I laugh quietly to myself as we watch the nurse almost run out of the room in a hurry after she has checked on me and given me painkillers. My Dad is laughing at me, because as usual, I could not help but play the nurse up. I think I embarrassed her a little and she couldn't wait to get out of the room.
"Seriously?! ..." Dad laughs at me "Mace and T warned me you are a bit of a wind up merchant and joker, but I did not expect you to start playing up and flirting with that poor girl, you being gay." he is really laughing "You don't want to let Mace see you doing stuff like that, he's very sensitive at the moment. T tells me he's a little neurotic over anyone getting anywhere near you, and I've seen how he has been getting over Forrest touching you while you was in the the coma."
"Mace is used to me playing people up, he thinks its funny when I flirt with women, highly hilarious when it back fires on me and they start coming onto me!!" he laughs "However, it is a totally different story if I even so much as look in another guys direction, especially if they are gay. Like Bay, he hates it when I talk to him and I'm not even allowed to sit next to him." I laugh quietly "So I'm quite safe playing up the female nurses, he doesn't mind."
"You asking for painkillers." he frowns at me "Only you keep holding your side and wincing, are you in a lot of pain?"
"Yes quite a bit, which is normal after all the operations my body has been through."
"Maybe we should finish our conversation another time, and you should get some sleep. Slate did warn me not to overdo it and you should be resting."
"No I'm fine ... besides I want to know what your problem is with Forrest!!"
"He's a control freak!" he chuckles and I have to laugh. "Especially where you are concerned."
"I could have told you that!" I laugh "So what did you mean earlier when you said we formed an unhealthy bond?"
"Emotional attachment to the point of neurotic obsession, which is how you and Forrest were with each other. Not healthy in my book!!" he smiles "In fact I have some photographs of you two as toddlers, acting weird." he mumbles as he starts to rummage through his photo album pulling out a few photographs which he looks at while he starts laughing. "They were taken on a holiday we had in Sandy Shores with Atlantis, Aqua and Forrest, before your Mother reappeared."
"Sandy Shores." I laugh "Forrest loves that place."
"Yeah, they used to go there every year, sometimes twice, you might remember, sometimes you went with them. Sandy Shores is where Atlantis and Aqua were both born."
"Really!?" I never knew that!!" I stare at him wide eyed
"Yes, Atlantis moved to Raspberry Hill then Sugar Valley because of work, they had family in Sandy Shores that they used to visit, but they are long gone now."
"Emotional attachment." I mumble quietly as I stare at the photographs.
"Nothing ever changed over the years ... I know he has always been a total control freak where I am concerned, he has always done all my thinking, talking and made my choices and decisions for me!! He totally controlled our life and it was his way or the highway!! At first it never bothered me, I thought it was just normal, but as I got older, I started to realise it wasn't, I started to hate it sometimes and he used to suffocate me with it. He decided what we did, where we went, what we ate, even how I dressed ... he controlled everything. I think I am only just realising now that the drinking and drugs only got so bad because I was rebelling, kicking out because he was manipulating me, he would not let me be myself. When I was smashed and high that was the only time he could not control me, and the only time I was brave enough and strong enough to stand up to him." I roll my eyes
"What happened if you didn't toe the line?"
"He made me suffer until I did toe the line, I got the silent treatment then constant nagging, he was always causing an atmosphere, slamming and throwing things, he has a nasty tongue when he lets rip, quite often we finished our arguments with a punch up."
"He wasn't violent with you was he? Your relationship wasn't abusive was it."
