“Lucy! What do you think about school? Is it fun?” Evie asked her daughter sitting across the table from her.
“I don’t like it. I have to read. I want to be in the pool.” She said jumping up running to her bed room.
“Lucy! Get back here. You are not going swimming right now. Do you remember what Bruno said about swimming in the dark?” Evie asked walking into her daughter’s bedroom seeing her digging through her clothes to find a swiminsuit.
“He said that about the sharks at the beach, mom. There are no sharks in the pool.” Her 6 year old daughter told her rolling her eyes. Evie moved to grab the swimming suit from her daughter.
“You are not swimming tonight. We have to read your story and do your math homework.” She told her daughter.
“Lucy Shay!” Evie exclaimed. “Walking out of that room means you are grounded this weekend.” Evie said plainly watching her daughter walk past her pushing her mother out of the way.
“Well, it’s not going to be any fun sittinf in your swimming suit and Mimi’s house when we’re all at Eric’s house swimming.” Evie told her daughter as she walked by picking up the dishes.
“I’ll just ask Bruno.” Lucy said to herself. “He always says yes.”
“Right now.” She said pointing to the bedroom seeing Lucy not moving a muscle.
“It will be the next two weekends if you don’t go right now.” Evie sternly replied.
“But that’ Natalie’s birthday!” Lucy yelled.
“I know. It will be sad missing her birthday party.” Evie said walking back to Lucy’s room holding the door for her as she walked in her room crying.
“6 minutes. Stay there for 6 minutes. Then we’ll talk.” Evie answered walking back to the living room looking at the door hoping that Bruno would walk through the door. She knew he wasn’t that night. He was in New York for a week finishing some things on his album. She looked over at the kitchen seeing an empty pill bottle. She stood up, looking at it. It had been three days since the therapist. But I need it. It will make me feel better. It will take the edge off. It will make it all better. She thought to herself picking up the bottle shaking it hearing two pills at the bottom. It’s just enough.
“Two more minutes.” She yelled back at her daughter hearing her phone ring. “Bruno?” she asked in a shaky voice.
“Eve. Put it down. Go get Lucy. Put her to bed and then call me back. We’ll talk about it. Okay?” he instructed her.
About an hour later she laid down in the bed wearing one of Bruno’s sweaters and a pair of shorts grabbing the phone to call him. “Bruno….why am I like this?” she asked him after he picked up the phone.
“Please don’t tell me I’m amazing and I’ve overcome everything. I just need to know that I’m a mess.” She told him. “And I’ve forgotten everything I’ve studied. There is no way I’m taking the bar in two weeks.”
“Eve. Take it in June. There’s no need to rush it.” He told her.
“But Bruno.. I already have the test and I have a seat.”
“Then wait. That’s why the album isn’t out yet. It has to be perfect. And that’s why we haven’t gotten married yet. It has to be perfect. And that’s why we’re where we are right now.” He explained.
“Yes, Eve. Because it’s perfect.” He answered. “Baby….go drink a glass of water, throw out those two pills that are left and go to bed. I’ll be home in a few days. I love you. You are strong and you’re going to kick this things ass.”
Evie sat at the kitchen table watching Lucy struggle with her cereal the next morning. She was trying to more independent. Evie was going to let her make a mess and learn how to clean it up if she had to. “Are you okay, Lucy?” Evie asked her as she jumped up in the fridge to get the big gallon milk jug.
“I can do it.” Lucy told her mother walking to the counter. Evie sighed holding onto a digital copy of the newspaper. Nothing important was going on, and then she found an article title that stood out: Drug addicted mothers going to prison after child’s birth. She gasped reading over the article that described an increase in mother’s being sent to prison after their babies were born- whether they showed signs of withdrawal or not. “Noooo…..” she said to herself seeing Lucy walk to the table with an overflowing bowl of Kix. “Are you going to be able to finish all of that?” Evie asked her.
“Yes mom.” She said to her mother seeing Geronimo sitting under Lucy’s feet waiting for the milk to fall.
“Are you going to share with him? Because it seems like he thinks he’s getting some.” Evie told Lucy.
