--"Sunny Came Home", Shawn ColvinFourteen finally! It's only been what, five years between chapters? LOLfourteen – turn me around
I've gone over in my mind the many reasons why Mallory didn't work out. I've tried to piece together the various causes that doomed our relationship right from the start. I want to say it was only the constant comparison to both Tierney and Carisa that did it. That normally would be enough to doom even the best of relationships. It didn't matter that Mallory was sensitive or pretty or amiable; just like it wouldn't matter that her photos were breathtaking. I mean—how can sensitive stack up against the pristine perfection that was Carisa's memory? How could Mallory's beauty compete with Tierney's blatant animal magnetism.
Poor Mallory never stood a chance.
But it was more than that. One of the main reasons why my time with her came to an end after only a few months was my fear. I was afraid. I was afraid of her. I was afraid of moving on. I was afraid of what moving on meant.
After all, Carisa was supposed to be the great love of my life and Tierney was supposed to be right behind her. If Mallory and I worked out I thought it might cheapen what I felt with the previous two. It would mean that I fell out of and into love far too easy. Taking up with a third young woman, almost losing myself again into that kind of ecstasy, would invalidate everything I ever felt before. It would be like it didn't matter who the object of my affection was. Apparently I could fall in love with everyone and their roommate if I continued along that path. And I wanted what I had with Carisa and Tierney to be real. I needed it to be real. For that my feelings for Mallory had to be extinguished before they had a chance to flare. I could only afford to have two great love affairs without feeling like I had lost all emotional perspective.
I was afraid of being the boy who cried love one time too many. Eventually someone would call my bluff.
The last night I spent with Mallory we had gone hiking up in the foothills behind Noir College. She liked to take pictures up there and I had suggested that it would be the perfect place to tell her the news I had to tell her. Some people like to break up with their significant others in public places to mitigate the chances of them causing a scene. Me? I like to go to as secluded of a place as possible. Emily likes to joke I should have done my break-ups in a cemetery. That way they would have a place to bury me after I had broken their hearts. My reasoning makes sense to me, though. Nobody likes to have an audience when they're going through serious turmoil. Nobody should be subjected to having to compose themselves when all they're feeling is the bitterness of life's duality. The reason I took Mallory up to those foothills two or three miles from the nearest paved road was because I wanted to let her down easy. I wanted her to feel safe to let the grief, if any, show. Granted, we were only four months into a relationship so there was no guarantee she would even be miffed by my decision, but I only had known my beloved Carisa for a few months as well.
Sometimes you just don't know the impact the time you spend with someone is going to have.
We had made it almost halfway up the hill to the spot I had picked out. It was this secluded clearing jutted up next to a grove of pine trees. It was approaching dusk and the trail was beginning to dim before us. But even in the dark I knew how to get to that spot. The previous two nights I'd spent deciding where the talk would happen before I came up with the solution. I had been sure not to take her up to this spot on previous dates. I wanted to make sure the only connotations she had of the spot would be from that night. There was no sense in ruining the good memories we'd already made, right?
Just as we had crested a particularly steep switchback, we heard the unmistakable sound of a couple of dogs growling. In the twilight with my heart already on edge from preparing what I was going to say, it didn't take much to elicit a surprised reaction. I don't know why I did what I did next. Playing it over in my head there were a myriad of options that I could've decided upon. I could have stood my ground, with Mallory's hand in mine, daring the dogs to come. I could have stepped in front of her, shielding her from any danger. Hell, even turning tail and running with her in tow would have proved more fortuitous than what actually happened.
Do you ever have those moments where you see yourself in slow motion? It's like you're astral projecting and you can see yourself deciding on a course of action and taking the action in a slurry blur of activity. Sometimes you see the scene and it's straight out of an action film, with you doing something so out of character that ultimately proves beneficial and commendable. I imagine if I ever had an opportunity to rescue someone from a burning building that's the movie I would see in my mind at the time. Or other times the movie of your life appears as a slow-motion close-up straight out of a period drama. Nobody's mouths are moving and it's all reaction shots and subdued passion doing all the storytelling.
