Saturday, January 2, 2010
117.2.B: "For some moments in life there are no words." David Seltzer,Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ?Writers Muses
Sometimes, there are no words
"Happy Anniversary." It had been dark as Luka entered the house and as he climbed the stairs to the bedroom he knew he would find his wife still sleeping. Even at his age he hadn't been able to give up the occasional night-shift and so it was that he'd decided to surprise Abby with coffee and a paper, much as he had when they'd dated in the first year of their relationship. He squatted next to the bed to fan the aroma of the coffee toward her as he whispered the greeting to her, then leaned close to place a kiss on her cheek.
"It's not even morning yet." Abby grumbled in protest at first, but with the kiss she opened her eyes and reached her hand out to her husband.
"Sure it is, I brought coffee and everything, want me to turn the light on?" As Abby came fully awake Luka rose to take a seat on the bed beside her.
"No, no lights, not yet anyway. I will take some of that coffee you have though." Sitting up, she accepted the cup as he offered it.
"I thought I broke you of this years ago." While her voice held a mock harshness to it, the underlying tone was one of gentle teasing and it prompted the couple to laugh before they exchanged kisses.
"I thought maybe this being a special occasion, you'd forgive me. No?" Luka's eyebrow raised slightly as he sought her forgiveness.
"Well, I suppose, being it is our anniversary, I could let it go." It was her turn to initiate the kiss, and as she touched his cheek with her fingertips, she coaxed him closer to do so.
"Twenty years, Luka. Did you ever think we would make it twenty years?" The question was an honest one for her, and she watched his face closely as she waited for his response.
"I never doubted it, especially after we decided we were ready to devote ourselves to it fully. I always intended to, and I still do intend to spend the rest of my life with you. I love you, Abby, with all my heart, and I can't imagine not being with you." Setting his own coffee aside, Luka adjusted his position on the bed so that Abby could move into his arms as he spoke.
"I don't ever want to be without you either. I want us to become grandparents together, and maybe even great-grandparents, and who knows, maybe one day we can even celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary together." Abby lay her head against Luka's chest as she voiced her hopes for their future, then found herself going quiet as she listened to the beat of his heart under her ear.
"Abby, I spent all night thinking about what I wanted to say to you about how I feel, about all you mean to me, and now, now that the time is here, it's like my words are gone. All I can do is hold you and hope you feel what I feel, that you sense what I can't find the words to say, because I love just seems so small for what we have." As he spoke tears rose in the Croat's eyes, and the emotion of the moment threatened to overwhelm him.
"I understand, Luka, I do, and I feel the same way. We belong together, I think we always have, despite those early ups and downs. You're part of me, just like I'm part of you, and I love you more than I love life itself. Thank you for being my husband, for being the father of my son, and most importantly, thank you, Luka, for not giving up on me when things got rough." Abby rose up on her arm to initiate a longer, deeper kiss with her husband before she again lay her head on his chest.
"You should sleep for a while, I know you've had a long night." Her words grew quieter as she gave him permission to let the conversation drop, and when instead of replying, she felt his fingers begin the slow stroking of her hair, she simply smiled.
"Lay down, Luka, let me take care of you." She continued the gentle coaxing until he had stretched out alongside her and as their positions reversed she drew his head to her chest, stroking his hair as he had only moments before done to her.
"Sleep now, I'll be here when you wake." Brushing her hand over his eyes she kissed each eyelid in turn before returning to the rhythmic stroking of his hair.
"I love you, Luka, and I always will."
"I love you too, Abby." Luka's words came with the drowsy slur of one being sucked into sleep, but Abby knew they were not casually given. They came with his heart, with his soul, and all that he was, and it was for that reason that they meant so much, that he meant so much. After so many years, she finally could believe in forever, and she owed that gift to him.
