Time Heals All Wounds
Steve had been surprised to find Mia in the house. He had just gotten back from visiting his father’s grave after spending the majority of the day with Savannah and his daughter. The last thing he expected was to get home and see Mia in the middle of their bedroom. So instead of making his presence known, he stood back and leaned on the doorway to watch her. He missed her terribly and all he wanted was to grab her and hold her in his arms, especially at the sight before his eyes. She looked so distraught and it was obvious she was crying. He saw her begin to put away the box of pictures she was going through but instead of walking into the room to let her know he was there, Steve remained rooted on his spot by the door.
Mia stood frozen on her spot at the sight of Steve. She didn’t know what to say or do except stand there and look into his eyes. How long had he been standing there for, she had no idea. Mia realized she must have been deep in her thoughts to not have even heard him downstairs when he first arrived. She cleared her throat ready to say something, Steve beat her to it.
“I’m honestly at a loss for words,” he began. “You’re the last person I expected to see here, considering everything that’s happened lately.”
Mia nodded in understanding. “I’m sorry. I should have called before coming.”
“You should have called?” Steve asked surprised. “This is your home, too. You know that.”
Mia sighed as she placed the box she was carrying on top of the bed. “This hasn’t been my home in a while, Steve.” Mia stared at the box, not daring to look in Steve’s direction.
Steve walked into the room and closed the door behind him, locking it in the process. He knew it was ridiculous to lock it since it was just the two of them in the house, but it would slow Mia down in case she tried to make a run for it.
Mia snapped her head up when she heard to door close and began to panic when she saw Steve turn the lock. “I was actually just leaving,” she stammered out, hating the fact that Steve was making her so nervous.
“You don’t have to be afraid, Mia. I’m not going to hurt you.” Steve knew it was now or never. This was the perfect opportunity to talk to Mia. It was his last chance to come to an agreement with her. If she wasn’t willing to stay and save their marriage, then they at least needed to come to an agreement regarding Sophie. “I just want us to talk and I know if I let you out this door you’ll keep making excuses to not see me.”
“I don’t see what there is to talk about anymore. Everything is pretty clear,” Mia said as she walked to the opposite side of the room, trying to put as much distance between her and Steve.
Steve counted to three and took a deep breath, releasing it, before he began to lose his cool and snap at Mia. He knew she was not going to make this easy but he had to give it his best shot. “I’m trying to be patient, Mia, I really am. We need to talk like two mature adults and really think about what we are about to say before we say anything at all.”
Mia opened her mouth to protest but immediately closed it when she saw the serious look Steve gave her.
“Let me finish. I think we already know where you stand, but I deserve a chance to say my piece,too.”
“Fine,” she stated flatly. If Mia wanted to remain in one piece, she needed to stay calm and act like nothing Steve had to say was affecting her in any way.
Steve nodded and leaned his back against the closed door, with his hands in his pockets. He stared at the floor and began talking. “I -,” he hesitated for a second but knew he had to get it out right now. He raised his head and looked straight into Mia’s eyes. “I give up,” he said softly. “I tried, Mia, I really, but I just don’t know what it is that you want me to do. I don’t want a divorce, I don’t want to lose you. I want us to be a family, you, Sophie, and me, but I’m not going to force you to be in a family you don’t want.”
Mia felt like the air had been sucked out of her. Steve gave up. This was it. He was setting her free. That’s exactly what she wanted, right? Then why did it feel like a part of her was slowly dying, like her heart was being ripped out and cut into a million pieces. She opened her mouth a couple of times to say something, anything, but nothing would come out.
“If this is what you really want, the we’ll start the process right away. There is no use in prolonging the inevitable any longer. There’s just one thing, actually, two,” he said, standing up straight and taking his hands out of his pockets. “You’ll need a place to stay, since Danny is renting your house and I don’t think it would be fair to kick him out. There’s also no need for you to find another place for Sophie and you. I want you to keep the house, Mia. This is the only home Sophie has ever known and I don’t want her to move to a strange place when she has her home. The other thing is the custody issue. I am not giving up my parenting rights so you better get that thought out of your head. Unless you want to fight this in court, which trust me is the last thing I want for the sake of our daughter, then we will be sharing custody of Sophie. I will be in Sophie’s life until she decides otherwise.”
Mia was trying to absorb everything Steve had just said. The whole idea of going through with the divorce was to get away from the danger Sophie was in. “I am not going to stay in this house with Sophie. She is not safe here, and neither is she safe with you.”
