I Guess We’re Going to Find Out

Chapter 73

I’ve been home for three days now. Maddie stayed home from school too, but I think she’s comfortable that I’m safe now, and wants to go back to being with her friends.

Raquel and Grant are staying in the guest room. Grant handles all media inquiries with an authoritative, “No comments at this time.” Raquel took all household tasks from me, and cooks a meal when take-out doesn’t sound appealing.

Honestly, I’m grateful to let them take charge. I’m not sleeping very well. It takes a long for me to drift off, and once I do, I’m wakened by horrible nightmares: sometimes Frank has me up against the wall, with his fingers around my throat, instead of Liz. Or, I am forced to pull the plug to Nathan’s ventilator from the wall, only to discover it’s Maddie in the hospital bed, screaming silently.

The ER doctor gave me a prescription for Ativan. I take one before going to bed, but it doesn’t work.

I’ll need the Ativan soon though. My parents are arriving any day now to relieve Raquel and Grant. I begged them not to come, but they insist.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my parents. I really do. Our family isn’t unusual for having some dysfunction, but as Tolstoy pointed out, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Once upon a time we were a happy family.

I was six years old when my brother Joel was born. It was just like getting a living baby doll. I quickly adapted to the role of big sister, or more accurately, self-appointed co-mother.

I sat near (my mother would say, practically on) him all of the time. When mom nursed him, I sat beside her, shirt up, with my baby doll held against my bare chest in imitation. I got so close up when mom changed his diaper that more than once I was hit in the face with a stream of his urine. Whenever mom let me hold him, I was ecstatic with love for my tiny, baby brother with curly black hair…

“Hey Niki, you’ve been journaling with that faraway look in your eyes for awhile now. Are you okay? Can I get you anything?”

I put down my journal and pen. “No, thanks Raquel. I’m okay. I’m writing about Joel. I guess Mom and Dad’s visit is making me think about him.”

Raquel tenses and pales. The corners of her mouth and eyes slacken a bit.

“Honey, are you sure it’s a good idea to dwell on that right now? I have the phone number of the therapist the social worker gave us. Would you like me to schedule an appointment for you?”

“No Raquel, really, I’m okay. I’m sorry for upsetting you. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“It’s okay, Niki. I’ve been thinking about Joel too. I hope Mom’s doing okay.”

“I guess we’re going to find out.”

Small and Scattered (Niki makes another decision)

Chapter 20

The next day was Saturday. Simon and a buddy drove the rig with the jet skis back to the dealer.

I hadn’t slept well.

I kept telling myself:

  • It’s no big deal; anyone can have a lapse in judgment.
  • People spend more money than they make all the time. I shouldn’t get so upset.
  • Simon had good intentions. The gift was meant to bring us closer together. Isn’t that what celebrating an anniversary is all about?

Then why am I so angry?


I made coffee. In the family room, Maddie sat on the floor watching TV with her chin resting on  the coffee table, intermittently scooping spoonfuls of cereal and milk up and over the edge of a bowl into her mouth.  Her backpack leaned against the sofa beside her. She’s spending the day with her friend Kaylee, and staying overnight. Kaylee’s mom will pick her up soon.

After Maddie left, I went for a bike ride, took a shower, and thought about lunch.

Simon returned without the rig. He smiled sheepishly.

“The dealer agreed to resell the rig for us. It was already a great deal, but now that it’s priced as used, he says it will go fast. We’ll probably only make one, maybe two payments before it sells.”

“How much of a loss will we take?”

“Less than $10,000, I figure.”

I had nothing to say.

“Okay, Niki, I get it. I was wrong to buy the jet skis, and cancel the Coronado trip without talking to you first. I get it. I won’t do it again. Can you just get over it, and let’s move on?”

I felt anger rising like a pot boiling over. I steeled myself to say the words I’d rehearsed,

“Simon, I want a divorce.”

“WHAT! Over jet skis? What’s wrong with you, Niki?

That’s right Simon, it’s me not you,” sarcasm escaped my mouth.

“Damn right it’s you! How can you break apart a family? Our family? Over jet skis!”

I paused before blurting out, “A family? Yeah, a single parent family! You’re impulsive, Simon. It’s like being married to a child. You’re a crisis about to happen. You only think about your needs, your wants. Putting us in debt without talking to me about it is just a part of our problems.

I take care of people all night long at work, then I come home and take care of you. The kitchen sink is always full of dirty dishes from the night before, and the garbage overflows. I get up, clean house, and go back to work, while you watch sports on TV.

If I go on like this, I’m going to shatter, Simon, and the pieces will be so small and scattered, I’ll never gather them up and put myself back together. I need a partner Simon, not another child. For all I do around here, I may as well be a single parent. It can’t be any harder than this already is.”

Well, it’s not like you work five days a week like I do, Niki.”

I hissed at him, “I want a divorce, Simon. I want to be happy.”

“Is this about that ER nurse, what’s his name? Are you sleeping with him?”

“No I’m not sleeping with him. Corey’s married. I’m not a home wrecker!”

“Yes you are, Niki.  You’re wrecking our home.”