Other times your life is a scene out of a slapstick comedy.
As soon as I heard the first whispers of canine ferocity, I yelled out a cursory, “Run!” before fleeing the scene with the speed one usually only sees on nature specials. I didn't take Mallory's hand. I didn't even wait to see if she was right behind me. I heard wild animals ahead of us so I took off in the opposite direction.
And I didn't stop running till almost a minute later. That's when I noticed my brunette companion wasn't there.
As it happened, Mallory had remembered someone telling her the best course of action when confronted with wild dogs was to stand still. Her rationale was that dogs have a chase mentality when they're excited. She believed that if she remained calm they wouldn't bother her. My rationale was that dogs also have a bite mentality and that one couldn't bite what one couldn't catch. Guess which one of us got bit? She definitely wasn't a happy camper when I finally made my way back to her and the apologetic owner of the two German Shepherds. It turns out he often walked his dogs off the leash up on that trail and he had no idea other people would be in the vicinity at that hour. I tried joking with Mallory that at the very least we'd proven the theory of an individual not having to be the fastest person in the group to survive. I thought it very prudent that at last we could definitively state that that individual only had to be faster than the slowest person of the group.
Mallory and her small, innocuous bit mark on her upper right arm were not very amused by that comment.
She broke up with me that very night, saving me the trouble.
It's the only instance where being afraid actually made things easier for me.
I officially take back my request for a super power. Instead of being able to change a woman's clothing without her permission, I want my temerity to be the source of my super strength. I want my trembling in fear to actually be productive. That would be the answer to all my Tierney problems currently. I could say to her that everything was going to be okay because I'm scared out of my mind. If she could just take comfort in that fact the two of us could possibly get through the next few days in relative safety.
I want to be scared when Tierney goes back to the clinic and have that be a good thing, you know?
When we first started dating, Tierney and I used to go to the movies all the time. It was our go-to plan for the weekend. She preferred highbrow activities like the symphony or some art installation; I always had something outdoorsy in mind, like hiking or even just hanging out at the beach. It always took a few minutes to reconcile our schedules when it came to planning out days out. But we could always agree on the movies. It was ridiculous how many evenings were rescued from the abyss of ennui by a timely suggestion of watching the latest action flick.
You know how you do something often enough it becomes a routine? Well, watching movies was our routine. And it wasn't like we didn't enjoy it, because we did. It was more a testament of how our relationship most often boiled down to it. She had her ideas; I had mine. Yet we always settled for whatever was easiest at the time without much discussion. We thought we were compromising, but it was more like settling for the lowest common denominator. Movies were a sign of how easygoing we were back then. Movies were a sign on both our parts on how much we wanted to stay in the puppy love stage of our dating. Neither of us wanted to be difficult. We wanted to be as accommodating as possible.
But there's something to be said about being difficult, you know? There's something to be said about telling people how you feel when you feel it and damn the consequences.
Sometimes being brave means breaking the heart of the one you love. And sometimes it means taking them to the movie theater when your heart is at the point of breaking itself.
That's where I found myself after we had just gotten out of the clinic. I had asked Tierney if she wanted to go back to Emily's house since that's what she had insisted on doing after the first appointment. That time she had been wheeled out from behind the double wooden doors a mess of tears and sweat. She had been quietly whimpering when I finally made my way to her from my seat. At my touch, when I took over control of the wheelchair from the nurse, Tierney had slinked away. All she had wanted me to do was take her back to Emily's. All she had wanted me to say was nothing. Today, when she came out from behind the doors, she wasn't crying. She wasn't even in as much pain it seemed. If anything, she seemed angry or maybe even annoyed. Today, when I placed my hand on her shoulder, she didn't shy away. She lightly grabbed it with her hand lightly, rubbed it once in appreciation, and then sat in her wheelchair quietly all the way to the Lexus.
When I asked her where she wanted me to drive her all she said was she didn't want to go home. When I asked for something more specific she shook her head slowly.