"No it wasn't abusive, it's not like we were constantly fighting or hurting each other, but occasionally, when we blew, we blew big time. If anything I was always the one to throw the first punch most of the time. He used to get verbally nasty, knowing full well what the consequences would be. I think even you know it unhinges me, we've had our fair share of arguments in the past." he laughs "He used to keep pushing me verbally until I snapped, lashed out and we ended up having a proper punch up." I roll my eyes "I don't doubt we will be having a punch up before too long either. I am actually expecting him to go for me because of Mace as soon as I am out of here and he gets me alone. I have been back only five minutes and he is acting like we have never been apart, you would think he owns me to listen to him!! He has already slipped straight back into it, making my decisions for me and trying to take control my life ... he has decided that me and Mace are over without even talking to me about it, he doesn't give a shit about mine or Mace's feelings, he says we are over because it is what he wants!! He's using our marriage as a weapon and it's a joke that we are still legally married after being apart for twenty years!! He is going to be a total nightmare until he gets his way ... but he's got a shock coming, I am not as weak and pathetic as I used to be, he isn't getting his own way or controlling me anymore!!"
"Emotional attachment can be a dangerous thing, especially for the one being manipulated by it, and quite often it is confused with love, when it is far from it. It takes people into romantic relationships when they should not be in them ..." he frowns at me "I have always suspected yours and Forrest's relationship was that way, especially as it started when you were way too young ... you should have been best mates and that is where the line should have been drawn!! Are either of you really supposed to be in a gay relationship? Did you attach yourselves to each other because of the emotional attachment rather than love and what sex you are? Neither of you are noticeably gay, not like Mace and Bayleaf, who are glaringly gay!!" he frowns at me again
"I am definitely 100% gay, women repulse me!! You know Mace is as gay as, but I seriously could not even go where Mace has been with Tamarin." I shudder and he chuckles at me "Forrest however, him being gay has always been very debatable, I have always said he should be with a woman, not me." I laugh "In the bedroom department, Forrest is ... so not gay!!"
"That really does not surprise me!! I guessed I was right all these years!! The strong emotional attachment that you formed as toddlers kept you together and took you two into a relationship that realistically you should not have been in, because he was just as obsessed with you as you were with him. And it is that emotional attachment that has held and kept the pair of you thinking that you need and want each other even after twenty years apart. From what I have been hearing, neither of you have let it go. I doubt either of you have ever been in love, especially not with each other." he frowns at me "Do you actually love him?"
"I don't know, I'm beginning to wander that myself since I've woke up from the coma. I'm confused especially because I have let Mace get under my skin and the way I feel about them individually is so drastically different. I alway thought I loved Forrest but I really don't know any more. I thought I didn't love Mace, but I am beginning to wander about that too. I am actually beginning to doubt if I even know what love is or feels like, and you've made it worse with all this emotional attachment stuff." I look at him sheepishly "Please don't tell Mace ... but Forrest kissed me when I woke up from the coma, and I didn't feel anything, which shocked me, I just felt numb. I've been quick to realise that the twenty year fantasy of being back here with Forrest is nothing like the reality of it. Now he is physically in front of me, I just feel numb and nothing like I imagined I would feel. I've already had a shock to the system because he's reminding me of things from the past that I didn't like and would rather forget, but he is reminding me because he has gone straight into control freak mode! I thought I'd be happy to have him back in my life but inside I am panicking and just want to run back to where I have been!!" I pull a face "And Mace has pointed something out to me that is actually pretty true, something I had never thought about properly and now that I am, it scares me to death ... all the time we were together I was drunk, high or both ... I am only just seeing him and things clearly through sober eyes."
"Yes I guess from the age of 12 to 26, you must have been constantly walking around in a drunken haze." he raises his eyebrows at me "I watched him totally controlling you for the first twelve years of your life, he obviously helped shape you into the person that you was, and I thought you two being together was unhealthy back then, even more so now."
"Why?" I frown at him
"I am listening to Mace and Forrest both talking about you and you would think they are talking about two totally different people, they are contradicting each other so much. Something that I don't think Forrest has even realised yet, while you have been apart you have changed drastically. Even Mango has commented on how different you are now, and Spicey and Lemon can not believe that you are the same person that they remember, after you went round to visit them." he chuckles "I can already see that you are so far removed from the Granite that I used to know, you are a totally different person and the person that Mace is talking about and Forrest clearly doesn't have a clue who you are anymore. I highly suspect you being away from Forrest, has been a blessing and has done you the world of good, and was probably the best thing for you. It has allowed you to evolve into a totally different person .... the person you should be ... yourself and not his puppet."
