The tension in the room was measurable. John and Darby knew that this was going to be hard for her to get through, so they decided to stay. John wanted to make sure he kept Chris back if he should get outraged and Darby wanted to be supportive for Mallory.
She hung her head and exhaled sharply, “Yes.”
Chris ran his fingers through his hair and began pacing and taking deep breaths. John watched him carefully and was worried he might be sick so he directed him to the couch where he could sit down and pull himself together. He finally looked up at her, “Oh my God, how could you keep this from me for so long?” The words were like knives cutting her.
“I am sorry Chris, you deserved to know but there was so much going on that you didn’t know and I didn’t know how to tell you,” he had her flustered and shew as not sure if she was making any sense.
“Well you have no excuses now, so how about telling me everything? Make me understand, so I am not so full of rage because right now I am finding it really hard to look at you.”
Mallory was emotional and was not sure she could do this, but she had to try. She took a deep breath, held it for a minute, and then let it slowly to begin her story, “When we started dating my parents liked you, but when they found out that you were going to pursue an acting career they changed their mind. They were afraid I would quit school and give up my life and ambitions to follow yours. They were afraid that if you didn’t make it as an actor, we would be struggling and not living up to our potential.”
This conversation was harder than she had imagined, and she had imagined it! For years she ran this conversation through her head and how he would react. However, he wasn’t saying a word. Instead, he was leaning forward and had his head down as if he was just absorbing everything.
“We began having constant arguments regarding you, and I had to tell them I was going to visit friends so that I could go see you. I never had the courage to tell you about it; I kept it bottled up because I hoped they would change their minds. I tried telling them that you were a great guy and they were wrong about you and about your plans but they wanted no part of it. I was their only child, Chris, and they had me on a pedestal that I would never deserve and never live up to,” She moved to take a seat in the armchair across from him. She was afraid that she would not be able to stand and get through the entire story.
“I had been feeling really weird for a few days and a friend joked that maybe I was pregnant. I laughed it off but since we had sex I began to get worried. I went to the store and bought a pregnancy test but didn’t tell anyone; I thought we had been careful but evidently not because sure enough, the test was positive. I didn’t know what to do, and I was scared, so I told my mother because I thought we had the type of relationship where I could talk openly; I was wrong. She was angry, and she immediately told my father who had a worse reaction than my mother. I was told I was a disgrace and whore; they wanted to know what they had done wrong to make me do this to them.”
She had to stop, her emotions were overload and telling him all of this was more than she thought she could take. He looked up at her, just staring into her eyes, and it was not helping. She could not read his expression, and it scared her. She took the opportunity to look over at the stairs and make sure Henry was not there listening. She then started again, “They told me they wanted me to end the pregnancy or to get out of their house – the choice was mine. I told them ending the pregnancy was not even an option and that I’d tell you that I was pregnant and we would work this out. They wouldn’t accept that; my father said I would be an inconvenience to your career and you would leave me over this. I told him that he didn’t know you and he said that if you were such a great guy, you wouldn’t have put me in this position in the first place. He spewed hateful things, and while I didn’t believe him, it still made me question whether I was right for you or not.”
For a minute, Chris was feeling sorry for her and what she went through. He realized it wasn’t just a case of her walking out of his life but being kicked out of her own. He was still angry, but he was starting to feel compassion as well.
“I was confused and scared and didn’t know what to do. I was given a few hours to get my stuff and to be gone; they were actually kicking me out. I packed up and had no idea where to go when my mother came into the room and gave me $500 and told me she made flight arrangements to go to Atlanta. My father had a sister there, and she was willing to take me in.”
Mallory stood from the chair and walked to the other side of the room to grab a tissue. While she had held it together so far, she had a feeling once he started in on her she would need it. Plus it gave her a minute to gather her composure to continue. She walked back to stand behind the chair that she had been seated in. This offered more distance between the two of them; as if there wasn’t enough already.
“My aunt took me in, and I transferred school. I cried every day; cried because of my parents, cried because I was scared, and cried because I missed you the most. My aunt echoed my father’s beliefs that it would not be a good idea to tell you. We had not been dating long enough, and I would be something you would want to just go away.”
This is where the anger began to overtake the compassion; he stood up and ran his hands through his hair, and she could tell he was stifling the urge to scream. He began to pace, and every step was heavier than the last. He finally stopped and turned to her, “So you thought I would actually turn my back on you? You really thought so little of me, Mallory?”
