There are two sides to every story, every relationship. Ms. Maggie McConnell, romance author extraordinaire asked about Bill’s side of the story in reference to yesterday’s Cradle Broken Glass, which told JJ’s side. If you write about relationships, you know that it’s really easy to write one side, but what about the other? Well, dang, it’s a
little lot harder. 🙂 Here’s Bill’s.
Oh, and it continues yesterday’s theme of songs with “black” in the title.
ps Maggie has an upcoming guest post later this week talking about one of our favorite topics after Snooty and the Book Cover…..book covers!
All The Plans That Came Undone
My cell phone lies broken on the tile. Throwing it seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I consider the extravagance, a display of temper that stuns me. She drove me to this. I’ve had enough.
Lately it’s like JJ’s gone batshit crazy, running away from responsibility, drinking too much, hibernating from reality. Sometimes I catch her watching me, evaluating, as if I am no longer enough for her.
Someone raps on the front door. Great. Just what I need: visitors. When I open the door, my little sister waltzes in, a gleam in her eyes tells me that mother has been filling her in.
“Where’s JJ?” Trina asks.
“I don’t know.”
“Mother says she skipped out. She says you gave some lame excuse about JJ feeling sick.”
“I don’t know where JJ is.”
Trina falls back onto the couch, views my destroyed cell, and gets up. She looks from it to me and her brow furrows.
“Did you two argue?”
“I haven’t spoken to her. She wouldn’t deign to answer my texts.”
“Listen to you: all ‘deign to answer my texts.’ No wonder she wouldn’t answer them. She’s okay though? She hasn’t been in an accident?”
“I would have heard.”
“Don’t you care?” Trina asks placing the bits of cell phone on the coffee table.
“For fuck’s sake of course I care.”
Trina bites her lip. “I think it would be important for JJ to know.”
“Do you tell her?”
I swipe my hand over my face. It’s been a long shitty day and the last thing I want to do is rehash touchy-feely crap about JJ, who left me sitting in that restaurant with my parents who already hate her guts. I let her get away with so much shit. The house is a mess. I give her everything she wants. Except kids. But kids don’t make everything okay and sometimes they inherit crap from their parents and I would never wish that on anyone.
Trina knows enough to back down. She and I are a lot alike. We didn’t get the life our older siblings got. We got the drunk unstable mother and the philandering father. We got drugs to keep us balanced. We got darkness. We got lives clawing through soil trying to find daylight. And I thought JJ was the light that was going to make my life better.
As if reading my mind, Trina says: “You got to find it inside yourself, dude.”
“Great pep talk.”
“You also need to tell her why you don’t want kids. She probably thinks it’s her, especially with the way Mother goes on about JJ being unfit. Like Mother, of all people, should talk about anyone having kids.” Trina snorts, grins, but the light never reaches her eyes.
The key turns in the door. We both start, watch as it opens and pause, our breaths held.
I feel relief as I see JJ’s too bright face appear. Hours in the sun. Where’s she been? She can barely look me in the eye. I get up, feel my anger simmering.
“I’d better go,” Trina says. “Hey, JJ, looks like you got burned. See you all….later.”
JJ stands in the foyer, her hands hold her elbows. I’m done talking. It’s all on her.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “I should have called.”
“We don’t see my parents that often. You could at least act like a mature adult and make an appearance,” I say, spitting the words through clenched teeth.
Tears glimmer in her eyes. I don’t feel compassion. She’s brought this on herself.
“You never talk to me. I spend so much time alone,” she says. She looks down at her tanned feet in fraying sandals.
I shake my head. More excuses. None of it relates to today’s lunch.
“And I spend so much time working,” I say.
“Yes, you do. Too much.”
“But you like what it brings home. You get nice vacations and a nice house,” I point out.
“But I thought I was getting you. I thought we’d have a family. I thought we’d do things together, but we don’t. Even on vacation, you’re working. On your cell. On your laptop. And I’m alone. I spend so much time alone anymore.”
“Your fault, not mine. You could go out with friends.”
She stares at me, her mouth slightly open, and I see something different in her eyes. I feel something different in me. Did I start corralling her when I realized she couldn’t make me happy? When her laughter didn’t immediately mean my laughter? When her joy, wasn’t my joy?
“Maybe you should change the locks, Bill. You can keep the riffraff out that way,” she says before leaving the foyer and hurrying up the stairs.
There’s the unmistakable sound of her unzipping a suitcase. I hear her sniffles and then a sharp sob. Wouldn’t this be for the best? Despite my hopes, this was never going to be a perfect marriage when I shut down the issue of children. The answer was there all along. If she weren’t so self-absorbed, she would have gotten it. A twinge of guilt stabs me. I could have told her. I could have explained before we married. But, crap, I really thought she could save me.
I pour a glass of single malt scotch, sit on the sofa and listen to her prepare to leave me. I remember Barb the woman I lived with before JJ, with her wide brown eyes that understood my dilemmas, how Trina called us soulmates because we were so suited for each other. Barb had a grown daughter and no need for more kids. But I wouldn’t give her a ring and she wouldn’t stay on any other terms.
JJ’s phone buzzes with a text. Her motions stop. Who’s texting her? Hardly anyone texts her anymore except for me.
The scotch burns on the way down. Two more sips before my brain lightens. I add two more fingers and let it roll over me.
JJ resumes her packing or thumping or whatever in the hell it is she’s doing upstairs. I could go up, tell her I love her, but my reluctance forces me to wonder if that’s true any more. We used to make love every night until I started working so much and she felt rejected by my saying I was too tired. She would disappear to bed, wake in the morning, go to work. We wouldn’t touch. When did we stop touching? When did I stop hugging? When did she grow so angry over stupid things?
I bow my head and stare at the carpet that needs vacuuming.
Her cell buzzes again. Maybe she’s found someone else. Maybe she’s going to move in with him. It feel like a dull knife cutting into me, badly. I don’t want her to go. What if I never heard that laugh again? What if she never mocked me or made stupid puns or cajoled me from a blue day?
I run up the stairs two at a time and stand in the doorway. She’s smiling at the texts. Her eyes dance. I feel jealous. I feel sorrow. I feel remorse. I feel love.
“I love you, JJ. Please stay.”