"I am a different person now ... and you are right, I have learned to be myself and stand on my own two feet while I have been away from him, something I doubt I would ever have done if I had stayed here under his thumb. Being with Mace has also made me realise a lot of things that I did not see back then, which I am only just realizing now that I am back again ... I hated the clingly, needy, weak, pathetic screwed up person that I used to be back then, and am a lot happier with myself these days.
"Well that should tell you something ... you just be very careful you don't let Forrest suck you right back in, because he will continue to manipulate you and change you back to the person that you didn't like, if you give him half a chance!! I honestly think you should break your ties with him once and for all and carry on living your life the way you have been ... it has obviously been the best thing for you and it never pays to go backwards, especially when it is not good for you."
"You really don't like Forrest do you? You sound like you are trying to really warn me off him." I frown at him "Or are you saying this because you would rather me be with Mace? Only I know there is a great debate going on about which way I will go, and everyone is worrying about me dumping on Mace."
"No!! I am not saying this because I would rather you be with Mace, which I still have not really got my head around fully, and it is not that I don't like Forrest, as a person he is a nice guy ... away from you. It's your life and you are the one who has to live it, so you have to do what makes you happy. However, in my opinion, Forrest is not going to make you happy in the long run and he is seriously no good for you and he never has been!! You are obviously a much better person without him and you have admitted in a round about way that you are a lot happier now and have achieved a lot more in your life without him!! You have basically said Forrest drove you to drink more and earlier you said Mace is the only person who has managed to take your mind off the booze. You are not talking about Forrest in a good light right now while you haven't actually said a single bad word about Mace yet. Wouldn't it be wise for you to hold on to what has been best for you." he smiles at me
"I guess, but it is not an easy decision for me, and one that I never thought I would have to make!! I am now confused and sandwiched in between the two of them, not knowing which way to turn, not really wanting to lose either of them. For twenty years the only thing I wanted was to be back here with Forrest, even though I never had any intention of ever coming back to Sugar Valley, I am only here now because of Slate needing my kidney. Now that I am here, suddenly I just don't know what I want any more!! Forrest is already reminding me about things I have forgotten over the years, especially all the wrong things about me, him and us. Without realizing, I have pushed all the bad things to the back of my mind and only focused on the good things while we were apart, in my head I've created the perfect person and relationship, which never existed in the first place and it scares me. I feel really bad because I've used 'Mr Perfect' to whip Mace with, when I shouldn't have done. I didn't even realise it until recently, but the last five years with Mace, even though we have had our problems, I've been the happiest, the most settled and content that I've ever been in my life. I control my own life because Mace lets me be me and there is a middle ground between me and Mace, we work together and find a compromise where as with Forrest it is his way or no way. Before all this shit happened I was starting to think me and Mace were in a good place, especially these last two months and we had a good future ahead of us ... I love our home, my job and the life me and Mace now have in Cherry Hill and suddenly I'm really scared of losing that and especially him. "
"I am very proud of what you have achieved and the way you have turned your life around against all the odds, it can't have been easy, especially taking control of your alcohol addiction which you have been fighting since the day you was born. An addiction that will probably chase you until the day you fade." he pulls a face at me "With that in mind, I guess I am just terrified by you coming back here."
