Where We Belong(5)

By: Fox Brison


Christ they were actually telling the truth!

I was living ‘Into the Woods’, where happy ever afters were words that began the real story of life.

I grabbed one of the soft white towels hanging slackly on a hook behind the door and frantically rubbed at my skin.

Adopted. Fuck.

***

Still drying my hair I made my way through to the kitchen and opened the fridge. Nothing caught my eyes until they lit upon a bottle of Chardonnay. One squeaky pop later I poured myself a generous glass, giving myself an ironic toast. Like father, like… shit. I huffed disparagingly. My father could be a tee-totaller for all I know!

Antsy, I perched on the edge of the sofa, my fight or flight instincts engaged in an epic battle. I glanced at the clock aware my alone time was coming to an end. As if conjured by magic I heard the front door open and Leo’s keys rattle into the bowl on the bureau.

“Hey, Darling, how’d it go with Mum and Dad?” he asked cheerfully. My parents adored Leo and insisted he call them Mum and Dad, but I never liked it. They weren’t his mum and dad they were mine...

At least they were up until three hours and seventeen minutes ago anyway.

“Yeah, it was okay.” I didn’t mention the letter. Why? Saying it aloud would force me to face what I wanted to run from. Flight was clearly winning tonight.

“Brianna, Darling.” It didn’t immediately register when he bent down on one knee. It didn’t immediately register when he lifted my chin to look at him instead of the glass of Chardonnay held slackly in my hand. It did register, however, when he proceeded to take the glass and place it on the table. The mood I was in? Bad move. Exceptionally bad move. His smile strived for loving, but achieved smug and patronising. Why had I never noticed this about him before? Shock was driving me to re-evaluate not only the relationship with my parents, but all of my relationships.

And I wasn’t certain I liked the conclusion I was starting to reach.

“I know things have been rough, and I was going to wait until your birthday to do this, but I can’t wait until May,” he continued unabated. Oblivious.

Dear God, Leo, please don’t. Not now. I couldn’t get two words past the brain freeze which paralysed my face into a twisted grimace.

“Will you marry me?” He pulled a black box out of his pocket and opened the lid. Nestling inside was a huge and particularly ostentatious diamond engagement ring. It wasn’t me in the slightest, and it struck me that even after three years Leo still did not know me. Christ I don’t know why I was surprised, he continued to put sugar in my coffee when I only took it in tea.

“I can’t.” The refusal was much easier to deliver than I thought it would be, and that sucked for both of us.

Narcissism prompted an angry bark. “What?” He never in a million years considered I might actually say no.

“I can’t, Leo. You couldn’t have picked a worse time. I can’t think at the moment, never mind get married.” My tone was eerily calm and devoid of emotion.

“I get that you’re worried about your parents, but they’ll be fine. The wedding will be a boost for them too.”

He wasn’t listening. He rarely listened. “Leo,” I sighed. It would have been so much easier to say yes. Perhaps it would bring about an end to my insecurity, to my uncertainty.

But today had turned into a day of reckoning and I was done with taking the easy option.





Chapter 3


Brianna



So question: where do you go when you’ve lost a sense of who you are? Me? I went to the one person who knew me better than I knew myself, my best friend Sam. We met as eleven year olds in chemistry class at Brentwood High School, and when I turned up unannounced at her small flat after the debacle of the adoption discovery, and barely an hour after turning down Leo’s marriage proposal, she simply let me in. She didn’t ask what was going on because she knew that when I was ready to talk, talk I would.

Until then I gratefully wallowed.

I was entrenched in her flat, and a crow bar would have had a job prying my arse off her futon, which was also my temporary bed. What had started out as a few days was briskly heading towards a few weeks. I should have been applying for jobs, I should have been answering the phone to my mother and Leo, both of whom were calling every hour on the hour (and several times in between) but instead I watched the rain and moped. When something you’re one hundred percent sure of ends up being pure fabrication? It’s a mind fuck.

And even that was an understatement.

Sam arrived home from work and dropped her work bag at the door. Mocha skin covered in a sheen of dust, and a long ebony ponytail hanging in damp curls through the back of her bleached baseball hat, screamed exhaustion, but her gorgeous brown eyes were beaming. Sparkies were in short supply in the capital, and after being laid off by McAteer Construction she had no trouble securing another job working on the new crossway railway line.

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