Just a Bad Night
Don't tell her this, but I cried the night she left me… I had just come home from the factory, dead tired, sore feet, and in a horrible mood because some crack pot down in relations had forgotten to put in a rush order due tomorrow. Nothing pisses me off more than incompetence especially on the job but what can I do? Money is money and money's what I need to keep my little lady happy, right?
I remember getting into my truck, jiggling the key around in the ignition until the piece of junk finally started and cursing myself for not getting it to the shop the weekend before. I put it on my mental to-do list, but she had me busy running all kinds of house errands and such and before I knew it, it had completely slipped my mind.
Driving down 59 all I could think about was her. I could see her sitting on the couch watching some lame sitcom, just waiting for me to get home. Sometimes it seems like she's the only good thing in my life, ya know?
About a quarter mile from the house I pulled into the gas station and gave her a ring.
I don't know why he always has to come home so damn late, it's not like he gets paid for it. Okay, so I lie, he does put in massive amounts of overtime, but sometimes I wonder if he even knows what he's leaving behind at home. Take tonight for example, it's our anniversary-five years me and the workaholic thug have been together. You'd think he'd remember something like this, right? Wrong.
Seven o'clock came and went with me growing cold in a too flimsy too frilly teddy I had caught him eyeing when I went bra shopping at Victoria's Secret last week. I know I give him a hard time when it comes to things like that, being a strictly flannel and oversize t-shirts girl myself, but what can I say? I have a soft spot for making his jaw drop to the floor, so during my lunch break I went back to the mall and bought the coveted article in a sexy black and dusty rose.
When the clock flashed eight I figured he must have gotten caught up in something at work, might be home any minute. I wrapped the afghan my mother crocheted around me tightly, grabbed the phone from the charger putting it nest to me, and waited.
By nine I was beginning to get worried, no phone call no nothing. I called his work and the phone just kept ringing while I envisioned gruesome wrecks involving a certain black truck and eighteen wheelers.
When nine thirty materialized I got myself dressed, hot tears rolling out of my eyes uncontrollably, and called my mother in Dallas.
"Honey, I'm at the corner store. Do you want me to pick up anything?"
"... (a pause)…"
"Honey? You there?"
"Um…yeah…" she answered hesitantly, "a Diet Coke…just a Diet Coke…"
"Okay babe…is everything ok?"
"… (another pause)…of course it is!" she snapped, "What could be wrong?! Just come home!"
"Ok…" I answered carefully shaking my head, "I'll be home soon." As I hung up the phone I thought to myself that it was going to be another bad night; she sounded like she was in one of her "moods" again. I sighed as I pulled open the glass door and walked into the place.
So he finally calls me…at ten o'clock! You would think that he would've thought about this earlier, at least had somebody at work call me and let me know that he wasn't laying face down in some cold ditch somewhere. And when he does call there's no mention of the anniversary, our anniversary… It's enough to make a woman crazy. I got snappy; I know this. But could you really blame me? I mean, he's hours late and he forgot… again?!
I think I woke up Mom when I called her crying a little while ago, but of course she'd never say so. I'm seriously thinking of taking her invitation, to go stay with her awhile. It would give me some time to think things out completely before doing anything rash, time to think without Mr. Punctuality around to cloud my personal judgement.
I seem to be thinking a lot lately, about many things. Mostly about why I'm still here. he doesn't understand that all this coming home late is splitting our relationship apart. I don't know why, but I have a hard time believing that he's needed that often some place where they pay him barely over minimum wage. Is his opinion really that important to them? But that's not what scares me… it's the thoughts of lipstick on collars and perfume on clothes.
I know I'm getting older, a little pudgy around the middle, droopiness where I once was perky, no matter how much he likes to lie and say otherwise. And those new women at work are definitely giving me a run for my money. I'm afraid that I'm not what he wants anymore, and that's why he won't come home. I'm afraid that he doesn't love me anymore…
"Hey man wazzup?" I heard the dull metal jangling of the copper bells against the door jam as Frank, the cashier, called out to me.
"Nuthin' much, Frank. How goes with you?" I asked as I walked to the freezer case in the back.
"Pretty a'ight," he replied, "Ketoya's having another baby." I grabbed the Diet Coke off the shelf, and a root beer, for me, and walked to the counter, droplets of condensation rolling down the bottles as I slammed them down.
"You're kiddin' man?! That's great!" I reached over the counter to congratulate Frank as he rings up my cokes and I lay a pack of gum on the counter. Me and Frank go way back.
Frank was all smiles "I'm tellin' ya brotha'! I can't wait to have anotha' lil unchkin crawlin' round tha crib again. Speakin' of, how's the ol' lady?"
