“I feel like a fool just sitting next to you.”
The sun was streaming in through the linen curtains when Chris came back to bed from the bathroom. The whole side of his face was black and blue and his lip was still swollen from Jake’s sneaker. He sat down on the bed and leaned his head on his hand. I sat up, covered my chest with the sheets and just looked at him.
“I feel like shit” he said.
“Do you want me to get you an ibuprofin?”
“No, not like that, Odette. I feel like you have ruined my life…our life. I feel like I don’t even know who you are anymore.”
“What do you mean?” I said, panicking. I smoothed the sheets on my lap nervously. “I’m me, I’m the same person I’ve always been.”
“And who is that? Who have you always been? A potential liar, a potential nympho, someone just waiting for the chance to betray me?”
He suddenly seemed so far away from me. It was just last night that we had been so close and now the morning had torn him from me. I slowly put a piece of hair behind my ear and tried to stay calm as I spoke slowly and clearly,
“I don’t understand why you are saying this. I thought everything was Ok between us. This is crazy.”
“Is it?” His eyes were blazing at me. ” What about what Jake said last night, that what you do with him in bed is not so innocent? What did you do with him that you can’t do with me? Am I not asshole enough? Maybe if I cuss at you and treat you like shit then I’ll be more exciting, like Jake? Is that what you want?”
He paced around in front of the bed rubbing his forehead like he had a headache.
“Why are you talking like this? I grabbed the sheets in my fists. “You need to stop!”
“Odette!” he stopped at looked at me dead on. “What am I supposed to do now, today? We have all these plans of visiting the fort and doing the tours downtown but I feel like I can’t function…like I should go to the hospital for this pain. Not for the pain in my face or my ribs, but for the pain in here, Odette.” He pointed to his chest. “It’s killing me.”
My tiredness mixed with the quiet of the morning made his words seem so loud and sharp. He seemed to read this in me and gently sat down on the bed next to me and clasped his hands together, staring at them.
“I’m so sorry” I said and tried to put my cheek on his shoulders but he shrugged me off.
He looked at his hands that were all torn up and he gently ran his finer over a large puffy bruise on the back of his hand. “How can I hug you when you are the one doing this to me?” he said, still looking at his hand. “It’s like hugging a blade.” He turned to look right at me and I glanced away from his anger and sudden hatred. “Odette, I tried so hard for so long to ignore this, or just figure you were having a phase, or try to tell myself it is my fault for not helping you enough when Meliah died. But after last night I realized you truly had this fucked up relationship with this other guy. It made me think, what is wrong with me? Why can’t I keep my wife happy? I mean, I’m supposed to get up on stage in front of hundreds of people tonight and act like everything is great. But I’m broken. And mabye I should go and screw someone else to make myself feel better. You know I could, right? But it was only you that I’ve ever wanted. The best.” His voice cracked. “But maybe you aren’t. Maybe I have been wrong these ten years and have been waisting my time with you.”
I could feel my ears ringing. I realized I was holding my breath and some sobs burst out uncontrollably. “Don’t talk like this” I begged, “You are breaking my heart”
“I’m breaking your heart?” He stood up and started to pace again. “What do you think you are doing to me? YOU did this Odette, you did it to me and you did it to yourself. This is YOUR fault.” He sat down on the bed again and buried his head in his hands. I sat there naked, covering up still with the sheets. I looked around frantically for some clothes.
“I can’t help but wonder, what is wrong with me?” Chris started to cry. What is so bad about me that you have to find some kind of refuge in a guy like Jake? Did you hear how he talked about you? Is that how you want to be treated? Why did you do this?”
“It has nothing to do with you,” I cried, clutching the sheet. “I didn’t think this would hurt you.”
He looked up from his hands and turned to me.”How could you think this wouldn’t hurt me? What do you think I’m made of? Do you think I’m some kind of psychopath who has no feelings? Oh wait, that’s you.”
“I do have feelings” I cried, almost loosing my sheets. “This is killing me. I can’t bare to see you like this and I am so sorry that I did this to you. Nothing is worth making you this sad.” I spied a T-shirt and sweatpants on the floor near my old armchair. How would I get them while he was sitting on the sheet I was using to cover myself? My head was foggy, I was dizzy with panic. I looked back at Chris, but couldn’t bare to read his frantic face and looked at the blank white wall. “I really didn’t think I was doing anything wrong because…What happened with Jake was separate from you…from you and me.”
“Don’t say his name.” His face clouded over and he took a big breath. “I’ve been telling you and telling you how much this is all hurting me, but you have just been ignoring everything. I don’t know, Odette. I just don’t know what to do now. I can’t look at you the same after last night. I love you so much but I can’t even look at your face right now.”
“You are killing me” I said.
He shook his head. “You did this” he said. “I don’t know if I can keep this up, Odette. I’ve never punched anyone that I wasn’t joking around with, in my life, until last night. I mean, what the hell did I do to that kid? I can’t stand him but I hit him too hard. Everything that I have been dealing with is because of YOU. I pounded into his face and his ribs. I don’t know if I’m going to get a visit from the cops today.” He looked at me, his eyes bloodshot and wide with agony. “Odette, I don’t know if I can be with a woman who makes my life a complete hell.”
“What do you mean?” I said, touching his arm. He yanked it away.
“I can’t imagine just having a normal life with you now. I feel like a fool just sitting next to you. How can we talk about the future when I can’t stand to spend time with you in the present?”
Then he got up and I watched him put on a T-shrit, some shorts and a zip-up hoodie. He opened up the sliding glass doors and walked out down the path to the beach. I wanted to go after him but I knew I was the last person he wanted next to him just then. I lay on my bed and understood what he meant about needing to go to the hosptial for the pain. It was breathtaking.