He married you. Be that girl. Remind him.
I bent over, let my head hang, tousled my own hair to add some volume, flipped back up to face the mirror. Okay, okay. Slap and pinch my own cheeks a little.
Demetrius told me he wanted to talk to me. That’s progress, right? He took some stuff and left and hadn’t faced me in a little over two weeks. Wanted to talk to me. That’s good. Good. I want to talk to you to.
Some life events shouldn’t occur over texts, you know? I’d never get married through texts. Just look me in the eyes. Just remember. Me. It’s me. I’m a person you know well. Not perfect, but a good person.
Talk. Yeah, let’s talk.
I hadn’t been eating much. Food didn’t taste good without him. I pulled and tugged on my short stretchy black dress. It fit well, especially now. Butt looks good. Flat tummy again. Pull the girls up. Hip bones prominent. I didn’t have love handles anymore. Smooth it everywhere. Miss this?
Smile. Just smile and be at peace. Don’t cry. Don’t be mad. Don’t give him any reason to feel good about his decisions these two weeks. Remind him why he loves you, loves being home with you. But…not too excited. Just be normal.
I hear his truck. My heart is pounding. What…what would I be doing right now? I had told the girls to go to their rooms because he was coming over to talk.
I flopped on the couch and clicked the TV on. I would never be sitting here watching TV alone, but…I didn’t know how else to stage myself.
I hear the door in the back open, hear him climb the stairs. Such a simple sequence of events that you get used to. You just assume a husband will continue to come home. Until…he stops. You don’t know how that feels until…you know how that feels. And you feel it. And you feel it.
“Hey!” I clicked the tv off and hopped up to give him a hug. I got the lean-in, awkward back pat. The we-don’t-know-each-other, quickly brush my arms off him, step back.
Ew, gross. I don’t want this kind of hug either. Don’t flatter yourself.
“Hey. I only came for one reason. I just need you to look over these papers and make sure everything is correct. I went to see my lawyer on my lunch break.” His voice sounds apologetic. Don’t pity me, asshole. Your lawyer? You don’t have a lawyer. I take the papers. No, Emily don’t be mad. Just be pretty and sweet.
I don’t really remember reading them. But somehow your eyes know facts that your brain can’t think.
“That’s not the day we separated. You left on a Monday. It was Sept 22.” My mouth said words.
We, in fact, didn’t separate. You left me. That’s how it went. I even wrapped myself around you begging you not to. Like that. I made you carry me across the house and peel me off of you. Like that. That’s not on your paper here.
“Okay. Well I can have my lawyer fix that tomorrow when I file. I was just going to give you this copy to look over.” Stop saying that. Your lawyer. Your lawyer can’t fix…anything.
You don’t want to talk to me. You want to hand me words on paper. I have words too. And this paper…says nothing to me about my life, my story.
“Tomorrow? No, Demetrius. Not tomorrow. Tomorrow is October 7. Tomorrow is Clara’s first birthday. Go any other day. Please.” I remember delivering her in this house one year ago exactly. Our precious Clara, half Demetrius and half me. Not tomorrow.
“It’s not the date it will be final, Emily. It’s just the day I’m filing.” Don’t attempt to placate me. Angry or pathetic…I guess those are my only two mood choices. Breeeathe.
And I am back to–this doesn’t add up. My faults, our arguments…none of it is that bad. I can’t be sweet. But I can be bold. I’m so tired of being pathetic. I am a glowing sun. No more rain.
“Look at me.” He can’t. “No, Demetrius. I’m serious. Look at me.” There is no courage in his eyes. I know. I can tell. I know. I know. I die a little inside. I know.
“What?” He raises his eyebrows, lowers his eyes, his eyes can’t look. He knows I know.
“You do what you have to do. But I do have a few things to say to you, and the least you can do is look your wife in the eye and hear them.” I am a lot of things. But not a coward. To a fault, I am full of courage, full of it. He looks.
“Whoever she is, Demetrius. Whoever she is…she doesn’t love you. She is destruction. You need to hear that. You need to know it. That’s what you are choosing–to leave love for…not love. You are choosing destruction.” He is visibly uncomfortable. I am pouring acid in his ear.
“Emily, there’s no one-”
“Stop. Just…save your lies. Hear me out.” I am Menelaus. Bring me Paris. Let’s see that fight.
“Emily, I’m not going to sit here and listen to these ridiculous accusations.” Liar words.
“Would she die for you? Because I would. I wouldn’t even hesitate to save you instead of myself. Push you to safety and get hit by a car for you. Take a bullet. You know I would.” I shake my head. I’m not good with defeat.
His eyes show some pain, and I have the smallest glimmer of hope. His heart isn’t completely dead to me. I just can’t really reach it. I would say anything to reach it again. He just wants away from me. I am talking under water. More like under mud.
“We don’t have to do this. Maybe life with me is just a little too real. But she’s not real. Whatever you have with her. It’s exciting and it’s fun. But…it’s not real. I’m real. Me. This marriage is real. You need a spotlight shone on this. Secrets seem so thrilling in the dark. Bring them out in the light, and you just might see them for what they are.” He didn’t care.
He just sat there. With his papers.