Out into the wind
Taken by time
A Tales of Us story..
Binghamton, New York, 1998….
“Keep the fuck away from my sister,” the kid said as he punched Amy; the blow glancing off her temple as her glasses flew off and over the bridge railing to the water below. She went to stand up but the kid hit her on the left ear; sending her sprawling.
“Eric? Would you just stop,” his sister Autumn screamed. She went to step past her brother but he grabbed her hand; spinning her around.
“No! This … fuck…. Just…..” He stammered; finally settling for a mean glare cast at Amy until he dragged Autumn down the road in protest. Amy struggled to sit up and ended leaning with her back against the railing as blood trickled off her cheek from the split lip she got when her face hit the pavement.
“All I want to do is live…” Her plaint trailed off; replaced by all too familiar sobs. One of the kids from the next block over from her house stopped long enough to shake his head. Three more kids passed by until a slight-looking boy from school offered her a hand up. She nodded nervously as she wiped the last remaining tears from her face with her jacket sleeve; removing for the most part the two streaks of runny mascara as well.
“I’m….I’m sorry,” the boy said weakly. While he was nowhere near them when Eric hit her, he still felt guilty.
“I shoulda said something yesterday when he went off on you.”
“Thanks …but he just would have beat you down. I… I don’t care….I…” The boy meant well, but Amy still felt vulnerable.
“You…. Why do you dress that way? It’s like….”
“Like I’m asking for it? Thanks….” She didn’t even have the strength to be sarcastic. She turned away and leaned against the railing; standing tiptoe.
“What the fuck,” the boy said loudly as he grabbed her arm. She turned around to face him; her eyes brimming with tears once again.
“You thought? I was just looking to see if my glasses… we don’t have insurance….oh just forget it.” she pulled her arm free and started to run down the road toward home. As she passed the far end of the bridge, she heard the boy yell.
“See if I bother anymore. Eric was right…You are a fucking freak!” He called after her. Michael Russo actually cared about her…. He just didn’t see his sister the way she saw herself.
And just like that, Amy went away. A departure that would provide only marginal relief from one pain while compounding the pain and sadness of being the boy everyone expected her, to be. So Amy Russo left; replaced once again by Anthony Russo. Her family…. Her classmates…. Everyone would welcome the reasonable, sane, and altogether depressed Tony Russo; recently returned from a brief foray into authenticity….. Amy might not have jumped off that bridge, but she would spend a lifetime in hiding while Tony would spend more than just a bit of time jumping in front of peril.
Binghamton, New York, Lourdes Hospital, 2011….
We fought them
On great white sand
Tony plopped down in the metal chair in the make-shift sanctuary in the corner of the locker room; closing his eyes in exhaustion after the second of two double shifts that week. He leaned back against the wall until a voice interrupted his rest. He turned to find a familiar figure propped against a locker.
“A very wise man once told me that if you keep it up that pace, it will catch up to you.” The man smiled; a mixture between wry and dread. Tony smiled back; offering a reluctant acknowledgment of his best friend’s word.
“You see your therapist this week?” Jimmy Chen tilted his head in hopeful anticipation. Tony nodded but turned away.
“You do know that work can only keep the pain away for so long…..”
“Yes,” the voice was different than what either of them could recall, which evoked a contented sigh from Jimmy.
“It… it doesn’t…. nothing but reality can,” Tony replied. The irony of the moment wasn’t lost on Jimmy, who eyed his friend up and down.
“Nothing succeeds better than success, right? Nothing but life makes life better?” His quip pulled a soft laugh from Tony. Changes went beyond the obvious, leaving Jimmy’s best friend willingly vulnerable.
“You …. You tell her yet?” Jimmy stood up and walked over; pulling Tony to his feet.
“Connie and I …. We want to be with you when you tell her.” Jimmy patted Tony’s back; awkward more for his friend, since he believed in Tony.
“We’re here for you....both. And Autumn loves you, “Jimmy shrugged and smiled, Years out of touch almost swept away by chance when Tony reconnected with his childhood sweetheart.
“I….I couldn’t bear it Jim….if she?” Tony turned his gaze downward…..
At the office of Alison Devereaux, LPC
It’s important,” the kind woman said in a soothing near-whisper; that tone that says, shhhh… it’s going to be alright? The younger woman winced in nervous anticipation,
“I can’t,” she said as she closed her eyes nonetheless.
