Verde is 32, Lainey is 32, Esperanza is 7, Carmela is 59
optional soundtrack: *Forever-HAIM
Forever we tried to make it right,
But together we saw the end in sight,
I'm tired of fighting the good fight,
If you say the word then I'll say goodbye.*
It was amazing how quickly a divorce could proceed if all the parties were willing and everything was arranged peacefully.
Then he was forgotten, discarded. His usefulness expired and his gift to society quickly forgotten in favor of the latest reality show scandal, the recent election campaigns and mud slinging.
So when Lainey brought up her desire to be separated, he knew what she really wanted. After hearing her struggle as she broached the subject of a friendly separation shortly after they returned, Verde countered with offering her the divorce she clearly wanted but was too diplomatic to ask for. After all, what kind of woman would they think she was asking a wounded war solider for a divorce.
Perhaps she expected him to fight, just like he did last time. He was tired of fighting and trying to convince Lainey to stay. If she didn't want to be with him before the war, when he was whole, how could he convince her to stay with him now that he was a piece of the man that he was before.
He still believed that she was fighting a war with herself when it came to their marriage and love, but now...after the war, Verde was also fighting an internal fight. Fighting the demons that came to him whenever he heard fireworks or a door close too loudly. Fighting the demons that urged him to give up each day in physical therapy.
Verde was tired of fighting, he was simply tired. After all, was he any better if he tried to make her remain in a marriage that didn't bring her any joy, only pain and suffering.
The arrangements were simple. They sold their rowhome and split the proceeds. Then they made the effort to find two smaller homes near each other so that Esperanza could walk between the houses whenever she wanted. They had 50-50 custody, shared holidays which really meant that they decided on a location and celebrated together as a family. No child support and no spousal support. Esperanza would be with Lainey primarily for legal papers and pesky things like insurance and school forms. Carmela would be Verde's responsibility, though Lainey saw the woman as a mother figure and in actuality, this arrangement too would look different played out.
I hope you're happy, now that you're choosing this.
I hope it brings you bliss.
I really hope you get it
and you don't live to regret it.
I hope you're happy in the end.
I hope you're happy, my friend**
Verde's days now consisted of his new job as a gym teacher for the primary and secondary schools. He struggled to get out of bed and put on his prosthetic legs. He would stretch and do his physical therapy in the quiet hours.
Sometimes, he woke to the smell of something cooking in the kitchen. It used to be a source of comfort, but now it caused him alarm.
His mother had been diagnosed with early onset memory failure. It started with a few too many misplaced keys, a forgotten pot here, a running faucet there. Then the appointments and the confirmation. He was slowly losing her, as she was slowing losing pieces of herself. Dropping them while she walked, putting them down and forgetting to pick them back up. They didn't know how quickly the disease would progress, they barely knew the cause. They knew that her history, the PTSD, the trafficking, and the physical abuse could contribute to the disease, but so much was unknown.
It worried him especially because she was at home during the day. He couldn't afford for her to go to special care during the day. His well paying job with the military gone, the second income of his wife gone. Instead, more bills, more medical appointments and a small salary that was mostly of worth because of the great benefits that educators received.
Thankfully, he was surrounded with family. His Tio Julio and Tia Rebecca lived two doors down. Rebecca would often invite Carmela over for coffee during the day in order to keep an eye on her. Sometimes she would go on walks around the neighborhood with her. Rebecca would reminiscence about their times together on the hood council, how the sister-in-laws would go shopping together, planning large events. It was hard for Rebecca to see the disease take her dear friend. His Tio Jorge and Tia Jolie, lived next door, Jolie would send over prepared meals so Carmela didn't have to cook during the day. Then, of course, his ex-wife, lived across the street and would sneak over to make sure everything was ok. The piecemeal help was sufficient for now, she wasn't destroyed by the disease...yet.
When she was there, Carmela was fully there. Present and aware, laughing and talking about the future. Other times...she was a shell of herself. Sometimes angry and irritable, repeating the same instructions or story over and over again. Those days Verde felt so conflicted. He was angry with her and tired of repeating himself as she asked the same question over and over again, reminding him of the careless teenagers he taught. He was angry that it felt like he had to raise both Carmela and Esperanza sometimes, reminding them to wash their hands and trying to delicately encourage them without causing flareups.Then he would get angry with himself for being angry at them, at her. She couldn't help it. It was the disease.
But then he had to remind himself that it was the disease, not her. It was the disease that allowed her to be easily manipulated by his younger brother, Rojo, into sending money orders of her entire pension check. He now had to apply to become a representative payee on her behalf, to ensure that the pension money was going towards her food and doctor's appointments and not Rojo's lifestyle.
This brought more friction between the brothers,Rojo was furious with Verde's interference, but Rojo never did give a damn about anyone other than himself. At times Verde wondered if he even thought things through half the time before realizing that Rojo didn't think. At least, he didn't think about anyone other than himself, repercussions and consequences be damned. It disgusted Verde and he couldn't understand how they could come from the same DNA, from the same family. Of course, Carmela didn't see it that way. All she saw was her baby boy, her youngest son and apple of her eye.
Lainey was making adjustments to living alone and being the primary caretaker of Esperanza. Waking up in the middle of the night and reaching out for a warm body. Asking invisible sims to pass her toilet paper while she was in the midst of her bathroom routine.
She even had to start cooking, something that deathly frightened her. She couldn't find an electric stove, apparently SimNation hadn't thought about such stoves. Instead she was forced to twist the knob, smell the scent of gas that made her nauseated and wait for the flame to ignite, causing her to snatch back at the heat.
She had more time alone when her daughter was spending half of the week with Verde. She took advantage of that time to start counseling. At first it was so that she could overcome her fear of fire to cook a decent meal for her family, they couldn't eat pizza and salad everyday.
It was during her counseling sessions that she realized that she had a deep rooted fear of abandonment and pushed those she loved away, so they wouldn't get hurt. Her counselor told her that many survivors of traumatic events had difficulties in relationships. She supposed being kidnapped and left in a burning building was a traumatic event.
She had worked hard to keep the memories beneath the surface. But during the sessions and now at night, when she was alone in her bed, they rushed up, spilling over. She was third in line for the throne of Florzul and as such was often a target for dangerous plots against the royal family. When she was eleven, one of the plots succeeded and she was kidnapped by pirates in exchange for a ransom. When the pirates received the ransom they locked her in a wooden shack and set it on fire. She was close to dying if it wasn't for her father coming to her rescue. Unfortunately, he died a few simdays later from smoke inhalation. Her mother committed suicide after his death as she couldn't imagine life without him. When Lainey got out of the hospital she had burns on her arms and no family.
She was adjusting to the cooking, taking things one day at a time. Her counselor encouraged her to think the same thing when it came to her relationships. She was learning that she needed to work on herself more than she needed Verde. She had pushed him away, frightened by his heat and flickering flames, she couldn't control him, much like she couldn't control the fire bursting from her stove. She was learning that she needed both the fire and him, but what was done was done and there wasn't any use whining about it. Thankfully they were friends and wonderful co-parents. Much more than she could have hoped for after the divorce.
**Wicked - Defying Gravity