Lex and Lu(8)

By: J. Santiago

“I want you to go home,” Jo told her.

Anger hit Lu like a punch to the gut. “I am not leaving. I need to be here. You can’t keep deciding my fate for me.” All the resentment that had built up over the last eight years rose up like bile in her throat.

Jo took Lu’s other hand and caressed them both, again comforting her as she had done many times over the years. “You misunderstand me, Lu. I want you to go home and get my grandchild. I think it’s time that Lex meet his daughter.”


“What are you going to do, Lu?” Willa asked. Walking over to where Lu was sitting on her bed, Willa gently rubbed her back. “Whatever you want to do, you know I’ve got your back. No pun intended.”

“Ugh, Will. I don’t know.” Lu stood up, disengaging herself from Willa’s contact. She didn’t want to be touched. She needed space to think. “I haven’t thought this far ahead. Why does everyone assume I have a plan all carved out for this funeral?”

“Shit, Lu, you always have a plan. You were born with a miniature FranklinCovey planner in your hand.”

“Yes. I have a plan for school and a plan for Nina. But I never planned on Lex Pellitteri. And see what happened?”

Willa couldn’t help it. She laughed. “You’re actually cracking jokes?”

“No, Will!” Lu snapped, exasperated. “I don’t think any part of this is funny.”

“Sorry. Have you talked to mom about it?” Willa asked.

“No. I haven’t had a chance. And I certainly didn’t expect for Dr. J. to tell me that it was time to tell Lex. I thought she was going to order me to go home—tell me that I wasn’t welcome. And instead she orders me to go get Nina. I thought I was doing the right thing coming alone. I don’t want to spring his daughter on him. Doesn’t he deserve an explanation? And what if he doesn’t want her? There’s no guarantee that he is going to want his eight-year-old-daughter that he didn’t even know existed.”

“You don’t want him to hate you,” Willa observed. “You want to break it to him and give him a chance to get used to it. But, Lu, he’s going to want his daughter. And he’s going to hate you. And his mother. And our mother. And maybe even Pete.”

“Right, I know that. And knowing that, should I tell him he has a daughter right after he’s lost his father? Because while he might be excited about having a child—and that’s probably the wrong word—he’ll find out that everyone who loves him has deceived him for the last eight years. How can I do that to him?”

Willa made a fist with one hand and put it against the palm of her other. “Rock,” she said, shaking her fist. “Hard place!”

Lu wanted to engage in a full-fledged temper tantrum. She wanted to fall on the floor, cry, and beat her fists and kick her feet. She wanted to have a throw-down that would make Nina proud. Frustrated and sad and scared, she walked to the window of her old bedroom. It faced the front of the house and provided a good view of the street. Out this window she would crawl, onto the flat part of the roof, to sit and think, to escape her room. It was on the roof that she had told Lex she was pregnant. There, they had made a plan for their future. There, she had retreated when their parents stepped in and changed the plan.

Turning away from the window, she sat heavily upon her bed. “So what’s the plan for the next few days?”

“Dad gets back soon. He caught the first flight he could from Australia. Takes a while to get back from down under.”

Lu acknowledged that with a nod. “And the arrangements for Mr. P.?”

“Oh, sorry. The viewing is tomorrow. One from 10:00 to 2:00 and then another from 6:00 to 8:00. Memorial service on Friday at 10:00. No burial. They are cremating him. And I think it’s a closed casket.”

“Do you know if Lex is staying after that? Is he staying for the weekend? Does he have to get back?”

“Sorry, sweetie. I don’t know his plans.” Willa knew Lu was trying to work out what to do. She wanted to be able to help her by talking it through, but often, Lu planned on her own and shared her thoughts after she had formulated them.

“What about after the funeral? People going back to the house?”

“Oh, I do know something of Lex’s plans,” Willa said excitedly. “They were going to read the will on Saturday. Something about Lex having to get back before Monday.”

“So I have three days?” Lu murmured without looking for a response. She turned away from Willa, walking back to the window. “Three days.” Leaning her head against the pane, she let the tears flow. She cried for the children they had been, for the decisions that had been made, for the loss of Mr. P. She cried because she had never been away from Nina for more than the length of a school day. And she cried because she suddenly realized that the dream she had buried for the last eight years, the one where she and Lex figured everything out and became a family with their daughter, that dream was never going to come true.

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