”Marla…please….” he got up from the couch taking her waist. ”I hate it when you get mad at me…”
”I hate it when you do this.” she answered. ”I’m sick of it.”
”Marla…” he pushed her hair out of her face to look at her. ”We do this every single time…”
”And nothing changes. You’re here for a few weeks and then you’re gone. The older she gets the harder it’s going to be on her. It’s still hard for me..but I’m an adult. I can deal with it…but she needs you now. You don’t even remember telling her that you wouldn’t leave again.” she said wiggling out of his grip.
”I do remember….I would never lie to my daughter, Marla. I will be there for her.”
”Just not today.” Marla answered sarcastically. ”And don’t pull that in spirit or on the phone bullshit. That’s even worse than not being there. ” she threw herself onto the bed trying not to cry. Bruno followed her to the bed wrapping his arms around her realizing that she wasn’t mad, but scared about what was happening.
”Marla…it will be okay. It will be okay…” he told her placing his head on her shoulder humming something that was just a little tune in his head at the moment. He could hear her tears falling on the bed through his own thoughts. He moved himself to face her. He looked at her red teary eyes trying to find the right thing to say.
”I did this to her.” she told him flatly. ”I made her like this. She’s never going to be able to a movie without sitting on the edge waiting to leave when the lights get too bright. She’s not going to be able to have a normal relationship. She’s going to take medication for the rest of her life…all because of me.”
”Marla…she’s beautiful like you. She smiles and laughs like you. She dances horribly like you do…she sleeps curled up in a little ball like you do…she is a genius. She is caring and…she’s perfect. Maybe she will have to take medicine and maybe she’ll have to be more cautious and maybe she won’t be able to see that scary movie with her first boyfriend…but you know what?” he waited for her to answer him.
”What?” she said through her tears.
”I wouldn’t have it any other way, baby doll.” he answered kissing her lightly watching her eyes brighten at his words. ”Can we go to sleep now?”
”I need my medicine first…” she tried to smile through her tears.
”Stay right there, mama….” he answered jumping up from the bed. It took him about ten minutes to remember exactly what she took and how many to take out from the medicine cabinet. But finally, knowing that he got it right, he walked back out into the bedroom. ”Marlllaaaa…” he sang to her seeing that she had fallen asleep. He leaned in to her cheek touching it gently waking her up. He saw her eyes start to open trying not to laugh at her.
”Shut up!” she yelled at him taking the medicine out of his hands turning around falling back asleep.
”He mistook my anger as sadness and frustration that night. Ugh. I mean, he can’t fix everything by using his Mars charm.” Marla told her co-worker Isabel.
”Did you tell him you were really mad at him?” she asked.
”I didn’t have time to tell him. He was gone the next morning.” Marla answered with a heavy sigh. ”And I worry so much about her. She’s with my mom…and that’s fine..but I just want to be there watching her to make sure she’s okay.”
”I think every mother would want to do that, Marla.” Isabel answered.
”Yeah. I guess you’re right.” she answered turning into the driveway of the home they were visiting.
”Holy shit.” Bruno said looking down at his phone. ”15 missed calls. And..they’re all..oh..” he stopped seeing a missed phone call from his mother in law. He sat down contemplating calling her back not sure if she was calling to yell at him or there really was something wrong. She’s just calling to yell at me. He thought throwing the phone on the leather couch near the pile of coats that laid on the side.
”Come on, Brunz. Let’s get this…” Ari yelled at him while Phil looked at him with a concerned look.
”Who kept calling you?” he asked.
”Sylvia. She was calling to yell at me.” Bruno said taking a hold of the headset going into the room. The three lost themselves in music for nearly an hour until one of the studio assistants knocked on the door.
”I’m sorry to interrupt, but someone named Sylvia just called and asked that I tell Bruno to call her, it’s important.” the girl said closing the door.
Phil motioned for Bruno to come out of the recording area. ”Sylvia just called the front, bro. You should probably call her.”
”Ugh. I don’t know what is so important that my fucking mother in law has to call me.” he picked up the phone seeing 4 more missed calls from her. He walked out of the building leaning against the wall pulling out the cigarettes that his wife thought he had quit smoking lighting one up as he heard the phone ring.
”Bruno!” Sylvia exclaimed. ”I’ve been trying to get a hold of you. That girl at the studio was a sweetheart.”
”She is. What’s going on?” he asked her in an inpatient tone.
”Bruno…Marla’s in the hospital.” she told him bluntly.
”She what? Rosie’s appointment isn’t…”
”Isn’t until Thursday. She had a seizure at work.”
”Marla….” Bruno paused moving the phone away from his face coughing. ”She had visits today…she wasn’t driving was she?” he asked.
”No. She wasn’t driving…but she’s still asleep, Bruno. It was long. It was like 20 minutes…” she told him through her own broken tears.
”Did they give her….”
”They did, Bruno. She’s going to be okay. But I know she would want you here. I’m not going to yell at you and scold you. She told me not to do that when she dropped Rosie off this morning. So, I’m telling you and hoping you make the right decision.” Sylvia told him. Shit. Making the right decision. What a bitch. He thought to himself.
”When did this happen?” Bruno asked looking at the time on his phone. It was close to 2 in the morning.
”It happened at like 5:30…Bruno..I’ve been trying to call you. Travis called you the second he found out. ” she told him.
”When she wakes up tell her I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Bruno answered.
”I will, mijo.” she answered hanging up the phone. Bruno ended the call kicking the wall he was leaning on.
”Shit.” he yelled walking back into the studio. ”I have to go home.” he told the people sitting in the studio waiting for him to come back.
