Daniel seemed exhausted after the fact. As if the weight of the unfortunate news had physically weighed down on him by an unflinching force. I didn’t do much consoling beyond listening and just being there with him. We barely moved from the bedroom; well, he barely moved. I encouraged him to be with his mother, but at this point it was like my words had fallen on deaf ears. Whenever we got hungry or thirsty, I hopped into the kitchen to fix us something. Daniel barely ate. Barely drank. Barely was Daniel right now. It took him a few hours, but eventually he dragged himself down into the living room, with seemingly bright eyes and a positive demeanour (although I, and Jade of course, knew all too well) and sat with his mother. They enjoyed each other while I was fixing tea for the both of them.
“You’re a lovely girl, Anna,” Jade said as I handed her her tea.
I blushed. “Thank you.”
“How’s my boy treating you,” she brushed Daniel’s shoulder.
I looked at his tired eyes straining to open for dear life. “He’s wonderful,” I smiled.
Jade looked at Daniel with such a proud grin and held his hand. Jade butterfly indeed; even when she is sick she is comforting others. It takes a strong woman to be the way she is right now. I admired her strength and courage, and could only wish that I could possess half of that one day.
We ended up watching Ever After. A sappy chick-lit by nature but, as it turns out, is one of Jade’s favourite movies. She has good taste. The movie has everything, humour, love, compassion, good actors (Anjelica Houston, hello!), and above all, hope. Good choice indeed. By the time the movie had ended we were all yawning with watering eyes. It looked like Daniel didn’t want to leave his mother’s side (and neither did I if I was honest with myself). We all eventually gave in though, and as we parted when Jade entered her room, and we entered ours, it felt a little less heartbreaking than yesterday. I was glad for the change, yet still saddened by the impending inevitable. I shook my head violently in an effort to whisk the thought from my mind before going to bed with Daniel.
For some reason, I didn’t get to sleeping until like, an hour later or something. I woke up in the middle of the night, to my tossing and turning, and realising that the half next to me was empty. And cold. Empty for a while it seemed. I pushed the blankets off and then started quietly wandering, so as not to wake or startle anyone, down the hallway and stairs. When I started hearing voices, and those voices started picking up in volume as I got closer in range, my heart started thumping. I pushed my dark hair back behind my ear and tuned it to the quiet rumblings. The only reason I began feeling uneasy about the voices was because I knew, and I didn’t know how, but I knew that the male’s was Daniel’s…but the female’s wasn’t Jade’s. Sneakily, like a panther, I positioned myself on the side of the high cabinet behind the wall that separated the kitchen and the living room with an entrance on either side.
“…I’m just saying, we were great, and I really miss it,” the woman said.
Daniel sighed. “This isn’t right.”
“What is right?” a man said. I didn’t know there was another person there so he took me by surprise. “Tanya is offering you something that will help the entire family. Don’t be selfish, Daniel.”
“It’ll only help you, father,” Daniel said. I could hear the words being aggressively delivered as he spoke with such clarity. As if he didn’t want any room for interpretation at the fact that he was angry.
The man huffed a chuckle and then began walking. I nearly shat myself because I had no idea which way he was walking, but I knew he was coming my way because the steps were becoming louder and clearer. Thankfully, he exited through the other side of the wall. Thank Jeebus for rich houses with a gazillion entrances and exits! Just sayin’.
“I don’t want to sound heartless or anything,” Daniel began, “but I’m going through something right now, and I just need you to back the fuck off.” He said it so genuinely that oddly enough it managed to not sound malicious at all.
Tanya chortled. “I’m not trying to make your life difficult. I’m making it easier for you.”
“What about John?”
“What about John?” Tanya replied.
Daniel laughed humourlessly. “Jeez, what are you? LeAnn Rimes double the disloyalty? Why do you do this to people?”
“Look,” Tanya said, “I knew I made a mistake a while ago. Everything was going well until I saw you again, with that girlfriend of yours—”
“—Anna,” he said quickly. “Her name is Anna.”
“Anyway,” Tanya continued, “it just made me realise how much I love you.”
“Either way, I don’t want to be stuck with John’s baby so, no thanks.”
“I thought so, which is why I had an abortion.”
“No, I’m in love.” Tanya stretched out the word ‘no’ like a psychopathic serial killer trying to convince her hostage that she had good intentions. I’m not into calling girls psychos, but shit, this girl can put Manson to shame.
Suddenly I heard the light suction of lips being pressed together to create a kiss. My smile dropped and my eyes widened. Hearing another girl (an ex-girlfriend, nonetheless!) kiss my boyfriend was killing me. I was two inches away from them and that…that…thing was kissing the man I’m in love with! My fingers curled into a fist and my body heated up from my rage against her. I had to constantly remind myself where I was and who I was here for to avoid any regrettable actions. Breathe in through the nose, I told myself, and out through the mouth. The kiss lasted longer than I cared to let it, but eventually, mercy was shown upon me and they released their locked (tightly locked!) lips.
“Don’t you miss that? Miss us?” Tanya asked. Her voice arrogant.
Daniel chuckled. “I have missed you once,” he said, “but that was a long, long time ago. I don’t miss you anymore. I love Anna. She was the only one who cared to bring me back to life after you destroyed it. I thought I was happy before her, but now, I know I am.”
Silence. My cheeks rose as I smiled and my fist finally loosened.
“Just because my father made illegal investments,” Daniel continued smoothly, “does not inspire me to suffer as your husband for the rest of my life.”
Burn after shock; exit cue, and Daniel was stepping towards the same exit as Richard. I thought so at least.
“What about for your mother?” Tanya asked, spitting out the venomous suggestion that stopped Daniel in his tracks. I didn’t hear him turn. “Would you be with me for your mother? Who will help with all the treatments? They will cost a fortune, baby. Do you think you can handle your mother’s cancer and your father’s legal issues? Your family fortune is going south; I know you need me. And I know you know that too. Be with Anna, and your mother won’t live; be with me, and she just might have a chance. Think about that, Daniel. Most of all, don’t be so fucking selfish.”
Tanya clicked away, out of the house, in her heels. I nearly threw up hearing that. I always assumed that Tanya was misguided, led by a conniving Richard. Listening to her now, after witnessing her harsh words, I never expected she would be capable of such cruelty.
I forgot Daniel had been there since he hadn’t moved since Tanya shocked him into immobilisation (much like myself. I feared my heart was audible in its drumming), but after a long moment had passed, he began shuffling out of the room and up the stairs. When he finally realises that I’ve gone, he’ll come looking for me. And as I slide down onto the floor, huddled on the ground, afraid that I might break, he’ll find me soon enough. He’ll find me, in my shaking vulnerability, with tears streaming from eyes wide in shock, down my cheeks.