Steve clenched his jaw and focused his gaze at a blank spot off Mia’s right to try and relax before he said something he did not mean. “I am not going to discuss this. You wanted a divorce, we’ll there you have it. I am not going to fight you on it any longer but those are my only conditions.”
Mia looked at Steve incredulously. She took a step closer and pointed a finger at Steve. “So everything has to be your way, right Steve? It’s your way or the highway. Just like it has always been. Nobody mess with Steve or dare to contradict him because there will be consequences,” she shot back sarcastically. “Tell me something Steve. How many more lives are you willingly to risk just to get your way?”
“What are you talking about?” Steve asked in confusion, not knowing where Mia was heading.
“Your father is dead, Steve, dead,” she stated flatly. “The man who killed your father is dead and WoFat is in prison, yet you still won’t let it go. Are you willing to risk Sophie’s life, your daughter’s life, again by keeping her in a place where she is not safe? Are you really going to be that selfish and put her in danger just because you are not satisfied you finally have he man that killed John? What more do your want Steve? Answer me, what more do you want?” By now Mia was standing right in front of Steve, poking his chest with her finger and staring into his stormy blue eyes, begging him for answers.
Steve swallowed the lump in his throat. “Sophie will be much safer in her own home than in any other place.”
“Just like she was the last time she was taken right out of her crib? Is that what you want Steve? You’re going to leave her here and go piss off someone else, just to have them come back for revenge and use your daughter against you?” Mia had tears running down her eyes without being aware when they had began, and she was fisting Steve’s shirt in her hands.. “Please, Steve, I’m begging you. Let her go.”
“No,” he coldly stated, even though his eyes were red from unshod tears. He grabbed Mia’s wrists and disengaged himself from her hold. Steve walked further into the room and braced himself on the dresser. “Did you forget it was not only WoFat who was involved, but also your mother? Did you forget it was your mother who was pointing a guy at our daughter’s head?”
“She’s dead, Steve, dead. WoFat used her knowing she hated me and knowing she would do anything to hurt me. In the process, he knew he would be getting his revenge against you.”
“So that makes it okay for you to keep Sophie and take her away? What about all those months I was both father and mother to her? Tell me, Mia, you expect me to give her up just like that?”
“That is not fair and you know it. I did not make the conscious decision to abandon my daughter. I was taken away from her!”
Steve shook his head and turned to fully face Mia. “I am not budging on this. I will not lose Sophie, too. I will do whatever it takes to keep her safe, but I am not going to giver her up. You either accept it, or I’ll see you in court.”
Mia stared at Steve. She knew Steve would not give in on this but she had to try, and try she did. “So that’s it?”
Steve nodded. “That’s it. Is this what you really want Mia? Do you really want to go through with the divorce?”
Mia opened her mouth to respond but was interrupted by the doorbell.
Steve tried to ignore it, but whoever was here did not plan on leaving any time soon. He sighed, regretting the interruption. He really wanted an answer from Mia. It was killing him not knowing if this was really it for them.
“I think you should get that. Whoever it is is not going to leave until you open the door,” Mia said softly avoiding looking at Steve.
Steve nodded and walked out of the room. He hurried down the stairs, hoping it wasn’t Danny or his sister. They had the worst timing. Steve opened the door ready to send home whoever was on the other side of the door. “Look-” Steve stopped abruptly when he saw who was at the door.
“Hey son, you look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
“Joe,” Steve said in shock. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, would you believe me if I said I was just passing by?” Joe asked.
Steve gave him a blank look.
“Didn’t think so,” Joe said. They stood staring at each other for a second before Joe said, “Well are you going to let me in?”
Steve blinked and realized they were still at the door. “Yeah, of course, sorry,” he said as he moved to the side and let Joe walk through. “I’m just surprised, shocked, to be honest. I didn’t think I would be seeing you any time soon, since you’ve been avoiding all my calls.”
Joe walked in and looked around as if he were stepping foot in that house for the first time. He heard Steve, but decided to ignore his comment because he knew it would be opening a door for Steve to question him about Doris.
“Where have you been all this time, Joe? I’m sure you received my messages when I thought Mia was dead.” Steve was upset at Joe’s sudden reappearance. Where was he when Steve needed the closest thing he had to a father?
“I’m sorry son. Nothing I say will excuse my absence so I won’t even bother but I’m glad she was never dead. You have your family back,” Joe said genuinely.
“Who told you about Mia being alive? I stopped bothering to get in touch with you after you failed to return all my messages.”