”Is she okay?” Ari asked.
”Rosie is fine. Marla…” he paused. ”She’s not.”
”Oh,Bruno…you gotta go man.” Phil answered.
”I know I do. That’s the worst part.” he said flopping on the couch with part of his coat covering his head. ”I know it’s the right thing to do..but we have so much to do. I’ve never had to choose between the two before…this is the first time it’s come up…she never makes me choose. That’s why I love her.”
”Bro, she’s not making you choose. She’s your wife. She’s always first.” Phil answered opening the door for him.
Bruno got on the first plane to Los Angeles that he could find. The flight left at 4 in the morning trying to sleep on the 6 hour flight. He closed his eyes to think. To think about his wife, his daughter, his career and the decisions he had made. He put on his headphones, took out a piece of paper he stashed in the small bag and started writing.
He walked in a slow and tired pace to the car that was waiting for him. He laid his head against the window trying to sleep through rush hour traffic. He rushed through the hospital hallway trying to find his way through the now very familiar hospital. A few on the nurses even pointed him in the right direction.
”Marla….” Bruno said in a soft tone opening the door seeing her sitting in the bed with her hair in a messy ponytail covered in bruises.
A few hours later a nurse came into the room touching Marla’s arm to check her medication. She jumped hitting Bruno’s head which was placed on her stomach.
”Oh shit…I almost killed him.” she laughed seeing him wipe his eyes opening them to see the nurse and Marla looking at him.
”Was I snoring?” he asked.
”No…I just almost killed you with my arm.” she answered cringing through the pain.
”Oh..yeah.” he smiled touching her hair getting it out her face. The nurse made notes on her paper leaving the two of them alone. ”How do you feel, baby doll?” he asked stretching his arms out.
She shrugged her shoulders. ”It could be worse.” she told him.
”Marley…I worry about you…” he said concerned. ”You can’t get stressed out like that…I don’t want you to get hurt…”
”I’m not. I’m a little sore. That’s it…” she told him.
”What’s that?” he asked pointing to a deep blue bruise on her shoulder.
”I dropped a box at work…this isn’t from yesterday.” she lied to him.
”I don’t believe you, Mar.”
”Okay. Fine.” she answered him as he ran his fingers against her shoulder.”Oww…it hurts.” she cringed.
Marla turned over on the couch slowly feeling a ball on her side.
”Go get it, Rosie…” he said pushing her toward Marla. Rosalia jumped up n the couch where Marla had sat up with the ball in her hand.
”What do you say, mama?” Marla asked.
”Peas?” Rosie asked.
”You’re so amazing!” Marla exclaimed handing her the ball watching her run toward Bruno falling on his lap giggling at him. Bruno laughed at her overdramatic fall watching her dance a little after standing up. ”B…she’s doing the potty dance.” she told him.
”Oh..oh…Rosie…come on…come on mamacita…” he said running with her to the bathroom.
Marla jumped up ignoring the pain shooting up and down her body to watch Bruno and Rosalia.
”You’ve almost got it…come on….” Bruno sang the potty training song he had randomly put together to her.
Marla clapped her hands watching Bruno finish with his daughter holding her up to wash her hands. He bent down to hug her and kiss her on the cheek pushing her out the door.
Bruno paused at the door taking Marla’s hand holding it up kissing it. She blushed at his action watching Rosalia. He led her to the couch laying her down again.
”Mamaaaa….” Rosie called out.
”Come on..let’s take a nap…” she told her daughter as she jumped on the couch again. ”Are you coming Bruno?” she asked moving her feet so he could sit on the couch.
”Commeeeee….” Rosie exclaimed as Marla and she watched him pick up the toys on the ground throwing them in the basket where they belonged. He kissed both of them on the head leaving the room.
”He doesn’t get I, does he, Rosalia?” Marla asked her daughter putting her in a small protected spot on the couch. She shook her head the same way Marla had putting her head on her mother’s chest.
Bruno walked into the living room a few minutes later after finishing dinner to see his wife and daughter still sound asleep. He accidentally hit something on the ground waking both of them up. He laughed at them as he started to apologize. ”Oh. I didn’t know you were both still asleep.” he said picking up Rosalia. ”Come on…let’s wash your hands so you can eat dinner.”
Marla yawned sitting up slowly following them into the kitchen. He placed Rosie in the chair as he made her a plate of chicken, carrots and rice. ”She’s not going to eat that…” Marla responded to the food going to get something from the fridge. ”Here…she’ll eat it this way…” she said putting some ranch dressing on the side.
”Really? She’s 2 years old.” he asked.
”She has a sophisticated pallet.” Marla laughed sitting down at the table.
”So sophisticated that the dog likes to eat the same thing…” Bruno said looking down at Tippie eating a pile of carrots.
”Rosalia! No, ma’am!” Marla said sternly. ”Don’t do that again. You know you will have to go into your chair if you do…” Marla was interrupted by a carrot hitting her in the nose. Bruno started cracking up at the events as they unfolded. Marla didn’t hesitate to pick up her daughter glaring at Bruno who was still laughing. I’m sorry. He mouthed standing up with his wife who placed Rosalia in the yellow chair. ”Two minutes…” Marla said watching tears come down her daughters cheeks.
”Buttt…nooooooooooooooooooooo.” Rosalia screamed through her tears. ”Mamaaaaaaaaa….”
” ito ay okay, iha…” Bruno said to his daughter sitting down next to her. ”I’m right here.”
Marla stared at him picking him up dragging him out of the room. ”It’s not funny, Bruno!” she yelled at him in the kitchen looking at him cracking a smile.
