The joy of serial fiction: Unraveling, Part 10

Unraveling RopePart 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Unraveling, Part 10

“You can’t mean that, Jess!” he shouted, feeling anger, sorrow and a multitude of negative emotions surging through him. It was the cruelest thing he ever heard her say. “How could losing our son be a blessing?”

She shook her head and looked like she was ready lose total control of her emotions, but they crossed the line now and it was too late to turn back. “I know that sounds terrible, but it would have been worse for the baby when we broke up.”

He softened knowing this was torture for her. He wanted to reach out, hold her, and tell her everything was going to be fine, but he knew she wouldn’t let him. And he wasn’t sure that it would be fine. “I don’t know about that, Jess. He might have held us together.”

“No, I don’t believe that!” she replied in a controlled but shrilling tone. “Eventually things would have turned out this way. It just would have postponed this, or made us resent each other.”

He couldn’t believe it. All this time he thought they broke up because of the trauma of losing the baby. She obviously had her own reasons, and the revelation shocked him. “How can you tell? Do you have a crystal ball? We just stopped communicating at the worst possible time. If we hadn’t we would still be together today. I’m certain of that.” He paused and caught his breath. “Was it easier to talk to Gary about it, Jess?”

# # #

Six months before…

In the aftermath of losing the baby, Jess found that life did go on, but a part of her seemed closed off now. Outwardly, she healed, and she resumed her life as nothing had ever happened. She felt Kevin understood that, too, for he even stopped trying to get her to talk about the baby. She saw his pain, and felt guilt for that, too, but she didn’t know how to help him.

She went back to work the following month. She got a promotion at the bookstore, and even sold a few articles to a local newspaper. Things were definitely starting to fall into place again. Jess wondered if they were simply working out the way they should have all along. Perhaps she was wrong to have gotten pregnant, and the gods were just sending her a signal that this is what her life should be. Family and friends thought she buried the grief forever. They praised her about her recent accomplishments at work, but no one would talk about the baby. Kevin began to work longer hours, too, but she didn’t mind. It became easier to not have him around.

She converted the baby’s room into an office and began to work a lot from home. One afternoon, she was upstairs working on a flyer for the new summer reading list when she heard the doorbell. Gary said he’d stop by to drop off purchase orders she needed to sign, and Jess answered the door happy to see him. She invited him to stay for lunch. She needed the company today.

“How are you doing?” he asked her after lunch. She’d heard the question before, but she had the feeling that he really wanted to know the answer. That he wasn’t just asking out of courtesy.

“I feel like shit if you really want to know the truth,” she answered. It was oddly comforting not have to put a brave face on for Gary the way she had to do for Kevin. She could be honest without the guilt. “I’m having a pretty emotional day.”

Walking into the living room, he put his arm around her shoulder. “I’m sorry for everything you had to go through,” he said sincerely. “And I’m here if you want to talk.”

She looked at him and smiled, and then she started to cry. She’d been holding her feelings in for so long now, and it was actually a relief to set them free.

“Thanks,” she said and she hugged him tight. Jess realized that Gary had a bit of a crush on her, but she also knew he wouldn’t do anything about it because she was married. She needed the comfort today, and would take it from him without worrying about leading him on. He was a sensitive guy, after all, and she knew he wouldn’t take advantage of her emotional state. She didn’t know how long she was standing there holding on to him when she heard the door slam.

“What the hell is going on here?” Kevin asked coming into the door with an odd look on his face.

Gary and Jess both jumped, but it was she who spoke. “You’re home early,” she said softly.

“I thought I’d come home so we could have lunch together,” Kevin snapped, “but I guess I’m too late. Or maybe I’m just in time.”

“Kevin,” Gary replied, looking startled. “This isn’t what you think.” His thin frame looked a little shaky as he spoke and Jess felt sorry for him. He’d be no match for Kevin if they did get into a fight. Kevin had thirty pounds on him easily.

“Is anyone going to answer me?” Kevin directed his words to Jess, ignoring Gary.

“Kevin, calm down,” she said carefully. Then she shot Gary a look that told him to leave immediately.

“Well, I should be going,” Gary said with an odd look of terror on his face. He had received the message. “I have an appointment with my editor in 20 minutes and I suppose you both want to be alone.” He fled like a scared rabbit.

Kevin turned to her and looked directly into her eyes. She could see his were burning with jealousy. “What was that all about?” he asked firmly. “He looked pretty guilty to me.”

“Nothing is or was going on,” she said in a calming tone. “Don’t be upset.”

Kevin laughed cynically. “I tend to get upset when I see another man’s hands all over my wife.”

“God, you sound like a cave man, Kevin. We weren’t doing anything illicit. Why don’t you trust me?”

“I don’t trust him.”

“You don’t have to trust him, but you do have to trust me.” She shrugged. “Besides, he just dropped by with some papers I needed, and we started talking.” She walked back in to the kitchen and started clearing the lunch dishes. “That’s all, Kevin. We were just talking.”

“Is that what you call it? Talking?” he asked as he followed her. He was flying into a rage and she only hoped he could control it before it got too out of hand. They’d been so careful with each other for months now, and this was the first time she’d seen Kevin angry in a long time. She was afraid that so much was bottled up inside of him that he would blow completely.

“Please don’t insinuate that I was doing something wrong, Kevin,” she said calmly. “We were talking. That’s what friends do.”

“I saw the two of you through the window. Talking does not involve arms locked around each other, Jess.”

She shook her head. “I got a little upset, and he offered me comfort, that’s all.”

He paused for a moment. “What did you get upset about?”

She looked at him feeling puzzled. “You know what I got upset about, Kevin. Don’t make me say it.”

“If you needed comfort, why didn’t you call me?”

She looked away. “I didn’t call anyone,” she said. “Gary just stopped over with some work stuff, and we started talking. It just all came out. I guess he just asked me the right questions.”

“Is that right?” he cried as furious as she’d ever seen him. “For months I’ve been trying to get you to talk! I tried so hard to make those feelings come out with me. And I held mine back because I was afraid you couldn’t take it!”

He looked enraged, but she was managing to hold it together. “My therapist suggested I talk to someone neutral,” she said in her defense. “He’s my friend, he’s easy to talk to, and he’s neutral.”

He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You have a therapist?” he asked, and she realized that she should have told him sooner she decided to go alone since he was not interested in therapy together. “How long have you been seeing a therapist?” he asked.

“About three weeks now. Remember, I asked you to go but you said it wouldn’t help.” She knew how he felt about strangers knowing the intimate details of their life, but she needed this. She realized, however, she should have been honest enough to tell him.

“I said I had to get over this on my own, Jess, but I would have appreciated knowing you decided to go.”

“I know, and I should have mentioned it” she said calmly. “But I have to do it my way, too.” She paused and took a deep breath. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Kevin, and I think we should separate for a while.”

To be continued on Wednesday, October 16, 2013…

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A girl trying to live the dream.

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