I’m back with an extra for Heartwood, as I mentioned in the last post. Basically, I don’t throw any writing away anymore and instead I paste all my cut chapters into a separate document. I’m not going to post any of that for the reason that it’s mostly very bad. I cut it all for a reason, after all.
However, I have one cut bit that I feel compelled to share. As you’ll know from a few moments in Heartwood and from a lot of gen 2, Lia had a former lover, Lorenzo, whom she’s no longer on great terms with. In fact, at the end of the story, she’s closer with his wife, Costanza, due to the events of gen 2.
Chapter 12 of Heartwood used to include another section in which Lia and Lorenzo had a heart-to-heart about this matter. I actually liked what I had written but at the same time, I realised that the section wasn’t really important to Heartwood. It’s a wrap-up of a storyline from generation 2, not anything that’s really relevant if all you’ve ever read is this side story. I’ve mentioned Lia’s issues with Lorenzo in Heartwood, but in the end the story isn’t so much about Lia getting Lorenzo’s forgiveness as it is about her forgiving herself and realising that she deserves to be cared for and loved. This was never about her old relationship, but about the new one forming with Teo.
This little extra, then, is free of pictures and basically just meant for those who are curious as to how this kind of apology would look and how the “arc” of Lia and Lorenzo’s relationship would have ended. It’s not strictly canon, in the sense that the version you’ll read takes place between the question and answers session and Teo’s proposal. I imagine that down the line, Lia and Lorenzo did have this conversation, but not at this time. So, without further ado – here is Lorenzo’s (cut) apology.
She waved and made to leave, but Lorenzo stayed in place.
“Stanza, could you get the car and let me have a word with Lia?”
They both looked at him and Lia froze. She glanced at Costanza, but her friend just nodded and she did a little motion of encouragement, like they had agreed on this beforehand. Lia wrapped her arms around herself and took a half step back, not entirely by choice.
“I’ll be back in a moment,” said Costanza.
She squeezed Lia’s hand, kissed her husband’s cheek, and walked to the parking lot. Once she was out of hearing range, Lorenzo looked at Lia with eyes that held all sorts of self-consciousness. Lia tightened her hold on herself.
“I uh, enjoyed the book,” he said.
Lia smiled, not wanting to tell him that he had already said so. “I’m glad.”
He continued. “I think the afterword was the best.”
She frowned and it was all she could do not to groan. The afterword was all anyone ever asked about. Here she had written a perfectly informational, interesting book about Teo and his family, and everyone talked about that spur-of-the-moment, nothing paragraph she had added. It hadn’t even been meant for the book when she wrote it, being the simple result of her emotionality getting the better of her. Teo had been at her side when she wrote it, sleeping with his head on her shoulder and something like inspiration struck. It resulted in a sentimental piece that she was already a little tired of talking about.
“It was hardly the most serious piece of journalism,” she told Lorenzo.
“But it was sincere, wasn’t it?”
Lia nodded, admittedly embarrassed. It was one thing to pour out her love to her boyfriend or to the public in the pages of a book, and quite another to do it in front of her former lover. She decided the simple truth was the way to go.
“It was sincere, yes.”
“I could tell. It made me think and… it made me want to say sorry.”
Lia knitted her brows together. “You’re sorry? For what? Trust me, I’m the one who’s sorry for—”
“Just let me, will you?” he said, holding up a hand. “I know I said a lot of stuff to you, about you… using me and never giving anything in return. And I was really mad at the way you treated Stanza. Things weren’t perfect and you definitely hurt me, but I… wasn’t a very good friend.”
She shook her head almost instinctively. Lorenzo’s friendship had always been special to her back in the day. Losing it had been devastating at the time and she was aware it was her own fault.
“You were a great friend. Think of everything you did for me at that time.”
Lorenzo looked away, wincing. “Yeah, but I could have done all of that without, you know… sleeping with you.”
Lia shook her head. “I practically threw myself at you.”
“I could have said no. I should have said no. I was hung up on you for years and I don’t think you would’ve been into me if it wasn’t for the mess you were in.”
She opened her mouth to say that she was into him back then, but no words came out. A knot in her stomach, one she hadn’t noticed until now, loosened as the realisation sank in. Teo’s voice came to her, like a whisper from a year ago.
Not when you’ve been crying. That’d feel weird.
And with it, a vivid memory of herself crying, throwing herself at Lorenzo and him simply letting her.
I don’t know how you can look at someone who’s crying and not want to make them feel better first.
