All I wanted was to live a life that I had chosen, to forge my own path. Is that too much to ask?
Noah poked his head, full of curly brown hair, into the kitchen. “I’m going to start helping Landon with his evening cleaning. Can you help Rosalei?” he said. Landon and Rosalei stood behind him in the doorway with big smiles on each of their faces.
This was the kids’ favorite time of the day, and it was right before we started dinner and our evening routines when we would all dance around the house cleaning up the day’s messes. Rosalei, the oldest by only thirteen months, took off running to her room as fast as her five-year-old legs could carry her.
Rose and Landon were the exact carbon copies of Noah and I. Rosalei had wavy dark auburn hair and golden eyes that changed with her moods. She could pass as my twin, only eighteen years younger. Landon was like Noah with his blue eyes, the color of the sky on a cloudless day, and tight brown ringlets falling just short of his shoulders.
Setting my task of peeling potatoes aside, I smiled, “Well, shall we? I asked. Noah and Landon started toward the room at the end of the hall, the room full of every toy related to police officers you could think of. Wanting to be like his daddy when he grew up, he had everything. Unfortunately, most of it lay scattered across the floor, causing a minefield underfoot.
Rosalei’s room was only marginally better. Her favorite baby dolls were strewn around the room doing various things. They ranged from sleeping to sitting in the stroller she was rolling back into the room.
I only managed to get the dolls picked up when Noah called out. “Hey Aaliyah, can you come here for a moment?”
I gave Rosalei a look, and she giggled. Noah always called for backup when he was in charge of Landon’s room. It always proved much more of a job, even with the help that Landon tried to give.
I walked in to find Noah holding a box standing by the closet. My heart sank. I had kept that box in the back of a random closet all these years. Always asking that the contents be only for me and Noah had done as I had asked all these years. Now the contents of the box lay scattered throughout the bottom of Landon’s closet for everyone to see.
I hurried to his side only to find him looking through its contents as he attempted to get everything back in the box. He handed me an old worn photograph, its edges torn, and the black and white picture faded more from the sun. “Who is this? She looks just like you and Rose.” He asked.
“Oh that, that’s my grandmother,” I said. Grabbing the picture from him in a hurried attempt to get it back in the box. Returning the box to its hiding place in the back of the closet.
I could feel Noah’s irritation rolling off him even before I glanced over to find his jaw set and him moving away from me with quick angry paces. “You never talk about your family, and it’s like your life started the day I met you,” he said.
“Baby, there isn’t much to talk about. They weren’t there for me, so I decided to get away.” I said, trying desperately to defuse the growing aggravation in the room.
“Not much to talk about? I don’t know anything about your past. Where were you born? What’s your maiden name? Your parents’ names? Do you have brothers? Sisters? I have never met them, and they’ve never met our children. How is any of that okay?”
I step back. My childhood had never been a problem. I had made a point years ago that I didn’t and couldn’t talk about this. I mean, sure, Noah has had questions over the years, but the simple answers I was willing to give had never been a problem then.
“Where is all this coming from? I don’t like talking about it. I grew up the same as most people, and I disagree with my family. They are…. dysfunctional.”
“Dysfunction is not a reason to completely cut out your entire family for six years. You never have so much as mentioned a childhood memory. I find a box full of pictures, and old trinkets that I can only assume are from your childhood, and you can’t get them put away fast enough.”
“It’s not something I’m willing to talk about,” I said, trying to keep my voice level and end this argument so we could get back to our family night.
“I deal with family fights and dysfunction every night on the job. Why is it you think I can’t handle your family issues? Or is it that you simply don’t trust me?”
“This isn’t about trust,” I said, sighing. I had always dreaded people asking about my family but deflecting was easy enough. When there is enough pain, people tend to leave the subject alone for fear of opening a can of worms. I didn’t expect to have to deal with this until the kids were older and were the ones asking the questions, not Noah. He had always been content with the fact that I didn’t want to talk about it. How do a few faded photographs change that? I still couldn’t speak to him about it.
I looked up to find him staring me down, only I didn’t know what to say because I couldn’t tell him what he wanted to know.
Noah finally shook his head, and without a word, he stormed out the front door slamming it on his way. His black truck pulled out the driveway so quickly that he left a smoke trail behind him.
“Mommy, is everything going to be okay? Where did Daddy go?” Rosalei asked. She and Landon had matching looks of horror and shock on their faces. Noah and I made a point to never argue in front of them.
Was everything okay? For six years, I had held my past locked away for good reason. I couldn’t tell him anything even if I wanted to. How am I supposed to handle his newfound demand to know about my childhood?
I gave Rose a sad smile, “I don’t know, sweetie.”Recommended1 Simily SnapPublished in