This is just a piece of the fiction. For clearer understanding, catch up with the previous chapters. Kindly go to the home page, hit the search button and input IN LOVE AND WAR. Begin from IN LOVE AND WAR (which is the first chapter) and follow through according to the Roman Figures. Happy Reading!
CHAPTER NINE: Balloons of gloom
Rona yelled, running out of my room like a mad woman. She’d come to bring me some water when she found me lying in a pool of blood, fighting for my life and losing big time. My stomach was as though ravens were feeding on my uterus. I thought falling down the stair was painful, this was worst. At least, then I was unconscious throughout most of it. Not now. The cramps spread evenly to every nerve in my body and I was engulfed by it.
“What is it? What is it?” Leo queried in a hurry down the stairs.
I did it. I’d done it. I went against Leo’s wish and my husband’s. For the first time in a very long while, I thought about myself and myself only.
“Gabriella… just had an unsafe self-induced abortion.” Doctor Barley, soon after his arrival and diagnosis, broke to the family in the very tone he could have used to announce the death of a loved one.
At the sound of the doctor’s voice, I opened my eyes weakly. Although strengthless as a kitten, I could tell I was off the floor. And to an extent, I stank of blood. The entire room stank of blood. Maybe I was still wearing the same clothes I’d stained, maybe not, I couldn’t say.
“No!” Nathaniel let out a roar of dolor.
But Leo, he left the room. No sound made. Not a look at my red face. Arms folded across his chest and head poked down, he walked out.
“She’s going to be alright.” Doctor Barley answered the question no one asked, just before I closed my eyes.
I woke up to Nathaniel’s coldest face. The kind that could have shot me on sight if looks could kill. The moment he realized I was roused from sleep, he called for Rona to take care of anything I needed and got out of the room without a word to me. I deserved it. But I didn’t regret my action. No. Not yet.
“Where is Leonard?”
I inquired before anything else. To be honest, I needed absolutely nothing. Just Leo. Someone get me Leo!
Not quite sure why I was asking, “he moved out.” Rona revealed.
Was I asleep for days again?
When Rona replied, I was certain I knew where he was. In a blink, I was at the garage. I drove recklessly to the detached house he’d bought for us – our home. I let myself in, and even though he wasn’t there, I remained inside – awaiting his arrival.
With every passing hour, my heart raced like it was going to jump out of my chest. Fear gripped me so tight, it wasn’t letting go anytime soon. But I couldn’t learn to deal with it. Although my calls and messages weren’t going through, I didn’t stop trying. I couldn’t bring myself to. His social media accounts were… just gone. Nonexistent. He, possibly, deleted everything.
To the mansion, I returned at dusk and I resumed to the detached house in the morning. I continued doing that for weeks to no avail. Nathaniel wouldn’t even talk to me, so I could not ask about Leo from him. His office became his room permanently. I barely saw Amanda. She moved in with Alisha and would only come over to the house whenever she needed something. Even the employees gave me awfully weird vibes, like they were aware of what I did and judged me for it. I was the murderer, the villain who deprived Nathaniel the joy of fatherhood.
I was but a stranger in my home. Until then, I hadn’t realized what an alcazar I lived in. It made it easy to feel like an empty flask, longing to be filled.
My days were dark. Lonely were the nights. I spent most of the hours, roaming aimlessly around the house before crashing and breaking down in my new room on the first floor, drowning in my own tears and finding safety on my throw pillows.
My heart was desperate for a taste of happiness like the desert would for rain. The good memories I had with Leo were slipping away from my mind. They became insufficient as the days went by, intensifying my punishment.
And there came a demeaning silence in my life, like a long pause of torture, a stigma that wouldn’t go away. Everything became meaningless.
I could never live without Leo. If I could breathe, I was merely existing. I was falling apart minute by minute. I was screaming silently for mercy. No one heard me.
My hatred for goodbyes was most likely the reason I’d never gotten a chance at any. First, the loss of my family at the auto crash. Now, Leo’s deliberate disappearance off the face of the earth. I thought I was an excellent liar until I couldn’t bring myself to believe I was alright or going to be. Getting out of bed soon became the hardest task of the day. Nathaniel and I, as a result, didn’t see for days and he didn’t care enough to check on me. We were under the same roof, yet miles away.
At some point, I understood what it meant to be too sad to cry. It was obvious my lacrimal gland abandoned me too. Pain didn’t betray me though. With my body temperature shooting up, occasional puking, diarrhea and no one by my side, pain was there, never left for a moment.
I craved for Nana Paddy’s special healing soup. Actually, I craved for so many things, all of which were not within my reach. Leo’s touch. Leo’s smile. Leo’s tickles. Leo’s hugs. Leo’s smell. Leo’s tease. Leo’s kisses. Leo’s voice. And the list was endless. The heaviness in my heart had me in a snare. The emptiness inside of my soul was a big, black hole of nothingness. I never wished I had a friend before now but I was sure she’d leave me too because I was a selfish bastard.
Who would understand this passion, guilt and regret? I was going crazy. I was going to explode into bits. Only one thing could heal, Leo. I fell asleep into a beautiful dream where we wedded and were blessed with four children and lived on an island. Then I woke up, and reality dawned on me again.
Weeks after weeks, one would think it’d get better, it was the absolute opposite. Way more than the physical suffering as I’d grown lean from inadequate eating, my mental and emotional state was despairing.
“Nathaniel.” I called after knocking on the office door for minutes.
“I’m busy.” He answered from the other side of the door.
If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain. I grew tired of waiting for him to come to me.
