6Emilia woke up to the sound of June and April running up and down the stairs. They were in a hurry to get to school and they were very sorry to have woken her up. She waved it off and told them it was okay and busied herself with helping them get dressed and packing their school bags. She did not know when she fell asleep. She was tossing around in bed last night, in a half-asleep state and she could not remember when she fell asleep.
When everyone had left the house — the kids and William — she grabbed some mango shake from the fridge and sat down to have her breakfast. Vivian gave her a plate of freshly cooked vegetables and kept busying herself around the house. Emilia recalled the reminder she had pinned up last night and started to look for the best way to get around to that topic. Before she could think more, she noticed bruises on the back of her arm. She looked more closely and saw the bruises on her face that she had concealed with make up. She probably did not see the one at the back of her arm and the one on her left ankle. Emilia was frozen, realization hit her. She was sure the bruises were not there yesterday; these were from last night. The rush in the morning with the kids made sense now — they were up late, fighting. How many more nights like that had Vivian went through? She looked more than just tired and frail; she looked like a victim of abuse, so fragile yet so strong.
She went up to Vivian and gave her a hug. She had her own pain but her sister’s was graver. Vivian asked her what was wrong and she got her answer when Emilia, within seconds, got the ice pack out from the fridge and started treating her bruises. They both sat there on the kitchen floor, letting Vivian's tears fall on it; careful about the wounds that were to be dressed by the conversation that was to follow.
Emilia drove off Vivian’s pavement and to Kacey’s to get lunch. While she was driving she let the conversation between them play on and on in her head. Somehow she ended up driving to the Kacey’s at Hope Street. She did not know why; maybe she was just looking desperately for answers, maybe she just wanted to seek solace in familiarity.
She was shopping alone at Kacey’s because John wanted to help her get better and take care of her. Vivian was alone, sleeping, probably crying in her bed, after her sister convinced her to take a day off work, because her husband did exactly the opposite. How different their situations were, yet how similar was their hurt. She was wiping away tears while looking for the sushi lane. She could not explain what she was going through. All of a sudden, wave of emotions were hitting her — she was hurting, she was feeling.
She walked out of the store with two sushi lunch packs, feeling like a different person, even a lunatic. She stood there at the doorway feeling horrible: feeling sick at the thought of William, feeling so much empathy for Mrs Sanders, feeling hurt at the thought of losing John. All of a sudden, she started breathing rapidly, her heart was beating faster than those drumrolls in songs that John used to listen to and she started feeling hazy. She was having a panic attack. Out of the blue, she felt a hand touch her. Through her hazy eyes, she could tell it was a little girl.
She heard a soft voice say, “You’ll be alright Ma’am. These tears will cleanse you.”
Her heart started to beat like a heart and her eyes recognized the little girl.