When I got home from my jog, Chris was back from band practice and making dinner.
“Your mom is bringing Zoe home in half an hour” he said.
I sat on a dining room chair and watched him in the kitchen. I couldn’t let this go on any longer.
“Chris, I can’t do this.”
“Can’t do what?” he said,
“I can’t act like everything is ok.”
“You never do”, he said, stirring something in a pan.
“Chris, I said, my heart pounding, “I cheated on you”.
He turned the stove off, put the pan down and walked over to the bar and leaned on it, looking at me.
Then he came around to the table and sat down on the chair next to me.
He looked really shaky and he was crinkling up his forehead. He put his hands on the table and turned his wedding ring round and round. “Odette, I know that,” he said.
“You know, how do you know?”
“Odette, you are completely easy to read and the worst liar ever. I always know what is going on with you and I always have. Of course I know you cheated on me.”
“Then why aren’t you mad?” I was astonished.
“Of course I’m mad. I just haven’t figured out what to do about it yet.”
“What do you think you are going to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Probably forgive you.”
I tried to think of any book or movie or person I had ever read or met who forgave cheating and couldn’t think of any, not one. Maybe he didn’t realize I slept with Jake. “This cheating wasn’t just a kiss” I said, almost spitefully.
“I don’t need details, Odette. I’m sure what I have imagined is probably much worse.”
I kind of doubted that but left it there. “I need to go away for a while,” I gasped.
“Where are you going?” he said, holding out his arms and shaking his head.
“I think I am going to go and stay with Astrid in Brooklyn.”
“You can’t stay for too long. Zoe will miss you too much,” he said.
“I want to bring Zoe”.
His face started to turn red. I could tell he was trying very hard not to get angry.
“OK,” he said, “Maybe you need a little bit of time to get back to normal. I can handle that. How long though?”
“Maybe a couple of months”, I said.
He looked around the house. “It will be very quiet here”, he said.
“Chris”, I said, gathering all my courage, or perhaps stupidity, “I think we should be separated when I go.”
“Separated? What the fuck does that mean?”
“I think that you should be free to do what you want and the same for me.”
Chris started to breathe heavy again and he stood up, fighting tears.
“So you want to go and fuck half of New York for a couple of months and have me be OK with that too?”
“If you are going to start yelling at me, I’m done with this conversation.”
“I just told you that I can forgive you for cheating on me and instead of showering me with gratitude you say you want to leave me and go to New York?” He paced back and forth, “I don’t think it is going to be for a couple of months, Odette. I think it is going to be forever!” he shouted with tears streaming down his face.
“What about our family?” He suddenly composed himself and put both hands on the back of a chair to rest. I just watched him, relieved and alarmed to see some emotion in him.
He sat down again and he looked at me. “What about our little family? What about Zoe? Do you really want her life to be like this? Don’t you want her to have two loving parents who stay together? She needs that more than ever now.”
He tapped his finger on the table, and then looked at me as if he had just figured out something very important. “Listen, it has been a really rough year for you. This stuff happens a lot when you loose someone. It throws everything off.
Grief screws you up, Odette, and I wasn’t supportive enough. This is partly my fault, which is why I have just let you do whatever you needed to do to find some sort of balance; even if that meant loosing you to the douche bag down the street for a few weeks.
Odette, we can get through this. We have been best friends for ten years. Remember when you were pregnant with Zoe and we went to all the appointments together and it was so amazing that we had a little baby growing in your belly. Remember? That is important…that is marriage, that is everything.”
“Yeah” I said. He was right.
“Can we try, Odette? Try and get back to how we were?”
I was quiet. What was happening here? Things were turning around somehow. “I think so I said,” and felt Brooklyn slipping through my fingers.
“Lets just try, just a little harder.” Chris was looking at me so intensely. I’d never seen him so full of emotion. I couldn’t bare it.
“Ok, Chris, I’ll try harder,” I said, not sure exactly what I was agreeing to.