We pulled up to the house and my friend jumped out of the truck declaring she was going to puke and ran into her house and slammed her door. Jake and I looked at each other and laughed. “She had a few more than I did” I said.
“It doesn’t take much for you though” he smiled, looking down. Then he looked back up at my face. “So why do you think we keep running into each other? Do you think it means something?”
I thought about this and shook my head, dismissing his remark. “I think it means that you came to town for the game and I came here to dance.”
He nodded. “What if it is more? What if someone is trying to tell us something?” He looked unusually ernest and worried.
“Like what? And who? God, an angel? And what are they trying to tell us…that we are meant to be together? I seriously doubt it.”
“Maybe its a test” he said.
“That we keep failing” I smirked.
“We haven’t failed anything yet he said and looked over with that look that I knew very well and my heart started to beat fast.”And we are not going to,” He said.
“Do you want to fail?”
He shook his head. “No, I’m good. Rissa is my whole world now.” He leaned back and put his hands behind his head. I was thinking about asking her to marry me.
I immediately felt sick. “Marry you?” I sputtered. I couldn’t contain my disgust.
“I want to, and I’m going to,” he said. “But I worry sometimes about, how can you marry someone when you are still in love with someone else? I don’t want to be an asshole to her in any way at all.”
I thought it was very strange how he threw the love word around. If he thought that what we had was love, then he had no idea what love was. “Listen,” I said. “If you love someone, that never goes away, even if that person isn’t right for you. Love means that the person has changed who you are for the rest of your life. They have become a part of your soul. So even when they are gone, weather it be a breakup or a death, they will always be a part of you. So you can’t NOT marry someone because you love someone else, because, well, then you’ll never get married.” I pulled my hand away and rubbed it slowly. He took it back into his and cupped it with his other hand.
“You have definitely changed me,” he said. “But, I don’t know about Rissa. She makes me feel really good and I laugh all the time with her. But I don’t’ talk to her like I do with you. With you, our conversations feel more important, more intense and real. I can say anything and you won’t just laugh. You think about what I said and figure out a meaningful answer, rather than a witty joke. You ‘get’ me. Isn’t that just what anyone wants, to be understood? I mean, I don’t want you back, of course, but I miss…just fuckin talking to you.”
It was strange to see him like this, so vulnerable and trusting. Was this girl changing him?His softness for her was starting to wear on me. “I’m sorry but the truth is that marriage is not all its cracked up to be. In the end It just restricts you from doing what you want to do…makes you feel guilty for being human. Like, imagine if I wasn’t married right now, we could totally make out and not have to worry about the repercussions.” I laughed.
“It wasn’t long ago that you were married and we totally made out all the time anyway, remember.”
“I remember” I said, looking at him, remembering. I bit my lip and smiled, and he shook his head and looked down. I could tell this was killing him and I wanted to push him even further. Would he cheat on Rissa? I said, quietly, “No one would know”
“Know if we made out right now.” I flickered my eyes up to his and was a little surprised at the anguish I saw.
He shook his head. He was silent and his face started to turn a bit red. “Jesus, Odette. How many times are yo going to fuck over Chris?”
“What are you talking about? Why do you suddenly care about what Chris thinks?”
“Ok,” he ran his hands through his hair, exasperated. “You are right. I don’t give a fuck about Chris. But I do care about about Rissa more than I care about you and your fucking tempting bullshit.”
“Then what was all this stuff about how you can talk to me about more important things than with her? That I ‘get’ you and she doesn’t?”
He shrugged. I stared hard at him. He was trying to control himself. I was in awe at his conflicting emotions. It was like a science experiment watching him. He folded his arms and was breathing heavily. “No one would know” I whispered. “We are completely alone.” I wasn’t even sure if I wanted him to kiss me at this point, or if I just was dying to see if he would.
“I would know” he said.
I stared at him and he said louder. “I would know, Odette. I would!” He pointed his finger at his ribcage with anger.
I felt a deep ache in my chest. He had always been so easy before and now he was the one fending me off. I could feel my breathing getting heavier, the back of my head was stinging a little and was almost surprised to hear myself hiss at him, “I’m starting to hate you.”
That seemed to relax him for some weird Jake-reason. Maybe he knew that you don’t hate someone unless you care about them a little too much. He unfolded his arms and laughed and shook his head. “Well I still love you, Odette, but I’m not going to fuck up my life again because of you. I finally have something good going.” Then he said, “Fuck it” and leaned over and kissed me.