I couldn't explain the change in attitude. Part of me didn't want to explain it. What mattered to me most was the fact she wasn't in pain, it seemed. That was good enough for me. I started driving back instinctively home. I didn't know if he wanted to go back home or even if we were ready for that yet, but it was the only place I could think of. It was like I was a homing pigeon and my handler had just shoved me into the air. I had only received instructions with a particular set of stimuli. I was only trained to go to one place when she and I were in the car. She was lucky I didn't climb out onto the hood and take a deuce. I needed something specific to hold onto because I didn't want to be the one to make the suggestions. I didn't want to be the one to break her relative good mood. In the absence of something concrete, all I could do was rely on the old standbys. More times than I care to count I've sat behind the wheel of my car, she's sat in the passenger seat, and I've driven her home. That's something I knew I could do I suppose that too was a routine. Until I received new marching orders it was the best I could do in a stressful situation. It was the easy way out.
I don't know who we ended up at the movie theater. It had began as some discussion on Breanne Hollis and what a great actress she had been. In the midst of all our troubles we had forgotten that the world had lost one of its great performers. I have to say, we we were both shamed for a few moments at that thought. How dare we focus on ourselves and the crumbling of our marriage when a screen icon had passed into history? What kind of selfish creatures were we to even consider brushing that fact aside?
We decided the only recourse was to watch a movie in her honor. We couldn't find a retrospective anywhere nearby so we did the nest best thing, we watched the next film that was showing—title and preconceptions unseen. It was a little like showing up at the airport and hopping on the next flight to anywhere. That was the spirit of the day, leaving reality behind and setting course for destinations unknown.
We took two tickets for the matinee showing of Fans of Teri
, a slapstick comedy involving a woman named Teri who gets her wish to become famous overnight. Neither of us had heard anything about the film. We didn't know who the stars were. We didn't even know if either of us were in the mood to laugh today. I secretly hoped we were, but there weren't a lot of options left open.
We sat down four rows from the screen just the way we liked. We didn't bother buying food since Tierney has always had a rule about eating during movies. We sat down empty-handed. The movie wasn't scheduled to start for another twenty minutes. Nope, the only thing that our mouths were going to be doing in the near future wouldn't be eating.
“This is good. I'm not dressed for much else,” I hear my wife say as she presses down on yet another pair of gray sweats. She looks ragged, yes. However, by God, she still looks beautiful as ever. It doesn't matter how bad things break down between us. Tierney will always have the power to still my heart just by looking like her. If being a musician doesn't work out and if she doesn't want to go back to Live Cosmetics, she could go into being a professional Medusa. She really could. I'm talking about hitting the circuit, booking a few gigs, and even signing appearances.
“You look awesome, pet,” I answer, pulling out my dictionary of sarcasm.
She smiles slightly.
“It's alright. I'm a far cry from the dirty librarian I know you like so well.”
“Hell, I'll settle for just the way you look right now.”
“Sweatpants and a sweatshirt?”
“Yeah, you could call it the 'dirty couch potato' look,” I reply.
She laughs. It looks awkward to me with her face undone as it is. She doesn't look like the Tierney that I saw only a few weeks ago, as if this is a completely different person than the person I married. She still looks beautiful, but it's as if she's just recently stepped out from a time machine after coming back from ten or fifteen years into the future. That's what she is right now, my future wife and I'm just her past husband.
There were days when I couldn't get enough of her laughter, where I thought I would never tire of hearing that particular sound emanating from her lips. I thought of it as the most pleasant sound on Earth. And she did it so often it was like hearing the tinkling of a brook—constant and just soothing to the ear. I took it for granted that I'd have the capability of hearing my wife laugh as much as I take the ability to breathe for granted. But now no more. As I hear her laughter spill meekly into the aisle of the movie theater I begin to realize that there's a real chance that this will be one of the last opportunities for me to hear it. I realize that, if I'm not careful, I could lose her and her laughter forever.
“Maybe after this I could take you home and clean you up a bit before I put you to bed?” I suggest.
“Back to our place?” she asks confusedly.
“Maybe. If that's alright.”
She mulls it over for a second before agreeing. She takes my hand into hers and rubs it for reassurance. I'm not quite sure who's trying to reassure more, her or me. I split the difference and choose to believe it's a good sign for both of us.
