The knock on the door never comes, but what does come is Lizzie. She lies down in front of me on the bed, her eyes taking me in. “It’s okay, Mom,” she tells me as she rubs my face. “We have each other.”
My hand cups Lizzie’s face as I look at my little girl who grew up overnight. “That is all we need,” I whisper to her. I listen for the voices downstairs. I listen to the door open and close. I listen to the plates being washed and put away. I listen to Elliot telling Daisy that it’s bath time. I listen to all that while I look out the window and Lizzie falls asleep in front of me. She cried so silently beside me I didn’t even notice, but her tears wet the pillowcase.
I finally get up when I see that the house is now dark. Walking into Daisy’s room, I find her fast asleep. When I turn to walk out, Elliot stands in the doorway of the spare room where he sleeps. “Sam,” he says quietly, but I just walk past him. “Will you—”
I turn around to face him. “I get it,” I start. “I get that, with this whole thing, the only thing you and your family care about are the girls. And Eric.”
“It’s not that.” He shakes his head, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Do you know that I waited for one of you to come after me? I waited, holding my breath, for one of you to come and tell me that he was wrong. That no matter what I did, it wouldn’t have changed what Eric did because Eric was the one who made the mistake. But I sat there on my bed, crying, and the only one who came to me was Lizzie. The only family I have, who I love, who I count as my own, never even came or fought for me.”
“Sam.” He takes a step forward, and I step back.
“It’s fine.” I turn. “In the end, I guess the only family I truly have are my girls.”
I don’t bother listening to him talk. I close the door, silently, quietly, hoping not to wake Lizzie. I lie down and watch her, silently vowing never to let her down.
“Come on, girls!” I yell up the stairs at them. It’s been two days since our dinner with my in-laws. One day since Elliot came over, and twelve hours since he last sent me a text checking on me. It’s also been two days since I’ve spoken to any of them.
My heart is just broken; not only did I lose a husband, but I feel like I lost my family also. I shake my head, blinking away the tears. Not fucking today. “It’s girls’ weekend, so the faster you get on the bus, the faster the day is over,” I say with a smile.
Lizzie comes down first, then Daisy. “I want red on my nails,” she says, skipping to get her bag. “Or purple.”
Lizzie and I both laugh at her. I walk them to the bus and then go back home to my morning routine. The phone rings at noon, and when I pick it up, I see it’s Judy.
“Hello,” I say softly, my heart pounding. It feels like I just got into a fight with my best friend, and she is calling me afterward. I don’t know how to act.
“Hey,” she says just as softly. “Adrian just wanted to remind you about the lawyer. You need to be there at two. I can get the kids from the bus if you are running late.”
“Okay, I’ll text you if I’m running late,” I tell her, and I wait. We both wait. The silence lingers; I’m waiting to hear her say that he was wrong. I’m waiting for her to say anything, but she doesn’t.
“Okay. Let me know,” she says as she disconnects. I look down at the phone. She didn’t even ask how I was doing or how the kids were doing. Nothing. I sit on the chair in the kitchen looking at my phone, waiting for it to ring again. I’m waiting for her to call me back and say sorry I didn’t ask how you were doing, to ask about the kids, to ask if I’m okay, to ask if I need anything. Anything. Instead, I get nothing.
I put my phone down and look out the window, lost in my thoughts, lost in my memories. The tears just stream down my face when I think that for the last twelve years, this family has taken me in with open arms and tears while I walked down the altar to Eric.
Stood by me when I walked across that stage to accept my diploma, cheering the loudest.
Watched me pregnant with two babies, rubbing my belly as they leaned in and spoke to the girls in the hopes to feel the baby kicking. Judy held my hand when I miscarried and cried, telling me everything happens for a reason. She held me when Eric died, and I tripped over his shoe. Now, now it’s like she doesn’t know me. My chest hurts, the pain ripping through me, the pain almost unbearable as I place my head on the table and sob. This time, no one is here to hold me; this time, no one is here telling me it’s going to be okay. There is no one.