Delusions Part 2
Read Part 1
I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to kill Brittney for what she had done to him and me. I was confused about how I felt about my father. I pitied him because of the stress he had been under since. At the same time, I hated him. He should have known better. There were so many reasons why he should have stopped. Like the fact that she was only 18 and he was 46, or the fact she was the daughter of his deceased best friend.
Most importantly, he should have stopped because of me. I am his daughter, and she was my best friend. He should have known what kind of damaging effect this would have on me. They betrayed me, and I needed to get away.
My mother had been asking me for months to come live with her, but I told her I wouldn’t abandon my father the way she had. After what I had just witnessed, I raced back to my room, trying not to imagine what might still be going on downstairs. I picked up my mattress, grabbed all the money I had, and stuffed it in my purse. Then jotted a sloppy note to my father:
Had a fight with Mike. Not going with him for spring break. Going to Mom’s.
Sorry, I love you,
I grabbed my duffel bag, climbed out the window, and slinked to my car. The door slid open silently, and I thanked God my father had bought me a brand new Saab for my birthday. I remembered the conversation like it was yesterday. But as I sat in that very same Saab four months later, I couldn’t even muster up enough strength to smile at the once fond memory. What I witnessed tainted my thoughts of my father and everything he had given me.
I picked up the car phone, dialed my mom’s number, and prayed that she would answer. The phone rang several times before my mother finally picked up.
“HELLO!” she shouted.
“Hey Mom, sorry to wake you, but I needed to talk to you.”
“Who is this?”
“Mom, It’s me, Ryan, your daughter.”
“I HAVE NO DAUGHTER,” she said with bitterness and animosity .
“What are you talking about? It’s me, Ryan; you asked me to stay with you. I need to be with my mother,” I said, choking back tears.
“I’m sorry, I had a daughter, but she turned out to be a faulty alliance. I terminated that relationship. Please don’t call here again,” then the line died.
I put the phone down and sobbed. Angry and alone, I lost both my parents. I threw the car in drive and headed out with no particular destination in sight. Tears clouded my vision, but I somehow ended up at the Santa Monica Pier. I parked my car and let the sound of waves lull away the painful shock from my recent phone call to my mother. My mind was on overload.
In the of one night, my life had turned into a Lifetime movie. Then, the clouds that covered the moon for the majority of the night began to part and shed a small, steady stream of silver light on my car. I thought of Michael, my boyfriend and a sophomore at Stanford. We were together for two-and-a-half years. He was the sweetest guy I had ever met. Smart, sensitive, athletic, and handsome would also describe him. Michael was the one person I could trust with this painful and shameful family secret.
I started to pick up the phone to call him, but I decided against it. It was five o’clock in the morning, and he had one more midterm before spring break. So instead of calling, I headed to Palo Alto. Someone to Love by Jon B. and Babyface played on the radio. My mind filled with playful memories of how happy we were. Everyone envied our relationship. I remembered how one day after we had an argument, he began singing End of the Road in front of the entire school. He sang with such emotion that I had no choice but to leap into his arms to release a monsoon of kisses and forgiveness on him. To be honest, I never could remember why I was so mad at him.
No matter what I was upset about, Michael always knew how to transport me to a place of serenity. That sense of peace was why I was driving five hours in the middle of the night to see him. He was supposed to come after he finished his test and spend the weekend with me. But I knew Michael wouldn’t mind me showing up to Toyon Hall to surprise him. When his best friend Sean, Brittney’s sometime boyfriend, got into town from Pepperdine, we were supposed to head up to Lake Tahoe.
When I was a little more than halfway there, I stopped off at a mom-and-pop shop to pick up some items. I grabbed Cheetos, bean dip, Mexican Coke, Lucas, an entire box of pixie sticks, powdered doughnuts, and a six-pack of Pepsi. “Brain Food,” Mike called it. He had this theory that if your mind was stressed and overloaded with school and real-world crap, the perfect cure was a good old-fashioned sugar and junk food high. According to him, sugar highs lead to the ultimate crash, which causes you to sleep like a baby. When you get that pure uninterrupted sleep, you wake up refreshed, and your brain is better equipped to handle the tasks that seemed so daunting before. I thought the idea was bogus.