“Despite what you might think, I care about you son and I was still keeping tabs on you,” Joe said. “But that’s not the reason why I’m here.”
Steve raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Then why are you here?”
“For this,” he said placing the small shoe size box he was carrying since he walked in on the coffee table.
“What’s that?” Steve asked.
“Open it and see for yourself,” Joe replied, motioning to the box with his head.
Steve gave Joe a suspicious look before grabbing the box, which hardly weighed anything, and sat on the edge of the couch. He opened the box and looked up at Joe in confusion as he took out what was in there. “What’s this, Joe?” Steve shifted his gaze back to the envelopes in his hand and simply stared at them in confusion.
“Those are the letters Mia wrote to you when your father sent you and Mary to the mainland. Mia gave each one to your father so he could mail them to you after he refused to let her know where he sent you.” Joe was looking into Steve’s eyes the entire time, seeing the hurt, anger, and confusion in Steve’s eyes. “Even after your father told Mia you wanted nothing to do with her or the child, she still continued, hoping to hear it from you. Eventually, Mia got the point and stopped writing.”
Steve stared back at the letters and swallowed the lump in his throat. “Why did he keep them? Why didn’t he send them and why do you have them?”
“Your father thought he was doing the right thing at the time. John knew that if you received any of those letters you would find a way to come back. He wanted to keep you safe, so he lied to Mia and hoped she would eventually move on with her life. One thing he made clear, though, was that he would care for Mia and the baby. He would make sure they had anything they needed but Mia lost the baby and stopped keeping in touch with John.”
Steve stood up and began to pace. “He had no right to make that decision for me. I had every right to know!”
“Steve, you have to understand your father was just trying to protect his family. Your child would have had everything,” Joe said.
“Yeah? What about the most important thing he would be missing?” Steve countered back. “His father.”
“Look son, we can’t go back and change what’s done. I brought those because they belong to you.”
“Why did you have them?” Steve asked wanting to know the whole truth.
“Your father gave them to me. He said if anything were to happen to him then I was supposed to give them to you. I locked them up in my ranch’s safe and didn’t have a chance to bring them back until today. Maybe reading those letters will give you some perspective into what Mia went through when you were gone.”
Steve dropped onto the couch with the stack of envelopes in his shaking hands. He stared at them wanting to read them, to know what Mia went through, but he simply couldn’t bring himself to open one. He lifted his head to look at Joe but realized he was alone. Joe was gone. He had left and Steve had not even noticed. Steve must have been completely absorbed in his thoughts that he failed to notice when Joe walked out reminding him of the moment Joe took him to his mother.
Steve wiped his eyes trying to clear the blurriness the unshed tears were causing. With trembling hands, Steve opened the first envelope on he stack which was dated shortly after he had left the island. He immediately recognized Mia’s writing.
Steve read through every single letter in which Mia told him from finding out she was pregnant to how his father had told her he did not want anything to do with the child. In every word Mia wrote, Steve could feel her pain and the betrayal she must have felt. He could not believe his father would keep something so important despite his best intentions. There was one last letter that was dated a few years after the last one. Mia must have been graduating from high school around the time this letter was written.
By now you are probably tired of reading and receiving my letters, but I promise this will be the last time you will ever hear from me. I just want to let you know that I will be graduating soon and after that I will be leaving the island for good. You don’t have to worry about coming back and running into me.
As you probably already heard from your father, there was no baby. So you don’t have to worry about me coming after you for any child support or anything like that. I just want you to know from me there is no child. You can be happy, after all, you never wanted it, right? You are probably wondering why it took me years to write this but I couldn’t do it at the time. Despite our young age, I wanted the baby, and when the accident happened, it just hurt too much. I was still too angry at you and simply at life, but now? Honestly, I don’t care anymore whether you read this or not.
I hope you have a wonderful life, and find someone you can really love and cherish. I wish you nothing but the best wherever it is that you are.
Steve crumpled the last letter in his hand. There was no doubt Mia hated him at the time. She probably hated him now, too. He could not even imagine what Mia must have gone through. He was angry at himself for doubting Mia at the time she told him about his father and the letters, but now there was no doubt. Everything was crystal clear.
Too little, too late, he thought.
Steve did not know what to do with this last piece of information. He leaned back on the couch and stared at the ceiling. He turned his head to the right and noticed Mia was sitting at the top of the stairs holding into the railing with her eyes closed. From where he was sitting he knew she was crying. How much she had witnessed or where they would go from here, he had no idea.