”You should have seen your face when the carrot hit you.” he told her wiping a piece of orange string off her face. ”It was….amazing…” he continued to laugh over his daughter’s screaming.
”Oh my god, Bruno. You are no help. I can’t even deal with this..” she yelled walking into the kitchen to clean up their meal.
”Babyyyy…I’m sorry…” he said touching her waist as she washed the dishes.
”Stop.” she told him as the timer went off.
”Let me get her…” Bruno said to his wife.
”Bruno…just remember how I do it..” she told him as she watched him walk over to her daughter who was crying uncontrollably. He hugged her and pointed to Marla. She ran over to her hugging her on the leg.
”I’m sorry. I love you.” she said to her mom running into the bathroom holding her towel. ”I’m ready, daddy!”
”I’m still mad at you, Bruno.” she told him finishing the dishes then going to her laptop to check her work e-mail. She lost herself in her work occasionally hearing Bruno’s voice over the running water. About an hour later she turned around hearing silence. When did that happen? Shit’s gonna go down if it’s this quiet…she thought to herself. She turned around to see Bruno walking toward her.
”Marla…” he said softly in her ear. ”I’m sorry I’ve been a shitty husband and dad.”
She took his hand pulling him down onto the couch so she could see him better. ”Don’t say you’re sorry, Brunz. Just fix it.” she told him touching his hair that had spots of shampoo in it. She pulled her hand away from his hair feeling the soap. ”Please tell me you didn’t put her to bed with shampoo still in her hair.”
”I didn’t. She was washing my hair.” he answered.
”You’re the worst dad ever.” she told him touching the wet spot again.
”Mar?” he asked taking her hand off his hair.
”Can we make out now? Please? I said I was….”
”Sorry….” she responded kissing him.
Marla picked up her phone turning off the alarm at 6 in the morning the next day- a Friday. She jumped over Bruno getting out of the bed not feeling him move an inch. She took a quick shower putting on a bright purple wrap dress and leggings with yellow red flats for work. After towel drying her hair she went into Rosie’s room waking her up. Rosie scratched her head smiling at her mother’s face. ”Mama…I want to sleep still…”
”But, Rosalia..Dora is on…” she said picking her up.
”I want to sleep.” she said falling on the bed. I’m the worst mother ever…
”Mommmmaaaa…I can sleep in your bed.” she told her mother pointing to Bruno still sound asleep.
”Go ahead…” she told her daughter walking into the kitchen to eat breakfast watching her daughter jump in the bed next to her father. Oh my god. Where is my camera? She thought to herself seeing Rosalia stretch out on the bed across Bruno’s chest. She picked up her phone snapping a picture making it her cell phone background. She let them sleep watching CNN with a bowl of cereal in one hand and the other hand on the dog’s head. Well, this isn’t too bad. She thought to herself looking at herself in the mirror. After fixing her hair one last time she went into the bedroom shaking Bruno from his dream. ”Wakeeee upppp….” she whined seeing his eyes open looking up at her confused.
”Good Morning…” he said in a raspy sleepy voice. Oh godddd…she thought to herself. So hot..but I have to go to work…there’s too much to do…”Did she sleep here all night?” he asked her.
”No. I let her come in here and sleep instead of getting up. You don’t have anything else to do before the appointment at 3 do you?” she asked him.
”Just a date with Sleeping Beauty.” he smiled.
”Okay..I’ll be home at like 1:45.” she said kissing him on the cheek leaving the room.
”Rosalia….sing into there…just like I do it…” Bruno told his daughter holding up the microphone for her. He started to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star into the mic watching her intently as she stared at him trying to figure out what he was doing.”Just like the way I do it…” he repeated holding it up to her. She took it from him.
”I can do it, daddy.” she responded. ”I want to hear me!” she exclaimed. ”Press the bu-onnn.” Bruno reached over pressing the button pointing to her.
”One more time, mi amor…” he told her.
”I want to sing something else!” she told him.
”Go ahead..sing whatever you want to Rosie.” he told her.
”But press it, dadddyyy. I want to listen!” she told him.
”Okay, okay…smartie pants. I’m recording it.” he looked at her singing the song he sang to her when she had a hard time falling asleep. She is so adorable. I wish Marla could see this. She would die. He thought to himself watching her sing. She sang into the mic for at least five minutes –nothing of substance but it made her happy so he let her keep going. She finally ran out of breathe sighing heavily the same way Marla did when he was done with a hard task. He laughed at her taking the mic from her hand. ”Okay, Rosalia…you can’t tell your mom about this. This is for your birthday…” he told her.
”Te prometo, daddy.” she answered running out of the room.
”Rosie…what did you all do today?” Marla asked her sitting on the floor with her daughter who was playing with leggos.
”We recorded a song for…” she started to say.
”Rosalia! That’s a secret!” Bruno told them.
”Oh..a secret?” Marla asked.
”Yeah. Shhh. You haven’t heard anything about it.” Bruno told her as the doctor came out into the waiting room to get them.
”How are you, Miss Rosalia?” the doctor asked tapping her knees and waving his hands at her.
”I got to sing with my dad today!” she said excitedly.
”Oh..you did? What did you sing?” he asked her.
”I sang a song for my mommyyyyy….” she told him.
”She can’t keep a secret, Bruno…” Marla leaned over to tell her husband.
”She gets it from her mother.” Bruno punched her in the side.
”Ouch.” Marla responded.
”Rosalia hasn’t had any other seizures?” Dr. Reisch asked.
”She had a small one Tuesday morning.” Marla answered.
”She did?” Bruno asked.
