Isidora stated her case, providing valid reasons why she didn’t want to deliver a file to Xavier’s house but Anson only gave her one reason, do it because he told her to. They argued close to two hours and yet she found herself driving to deliver the file. Her father was as stubborn as a goat, much like her, she surmised. It began raining, pouring down in sheets. She hadn’t packed an umbrella to shield her from getting drenched. But by the time she pulled into Xavier’s half drive, the rain had slowed to a trickle.
She thanked the heavens for looking out for her and exited the car with the file in hand. Even through the narrow slits between the blinds, she could see the inside was dark. Isidora knocked on the door and waited…and waited. Just as she began to shove the file in the mailbox, a lock released with Xavier standing behind the screen door wild-eyed. Heavy beads of sweat dotted his face and plopped to the floor, hidden from her vision.
“Isidora?” Xavier called behind the glass, unsure whether to believe the person standing arms length away.
“I’m here to drop off a file you left at dad’s.” He looked awful, which shouldn’t have been any concern to her, except his eyes had been tormenting to look into.
“Don’t leave.” He pleaded as he opened the door.
“Don’t leave me.”
“Are you going to kill yourself?”
“Stay with me, please.” he begged. Her first mind was to leave him to his own devices, but sympathy rose in her heart. That muscle was definitely a traitorous being all by itself, yet her head kept downloading the message for her to run. Her stupid heart couldn’t turn away a person in their moment of weakness.
“This does not mean we’re friends.” Taking the lead, she slipped past him inside allowing her eyes time to adjust to the dark. Taking off her shoes, Isidora felt along the wall for a switch which led her to the kitchen. The exposure gave her enough visibility to make out a lamp resting on a glass table in the living room. Isidora swapped one light for another and sat quietly on Xavier’s sofa, staring into his eyes.
“Why don’t you go to sleep?”
“Because as soon as I turn my back, you’ll leave. I don’t want you to be gone by the time I wake up.”
“I relented because you’re mentally unstable.”
“Thank you for caring.”
“I don’t. If I had left you alone and you killed yourself, I’m sure I would be identified as the culprit.”
“Self preservation to the end.”
“To the utmost degree.” She pulled a smile from him at the strangest times. But he hated nights like this, when torrential rain fell. It only reminded him of that night that has crippled him for five excruciating years.
“There has never been a time when I haven’t strived for justice, but I’m tired. I’m broken. I can’t sleep on nights like this. The rain seems like it will never end. I’ve been fighting against drowning for five years and it hasn’t gotten any better. I thought I could save her, and I almost did. Almost. So much time wasted…she didn’t deserve to die like that.”
She didn’t know who he was referring to, but to the untrained ear or cold heart, he came off as hysterical. ‘Wrote a prescription, take two pills and call if life gets worse’, that’s what her former therapist recommend. Isidora hadn’t needed a shrink, she only went because Shilpa was concerned for her mental health. The only person who was worried about his mental safety was the shrink after Isidora flipped over every table and chair in his office.
What Xavier needed was a warm beating heart and an ear to hear, not judgement. She heard him loud and clear because she’s been broken more times than she could count. Whatever battle he was fighting, he was losing, not having the right weapons to win the war. He sat before her hunched over with his head between his hands, fighting back tears.
“Xavier, start from the beginning. Tell me what happened.”
“Don’t use that tone with me, I’m not crazy. I don’t need a shrink.”
“No, you’re not crazy, just tormented. You wanted me to stay so you may as well let me in on what’s going on with you.”
“Why, so you can use it against me?”
“That’s twice you’ve accused me of something, don’t make it a third. Stop testing my patience.”
“Your patience? You take the cake for being ill-mannered. You’re violent, unforgiving and bitter.”
“And yet toy want to get close to me. Says something else about your mental state.”
“You know what, screw you.”
“Now we’re talking. I knew you couldn’t play the gentlemen forever. So, go on, tell me how you really feel.” she taunted.
“Get out of my house!”
“So you can blow your brains out? Not a chance. Pick your poison on your own time. And just for the record, you’d do well to take your eyes off me and on to some other woman. I hear you have a squeaky clean reputation. Keep it that way. I’m the last person you’d want to get tangled up with.”
“I don’t need your advice.”
“You better listen and listen well, because that brotherhood you so highly respect will rip you to shreds once they find out you’re dating me. That’ll only compound the problems you’re currently struggling with.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Chumps like you never listen.”
“Who do you think you’re talking too? I’ve had it with your mouth. You’re going to respect me come hell or high water woman.”
