8.56: Long Story

Emberlynn couldn’t decide whether she was going to throw up or cry as she stood on the front steps of the cafe. Why on Earth had her feet decided to lead her here? Ugh. I hope I don’t regret this.

She let out a soft sigh, knowing she couldn’t stay out there forever. She’d made it this far. It would be foolish to try and turn back now. She just had to suck it up and get it over with, didn’t she?

After a few calming breaths, Emberlynn finally went up the stairs and made her way inside. 

The cafe wasn’t crowded, and it was easy to spot Gigi, sitting by herself at a table by one of the windows. 

Emberlynn felt her throat tighten at the sight of her — part of her wanted to scream while another wanted to burst into tears as she gazed upon the woman who had caused her so much anguish over the past several weeks.

Though it appeared for a moment like Gigi might burst into tears herself, she managed to keep her composure much better than Emberlynn had been expecting. 

She did, however, rise to her feet at her daughter’s approach.

“Hi, Sweetie.” Gigi said gently as Emberlynn drew closer.

She said nothing in reply, but took an involuntary step backward when her mother tried to pull her in for a hug.

Gigi’s face fell as she lowered her arms to her sides. “I hope you’re doing well.” She said as she reluctantly took a seat back at the table.

Emberlynn shrugged but remained silent as she slowly lowered herself into the chair across from her mother.

Gigi simply stared at her for a few moments before she finally spoke again. It still looked like she was going to cry. “I’ve missed you so much.” She said at last.

I’ve missed you too, Emberlynn almost wanted to say. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. She was still too sad and angry to form any words.

“And your grandparents and Tristan… They all miss you too.” Gigi continued seriously. “I know they really hope you’ll come home soon.”

Emberlynn narrowed her eyes at these words. She could already see right through her mother’s scheme. “Oh really? And how would you know that?” At last, she broke her silence.

Gigi looked taken aback by this reaction. “What do you mean?”

“Tristan hasn’t spoken to you in weeks. He told me himself. So how would you have any idea what he wants?” Emberlynn replied, her voice dripping with venom. “And I just talked to Oma Harper the other day. She told me she understands. She said to take all the time I need.”

She watched with satisfaction as all the color drained from Gigi’s cheeks. “Emberlynn…”

“Unbelievable.” Emberlynn shook her head in disgust. “You and Papa rope me into coming here to talk to you, and what’s the first thing you do? Try and guilt me into coming back home… With a lie!” She could feel several pairs of eyes watching her as her voice grew louder. “But you’re really good at those, aren’t you, Mama?”

Gigi lowered her head in shame. “It’s not a lie.” She explained weakly. “We all want you home.”

“Oh yeah?” Emberlynn tried as hard as she could to calm herself, hoping to avoid more attention from the other guests and employees of the cafe. “And why exactly would I want to go back there after what you did?”

“Emberlynn, please.” Gigi’s voice shook slightly as she replied. “I know that it was terrible of me to lie to you. But I need you to know that I never wanted to hurt you. I know this might be hard to believe, but… I did it for you.”

Emberlynn almost laughed in her face. “Are you kidding me right now?”

“Just let me try to explain?” She asked. “Please?”

Her daughter did not immediately reply. Did she even want to hear any of what her mother was about to tell her? But then, what could she possibly say to make things any worse than they already were? 

With a small sigh, Emberlynn nodded. “Fine. But Mama, I’m serious — no more lies. Just… tell me the truth.”

“I will.” Gigi promised. “But I’ll warn you, it’s kind of a long story.”

And it was. 

It was the long and very sad story of a strong-willed and confident, but selfish young girl who was terrified at the idea of losing the man she loved.

So she made the rash decision to get married and follow him halfway across the world while he followed his dreams. And he was so kind-hearted and eager to make her happy that he let her.

And even though things started out just fine… They went downhill so quickly. She grew bitter and resentful of all the time he spent away from her, and the time she spent cooped up in their tiny house. All the little things that used to annoy them about each other grew more and more unbearable until they couldn’t take it anymore. 

They started fighting all the time. And eventually, they were each drawn to other people. 

Him, to one of his very best friends.

And her, to her friend’s coworker. A handsome young man who sold beautiful jewelry and could make the girl laugh and feel special in a way that only her husband ever could, but hadn’t for a long time.

The selfish young girl found comfort in this man’s arms, but it didn’t last long. The guilt weighed heavily upon her heart until she finally decided to end things.

But by the time she did, it was too late.