”My mom noticed it while she was watching tv. She slept most the day…” Marla explained.
”Oh…yeah. You told me that.” Bruno answered remembering the brief and hostile phone conversation they had earlier in the week. But this will make it better. He thought to himself.
”Okay..let’s keep things the way they are. She’s a bit tired but you don’t feel like you’re losing her personality at all, do you?” the doctor asked.
”No…but it has only been a few weeks.” Marla answered taking control of the conversation. ”Right, Bruno?”
”Yeah…she’s fine. She falls asleep a lot more easily…but she is kind of..like her tantrums.” Bruno recalled the past evening.
”Bruno..that’s just her. She does that all the time. You’re just not here when it happens.” she explained.
”Let’s leave everything the way it is and we’ll see you guys in a month.” Dr. Reisch said picking Rosie up walking her out the door. Bruno and Marla walked behind each other. He took her hand walking down the long hallway.
”I’m sorry I was mean in there.” she told him.
”You’re right. I don’t know.” Bruno answered in a sad tone.
Marla turned around hitting her phone to turn off her alarm feeling Bruno’s arm around her as she turned around.
”Hey…do you know what we were doing 3 years ago?” he whispered in her ear.
”I was about to kill you.” she told him.
”Oh, Mar. I love you.” he laughed kissing the back of her head as they both heard Rosie run into the bedroom.
”It’s my birthdaaayyyy!” she sang to them jumping on the bed followed by the dog barking at all the noise.
”Tippie….shut up!” Marla yelled getting out of the bed watching Bruno pick up Rosalia from the bed carrying her out into the living room.
”What do you want for breakfast baby doll?” Bruno asked his daughter.
”I want the brown pancakes!” she yelled running into the kitchen where he was standing.
”The chocolate ones?” he asked confused. Marla nodded her head.
”Okay then. Let’s make you pancakes.” he answered putting her in the middle of the empty island in the middle of their large kitchen.
”Bruno…make sure she doesn’t fall….” Marla said holding her hand as she handed her daughter her medicine. ”Take that, Rosie.”
”But I don’t want to.” Rosie answered. ”I’m sleepy.” she said stretching her arms acting out her feelings. Oh my god. My 3 year old is a drama queen. Marla thought to herself.
”Hang on…” Marla ran to their bathroom getting her medicine. ”Look…I’ll take mine at the same time. On the count of three, okay?” she said grabbing Bruno’s coffee sitting on the counter.
”Hey!” he said grabbing the cup from her. ”That’s mine.” he responded. Marla licked the edge of the cup taking it from him.
”Mine now.” she answered/
”Ugh. Fine. You win.” he kissed her on the cheek walking back to the oven.
”Ready, Rosalia?” she asked. Rosie nodded her head watching her mother put her pills in her mouth. ”1….2….ready? 3!” she said placing the pills in her mouth at the same time her daughter did. After swallowing the pulls she picked Rosalia up walking her to where Bruno was cooking. She put her hand in the dark mixture tasting it. ”Mmmm….” she answered.
”My wife is so gross….” Bruno said taking his daughter. ”Go take a shower. It will be ready when you’re out.” Bruno told her.
”Fine.” Marla replied taking a taste of the pancake mix again walking toward the bedroom. Bruno watched Rosalia sit down next to the dog petting her. ”Rosalia…you haven’t told your secret yet, have you?” he asked her.
”Nu-huh.” she answered him.
”Are you sure?” he asked.
”Daddddyyyy….mama doesn’t know that we made her a doo-wops.” she answered him.
”Okay. Then you want to give it to her this afternoon?”
”During my party?” Rosalia asked.
”Yes, birthday girl. During your party…” he answered.
”You have to put it over there…” Marla pointed to the gazebo in the backyard directing Bruno and his brother.
”Mar…I can’t reach that high…” he told her. ”The kids are going to be playing limbo.” She started laughing at him practically rolling over taking a hold of a small ladder they had brought out.
”Here…” she told him handing him the ladder avoiding eye contact knowing that she was going to start laughing again. ”But…I love you all the….oh god. I can’t stop laughing.” she laughed. He set the ladder down grabbing her playfully leaning in toward her ear.
”You know what they say about short boys right?” he asked her. She pulled away from his embrace starting to laugh again.
”They spend a lot of time getting their pants altered?” she asked.
”No. ” Bruno winked at her. ”I’ll tell you later tonight.” he told her seductively.
”Oh god. Quit flirting, please. You don’t want another baby.” Jamie answered them standing on the ladder to fix the Happy Birthday Rosie banner over the gazebo.
Marla finished getting ready for the birthday party welcoming all the children and parents. She barely sat down making sure everything was perfect. The cake was a bright purple and pink with a unicorn on it. The children ran around playing with the balls and jumping in the small bounce house they had rented. Close to the end of the festivities Marla got everyone around in a circle to open the presents. Rosie picked up all the presents herself leaving a small box strategically placed in the middle of the table. ”Why isn’t she picking that one?” she asked Bruno.
”Don’t question her madness, Marley.” he answered her kissing her head. What has he done? She thought to herself watching Rosalia pick up the small box.
”Mommmm…this one is for you!” she screamed waving the box.
”But it’s not my birthday…” she told her daughter. ”You open it.”
”Go open it, Marla. ” he nudged her on the side.
She stood up sitting down next to Rosalia. She ran her fingers along the wrapping paper thinking about the baby shower she had had years ago. She had been sitting in exactly the same place looking at similar smiling faces. She watched Bruno get up holding a cd player. What the fuck is he doing? She continued to think She opened the small box seeing a beautifully designed cd jewel case that said For Marla. ”It’s a doo-wops, mama.” Rosalia told her.
