’t at the level of “obsessive” like before.
Maybe seeing him with that blond had shifted my perspective for the better. Maybe it was a type of closure – I don’t know. If that blond wanted him, she could have him, just like Sam had told her. And maybe, just maybe if she hadn’t been such a bitch, I might have warned her about him. But you know what? All is fair in love and war, right? I’m sure that she had no clue that Dex was still leaving me voice messages. Messages that I still promptly erased without listening to.
I started doing things I used to do to treat myself, like getting my nails done at the salon with Sam, hanging out at my favorite second hand bookstore and I even slowly started reconnecting with friends I had lost touch with. Whenever I found myself thinking about how stupid I had been, instead of stress eating, I started going for long runs, one of my pre-Dex activities. Not only did I need to lose the extra pounds but running gave me a sense of freedom and a feeling that anything was possible. I did my best thinking during my runs and realized two truths – I needed to look out for me, myself and I, first and foremost and that when shit hit the fan, the only person I could ever truly count on was me.
I even took an overdue trip down to Toronto to visit my parents and relatives, enduring all of their interrogations about my relationship with Dex. Instead of telling them that we had broken up, I dodged their invasive questions and refused to let them pin me down. My love life was no one’s business until my mother called me on my cell out of the blue during one of my evening runs.
“Is something wrong?” I tried to catch my breath and was a little annoyed that her call had interrupted my flow.
“You tell me hija. Why are you breathing like that?” I could picture the horror on her face, thinking that she had maybe caught me doing something sinful.
“I’m jogging Mamá.”
“At this time of night? That’s dangerous!”
I didn’t even bother responding – it was only 7:00pm and it was still light out.
“Is something wrong?” I asked again.
“Your novio just called me.” Even in Spanish she said the word “boyfriend” as if it was a bad word, which always irked me. Growing up, I had no clue why she harped on the importance of marriage but the thought of me dating was somehow sinful. But after reading ‘Como Agua Para Chocolate’ (Like Water For Chocolate), I totally saw my mother as Mama Elena. But that’s an entirely different story for another time. Let’s just say that my folks had totally old–old-country non-North American mentality.
“What? Dex called you? What did he say?” Standing in the middle of the sidewalk, my heart started racing from more than my long run. What the hell was he doing calling my parents?
“He was crying and said that you broke up with him, that he misses you and that he was going loco without you. My God, the times that we met him, he seemed like a nice enough boy. What did you do?”
Okay, are you following what I just said? Did you catch what I just dropped on you? My own mother automatically assumed that I did something wrong. But that was the way she always treated me – guilty before proven innocent. They were the main reason why I had not only saved up every last penny I had to buy a condo but I also made sure to move a 5 hour drive away.
“I didn’t do anything Mamá! He was the one being awful to me and he was probably cheating too!” I wondered why I even bothered because she always found a way to boomerang blame back onto me.
“Cara, you’ve got a hardhead just like your father and your abuela. Beggars can’t be choosers. How many boys these days would call a girl’s mother? I like that. He said that you wouldn’t talk to him and asked me to tell you that he was sorry for everything! He even said that he dreamed of marrying you one day and he doesn’t know what to do now without you. Maybe you should give him another chance.”
I was about to blow a gasket right there on that sidewalk. My mouth was bone-dry with disgust. “Did you not hear me when I said that he was awful and was probably cheating Mamá?”
I heard her snicker on the other end of the line. “All relationships have problems hija and boys will be boys. When you realize that’s the way God made them, you’ll grow up and…”
Her words made me think back to the knock-down-drag-out fights that she and Papi used to have when I was growing up. For some odd reason they had thought that just because they were behind their closed bedroom doors, we didn’t realize what was going on.
I was fuming and for the first time in my entire life, I hung up on her.
Before I had time to think it through, my fingers were dialing Dex’s number. He picked up on the sixth ring with a very subdued voice.
“What the fuck are you doing calling my parents? My parents! You’re no longer part of my life Dex! Is this some kind of game to get my attention because if it is, you succeeded! What are you trying to prove?”
Oh, I could have kept going but I’d run out of breath and had to stop before people on the street thought I was nuts.
“I’m sorry. I fucked up. I didn’t know how else to get a message to you,” Dex said in the meekest voice I have ever heard come out of his massive body. “I’m sure that you don’t listen to the messages I leave and I can’t reach any of your friends. You hate me so much that you had our friends block me…”
“No, not our friends My friends!”
I heard him sniffling and his breathing was heavy. “I just wanted to say that I was so sorry before I…”
My patience was way past gone. “I don’t care about your apologies Dex. Get over it and me already! You’ve moved on with someone else so stop apologizing and leave me alone! Just leave me alone and don’t you ever call my folks again! You hear me?”
“That girl could never replace you because…she’s not you. And don’t worry, I won’t bother your folks, you or anyone else after tonight….”
And that’s when Dex started to cry uncontrollably. Whether they were crocodile tears or not did not concern me. What concerned me was that he had begun to slur his words and was becoming incoherent. Add in the desperate resignation in his voice mixed with his tears took me, it took me off balance. But he totally floored me when he said, “Cara, I have one question for you. Do you ever wish that I was dead?”
Oh yeah, you know that I was angry enough to spit some fiery truth at him.
“I wish that you were dead ALL THE TIME Dex.”
I wanted to cut him as deeply and sharply as that knife he had stabbed into my table all those months ago. His crying subsided and his voice was a whisper.
“I will always love you. Just remember that after I’m gone. I can’t go on like this and you would be happier without me. I wish that I were dead too.”
And that’s when I heard a loud thud on his end of the line before it went dead. I stood on that sidewalk looking at my cell as if it would tell me what to do. That’s when I noticed that during the time that I had been speaking with my mother, Dex had sent me a three word text message:
Goodbye my love.
Goodbye? Was that some kind of suicide text? Was this the reason he tried to reach out to me through my mother as a last resort?
All I could think about was that I had just agreed with a desperate sounding man I still had feelings for that I would be better off if he were dead.
Panicked at what Dex was about to do or had already done, I sprinted the entire three blocks to his apartment like my feet were on fire without thinking twice. It never dawned on me that he might have been playing me…
“Arrieros somos y en el camino andamos.”
Look, we’re all human beings, making our way through life. I’m subject to failings just like you. So don’t you dare judge or criticize me, okay?
Continuation: R is for “Rape” (*trigger warning*)
All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. Graphic above created with Canva.