Fall Ep. 44

“Angela.”

No, I didn’t go over to her house or office to give her the pregnant woman ass kicking. Is it my fault that I saw her at the mall?

She turned and was genuinely surprised when she saw me. She left the Happy Feet sandals that she was looking at and went to me, a half-hearted smile pasted on her face. “JJ,” Angela greeted me, giving me a buss on both cheeks. I nodded to acknowledge her, my face hard.

“I guess Gabe already told you,” she said slowly, gauging if I’d flare up any moment now at this very public place. “He’s hurt. Why do you have to do that?” I accused, and she returned my glare with a pained look. “Don’t you think I’m hurting, too? Gabe was one-of-a-kind—”

“And the best way to deal with it when that one-of-a-kind person proposes marriage to you is to turn him down and break up with him. Yeah. I can see that,” I cut in, my voice rising. She pulled me aside and I saw she was with someone else—a man, which made me flare even more—and I removed her grip on my arm.

“JJ, please. All I wanted is some peace. I’m not happy with Gabe anymore, and if I stayed in the relationship it would be grossly unfair to him,” she said, her voice pleading. I looked over her shoulder to the tall, forty-ish looking man who was watching me and Angela intently, as if I have a knife in my purse and will pull it any moment to stake Angela’s heart.

That would be a very good idea, though, considering how mad I am at this woman who hurt my soon-to-be brother-in-law.

“The guy loves you, Angela, with all that he is!” I said, and she smirked. “I know, and don’t you think I felt that? I love Gabe, but sometimes it’s all just too much. I couldn’t just be that person, you know? I am holding him back. He could reach a lot of good places. If he’s just thinking of me all the time, and then he can’t be the great person he could be.”

“How can you simply just decide for both of you without even talking to him?”

My question stumped her, and I took that opportunity to give her my piece of mind. “I learned—from Miguel—that relationships, in order to work, should have at least five things: trust, communication, honesty, loyalty, and love. In the past months that we’ve been together, it’s been a lot of struggle, especially for me, because I have trust issues and I am so used to making decisions for myself. But I entered this relationship, Angela, and I know when I did that I have another person to consider in my life, and that’s Miguel—”

“That’s exactly why I broke up with Gabe, JJ. I don’t want him to consider me all the time, and I don’t want me to consider him all the time for it’s holding us both back,” she said, and I shook my head. I couldn’t grasp it: she let Gabe go because of his mere existence?

“Admit it or not, JJ: when you get into a relationship, even though that other person isn’t saying anything regarding your decisions, the mere presence of that person—and the significance of your relationship to him—influences your decision. You don’t ask him all the time what he thinks, yes, but in the back of your mind, you factor him in. Think of it this way: when your OB asked you if you wanted to know your babies’ gender, did you ask Miguel about it? When you bought the cribs that your babies will lie on, did you and Miguel have a discussion about it? When you talked to Gabe regarding this breakup, did you consider telling Miguel about it?”

I stayed silent throughout Angela’s barrage of questions, knowing where she’s driving at.

“I am just so tired of thinking about Gabe all the time, JJ. I love him, but… I love my freedom more. I don’t want to be forced into thinking about whether or not my next trip outside of the country because of a business deal is okay with Gabe or not, if the dress I wear to our next dinner would be what Gabe sees as perfect, if the CD I buy the next time he and I head to the mall is something that Gabe sees me listening to,” she continued, and I shook my head, one word coming into my mind (and I know I’m judging her too quickly): selfish.

“I hope you realize that Gabe loves you enough to accept you and whatever you want to do,” I said, and she nodded. “I do, and I just feel guilty that I’m not being fair to him, okay? I am not happy anymore. I hope he loves me enough to accept that I want him to let me go,” Angela said, her eyes brimming with tears.

“Excuse me,” said the man, and I looked up at him. He placed his arm around Angela’s waist, seemingly protective of her. “Angela?” he said in a deep voice.

“It’s okay. She’s Gabe’s sister-in-law, and I just had to explain to her why I needed to hurt Gabe,” she said, her voice faltering in the end. “I’m Chris, Angela’s brother,” he quipped, and I nodded. “I hope you’ll be happy, Angela,” I merely said, and I started to walk away.

I started to think of myself and Miguel. Was I holding him back because of my mere existence—presence—in his life?

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