”It is?” she asked knowing her daughter was referring to a new cd. Marla handed Bruno the cd waiting to hear it. So that’s what he did…She watched him press the play button hearing Rosalia singingTwinkle Twinkle Little Star in her soft melodic voice that had the same sweet tone that Bruno’s baby voice did. She felt herself about to cry. ”Oh, Rosie! You have such a pretty voice!” she said picking her up kissing her all over.
”Eww…” Rosie said wiggling out her mother’s arms over to the cd. ”This one, daddy…” she demanded pressing the button several times. Everyone listened to the start of the song, a soft piano mixed with a slow drum beat. They had never heard that song. And then she started to cry. It was too much. He talked about the poem she recited the first day they met, and her hair and the way she said I love you. And how proud of her she was. And finally that he couldn’t imagine his life without her. It was perfect and just what he needed to do to fix everything that had gone wrong.
Bruno watched Marla wash the big pile of dishes flipping her hair all over the place trying to find the exact right place for it so it wouldn’t get in her way.
”That’s why we should have had the party at Chuckie Cheese..” he told her hugging her from behind holding her hair for her as she washed the dishes.
”Please. If there was another Hernandez birthday party at that Chuckie Cheese they would have made you buy the place. This was perfect, Bruno.” she told him continuing to wash the dishes trying to ignore his fingers through her hair. He took her hand where she held onto a hair tie. ”Stooopp…it’ll crease. That’s why it’s not up right now.”
”But then I can’t do this…” he told her putting her hair in a high ponytail kissing her neck.
”Bruno….stop…I can’t finish the dishes if you do that to me. Geez.” she whined.
”But you wanted to know what short boys, right?” he asked her in a depressing voice. She turned around turning off the water wiping her soapy hands on his shirt getting him slightly wet.
”What do they say, Bruno Mars?” she asked him.
”They make the bed rock.” he laughed at her kissing her gently.
”They do not say that, baby.” Marla rolled her eyes at him. Her practicality is so hot. He thought to himself. She wrapped her arms around his neck looking into his eyes not breaking eye contact. ”Brunz….”
”Yeah?” he asked.
”Today is my favorite day of the year.” she told him kissing his cheek pulling away from him waiting for him to make the next move.
”I bet I know why.” he told her.
”Why?” she asked him.
”Because it’s the one day when we always have sex.” he smiled against her forehead.
”No. That’s not it.” she answered him speaking softly as he carried her into the living room where Rosalia was sleeping on top of her new giant stuffed frog that Jamie had bought her. ”It’s the one day when I know our daughter will always be happy.” she said sentimentally.
”Damnit Marla…” he pulled away from her.
”What?” she asked confused.
”I was trying to turn you on and you got all sentimental and shit.” he answered.
She burst out laughing at him almost falling on the floor. He picked her up watching the tears of laughter fall from her cheek. ”Marla…don’t wake her up….” he said as she wrapped her arms around her neck playing with the small curls near his hairline. She felt him pull the hair tie out of her hair. She watched it fall to the ground not bothering to pick it up. He pushed her hair to the right side kissing her neck running his fingers along her lacey t-shirt. She felt herself getting tingly as she moved her arms along his waist placing her fingers in the belt loops of his jeans pulling herself closer to him. She let out a heavy sigh feeling his fingers go up her shirt making her laugh again.
”Stop it. Stop it…I’m….” she stopped feeling him against her. She moved her legs in between his rubbing her feet against his leg making him return the same sigh she let out earlier. She moved her upper body away from him looking at him. ”Take off my clothes.” she demanded. Oh. We’re going to do it this way? He thought.
”Okay…but you didn’t tell me how…” he smirked picking her up sitting her on the edge of the bed. He placed his fingers along the bottom of her shirt kissing her stomach lightly. He felt her body get tense.Wow…I should hurry before she losses this…He pulled the shirt over her head leaning down to kiss her deeply but gently on the lips pushing her down onto the bed placing his fingers along her baby blue bra dropping it on the side of the bed. She pulled on his plaid shirt bringing him closer to her then ripping it off of him kissing her as the shirt met her bra. Bruno pushed up the short denim skirt she was wearing running his hand along her thighs touching her slowly.
”Bruno….” she cried out his name as the other hand moved up to her stomach. She grabbed his t-shirt digging into his back. ”Make love to meeee….pleaseee….” she responded to his touch. ”Please….Bruno…..oh….Bruno…pleaseeee….” she started to lift up his shirt. He moved his head down to let her take off his shirt. After his shirt found its place near her bra and his button up shirt he moved up on top of her. She held onto his belt loops moving her hands to his pants. She could feel his lips against her collar bone turning her on even more. Shit. No. Not now…not now….she sighed heavily loosening her body moving her hands away from the waistband signaling to him that something wasn’t going right.
”I can go slower…” he told her. ”Or faster…Marla….Mar?” he asked looking up at her.
She shook her head closing her eyes. He jumped up quickly knowing exactly what was going to happen. He picked her up placing her on the floor putting her shirt on her. ”Hang in there, baby…it’ll be okay…it’ll be okay…” he whispered in her ear. Damnit. But I won’t. He said looking down at his body.Damnit. ”It will be okay….” he held her hand gently as she started to shake. ”I wish I could fix this….” he said to himself laying his head on her chest as she stopped seizing.