"Ah, you know Julia, she's either up or down. I think it's just gonna be a bad night," I sighed as I reached back for my wallet and took out three crumpled bills to hand it to him
"I hear ya brotha," Frank chuckled as he handed me my bag "Ketoya's gettin' them pregnant women mood swings and's getting meaner than a tomcat at times"
"Yeah, well, I'm happy for ya'll" I smiled as I shook his hand and made my way to the door. My hand was on the door handle and I turned around to wave goodbye to him as I was walking out. "Take care of Keytoya now. I'll talk to ya later."
"A'ight man! See ya round!" The door slammed shut behind me cutting off Frank's voice and I headed back to the truck.
My friend Keytoya called me today with good news. She's pregnant again. I told her that I was happy for her, which I am, but I'm also a little jealous. I wish we had a baby… maybe then he'd come home to me more often, not work weekends. I know kids are important to him; he used to talk of his dreams for a big family. I wish I could give him that, both for him and me.
I remember going to all those doctors a few years back, getting tested every other day it seemed and having professionals pry into your sex life. We tried everything, kooky herbs, uncomfortable sex positions, charts, medications… nothing worked. I know it's my fault, it has to be, why else would nothing work?
I remember the disappointment that set in when our doctor told us that we could never have a baby together. His face fell and I swear I saw tears well up in his eyes, but he held them back enough to pat my hand and say, "It's okay baby girl, we've got other options." Other options?! I don't want other options! I want our baby, one of our very own!
Maybe that's why he's leaving me… he can't stand being married to someone who can't give him his dream and is tired of pretending to love me…
I opened the door, jumped in, put the corner store bag down on seat next to me and ripped open the pack of gum. I remember unwrapping a piece of gum and slowly folding it in my mouth as I turned the key, starting the truck. I sucked down the sweet mint juice and it ran down the back of my throat. The radio blasted my favorite CD out at me and I couldn't help but sing along:
I was scared and fearing for my life.
I was shakin' like a leaf on a tree.
'Cause he was lean, mean,
Big and bad, Lord,
Pointin' that gun at me.
I said, "Wait a minute, mister,
I didn't even kiss her.
Don't want no trouble with you.
And I know you don't owe me
But I wish you'd let me
Ask one favor from you."
For some odd reason that song always puts me in a good mood and it made me forget that this might be just another bad night. As I turned out of the parking lot I decided to take the long way home, to get my thoughts together, to figure some things out on my own, and to finish listening to the song. Not five minutes later I was pulling into my own driveway. Actually, now that I think about it, I thought that the house looked a lot darker, more threatening then usual…but that's probably just retrospect kicking in. You know what they say; "hindsight is 20/20." I grabbed the cokes from the seat and slammed the door behind me, still whistling Skynard as I waltzed up the walkway to our door.
I think I've made my decision. I've already started pulling out the bags from the closets around the house. I can't stop crying as I look around and pull stuff out of my drawers. I'm going to my mother's for awhile, I can't stay here any longer.
He's going to hold everything against me until the day I die and it's not fair for him to stay married to someone he doesn't love. I love him though, I can't help it, but I know that he'd never leave me. He's not the leaving type. I'll have to do it for him… and make it believable so he won't have anything to try to argue with me about. I'll have to tell him that I don't love him; he'll be so relieved that he wont even think to argue with that.
Just… this hurts, this really hurts. What am I going to do without him?
Where are my nice jeans?
Oh no… I think I just heard the truck pull in the driveway…
"Lucccccy, I'm home," I did my best Ricky Ricardo impression as I turned the door and walked in the house. I looked around, the living room was dark and there seemed to be very few lights on in the house.
"Honey?" I called again
"I'm here," I heard her voice coming from the direction of our bedroom and as I looked down the hall I saw the faintest light coming through the half propped open door.
"I got your coke, excuse me, DIET coke, from the store," I told her as I pushed open the door. The sight that awaited me shocked me almost to the point of dropping the two sweating bottles in my hand and my jaw. Her clothes was scattered every which way across the room. Suitcases among suitcases lay open and half-empty on the bed and the floor around it. And in the middle of it all was Julia, sitting calmly, cross-legged, wearing the red shirt that I bought her last Christmas with the little cartoon cat on it.
"Thank you honey," she said reaching out to take the coke bottle from me. I was still speechless, overcome by this dreadful silence that slowly began to choke me. She twisted the cap off the bottle and I jumped because it echoed across the room, sounding like a monstrous snake was right on top of us. "Honey…" she said, swallowing the sip of coke she had just took and shyly looking at the faded comforter, "I'm afraid I don't love you anymore…I'm leaving…"