So, I recently became friends again with the real-life brother of the inspiration for this story. After re-reading this story (just to see how embarrassed I needed to be for the real-life events mixed in with fiction), I realized that I never provided the outtake for Sookie’s walk with Izzy. I thought it was time, so here it is.
This is still a completed story, but I really wanted to give Sookie the chance to apologize to Isobel for her behavior as a teen. I think it’s necessary for the two of them to have closure (and for you folks to be able to read it). Hope you enjoy.
This one is unbetaed due to time constraints. Any errors are my own, though I hope I caught them all.
Disclaimer – I still don’t own the characters, but the story is all me.
Izzy and I leave the house just as Eric heads into the living room to tell the boys about his separation and impending divorce. I know I have nothing to do with this situation, really, but it doesn’t make me feel any less guilty that his marriage is ending just as I re-enter the picture. I’ll cop to being a lot of things, but a home wrecker is never something I have aspired to become.
“Okay, spill it, Sookie. What’d the poodle do this time to make my son finally leave her?”
“You aren’t going to believe it, Izzy! Hell, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it!” Who the fuck could’ve seen something like that coming? I didn’t know people actually did such messed up roll-playing in real life. Ignorance really is bliss sometimes…
So I launched into the story of getting the phone call, picking the boys up and the conversation on the way, how we found out about Charles (aka Mr. Ed) and walking into his house to find them playing giddyup. By the time I got to the part about the butt-plug tail, Izzy had to stop walking so she could laugh without falling over.
“Oh god! I always knew something wasn’t right with her, but I never imagined this!” she forced out amongst her laughter. Seeing her bent over, grasping her knees, laughing hard enough that tears were rolling down her cheeks was an amazing sight. Isobel was never a bad person or mother, she was never mean to me back then either, but I’d never seen her so open and relaxed before. I’d never felt more horrible for how awful I was to her twenty years earlier than I was in that moment.
Once she regained her composure, we began walking again. We spoke briefly about what she’d been doing since I saw her last and how the rest of the family was doing. It was wonderful to hear how Eric’s two brothers were doing; it’d been so long since I’d seen either of them. I hoped I’d get to see them as well before I left. If I left. I couldn’t imagine leaving again, but it was up to fate to decide what happens now.
“Why now, Sookie?” Izzy asked out of the blue. “Why look for my son after all this time? Not that I’ve ever been a huge fan of the poodle, but if you came looking for him just to break up his marriage, then I have to tell you you’re an asshole. And I’d be horribly disappointed in you if you were that girl.”
“No, I promise that has never been my intention. I would never want to break up a marriage or a family. I just had so much I wanted to say to him after all this time. I have so many regrets.”
“Okay, I can understand that, but why wait twenty years to find him to apologize for shit you can’t change now?” It was a valid question, and one I’d struggled with a lot before contacting him.
“It took me a long time after finding him to actually contact him, because I kept asking myself the same question. Why does it matter twenty years later? Would he even want to hear from me? Would I be messing up his life by contacting him? Did I really want to open up that can of worms? I’ll tell you, I was a friggin mess for weeks trying to decide what to do!”
“What made you finally decide to do it then?”
“I had to meet with the publisher out here. How could I come to California for the first time and not look him up? Plus, I decided that even if he never wanted to speak to me again, that maybe he’d want to know how bad I felt for some of the things that happened? No matter how much our lives have changed since we split, we really did love each other back then. I figured that I’d want to know if the tables were turned, so he probably would too.
“I had so much I wanted to tell him. God, I was such an irrational bitch to him back then! Not that I really think we would have made it long term, even if I hadn’t been, but my shit certainly didn’t help the longevity of our relationship. I was so demanding, controlling and unreasonable. I wouldn’t let the poor guy do anything I didn’t agree with or know about in advance; I was a nightmare. I was so insecure with myself and had so little control over my own world that I just had to have it somewhere, and like an asshole, I chose our relationship. It wasn’t fair to him, or hell, me for that matter. We were too young to be so involved, but we truly loved one another. Our ages weren’t on our side for a long term deal, but maybe we could’ve made it.
“Not to say that he was a picnic either, because he certainly wasn’t. He was sneaky and he lied to me all the time, he made a fool of me when everyone in the school knew what he was really doing except me, he was overly critical of me sometimes, and on some occasions he really was just an asshole to me. Sometimes I absolutely earned his treatment of me, but sometimes I didn’t. We were an epic mess back then. We were so much in love, but so damn toxic to one another. You know, there were times I wasn’t sure either of us would survive that relationship.”
She snorted loudly, “Fuck, Sookie. There were times I wasn’t sure I’d survive that relationship!” she quipped.