And the girl was left with the most difficult decision she’d ever had to face in her life.

“When we took that test, I had a feeling.” Gigi explained softly. “So I made sure to ask for them to mail us the results. It was easy to make sure I could open them on my own. And when I saw what they said…”

“You printed out fake ones.” Emberlynn finished for her, the disgust apparent in her voice.

Gigi nodded. “Emberlynn, I need you to understand. I was even younger than you are now. I was pregnant. I was thousands of kilometers away from home. My marriage was falling apart… And I panicked. It was selfish of me. I’ll admit it. That was part of why I did what I did. I didn’t want to lose Phoenix.” She confessed. “But more importantly, I didn’t want you being without a father. Because the man who… Who, um…”

“Yeah, I know who you mean.” Emberlynn replied softly, urging her mother to go on, in spite of herself. 

“He was a sweet man. Funny. Charming. But what we had was never real.” Gigi’s voice was pained as she spoke. “He didn’t want a relationship, he made that clear from the start. And he most definitely didn’t want a child. Not back then, anyway. And definitely not with me. He would have wanted nothing to do with you. I’m sure of it.” She spoke the words with such desperation that Emberlynn was almost willing to believe her. “And you deserved so much more than a father like that. I wanted what was best for you… For both of us.” She admitted.

Emberlynn said nothing as she tried to wrap her head around everything her mother had just told her. There was so much to her parents’ history that she’d never known. All the turmoil of their marriage now made more sense than ever before.

But none of it changed the simple fact that Gigi had been lying to everyone for years. It didn’t matter what her supposed reasons were. No matter what, Emberlynn’s entire life up until now had been a lie. Her Papa had been completely destroyed by learning the truth. Her poor brother was being forced to watch his entire family crumble around him. And Xander had grown up never knowing who his father really was.

All because of Gigi’s lie.

“Does he know?” She asked at last. “The… the guy.” Emberlynn clarified uncomfortably. “Did you ever tell him about me? Does he know I exist?”

Gigi shook her head. “He never even knew I was pregnant. I haven’t spoken to him since before you were born.”

Emberlynn hesitated before speaking again. “What was his name?” She asked, hating herself for wanting to know.

“Brandon.” Gigi replied in a whisper. “Brandon… Weston?” She shook her head. “No, Westfield. Sorry. It’s been a long time.”

Brandon Westfield.” Emberlynn repeated. Something felt so wrong about saying the name out loud. Like it was some terrible swear word that should never be spoken.

Her mother nodded slowly. “Like I said, I haven’t spoken to him in over twenty years. But…” Gigi paused, eyeing her nervously.

“What?”

“I think I know how you could get in touch with him… If you wanted.”

Emberlynn shook her head. “No.” She replied without hesitation.

Gigi seemed surprised by her response. “Are you sure?”

“I already have a Papa. I don’t need another one.” Her voice was firm. “And I think you’ve already ruined enough people’s lives with your lies, don’t you? Why add this poor Brandon guy to the list?”

“You’re right.” Gigi replied quickly. “I just wanted to give you the option. And it’s always open if you change your mind… okay?”

“I won’t change my mind.” Emberlynn insisted, turning away from her.

So much for making things ‘easier’. All this conversation had done was make her feel worse. I’ve gotta get out of here, Emberlynn thought. She’d heard enough.

With a heavy sigh, she rose to her feet. “I should go.” Emberlynn muttered uncomfortably.

“Already?” Gigi’s face fell at her daughter’s words.

“You wanted me to listen, I listened.” She replied, her voice cold. “And honestly? That’s probably more than you deserve.”

“So even after all that… You still hate me?” Her mother sounded almost like a frightened little girl as she spoke.

“I could never hate you, Mama. No matter how much I want to.” Emberlynn admitted sadly. “But things are never gonna be the same again. You lied to everybody for my entire life. It doesn’t matter how sorry you are now. That doesn’t change what happened… And there’s no way we’ll ever come back from this.” Her voice was thick as an unexpected wave of emotion rose inside of her. “You know that, don’t you?”

Despite her anger, Emberlynn’s heart ached as she watched the tears finally fall from her mother’s eyes. “I do.” Gigi nodded slowly, choking out the words between her tears. “I know.”

Emberlynn bit her lip before replying, still holding back her own tears. “Do you want me to call Papa and have him come back here?” She asked. Somehow, a part of her still felt guilty about leaving her mother all alone in that cafe.

