Friday Fiction – As she passed by Elizabeth’s room
As she passed by Elizabeth’s room for a second time, Cyndi distinctly heard JT’s voice saying, “I want out!” She would have lingered to catch the remainder of the conversation, but the man in 410 was frantically shouting, “Nurse! Nurse!”
Charles glared at JT and growled, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’ve gotta walk away from this,” JT answered, shaking his head remorsefully. “I’m sorry Liz’s sick. I’m sorry things are the way they are, but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. I’ve got my own problems and I can’t take on the responsibility of hers.”
“Responsibility?” Charlie echoed, “What responsibility have you—”
“I’ve got three kids and a business going down the tubes. That’s more than I can handle. I gotta take care of me and the kids. There’s no way I can care for Liz. She’s your daughter, you’ve got the money, you take care of her.”
“We enjoy having Elizabeth with us,” Claire said, her anger checked in an effort not to throw more wood on what was quickly turning into a bonfire, “…but she wants to be with you and the kids.”
“I can’t help that. I’m up to my ass in bills. I got problems with no answers, and I don’t want Liz coming back to my house!”
“How dare you!” Charlie snapped. “That house is as much hers as yours. More perhaps. She’s got every right to—”
“No she doesn’t!” Jeffrey’s voice grew belligerent.
“We’ll see about that!” Charlie answered.
“Try it. I’m telling you right now, you bring her back to my house and I’ll walk out. I’ll take all three kids with me and she can sit there and die alone!”
Charlie started toward JT, “You rotten—”
Elizabeth followed every word of the argument, her eyes darting from father to husband, husband to father. “No, Daddy!” she finally screamed.
Charles stopped and turned to his daughter.
“You can’t make Jeffrey want me if he doesn’t,” she said. She closed her eyes and pictured JT’s blue Buick—a car he at first adored, a car he waxed and polished until it sparkled like a diamond—but once there was a dent in the rear fender, it became a car he could no longer stand to drive. Within weeks the Buick was replaced with a new Pontiac. She remembered the Bulova watch that kept perfect time but was tossed away when JT discovered a hairline crack in the crystal. The green cashmere sweater she’d bought for him while they were on their honeymoon; gone because of the smallest snag imaginable. Flawed as she had become, Elizabeth knew there was no chance he would hold onto her.
When she opened her eyes again, he was gone.