(Note:this is obviously the fictional version of chapter one before I began to edit into memoir)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~PART I ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
She has always perceived Izalita’s life as better than her own and in that jealousy has said and done things which caused immense pain and therefore rendered it untrue as well. Two days before Izalita’s ‘big day’ and, once again, her mother was having a mental breakdown, lashing out fits of jealousy aimed at her heart, crushing her soul and confusing her head.
7/5/7 ~~ 58 Hours before the Wedding
I do not own a gun. Guns terrify me, as they should, because they make death far too quick and effortless to come to fruition. Death should not be something which can be brought about instantaneously. If I owned a gun, I would use it; Most likely, I would use it on myself. For this reason, I do not own a gun.
My sister’s husband owns a gun. I know the correct term is ‘brother-in-law’, but he is not my brother in any way, shape or form. I wonder if he ever considers using it. He owns one because he is in the military. I guess this gives him the moral authority to own a gun.
I assume this is the reason my mother allows him to keep the gun in her home; one of the ‘good guys.’ Although, I distinctly remember her forbidding husbands two and four from keeping their guns in her home and husband number four was a cop.
I guess I should back up here and explain that my mother has been married and divorced five times. She is currently on husband number 6. However, he will not last long. There is nothing wrong with the man, personally. My mother just has an expiration date on marriages. After the 4th year, she gets an ‘itch’ and begins looking for the next husband.
Nicole Marie Caruso-Miller-Riccardi-Taylor-Johnson-McKinney-Sullivan, also known as Nica, is on a constant quest for ‘happiness’ which is ironic considering how unhappy she makes everyone in her trajectory. I should know better than to take any marriage advice from her. However, she is my mother and this particular day, two days before my wedding and I was feeling vulnerable and her words were stinging more so than normal.
“Everyone knows you shouldn’t be getting married, people will be whispering, pointing and shaking their heads as you walk down the aisle…. is that really what you want?” She continued as I sniffed on the other end of the line. I was attempting to hide my tears, grateful to be on the phone until my stuffy nose gave me away as I attempted to suck it all up, in more ways than one. “Honestly, no one would be the least bit surprised if you called the whole thing off. We would all support you. He doesn’t love you… not the way you should be loved. You don’t even know what real love is, you’re too young.”
“But… Nicole was only 20 when she married Chris!” I responded to the most ridiculous thing she said, out of the many. “I’m 22!”
“Do not bring your sister into this, she was sick, and Chrissy was taking care of her… it’s completely different!” She whipped back. I struck a nerve which I usually avoided if I could. Talking to her about my sister Nicole and golden-boy, son-she-never-had Chrissy was dangerous territory, but obviously necessary right now.
“Taking care of her? They live in your house and he didn’t even have a job when they got married. Paul and I have been living on our own since we were 18… we’ve been engaged for 3 years now and waited until I was done with school like you wanted… and…” I tried to summon up more courage as my tears turned from sadness to anger. “… and he pays for me to go to school. He literally takes care of me. We’ve waited long enough and I’m not cancelling the wedding two days before.”
“Like I said, don’t bring your sister into this. It was completely different. We all loved Chris and were happy to welcome him into the family.” She continued and now, began to truly break my heart. “Nobody likes Paul, you know your sister won’t even call the house after 5pm because she doesn’t want to get stuck talking to him. Chris told me the reason you guys don’t hang out anymore is because they can’t stand him. Chris says all the time how you can do so much better. We all just want what’s best for you, honey.”
Flabbergasted, my throat began to swell up and ache from the tears I was attempting to keep inside. The pit in my stomach felt like an endless hole, sucking my heart from my chest one painful drop of blood at a time. I could feel the surge of blood rushing up my neck so forceful and fast, I was certain my head would explode. My hand was shaking as I tried to light a cigarette. Cigarettes always dry up the tears. They dry up the tears and push the lump in my throat back down. I don’t even attempt to speak again until I finish one long and glorious drag.
“Hello, Izalita, are you still there?” She thought I’d hung up. I should have.
Feeling safe enough to speak without crying again, I finally answer, “Yes, I’m here and I hear you… everyone hates Paul and we shouldn’t get married.”
When I heard her deep breath before she said, “Look…” I knew she was about to begin round two. So, I snapped my phone shut and threw it on the ground. I needed a break. I’m not proud to say this, but hanging up on my mom, feels so good, at times like this. Plus, it is the only way to for me to get control of the conversation, control of anything.
Two days before what should be the best day of my life and I feel, once again, like I would be better off dead than have to deal with facing the disapproval of my entire family. I tried to picture it, the shaking heads and pointing fingers. I, also, tried to figure out the process of actually cancelling the wedding. Would I have to call everyone myself? How could I do that? I could not, but if I didn’t, what would happen? Everyone would show up and just wait for me. No, that would be even more embarrassing and rude.
My sister, Nicole, named after my mother, was knocking on my door as I frantically searched for a new pack of cigarettes. When she was born, my mother was married to the ‘love of her life’ and together, they planned to have only one, perfect child. Because her father, Henry, died in a car crash when she was only 3 months old, my mother never had the chance to tire of him or cheat on him. His death caused him to become a martyr in the eye of my mother. Nicole was a martyr by proxy.
Although, she never got in the middle of our actual fights, she always came afterwards as part of the clean-up crew. I didn’t even say anything as I opened the door crying. After a long hug, she stepped back and asked, “you okay?”
“If I could find my cigarettes, then maybe” I answered with a crackly voice still trying my hardest to hold back the tears.
“Here” she handed me the pack in her hand, always prepared, and lit it for me as well. “So, what did she say after I left? I only heard the beginning, then headed over.”
The cigarette was beginning to do its job desiccating the tears. Through a stuffy nose and a puff of smoke, I answered, “…oh nothing much, you know… just that you guys don’t think I should marry Paul.”
“What? Why would she say that, oh Iza, it’s not true! Mom is just stressed out because she must make the final payment for the wedding tomorrow. She’s been working double shifts at Famished Fanny’s to make enough money. That’s all. It’s her turn to pay. It’s not about you at all!” She tried to reassure me.
“But… But she said you don’t even call the house after 5pm because you don’t want to talk to him?” I asked, trying to remember everything my mother said, feeling even more confused.
“No, that’s not what I said. Yes, I told her I don’t like calling at night because I know you’re cooking dinner and spending time together. She either misunderstood me or is just lying to make her point. You can’t trust her. Do you remember what Nana use to say? Mom has always been so jealous of you. You’re so smart and beautiful. You just finished college and you’re about to marry the first and only man you’ve ever loved, two things she can only wish for herself.” My grandmother, sister and more recently my school counselor told me that my mother acted in ways that seemed to stem from jealously. However, I could not wrap my head around that concept and therefore did not believe it. Perhaps I didn’t want to believe it. Could a mother really be so jealous of her own daughter that she would undermine or even sabotage her happiness? I didn’t want to believe so. Living in a world like that seemed hopeless and although I have struggled to grab it in bits and pieces, I have always tried my hardest to hold onto hope. Without it, I haven’t much else.
My sister snapped me back out of my thoughts and returned me to my smoky living room. “Please, don’t let her get to you. It’s all about the money…. Iza … do you remember what she said 6 months ago when it was your father’s turn to make the down payment?”