“I just want to talk.” It took all the strength in me to do this.
“I’m busy, Gabriella.” His voice was cold as death.
Turning around, I moved to the kitchen to make his favorite meal. When the Spaghetti Bolognese with mushrooms was done, Rona suggested she took it upstairs since he’d open the door at her voice. Well, he did open the door but the food was rejected after she revealed who prepared it.
Nathaniel’s gesture when I was struggling to come out of a dark place, threw me deeper in the darkness. Maybe I gave up too soon, maybe I should have tried harder, but I didn’t. I let him be. Not because I didn’t care. Of course, I cared. I just didn’t have anybody to guide me on what I could’ve done best. I had Nana Paddy, Yes, but burdening a person with dementia with such pressure that someone like me who lived with no disease couldn’t handle, it didn’t feel right. I wasn’t sure what her reactions would be like, I’d prefer I didn’t find out because if it turned out harmful to the progression of her illness, I might never get over it. Nana was all I had left, I couldn’t jeopardize her health.
I thought fate had smiled upon me with favor when Rebecca showed up at the house. Curiosity rushed me out of the room to meet her at the entrance. Finally, someone that would tell me Leo’s whereabouts, I presumed. Alas, we were in the same shoes. She’d come to find out why Leo had been absent from classes and missed his quarter-final exams. All attempts to reach out to him was void.
“Where is Leo?”
When Rebecca asked me the question I was hoping she’d give me an answer to, a vigorous tremor overtook me. My cheeks and lips trembled, a flood of uncontrollable tears started to stream down my face. I wiped my cheeks every second but the hot torrents wouldn’t stop.
Sighting Rona who was watching from the sidewalk, I covered my eyes with shaky fists. It was too late though. Her face revealed she was an elderly woman who had put two and two together and come to a conclusion. What her face didn’t give away was what she would do with the pieces she’d put together.
Rebecca’s embrace was the first I’d had in a long while. I’d almost forgotten how the warmth of a friendly hug felt like. Thank you, Rebecca.
“What’s going on, Gabriella?”
The more questions she asked, the more tears coursed down my face like a river escaping a dam.
Rona had walked away. I requested from Rebecca a drive to the beach – same place where Leo and I began.
It was past 9:00 pm. The drive to the beach was long and quiet. I had enough time to process how to tell my story. I had enough time to prepare for the lack of understanding I might be paid with, the judgment and criticism.
“Gabriella, what happened between you and your husband?” Rebecca helped me out on how to begin.
“Leo is not my husband.” I stared at the still waters.
“I don’t understand.”
I didn’t expect her to. “Leo’s Father is my husband.”
“Step-Father.” I corrected as if it made any difference.
Rebecca was a good listener, I’d give her that. She was also an inquisitor. No detail was left out, her inquisitiveness made sure. I realized having someone to talk to was an underrated blessing. The weight on my chest lessened. It was really nice to have a friend.
“Oh my God.” She embraced me again. This time longer and tighter. “Wow.”
“Gabriella, Nathaniel needs to know the truth. And you have to tell him. It’s better he hears it from you than somebody else.” Her first advice.
“It’s not that simple.” I could not even imagine it.
Our conversation had me home by midnight. I climbed up the stairs at once to Nat’s office before the courage Rebecca instilled in me would begin to wear off. She’d convinced me only the truth could set me free and prepared me for the aftermath. We had everything planned out.
“There’s something you should know.” I started after letting myself in.
“You’ve done so much for me and I would never be ungrateful.” I continued.
“I’m busy.” He replied with a dismissive wave without taking his eyes off the documents he was signing.
“No. You don’t understand. I need to do this.” I remained on my feet with my throat tightened. Nathaniel had never been this way to me before. I hadn’t never gone through a phase like this.
“You don’t have to say anything. I talk, you just listen to what I have to say and why I made the choice I made.”
He took a pause from his papers and glared at me, “I don’t want to hear you speak. That’s it. Get out of my office immediately and never show your face to me ever again!”
An involuntary whimper escaped my lips. It hurt. It hurt so bad. “Nat, I…”
My attempt to apologize was cut off by the sudden sound of his half-empty lowball glass of wine thrown across the room and smashed against the wall.
“What did I just say?!” Fire laced his eyes.
The bark of his voice did not only catch me by surprise, it terrified my soul. I’d unleashed a demon I couldn’t face.
“I’m sorry.” I whispered too quickly and raced out of his office.
His long cry was accompanied by venomous shouts of hate, grief, regret, disgust, stomping of feet, hitting, kicking, tossing and breaking everything in the room he could get a hold of. The entire house quivered in fear. Everything was red and hot. The employees ran to the office door, but no one dared to say a word. I was seated at the swell step on the stairs, staring so foolishly and crushed. We heard him wailing and punching the wall. The explosion from a built up steam was burning every piece of him. An emotional volcano tormenting his brain to produce nothing but aggression. With such inferno, it was clear everything we had left was dying fast and turning into cold ashes. Nathaniel had never shown so much rage.
Night turned into morning, no one had a wink of sleep. No one could stop the infuriated puma. No one made a move, not until an abrupt, stony silence came from the office. It took more than fifteen minutes before Rona, Alonzo and Freda summoned courage to open the door. He’d locked it from behind but Rona had extra keys to all the locks.
Rona yelled, running out of the room like a mad woman again.
Everybody rushed to the scene and there was Nathaniel in a messy room, lying unconscious on the floor full of broken pieces of shattered glasses and torn papers with bruised knuckles and his hands cemented to his heart.