Many years have passed since. Time has smudged the memory like ink on damp paper. Still, I managed to remember the important parts. Or at least I think so. How do we know what is important if all the other details are forgotten?
It was the middle of summer. A muggy day in a town I’d never been before. We stayed in a small house by a green lake. My father handed me my bag from the trunk of our Volvo. A screen door creaked shut behind me. It was not long before sand had seeped into every slit in the hardwood and every crack in the sofa. My mother never could seem to sweep it all up. I remember flip flops and sunburns and tangled hair. I remember the sound of my parents’ bickering turning into shouting.
Much of that day I spent underwater. I think I liked the way the silence was loud enough to block everything else out. Maybe that green lake was my friend in that way.
I don’t remember the reason why they fought or if it had truly been as bad as I thought. And yet the reasons seemed so important then. No matter how hard I tried to ignore their voices, I found myself replaying their words in my mind. Trying to figure out how to mend their wounds. I always thought there was something to be fixed and someone who needed to do the fixing. I thought I was that person. I know now that I never was.
My father took me outside. We sat side by side in plastic chairs. The sunlight had disappeared behind the trees. I could feel his eyes on me, mine stared ahead; too weak to look back without giving into the tears. He told me it wasn’t my fault. Then he told something I haven’t been able to get out of my head since that night.
“Ilee, how are you supposed to know when you’re truly happy if you don’t know what it feels like to be sad?”
I stayed quiet and the next night put my bags back in the trunk of our car. Sand had found its way into my socks, in the spaces between my toes. I guess that was a part of that place that I carried home with me.
No one said much on the car ride home. And when we finally got home, things went back to the way they were. I still thought about what my father had told me. I found myself thinking of my life in terms of opposites. Could I only know love if I first understood hate? Could I only really know wealth if I once knew misfortune? These are questions I still ask myself. But maybe it is not about knowing but appreciating. Perhaps you cannot truly appreciate happiness without first experiencing sadness.
For the rest of that summer, I appreciated every moment of happiness with more vibrancy. Or perhaps it just felt more vibrant in comparison to what I had felt that day by the lake. Or maybe there is no a difference.
Whew, stayed up late to finish this! Send me love and coffee! Also, does anyone have a timeline of the show? I spent way too long trying to figure out when Aperitif actually happens. I decided it was sometime in fall. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Answer to the “thanks” writing challenge of @leiascully . It’s a story I started some time ago and altered a bit to meet the challenge.
The title translates into “the mother is always certain” and is a Roman law principle against which no counter-evidence can be made. It means that the mother of a child is the woman who gave birth to it, she is therefore always known.
The story is set some time after ‘Home Again’ but before 'My Struggle II’.
“Seriously, Mulder? You promise me a fun afternoon and then you drive me through the country for half a day only to drag me into a high school gym for a basketball game? Are you out of your mind?”
Scully is whining, but if she’s honest, she’s grateful that Mulder has picked her up from work to include her in whatever he’s up to. She’s overdone it again lately, working double shifts and literally begging for on-call shifts silently hoping she would indeed get a call. She behaves like this once in a while when her personal situation threatens to overwhelm her. She prefers to numb herself with work instead of allowing the pain to get the better of her; the nagging pain at the failure of her relationship with Mulder, the agonizing pain at her mother’s sudden passing, and of course the never subsiding pain at the loss of her only son.
She will never admit it in front of Mulder, of course, although it’s quite probable he knows. He knows her well, not believing her whenever she assures him she’s fine. There’s been only one time in her life when she felt misunderstood and left alone by him, and it had made her leave their home eventually. But some things are never meant to change and being able to engage Mulder in a friendly banter is one of those things.
“You really know how to spoil a girl!”
“Stop complaining, Scully, would you? I got us great seats,” Mulder says, being in the best mood obviously, completely ignoring her sarcastic undertone. “Sit down, I’ll get us something to drink.”
“I definitely need a beer to get through this!”
“This is high school basketball, Scully. So, no beer. Coke?”
“Sure. Fine. Whatever.”
Mulder scoots off. Scully stays behind and sits down on one of the special court side plastic chairs in front of the gym’s bleachers. She’s surprised by how many people seem to be interested in the game. It’s a huge, well-equipped modern gymnasium with a sprung wooden floor and drop down curtains to divide it into smaller units for practice. This is obviously a high school where sports is important, and basketball in particular. A huge banner has been put up saying 'Welcome to the home of the Hilltoppers’, the host team.
Scully feels beamed back into the time when she was a high school student. She’d never been very interested in basketball but she remembers being interested in a player called Jason Fitch once, a hunky boy two years older than she who was the star of the basketball team of her school. She was so nuts about him that she had volunteered to keep the score book for a whole season, spending more time watching basketball she ever imagined possible. One day she had to accept that Jason didn’t have the slightest interest in short, astute redheads but rather fell for simple-minded blondes with big boobs.
Mulder returns with a somewhat contrite look on his face. “They don’t have Coke. I got you a Dr. Pepper.”
“Now that does it! As nice as it was of you to take me on a little trip out of DC, a nice restaurant hasn’t crossed your mind, Mulder, has it? If you want to watch this stupid game, go ahead! Don’t bother about me, I think I saw a bus stop outside.”
“Don’t be silly,” Mulder replies, “Trust me. You’re gonna like it, and you’re gonna thank me afterward. I promise!”