Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
Unraveling, Part 7
“I thought we agreed to keep this safe,” Jess said softy. “No more talking about Jamaica. That was over 10 years ago, and it’s time to move on.”
Kevin nodded and offered a friendly smile. “As my lady wishes,” he replied.
“Do you have to be so sarcastic?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I don’t mean to be. I was just trying to be literary.” He smiled. “I like reminiscing. That time was special to me.”
“And it was special to me, too, but we can’t cling to it forever. Many bad things have happened along the way. One good memory won’t keep us together.
“We’ve had more than one good memory, Jess,” he said defensively. “We had 11 years’ worth in my opinion, with the slight exception of what happened last year. I still don’t understand why we can’t work through it, though. We’re strong, and I believe we can make this work despite our tragedy. I’ve actually heard that lots of couples actually feel closer after experiencing what we did.”
“That’s funny. I’ve read that it destroys most marriages.”
He shrugged. “Jess, please don’t think that way. We can make it through this. We’re not the first couple who…” She gave him a look that told him to proceed carefully. He got the message, and his gut instinct told him to slow down. “Do you remember how many hours we were trapped in that dining room in Jamaica?” he asked. “It was almost 24 hours. Let’s use this time wisely just as we did then. When we left that dining room all those years ago, we both knew we wanted a future together. You say we’ve both changed, so let’s get to know each other again. Who knows? By the end of this storm, we may realize that we still want a future together.”
She rolled her eyes like a child would. “I hardly think this little storm will last as long as a hurricane.”
“So what,” he replied. “Let’s make the best of the time we have and talk about what we always avoid. It might be just what we need.”
“No way!” she shouted as she looked at him with an angry face.
He knew he was fighting a losing battle, so again, he gave in. He only wanted to help, but she wasn’t ready for it. He had to think of a safe subject to keep the conversation going. Perhaps then, he could pull a sneak attack and make Jesse face what they both skillfully avoided this past year. “So how’s life at the bookstore?” he asked. “Is that a good topic of conversation?”
She was immediately eased, and offered him a smile. “It’s acceptable,” she said with a nod. “And the bookstore is great. We had a book signing last week for a local writer’s new novel. He was really inspirational, and he wants to help me with a piece I’m writing.”
“Great.” Just what he needed, he thought cynically. A new “he” in her life. She seemed to latch on to the creative type quite easily, but he held his tongue.
Jesse shrugged. “Look, I know you hate small talk. Actually, I know you don’t like to talk at all since it interferes with the TV schedule. We can just sit here in silence. That would be OK with me.”
“Why? I’m all ears now,” he said not about to be ruffled. “We can’t watch TV without electricity, so let’s chat. Do you see him much? Gary, I mean. Not the local writer.” He didn’t want to go there. “We may have a lot of time on our hands. Maybe you can help me understand why you turned to him for support. Besides, it’s a real question, Jesse. No sarcasm in it at all.”
“I don’t think we should discuss our current relationships. We both know where that leads.” She paused for a moment as if she was planning to reveal something huge. “I’ll tell you something just to put this silly argument to rest,” she said firmly. “Gary and I aren’t friendly anymore.”
The announcement brought him to full attention and to him there was no better news in the world. Except that she would want to try again. For now, though, he’d take what he could get. He hadn’t expected this, and it was so, so good. “What happened?”
“He’s moving to Boston right after the holidays,” she replied. She didn’t sound upset about it. Either she wasn’t, or she was hiding her feelings again. “He begins a temporary teaching assignment at one of the high schools up there and he’ll probably make it permanent.”
“You won’t go with him?”
She looked at him oddly. “Why would I? We never had that kind of relationship, Kevin. We were hardly even more than friends. You just had it over dramatized in your head.”
“How does that make you feel?” he asked, ignoring the last part of her last statement.
She rolled her eyes and threw her arms up in the air. “What are you my therapist now? I don’t know how it makes me feel but I know it must make you feel great.”
“Why would that make me feel great? We both lost you, Jesse. I don’t see how anyone gains from that.”
She shook her head. “He didn’t lose me Kevin, because he never had me. I’m fine about it, too. I’ll miss him as a friend, but I’m glad he’s going. So now that’s out of the way, what else do you want to talk about?”
“You know what I want to talk about, Jess. Why don’t we tackle it while you are on a roll? Like I said before, maybe we should deal with it while neither of us can run away.” She looked nervous again. He hadn’t pushed too much yet, but he did keep bringing it up hoping she’d give a little more.
“I think we should talk about your reason for the delay in signing our divorce papers, Kevin. That’s the real issue.”
“I’m not ready. And that isn’t the real issue here.”
“I know it’s difficult. We’ve been together for 11 years now, and married for ten of them. Now, this is the natural step.”
“Well it feels unnatural to me. It’s like a part of me is being severed and I don’t think I can handle that now.”
Jess was dumfounded. “I’m surprised you feel that way,” she said softly. “I think I’m almost flattered.”
“If you are truly surprised, you don’t know me at all.”
“You must admit you rarely show me emotion. What you said is almost poetic.”
Kevin shrugged. “You don’t think I have any emotions? If you mean I don’t cry every five minutes, you’re right. However, in a way I envy that you can do that. At least then, I knew how you felt.”
“You envy that about me?” she asked cynically.
“Yes. I’ve always tried to show you my passion. In my art, and in our relationship. I’ve just had a harder time with emotion. But to me, passion is more important anyway, especially if the emotion is negative.”
“There are lots of good emotions, too, you know.”
“Yes, I suppose there are.”
“You couldn’t even show me any emotion after it happened, Kevin. You used to be able to share everything with me. You used to feel deeply about everything in our lives.” She shook her head in confusion. “That’s why I don’t understand why you say I shut down. Don’t you see that’s exactly how I felt about you?”
“I admit I backed off, but i thought that’s what you needed. And when I tried, you told me I wasn’t not sensitive enough. I guess you expected me to act like one of the heroes in your novels.”
“You make it sound like I can’t separate reality from fiction. Please don’t make fun of me.”
He looked at her softly. “That is not my intention. But you are continuously disappointed in me and that hurts.”
“You’re an artist. You have the soul of an artist. But you let that die and became someone I didn’t know.”
“Someone you don’t know? Just because I paint walls instead of murals?” he shrugged. She certainly did confuse him. “You may not think what I do is worthy enough, but it supports us well, Jess. You certainly didn’t mind when I brought home my paycheck, did you?”
She looked at him and shook her head. “You’re getting way off course here. I don’t want to appear cold about this. I know ending a ten-year marriage isn’t easy, but we need to deal with it head on.”
“You’re right, Jess, we need to deal with it right now before we do anything else. We need to talk about the baby.”
To be continued on September 25, 2013…