Chapter 40: The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning
Dean Johnson grew up raised by a single mother and barely knew his father. He spent most of his life watching his mother's boyfriends coming in and out like a revolving door. She could barely support the two of them and eventually turned to alcoholism to cope. Like most of the residents throughout the city of Welch, she worked a shitty job making next to nothing. The entire early portion of his life paved the way for his depression and ultimately his addiction.
He was clean and kind when we met at only fifteen years old and in the first few months, he was my everything. I thought that we would stay together and I thought that he was going to be my happily ever after. But that was the very first time in my life that I watched drugs turn someone I loved into a monster. At first it was smoking weed here and there, but then he graduated to pills. He would take uppers and eventually downers. His addiction progressed and at first it only changed his body. He lost enough weight to cause some suspicion and our sneaking around to have sex came to a halt. He couldn't rise to the occasion anymore and even though he tried to deny the fact that he was popping pills on a regular basis and my dumb ass would believe him, the erectile dysfunction told me everything I needed to know.
The lying and pill popping escalated and one night as we were arguing outside the gates of the football field, I saw the true monster that he had become with my own two eyes. I even rocked a black eye for two weeks as proof. Things didn't get better like he said they would and he never tried to get clean. That's what always happened in abusive relationships and I was young and too afraid of being alone to see that he was just telling me what I wanted to hear.
We fought each other and stabbed each other in the backs more times than I could count. It took two years and a miscarriage for me to finally walk away from him and that eventually landed us where we were today.
He had more than his fair share of demons. He and I were a lot alike when it came to that and it was easy for both of us to get caught up in what was the norm for living in Welch. In the end, those norms were his demise and after a few days, I came to terms with the fact that I didn't have anything to do with it. I got the strength to get myself together and get over it. I had a family now and I couldn't let all of that fall apart because of someone that wanted to take it all away from me. The least I was going to do was attend the funeral to finally bury the hatchet and make sure this door was closed and locked for good.
"Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust," I said out loud to myself. I made sure my large black sunglasses
were pushed over my eyes as much as possible. I knew that people wore giant sunglasses
to funerals to hide their tears and expressions of sorrow. They were a way to hide their pain, but mine were to hide my macabre expressions of relief and joy. As bad as it may have sounded, I was glad that he was did. He wouldn't have left me alone for as long as he lived.
My friends all gathered in as close to me as possible as people were beginning to leave the
grave site before the solid black casket could be lowered into the ground. I wanted to stay and
watch. I needed to see his lifeless body disappear into the ground and be covered with the dirt. Even after Danny and the rest of the crew asking me over and over again if I would be okay, this needed to happen. I needed to stay and watch this come to an end.
When the news broke that Dean had died, hearts broke all over town. All of them except for mine. At first, it was a simple overdose, but when the police found letters with one being addressed to me, people lost their shit and took that to create their own fucked up versions of the truth. I refused to accept the letter. I had said my goodbyes and gotten my mental health together quicker than I thought I would, so reading a possible suicide letter would have been a waste of my time and energy.
His imaginary hold over me had been broken and there was nothing left that could have made me feel guilty. This was another chapter in my life that had come to an end and any and all parts of it needed to be buried and gone. That included the remains of our child. It was a tough decision for me to make, but it was only right. He wouldn't have had to be buried alone. That was something that he always expressed a fear of when he thought about death. I had nothing left for him at the time of his death, but this was the one thing I could have done to avoid the feeling of being cold and heartless when I should have been. My heart just couldn't let me be angry and spiteful anymore.
I didn't know what I was supposed to do with myself by clinging to the cremated remains. The tiny silver urn stared at me on a daily basis, pulling me back to a time in my life where I thought I knew everything and didn't know a damn thing. I thought I had life figured out by carrying on and staying as cold as ice. It wasn't good for my soul or the ones around me. There were so many things that I had wanted for my very first child that I didn't even realize at the time. I just knew that my heart would continue to break over and over again every time I thought about what could have been.
I made the bold decision to make a call to his mom to pay my fake respects and propose the
idea of the baby's ashes being buried with him. Of course, she droned on about how happy she
was when I was with him because I had a good head on my shoulders blah blah blah and some
other sappy bullshit. She wished that we would have stayed together, thinking that I could have
helped steer him onto the right path and all of this would have been prevented. Obviously she
didn't know that her son was the devil in disguise and he made me miserable. Truthfully, he
probably would have taken me down with him. He proved that more times than I could count.
"Sydney! I can't believe it's you!" someone shouted from behind me.
I turned my head and took in the sight of Dean's mother walking toward me. "Speak of the devil,"
I said to myself. I had already said what I needed to say to her and I was hoping to leave the cemetery as soon as they shoveled a little bit of dirt into the grave. Sandy ran up to me, throwing her arms around my neck. Her face was stained with black tears from her mascara and she reeked of alcohol. The smell made me gag.
"I'm so sorry for your loss Sandy," I said. "Sydney Gayle, it means the world to me that my could
have been daughter-in-law came to pay her respects," she said as she continued to sob. That
truly annoyed the shit out of me. I would have much rather have killed myself than to ever see
myself married to him. I hoped that Sandy would have let that go by now, but I was wrong.