“Go ahead…. See your safe place? What was it?” Alison knew exactly what her client’s safe place was; having discussed it at length only two weeks earlier.
“No one can harm you, right? Not your Dad or your brother. And what did you say last time?”
"I can be me.” The woman smiled weakly but the light in her eyes seemed much more intense. The long-departed dog licked her hands; back and forth as if he was still alive. She sat peacefully; as if the rocking chair actually did still exist. The bedroom window might not actually have been off to her left but the soft breeze and the window were as real as they could be; gentle reminders that not all of her childhood was bad.
“I’m so afraid, Alison? I’m not even sure she’ll still like me. And now this?”
Even as the young woman cast her visage downward in shame, she came back to the present. Her best friend was still standing beside her; arms enfolding her like an eagle protecting her young. Odd that someone as young and even fatherly would be like a mother to him.
“You’re here to stay and I really believe Autumn will be as well. You’ve come so far. thirteen…. THIRTEEN months sober and you’re finally you.” While her other self was still very much a part of her, she finally had returned…at least at home. But today was the first day since her teens that Amy Lynn Russo ventured into Tony’s world. Finally taking care of herself because all of her was worth the care.
“Saturday, our place.” Jimmy patted Amy/Tony on the back once more. And while there was a time when Tony would not have dared to be real, Amy dare not…
Jimmy and Connie Chen’s home that at Saturday….
Connie sat on the couch in the family room next to a reasonably composed-looking woman. Jimmy walked in from the kitchen and sat down in one of the chairs across from the two after moving a brown stuffed toy bear.
“You want?” He held up the bear and Amy nodded. It might have seemed patronizing, but the bear had done two tours in Afghanistan, and was a part of Jimmy’s and Tony’s survival; being passed back and forth for years. Jimmy resisted the temptation to toss the bear, and instead stood up and handed the bear to Amy. She cradled the bear in her arms like a mother receiving a new-born.
Jimmy leaned closer and did something brand-new. Connie nodded in agreement as Jimmy kissed his best friend’s cheek; an outward sign of the brother-to-sister relationship they shared from the moment Tony had confessed to Jimmy about the person who was now emerging. She looked up into Jimmy’s eyes, and that reality of life once again reminded her that even though her family abandoned her in a way and she might have abandoned herself; here and now she had a family that loved her.
The love withheld by her brother and his family now fulfilled by Jimmy and Connie. And their two girls were truly her nieces. Alice and Mei loved 'Uncle' Tony, and now welcomed their brand new but there-all-along Gūjè Amy. She turned to Connie and bit her lip as her eyes welled with tears. Connie pulled her into a hug as she wept in relief.
Your deep seeing eyes
We wanted only to love
How will I find you again?
Fate or chance
A short while later….
Alice sat on the couch; holding Amy’s hand; deftly applying a second coat of pink in Amy’s first-ever gift of nail polish. The teen in both of them giggled at the moment; made even more light-hearted as Mei sat in the floor as she carefully repeated her sister’s art with Gūjè Amy’s toes. The doorbell rang.
”Ladies? I’m just taking dinner out of the oven. Would one of you get the door?” Mei stood up.
“Got it. Mom” She walked quickly to the door and opened it. A woman about her parent’s age stood nervously on the landing. Pretty, but with an almost sad look about her.
“Hi. I think I’m at the right place? The Chen home?” Her tone was almost apologetic. Amy went to stand up but her body refused to cooperate. Alice squeezed her arm in encouragement as Mei ushered their guest into the family room. Autumn’s and Amy’s gazes met. The emotion of the moment proved too much and Amy put her hand up; covering her face even as she bowed her head in shame. A second late she felt the soft touch if a hand to her chin.
“Tony?” The name would have almost been intrusive but for the following words; accompanied by the same gentle hand urging Amy to look up.
“No….Amy. It’s you…. You came back. You came back.”
Autumn knelt in front of Amy and rested her head against Amy’s knees; sobbing. Alice pulled back and stood up; her hand reluctantly pulling away. She turned and saw her parents holding each other as their tears seemed to participate n the moment. She turned to Mei and then back to her parents in question; her eyes already seeing the answer as Jimmy nodded and smiled.
Your deep seeing eyes
You are wonderful light
My only love
Clay by Goldfrapp
Goldfrapp is Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory
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