His lips were soft, even sweet like his last whisky and Coke. I could feel his smooth shaved chin and smell the smoky club in his hair. I wanted to run my fingers through it but all I could see was Chris and Zoe playing on the beach. Through my gin and tonic haze, I knew that this was the wrong direction, this was not what I wanted or what he wanted, and I wasn’t going to risk losing everything again by making stupid decisions after a few drinks.
I pushed him away. “You were right” I said.
“About what?” he gasped quietly, still hovering near me caught up in our moment.
“About knowing. The reality of it all is that every time I think that Chris isn’t going to find out, he does. He can feel my guilt from 10 feet away, as soon as I walk in the door. There is no keeping anything from him. We are too close.”
Jake shook his head, as if to shake my words away. “You’ll be fine this time” he said quickly and pulled me in closer, his lips were practically touching mine, I could feel their warmth. But I was pulling away against his hands wrapped tightly around my arms. He murmured, “Its too late. There’s no going back or fixing this. You may as well kiss me again, right? Don’t waste this, Odette.”
He put his lips on mine again. They didn’t seem sweet or soft this time and I pushed him away hard and held him at bay with my hand forceful against his chest. “You’re wrong. It’s not too late for me. You kissed me and I didn’t even kiss you back.”
He let go of me abruptly and watched me move away. His expression changed to utter disbelief. “What? You didn’t what?” He was slowly realizing my plan was to try to absolve myself from any wrong doing here. “Are you serious Odette? Are you seriously going to pretend like this is all me? Are you seriously going to fucking do this to me?”
I didn’t know what else to do but nod, my heart was beating, his anger was exhilarating to soak in. Anyway, it was true. I could even tell Chris about this…Jake kissed me, but I pushed him away and told him I wasn’t going to ruin things again.
Jake was getting redder in the face, a vein was popping out of his neck a little. His anger was more than I had seen before in him and it made me nervous so I laughed a little. Then he punched his windshield so hard it shattered from end to end.
I screamed and he looked at me incredulously.
“Get out of my truck” he said.
I grabbed the handle for a quick exit but turned and looked at him, seething with anger that he scared me with breaking his windshield. “I can’t believe you tried to cheat on Rissa with me” I hissed at him.
“Get the fuck out.”
“You cheated on Clarissa with me!” I shouted at him. “You can’t marry her now that you’ve done that to her. If I didn’t stop you, I wonder how far you would have taken things? How far would you have gone Jake?”
I thought he was going to yell back, or do something drastic but instead he sat there and calmly said, “I forgot about this side to you, Odette. It isn’t pretty.”
“Everybody has a side to them that isn’t pretty, even you.”
“Yeah well I don’t fucking pretend do I? Now do I have to throw you out of my truck? Because I will.”
I knew he wouldn’t. But I was starting to panic. This was really bad. With his unexpected calmness, I was instantly regretting all the dumb things I had just said and turned and held onto his arm. “I’m sorry. I’ve had too much to drink. I get very emotional around you and make bad decisions. I was trying to hurt you because you love someone besides me. I’m sorry, I’m horrible sometimes.”
We sat there silent for a minute, looking at his shattered windshield as I held on to his arm. “Rissa doesn’t to this shit to me,” he said.
“Then she’s perfect for you.”
He nodded “I know.” Then he looked over at me and said, “And when you do this to me I can’t help but think of Chris and feel sorry for him that he has to deal with this for the rest of his life.”
“I don’t do this shit to Chris” I said.
“Ohhh…..yes you do.” He laughed cynically. I was quiet. I guessed I did put Chris through some stress sometimes.
“Are you staying at this zombie girls house tonight? How do you even know her?”
“I’ll tell you that story another day” I said, finally opening his truck door and sliding out. “Can you see through this window?”
He nodded, and shrugged. I looked down at his fist that was bleeding a little. Oh well, he did that to himself, idiot. I slammed the door and walked towards the front door of the little house. The door was unlocked and the couch still had neat piles of her laundry stacked up on one of the cushions. There was a blanket and a pillow there now too. I didn’t look back at Jake. I just walked in and shut the door quietly behind me and hoped I hadn’t ruined too much of my life in 10 minutes.