“I guess that'd be okay. If you don't mind. Although, the doctor said it might be better for me to wait till tomorrow before I bathe or shower.”
“That's a shame because you know how much I've been missing our taking showers together.”
“Oh, have you, cutie?”
“I have. Lord knows what a privilege it is to wash you down squeaky clean.”
She laughs again, tossing her raven black hair behind her.
“The funny thing about taking showers with you I've noticed,” she begins, “is that my breasts always come out being immaculate. Why is that?”
“Hmmm. It's a mystery alright.”
This time it's my turn to laugh. Even I can't bring myself to fully participate in the frivolity. Normally our playful exchanges would be enough to validate that the two of us were back on sure footing. Yet I can't help but think that both of us our holding back somehow. Somewhere behind the quaint smiles lies the burning anger ready to resurface again. Somehow I don't think what we're going through right now is a little fall of rain that can be brushed aside. It feels stronger than that, more pervasive. All the laughter isn't going to change that. Going to the movies for one afternoon isn't going to change that. I don't know if there's anything big enough to change it—not all at once, at least. It'd be like trying to change the course of the Colorado River by throwing pebbles into the Grand Canyon, it just ain't going to happen.
The thing is by going to the movies that's all we're doing. We're not talking again about what's really going on in our heads. We're not talking about the fact she just had yet another child pulled out right from her. Our kid. My kid. We're not talking about the fact she still wants to leave me. And most of all we're not talking about the fact today, when she comes home (if she comes home), it'll be the first time in seventeen days she's been home. Of course we won't talk about that. Why would we? We had our rough discussion for the decade, right? We're not due for another big fight for at least eight years.
I remember one time I tried taking Tierney up to that spot behind my alma mater. This was a year or two after we'd been married. I remember telling her the story about me and Mallory, and how I had allowed her to get bitten while I ran. Back then Tierney had supported my reasoning. She had said I had been wise to run when I did. After all, cutie, in this world it's every man for himself, she had said. We had shared a chuckle at my recounting of the incident. However, by the time we had walked less than fifteen minutes up the trail she wanted to turn around. I asked her why. All she could say was that we would never have as great a story about that trail, that place, as I had had with Mallory.
Despite my misgivings we turned around. I couldn't wrap my head around her reasoning but I didn't feel like arguing with her.
Now I get it, though. The memories she wanted to make with me she wanted to be all our own. She didn't want to share them with someone else. Every restaurant we went to, every song we sang—she didn't want to know I had already experienced them with someone else. She wanted me all to herself.
While I wouldn't call Tierney possessive, she does have a precise way of dealing with people and with me specifically. Ever since her father died I've been her only family basically and in that regard she's always held me close to the vest when it came to living with her. We've had our rough patches, sure, but she's always took it upon herself to make sure the majority of the memories we've made were not filled with regret. She's always been good at that. More to the point, she's always been good at insuring that every place we go would be memorable in some way. She hasn't always succeeded, mind you, but that's always been one of her goal.
It just didn't make sense to her to make a memory at a place I already had a distinct memory of. It just didn't make sense to her to try to create something to overlap something that was already there.
That's why she never minded so much when I brought up something I did once with Carisa. And that's why she also never tried to do the same things I did with Carisa.
She didn't want me confusing the two of them. Or maybe she just didn't want me constantly saying, “Carisa used to do the same thing....”
But as I sit in the movie theater I see that she's lost that same spirit. Gone is the effort she used to have to make every conversation pop, every moment soar. She's still playing along for now. I'm wondering, though, at how much of that spirit is actually still there to recover and how much has been permanently exorcised.
A few more patrons enter the movie theater. We hit a lull in our conversation amid the clatter of strange voices. It feels odd hearing all the couples cackling and for the most part enjoying themselves. It's like hearing the sound of people doing karaoke at a funeral; the juxtaposition of all that merriment when we're sitting there in the depths of a quiet despair that neither of us have quite ever gone through before. Even when Tierney's father died she never acted like this—not with me, at least. Back then she occupied herself with thoughts of moving in with me. She filled her head with the new life ahead of her and not with the only parent she ever knew growing up.
