Unraveling, Part 2
Kevin watched Jess’s emotions unravel as she reacted to the unsigned divorce papers.
“Why did you come here, Kevin?” she asked as she threw the papers on the table. She began to crack her knuckles, something he hated, and a sure sign of anger. He had pushed her over the threshold.
“You called and asked me to bring you the papers, so I did.” He said the words sarcastically despite the irritability in her eyes.
“I expected them to be signed, Kevin,” she said, her brow furrowed. “I didn’t want you to bring them to decorate my coffee table.” Jess got up from the sofa and walked over to the window. “This isn’t fair,” she added, her voice quivering. “We both need to move on with our lives, and you’re preventing me from doing that.”
“I could say the same about you,” he replied. “These papers are threatening my happiness, too. I don’t mean to sound so dramatic, but that’s the way I feel.”
Cocking her head to the side, she shrugged. “Ending a marriage is dramatic, isn’t it?”
He turned to look at her and realized that for the first time in months, they agreed on something. “That’s precisely my point. I need a little time.”
She turned away again and said, “I’m tired of waiting. I want to tie up loose ends and move on.”
“What does that mean?” he asked sincerely, but in his next breath, the safety of sarcasm took over. It hurt that she thought of him as a loose end, and something to dispose of. “Is that supposed to be a metaphor? I sometimes forget that you like to speak in literary language.”
Jess shook her head from side to side and smiled. “You came over here to fight, didn’t you? I’m not going to play, Kevin. I don’t want to argue. I just want closure.”
He threw his hands up in disgust wondering if he should just leave now. “There it is again. I hate that word! Closure? What the hell does it mean anyway? Closure is only necessary if someone is losing something they want. You wouldn’t need to go through any type of process if you lose something you don’t want. It wouldn’t matter.” The expression she wore made him believe he had proven his point. She was speechless. “Are you serious about this new guy already?” he continued. “Is that what this is about?”
She looked at him for a moment or two, and he felt immediate distress over what her answer might be. He certainly didn’t want to hear that she was ready for a new relationship. That would mean they were over for sure and he couldn’t… no, he wouldn’t accept that.
“You’re right, Kevin. This isn’t about the other people in our lives. This is about us. And I don’t want to start the same tired argument again.”
“God knows you should always get what you want. And I have to ask because my gut tells me he is the reason for all of this.”
“We are the reason for all of this. He just happens to be where I am in my life right now.”
He laughed. “That’s just beautiful. Poor guy. You make him sound pretty temporary, too.”
Jess shrugged. “I’ll just ignore that,” she said, walking back over to the sofa to turn on another light. With the storm closing in fast, it looked like the middle of the night and it wasn’t even noon. She picked up the crossword puzzle and began tapping her pen against the paper. She had the nerve to do the crosswords in ink. “Do you know a seven letter word for crazy?”
“Jess, please. For a moment, be honest with me. Or at least be honest with yourself and admit what he meant to you while we were still together. You shut me out completely after it happened. You can’t even begin to imagine how much that hurt.” He knew his blue eyes were blood-shot from lack of sleep, and they were starting to fill with tears that he desperately fought off. “How about unusual or erratic?”
She looked at him puzzled. “That’s how you felt?”
He grinned. “No. They are seven letter words for crazy.”
He caught her brief smile as she placed down the crossword puzzle. Then she appeared almost regal as she calmly sat down again. “I didn’t shut you out. You chose not to listen to me. And I never thought of him as anything but a friend.” She spoke the words in her most controlled tone, and then added, “I never slept with him while we were still together. That is the truth, and I will not say it again.”
It sounded like a rehearsed speech since he’d heard the words a thousand times before, and he did believe her. But it was easier to be angry and blame her for turning to someone else rather than be hurt by it and deal with the fact that he had been replaced. So, he stuck to his routine. “You were together constantly. You can’t expect me to believe that.”
“We work at the same bookstore. We had to spend a lot of time together. I don’t know why you can’t understand that.”
“But you have slept with him…and that’s the point.”
Jess looked at him sternly and insisted, “Not while we were together!”
He wasn’t going to give an inch because he felt they were finally getting somewhere. “But after you moved out? You did sleep with him, Jess. Right?” Oh, how he prayed she’d tell him he was wrong.
She looked startled for a moment and looked away. This was brand new territory now, and not part of the routine. It seemed to take forever before she turned back to him. “Kevin, we both moved on. I’m sure you slept with what’s her name after all of these months of dating.”
Kevin became quiet for a second or two and looked out the window again. “Yes, the storm’s definitely coming,” he said softly.
Jess looked uncomfortable and he knew he had revealed too much. “You never did. Did you?” she asked softly. “Sleep with her, I mean? I guess that surprises me. I just assumed…”
“You shouldn’t assume anything,” he said feeling hurt and embarrassed. “You had our relationship wrong from the beginning. You and I are still married, so nothing happened. I take my vows seriously.”
Her face offered sympathy and this was surprising after he implied that she didn’t. “Please don’t do this to yourself or to us. Just sign the papers, and I promise you’ll feel better.”
A loud clap of thunder roared outside Jess’s living room window. They both turned toward the window and witnessed a flash of lightning strike the electrical pole across the street. A second later the lights went out. Standing in darkness they heard nothing but the rain pounding on the street outside. Even the noise of the traffic seemed to evaporate.
“Great, Jess. If you couldn’t pay the bill, you should have asked me for the money.”
She forced a sarcastic laugh. “Let me light a candle so you can at least see while you attack me.” Jess fumbled through the darkness, found a lighter and lit four candles on her coffee table.
Kevin smiled feeling peaceful for the first time in months as the aroma of cinnamon filled the small apartment. “Does this remind you of anything?” he asked.
“Of course it does, silly,” she said softly with the faint hint of a smile. “It reminds me of Jamaica.”
To be continued on Wednesday, August 21, 2013…