Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bella Bernardi - Suburb Blues

I stomped down the stairs of my new suburban home, following my husband with a raised fist. “You listen to me, Ronaldo Bernardi, non vivrò come questo! I will not live like this!”

He shook his head, refusing to turn around and look at me, and just kept striding through the kitchen and towards the front door. “Stop with the dramatics, Bella, por favore.”

I snarled at the disdain that practically dripped from his voice. “Do not patronize me!”

“Oh, how could I? You're only treating a move to the 'burbs like a life-sentence in San Vittorio!”

I grabbed his arm, and used what force I had in my svelte body to spin my heavily muscled husband around. “I cannot stand it, Ronaldo! All I do all day is sit in this house and cook and clean and... ah! Don't give me that look!”

Ronaldo attempted to wipe the smirk off his face. “So doing wifely and motherly chores is torture?”

“It is for me! If you wanted a wifey-wife, you shouldn't have married me!”

“Don't tempt me with the thought, Bella.”

“Ugh!” I slapped his arm, and pointed a thin finger at him. “Why did we move here?! Why couldn't we have stayed in Sim City?! Why couldn't you have stayed in the family business?!” I slapped him again for good measure.

“You wanted me to stay there?” His voice was suddenly low and menacing as he grabbed my wrist and held it tight between our bodies. “Even your father was telling me to get out, that things were getting too hot too quickly, and you wanted me to stay there? Tell me, amore mio, how badly do you want to be a widow?”

“Ronaldo, stop it...”

He jerked my wrist, and squeezed it tighter. “The Rossi family is out to kill me, to avenge Antonio's death, and you're worried about feeding your shopping habit?” His eyes narrowed on my, and I shifted under his gaze.

“Stop it, Ronaldo, you're scaring me....”

“Oh, I'm scaring you now? Salvatore Rossi and his men don't scare you, the idea of your husband being gunned down doesn't scare you, but your shopping habit being threatened, that frightens you?” A cryptic laugh rumbled through his chest. “Do you know what I did for that money, Bella? Do you know how many sims' blood was spilled so you could wear your Gucci shoes, and carry your Prada bags? Do you have any idea?”

I shook my head, and managed to jerk my hand away. “Stop it.”

The two stood silent for a moment, and Bella stared off into the distance. I would not think about those kinds of things, I would not. I didn't have any say in the things my husband did, just as I didn't have any say in the activities of my father, or my brothers, or my uncles, or.... I sighed.

“Bella, listen to me.” Ronaldo's voice was softer now, and I looked up to see that his face had lost it's snarling, menacing expression.

“Why don't you take the train into Downtown Simberry for the day, but ah ah ah! Listen,” he said, noticing how my face lit up at the idea. “You have to be home by the time the girls get back from school. D'accordo?”

“D'accordo!” I grinned, and leaped into his arms. “Andiamo...!” I wriggled out of his grasp and started towards the door, but Ronaldo had hold of my wrist.

“Not so fast, amore mio. I said 'you' can go - I won't be joining you.”

“But Ronaldo!” I whined, my shoulders slumping. “Who will carry my bags?”

“You'll have to carry them yourself, cucciola mia . I have work tonight....”

I was outraged at the idea of actually carrying my own things, but Ronaldo was gone by the time I could muster a reply.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Neeve Boudin - The Meeting

I stepped up to the perpetually scantily-clad secretary, a young girl named Jillian, at Lawrence's front desk.

“I need to speak with Mr. Boudin please.” I asked her.

With a raise of her eyebrow, she got up from her post and pushed open the heavy frosted-glass door leading into Lawrence's private office. I glanced backward quickly and there was Abram, standing with his arms crossed over his chest and looking much more imposing than any Amish man should, whether he's shunned or not. I gave a small smile, and turned back to the desk when the secretary emerged.

The secretary soon emerged, and said in an airy voice, “Mr. Boudin is in a meeting right now.”

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. “Tell him it's important.”

“I said, he's in a m....”

“I heard what you said,” I snapped, “Now you go tell Lawrence what I said: it's important.”

She narrowed her eyes, but returned to the office and rejoined us a moment later.