As he stood waiting outside of County General for Abby's last shift to end, and their new life to begin, Luka found a shiver of fear run down his spine. What if all of the work they had put into the last couple of months were in vain. What if the move to Boston were nothing more than his way to once again run away like he had done all those years ago? No. As he glanced back to his son as the toddler sat in his car-seat, Luka tried to banish the thought from his mind. The decision was not his alone. It was not one that had been made in haste. This was the only way that they could truly put all that had happened behind them. They were sure of it, he was sure of it. Chicago held too many mistakes, too many wrongs that there would never be any rights for, Boston was their future. Joe's sudden bouncing in his seat forced the last of worries from his mind and when he turned to see what had caught his interest he couldn't help but smile himself. Abby, he should have known, he should have felt her, the way he'd once felt Danijela's presence when she was close. Would that time ever come for them? Would the time come when he felt that she was his other half?
Slightly more than two months earlier...
He wasn't sure what had prompted him to ring the doorbell rather than to use his key, but, as he listened to the sound of the buzzer announce his return home, he couldn't help but wonder how the choice would be seen.
"Joe, come see who's at the door." Luka heard Abby's voice before the door opened and a second later the squeal of their son as he launched himself into his father's legs before reaching upward.
"Tata!" The toddler's delight in having his father back was clear to both of his parents and as soon as he was picked up, and had received the expected kisses in greeting he lay his head on the man's shoulder, content to stay where he was.
"I've missed you." He looked past the boy to his wife as he spoke, "and you too."
"We've missed you too, Luka." Abby's voice held a hesitancy to it that was unusual for her, but, not wanting to spoil the mood, he tried to ignore it.
"My bag's in the hall, I should get it." He shifted his son's weight slightly to his hip before ducking out of view to reach for his suitcase.
"Can I get you anything to drink?" Even as she asked, Abby realized how awkward things felt between them, it was almost as if they were starting over again, and maybe they were.
"Coffee, if you have some on would be wonderful." Luka gave her a small smile before leaning close to whisper in Joe's ear.
"How about you be a big boy and get down now." Where his first request received only a tightening of the hold around his neck, after gentle coaxing and the addition of an additional option, he was able to lower Joe to the ground.
"Good boy, now, go find your airplane and we can play with it while Mama and I talk." As Joe ran from the room, Luka closed the door and carried his bag to the bottom of the bedroom stairs before setting it back down.
"This isn't going to be easy is it?" His question was a simple one, the answer less so.
"I don't think so." Abby's voice remained quiet. "Luka, I'm sorry, I never wanted it to be like this."
"Shhh, we're not going to go there, remember?" Approaching her, Luka slid his arms around her before pulling her to him.
"But," Raising his finger to her lips, he silenced her again.
"No buts, what's done is done, we can't change that, we can fix things between us though, and that's all that matters isn't it?" His eyes help a hope that she hadn't seen present in them for quite some time.
"I'd like that, to fix things between us I mean." Abby reached behind her back to take his hands so she could squeeze them.
"You know this won't be easy." His voice wavered slightly.
"I know, but, I'm not going to give up on us. I won't give up on us." As she spoke Abby's voice seemed to grow in strength as she found her inner commitment to what they had between them growing.
"Do we start at the beginning? Do we do things the way we should have done them all along?" Abby had just begun to answer when the sound of toys being pulled from the toybox ceased and Joe's voice broke from the other room.
"Tata, got, airpain!" A few more toys landed on the floor before he rounded the corner with the plastic plane in one hand and the people who fit inside in the other. "Play, now."
"Good for you, Joe, you go sit at the table by the couch and put the people in, and Tata will be right there." Turning his attention back to his wife, Luka smiled, "I'm sorry."
"That's okay, we can talk later, I know he's missed you." She released his hands so she could slide her arms around him.
"Tata, play airpain." Joe raised the plane in the air as he grew impatient with the amount of time it was taking for Luka and Abby to finish.
"Go," Abby rose up on her toes to kiss Luka. "Go to Joe now, you've already lost too much time with him, we've got plenty of time to talk."