In fact, I don't know if she's ever felt this sad before in her life. I don't even know if she knows how to grieve on her own.
She's like one of those sheep that gets separated from the flock. The only difference is that she fired her shepherd without so much as a by-your-leave and then drove off her in Accord without looking back. I know you're saying sheep can't drive, but until recently I thought that feat as impossible as my wife leaving me.
I can assure you it can be done.
“You know what I was thinking the two of us should do, Tierney? I mean, when you're feeling better and all,” I ask her.
“I was thinking the two of us should take a road trip back up to Tilly. I think it would do us both some good to see your old place, see how it's held up and all.”
“I don't know if that'd be a good idea. We'll see.”
“Come on, it'd be fun. We could show our son where you grew up, you know?”
“We'll see,” she says, losing the grin she had been wearing.
I should just leave the conversation at that. I should be content that she deigned to keep it consideration at all. But a part of me is still on Past Wife time, part of me still remembers what it was like to have a wife that gave in too easily. That's why I choose to say just one more thing, take one more poke at the sleeping bear.
“I think it's exactly what we need right now. I think it would be good for us.”
It's her non-answer that gives away her state of mind first. My next clue is the way she turns her straight at the screen even though they're still showing the ads for the local restaurants and bowling alleys of the neighborhood. My last clue is the way she mutters under her breath some kind of answer that I'm not supposed to hear. Add them all up and you have a recipe for a black hole where once a star shone.
It's enough to turn me around to look away from her as well.
I remember when we got home from our botched attempt to go see my spot at the tree I asked her if she'd like to try again someday. Back then when she told me,”we'll see,” it sound much more positive than it sounds today. Back then when she told me, “we'll see,” I actually believed her as if we'd be hiking back up that same trail within a few weeks or, at the latest, a couple months from then.
We never actually made it up back to the spot. Hell, we never even tried again. I don't even think I broached the subject after that day.
Part of me realizes that's the way my wife has always played me. She never used to tell me no. She just used to wait for me to conveniently forget about plans I used to be adamant about. She didn't have to tell me no. I've probably more plans I wanted to do with her than I remembered. Perhaps that was her test all along. Everything that I bothered to remember she realized were important to me; everything else was fodder for my folly. There I was thinking that I had such a complacent wife, ready to agree at a moment's notice with me, when the truth of the matter was she probably told me no hundreds, even thousands, of times. She just never used the actual words.
I wonder if that's what Miss Breanne Hollis went through when she was trying to make her comeback. Did she suffer through apathetic face after apathetic face telling her, “we'll see,” when she auditioned for a role? Was she intelligent enough to peer through all the platitudes of people attempting to cushion the blow for her? Or did she hold out hope that she was getting close to snagging her next award-worthy performance?
If she had been that observant she would have been two steps ahead of me. I'm just the dumb sonuvabitch who thought his wife actually agreed with him on everything important. I'm just the fool who's still in love with the woman who made him that way.
“It's not that I wouldn't mind going back to Canada with you someday, but I don't think time is now. We've got to deal with what we have now, here, you know? All I'd be doing if I said yes to you right now, cutie, would be lying to know. I'm not ready to go back there with you now. I'm just not. I'm messed up and I'm confused. And I just don't know what to make sense of right now. Going back to Tilly would be a mistake.”
I watch her turn back to face me as her whispers grow into something more steady.
“Just as I think going back home with you today would be a mistake.”
I turn back to her, the tears almost forming themselves in the corners of my eyes. They will not fall, though. I won't allow them to.
“Come on, pet. I'll be good today. I promise.”
“No, it'd be too easy to do that. It would be wrong,” she says, blinking her green eyes repeatedly now. “This isn't supposed to be easy, you know? It's what we always do. We're always so keen on making the rough patches smooth as to be unnoticeable. But we don't actually ever fix anything. We smooth it over and forget they're there until the next time we have to cross.
“I'm tired of doing that. I'm tired of being the one who overlooks the mess we've made. Aren't you? Aren't you sick of glossing over all the imperfections in our marriage? Doesn't it make you feel like throwing your hands up? Doesn't it make you think about walking away right now?”