"Why?" I frown at him
"This town and Forrest, will probably be your down fall!!" I frown at him "Now that you have had a taste of a different life outside of this primitive dump of a town, Cherry hill being on a par with most of the towns in the coded world, your quality of life has been so much better, and living back in this town is going to come as a culture shock!! I already feel stifled by this town and I know T has really hated living here, and he's told me the minute all this is over he is going back to Cherry Hill!! I am scared that you might get dragged back down by both Forrest and this town. If you stay here, especially with Forrest and the way he manipulates and controls you, there is a chance that you might slip back into your old life and throw away everything that you have achieved for yourself over the last twenty years. Relocating was definitely the best thing that you could have done for yourself after leaving prison, making a clean break and putting distance between you and Forrest. This place will only remind you of your past, your addictions and tempt you to go back there. Every time you walk down the street, every time you pass one of your old haunts, your old house, Forrest, old friends they will all remind you of the past and the person you used to be. You obviously like being in control of yourself and your life, if he continues to suffocate and control you, like he did before and is already trying to do ... you are going to hate it even more than before .. mark my words before you know it you will be kicking out and rebelling like before, he'll drive you back to drink and you'll go off the rails. I hope you have the sense to see that you have had a better life without him and have a better future away from both this place and Forrest. You need to go home and leave the past behind you, where it belongs. "
"I think I am already beginning to see it ... but I am not sure I have a lot of choice about staying in this town and around Forrest. I am already missing home but we are stuck in this town, it could be months until Mace and Gravels trial. I am not dumping Mace when he needs me most, we are staying together until his trial is over, but after Mace is sent down I don't know what the hell I am going to do!! I have a weakness ... I struggle being alone and me and Mace had a future in my mind and now it has all been taken away, I never thought I would have to face life without him. On the other hand I imagined that my life with Forrest was well and truely over after twenty years apart, but it is still here waiting for me if I chose to take it ... and I think with Mace being taken away, Forrest is going to pull me back into it whether it is good for me or not." he pulls a face at me "I also have Slate and his life is here - waiting on those babies, so I have to stay here for him, I have missed enough of his life already and I don't want to miss any more!!"
"What about your job? You are head of Neurology in Cherry Hill aren't you.'"
"Yes I have the same job as Mango has here. I will have to take medical leave, because of the transplant, but after that .... I guess I'm going to have to transfer here, which means taking a step down from Head ... what else can I do." I shrug
"See, you are already talking about getting dragged back into your relationship with Forrest and going backwards taking a step down with your job ... and this is exactly what I am worried about if you stay here!!" he raises his eyebrows at me "You need to go home, as soon as Mace's trial is over, and take Slate with you!! Slate and the babies, which you have helped him secure custody of, would have a much better life in Cherry Hill and I think you know it!! Jasmine too!! They will have a better quality of life, better education, better opportunities ... hell even the air in this town isn't clean!!" we both laugh for a moment "Slate is like you, he needs to get away and leave the past behind him and look to the future. With the life that Gravel has dealt Slate so far, being in this town he is always going to be reminded of it, especially every time he has to see that Coral .... mentally he will always be haunted by Gravel and everything he has done, but being here he will never get away from it, in Cherry there will be no constant reminders which will help him to deal with it and get over it a lot easier. Mango is really worried about his mental health, and so am I. I've been talking to Slate alot and that boy was already carrying around a lot of emotional baggage even before any of this shit happened, and now he has had his world totally smashed to pieces ... so wouldn't he be better off making a clean break and a fresh start in Cherry Hill, just like you have.
"I know what you are saying makes sense, but it's easier said than done. Slate might not even want to relocate to Cherry, especially if Bay doesn't want to. If he refuses to go, then how can I, I will have to stay here with him if I am ever going to have a chance of getting to know my Son!! I don't even know how I can go home without Mace anyway. He is the one who has made our house a home, he is everywhere I look and I am going to struggle to live in that house without him, it will drive me nuts!!"
