Home was just the way I remembered it. Each morning, dad would brew coffee, and the aroma would spread throughout the house. He was doing well. He was exercising, eating healthy, and visiting his doctors, regularly. His heart attack had been a scare, but it did not slow him down.
Mom was busy with her brides and grooms. She had something new up her sleeve, every time I turned around. She thrived as a wedding planner.
Antonio was visiting for a while; he took a furlough from his work. It was a good thing he was around.
It had been six months since the attack. I was attending physical therapy three times a week. I could walk with the aid of a cane. All the fractures had healed. The left arm had suffered the worse trauma. I could move my arm, but had no use of my hand. I was getting feeling in my fingers, but not enough to use them. I depended on my right hand for everything.
It was heartbreaking for me. I was a writer, a journalist. I used both hands to get my work done. I struggled with that thought. Would I ever use my hand again? Would I ever write again?
I had come to terms with my situation. The scars changed my appearance. I looked in the mirror once in while. When I did, I remembered how lucky I was to be alive. That thought, alone, reminded me to be thankful for each day.
“Genevieve, are you joining us for breakfast?” dad asked, as he poured a cup of coffee.
“I will be right there. Dad, pour me some coffee, please.” I said, as I approached the kitchen.
I woke up early that day. I had to go to therapy that morning. Antonio had taken on the job of being my personal taxi. I enjoyed spending time with him. He flew home a week after I arrived from New York. He wanted to be home to help with dad, and me.
“Genevieve, do you mind if after therapy, we go for lunch?” Antonio asked.
“Hmm, depends on where we are going. If it is Italian, then I am in.” I said with a big smile.
“Actually, I was thinking Italian. You are in luck.” He said and winked.
For three months, Antonio drove me back and forth to physical therapy and doctors’ appointments. I had refused to go anywhere else. I did not want anyone to see my scars, nevertheless my face. I could see the way people looked at my scar. I must have looked repulsive. Each time, I caught a glimpse of their facial expression, it was the same. People would kind of shrug their lip, and wrinkled their eyes. The look of disgust was obvious. I could see they would look at me with pity. They looked at me with sadness.
By now, I had grown accustomed to the looks. It hurt, but I could deal with it. I wore my hair down on the left side. I let it hang down my cheek to help hide the scar. The hair stylist had layered my hair, so it would circle around the face. Unless I pulled my hair back, people could not really see it anymore. Whenever the wind blew, I would, quickly, pull my hair forward.
“Mom, is that scrambled eggs I smell? Yummy, I am hungry this morning.” I said, as I licked my lips.
“Yes, scrambled eggs, bagel, and ham steak. I thought you could use a good breakfast before you go to therapy today.” Mom said.
She was catering to me. She tried so hard to make sure I had everything I needed. She had been a great moral support throughout my ordeal. Although quietly, I knew she cried as much, if not more than I did.
“Oh, yes! That sounds so good. My tummy is going to be feeling pretty good.” I said and smiled.
“Don’t fill up too much. Save room for lunch.” Antonio interjected.
“Have no worries, I will make sure that the Italian food fits somewhere.” I was laughing as I said it.
After breakfast, we headed to physical therapy. Antonio was quiet in the car. I could see he was in some kind of deep thought.
“A penny for your thoughts.” I said.
“Oh! Just thoughts, nothing special.” He said.
“Tell me about it.” I insisted.
“I was just thinking about everything that you have been through. It angers me. I wish I could have been there for you.” He said and continued. “I spoke to Arturo; he said he was in New York the day it happened. He feels that he should have been there for you, but he did not find out until he was back in Chicago. He said he tried to get a hold of you, but you would not take his calls. He told me what happened between the two of you. Genevieve, I know.”
“Nothing happened between the two of us.” I said.
“No, it didn’t. However, I know that you and him were in love, but Maritza got pregnant and he stayed with her. He explained it all to me.” Antonio continued.
“Do you know why he insisted on calling you that week in New York?” Antonio asked.
“I figured he wanted to see me and talk, but I ignored him. He is a married man and I want nothing to do with him. Antonio, as long as he is married, there is nothing to talk about. Besides, even if he wasn’t married, what would he want with me now. Look at me. I look like Scarface. I am disfigured. I have scars everywhere on my body. I am repulsive. I don’t need to know anything. Arturo is a past that I need not go back to.” I could hear the sadness in my voice.
We arrived at the center, and the conversation stopped. I went in and spent a couple of hours in therapy. Therapy was tedious and challenging. I would swim for a while, walk the treadmill, and did strengthening exercises. The hardest was always the left arm. The therapist assisted with the exercises for that arm. I had to force my arm to lift. He would put his arm under mine to help support it. I had little progress, but continued trying my best, week after week.
“Genevieve, you may not regain use of your left arm.” The doctor had said.
He had also said, I may not walk well, yet I had progressed remarkably. I did not want to give up. I tried. I really tried.
When I was finished, Antonio helped me to the car and we headed to lunch.
“I am happy that you decided it was time to get out.” He said and continued, “I hope you know that you are beautiful. Any man would be lucky to have you.”
“You are my brother.” I said.
“Yes, I am.” He said and added, “Do you know that I no longer see the scar on your face? I see you. It is not as visible as you think. I know you try to hide it with your hair, but it is not necessary. When your hair is back, I don’t see it. You see, Genevieve, as your brother, my love for you is blind. Any man that will love you, will see you the way I do, beautiful.”
“Thank you. Even, so, I am not looking, nor am I ready to think in those terms. My life is complicated enough.” I said to him.
We arrived at the restaurant a few minutes later. Antonio had picked Giovanni’s Pizzeria and Italian Eatery. As kids, our parents had brought us there quite often. They had the best Spinach Calzone.
We sat at a table by the window, and placed our orders. I, of course, had the Spinach Calzone. Antonio ordered two slices of pepperoni pizza with a side of spaghetti. We had decided to have Calamari as an appetizer.
The waiter came back with a basket of bread and our drinks.
Antonio and I had our fill that day. We ate and ate, until we could no more. The rest we took home for later.
As we were leaving, I stood up, and my leg gave out. I fell on the ground and let out a scream. My hair fell back. My scar was visible. I looked around and saw Antonio’s face. He was horrified. The people at the restaurant had seen me fall, and were now staring at my scar. Antonio could see they were pointing. He, quickly, fixed my hair, and helped me get up. He took me to the car, and helped me to the front seat. He got in the car, and drove off.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Did you see the way people looked at me? They see a monster, Antonio.” I said in tears.
“I am sorry, I know it hurts.” Antonio sighed.
The ride home was quiet. Neither one of us said much.