I shake my head roughly.
“It doesn't. It really doesn't, Tierney. I believe in us.”
“I believe in us too. You know I do. But we're not in a good place right now. Right now we're in a pretty fucked up place that I don't know if we're ever going to get around to fixing. You're over there trying to get me to believe that everything can go back to the way it used to be. You're driving me home, offering to take a shower with me, offering to get away with me back to my hometown—it's almost enough to make me want to believe all that you're offering can happen. I want to believe it.
“I can't, though. And do you want to know why?”
“Because I lost something today—two somethings, actually—that I'm never going to get back. I can't believe much of anything after a day like today.”
And she is right. It was a mistake to believe that anything of a real decision can be made today. I can't expect her to agree to anything substantial today, not less than two hours after I agreed to let her back into that place—not that I had much choice. Here I am trying to convince my wife to forget the last two weeks when it's physically impossible for her to even forget the last two hours. It's a wonder she was as amiable as she was after I had picked her up.
I half expected to pick her up in tears. When she wasn't I just ran with it. I ran with it just like I ran away from those dogs, never once looking back at what the real situation was. Once again I tried saving myself at the expense of letting somebody else deal with the repercussions. Once again I let my fear of having to deal with my feelings for Tierney head on contradict what I know was the right thing to do.
“I can help with that,” I tell my wife. “Whatever you need me to do, I'll do. You've just got to come home. Let me make this right.”
I watch my wife smile politely, trying to bring some clarity to the situation. She doesn't talk for a moment. Instead she watches me as if I were behind glass, as if I was in some interrogation room at a police station. I'm her one suspect and she has full confidence she'll break me down eventually.
“You know all those times I wanted to do my own thing with my father, do you know what my reason was for not striking out my own was?”
“Because I grew up thinking that if you love somebody you try to do everything you can to make them happy—even if it makes you unhappy in the process. And while I would never go so far as to put myself in danger, there wasn't much I wouldn't do for him. I gave up so much all for the sake of making sure I was his perfect daughter. And I did it gladly. Willingly. I wanted him to be happy. That alone was enough to stave off the doubts that what I was doing was more for his sake than my own. Making him happy made me happy, I thought. That was good enough.
“But even I wasn't strong enough to keep that feeling intact for my whole life. There came a point where I had no choice but to break away from him.”
I do not understand. I do not understand what she has to tell me.
“I feel like you're kicking me in the balls right now, Tierney. I really do.”
I want to cry. I manage to held back the urge a little longer.
“It's simple really, cutie. There comes a time when we all need to be on our own, to be alone.”
She takes my head in her hands, pulls me closer to her, and kisses me passionately. It takes everything I have not to lose it right there in the audience of the movie theater. I want to give into her so badly. I want to agree with everything she's telling me if it means getting her back once and for all. After she stops kissing me, she pulls back. She clears her throat before she explains what is happening here.
“Your time is now.”
Even after she said no to the hiking up the foothills behind Noir College, I still went a few times there by myself. I had given some thought to asking her again, but in the back of my mind it didn't seem all that important. I had it clear in my head that someday she would come with me. That promise alone was enough to tide me over all those time I sat beneath those pine trees, secretly wishing she had come up with me. We'll see, I thought. Next time she'll come up with me.
Except next time never came.
Carisa used to chide me when we were kids about how unsure I was when she grew up sure about everything—about her place in the world, about her dad, about me. She used to tell me that I was like a duck swimming in pond trying to get back to shore, except I didn't know which shore to swim to first. She would tease me about going one way one second and the other way the next second.
Everything but how I felt about her, I used to tell her.
Everything but that, she would agree.
Maybe I'm still that duck, especially when it comes to my wife. I want it both ways. She should be amiable and still headstrong. She should have a career and still be the perfect stay-at-home mom. I don't know. Actually, a duck suits me fine. Whatever comes my way I'm used to letting it slough off my back. I don't let anything touch me, not really—not since Carisa. I mean—I love Tierney, but I don't quite know what that means today. I know I don't love her as fully, as innocently as I did Carisa. With Tierney it's always been about returning her love in kind. I don't know if I've ever opened myself up the way I did with my first love. With my wife it was always good enough to return her love pound for pound, a proportionate response. I get the skulking feeling that she does love me fully. She loves me as fully as she loved and continues to love her dad. I know that. But me? I'm capable of loving her even more than that. I should know better from having had the practice before.