“God, I know, and I’m so sorry for any part I may have played in your illness back then! I feel just horrible about how I treated you, and how it must have felt to have Eric side with me so often over you. He spent every holiday at my house, ate dinner with my family most evenings, spent every free minute with me and basically only came home to sleep. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like to you.
“I’ve thought of that often over the years, too, especially as I got older and wanted my own children. I can’t imagine how that would hurt me as a mom. To feel like this teenage bitch is taking your youngest son from you? God, I was a horrible person for not spending more time at your house so you could see him more. Or so that you and I could bond more. Maybe if we’d spent more time with you, a lot of the shit that happened back then wouldn’t have gone down. I’m so sorry for any hurt I caused you, or any damage I might have done to your relationship with Eric at the time. I truly, truly never meant to hurt him – or you.”
“Thank you, Sookie. I’m glad you realize how hard it all was on me back then. Eric was my baby, and with both his brothers living out of the house he was all I had left. That relationship wasn’t easy on any of us at the time, dear, but what’s done is done. I’m glad you two have found each other again,” she smiled genuinely. “But can I ask you something?”
“Of course you can, Izzy. Ask me anything.”
“Why didn’t you spend more time at my house? I was always very welcoming of you, but you never wanted to be around me.”
I felt horrible at that moment. I really had never been fair with her. There were times I was truly ashamed of the person I’d been in my teens, and now was one of those times.
“I don’t even know how to explain it, Izzy. There were several things that went into it at the time. The easiest to explain is the fact that my grandfather was an abusive bastard that hit me just because the sun rose daily. If I wasn’t home, where he could ‘keep an eye on me’ then the ass-whoopings would have been considerably worse. He was absolutely convinced that I was going over to your house to ‘be a little whore’ and that I’d never dare sleep with Eric in his house. He was an ignorant asshole, because I only had sex with Eric in your house a couple times, but I was getting laid regularly in mine. So the easy part to answer is that I was terrified to get my ass kicked worse by spending too much time at your house.
“The harder part to answer is that I was jealous of his relationship with you. And yes, I’m well aware of what an asshole that makes me sound like today, as well as what an asshole I was for ever feeling that way in the first place. But the thought of sharing him with anyone was intolerable at the time. I grew up in a household where the three women in it were treated like pond scum and beaten for our troubles. We weren’t valued or loved by the man in our lives. I had no idea what a normal, healthy, loving relationship should look like. Plus the fact that since I’d never been loved like that, I was terrified of it slipping away from me. Having someone love me as much as Eric did back then was a miracle to me. I had truly felt I was unlovable until him. Everyone wanted to have sex with me, but when I refused to put out, I was unworthy of their attention. Eric never treated me like that. Hell, my first time having sex was date rape, and the next guy was a colossal asswipe that tried to strangle me when I broke up with him. Eric was patient with me and didn’t pressure me for sex. He loved me before he slept with me the first time; I didn’t know how to be without him, so I couldn’t share him with anyone.
“I can’t apologize enough to you for how I behaved back then. You were kind and gracious to me, you were patient and let your son spend so much of those four years with me, and I was awful to you. And about you. You and your other two sons never deserved how I treated you at the time. I did everything to push him towards me and away from you guys, that all I did was end up permanently losing him.
“Even if Eric and I are only friends this time around, I’m still so grateful I got to tell him how sorry I was for my part in our demise. But I’m equally thrilled that I got to tell you how sorry I was for everything I did back then. If he never spoke to me again, at least I’d know I’ve said my peace and he’d know that I never meant to hurt him.”
We walked in silence for several minutes as she seemed to digest all I’d said. Truthfully, I was a little talked out, so the silence was welcomed.
“Thank you for admitting all that to me, Sookie,” she said, breaking the silence. “I’m glad to finally know that it wasn’t me that drove you away, and I’m truly sorry for all you went through besides the stress of your relationship with Eric. I had no idea about your family or previous sexual partners. It certainly explains a lot.”
We walked for several more minutes in silence after that. I could tell she had more she wanted to say by the look on her face, but I’d give her the space she needed to find how to express her thoughts. After being so accepting of me now, after how rotten I was to her as a kid, I’d give her forever to spit it out if she needed.
Izzy took a deep breath and released it slowly before beginning again. “I’m really happy you got to say all those things to Eric and myself, Sookie, but I’ll ask you again. Why now?”
I cocked my head at her in response. I’d just spent many, many minutes explaining this, so I wasn’t sure what she was asking me.
“I mean, you couldn’t have come to this realization in the last few months after all the time that’s past. So what prompted this burning need for apologies? It sounds like an A.A. thing? Or a deathbed confession. So what is it I don’t know?”