“Oh, you had no idea how much I was in love with you, but I was 19, and you were 21, and I didn’t know how you would react. You were so desperate to get roles, and I would be an inconvenience; actually, we would have been a burden because you were barely making ends meet so how were you going to take care of us?”
“So you wanted to be a martyr and take this on all by yourself. I didn’t need to know I was going to be a dad because you thought my career was more important? Do you hear what you are saying because you are spinning a righteous amount of bullshit right now?”
“You didn’t need to be tied down; you and I had been dating for nine months when I got pregnant. You weren’t ready to marry me and be a dad; you were still having fun and getting into trouble. Tell me you would have been good with this?”
“I don’t know if I would have been good with it, but you never gave me a chance.”
“Fine, are you good with it now? I mean you have a hell of a playboy party boy image there, Cap – you ready for your fandom to explode because they find out you have a son? Or what, would you want to pay me off to keep it quiet so that your image stays intact?”
Darby takes this as her cue to step in, “Hey, there is a lot of emotion between the two of you right now, and we need to keep things calm and quiet so that Henry does not come down to see what is going on.” She looked at both of them, and they were nodding in agreement, so she knew they were all on the same page. “May I offer that we change the perspective a bit? Chris you have heard her say what led up to her to leaving but do you see it from her side or only your own?”
“I don’t follow, sorry.”
“You are seeing how her leaving impacts you, and I don’t think you see everything she was going through. And before you ask, yes I am a therapist, and this is what I do for a living,” She said with a sly grin. She took a few steps forward and positioned herself directly in between the two of them. She turned and faced Chris, “I think it is fair to say that Mallory has some regret over what happened. I have no doubt that you are angry and you have every right to be; but can you, at least, try to see things from her side?”
“I can acknowledge that she was in a terrible position and I have to say I cannot imagine what it must have been like for her parents to turn their back on her. I just can’t imagine what I did to her that made her not tell me and to think I didn’t need to know.”
“Again, trying seeing from her side. If the roles were reversed and you had something big to tell Mallory, and it could impact the career she had been working so hard to have, would you tell her?” He didn’t respond; he had to look away because tears began to prick his eyes. “She was nineteen, scared, and had just been kicked out of her family, so that was a lot for someone to digest and process. Tell me, when she left where were you and what was going on?”
“I had just finished a movie and was home for a few weeks and then I had another movie to shoot. I would be gone for 3 months or so.” It was starting to click, he got what Darby wanted him to see. “She had nowhere to go and then I was going to be gone, and she would be alone.” He hung his head, and when he looked back at her, well her eyes said it all.
“You know if you would have told me…,” He trailed off for a moment before coming back strong, “I could have moved you in with mom, and you wouldn’t have been alone. I would have been home on breaks in filming, and I would have been there for you.”
“I was afraid of your reaction and frankly a little scared of hers. Chris, you and your mom, are tight and if she were not thrilled about my pregnancy, then you wouldn’t have been either. You can deny that all you want but her approval means more to you than anything else.”
“It would have been our pregnancy and not yours. And yes, my mom’s approval and support is vital to me but so were you.”
Mallory walked over to the large picture window next to the fireplace; she looked out over the yard and how pristine it looked with the snow glistening in the moonlight. It gave her a sense of calm and peace while her mind raged on regarding the mess her life had become. She knew all eyes were on here; she could feel them burning into the back of her head.
Finally, without turning around, she spoke. Her voice was flat, no emotion, the fight was out of her by this point. “I needed guidance, and instead, I got a one-way ticket out of my family and all I had ever known. I didn’t leave to be malicious or hurtful; at that time, I thought my leaving would be the right thing to do for both of us.
She could see their reflections in the glass. John had moved over next to Darby, and Chris was alone on the couch; in the familiar position of his elbow on his knees as he leaned forward. This was his serious ‘I’m listening and thinking’ position.
“I have never stopped loving you; I think I love you more every day when I look at Henry and see you in his eyes. I have followed your career and gone to your movies. And, yes, I regularly talked to Josh. I would check to see how you were doing because I worry about you and I won’t apologize for that. I have read the articles and seen the paparazzi pics of you out and about with women. I had no reasonable expectations that you still thought of me. Don’t get me wrong, I hoped you did, but realistically I knew you didn’t.”
At this point, the conversation was beginning to make Darby and John uncomfortable. Mallory was pouring her soul out and telling Chris the things they had known for years; she didn’t need an audience or referees for this. They quietly exited the room and elected to go upstairs to make sure everyone was still down for the count.