Maybe I'm just a duck without a bump of direction, swimming to and fro because I got knocked for a loop once. I never recovered. There I am, out in the water, doing my best to go in straight line that's expected of me. Instead, I'm merely making donut holes on my own little pond. That's what's screwing me up right now. I don't pick a shore because I don't know I'm supposed to choose a shore.
Yeah, that's the ticket.
“It can't be over. Not like this,” I try to tell Tierney. I reach for her hands. She doesn't give them to me. I try to brush the bangs from her eyes like I always do. She turns her head away again.
“Nothing's over. Nothing's settled, remember? I'm only asking you to consider the possibility that we've still got a lot of issues to work out here. We're not in any shape to decide our future right now. I know I'd hate to say yes or no to you today, only to take it back tomorrow. That would only cloud the issue even more.
“So let's not settle anything just yet. Let's watch this movie. Enjoy ourselves, you know? And then give it a few days to see how things go.”
I want to debate her on the matter. I want to tell her that all of that is unacceptable, that this announcement will not stand. Instead, I take the easy way out. I don't fight her on the matter. I let her decide my fate, our fate, then and there.
“Okay? Just like that?”
“I don't want to fight you on this, Tierney. If that's what you think will make this all go away as quickly as possible then I want to do it.”
“Are you just saying this or do you actually believe it?”
“It doesn't matter what I believe. The only thing that matters is what you want. You have all the control here, not me.”
“It's not about having control. It's about doing what's right. I honestly think this is the right way to go about it.”
“If it'll make you happy.”
“No...” she starts to say before I cut her off.
“No, pet, you told me that loving somebody means doing whatever it takes to make them happy, even if it make you unhappy. Now I might be guilty of not taking that into consideration before, but I'm willing to take a second look right now. I messed up. I took you for granted. I'm willing to pay for my mistakes if you're willing to let me. So tell me to stay home alone and shut, and I'll do it. Hell, tell me to drive my car off the Tomisch Bridge and I'd do that right now. I'm trying to tell you is that I'm willing to do just about anything to make us work again.”
She looks at me with dinner plates for eyes. I can see the blue-green pools that I must have stared at for hundreds of days on hundreds of different occasions. I can also see they don't believe me at the moment. Yet slowly the doubt starts to drain away from them the more they hone in on my face.
“And if I tell you that I want you to not see me, to not call me, after today, what would you say then?”
I want to scream at her. I want to ask her how long that means. I want to renege on my offer. But I can't. This is one of those moments that can decide a person's whole future—whether to say hello to the girl from Six Doors Down, whether to take uppercut that holy man in line at Disneyland, &c... These moments lend themselves to an air of composure in the face of mind-numbing guilt and anger. And fear. I have to be strong or lose everything.
“I would say bring it on.”
“Really? That's what you'd say?”
“Little fall of rain, right?”
I watch my wife smile again.
“Right. That's all this is, a little fall of rain.”
She hugs me in my seat. I feel the softness of her body even beneath the layers of sweatshirt. It feels good to be that close to her again. I miss that feeling almost as much as the sense of her laying next to me in bed each morning.
“Right. I'll get back to making sure your breasts are spotless again very soon, pet.”
She doesn't say anything as the theater darkens, but I feel her hand reach for mine. She holds it all throughout the previews, never once letting go. I know that once the movie's over, though, that it'll be a long time before we hold hands or do much of anything together.
Right when the words Fans of Teri
flash up on the screen I finally feel the tears come in earnest. I never let go of her hand, though.
Not once through the entire film.
----The Carisa Meridian
14 chapters done. 8 more to do.
174 pages written. 110 more to write.
Labels: marriage, sacrifice, Shawn Colvin, The Carisa Meridian, Tierney