“Oh? Well it seems like my work here is done. You sound pretty stable to me. Get some sleep. I’m sure you’ll be burning to meet again.” He wanted to choke her, really squeeze the life from her lungs. That ‘I got you’ smile she threw at him really got his blood boiling yet he craved to see her face once she left. He was going mad over her.
Isidora awoke later than normal with her mop of wavy black hair covering her face. Swiping it away, her ears tuned to the sound of her doorbell. Dragging herself from her bed, she trudged through the dining room and into the living space. Yanking back a curtain, Alexander stood at her front door wearing a sullen expression that she’d come to know in a short period of time. She opened to let him in and plopped on the couch.
“Did I wake you?”
“You don’t even have the decency to lie to spare my feelings.”
“Now where would be the fun in that?”
“You have such the sense of humor, Izzy.”
“I’m Izzy now? You’re moving a little too fast, kid.”
“Spare me. In all seriousness, I feel the most comfortable around you than anyone else.”
“I’ve noticed. So shall I whip up some lunch? What’s your preference?”
“Anything is fine.”
“Grilled cheese it is. And by the way, be more assertive with what you want.”
“You should have had kids. Your tone is very mom like.” he noted with a smirk. Isidora turned away, saddened by the subject of children. She could have still been a mother had it not been setup.
“What made you stop by and shouldn’t you be at work?”
“I’m the CEO of my company, I’m allowed to take off here and there.”
“I never imagined you dilly dallying around.”
“I’m going to do more of it since I somewhere to go.”
“Don’t go making your home here.” They laughed and listened to the buttered bread sizzle against the skillet.
“I’ve never told anyone what happened to me when I was a kid.”
“And you’re confident enough to share it with me?”
“You’re messed up too, that’s why I can tell you anything.”
“Well thanks Alex.”
“I know dad has been trying to get close to me and that’s the very reason why I’ve kept my life shut off from him. I don’t want him to feel guilty about the way I grew up.”
“You’re going to have to tell him some time.”
“What about you? Are you going to tell him about your life?”
“He hasn’t asked. I’m not worried about how dad will react, it won’t change the past.”
“How can you be so…okay with not being afraid of what people will think of you?”
“I’ve already been labeled damaged goods early on. I’ve already heard the worst that anyone can call me. If I listened and internalized everything people have said about me, I’d be in a mental institution. Scratch that, I’ve spent some time in the nut house, it’s not a bad place to be actually.”
“That’s not funny.”
“I wasn’t joking. It ain’t the people locked up you should keep your eyes on, it’s those walking free. One can’t appreciate freedom unless they’ve been chained and locked down by life and many of its key players. And besides, I never said I wasn’t afraid of anything, my fear is something you’d never think of.”
“Are you going to tell me about what happened to you?
“Just ask, I’m an open book. I won’t hide what I’ve done in my life, even the crazy bits, and trust me there’s a lot of them. So, whenever you’re ready, I’m all ears.”
“Before I start, I noticed the way Xavier looks at you. He likes you.”
“I don’t know where you pulled that from but throw it back. I don’t do cops. As an aside, he’s touched as well, he just doesn’t know it.”
“It’s funny, I wasn’t a fan of police before I met Xavier. I did all I could to make myself scarce in their sight. But I’ve learned to look at Xavier as a human being first rather than an authority figure.”
“Well good for you. I guess I have a lot of growing up I ain’t willing to do in that area.”
“When I was in a foster home in my early teens, a cop beat me with a stick. The couple I was staying with…the wife accused me of sexually assaulting her. The husband nearly broke my jaw. I had pretty bad bruises everywhere. When they called the cops on me, whatever happened to that cop before he got to me, released all his frustration out on me. I’m lucky to be alive today. I never did what she accused me of, she was the one who kept coming after me. I repeatedly turned her down. She waited just as good one night while her husband was working late to corner me in the bathroom…”
“She took advantage of you then blamed you to save her own neck.”
“I suppose the silver lining is that she eventually was caught. There were other foster kids she did this to and her husband caught her red-handed. Two years ago the husband and I crossed paths and told me all about it. He was very sorry for not giving me the benefit of the doubt and apologized. As for that cop, I haven’t seen him again.”
“So…do you want a wife and kids of your own after what she did to you?”
“I do but I don’t want her to have to deal with my hangups.”
“That’s what people sign-up for when they enter into any type of relationship. We all have our quirks and when I get married, my husband is going to deal with all the ones I have left.” Alex smiled, shaking his head. How in the world did he have a sister like her? “And by the way, I was abused too.”
Next part here: Full Circle
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