It took several days before Luka and Abby started feeling like things were returning to normal between them, well, normal might not exactly be the way to describe it, but, at least it wasn't as if they were strangers. From the earliest stages of their relationship both of them had kept secrets from the other, whether they were of their pasts, their feelings, their hopes, or their fears, there had always been those things which one or the other felt they'd been unable to share, but not this time. This time, they were determined they would have no secrets between them, this time they would build their relationship on honesty and trust. They would talk about everything, not just about what they'd been through together, but their pasts, their childhoods, those they loved, those who had been important to them, who had guided them, or misled them, their family and their friends. They would talk about their dreams, and their fears, their career plans, Joe's future, and most importantly the life they hoped was yet to come.
As they talked and the weeks became a month, they inevitably realized that changes would need to be made in their current lives as well if they truly wanted their marriage, and their lives together to succeed. As much as they loved Chicago, as many friends as they might have, the City held too many negative memories, and if they were serious about letting all of those past mistakes go, then so too would they have to say good-bye to the city they had both grown to love. Whatever fears they might have about beginning again somewhere else were nothing in comparison to the fear that they might fail at this reconciliation, and so, the resumes were compiled, and job applications were soon being mailed out.
When the job offers began to come back, it wasn't difficult for them to decide that Boston seemed the perfect fit for them. It's similarity to Chicago allowing them to keep the best of what they had loved, while at the same time giving them the fresh start they knew they needed. When they went looking for their first house it was with the intention of being there for years, not months, and they found themselves looking not just at the houses themselves, but the neighborhood, and the schools, knowing that in less than two years Joe would be attending them.
Were they out of danger with their relationship? Neither of them were willing to go so far as to say that was the case, but, they were healing, and they were finding their way back to trusting each other again. The love of course was there and growing in strength with each passing day. While it may have been lost during the worst of times, or more accurately hidden by all of the other problems that they'd been facing they should have known it had always been with them, a glue that connected them, even if they couldn't feel it.
Luka smiled as he watched Abby say her final good-byes. Boston was to be their new beginning and he was ready for it, that was why he hadn't gone inside the hospital to pick her up. Chicago was behind him now, all that had happened already being filed away into the neat little boxes he'd used to protect himself in the past. This time though, there was a difference, this time he wasn't running away from anyone, this time he wasn't aimlessly wandering, this time he was going to something, with someone he loved, and with plans for a future yet to come.
Note: This was the result of an anonymous request for me to write a piece on what might have taken place between "The Chicago Way", anf "The Book of Abby", I hope it's all they expected.
Friday, January 1, 2010
It was late, Joe had been in bed for hours and while Abby hadn't been there long, he suspected she was probably asleep as well, so, why wasn't he? The had only been back from Croatia for a few days and already he was finding himself missing it, and the feeling was bringing up ones he hadn't thought about in years. When had he last felt like this?
Chicago, that was it. Almost ten years earlier, his life had been one of instability then, one of constant motion, and while he might have told himself he was happy with the choices he was making at the time, looking back on things now, he could see that he hadn't been.
He was living on his boat when he first started working at County, the work he was doing nothing more than a call to fill in on a shift here, or a shift there at whatever hospital needed him. He'd tried to pretend it didn't bother him that when he was at County only Carol made any attempt to see him as more than the temporary he was, but, in truth he would have liked to have been seen as more.
Life wasn't easy for him then, he knew no one, he still struggled with the language, and even the very medicine that he was dedicating his life to, was still new to him. Chicago turned out to be the place where his life changed, the place where he finally stopped running from the ghosts of his past, the place where he discovered that his life ultimately held a future.
"Luka, are you coming to bed?" When Abby's quiet voice called to him from the stairs Luka downed the beer he held before turning to her.
"Yeah, go ahead and go on up, I'll be right there." While he wouldn't know it in those early years, Chicago would be the place where he would again discover he was capable of once more learning to love, and over time that he would again become a husband and father. Despite all of it's ups and downs, his decision to put down roots in Chicago had saved him, but, it was here, now, in Boston, that they would fully take root and flourish, of that he was sure. Setting the bottle on the table he rose, Abby was waiting.