Olga sighed as her phone rang for the umpteenth time. The name blinking on the screen read “Mahia Clark”. The call finally went to voicemail and the screen now showed 26 missed calls. Olga sighed again as she took a sip of her scotch. It was 8:30 pm and Olga was sitting in her darkened living room, nursing her second scotch and soda and wondering how her life had gone so wrong. Her marriage was in shambles and Neil had moved out of their house and into their downtown condo. Her daughter, Aarya had decided her mom was a cold bitch and said she was going to spend the holidays with her friend’s family instead. It was 1 week before Christmas and Olga had the whole house to herself. She looked at the corner by the fireplace where they put up their Christmas tree each year and thought “Guess I won’t have to deal with it this year.”
Olga hadn’t always been a cold bitch. As a child, she was quite boisterous, always up to tricks. Her mom would worry that she was too much of a tomboy but she never once swayed in her support. She accompanied her to every Soccer game, every Jiu Jitsu competition, cheering louder than any parent. Mahia, the younger sibling on the other hand, was Olga’s polar opposite, dainty, soft spoken and the epitome of femininity even as a child. If they didn’t have the same nose and chin, you’d never know they were sisters.
Olga wanted to become an investigative journalist and much to her dad’s chagrin, her mom allowed her to enroll into the journalism course at the university and move into a small studio apartment to pursue her degree. It was there she met Neil. He was Junior Editor at the town newspaper she was part-time intern at. They struck it off immediately. He was mature for his age and very supportive of her. She was smitten by him and in the heat of the moment, she got swept away. When she found out she was pregnant, Neil was elated, Olga not so much.
Olga tried to work through her pregnancy as much as she could, to accrue as many credits as possible before she needed to take a break. She was hoping to come back and finish her degree in a couple of years. Now as she sat in the oversized armchair, she couldn’t remember why she never got around to it. Two years became five, five became ten. Aarya was a high energy child, much like her mother. Neil however was traveling a lot for his job and Olga was going through nannies by the dozen. None of them were willing to put up with Aarya’s demands or attitude. Somewhere there, Olga lost focus and resigned herself to her wifely and maternal duties. She freelanced for magazines or wrote a review here and there for food journals but her talent remained vastly untapped.
Aarya was now 17 and an adamant teenager. Neil was still traveling. Olga was at home a lot, unsure of what to do with all her free time. She started spending hours at the Barnes & Noble reading, scribbling, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. This is where she ran into Aidan. Aidan was between jobs and spending his time at the B&N applying for anything that resembled his skillsets. On day 5, Aidan asked Olga if she would like to get some lunch with him. The rest was a blur for Olga. Soon they were meeting at her house on weekdays for langorous mornings doing the daily crosswords and eating breakfast that Aidan stellarly put together. It had achieved a cadence when Neil came home one day to find his wife and her “lover” in their bed. Their marriage had cooled off over the years but to actually find his wife in bed with a stranger in their family house was more than he could deal with.
Olga tried to explain to Neil that this was just a distraction. She even broke it off with Aidan who wasn’t any less for wear either.He wished her well and went back to his pre-Olga life. Neil however couldn’t get past it. He’d had his share of affairs with all his travel that Olga was oblivious to. But his wife having an affair suddenly awakened his senses. He tried to work with Olga but he soon realized he was too myopic to get over this. He moved out of the house and asked Olga for a trial separation. Aarya just assumed her mother, who had lately become distracted and aloof anyway, had finally driven her dad away. She started finding reasons to pick fights with her mom, reasons to make her mother feel like she was at fault and the reason for their family crumbling.
Olga took the rejection hard. She began to stay home, stopped showering or taking care of herself and started drinking. Neil had an impressive selection of scotch and Olga went through it meticulously, lining up empty bottles along the edge of the wet bar. She refused calls from her friends and family. Friends who initially stopped by with food and kept checking on her finally tapered off. Her momtried calling her from her assisted living facility but couldn’t get through. Nowadays the only one calling her was Mahia. “Why does she not get it that I just want to curl up and die?! I’m just going to drink myself to death.” Olga thought. But Mahia kept calling relentlessly!
Mahia finally called Neil when she couldn’t get through to her sister for 30 days straight. Neil reluctantly agreed to go with her to the house to check on Olga. The main floor was empty so they went up the steps to the master bedroom. There, splayed in the middle of the bed, surrounded by empty Scotch bottles, was Olga, eyes shut, a slight smile on her face. Her face was ashen, her lips blue. She was clutching a photo frame to her chest. It was a picture of the three of them – Neil, Olga and a very young Aarya grinning into the camera. A little picture tag read “Summer at Destin Beach, 2006”.