Gigi shook her head. “Not til he’s ready. I don’t mind waiting. It’s nice and cozy in here.” She glanced down at the empty mug in front of her. “And the coffee’s pretty good too.” She managed a small smile through her tears as she spoke. 

“Alright, if you’re sure…” Emberlynn shuffled her feet uncomfortably. Why was it suddenly so hard to leave? “Then… This is goodbye, I guess.” She mumbled. “I’ll see you later, Mama.”

But when would ‘later’ be, exactly? Weeks? Months? Years? Emberlynn tried her best not to think about it.

At last, Gigi rose to her feet, her tears still sliding down her cheeks. “Thank you for coming, Honey. And for listening. I love you so much.” Her voice cracked on the final words.

Emberlynn felt a few of her own tears finally escape. “I know you do.” She replied sadly.

This time, she did not pull away from Gigi’s embrace. And, for one brief, shining moment, she felt just as safe and warm in her mother’s arms as she always had.

But as soon as she pulled away, the spell was broken.

And Emberlynn headed back home feeling just as cold and empty as before.

30 thoughts on “8.56: Long Story

  1. I really do feel so bad for both of them 😭 I know that right now it’s hard for Ember to see ever being less mad at her mother, but I hope they can start to repair their relationship at some point in the future. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel for them both too 😦 As wrong as Gigi’s lie was, I understand why she did it. She was young and scared for both herself and her baby, so she did what she thought would be best for both of them. But like you said, it’s just too hard for Emberlynn to see all that.

      The ball is in Ember’s court now though. Gigi has said all she can really say. It’s up to Emberlynn now to decide where to take it from here… and like you said, we’ll see! 😉

      Thank you for reading! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. UGhhhh!This is all so sad, and confusing, and weird and I’m living for it (?). I just love when things aren’t black-on-white, and this surely is one of those moments.That aren’t villans, only people trying to do what they can to be happy. And Gigi surely was one of those people. She ain’t evil, but she surely isn’t not to blame either.

    I feel like their relationship will be pretty much dead for the last few years. Don’t get me wrong, Gigi is paying for what she did, but, after all, it is her mother, she should try to have at least some decente relationship with her, after some time has passed, and things feel better.

    Forgive and forget, as they say.

    It was good for then to have this closure (this word could easily describe the past few chaperts lol), so Gigi can say what she wants to, and Ember can see things from her perspective, not to be forgiven, just understood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I’m glad you’re living for the sadness over here 😂 You’re right — this definitely isn’t black and white, and Gigi’s not a villain. She’s just someone who made a huge mistake and is now paying for it.

      The end of the gen is very close now, but the last few chapters will focus a lot on how things are between her and Gigi moving forward… hopefully things will get better in time!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I respectfully have to disagree with the ‘Gigi is not a villain’ sympathy angle. She is, by the D&D definition at least, somewhere between Neutral and Chaotic Evil.

    The D&D Good->Evil alignment spectrum is used to describe a person’s relationship with others. If your primary concern is the benefit of others, you are Good. If your primary aim is to benefit yourself, you are Evil. You don’t have to kick kittens or tie damsels to train tracks to be Evil, you just need to be primarily selfish.

    Which Gigi is. Every one of those flashback memories was Gigi caring more about herself and her happiness than her actions’ effects on those around her. Yes, each and every one of those memories may have been a mistake, but she tried to resolve every one of them so her well-being would come out on top with no concern about how the well-being of anyone else would be impacted.

    She had choice and chose herself every time. To me, that is a villain.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s very interesting to see it laid out like that in D&D terms (Tam would approve 😉 😂)

      Selfishness is Gigi’s #1 character flaw, there is no doubt about that! I’ve always imagined her more as a chaotic neutral, but I can see the argument for why “evil” might fit her, given this definition.

      The only part that I disagree on a little is that she had no concern for how others would be affected. Gigi acknowledges her mistakes, and carries a lot of guilt for what she’s done. To me, a true evil villain feels no remorse for their actions, but Gigi has plenty of that. It doesn’t make anything she did okay, obviously. She is selfish and has done selfish things that hurt others deeply. But she also acknowledges that and feels bad for the pain she’s caused. She’s not a heartless monster, which I think is why I struggle with putting the “evil” or “villain” labels on her, but I see where you’re coming from here!