“Mr. Boudin will see you now,” she said with a very unconvincing smile plastered on her face.

“Mmm-hmm,” I said as I turned back towards Abram. “I will be out in a little while.”

“Oh no,” Abram said, shaking his head. “I'm going with you.”

“I agreed to have you come with me, Abe, but I've got to do this part alone. Okay?”

He pondered my words a moment, and reluctantly agreed. “I'll be right here if you need me.”

I nodded, and turned towards Lawrence's office.

'It's now or never,' I thought, and pushed through the door. I entered into Lawrence's lair – a staunch gray brick room with little to no decoration, and my eyes fell on my husband's desk chair – it was turned around, not facing the doorway, but I could see the tip of Lawrence's head. I frowned, thinking 'In a meeting my foot!', but I walked on, until I was less than a foot from the ornate black desk.

“Lawrence,” I said, my tone cool and calm, “we need to talk.”

I could see him shake his head before spinning around to face me.

“What about?” He asked, his hands crossed over his body, his fingertips tapping his knuckles lightly. On the surface he looked apathetic – no real expression on his ashen face - but his eyes held a certain hostility.

I took a breath, and – not feeling quite as anxious as I had anticipated – I began to speak. “I am leaving, Lawrence.”

'Hmm, that wasn't all too difficult.'

The corners of his lips flicked up for a fraction of a second as his eyes narrowed on me. “You only just got here.”

His attempt at humor didn't elicit a response from me. I simply repeated myself, “I'm leaving, Lawrence. I'm leaving you.”

He lowered his eyebrows, but his expression didn't change. He appeared to be calculating something in his head as he stared into space, but he didn't speak.

“This can't be a surprise,” I continued to elaborate, “not with the way things have been lately....”

Still, he didn't respond – he didn't move a fraction of an inch.

“Lawrence?” I asked, eying him suspiciously. I had expected some kind of a reaction. I had expected him to yell, or scream, or... something. “Lawrence.” I repeated, my voice louder this time.

His steely gray eyes met mine, and suddenly I saw it - that look I had become all too familiar with in five simyears of marriage- the look that usually preceded a very bad, very physical fight. I swallowed hard, but didn't move as he stood.

“You're leaving....” He said in a calm voice, pushing his chair back towards the wall. “You're leaving... me?” His last word was obscured by a small chuckle.

“Yes.” I said, my eyes glued to him as he rounded his desk, a disconcerting smile plastered on his full lips.

“Neeve,” he started to say as he come towards me. “You're not leaving me.”

“Y-Yes, I am.” I stuttered, but I didn't relent. “I'm sorry, Lawrence, but I can't stay at the house....”

“You're not understanding me,” Lawrence's voice was less calm now, and I began to see anger contort his face. “You. Are. Not. Leaving.”

As he closed the distance between us, I stepped back. The usual things began to filter through my mind – 'How far away is the door?' and 'Could I get out before he gets to me?'.

“You see, Neeve,” he started again, following me slowly, matching me step for step, “You're being silly. No, that's not even the word. You're being stupid, Neeve. You wouldn't be able to make it out there without me. You have no family. You have no friends. You would fall on your face, and come crawling back. Don't you see? You can skip all that embarrassment, and just stay. It would be a lot less... painful... for both of us.”

Somehow, I didn't believe he really meant it would be less painful for 'us', as I backed up through his office, my muscles tightening as I saw his fists ball.

“Lawrence,” I started, but realized that my voice wasn't the only one in the room saying his name. I glanced backward to see Abram standing at the door, his jaw set in a hard line, his eyes narrowed on my husband. I glanced back at Lawrence, and saw him cock his head. He looked almost amused.

“Perfect timing, Dr. Vogel.” He said with that same slick smile, his fists relaxing. “How is it that you know exactly when it interrupt a conversation. I thought the Amish were supposed to have manners.”

“Come, Neeve.” Abram said, not paying heed to Lawrence's words, but not taking his eyes off him either. “We're leaving.”

“Ah,” Lawrence said with a short laugh, “At least I'll know where to find her then. When I come to bring her home tonight, I mean.”