“Oh, got it. Sorry,” I blushed at my ignorance. “I had cancer a little while back. Thyroid cancer. I wasn’t sure for a while there if I was going to live or not. I wasn’t still in love with my husband, I had so many regrets about different things in my past. I didn’t want to leave this earth without telling Eric how sorry I was that I couldn’t be the person I am today all those years ago. Body changes aside, I’m much happier with myself today. I don’t sweat the small stuff, I live more in the moment than I ever did before, I’m way more well adjusted and have put a lot of my childhood behind me. I’m not trying to paint myself as a saint here or anything, but I’m happier with me now. I’d rather have the body I used to AND be a happier, more well adjusted person, but you can’t have it all I guess.
“Anyway, even after I learned I was going to survive the cancer, I still just needed to tell him. Almost dying changes everything. I’ve lost a lot more friends than I should have at my age already, and I didn’t want to waste one more day without taking care of the things I could. Eric isn’t the only person I’ve made amends with, but he’s the only man I loved that I have. I’d lost touch with a few friends for stupid shit and was able to make peace with them. I was able to tell my grandfather was an abusive, miserable fuck he was before he died, and laid out in detail the emotional damage his abuse did to me. I got to know my half sister and brother, and told my father everything I ever wanted to. I’m happy to say I have a relationship with my sister now, which is amazing. I talk to my brother every so often, but he’s too much like the old man to really have a place in my life. I put things right in my life. So, as much as I hate to say it, if I were to go tomorrow to meet my maker, most people would know where they stood with me.”
We’d walked completely around the neighborhood as we talked and were rapidly approaching her house again. Izzy grabbed my hand and pulled me to a stop. “I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. I know all too well how awful illness can be. I’m glad you’re okay now and that you’ve made peace with your life. Whatever happens with you and my son, I want you to know how glad I am that you both will have gotten closure about your past. He cared a great deal for you back then, and I know that the last few arguments you two had weighed heavily on him. I’m glad that whether you decided to start over as friends or lovers, or if you decide to never speak again, that you’ve settled things between you. The only request I have is to make sure that you don’t bring any of that old crazy around my grandbabies. Either one of you. They don’t deserve it and I won’t tolerate it. Their mother is a big bag of crazy all on her own, those boys don’t need yours and Eric’s shit to fuck them up further. You keep the crazy at bay and I’m in your corner. You don’t and I’ll eat you alive, Sookie. I let far too much happen with you and my son all those years ago. I won’t tolerate anything messing with those little boys.”
“I understand completely, Isobel. And you have my word. No crazy here,” I vowed. “I don’t have it in me to deal with it again and I’d never want to hurt those boys.”
She shocked me by pulling me into a tight embrace, which I happily returned. After several moments she pulled back, with a sly smile on her face.
“Come on now, let’s go see if they’re done chatting so you can take that boy back to your hotel and show him a good time. Poodle-girl didn’t know a good time from a proctology exam, the boy could use a night with you!”
I turned beat red before erupting into a fit of laughter. I followed her into the house, truly happy for the first time in a while. No matter what happens, I’ve made my apologies for my behavior as a teen. I can’t force anyone to forgive me, or change their opinions of me or my behavior back then. But I can, and do, mean it when I apologize and I’m a different person in almost every way than I was then. I hoped to be able to build at least a new friendship with Eric, if not more, but if not at least we got our moment to forgive one another.
That’s more than most people get in life, and I would be forever grateful to have had mine.
I understand that my ex (the story inspiration) just had his second child and I couldn’t be happier for him. I’m so happy he’s happily married and has two wonderful children. I haven’t been in love with him in a very, very long time, but he’ll always have a piece of my soul as my first love. We shared a lot together and loved each other like crazy as kids, but in the end it wasn’t enough to keep us together. I’d hoped that he and I could be friends, but for whatever reason it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for us. I’m still happy I got to speak my peace to him this past spring and that we had our closure. I’m thrilled to be in contact with his brother again; he was always a cool cat and pretty much stayed out of the drama with his brother and I (which I was always grateful for). Before having my son it was easy to play the “what if” game with thoughts of him and another man I loved very much at one time – but that game gets you nowhere. And now I wouldn’t change a minute of my life, because it gave me my son. And he wouldn’t be exactly who he is if my life choices hadn’t led me to the moment of his conception.
Everything works out the way it’s supposed to, even if you don’t understand that at the time.
And for all those waiting for chapter 21 of “A Thousand Years” – it’s with K (my editor) now and we’ll get it to you as soon as we can. Real-life is hectic with the holidays and job interviews, family, etc.
Thanks for taking this journey with me! Love and hugs to all.