The phone sent a heat wave from my hand to my chest and I launched it at the nearest wall. That jackass had done it again; he kicked me in the stomach and he wasn’t even within 10 miles. Tears exploded from my eyes as I staggered toward the bedroom. The realization that I wasn’t a priority came long ago. In fact, everything and everyone came before me. The only contact we had these days was the sting of his fist on my cheekbone or the thud of his boot to my head.
He was in such a rush to leave the house that morning that he had forgotten his cell on the kitchen island. I heard it vibrate while I was cleaning and only picked it up because I thought it was mine. Now I wish he would have had the presence of mind to create a fake contact name for her at the very least. But she means too much to him to hide; another priority before his own wife.
According to him, she was so much more in tune with his needs than I was. They met when he joined some cult in the burbs. He was always looking for the next thing that was going to cleanse his soul and right all wrongs. He found this place a few months ago and had been spending the bulk of his time there ever since.
At first, I thought it was just because he found something he was really interested in, something that spoke to his needs… it spoke to his needs all right. I’d never seen her. I only heard him talking on the cell in hushed tones when he thought I was asleep or creeping into the house in the middle of the night.
Inside the drawer was everything I needed to get me through the afternoon. Then he would be home and we could clear the air. I’m sure all we needed to do was hash this out. We would get behind this, we always did.
I woke around dinner time with an ice pick in my forehead. He was standing in the bathroom staring into the mirror.
“How was your day?”
“Fine. I’m going to the Society tonight. There’s a meeting I want to check out.”
“When are you going to be home?”
“I mean, should I wait up?”
“Is she going to be there?”
“I don’t know. Probably. Why?”
Seriously? “Because… Because you can’t have a wife AND a girlfriend.”
He scanned my face with blank eyes. “Why?”
“Because that’s not how this works!” His lip curled in the familiar way and when I woke up in the middle of the hall, he was gone.
When I returned from work the next evening he wasn’t home. I honestly have no idea what I thought was on the table. I guess I figured he had been doing laundry and left things out for me to fold but when I picked up the items I saw that there was no way that they were mine. I felt lightheaded. They were hers.
He answered after about five rings. “Yeah, what?”
“So, I just got home from work and there are these clothes on the kitchen table. Where the hell did these come from?”
“I found them in the yard.”
“You found them in the yard?!”
“When I came home this morning they were laying in the yard. So I brought them in.”
“You found some nasty clothes in the yard that don’t belong to either of us and you decided to bring them in the house? Why didn’t you just throw them in the trash?”
“I don’t know.”
“Wait. So you’re telling me that between the time I left for work and you got home, some nasty pig came into our front yard, dropped trou and kept walking?”
“I don’t know what happened; I’m just telling you that’s where I found them. I’m on my way.”
The line went silent.
I swear to you, as I paced the kitchen I could feel my heart thumping in my ears. I threw those clothes into the yard, along with the kitchen table. By the time he came home, someone had taken the table but the clothes remained by the curb.
“What the hell is that mess?”
“That’s your bitch’s clothes.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re psycho. You need help.”
“Psycho? I’ll show you psycho.”
The carpet was wet and slimy when I stepped over him on my way out the door. I pulled the knife from his throat and threw it in my bag. Sunglasses on… heading west...never looking back.
I watched them for a long time. There was a chasm between them even though they were just feet apart.
They sat in silence, staring at each other. Their posture made them remarkable. She sat perfectly straight and still, hands flat on the table, feet flat on the ground. Her coffee cup before her untouched.
He was postured in much the same way save for one leg crossed and one foot tapping like he wanted to leave his flesh suit behind.
They never spoke. Perhaps everything had been said. This silence seemed to reach around them and flow to infinity.
Finally, she moved. She grabbed her bag and walked out the door in one motion. His eyes never moved; he remained locked on the chair as if she were still seated there. Then, he broke.
His shoulders began to shake, his hands reached to hide his face but his tears could not be contained; they spilled onto the table and ran down his arms.
Now, he was alone.
They hadn't been in the same room in a decade.
Yet, her hopes remained high.
Expectations off the charts.
He sat looking out the window when she approached,
Softly at first, trying to savor the peacefulness on his face for as long as she could.
He turned, his eyes boring straight into her soul.
They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity until he shook his head
And walked out the door.
Audrie is a writer and editor living in Illinois. She is a fan of all things horror and pop culture.