She suddenly felt cold, her heart squeezing in her chest. All this time, after Teo mentioned how wrong it was, she had gone back through time and thought of all her lovers, of all the times they ignored her feelings to satisfy their own, but it never occurred to her to think of Lorenzo that way.
“I… never thought of it that way,” she said.
“No, me neither…” He looked up at her. “I’m ashamed of it. That selfishness. I took advantage of you and then left you in the dust when the guilt got too bad and I just… I couldn’t face it. Couldn’t admit it. Stanza was the one who insisted on befriending you and I begged her not to because I knew I’d have to look at you and feel like a rotten human being. I don’t think I can ever apologise enough for that.”
“We were both young,” she said. “I wasn’t exactly innocent with my lying and cheating. If you can forgive me for all of that and for what I did to Costanza, I can forgive you.”
He nodded. “Costanza forgave you years ago and I think it’s time I do, too. I’m really sorry for what I did.”
He gave her a hug, one that was a little more careful than his wife’s bear hugs. Lia was equally careful in returning it. She couldn’t feel about him the way she had once and in drawing away from him, she felt the distance tangibly and it was so strange. She was comfortable sharing with his wife in a way she didn’t think she would ever be with him again. Perhaps she never had been.
“I’m sorry, too, Lorenzo,” she said and she took a step back just then.
Costanza came rolling up in their car just a moment later and after a quick goodbye, he got in and drove off with his wife. Lia was left on the pavement, her heart light and heavy at the same time. She wasn’t alone long, because Teo came back.
Thanks for going with me on this little journey into what could have been. I don’t regret cutting it. It didn’t make sense to have that as the prelude to the proposal. It would have required Lia and Teo to have some sort of talk about it and it could have been a longer chapter in itself. Eventually, down the line, I think Lia and Lorenzo ended up having this conversation, though I can’t imagine them ever being close again – it did lead to Lia becoming close with Costanza, though, and she ends up being one of Lia’s closest friends.
Now with all that said I did want to comment on the nature of Lia and Lorenzo’s relationship, since the more I thought about it, the more skeevy it was. Lorenzo and Lia got together when she was only twenty-one and Lorenzo around Enzo’s age (so 25 or thereabouts). She was in a vulnerable position, having just accidentally caused someone’s death and on top of that, was being blackmailed and forced into marrying someone she couldn’t stand. It doesn’t matter that she was an adult and a spoiled rich girl, it doesn’t matter that she was cheating on her unwanted fiancé or lying to her big brother – Lorenzo’s actions were still wrong.
Looking back on the treatment of Lia in gen 2, I’m not happy with it. She was created as a prop character, someone I added so that Enzo would have someone to care for. Throughout gen 2, it was basically implied that Lia was only promiscuous because she was lonely and bored and desperate for attention and while it makes sense for her character, there’s also something to be said for the fact that I basically created a female character who was only promiscuous because she was sad – and who stopped being promiscuous after she got better.
I’m not looking to have anyone excuse the way she was written. I can already imagine folks telling me that it’s okay, because it makes sense for Lia’s character and the way she grew up, but that ignores the bigger issues of me being impacted by the culture I live in. Perhaps it does make sense for Lia’s character, but I could have chosen to write her differently from the start. I didn’t have to write Lia as a sad girl who had the implied trait of sleeping around because she was sad.
I also didn’t have to imply in gen 2 that Lia was selfish and bad and treated Lorenzo poorly when, in fact, he started sleeping with her while knowing she was engaged. He participated a relationship at a time when she needed emotional support and the support she really needed was from her brother. If Lorenzo had been a good friend to her (and Enzo for that matter) instead of sleeping with Lia, he would have said ‘Let me just get your brother so he can comfort you.’ The implication in gen 2 was that it was all Lia who was selfish and spoiled and used Lorenzo when he started sleeping with her at a very vulnerable time after he had been pining for her for years. Which is another yikes.
So, this is all to say that I’m learning and trying to think outside of the constraints of the culture I grew up in. It’s slow-going and sometimes these realisations don’t come to me until the end of a story, but I’m getting there and I’m thankful for everyone who comes on this journey with me.
Finally, before I close off this post, I want to thank everyone who dropped comments on the latest chapter. I have read all your comments (several times, in fact) and they make me extremely happy. I haven’t replied to them yet because Saturday I had my second vaccine jab and it just knocked me the fuck out. Had fever and cold shakes all night and felt miserable most Sunday. It’s Monday today and I’m still wiped out enough that I called in sick at work to recover. I plan on replying to your comments, soon, though, as I’m starting to feel a little bit better.
With all of that out of the way, thanks to you if you made it through all this and I hope to see you all for the next (and final) chapter.
Love you all,