Love, in Spanish(2)

By: Karina Halle

I don’t even think you believed it. But of course Iam, more now than ever. And love makes you do sillythings.

In what you would call hindsight, I see now that itwas reckless and impulsive of me to ask you to move toSpain. I should have waited until the divorce was final. Ishould have waited until you were out of school.

I was foolish and very selfish and very scared. Icould only see you, only think of you. I just wanted youhere so badly, and I was afraid that if I waited, youwould leave me. You would find someone better,someone your own age with less baggage. Sometimes itsurprises me that you could even want me at all.

But you did. You agreed to come here, and eventhough I knew deep down it would be better for everyoneif we waited until the dust settled, I risked it. I wouldhave walked over burning coals for you, just to have youin my arms. I would have put the whole world injeopardy just to be inside you again.

I should have been the adult here. I should haveknown better. But my heart got the best of me. I broughtyou here, right into the flames. I thought I could shelteryou from the heat, that I could protect you, that I couldride out the inferno with you safely under my arm.

But I was wrong. And because of my recklessness,you had to suffer. I had to suffer. My daughter had tosuffer. Everyone is suffering.

And you are gone.

The other night when Isabel showed up, that wasthe hardest night of my life, harder than the night wemade love at Las Palabras, knowing we had to saygoodbye the next day.

I never wanted it to happen that way. I neverwanted Isabel to see you, nor you to see her. I knew youwere already wrapped in guilt, and I knew Isabel wouldonly hurt. She is a beautiful woman and she is stillyoung. But seeing you—so fresh and shining so brightly,it would have only destroyed her, made her feel old, weak, useless. Those feelingswould turn to anger, and her anger is a sharp anddangerous object.

But you came to the lobby—I cannot fault yourcuriosity—and the two of you met. Isabel was destroyed,and her drunken anger took over. You could only watch.

I could only watch.

I wanted to defend you. In my heart I did. But toyour eyes I didn’t. I couldn’t.

I told you that one day I’d have to choose betweenyou and Chloe Ann. I suppose at that moment, I had tomake that choice. I had to play right by Isabel. I couldn’tchoose you, because if I did, I would lose all contactwith Chloe Ann. I was at Isabel’s mercy, and she had meby the balls.

It is complicated. It is so complicated. All thesethreads and knots wrapped around all of our necks,tying us to one another. If one moves, the other feels it,loses air. I defended Isabel, and the rope tightenedaround your throat. If I defended you, the rope would besevered between me and my daughter.

I cannot expect you to understand. You are not aparent. You don’t have to make the horrible choices—ormaybe you do. Maybe you just made a horrible choice ofyour own by leaving me. All I can say is there is nowinning. How do you choose between your own fleshand blood and the love of your life? You can’t really…Icould only choose because Chloe Ann is young andneeds me. She wouldn’t understand the choice. But you,Vera, you might understand. You might see where I amcoming from. You might be able to forgive me.

Please forgive me.

That night I went back home. I don’t feel I have toassure you that nothing happened between Isabel and I—but nothing did happen. I talked to Chloe Ann. I triedto make as much peace with Isabel as I could in herdrunken state. I at least got her to calm down. I slept onthe couch.

The next morning, I woke up early and madebreakfast. The three of us sat together, as a family, forthe last time. Isabel was terribly hung over but she hadsoftened. Perhaps she finally saw how over it was andhow there would be no us, no going back. What wasdone was done.

So we put on sad smiles and ate, and Chloe Annwas delighted to have us all back together. Our smilesgot sadder.

Then Isabel drove me home.

You see, love is a strange thing. It can disappearcompletely. It can leave you, so far gone it is just a markon the horizon, and you wonder how you ever felt love tobegin with. But even with it gone, fragments still remain.There are imprints. You can destroy a house and ruin itto the ground but you’ll see indents in the earth, the waythe ground is different where the house once was.

We talked, Isabel and I, for a long time. She wasstill angry, bitter, as I expect she’ll be for a long time. Iwould be too, if I were in her shoes. Perhaps this is whatmakes everything so much harder, that I know howothers see me, that what I’ve done is reprehensible tothem. But she had relented to what was, to the newreality. And in our words about the past and the presentand the future, I could see the remains of what once was,see the ghost of our marriage, that time when we had abit of hope for each other.

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