Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most. Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, ...(more)
"Tell me a naked truth, Lily."
"Pertaining to what?"
He shrugs. "I don't know. Something you aren't proud of. Something that will make me feel a little less screwed up on the inside."
He's staring up at the sky, waiting on me to answer. My eyes follow the line of his jaw, the curve of his cheeks, the outline of his lips. His eyebrows are drawn together in contemplation. I don't understand why, but he seems to need conversation right now. I think about his question and try to find an honest answer. When I come up with one, I look away from him and back up to the sky.
"My father was abusive. Not to me--to my mother. He would get so angry when they fought that sometimes he would hit her. When that happened, he would spend the next week or two making up for it. He would do things like buy her flowers or take us out to a nice dinner. Sometimes he would buy me stuff because he knew I hated it when they fought. When I was a kid, I found myself looking forward to the nights they would fight. Because I knew if he hit her, the two weeks that followed would be great." I pause. I'm not sure I've ever admitted that to myself. "Of course if I could, I would have made it to where he never touched her. But the abuse was inevitable with their marriage, and it became our norm. When I got older, I realized that not doing something about it made me just as guilty. I spent most of my life hating him for being such a bad person, but I'm not so sure I'm much better. Maybe we're both bad people."
Ryle looks over at me with a thoughtful expression. "Lily," he says pointedly. "There is no such thing as bad people. We're all just people who sometimes do bad things."
I open my mouth to respond, but his words strike me silent. We're all just people who sometimes do bad things. I guess that's true in a way. No one is exclusively bad, nor is anyone exclusively good. Some are just forced to work harder at suppressing the bad.
"Your turn," I tell him.
Based on his reaction, I think he might not want to play his own game. He sighs heavily and runs a hand through his hair. He opens his mouth to speak, but then clamps it shut again. He thinks for a bit, and then finally speaks. "I watched a little boy die tonight." His voice is despondent. "He was only five years old. He and his little brother found a gun in his parents' bedroom. The younger brother was holding it and it went off by accident."
My stomach flips. I think this may be a little too much truth for me.
Tell me another one," he says. "I feel like mine was a little more twisted than yours."
I disagree, but I tell him about the twisted thing I did a mere twelve hours ago.
"My mother asked me two days ago if I would deliver the eulogy at my father's funeral today. I told her I didn't feel comfortable--that I might be crying too hard to speak in front of a crowd--but that was a lie. I just didn't want to do it because I feel like eulogies should be delivered by those who respected the deceased. And I didn't much respect my father."
"Did you do it?"
I nod. "Yeah. This morning." I sit up and pull my legs beneath me as I face him. "You want to hear it?"
He smiles. "Absolutely."
I fold my hands in my lap and inhale a breath. "I had no idea what to say. About an hour before the funeral, I told my mother I didn't want to do it. She said it was simple and that my father would have wanted me to do it. She said all I had to do was walk up to the podium and say five great things about my father. So . . . that's exactly what I did."
Ryle lifts up onto his elbow, appearing even more interested. He can tell by the look on my face that it gets worse. "Oh, no, Lily. What did you do?"
"Here. Let me just reenact it for you." I stand up and walk around to the other side of my chair. I stand tall and act like I'm looking out over the same crowded room I was met with this morning. I clear my throat.
"Hello. My name is Lily Bloom, daughter of the late Andrew Bloom. Thank you all for joining us today as we mourn his loss. I wanted to take a moment to honor his life by sharing with you five great things about my father. The first thing . . ."
I look down at Ryle and shrug. "That's it."
He sits up. "What do you mean?"
I take a seat on my lounge chair and lie back down. "I stood up there for two solid minutes without saying another word. There wasn't one great thing I could say about that man--so I just stared silently at the crowd until my mother realized what I was doing and had my uncle remove me from the podium."
Ryle tilts his head. "Are you kidding me? You gave the anti-eulogy at your own father's funeral?"
I nod. "I'm not proud of it. I don't think. I mean, if I had my way, he would have been a much better person and I would have stood up there and talked for an hour."
Ryle lies back down. "Wow," he says, shaking his head. "You're kind of my hero. You just roasted a dead guy."
"Yeah, well. Naked truth hurts."
I laugh. "Your turn."
"I can't top that," he says.
"I'm sure you can come close."
"I'm not sure I can."
I roll my eyes. "Yes you can. Don't make me feel like the worst person out of the two of us. Tell me the most recent thought you've had that most people wouldn't say out loud."
He pulls his hands up behind his head and looks me straight in the eye. "I want to fuck you."
My mouth falls open. Then I clamp it shut again.
I think I might be speechless.