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Ava, Chapter 43: Liz

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Posted to June 27, 2004

     I feel good, I feel relaxed, not focused really, and still a bit tired, but I also feel waterlogged and I'm ready to get out of the bath.  I manage to climb to my feet, I'm still a little wobbly, but I'm stepping out when the door opens.  Phoebe looks at me and takes a little too long to turn bright red and shut her eyes.

      "Towels in cabinet," she mumbles and closes the door.

        How old is she?  She acts like a ten year old, but I know I'm blushing in response.  I get dressed in someone else's clothes that are too big.  Ava is downstairs.  I think about Tess, and I don't want to, because thinking about her gets me so confused.  Things were never simple between us though.  She confused me, she was stealing my boyfriend and she made me feel guilty for trying to stop her.  She was tiny and innocent and manipulative and evil.  She was kissing my boyfriend and I felt oh, okay this is how it's supposed to be.  I'm not like Maria, I don't feel like I deserve anything I don't work for.  And I didn't feel like I worked for Max.  he was just there, and he would go when he wanted to.  I didn't own him, and here she was, right on time, to take him away.  That was fine, but everyone looked at me funny when it didn't seem like I was going to fight for him.  But then he decided that he wanted me, but future Max told me how it had to be, and I wanted Tess to stay, so I made her stay with my own little manipulations.  We're not that different.  But then Max screwed everything up.  He got her pregnant.  And then I found out that she had screwed up even worse, and it ended up with Alex dying.  I could barely believe it.  she had gotten to me too with her little I'm innocent, I'm vulnerable, all I want is love sort of trick.  But she was tough, and she got what she wanted, and I admired that too, just like I admired it in Maria.  I never had it.  all I got was good grades.  I didn't have the confidence that any of my blonde friends did, that they showed to the world.

      But look at me now.  I make myself smile.  Max was wonderful.  I would have been happy with him.  Except for two things, the running, and the Tess.  I have decided that I am going to have a life.  I am going to do what I want to do.  If he wont let me then I don't have to be with him.  Don't I deserve as much of my dreams as he does.  I am not going to Antar as either his queen or his concubine.  My life is here, and the fact is that I'm not Tess.  My life doesn't revolve around him, and if he wanted it to he should have chosen her.  I don't understand why he didn't.  She was beautiful.  She was complicated, seductive with the face of a child and the eyes of the devil.  Was she too easy?  Was she not enough of a challenge for you, Max?  Did you not feel worthy?  Was she too much for you?  She was too perfect, too strong, but you could take me, entirely normal, you didn't care about my mind so my excellence in that area meant nothing to you.  What was it about me?  Did you want someone who would follow your orders?  Someone who might actually leave you?  I don't know whether it was because I wasn't as amazing as her, or because I was better than her.  What if you could have had us both?  What if I had let her innocent wickedness mesmerize me?  What if I had been confident enough to brush that incorrigible strand of hair out of her face?  What if you had watched from the Crashdown while we kissed in the rain?  Do you see these crazy fantasies when you kiss me?  Do they turn you on?  Did I have these fantasies before you showed me how to own her?  I can't remember.

     I shake it off and step out of the bathroom.  Phoebe's leaning against the banister and the remnants of her blush come back.  She's a kid, much more of a kid than me.  She leads me downstairs to where Ava and the red headed girl who ran out, and apparently came back are setting the table.  A woman with dark hair and sharp dark eyes is supervising from the stove.  Another girl in light brown pigtails is washing lettuce.  The house was very light and pleasant, but it reminded me of a sorority.  I wonder if I would have joined a sorority.  I wonder what Tess would have studied if she had been, well, human, and not studying how to win Max from a somewhat inept teacher.  I wonder what she would have done with her life if she hadn't killed herself, and I wonder why I care?  But it's not just about her.  If it had been normal for anyone, what would we have done?  Maybe Max would have become a doctor, a pediatrician.  Maybe Michael would have become an artist, or a construction worker, or joined the Marines.  Our fashion goddess Isabel?  A model, a designer, a file clerk?  Who knows?  What about Alex?  I don't want to think of it.

     Phoebe sits me down even though I am feeling much better, and I watch Ava shuffle around with the plates and silverware.  The red headed girl whose name is Paige is looking at her but looking away whenever Ava turns in her direction.

     The dark haired woman has called over the pigtailed one and is pointing to a candle and explaining something.  Phoebe is sitting next to me, leaning on the table and watching them with a pathetic expression on her face.

     I feel kind of free.  Love is overrated.  I'm not trapped and miserable at the whim of another.  I can control whether I'm happy or sad.  I'm not dancing carefully around an awkward subject.  Sure love is exciting, but it can only be exciting for so long before it gets tiring and falls apart.  I wouldn't mind a routine kind of love, one where I'm not terrified every second, dancing between fear of death, fear of being left, and fear of losing your ability to make decisions.  All your decisions become theirs, all your choices affect them and your life is not your own.  But mine is.  My life is my own.

Continue to Chapter 44

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