My story is a story of betrayal; one, after another, after another. My mother never wanted me and my father abandoned me, probably because my mother was crazy.  My grandmother, the only person I ever truly believed loved me, died a long, suffering death when I was thirteen. My mother came on to—yes, came on to, as in kissed, with tongue—my ex-husband while I was in the hospital recovering from the caesarean section which delivered my daughter. My mother testified against me and really also against the children in our divorce trial. Ex, turned out to be a smarmy liar without an ethical bone in his body. He is hell-bent on evening some score that should be long-forgotten and he doesn’t mind hurting the children to do it. That is a lot of betrayal and a lot of heartache.  That is a raging river of tears and that is only the stuff I have previously disclosed here.

I am afraid to sleep at night. I might wake winded and sweaty, my heart hammering hard in my chest. It a nightmare that has visited regularly during times of stress since I first became pregnant. It is a nightmare that incubated in the anxiety that often comes of the vulnerability inherent in parenthood. In the most recent version, the water begins to rise rapidly, catching us unaware. I am with my daughter and two of her friends.  I hold them together, clinging to a stone wall as the water rushes around us.  We are submerged for several minutes and then the water recedes again leaving everything covered in mud and smelling of decay.  My daughter is limp and she isn’t breathing. I turn her over and she vomits a geyser, chokes, and sucks in oxygen, even as she remains unconscious.  Her friends are gone. I check her pulse and leave her on her side while I search for her brothers. I find Zeep who was undoubtedly quick-thinking enough to save himself. He is already pitching in to help others.  He won’t look at me.

“Your brother?” I ask.

“He’s gone.”

The cry of anguish is what wakes me and I never want to sleep again.

It is the kind of anguish that can nearly convince a person that they will never laugh again, never even smile. It is a brand of sorrow many good people don’t understand. “…but you smile all the time,” a friend objected recently. It’s true. I do. The end of the story is mine to write and I am busy doing it. It’s actually coming along quite nicely. The kids are doing fairly well and mostly, so am I. Our lives are full and rich with meaning. I’d even say there is a good measure of happy in our ever-after.

…but? (You knew there was one.)

I have heard nothing from him since the last exchange when he confirmed that his fight arrives at Ronald Reagan National Airport at one in the afternoon. I won’t be greeting him at the airport with the jump-into-open-arms hug and deep kissing of long-parted lovers. Somehow I doubt he’ll be disappointed.

Probably, he’ll just show up at our house on Friday and knock on the door as though he has never once let the children down. We are well-prepared and well-supported. The children have each identified the people they can call if they need to talk. I have laid in a supply of dark chocolate-covered almonds. Even the living room is neatly waiting, just in case we have to invite some nice officer in for tea.

Ex is coming to town. Here’s hoping he leaves the booze alone and the drama at home! (In which case I’ll eat the almonds in celebration.)

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