She paced around the kitchen island, down the hall, checked the front door again and wandered back into the front room where she knelt on the couch, pulled back the curtains and peeked at what she knew was there; an empty driveway. No car, no sign of him. The wind picked up and whistled low outside. A storm was coming. She could smell the rain on its way. The trees dipped a little deeper and the leaves hissed at her. "He's not coming. He's not coming. You were right."
She let the curtains fall and stepped away from the nay-sayers outside. He would be here. He was just delayed by the storm. She had watched the news and although it had already hit the city, he would have been a little bit ahead of it; if he'd left on time. And why wouldn't he? No, her husband would make it home in time for their quiet dinner and she would feel fine again. She smiled at her silliness and sipped her wine. Sip. Yes, she didn't want to gulp or get sloshed and be staggering all over when he DID arrive, which would be soon. She checked the oven, turned it down a little more so dinner didn't spoil and made her lap once more. She'd been doing this for over an hour.
The rain finally came, but he did not. The drops fell like her own angry tears. He was more than two hours behind without a call. Her mind began to race toward the conclusion that she'd been fighting off. He was with someone else. After eleven years of marriage, he'd thrown in the towel without a word to her or the chance to fix it. She had seen the signs of marital restlessness several months ago on her way home from her new spin class. She'd joined to firm up, get fit and have him look at her the way he did strange women on the street; admiringly, hungrily. Yes, she wanted to see that look from him again. She hadn't realized she missed it until he was giving it to others. It hurt her feelings, made her feel lonely and ugly, unwanted. And after all they'd been through in their relationship, she didn't want to lose him to a stranger. She was working hard and getting results. She'd dropped some weight and was pleased with her new, stronger body. She grinned remembering how men at the gym had begun to look at her, leer a little. They approached her for her number or name or small flirty conversations. One in particular was her trainer, Adrian. He smelled of soap and sandalwood ~ powerful, strong and comforting. She loved to be near him just for breathing deeper; laughing at her schoolgirl crush. She tried not to get flustered when he showed her improvements on her technique or when he touched her on the arm to speak to her after class. She wondered if her husband even noticed her anymore as she gave herself a sideways glance in the foyer's mirror on another lap of her home. she hoped he had, liking what he'd seen.
"Too late" the thunder rumbled outside. The woman pulled her sweatshirt closer around her body, fighting the chill that was seeping under her skin to her bones, resembling a cold suspicion. She made another lap, stopping at the stove to pull out and serve herself dinner. She ate sitting at her place at the table poking at her meal and shoving things around her plate. Sometimes she even took a bite. It was his favorite, not hers, but she thought it would be a nice touch for when he got home.
The minutes crawled by. She quit pacing and went to bed, pretending to read. she practiced what she would say. What would she ask or demand? What would his truth be? what if he'd been in an accident? What if he couldn't call her to tell her he loved her? Not to worry. Her eyes began to feel heavy. Sadness crept in and weighed her eyelids down so that she fell asleep on the verge of tears.
She awoke with a panic, the dark stabbing at her and the night screaming in silence that he still wasn't home. It was 4:30. She got up and put on her slippers and went into the front room, perching on the sofa and drawing the drapes back just so she could see the drive. she sighed heavily, praying she was wrong; that the storm which was howling, laughing at her concern for him was not right. He stayed late for work, he got something to eat and then he got delayed with the storm. Yes. That was it.
She had almost fallen back to sleep when the lights from his car sneaked up the driveway toward the house. She thought they went off early; so as not to disturb her? She thought that was odd. He sat inside the car for a lot longer than normal. Was he saying goodnight to his lover on the phone? Can't wait to see you again? I love you? She ducked down and watched him childishly. He wiped his face and held the steering wheel as if he was going to pull away. At last she saw his shoulders droop. He must be coming in to shower her off and then slide unhappily into our bed she sniffed. Anger began to stir and bubble in her soul. She wondered what drinks they had shared what meal what hotel ... She clenched her fists and gritted her teeth, angry that she had worried and cooked and changed and tried... for nothing.
He came in quietly, she wondered briefly if he took his shoes off so as not to disturb her. she marveled as he stopped in the laundry room and heard him undress placing his clothes in the washer. Really? First time he'd ever initiated the laundry on his own. She sat stone still and waited for him to start sneaking up the stairs before she cleared her throat.
"Oh. Hey. You're still up? It's late..."
"Yes it is. What kept you?" her tone was flat, edgy.
"Well, something came up."
"Until 4:30 in the fucking morning? or was that just what you were doing?"
"Honey.. I've done something I shouldn't have..." he backed up and stood in the shadows.
"Damn right. I KNEW it..." she was up and in front of him her finger pointing like a dagger.
He waited until she was in his face and then grabbed her arms. She was flailing and lashing out, calling him every name in the book. He never said a word and waited for it to hit her. The smell.
She was gasping and at last stopped as the stink pinched her nose; warm copper and burnt sugar. She looked at him, puzzled. "What.. What IS that? What have you done?" she broke from him and dashed to the laundry room, smashing at the light switch on the wall. It clicked on and dimly glowed over his clothes, stained and sticky with blood. It seemed like gallons of it, dripping thick and gooey into her wash basin. She clung to the washer's edge for support and gagged. He was behind her, smeared with deep red clots and cuts of his own.
"I didn't want to lose you to a stranger." he said quietly.
"What? What?" she hissed as if he'd read her mind.
"You. You go to the gym all the time. You're never here. with me. You choose those wolves who drool and hang around you like you're in heat and you just keep smiling. Your work-outfits get skimpier every time I see you and then you got involved with Adrian...." he trailed off letting her think about what she'd made him do.
"You're talking crazy...I ... never..."she was stammering, the room spinning like a fun house floor.
"I wanted you back. I wanted you to love me. So I began to follow you and I watched you. You were giving up on us...eleven years... Adrian just can't waltz in and take you away... not after all we've been through..."
Tears of shame and confusion streamed down their faces. He began to sob, reaching for her. "Don't leave me." and she opened her arms to comfort him. She ran her fingers through his hair and whispered in his ear. They sank to the floor and rocked back and forth holding each other. She pulled away only to wipe his tears and kiss his cheeks, ignoring the metallic taste that flooded her mouth and nose. She kept talking in hushed tones through the night; organizing their new beginning.
The sun sneaked up and peered in the windows, curious how the day would start. The washing machine was running gently bumping the dryer. His car was gone from the driveway. She was humming softly, cleaning the dishes from dinner as he showered. He joined her and wrapped her lovingly in his arms.
"Thank you for dinner. That's my favorite."
"I know." she smiled softly.
He kissed her. She turned and looked into his eyes filled with love for her. She stroked his face and breathed deeply as the soft scent of sandalwood drifted around her. She was glad they'd had such a nice night together. happy that he'd made it home before the storm...yes, that is what she'd say....
And hello again. This one is okay. Not one of my favorites. I like the concept and the general line, but it just seems a little choppy. Eh... not everything I write will be the best I've ever written. I hope you had a great weekend. We managed to hang on during the "snowmageddon" storm that crushed us. It was a nice quiet weekend filled with good food and shoveling. Yay? Well, I hope that's as much winter as we get but I doubt it. Be safe in your travels, have a good rest of the weekend. Thanks for spending time with me. It's fun, dontcha think? :)