Shoot. Bruno thought to himself moving his head off of Marla’s chest remembering that they had left Rosie on the floor in the living room. He got up, rubbed his eyes and walked into the living room to see that she had moved onto the couch with the tv still on, now playing music videos. He picked her up gently making sure not to wake up his now 3 year old daughter. He positioned her perfectly on his chest stepping over the toys that scattered the floor reaching for the remote to turn off the TV. He stopped hearing an old familiar song on the television- Just the Way You Are. He sat down on the couch still holding his daughter to critique the video. I should of worn something different. My hat didn’t fit right there. She doesn’t look into me….the end wasn’t good…I don’t know how this even became popular…he started to doubt himself. Standing up as the video started to end he heard Marla’s steps from the other side of the room.
”Bruno…” she said softly looking at him still hurt from the events of an hour ago. She held out her hands to take Rosie to bed. He shook her head pointing to her still shaking legs. ”I’m fine.” she told him.
”You can help me, baby.” he told her walking into Rosie’s bedroom placing her gently on the bed. Marla reached over Bruno’s arm to cover her. She leaned down to kiss her daughter on the head moving aside for Bruno to do the same. ”Good night, Birthday Girl…” he whispered to her taking Marla away from the room with him. ”Come on. Let’s go to bed.” he told her taking her hand leading her across the house.
”Bruno…I don’t remember what happened.” she admitted. I always remember. ”The last thing I remember was giving her the frog…after that..nothing.” she threw her hands in the air confused. ”All I know is that my whole body hurts.” she laid down on her stomach being over dramatic.
”It was scary…but it always is, Marley…” he replied laying down next to her rubbing her back. ”I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.”
”Bruno…” she turned her head facing him. ”This hasn’t happened in a really long time…two in less than a month? I don’t understand it.”
”I don’t want to leave you when you’re like this.” he looked into her eyes trying not to cry.
”Like what?” she asked him.
”I was so worried about you when your mom called…and then this happened. And Rosie…I don’t want to even think about her getting sick again…It frightens me.” he admitted.
”Bruno…don’t say that.” she responded touching his face. ”Please. It just makes me sad to think that I do this to you…I do this….” she repeated.
”I don’t know what I would do if I lost you, Marley…I don’t know what I did before I had you. To think of losing you…for any reason…I just..I don’t know what I would do.” he admitted.
”Oh my god.” she answered him getting up from the bed to put on her pajamas. ”You’re not going to lose me to this, Bruno. Good lord. Quite over reacting.” she tried to laugh at him. I don’t want to either. She thought to herself.
”But Marley…” he sat up in the bed watching her get dressed. ”The doctor said even ten minutes could cause horrible brain damage.”
She shot him a dirty look getting back into bed with Bruno who was still dressed. ”Bruno…do you know how rare that is? That someone will forget everything when they have a seizure? It’s like a point zero zero zero zero percent chance of that happening. Can we please just forget about it and when I wake up sore tomorrow you get me ice like you always do?” she asked him.
”I guess….” he answered laying his head on her back. ”But at least let me tell you that I love you before you go to sleep.”
Marla decided it was in everyone’s best interest to go to her doctor again to figure out why she was getting sick so often. Nothing had changed, said the doctor. It’s just the stress of work and family. To make her feel better he switched her medication and increased the dosage. It was a new medication she had never tired before, but was willing to try it. It can’t be that bad. She thought to herself as she popped the first few pills sitting next to her equally drugged daughter. Bruno was gone for two days- the shortest possible time he wanted to be away from Marla after that weekend. They went to the Grammy’s without any trouble, but hurried home after she said she felt a little dizzy at an after-party. He was so worried. Marla thought it was sweet for a few days, but then realized she wasn’t his 3 year old daughter telling him that she could take care of herself, causing a small argument that resulted in screaming and yelling for a few minutes and then each of them saying they were sorry to each other. It was so typical for them, until it wasn’t.
”Hey…” Marla wandered into Bruno’s small room that he used as a studio stopping at the door frame.
”Hey sexy..what’s going on?” he asked spinning around in his chair holding a pen.
”I’m going to go to bed. I just wanted you to know.” she told him turning her heals around looking at him with a smile.
”Mar…” he stopped her from turning.
”Come listen to this…?” he asked her holding the paper in his hand.
”Can I listen to it tomorrow? I’m so tired.” she responded.
”Please?” he asked again. ”I’m just going to sing it at the top of my lungs until you come and listen to it…” he started humming loudly waiting for her to come into the room.
”Fine..but only because Rosie is asleep…” she answered his childish antics sitting on the edge of the chair where he was sitting. He put his arm around her pulling her down onto the chair with him. She laid her head on his chest waiting for him to start.
”I’ve got nothing. I just wanted you to come sit with me.” he told her triumphantly.
”Damn. I really am going to bed.” she said trying to get out of the chair. ”Brunnnoooo…I have a training tomorrow downtown. I have to go to bed…”
”Fine.” he said letting go of her waist. She turned around kissing him on the head going back into the bedroom.
”Good night, Bruno Mars.” she told him as she walked away from the room. He turned back around in his chair hitting his head against the table. I can’t think of anything.
”Rosie…come here…I have your cereal…” Marla called her daughter early the next morning. ”Dang…” Marla exclaimed watching the cereal fall out of her hands.
”Let me clean momma…” Rosalia said running to her mother who started yelling at the dog for eating the cereal. Where is Bruno when I need him? She thought to herself seeing her daughter run to her aid.