“She won't be coming home, Lawrence.”

“Oh, I doubt that.” Lawrence replied, almost grinning now.

“Come, Neeve.” Abram repeated, and this time I listened. I watched Lawrence out of the corner of my eye as we left the office.

“Bye, Neeve,” He said almost sweetly, “See you tonight, honey.”

Only when the elevator door was closed did I allow myself to shudder. I felt Abram's arm encircle me immediately.

“Ach, Neeve,” he said, pulling me into him, “You needn't worry. You'll be safe at the beach house.”

“Yeah, I know....” I muttered, not sounding quite as sure about that is he did.


With Abram and Neeve gone, Lawrence sank back into his desk chair. He lent back and frowned – he wouldn't let this happen. Where did that woman get the gull to say those things to him? Hadn't he shown her that he was the one calling the shots? His mother always told him that it was a woman's job to cater to her husband, and Neeve, well, she was piss-poor at it. If he couldn't make her understand that she belonged with him, that she belonged to him, well....

Suddenly, he had an idea. Leaning forward he grabbed his phone and dialed the lobby. “Yes, Jillian,” he spoke into the receiver, “get Ronaldo Bernardi on the phone for me.”

A sly smile spread across Lawrence's face as he waited for his secretary to make the connection.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Neeve Boudin - The Beach House

I stood on the porch of Abram's rather picturesque beach-house, and I realized something – this was going to be my home. For a while, at least. The thought sent shivers up my spine.

I watched as Abram brought my last suitcase up from his SUV, and immediately felt like crying. This was it. Abram would leave, and I would be alone here, at this all-too-beautiful-house... and without my husband.

“Don't fret so, Neeve.” Suddenly Abram was in front of me, his hand on my shoulder. “You look about as white as a ghost.”

A small smile crept to my face. “I'm okay, Abram. Thank you so much for letting me stay here....”

“Ach, don't think on it. You're welcome here.”

A comfortable silence fell between us, and I wrapped my arms around myself. 'For as much as everyone's been telling me that this is the right decision, you would think I'd feel better about it.' I thought, biting my lip.

“Neeve, you're downing me!” Abram smiled, but quickly turned serious. “You will be fine here. Safe, most importantly. What did Lawrence say when you told him you were leaving.”



“Erm... well... see Abram, I...”

Abram cocked an eyebrow at me. “Neeve? You did tell him, jah?”

I looked down at the worn boards under my feet.

“Ach, Neeve!”

“Abram, I know....” I trailed off, and shook my head. I was just so much easier without having to tell my husband that I was leaving. Not that he wouldn't find out, but even a few precious hours without confrontation sounded good enough to dissuade me from saying anything to him before he left for work that morning.

“You need to tell him.” The tone of Abram's voice left little room for negotiation. “If you're worried about it, you could go to the police after that, get an order to prevent him from coming around....”


“No, Neeve. I am surprised you haven't already gone. With what he did to your face, I think the police would be hard pressed not to lock him up....”

“No. I just... I'm not going to do that. I'll tell him I'm leaving, but that's it. He won't come around, Abram. This is Lawrence. He's not some crazed lunatic.”

“Those bruises of yours say different.”

I took a deep breath. “No. I won't do it.” I crossed my arms over me, holding them tight to my chest.

Abram sighed, turned around and walked to the other side of the porch, shaking his head. I wasn't stupid – I knew what Lawrence was capable of, but to file a report? Get a restraining order? It was all too much for me to deal with. All I wanted was to get away from that house, and for him to leave me alone.

“Fine,” Abram said after a moment, and walked back towards me. “Fine, Neeve, but I go with you when you tell him.”

“What? Abe, I can handle this...”

“I know you can handle it. But you will take me with you. Just as a precaution.”


Neeve.” There was that tone again. I heaved a heavy sigh.

“You use that tone with your kids? That must be why they don't ever act up.”

He cracked a smile. “Jah. Wonderful-gut children I have – mannerlich kinner.” He looked thoughtful a moment, then turned to me with a glint in his eye and said under his breath “It is the tone.”

I smiled, and hugged him. “Thank you, Abram.... well, danke, rather.”

