“Kids, we’re getting a divorce.”
The spoon that was once in Lucy’s hand, clinking hard against the ceramic cup of tea was the only sound in the room. I couldn’t really process what my parents had just said, but as I looked around, seeing my older sister, Lucy’s gaping mouth and my younger sister, Payson’s forming tears, I realized the horror that was dawning on me.
I couldn’t really say I didn’t expect it, though.
My wonderful father, the oh so great “bringer of the bacon,” had also become the “bringer of lies” lately. My dad had recently gotten promoted at work to a position where traveling across the country—it was usually California, which was hundreds of miles away from our home in Indiana—was a required component. I had the feeling that lately, though, he wasn’t doing paperwork when he got there. I had the feeling that it was a…different kind of work.
I could see the shock still in my sister’s big, blue eyes. My sister, Lucy, was usually so happy and upbeat, but her joyful disposition seemed to instantly crumble like the Berlin wall right before my eyes. Her pale face got even paler, and her thin lips couldn’t seem to quite form the words she was thinking of.
“Y-You’re…” Lucy stammered, as if her mind had suddenly shut off completely, “…getting a divorce?”
The worry lines on my mother’s forehead that had appeared over the last few years seemed to crease noticeably as Lucy said this. Her big, green eyes shifted to her hands that were folded neatly on her lap, and she inhaled quickly, letting out a long breath that told me this talk was the last thing on her to-do list. My father jumped in for her, as he usually did when she was too spaced out to think for herself.
“Y-yes, we are.” He admitted dryly, licking his lips. Payson let out a little six-year-old whimper, and my dad’s eyes flickered upward, his eyebrows raised as if he was thinking of a way to reconcile for the bad news he’d just brought. “But…but we want you all to know that this is by no means your fault.”
“Then why are you getting a divorce?” Lucy croaked, although now I could see that the shock had worn away, leaving behind only what seemed to be hurt and confusion towards my parents—I, on the other hand, had barely been able to feel any emotion. The entire thing seemed so surreal. It was almost as if I’d known it would happen, but had been entirely clueless all at the same time.
My parents exchanged a fleeting look, because my mother seemed as if she could no longer tolerate to gaze into his eyes anymore, and turned back to me. My mother ran a hand through her dark red hair, smacking her lips before she spoke, like she always did, “Your father and I…well, we just—”
“—we just don’t feel the way we used to about each other anymore.” My dad interrupted, promptly getting shot a death glare from my mother. My two sisters hadn’t been as observant as I had, obviously, in the past few months, and hadn’t noticed that my mother did this a lot. I had, however, and detected that something was amiss. I guessed I was right. “It’s like we’re different people now.”
“Does that mean mommy and daddy don’t love each other anymore?” Payson asked, her big, blue eyes shimmering with confusion. Instinctually, I reached for her tiny hand and gave it a tiny squeeze, wanting to reassure her that everything would be alright, even though she probably had no real clue what was happening.
My mom opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Like always—my mother had never been able to stand up for herself. It’d always been my father had to talk for her, as if she was merely a puppet. I was rather surprised she’d had the gall to be able to ask for a divorce in the first place.
“How about we all talk about this later, alright?” My father spoke up, trying to smile. “It’s getting late, and we—”
“—it’s six fucking thirty, dad.” Lucy hissed through her teeth, obviously done with being sad. In the cycle of Lucy, all things usually ended up with anger and a boatload of cursing.
“Lucinda Grace Parish.” My mother snapped immediately, “don’t say that in front of Payson—”
Lucy clenched her teeth together ferociously, and snapped back, “I just want to know why this is happening—!”
“It’s because dad’s been sleeping around.” I accused, the words lifting from my mouth as if I had no control over it. In that moment, everything grew quiet, and I felt so distant from the conversation that I could almost see myself, out of my body, talking.
I looked at my father, studied the shock on his face, and the hurt on my mother’s. Lucy’s eyes grew wide with hatred, and her fists clenched at her sides, blew up like a fuse, “Is that true?” She wondered, her nose wrinkled and her voice disgusted.
My father couldn’t reply, and only sat there, his face ashen and sullen, ask if someone had erased his mouth and taken away his ability to speak. They must’ve also taken away his morals.
My mom blinked away tears, and sniffled discreetly, “Lucy, Andi, we—”
“Don’t defend him like you always do,” I hissed through clenched teeth. Even in a case like this, she was still allowing herself to be treated like dirt. “He can’t just be excused like this—”
“I think,” my dad interjected suddenly, his voice loud and authoritative, like it always was when he wanted the room to turn to him, “that we should all sleep on this, and come back to it another time.”
I turned to Lucy, saw her eyes flare up with rage but her mouth do nothing. I knew she could tell when a conversation was no longer able to be helped, and when she was no longer valued as a someone who had something to say. So, she picked herself up, grabbed her tea, and marched off loudly. Payson sprang from her seat next to me, too, her eyes brimming with tears as she ran off after Lucy, her brunette pigtails bobbing behind her as she climbed up the stairs to her room.
I was the last one there, looking at my parents and their broken marriage. I, as I child, had looked up at them as a symbol of love and affection that could otherwise never be broken. While all other love in the world seemed to grow, wither, and die, theirs was the only I thought that would endure—but I supposed I’d only been a foolish child.
And that was the day—three years ago, today, actually—that I realized love didn’t exist.