That was the first strike. "He's at peace now," I said, fighting to hold back my sarcasm. "I know. He just wasn't the same after you broke up with him," she said with her voice breaking. Strike two. "You're all grown up now with a little girl. Congratulations on the engagement." I rolled my eyes, knowing that she couldn't see them through the sunglasses. I was still pretty pissed off that his death took place on the same night that Danny proposed to me, but no one really had any control over it and he didn't know that Danny was going to surprise me.
"Thank you," I replied with a fake smile. "I just wish you could have went back to him. He told me about the conversation you two had. You didn't have to say goodbye," she said changing her tone to sound like a smart ass. This bitch, I thought to myself. I was doing a great job at keeping my temper in check. "Honestly, that was for the best. He had a lot of problems and I was tired of going back and forth with him, especially when I've moved on," I said correcting her.
"You really didn't have to move on. He was going to try and make things work. You were all that he had and you pushed him away." Strike three. I couldn't believe that she even had the balls to go there with me. I had to at least give her credit for that. In the past, everything she ever had to say about me was either said to Dean or during one of her drunken rants when she would stay up late, calling every contact in her phone. She would try to apologize, but Dad taught me a long time ago that a drunk mind spoke sober thoughts. She let the alcohol show me her true colors in the very beginning of our relationship and I haven't liked her since.
I snatched my sunglasses off of my face and shoved them at Danny to hold. I could feel my blood boiling. Sandy thought that Dean did no wrong. Even when we were throwing fists at each other, she put the blame on me. She never acknowledged the fact that her son was an abusive addict. She and Mom had gone at it more than a few times because she made it look like I was the problem.
"I don't think you realize that your son was a coward and a piece of shit that showed up to my house in the middle of the night intending to murder me. He put my life in danger just because I wouldn't go running back to him, took a shot at me, and left me for dead. You've got to be out of your fucking mind if you think I'm going to show him or you any kind of sympathy," I snapped. She scoffed, folding her arms across her chest. "You're not an angel, Sydney. Both of you did things to each other that sent him over the edge. That's the reason why I have to put my only child in the ground." I was beyond angry. I was literally shaking at this point and I wanted to wrap my hands around her neck, just like her son did to me, and squeeze until she passed out. Maybe then she would have understood how much I had to suffer.
"Fuck you and your child! Maybe if you weren't busy spreading your pussy all over town, you could have done a better job at raising him!" I said as I raised my voice. I was standing only a few inches away from her, throwing all of the repressed anger I had right in her face. "Dean was a shitty person with a fucked up head and most of that was your fucking fault," I said, pointing my finger only a few centimeters from her face."I was too good to him and for him and you can't tell me any different! I was going to be nice and respectful for your sake and keep my mouth shut, but don't think I'm above putting your sorry ass in the ground with him!" I could see her crocodile tears coming front and center and I knew that she was going to try to make me crumble and take back what I had said. I had no more fucks to give. I was proud to let all of this air out.
"I just miss my son!" she sobbed. I put my hands on my hips, still not phased by her crying. Candace took a few steps forward to stand at my side. The rest of my friends moved closer too. "Syd, you don't have to argue with a drunk," she said as she placed her hand on my shoulder as we watched the tears roll down her face with no remorse. She locked eyes with Sandy, ready to pounce on her as soon as I said the word. I felt the corners of my mouth tug into an evil grin. I had every intention on walking away from her because she wasn't worth it. Even after she put me through as much hell as her son did, she still wasn't worth it. But I couldn't turn away without one final low blow."Well, maybe you should keep up the drinking. You might be able to see him soon," I said with a shrug, deciding that the conversation was over. I secretly wished Mom was here. She'd been wanting to knock her teeth out of her head for as long as I could remember.
I turned back around to face Danny and my friends. They were all in shock. I had grown and developed as a person, but one thing that never changed was my ability to light in on someone and instantly put them in their place. My mouth still didn't have a filter and I didn't see that changing any time soon. That was my courage shining through.
Together, we all made our way away from the grave, walking across the grass silently with the realization that all of this was over and we pushed through it together just how we always did.
"I see having a baby and a new haircut didn't stop you from being the same old bad ass I met two years ago," Danny said, breaking the silence. I grabbed his hand, intertwining his fingers with mine as a smile involuntarily formed on my lips. "Old habits die hard," Jamie said proudly as she patted my back. "Yeah, so much with killing her with kindness. You just dragged her entire existence," Derek said, pumping my head up even more. I always said that he was the hype man of the group when he wasn't being a sloth.
I did feel like a bad ass and the feeling it gave me was the same as it had always been. With everything else being enough proof that I had grown up, I knew that it was time to turn over a new leaf and control my temper, something I had never done before. I didn't come to the funeral wanting to bust any heads. I told all of them that I was going to kill her with kindness if she got out of line like I knew she would. So much for picking up a new philosophy.
I shrugged as he continued to chuckle. They had all been holding it in, covering their mouths to conceal their giggles when I said what I said to Sandy. We all had done so much growing up, but just like everything else, some things were never going to change. I knew that I would be able to hold on to the memories of all of us laughing until our stomachs hurt for as long as I lived.
I stopped in my tracks,causing all of them to stop and turn to stare at me. They were smiling and cracking up too. I put my hands on my hips and wore a smirk."Who am I?" I asked, feeling like I was on top of the world. Candace, Rachel, Jamie, and Mel all looked at each other and then turned their heads back to me.
"Sydney motherfucking Trent!" That's who I was going to continue to be, just new and improved, and the rest would be history.