Impossible Things, page 1
Her earliest dreams were of faraway places, grand adventures, and finding someone that she could be herself with, someone like her. As she grew up she tried to hold onto those dreams, tried to fight against the tide of pessimism that was the way of the world in which she lived, but she wasn’t able to, and as each year passed her dreams became more and more faded until they were only faint whispers in her heart. By the time she was a teenager, the little girl that she had once been was a stranger, even to herself.
The young woman that she had become over the years was one that had learned to fit in, to become someone that others found acceptable, and someone who dreamed conventional dreams.
But to those that had known her before, and accepted her for who she was, it seemed as if the butterfly had gone back into her cocoon. Her beauty, remarkable as a child, seemed to fade along with her dreams, until she was simply pretty. Normal. The girl next door.
At least on the surface.
Underneath it all, unknown even to herself, deeply buried beneath others expectations, was still that little girl, and that little girl and her suppressed dreams found their way out, the way that they always manage to, one way or another. For her they found their way out through addiction.
Most of the time she was able to control her addiction, to push it down and go about her normal life, there were even weeks when she didn’t feel a single craving. But then, without warning, the need would come over her. The fever that she knew so well would start under her skin as a slow burn in the pit of her stomach and it would work its way through muscle and bone, until it filled her body and became all that she could think about.
When it was at its worst she was consumed with it. She would do anything that she had to do to stop the craving. She spent hours online hoping to slack it. But there always came a point when pictures were no longer enough, and when that point came she would skip classes, call in sick to work, lie to her friends, family and boyfriend and give in to the addiction. She would wallow in it, spend money that she couldn’t afford, and let it consume her until the fever was banked. Only then was she able to resume control of her life again.
It was an addiction that she had been fighting for most of her life, but besides her parents no one else knew of her deep, dark secret, and that was the way that she planned on keeping it. As a teenager she had caused a lot of trouble and heartache for her parents because she had become a thief, stealing in order to satisfy her cravings.
Each time that she got caught her parents would somehow talk her way out of the trouble, but on the way home the lectures would start, and as long as she lived she would never be able to forget the droning of her father’s voice as he told her over and over again that there was no use in wanting things that she couldn’t have, of dreaming of a different life, or of wishing for more.
She was who she was, and it was time for her to face reality.
She resented his lectures and she resented the disappointment that crossed his face every time he looked at her. She felt lost and alone in a world that she didn’t understand and that didn’t want to understand her.
With no other way out, she poured herself into her studies, graduated at the top of her high school class, and received a scholarship to a prestigious college in the north.
Her parents were proud of her; she felt nothing.
It was at her graduation dinner that she realized that everything hadn’t been forgotten. No matter how much she did, no matter how hard she worked, it was never going to be enough for her dad. To him she would always be the trouble-making teenager wanting impossible things.
They had ordered their meals and were about to start on their salads when her dad handed her a long velvet box. She fought to stay calm as she accepted it and gently opened the lid. She managed to smile down at the strand of pearls inside, and then up her dad as she said, “Thank you.”
He beamed back at her, obviously proud of himself as he said, “You’ve worked hard these past few years and you deserve them. I know they may not be what you want, but these are perfect for you. They’re the kind of jewels that a real lady wears, they’re normal and decent.”
Lucy turned to her mother and smiled again, but she could see from the look in her mom’s eyes that she didn’t buy it, and later, when her dad got up to use the restroom, her mom moved to his seat and reached out to touch her. “Lucy I tried to tell him that it was a bad idea but you know your father, he wouldn’t listen to me.”
Lucy avoided looking at her mom as she asked, “Mom what is his idea of a real lady? Do you even know? He’s been preaching that line at me for eighteen years and I still don’t know what it means. Nothing I do is ever good enough for him.”
She stopped. She had said too much, revealed too much. She took a deep breath and asked, “Are they real?”
Her mother nodded. “Of course they are, and he’ll never know if you take them back or sell them and get a strand of fakes.”
Lucy looked up as her mother reached into her purse and pulled out a slip of paper. “Here’s the receipt. Take them back and get what you want or get a store credit. Just buy a fake necklace to wear around him.”
Lucy nodded and put the receipt in her purse. She went to pick up her drink but her mother stopped her with a hand on her arm. “What now? Will you go there? I mean…will you go and see her before you start school?”
Shocked at the change of subject Lucy looked around to see where he dad was. She and her mom hadn’t discussed her grandmother in over ten years. “Mom I don’t need a lecture.”
“No! No. I wasn’t going to give you one. I just thought that if you see her…would you give her my love and tell her that I miss her?”
Lucy saw the tears pool in her mom’s eyes and she had to fight not to cry herself. “Mom why? Why did you let him keep us from her? Why do you stay with him?”
