He hung up with Jake and looked at me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so angry, well, except for last night. I said, “What is going on?”
“Jake is threatening to press charges against me for kicking the shit out of him if I don’t help him.”
“Help him…with what?”
He looked at me like he was thinking about something. Then he said, “I just need to take him to the walk-in clinic.”
“Why doesn’t he have Rissa do it? That’s crazy to ask you.”
“He needs me to pay for it.”
I nodded. “Do you want me to come?”
“No, Odette, I don’t want you to come. You think the three of us are going to hang out? This isn’t the fucking ‘Bachelorette’.” His eyes were blazing at me. His disrespect and incredulousness were out of character and exhausting to endure. It made me cry and he looked conflicted, like it would be normal to hug me… but this wasn’t normal. He instead rubbed his eyes with stress of it all and said, “You should see if Zoe is OK. I tried to put her down for a nap 10 minutes ago but she was asking for Mommy. I’m going to go see if Bob will let me use his van.”
He walked off back to Lucy and Bob’s house and I looked down at my letter as I sat in the sand and held on to it. I would go and check on Zoe in a minute, but first I would wipe the tears out of my eyes and read this letter to see where I stood with Chris:
I have written this note about one hundred times in my head, yet still I cannot seem to find the words to express how I really feel. I am leaving for Virginia with the band and I honestly cannot say if I will be back. That sounds so dramatic, doesn’t it? As if I would just disappear into the abyss like a character in a Tolkien novel. Obviously that isn’t the case; there is Zoe to think about for one, but this does feel like something more permanent.
I am angry at so many things I cannot even sort out what I am the most upset with. Remember when you had that horrible headache years ago and the nurse in the Emergency Room asked you to categorize your pain and we remarked how ridiculous it was to have to quantify something so intangible as suffering. Am I at a ten, or is it more like an eight? Is it enough to say that I cannot breathe, cannot smell and am finding it difficult to taste? This is the end of the world as I have known it and yet I have to somehow continue to brush my teeth, and practice with the band, and help Lucy in the kitchen, and tuck Zoe into bed for a nap. Do you know how goddamn hard it is to tickle my daughter when my heart has been ripped in two?
Dave asked me how I was doing and what I was feeling and what I was going to do about you. While I know he meant well and is trying to be a good friend, I could not help but feel as if you were just an item I needed to cross off my to-do list along with the laundry that has been piling up. I told him that I didn’t have a clue.
What happened to you and me together against the world? When did I become something to conspire against?
On our very first date, I made this deal with myself. You see, I didn’t want to fall in love with you. I wasn’t ready for that. So, I decided that if you ordered ravioli I wouldn’t call you again. But then you offered me a taste and I fell in love with you (and o.k. a little bit in love with that butternut squash pasta). Everything else that you did and didn’t do since that moment, I have found a way to get over. But, I can’t get over you lying to me and breaking my heart. You’ve destroyed the intimacy of our relationship and I’m not going to try to compete with Jake and what he has declared you have an obsession with. I don’t even want you near me anymore.
I don’t know what will happen when we finish up this tour in a week. But, I do want you to know that I love you, Odette. Despite it all, I love you. And from now on, maybe that will just have to be it, but nothing more.
I stared at the last line, at the words, nothing more. I looked up at the ocean and watched it crash on the sand. There was a shrimp boat out on the horizon and some surfers in their wet-suits. I laid my head down with my cheek on the sand and breathed in the sea air, and put my arm over my eyes to shield them from the sun high in the sky. This was it. I had been cut off. I imagined my life alone with Zoe. Me and her. I was so tired of my heart hurting that I decided to think of the bad stuff with Chris, like what messed us up in the first place. I thought about him playing video games every night, just 5 months ago, while I sat in our room and cried over Meliah. I never let him kiss me. I hated him for not holding me through my pain. We were like roommates, or business partners where he took care of Zoe while I cried. And then he was resentful towards me every other second because I wasn’t doing my share of the house work and parenting.
Now, what we had been fighting to save…was it even worth it? I felt the sun warm on my cold arms as I lay so still. I didn’t know a life without Chris. This was supposed to be our exciting time, with his song on the radio again and playing huge packed out venues, again. But this time he was going to be doing it without me. I supposed, if he really cared about me he would realize that Jake’s drunk words were just lies to make him insecure. As if I were obsessed with Jake. Chris was better than him in bed, he was older, calmer. He knew what he was doing and didn’t need to try to impress me. We just clicked. I was going going to miss that part of Chris, and the thought of another girl discovering that about him was horrible. I covered my face with both arms. The tugging in my chest was almost unbearable. I guessed that was what he had to deal with…another guy discovering me, my kisses, my body and secret freckles. I sighed.
I heard Bob’s loud VW pull off down the street. Were they seriously going to sit next to each other in the waiting room of a walk-in clinic? It was too weird. I realized Chris was probably lying to me. What the heck were they doing then? Maybe I would look the phone up on iCloud and track where he was going. But first I would check on Zoe, the one constant, amazing and beautiful part of my life.