“No mommmm. I gave him some earlier.” Lucy answered throwing a few pieces to him.
“Lucy! Come on! He’s going to be like bigger than me in a few months jumping on you for cereal. That won’t be fun.” Evie explained to her daughter.
“Oh momma. He won’t be that big.” Lucy sighed taking her half full bowl of cereal to the sink.
“Go get your shoes. We need to get you to school.” Evie told her daughter/
“But mommm…I don’t need to go. It’s Thursday.” Lucy whined walking to the bedroom to get her backpack.
“But tomorrow is Friday, Friday….” Evie told her daughter dancing as they walked out the door.
Evie drove Lucy to school saying good bye not quite sure what she was going to do next. Since everything had happened her days were long and boring without studying for the bar. I can take it. I can do it. She thought to herself as she started to get closer to the house. I’m going to take that test. She told herself as she pulled into the driveway. She got out of the car counting on her fingers. 2 weeks. I can do it. She walked into the room grabbing the books she was studying earlier in the summer flipping to her bookmark starting to read again. She frantically grabbed a highlighter and her flash cards losing herself in the information.
“Eve!” Bruno yelled throughout the house finding her in the bedroom with books all over the floor.
“What are you doing?” he asked her as she took a sip of a Red Bull.
“Studying. I’m taking the test.” She told him.
Bruno pushed the books over a little sitting next to her.
“Geneva.” He paused pulling the highlighter out of her hand. “You’re not taking the bar. Stephanie said it wasn’t healthy for you to take it.”
She grabbed the highlighter from his hand uncapping it streaking a page with the pink tint. “What does she know? She didn’t pay all the money for a bar exam. She probably just had to tell someone how to make her clients cry.” Evie snapped continuing to read.
Bruno pulled the book out of her hands taking the highlighter after. “No. You’re not. Eve. Do you even know how you’re acting right now?”
“Stop being an asshole, Bruno.” She said trying to get the book from him.
“Stop! Just stop!” he yelled louder than he thought he was going to.
“Don’t yell at me, Bruno!” she yelled back getting up from the bed grabbing the books from him. He walked quickly behind her taking her hand pulling her back into the room.
He pulled her toward him hugging her tightly. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Eve. Please forgive me. I’m so worried about you.”
She shook her head looking at him trying not to cry. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t want the way I felt to go away. Everything was so perfect. And then they’re taking babies away from mom’s like me…..” she started to sob sitting on the bed watching Bruno look at her concerned. “They could take Lucy again….they could take her Bruno….because of this…what if Christina calls?”
He held onto her letting her cry not responding to her manic statements. They stood there for some time when Bruno glanced at the clock near the bed seeing it was almost 3 o’clock. He moved his arms grabbing her to lay her down in the bed. She looked up at him still crying. He leaned down putting a small blanket on her wiping the tears off her red cheeks then kissing her eyelids. “Go to sleep, Geneva. I’ll go get Lucy.” She didn’t move falling asleep quickly and sleeping for what seemed to be days. She was waken- up by singing in the front of the house with the voices coming toward her.
“Dad….” She heard Lucy start to say as she saw Bruno’s hand close the door a little. “What’s wrong with my mom? Is she okay?”
Bruno stopped Lucy bending down to look at Lucy. She looks like Evie when she’s worried. She wrinkles her nose and her eyes get big…”She’ll be better later, Luc. Let’s let her sleep.”
“Did she get poisoned? She looked sick the morning.” Lucy said referring to food poisoning that her aunt and cousin had gotten earlier in the year.
“Yeah. She got poisoned. She’ll be better though.” Bruno sighed looking in the bedroom at his fiancé spread out on the bed as he walked Lucy back to the living room. “Let’s do your homework, Lu-lu.” He told her grabbing her backpack.
Bruno glanced at the bedroom every few minutes waiting for Evie to come out of the bedroom half awake and now depressed. It was a cycle she had gone through. She had told him exactly how it worked when she was in high school. He was prepared for it, but it didn’t make fighting through everything with her any easier. Bruno helped Lucy finish her homework making them some chicken strips and macaroni and cheese for dinner.