I could feel a laugh rumble though his chest as I held him close. “Jah, Neeve. You are welcome.” He released me from our hug, and said “Now, over to Lawrence's office?”

“Eh, no...”

“Now Neeve....”

“I know, I will. Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? But when he gets home and you aren't there...”

“He's got a big meeting tonight, he won't be home until the wee hours of the morning, if he decides to come at all. Tomorrow we'll go, okay?”

Abram studied me for a moment, then nodded. “That sounds fine. Well, Miss Neeve, I must go. I need to start looking for a babysitter....”

“What happened to Karen?”

“She isn't able to take the children for more than a few hours, and I'm... well, I'm going out of town for a few days.”

I gasped, “Oh Abram, I could watch the kids.”

“Ach, no. You've had enough excitement lately....”

“No, really, Abram, I wouldn't mind. I'd like it, actually.

“But Anna Mae is out of school for the summer, and Nellie's a handful, and Luke's just getting used to our routine...”

“I don't mind, really! They could keep me company, and Abe? I'm a pediatric nurse. I know how to handle handfuls. And I promise I'll make sure Luke is well taken care of.”


I appealed to his practical side, “It would be easier than interviewing for nannies, wouldn't it?”

Abram sighed. “Jah, it would....” Finally, after a moment, he nodded. “You're sure about this?”

“Jah!” I mimicked him, and he laughed.

“Alright. Danke shoen, Neeve. We'll pick them up tomorrow, after we talk to Lawrence.”

“After I talk to Lawrence.”

He smiled, nodding, and turned back towards his SUV. Despite everything, I smiled too. I love Abram's kids, and was thrilled that I would have company in the old beach house. And despite my protesting, having Abram there when I tell Lawrence that I'm leaving will be a great comfort.

For the first time since I decided to leave my husband, things are finally starting to look up.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Abram Vogel

Ach, I never thought this would happen. When I left Lancaster, my family and the Amish church, I knew full-well what would happen - Meidung. Shunning. I was under no misapprehension about that. It meant no further contact with my family, my friends, or anyone from my community... at least, that's what it's supposed to mean! And disobeying it is a serious offense, according to the Ordnung, or the rules by which we - or rather, the Amish - live our lives. So you can only imagine my surprise when I answered the phone this evening to hear a ladich-, or tired-sounding voice on the other end.

"Abram?" The woman said, and my spine straightened immediately.

"...Mam?" I answered after a moment, unsure if my ears were decieving me.

"Jah, Abram," came her quiet reply. "Tis me."

I hesitated. After nearly a decade of living modern and not hearing a peep from any of my family, I was a bit ferhoodled, to say the least, at my mother calling on me, on the telephone no less. I said the first thing that came to mind. "Is everything alright, Mam?"

"Ach, no. Abram... yer Dat's died."

Neeve Boudin

When did this become normal? At what point in my marriage, I wonder to myself sometimes, did this become routine? Or excusable? Why can't Lawrence just yell at me like he used to? And why can't I just keep my big mouth shut?

I know I was asking, nay, begging for it the other night, when I got home from dancing with the others on the Garden Committee and found Lawrence waiting for me in the living room. I just couldn't have kept quiet, I couldn't have just apologized and gone to bed. It wasn't as if I had been drinking – I can't use intoxication as an excuse. I just stood there, smirking and chuckling at him while he bellowed at me about coming home so late, about keeping him waiting about going out with that man.... It wasn't as if I was with just Dean, anyway, but Lawrence wouldn't hear of it....

*sigh* After the fight, Lawrence stormed off into the night, and I... well, I did something stupid. I decided I needed to get out of the house, and -for lack of another place to go- I went to see Dean. I did not even bother to fix myself up before trudging -in a broken high-heel and without my glasses, which lay smashed on my bedroom floor- the four city blocks to Dean's apartment. Boy, by the look on his face when he got there, he would've sooner expected to see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse knocking at his door at three AM.

I stayed there until sun-up, crying and talking and persuading Dean not to go after Lawrence. I should never have gone over there, though. This is my problem, not his, but talking with him, being with him in general, just makes me feel so... safe.