Her mother sniffed and used her napkin to carefully dab the corners of her eyes. She sat up straight and carefully brushed down the jacket of her pale pink suit. She looked elegant and dignified, like a lady, as she said, “I know you don’t understand. I know you think he’s cold and uncaring but he’s not always. He loves me, and he loves you. He just wants us to be a normal family.”
Lucy nodded even though she didn’t understand.
She was eighteen-years-old and her heart ached with suppressed desires and dreams. The little girl that she had once been hadn’t wanted to be normal. She’d just wanted to be herself.
But teenage Lucy had been pretending for so long that she no longer knew who that was.
Her father came back to the table at that point and they had resumed their bland and meaningless conversation in which a lot was said but none of it meant anything.
Just like a normal family.
Life away from her parents hadn’t gone according to plan. Instead of making the trip to Europe to see her grandmother, like she had been planning for years, she had moved into her apartment near her University and within two hours she’d met Sam.
Sweet, wonderful, perfect Sam, who was as normal as normal could get.
Loving Sam had been a revelation to her. Theirs wasn’t the kind of love that she had dreamed of as a young girl. It wasn’t a meeting of like-minded souls, and it wasn’t a fire that burned out of control like her secret desires. It was a lonely girl meeting a handsome boy who made her feel wanted.
It was a slow process of adaptation that settled in her heart and finally around her life. She hadn’t known before Sam that there was more than one kind of love.
It took only a month for him to convince her that they should live together,
If she ever thought about her dreams, which happened less and less as time went by, they were distant, fleeting thoughts that she quickly pushed away. She told herself that she was blessed. She and Sam rarely fought and life seemed, not magical and exciting, but happy, in a way that she had never expected.
College raced by because life was full and because she enjoyed what she was studying. Her dad wanted her to major in something sensible like nursing or accounting but because he wasn’t paying she realized that for once she didn’t need his approval, so she majored in architecture and loved every minute of it.
She didn’t realize it but the more time that she spent doing what she loved, the more she began to dream again. Her new dreams weren’t the grand fantasies of childhood though, her new dreams were just of going to grad school with the hope that one day she would be able to design buildings that would stand forever. It was an acceptable, if naive dream, and one that society, which valued ambition, could understand.
She spent her college years working hard to turn her secret desires off and to channel her energy into something acceptable. There were times when the old craving would rear its head, but those times were few and far between.
In four years of college, it had only overtaken her twice, and during those times she had lied to Sam and left the city. She told him that she was going away with friends but the truth was that she was traveling to far off cities where she could slack her desires.
When she came back she felt sated but dirty. All it took was one look at Sam’s innocent, loving face and she felt like the worst person in the world. She spent weeks making it up to him, being more attentive and loving, while hiding the bills that she’d racked up. More than once she thought about telling him but she knew that he was like her father. He was too normal to understand.
He would try to understand, of that she had no doubt. Unlike her father, Sam tried to be sensitive to her feelings. When she talked of the dreams that she had for designing buildings that would mean something to future generations, he listened, but he couldn’t really understand. He was too practical, too rooted in a world of reality that was ugly, cold, and without meaning.
He could only comprehend what he could see and touch. He could understand the building, but not the meaning behind it.
If he knew the true depths of her desires, then he might think badly of her and she’d had enough of that to last a lifetime.
Years passed and she found it easier and easier to fit in, to think like everyone else.
She was happy for the most part. After all it wasn’t possible to be happy all the time; at least that was what she was told.
She and Sam worked, paid their bills, ran errands, made love a few times a week, and went on vacation. They lived normal lives like everyone else they knew. If she had moments when she felt like crying, moments when she wanted to run away from it all that was probably normal as well, though she never asked any of her friends, just in case they didn’t feel that way.
She and Sam had both finished graduate programs and Lucy was working as an intern while studying for her license when Sam came home with an announcement.
He had secretly applied to an intern program in London and been accepted.
Lucy was shocked. Horrified. “London? But Sam, why London?”
He must have seen the look of fear on her face and it was clear that he didn’t understand it. “Why London? It’s for you of course. I know you miss your grandmother and it was because of me that you didn’t go see her that first summer that we met. So I thought you’d like to live in London to be near her while she’s still alive.”
Lucy shook her head trying to clear the image of her grandmother dying. Such a thought felt like a stab in the heart. Though she hadn’t seen her grandmother in years Lucy still pictured her as a strong, forty-something woman. A world without her grandmother in it wasn’t one that Lucy wanted to be in.
When she didn’t respond Sam went on, “If its money that you’re worried about, don’t. The internship comes with a salary. Plus I’ve been saving all these years. We’ll be fine, I promise.”