“Bruno…can I take this to mom?” she asked looking at the extra food.
“After you go to bed I’ll take it to her, okay?” Bruno answered.
“Okay.” She answered finishing the meal telling Bruno about what she did at school that day and the things that had happened while he was gone. She told him her side of the pool story making him laugh.
“Lucy…let’s get you in the bath tub. You’re smelly.” He said lifting up her arm. “Ewww.” He led her to the bathroom helping her take a bath putting on her pajamas and reading her a story. She fell asleep on his arm making it fall asleep. “Ouch….” He whispered hearing the dog come to his rescue.
“Shhh. Everything is fine.” He said to the dog walking into the bedroom seeing Evie still asleep. She had taken a shower and put on her pajamas, but was sound asleep. He did the same thing laying in the bed next to her. He put his arms around her kissing the back of her head somehow waking her up.
Bruno looked at his phone sitting across from him at the studio. Locked in studio until I finish.He thought to himself as he picked it up worrying about Evie.
“Stephanie?” he asked.
“Oh. Bruno. How are you?” she asked him.
“She’s not doing well, at all. And I want to fix her. It hurts me. Help me fix her, please.” He told her.
“Tell me what’s going on, Bruno.” Stephanie responded.
“I was gone for like two weeks. I know she found some pills. I know she was trying to get better. But she slipped up a little bit….” He started to tell her the story.
“But did you ask her if she did, Bruno?” Stephanie asked him.
“I didn’t have a chance. She got all crazy before I could ask her.” He told her.
“What do you mean?” Stephanie said flipping through the papers getting to Evie’s folder.
“I came home and I couldn’t find her. I found her in the bedroom with her books. She told me she was going to take the test and nothing could stop her. She was highlighting things and was talking fast and looked really jumpy. I reiterated the conversation the three of us had but then she brought up some weird story about kids being taken away from moms who have used drugs…” he continued.
“Have you two talked about kids?” she pondered.
“Well, a little. Not like a serious conversation or anything.” He told the therapist.
“What did you all talk about?” she inquired.
“Her not being on any birth control…..but I didn’t think we had decided that we were going to try or anything…it would be a really bad idea right now…with everything that’s going on.” He told Stephanie.
“How did she handle that conversation? Was this before your trip to Hawaii?” Stephanie questioned.
“I think it was a little before….” He thought.
“So where was she emotionally then?” Stephanie asked.
“She wasn’t herself then….right?” he wondered.
“No. She wasn’t and she won’t be until she’s resolved this, Bruno. You just need to be there for her. I see her tomorrow in the morning.” She told him.
“But I didn’t tell you what happened after she said she was going to take the test…” Bruno said a little perplexed by the therapist’s thought pattern. He waited for her to respond not hearing her response. “She just broke down in tears telling me that she hated where she was and what was going on. And then she slept for like the past two days. She’s gotten up to eat and take Lucy to school. But except for that. I don’t even know if she’ll get up to see you tomorrow….” He told her.
“Evie and I will talk about it tomorrow. Okay?” Stephanie said.
Evie put on her sunglasses getting out of the car walking into the therapist’s office. She was greeted by the warm receptionist returning the smile with her very own fake smile showing her happiness. Stephanie came out giving Evie a sympathetic look leading her to her office.
“So, Miss Wilson…tell me how the last week has been.” Stephanie started the conversation. “And with the sunglasses off, please.”
Evie lowered her head taking off the sunglasses revealing bright red eyes. She sniffed a little looking up at the bubbly therapist.
“It just keeps getting worse. I’m up, I’m down, I can’t do anything right. Bruno is so good but he doesn’t deserve to deal with my shit. He can find someone better.” She said.
“Evie….I can understand your feelings. We’ve talked about your past and the things you’ve accomplished. I continue to have no reason to believe that you won’t be able to make it through this.”
“I don’t even know what I’m doing. I feel lost. What am I living for? What is my purpose? I have nothing if I don’t have law…” Evie said to her therapist. “I feel so empty. I was making it this way and then it stopped.”