”Hang on, mama…we need a broom…” Marla told Rosie going into the pantry holding 1 gallon carton of milk in her other hand. She held onto the door suddenly jumping watching the milk fall as well.What the heck? She thought to herself looking at the pile of milk giving up as the dog licked up the almost half of the carton of milk. ”Ugh…what a day…” she sighed getting the small broom handing it to her daughter who proceeded to spread the mess around the big kitchen floor. Marla continued to soak up the milk on the floor suddenly feeling her head fall. She lifted it up shaking it off as just being tired. She finished cleaning up the mess running into the bedroom to get her shoes. ”Damnit…” she said under her breath watching the shoes fall on the wooden floors of the bathroom.
”Marley? Are you okay?” he asked jumping out of the bed to see her sitting on the edge of the bath tub putting on her shoes.
”I’m fi….” she started falling toward him. He grabbed her inches before she fell onto the floor. Holding her in his arms he placed her in the same place as she was just days ago.
”Mamaaaa….” Rosie came into the bedroom holding her shoes. ”I can’t tie them.” she told her father. ”Why’s she like that?” she asked looking at her mother almost about to cry. Marla had never had a seizure in from of her daughter. ”Mommmaaaa….stooooppp! It will be okay!” she said laying down on her to hug her.
”Rosalia…come here for a second…” Bruno asked in a quiet tone holding out his arms still holding Marla’s hand as her body began to slowly stop shaking.
”She’ll be okay…go watch Dora for a little bit okay?” he asked her.
”No. I want mom to be okay. Make her okay!” she cried watching her mother shake even more. What the hell? She usually stops….Bruno looked up at the clock on the wall realizing she had been in the same position for more than ten minutes.
”Come with me, Rosalia…” he said in a firm voice running to the kitchen to call an ambulance.
Bruno sat in the corner of the hospital room watching all the nurses and doctors poke at her. I’ll never leave you, Marla. Never. Lisa, her brother’s wife sat next to him holding his hand.
”She’ll be okay, Bruno.” she told him trying to reassure him.
”It’s been three days…how do we know she’ll be okay? What if she wakes up and doesn’t remember anything? That’s what scares me the most. That she will wake up and not know me.” he answered walking over to her holding her hand. ”It’s not this that I worry about…it’s how long it’s been…” he laid his head on her shoulder hoping his touch would wake her up.
Sylvia walked into the room looking at Bruno making a sad face at him. ”Your daughter needs you, Bruno. Go home. We’ll call you if anything changes…please.” she said touching his arm. He stood up kissing Marla on the head hoping that her eyes would open. Please, Marla…please…he thought walking out of the room.
He got in the car laying his head on the steering wheel trying to put himself together. He looked over to the passenger seat on the car noticing her lip gloss laying in the middle of the seat.
”Marla…I need you…I need you so badly…I can’t do anything without you…” he said through his tears. He picked up the lip gloss finding some hair strands next to it. He left the lip gloss running the two hair strands through his fingers. ”Come back to me.” he repeated driving to his sister’s house to pick up his daughter. He opened the door lightly seeing Rosalia sitting next to his sister playing with a hula skirt and flowers. ”You’re beautiful, Rosie…but why are you still awake sweetheart?” he asked watching her run over to him hugging him.
”I wanted to see you today.” she told him not letting go of him. ”Is mommy home? I miss momma.” she told him as he sat down on the couch still holding her in his arms.
”I do too, baby doll. Can we go home?” he asked her.
”Brunito….stay here tonight…you look horrible. Tippie’s here too and you have no food at home.” Jamie told him watching Rosie’s head fall on his chest. He shook his head.
”We have to go home.” he told her feeling his phone ring. ”Will you take her?” Bruno asked handing her to his sister.
”You’re staying here.” she told him firmly.
”Fiona?” Bruno asked.
”She’s waking up, Bruno.” she told him. ”Not all the way…but she squeezed her mom’s hand and was able to answer the questions with her toes. ”
”I’ll be there in five minutes.” he told Marla’s best friend.
”Thank you, sissy.” Bruno said hugging her as he practically ran out the front door.
”Bruno!” Sylvia cried hugging him. ”She’s almost awake…” she told him. ”Sit down…” she told him. He did as he was told touching her hand.
”Marla…” he leaned down near her ear. ”I miss you….Mar?” he asked looking into her eyes squinting open. Her eyes darted between her mother, father, brother, sister in law and back to Bruno.
”Who the hell is he and why is he telling me he misses me?” she asked pulling her hand away from him cringing from the pain.
”No, really..who is he?” she asked as Fiona drug him away from her. His look of confusion and concern were indescribable.
”Mrs. Hernandez….do you know what day it is?” her doctor asked her.
”Are you in the right room? That’s not my last name…”Marla said using the same confused tone.
”Gonzales…” Bruno said under his breath.
”Miss Gonzales…what day is it today?”
”It’s…it’s…March 14th…” she said looking up at the tv.
”What year, ma’am?” he asked her again.
”2007.” she answered matter of factly.
”What is the last thing you remember?” he asked her again.
”I was working on my paper…I needed to finish it…where’s Aaron?” she asked.
”Mar….he’s gone…” her mother spoke up.
”But why? What an asshole.”
”Ha…yeah…” Fiona said to herself.
”Fiona! Stop! Did he already go to DC? I want to talk to him!” she yelled.
”Miss Gonzales…you had a pretty rough seizure a few days ago…” the doctor told her.
”Obviously if my boyfriend can’t even be here.” she snapped. ”Someone give me the phone…” Marla said demanding the phone.
”Marla…stop…” Bruno said in a quiet tone. ”Please.”
”Who are you? Seriously. I know who everyone else is….mom?”
”Marla…just please listen to us and don’t think we’re crazy…” her mother answered.
”Miss Hernandez…it’s March 14, 2015…” the doctor answered.