Lucy tried to control the tide of emotions that swept through her. She was scared, confused, but most of all she was furious. He had it all wrapped up, and was presenting it to her with a bow on it, and though he claimed it was for her, he hadn’t really thought about her at all. She was doing an important internship, one that would ensure a good job and she was working hard to prepare for her examinations.
It was the worst possible time for her to leave the States, and what gave him the idea that he could decide their future without consulting her?
He smiled at her, proud of himself, confident in his decision, and in his right to dictate her life, and she wanted to smack him. The urge was so strong that she had to fight it, to reach down and clasp her hands together so that they didn’t reach for him of their own accord.
He leaned forward to kiss her and when his mouth touched hers she wanted to bite him.
But she didn’t.
Like she did with everything else in her life, she pushed the anger down.
When he pulled her hard against him and whispered in her ear, “I love you so much Lucy,” she nodded against his neck and said, “I love you too.”
Her answer was automatic, a learned response. She did love him, but she was hurt and angry.
She tried to tell herself that she could find an internship in London and continue to study for her exam. She would also be close to her grandmother whom she had loved and worshiped as a child. It would be fine.
She was…almost positive of it.
When she pushed it down hard enough her anger at Sam taking control of her life without asking vanished like a puff of smoke. But it was quickly replaced by a new and more powerful emotion-fear. The fear that her grandmother hadn’t changed and that she wouldn’t like Sam and wouldn’t understand the person that Lucy had become.
After all, she was the one who had introduced Lucy to a different kind of life. She was the one who had whispered stories of a different world, of a different path, to young Lucy. She was the one who made her want things that she shouldn’t want.
Her grandmother had said that those things were in their blood, that their very blood contained a legacy of longing, of dreams, and of wanting a life that was far from ordinary. Lucy had strayed far from that path. What would her grandmother think of her now?
So Sam and Lucy moved to London, and everything was fine. For a while.
Her Grandmother hadn’t changed at all during the twenty years that they had been apart. She met Sam and Lucy at the airport and as Lucy walked through the baggage claim area strong arms wrapped in mink enveloped her.
“Luciana Ophelia, I have missed you so much!”
Lucy smiled at Sam’s laugh and when her grandmother let her go she turned to him with a blush on her face. Sam smiled and raised an eyebrow and asked, “Luciana Ophelia?”
Before she could reply her grandmother reached out, grabbed Sam, and pulled him to her. “What a handsome young man you are. No wonder my Luciana Ophelia fell in love with you.”
Lucy couldn’t help but laugh at the look on Sam’s face as he was engulfed in her grandmother’s strong arms. He was at least a foot taller than her grandmother, and he had to bend at an odd angle to stay upright as her grandmother pulled his head to her shoulder. Pushing him back her grandmother looked up at his face before grabbing him again and planting a kiss on his cheek that left behind a red lipstick stain. “Young man I am so glad to meet you!”
Sam smiled at her in bewilderment, but said, “You too Ma’am.”
Her grandmother made a clicking sound of di
She pulled Lucy to her again and kissed her before turning back to Sam and saying, “I can see from your expression that our Luciana never told you her real name. Now that’s a story to tell, so come along and let’s get a drink.”
Before Sam could protest her grandmother had him by the arm and was pulling him along with her. Lucy smiled at him when he turned to look at her. She’d started to follow behind them when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned to see that a man, only a few years older than she was, and wearing an immaculate dark suit, was standing at her side. He smiled at her and extended his hand. “Luciana pleased to meet you. I’m Rodrigo.”
He was gorgeous, probably the most gorgeous man that she had ever seen. He was young, and Italian, if his name and the accent that she heard in his voice were anything to go by. She grinned at him and couldn’t help asking as she shook his hand, “Measure for Measure?”
He nodded, smiled and bent his head over her hand to kiss it in an old world manner that instantly charmed her. He stood straight, waved his hand and two porters instantly appeared who proceeded to load her and Sam’s luggage on a cart.
“Is this all you have?” he asked.
She could hear the surprise in his voice and she smiled. “This is everything that we own.”
Rodrigo smiled and shook his head in surprise. “Well don’t let your grandmother know that unless you want to be taken shopping.”
When he held out his arm she hooked hers through it.
“Please allow your grandfather to escort you,” he said and she laughed as they followed the scent of her grandmother’s perfume.
They found Isabella and Sam already seated at a small table in the VIP lounge. A waiter was hovering over them and Lucy felt guilty when she saw the shell-shocked look on Sam’s face. She really should have tried to prepare him, but how did you explain someone like her grandmother? It would be like trying to describe a Picasso to a blind person. How could you talk about color and light when the other person had no idea what they even were?