      I appreciate this very insightful comment! Thank you for sharing your thoughts (and reading!)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I honestly did not expect things to turn out like this. Ember might be full of anger and sadness at the moment, but she does act impressingly rational and adult here. Really strong. But it’s for the better that she isn’t as forgiving as Gigi. It’s not like Gigi doesn’t suffer for her mistakes, but she hasn’t really learned from them, has she? And Phee is already feeling compassionate and willing to support her to some degree. I don’t think Gigi is really evil, but she is kind of at the borderline, with a foot down on the other side. And alignment changes are never a good thing. But while most of Gigis motivation has been selfish, there has always been at least some piece of her wanting her family to feel good and well. A piece that kept her from being evil. There were always some compromises she made, some moments that were about making others feel better even if she didn’t feel like it. It’s those things that wouldn’t fit a chaotic evil villain. But she needs some incentive to get better than that. As long as she truly wants the people she loves to have a happy life, too, there is hope she can become better than that. And while she might deserve being left and all, having a Gigi that is more inclined to good than to evil would be something Ember and Tristan and maybe Phee would feel happier with. But if she has the opportunity to go the easy way to emotionally press people in what feels better for her, she will go it. Only if she has to improve to get what she wants she will go the hard way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Emberlynn has her moments! Even though she’s not related to him by blood, there’s some Phee in there too ❤

      And you have a pretty good analysis of Gigi’s personality/“alignment” there. She’s pretty borderline, with lots of selfish motivations, but she does love her family and wants what’s best for them too. But she definitely still has some learning and growing to do. I think this whole situation is a huge wake up call for her!

      Like

  5. Ugh. Well that was a sad conversation. But I felt she got some closure even though a part of her will always be broken at her mothers hand.

    Glad Emberlynn doesn’t want to dig up her past. Best to stay safely with the father she knows.

    Now she can move away from Windenburg and get on with her life! Wedding? Nooboos? YES!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, this was rough… Lots of pain and sadness for both of them, but it was definitely a little bit of closure too. Emberlynn can finally move on now, like you said… hopefully to marriage and babies, yes 😉 But we shall see hehehe

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 😦 that was so sad….I’m glad she went and at least listened to Gigi. Sometimes talking things out no matter how bad is truly cathartic but for these two I think it’s going to be a slow and painful process. I’m hoping maybe a wedding or a baby will help mend the brokenness of this family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, this will take time… but hopefully someday there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe a major life event will be something to bring them together later, that’s a good thought! We will see…

      Like

  7. That was so good and so sad. I think this line sums up how I feel about Gigi. “She could already see right through her mother’s scheme.”

    And it’s so true. I loved reading the comments about good vs evil. And it’s so true. Even as Gigi gave Emberlynn her sob story, she tried to paint it as her being the damsel in distress and doing all of these things out of concern for first Phoenix and then Emberlynn. And she as the victim. Which I believe she believes. Which is sad. She’s still painting herself as the victim. And I think Emberlynn got that. Now I have nobody – poor me. And she lied! About everyone wanting her to come home. Or at least twisted the truth to her benefit – like she always does. That was the worst part. Gigi will never change and I’m glad Phoenix is done with her. It’s so sad. But please let him find someone new and not be alone the rest of his life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Gigi is kind of naturally manipulative. At this point, I don’t even think she consciously realizes she’s doing it. It’s just the way she sees the world, like you said. She has a conscience and is able to look back on her actions and recognize them as selfish and wrong, but in the moment… well, we’ve all seen what comes out 😬

      No promises about what’s ahead for Phoenix but at least he’s finally free from his mostly-unhappy marriage?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ooof this chapter was a hard read, I have a very rocky relationship with my mother because of her narcissistic personality among other things, so I totally understand Emberlynns rage and unwillingness to forgive her mother, it is sad but parents aren’t superheroes like we’re led to think at a young age, they’re just like everyone else and they have their own fuckups. However I do see Gigi’s point of view and she sounds remorseful at the very least but she should leave asap and not push Emberlynn anymore; these things really take time.

    I love what you’ve done with this generation so far, I’m not into soap operas but this is definitely my guilty pleasure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry that you have a difficult relationship with your own mother 😦 That must be so hard.

      You’re right that Gigi does feel genuine remorse here, but it’s also true that Emberlynn needs space and time now. The ball is in her court, so it’s up to Ember now to decide how she wants to move forward from here.

      I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the soap opera action this generation! ❤️ It’s been fun to write, even if it’s all a little over the top!

      Thank you very much for reading ❤️

      Like

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed these last few chapters ❤️ Enjoy your time in Paris! Hopefully you don’t overhear any awkward mother and daughter conversations like this while you’re there 😛

      Thank you for your kind words (and for reading too of course!) ❤️

      Like

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