"Slate is not the only one who has loneliness issues is he ... you obviously do too!! I am worried you will make the wrong decisions for yourself, by staying here and going back to Forrest just because you think it is better than being alone without Mace. There is something that you haven't realised yet ... you are far from alone, even if you go home and are without both Forrest and Mace. Yes it might be hard for you to live in that house without Mace, but its not like he has dumped and left you and is never coming back, it is only a temporary separation if that is what you want. Something else you need to realise ... you don't have to be in a romantic relationship to be happy and as long as you have family and friends around you, you are never alone!! You have Slate and Jasmine who are now dependant on you. I know Turmeric is going back to Cherry, so you will have him too, just like before keeping you grounded and away from the booze, and he'll be there to help you with Jasmine. He will even live with you now if that's what you want, he never could before but there is nothing stopping him now you know he is your brother." he laughs "And if you chose to wait for Mace, he is not going to be in prison for ever ... five years maxium we think, as long as Gravel plays fair in court. Two and a half years with good behaviour and he could be out." he laughs "You have lived without Forrest for twenty years and achieved so much for yourself, so I'm sure you can cope with a couple of years without Mace. You say you are confused and don't know which way to turn ... it will probably do you good to take a step out of both relationships for a while, then you might sort your head out. You will soon figure out which one of them you need when you are away from them both, you will never do it bouncing between the two of them." he chuckles "You don't know Jasmine or Slate yet, they will keep you busy enough along with Slates babies, if they are his. You have a whole load of new family to get to know, and its not just your three new brothers, you have their wives and children, thirteen Grandchildren I have at the moment, with that lot, you'll hardly have time to feel lonely!!" he raises his eyebrows at me. "Relationships aside, you can not let what has happened here change you or your good life in Cherry Hill, otherwise you are letting Gravel beat you and you are much better than that." I frown at him "He caused all this crap, and I've been told by both Mace and T that Gravel hated that you cleaned up your act, turned your life around and was doing well for yourself. I think he always would have come after you one day to finish what he started, he told Mace when the transplant was over he wanted you back drinking and in the gutter where he thinks you belong."
"Yeah I heard him say that on the taped conversation."
"He was obviously out to destroy your life completely one day, so don't give him the satisfaction or let him achieve that now ... the minute this is over, you need to return to your life in Cherry, take the positives home with you like Slate and build on them, while you leave all the past and crap behind you in Sugar Valley where it belongs.
"I know you are right ... Mace and Forrest aside, I really do like my life in Cherry, it is my home now and has been for the past ten years even though I have been telling myself it isn't. I have been fooling myself for the past twenty years, stubbornly clinging onto Forrest stupidly so that I couldn't see straight!! I think I needed to come back to finally see everything clearly."
"That is the emotional attachment!!" he smiles at me. "Just don't let it suck you back in, because it will change you and ruin everything for you if you let it!"
"I have worked damn hard to get where I am, it has been far from easy for me and I would be very stupid to throw it all away now ... I really don't want to lose it. With everything that has happened, all these life changes, Slate, you and the new family, mine and Mace's new medical problems and worrying about Mace's future, my head is spinning!! Too much has come at me too fast, but Forrest being here waiting for me to come back is what has messed my head up the most ... it was the last thing that I expected and it has taken me off guard ... it is hard for me to think rationally at the moment."
"I can imagine he has thrown an unexpected spanner into the works, but you need to get your mind off Forrest, keep him in the past where you left him, he is a distraction and complication that you could do without because you have more important things to think about and deal with ..."
"Yes I know Slate!! I know Slate has got to be my priority as well as Mace, who really is not going to cope with his new life on wheels mentally!!" he smiles at me "I seriously can not get my head around Slate being my Son yet, it just doesn't seem real and the thought of him having babies on the way and me having Grandchildren, just seems ridiculous to me right now!! I don't have a clue how to be anyones Dad or Granddad!!"
"Everyone feels like that when they first become a parent, but its a job that just comes naturally, I'm sure you will soon get the hang of it, and I don't doubt that you will make a good job of it." he chuckles "So you are convinced those babies are going to be Slate's ... is there any possibility that they might be Gravels?"
"I highly doubt it, medically, it will be a miracle if they are!! After all the trouble he and Amber went through not conceiving because of his infertility problems. All the Artificial Insemination and fertility treatment did not work which drove him to the lengths he went to to steal Slate ... I really can't see either of those babies being Gravels."
"What about Tarragon and her claims that she is carrying Gravels baby." he frowns at me "I wander what is going to happen to that child, especially as far as we are concerned, if it does turn out to be Gravels child."