It took forty-five more minutes before I made it to Palo Alto and another twenty-five before I made it to Toyon Hall. The area, which was usually busy with life and student activity, was now quiet. Even considering that it was the last day of midterms, things were eerily still. I grabbed the food from the car and hurried into the dormitory out of a sense of fear and urgency. Part of me wanted to ask the RA at the front desk if something horrible had happened during my drive there. I stopped myself, fearing he would think I was insane or stoned. With the redness of my eyes, I was willing to bet he would lean towards stoned. The fact that I carried a bag full of random snack foods didn’t help matters much either. Stanford had a very strict drug policy and would investigate any instance that was cause for concern. Since Michael’s roommate, Darren, was the campus drug kingpin, I didn’t want to draw any attention to either of them.
As I rounded the corner to Michael and Darren’s room, I saw the door was ajar. I quickly ducked back around the corner to make sure I hadn’t passed Michael on the way to the shower without noticing. When I was sure the coast was clear, I darted behind the open door to prepare to make my surprise entrance. What I saw and heard inside the room drained me of all playfulness and excitement. From my vantage point, I saw a girl standing in front of Michael’s bed, and they were arguing; she had her back to me, but by the way she stood, I could tell she must be beautiful. She was short, no more than 4’11, with shoulder-length wavy auburn hair with streaks of black and brown. I could tell by her slim figure and the definition in her calves that she must be a runner. This explained how she might know Michael since he was on the school’s track team, but it didn’t quite explain why she was in his room. I edged closer to the door frame so I could hear what was going on.
“Why are you telling me this Lynn,” Michael sighed, “I mean, I’m sorry, honestly, but I’ve got a huge Bio midterm, and I can’t play support a friend today. You should talk to the person who is directly involved.”
“That’s why I’m talking to you, Mikey,” Lynn said.
I cringed at her use of his nickname from grade school.
“I don’t follow,” Mikey said.
“Mikey, I’m pregnant. What is there to follow?”
“I understand that you’re pregnant, but I still don’t see what that has to do with me.”
“Don’t play dumb! You know damn well why I’m telling you. You’re the father,” she said through clenched teeth.
A gasp of horror escaped my lips, and Michael’s head turned slightly toward the door. He paused to hear if he had heard what he thought he had before he continued with what he had to say.
“No disrespect Lynn, but have you fucking lost your mind. WE HAVE NEVER HAD SEX, and I’m not God, and that baby sure as hell isn’t Jesus, so there is no way that this baby is mine!”
“Fuck you, Michael! How are you gonna deny that we had sex? I expected you to deny the baby, but to deny that we had sex is really low considering everybody knows we did.”
“What the hell are you talking about? Everybody knows. How can everybody know about something that DID NOT HAPPEN!”
Lynn threw her hands up in exasperation and turned her back on Mike, and revealed her slightly rounded belly to me.
“Homecoming, MICHAEL. Last October. Remember, you and that high school girlfriend got in some stupid HIGH SCHOOL fight, and you got wasted…”
“Yeah, we had sex that night.”
“Oh, God, I didn’t know.”
“You haven’t talked to me since.”
“Jesus, I didn’t know. I don’t remember. What am I gonna do? What am I going to tell Ryan? I have to call her,” he was rambling in a panic.
“Fuck, Ryan. I’m pregnant with your child, and all you can think about is some high school chick?”
“But I love her. Why don’t I remember?”
I couldn’t stand to hear anymore. I dropped what I was holding and started running down the hall. Michael must have heard the bottles break because I heard him screaming my name and chasing after me, but I was too fast. By the time he got outside the building, I was already throwing my car into gear and speeding away.
Photo by Vera Arsic via Pexels.