Stephanie spoke to Evie about her lack of purpose and how she felt that Bruno’s ability to take care of her and Lucy scared her. She even said that she felt like she was still trying to take care of herself after Katie and Albert adopted her and her siblings. And now, now that Bruno was there and loved her and Lucy and was able to provide everything she needed she felt a little lost. She was always fighting for something and now the fight was over. And she felt like she needed to fight for something. This was her way of fighting.
“I understand.” Evie said. “I need to just let it be.”
“Yes, Ms. Wilson. Just let it be.” Stephanie smiled leading her out of the office.
After several days of sleeping and crying for reasons beyond comprehension the day of the bar exam came. Evie had been preparing herself for the day knowing that she would not be able to take the test and the fact that she had spent the money to take the test still bothered her, but Bruno told her he would help her take her mind off the test for the next three days. She rolled her eyes at his statement knowing exactly what he was thinking.
“Shut up Bruno! That’s not going to make it better!” she snapped at him.
“No, no, no. Babbbyyy…” he whined sitting down next to her at the kitchen table.
“What are you going to do to make it better?” she asked him as she finished he jumped up knowing exactly what he was going to do.
“Get your shoes, babe. Let’s go.” He said pulling her hand toward the door.
“Brunnnoooo. I just want to lay around and eat ice cream.” She whined as he pulled her laughing out the door.
“What are we doing? It’s cold.” She asked him as he started to drive with no hesitation.
“Oh…Bru..we’re going to the studio. Why are we going there?” she asked him.
“It’s going to blow your mind.” He told her.
“Blow my mind?” she questioned.
“Yes. Mind blowing.” He answered as they pulled up to the studio. He got out of the car grabbing the door for her wrapping his jacket around her. She clutched the jacket holding onto it as he opened the door to the messy studio. “Come ‘ere…” he said sitting her down in the big chair.
“What am I doing?” she inquired as he wrapped his arms around her pressing a button.
“Listening to the whole album. It’s done. All done. But I want you to hear it all before I tell anyone else that it’s done.” He told her.
She pulled his finger off the button not wanting to listen to it. “Bru, I don’t want to hear it yet. I want to wait like everyone else.”
“No. I want you to hear it.” He told her pressing the button. “You’re the most important opinion.”
She spun the chair around looking at him. “What?”
“Yeah.” He settled into the chair next to her not pressing the button yet.
“Geneva, you have no idea what you do to me. Everything. My heart beats for you and everything related to do.” He answered poetically. “I know the last few months have been shit. They really have. But I know that things are getting better for you. And this is to show you that I’m always with you.” He finished reaching over to press the play button. “This is order, so tell me if you think they should move around.”
She laid her head down listening to the songs one after another for an hour and a half straight trying to put all his hard work and effort together. He sat and watched her listen to the songs trying to figure out what she was thinking. She hates it. No, she likes it. Oh god. He thought to himself. As the last note to the last song came he moved his hand over to the button to stop the tracks. “Evie….is it good?”
“Bruno. It’s going to be absolutely amazing. Everyone is going to love it. I love it. I like the middle the best. It’s like you’re telling a story and it’s the climax.” She explained telling him how she thought the CD sounded. “And putting it on random would be like watchingAmerican Idol from Hollywood week. You’d have no idea what the fuck was going on. When you start promoting it you have to tell everyone to listen to it all the way through and not to skip.” She told him.
“That’s exactly what I was trying to do. Eve, you were one of the first people to get it the first time through.” He told her with triumph. “That’s why I love you so much.” He smiled taking her hand. “You get me more than anyone I’ve ever known. You get it. You just understand everything. And I don’t know how you do it. It’s crazy. “ he looked at her as she looked down at the floor. “Babe?”
“I’m fine. I’m fine. I can do this.” She said to herself.
“Do what?” he asked her.
“Stop fighting. I won. I don’t have anything to fight about or for anything. Everything is fine. I’ll be okay. There’s nothing else left to fight for. It’s all there. It’s all laid out and perfect. It’s my happy ending.” She told him trying not to cry.