"I don't believe that will be Gravels baby either, but me and Mace have talked about it ... If the father doesn't take it, we have decided that I will apply to look after the baby until Mace comes out of prison, Gravel's or not. Mace doesn't want the baby going into care, it being his nephew, he thinks he should look after him." I smile at him "Mace is going to talk to El about ours and Tarragans solicitors sorting it all out. We don't have a clue what happens in these sorts of cases, but guess Social Services will appear at some point." he rolls his eyes and nods his head.
"Does Forrest know about these plans you are making, to take in Taragons baby?" he starts laughing "I imagine he is going to hit the roof!! Only I hear he is not very happy and has had plenty to say about you taking Jasmine while Mace is inside."
"Not unless Mace has told him." I laugh "Besides its none of his business ... he is yet to realise there is no 'us' anymore!! If he doesn't like it, which I doubt he will, he can jump!! Children is something that Forrest always used to say he never wanted, but something that I have always wanted. So I'm quite happy to fill the house up with them, mine or not." he laughs at me "Forrest thinks I still can't look after myself and me having Jasmine is a joke, so he's going to go to town when he hears about our plans for Mace's sisters baby."
"You know why he doesn't like it don't you ... because you taking Jasmine, you are taking on a responsibility that is going to affect you forever, you and Jasmine are going to get emotionally attached to each other, you will become closer than you would have normally been, which is tying you to Mace even more, when Forrest would much rather you totally broke away from him completely."
"Yeah I've already guessed that much!!" I smile at him "But at the end of the day Jasmine is my Neice and is always going to be a part of my life from now on, and from what I am hearing Mace is a big part of this family, my family which I obviously want to be a part of, so breaking away from Mace completely is never really going to be an option for me is it ....."
We are distracted from our conversation when we suddenly hear really loud shouting then laughter coming from out in the corridor. There is a banging noise against the door outside and more shouting just before it flies open and Mace comes struggling in followed by two armed police officers, who are laughing behind him, while he shouts at them.
"Dad tell your guard dogs to back off!!" Mace snaps "He's waving that friggin gun in my face again on purpose and laughing because he knows I don't like it. Some IDIOT, probably T, has told them if they do it enough I will pee myself ..." this makes me start howling " ... then that idiot tries to smash my knees up pushing me into the door ... I know I can't feel them, but he's taking the piss ... if I could feel them they would be hurting like hell right now!!"
"Here comes my little drama queen!" I laugh at him "I hope you haven't dented the door with those nobly knees of yours!!"
"You are the one with nobbly knees not me!!" he mumbles "Forget the door ... look my knees have gone all red!!"
I start to laugh at Mace who does not even look at me because he is warily watching the gun that the officer is holding. I'm actually surprised he is not screaming the place down. Dad waves the officers away as he laughs and they back out of the room.
When the door closes Mace starts to relax and grins at me.
"I was beginning to think you had got lost or done a runner." I smile at him "Where have you been all this time?"
"Awwww did you miss me!" he laughs as I stick my tongue out at him "Sorry, I was next door with Jasmine, Slate and Shale. I had my orders, I was told I had to give you and Dad some space." he smiles as he looks between the pair of us. "Is everything okay with you two?"
"Yeah fine!" I smile at him
"We were starting to get worried!! You have been talking for HOURS and its been way too quiet, we expected to hear a lot of shouting." he smiles "And I swear my ears have been really burning!!"
"Its not about you drama queen, but as it happens, we have been talking about you something chronic!!" I laugh at him "I was just about to tell Dad about your latest fetish!!" I raise my eyebrows at him
"DON'T YOU DARE!!" he laughs nervously "Gran ... You wouldn't!!"
"Oohh ... I think you know I would!" I smirk at him
"DON'T ... JUST DON'T!!"
I laugh at him for a moment, but stop quickly as a wave of sickness washes over me.
"Are you okay?" Mace frowns at me "You don't look very well, you're off colour and you look tired."
"I do feel a bit off and sickly as it happens. I think I'm just mentally exhausted, my brain is suffering from overload!"
I think this song pretty much sums up how Granite is feeling about Forrest right now.
Torn - Natalie Imbruglia