Blake fills her in. “That is where Hailey is going to, as Nanny says, ‘find herself.’” He uses his fingers to make air quotes.
She doesn’t say anything, so I ask, “Okay, who wants to help me with this garage sale?” I look around. “I think I want to sell the house.” They look at each other and then at me, both nodding. “I know I had this house way before Eric ever lived here, but I can’t live here, not after.” I don’t bother talking. Instead, I nod and get up, going to the fridge.
No one said anything, but we did end up cooking breakfast, and Blake called someone he went to school with about listing the house. By the time night came, the walls that had felt like they were closing in on me stayed the same.
I lie awake most of the night, my mind working a mile a minute as I think about the next step in my life. The next chapter of my book.
My mother and father come over the next day as soon as the real estate agent hung her sign. I stand there in jeans and a sweater, my bare feet cold on the cement porch. “Your grandmother was not kidding when she said you are making changes,” my father says as he carries in grocery bags. “We brought you some food.” I watch them both walk in with their hands full.
“I also told your aunt Ginette to come and help organize things,” my mother says of her sister and Crystal’s mother. I just nod as I look down at the card from the real estate agent. She said it should sell quickly. I look around, seeing my next-door neighbor outside. She was always very friendly, but this time, she just smiles and raises her hand to wave.
I do the same as I now sit and take in what I thought would be the house where I would raise my kids, where I would mark their first everything. Instead, I think of all the lies it holds.
I shake my head as a tear comes out, and I realize it’s been eighteen hours since I last cried. It might not be much to anyone else, but to me, it’s a step in the right direction. The front door opens behind me, and my mother comes outside to sit next to me. She puts her arm around my shoulder, and I lay my head on her shoulder. “I really hate him, Mom,” I say as she squeezes my arm. “I hate what he did, but most of all, I hate that I will never know why. Why the fuck did he marry me if he was already married? Why create this life with me when he already had it all? Why? That is all I want from him.”
“Oh sweetie, I don’t think you would have ever gotten those answers. They say everything happens for a reason, and I have no idea what this reason is, but it has to be for something bigger, something better. I honestly believe that, and you have to also.” I don’t say anything else. I don’t want to tell her that it’s all a lie. There is no reason this happened and no good that could come from this. Nothing.
We stay out till the sun sets, only getting up and going in when Dad’s cooked his famous lasagna and my aunt comes over. “Hey there.” She puts her purse down on the couch. “It smells so good in here, Henry,” she tells my father as she opens the oven door to smell the lasagna he made. She comes to hug me, and I shed tears. She must know because she doesn’t let me go. “It’s going to be fine, little girl.” She has always called me little girl, since I was the baby.
“I think I’m going to take a shower before we eat,” I say and quietly excuse myself to go upstairs. I take a shower and get out right as Crystal knocks.
“It’s me,” she says, and I tell her to come in.
“We never will get closure,” I tell her as she closes the door and blinks at me, not sure what to say. “I mean, we didn’t have a funeral. We didn’t have”—I throw up my hands—“well, anything. It was just here today, gone tomorrow. Oh and your whole life was a lie.” I shrug.
“It wasn’t all a lie,” she says softly. “He had to love you to try to do the whole Sister Wives with you. Even without you knowing you were the second wife.” She tries to smile. “You didn’t even pressure him to marry you. That was all his idea.”
“I know,” I say as I put my bra on. “I never once said you need to pay for the milk because this cow isn’t free.” I mimic my Nanny’s words. “He was the one who wanted to get married right away.”