“Evie…I know.” He said leaning over wrapping his arms around her squeezing her tightly.
“Bruno… it’s the first time I’ve felt like I can breathe. Like just breathe and not worry that something is going to happen.” She pulled away from him trying to explain how she felt. “When my mom lost her rights I felt like I would die. It was the worst feeling ever. And then even now, there are days when I don’t think my mom and dad….” She paused trying to figure out what to say again. “Katie and Albert…understand me. They tried. They still do and they did their best but they just won’t even understand everything. They were amazing. Like when this happened before. She sat with me through everything. Every single second. And they were there for Sean too. And now that’s all gone. I don’t think that I need any of it anymore. I’m done. Done. Just it’s all gone and all I need to do is live.” She sighed. “Did that make sense?” she asked him.
“I understood all of it.” He told her leaning in to kiss her.
Bruno sat down at the kitchen table watching Evie flip through her phone taking a sip of her coffee early one November morning. “Eve?” he took her hand looking into her eyes.
“Yeah?” she asked looking at him a little confused.
“Are you going to be okay when I leave?” he asked her. “Tomorrow.”
“I’m going to be fine, Bru. Please don’t worry about me anymore.” She told him. “We’ve been preparing for it. I knew it was going to happen.”
“I know…” he said calmly.
“And you pushed things back because of me. You have to go. I will be fine.” She reassured him. “Things are different now.”
He smiled at her hearing the genuine happiness in her voice. “ Okay. But just because you’re smiling at me right now.” He said standing up. “Where is Lucy?”
“I’m here…I’m here!” she ran out of her bedroom carrying a sweater and a pair of UGG boots.
“Are you ready for school?” he asked her.
“Yeeees.” She sang to him taking the granola bar her mother handed her.
“Then let’s go!” he exclaimed leading her to the car holding her backpack. He kissed the top of Evie’s head walking out the door with Lucy.
When they got in the car Bruno watched Lucy buckle her seat belt reaching for the radio controls in the back of the car. “No, no no, no.” he sang to her. “I wanna talk to you.” He said to her.
“But, Bru-daaaadddd.” She whined.
“No buts.” He told her. “I want to talk to you about the next few months.”
“You’re going on tour.” She answered him reaching for the music.
“But I want you to watch your mom.” He responded moving her hand off the music.
“Watch my mom?” she asked.
“Tell me if she cries or gets upset or gets angry, Lucy.” He held her a bright pink phone to her. “It only calls your mom, your grandparents, me and Jamie.”
“But Bruno! I want Angry Birds! Ryan lets me play that all the time!” she exclaimed grabbing the phone.
“You’ll get Angry Birds if you call me every day and tell me how mom is. Okay?” he responded.
“But I want it nowwww!” she whined.
“Alright Veruca Salt.” He said to her referring to the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factorycharacter who whined through the whole movie. “You’re not getting it now. But soon. Okay?”
“Okay.” She answered. “Bruno….” She asked him as they stopped at a red light. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you too, Lu-lu.” He told her. “But I’ll be home soon.” He told her. “And we have the calendar where you can count it down.” He said to her.
“And the prizes!” she exclaimed remembering that Evie and he had hidden small things throughout the house for her for every day that he was gone.
“And the prizes!” he exclaimed stopping to let her out of the car. She reached over hugging him tightly. Wow. This girl gets to me. He thought to himself as she moved closer to the school. She ran back to him hugging him again. One of the teachers watched the embrace smiling at them.
“Let me come with, Bruno!” she cried. He looked down at her tears. “I don’t need to go to school.” She cried again. “Pleassssseeeee.”
“Get in the car.” He told her. He waved at the teacher who knew exactly what was going on. He wouldn’t be the first or the last time someone at the snazzy private school would have a parent leave for months at a time. They had even given the children a few excused absences for events like this.
“Where are we going?” she asked him amazed by his choices.
“To the most amazing place in the world.” He laughed getting on the highway away from their house and everything they knew.