”Oh my god..I’m not Miss Hernandez. What the hell? I didn’t get married over night. And to a Hernandez? God. Really?” she said in an even meaner tone. She’s never this mean…Bruno thought to himself.
”What do we do?” Sylvia asked the doctor.
”It should come back, soon.” he answered her writing down something on her file. ”Marla can you answer some questions for me?”
”I can try…” she answered looking at Bruno again. A fedora? I would never date anyone with a fedora…although he does have a pretty smile..who is he?
”Can you tell me your date of birth?” he asked
”November 13, 1985.” she answered.
”And can you tell me about your family?” he asked again.
”Umm…my mom, my dad, my brother…and he just asked Lisa to marry him….wait…you’re married! That ring!” Marla said looking at her sister in law’s hand suddenly caught off guard by her own hand.
”Wait…what is this?” she asked looking at her small diamond band on her hand.
”Marla…it is 2015…you’re married and you have a daughter…and that’s your husband, Bruno…” the doctor told her.
Bruno smiled at her trying not to scare her.
”I’m sorry..you’re not my type…how did this happen?” she asked. ”If we have a three year old and I was supposed to….oh god…”
Bruno pulled out his phone handing her a picture of the three of them at Rosalia’s birthday party.
”Oh my god….she’s gorgeous.” Marla gasped. ”At least we had pretty babies.” she handed the phone back to him. ”I just…when will I remember all of this? That’s so much to just forget….who are you?” she asked touching Bruno’s arm looking at his tattoos. Really? she thought to herself.
”Marla…I’m Bruno…” he answered her. ”We met at one of my sister’s fundraisers….”
”Who is your sister? Did I know her before?” she asked.
”No..I don’t think so, baby…” he answered her. She looked over at her family starting to leave the room.
”Where are you going? I don’t know him…” she pleaded. ”He has all these tattoos..and he wears a fedora…who the hell does that?” she asked. ”I bet that one on his arm is like a gang symbol or something….”
”Marla…” her mother started to laugh at her. ”No. You’ll be safe. Just listen to him.”
”Who’s your sister, Bruno?” she asked again.
”Jamie…” he took a hold of her phone flipping through the pictures finding a picture from one of his family gatherings. She was standing next to Jamie and Tiara pulled into the picture laughing. He pointed to each person telling her about them.
”It’s all so lovely…but…I don’t know..I don’t know any of those people…” she said trying not to cry. ”I’m so sorry….Bruno…”
”Marla…it’s okay…” he said touching her face. Oh…he has the softest skin…and he smells so good…she thought to herself. He does smell familiar…
”Bruno..what type of body wash do you use?” she asked him.
”I don’t know..whatever you buy me.” he answered her. ”You said it smelled really good one day….”
”It does smell good.” she told him trying to smile. ”Oww…” she cringed feeling the iv in her hand.
”Wait..stay right there…” he said moving it a little bit to the left. ”Better?”
”Yeah..I can’t even feel it.” she answered. ”Do you always do that?” she asked.
”Yeah…it always moves to the right. You gotta push it a little so you don’t feel it. You told me that the first time this happened…”
”Oh…” she answered. ”Bruno…what do you do?”
”I’m a musician.” he answered her.
”I married a musician?” she asked shocked.
”Yeah. Crazy, huh?” he smiled at her.
”But you’re not one of those like…I’m going to be famous one day but I’m really a waiter musicians are you?”
She made him start to laugh. His laugh…it’s familiar..I want to remember it. I want to remember everything…”No, Marla. We do pretty well for ourselves.” he answered her.
”But…would I know anything you sing?” she asked. 2008…hmm…he thought to himself. He mentally counted back trying to remember the lyrics to Long Distance. ” Now the minutes feel like hours and the hours feel like days..”
”While I’m awaaayyyy…” she sang back to him. ”I like that song…but that’s Brandy, Bruno.”
”Well, yeah. She sang it…but Phil and I wrote it…” he explained to her.
”I don’t believe you.” she told him.
”Hang on…” he started typing into his phone looking for the video. He handed her the phone letting her watch it.
”Oh…you look like a baby…” she told him pausing it where he was playing the piano.
”I was a baby…”
”What did you do after that?” she asked him typing Bruno into the search. ”Ohmygod….” she said scrolling through covers and interviews. ”These are all you…”
”Yeah. They are.” he said taking the phone from her. ”I don’t want to ruin it all for you.” he smiled. ”You can’t look at all of them. Then you won’t like me.”
”I’m sure I will. I was wrong. You are my type.” she answered him closing her eyes. ”Bruno…I still hurt. Can I sleep? Maybe when I wake up I’ll remember everything.”
”Go to sleep, Marley. I’ll be here with you when you wake up.” he said kissing her head lightly.
She closed her eyes replaying the familiar song in her head. He does know me well if he could remember that I liked that song. She drifted into a light sleep finding herself laying on the ground of an unfamiliar room. Her eyes were closed and she was thinking of a poem. She started saying the poem in a melodic tone.
”Marla…your beautiful.” she heard Bruno’s voice next to her.
”What?” she asked.
”What was that?” he asked her.
”It was a Spanish poem.” she answered him turning toward him looking into his deep brown eyes.
”It was almost as beautiful as you…” he answered her repeating the words she had said out loud. She returned his smile leaning in toward him laying her head on his head.
”Marla…I won’t ever leave you…” she heard his voice again singing something that sounded familiar but she couldn’t place to her.
”Bruno…” she woke up feeling his head on her shoulder.
”Yeah?” he asked.
”I’m trying to remember. I want to remember everything. It’s all so perfect.”