By Ekta R. Garg
Prompt: I wanted him to kiss me.
I stood in the doorway of the room our room and just stared at the bed.
Did they do it there too? I wondered. The thought made me shudder, and I knew I didn’t want an answer. I also knew that if I didn’t stay focused on what I came here to do, I would dissolve into a puddle of tears on top of that very bed.
I started with the closet first and began grabbing my clothes, letting the hanger bounce and clack against one another as I tossed the heap onto the bed. Then I went back for more until I’d cleared out my side. I grabbed two suitcases from the top shelf and grunted as they nearly fell on top of me.
Ignoring his voice, I pulled the suitcases into the bedroom and opened both of them. Then I went back to the bed and began to fold my clothes and put them in the suitcases. I was leaving my husband, but I didn’t have to be a drama queen about it. No flinging things into the suitcases like a maniac. After all, I was the one who would have to unpack them in the apartment, and it didn’t make sense to increase the amount of work for myself.
“Laurie, come on. What are you doing?”
I turned toward the doorway of the bedroom and looked at the cheating bastard. When we’d first met, I always thought he looked like Leo DiCaprio, and like Leo my husband had eyes that danced with mischief. I had no idea how faithful, or not, Leonardo DiCaprio had ever been in his relationships, but I could definitely answer that question for Sam.
He had not.
“I’m packing some of my stuff,” I said. “I’ll be out of your way in a couple of hours.”
He came into the room but stopped short when I glared at him. We’d been married ten years and together for five before that. He knew me well enough to know when it was okay to get closer.
“You don’t have to go,” he said.
I dropped two pairs of capris into the suitcase closest to me and then straightened and folded my arms. “Why not?”
Sam blinked once or twice and drew his head back. “Why not? I mean…because we’re married. We belong together.”
“Does belonging together mean that we don’t belong to anyone else?”
“So that would mean no one else has a right to either of us, that we should be faithful and have the decency to remember that, right?”
“You’re twisting my words around—”
I flung my favorite blouse into the suitcase. “Twisting your words around? Like you were twisting that…that…woman around when you told me you were traveling for business?”
He threw his hands in the air. “Okay, I made a mistake. I’ve apologized, like, a million times. How many more times will it take?”
“As many times as you screwed her,” I shot back.
He set his jaw and put his hands on his hips. I didn’t give him the satisfaction of continuing to stare him down. That would only mean this was some sort of twisted contest of wills that he thought he’d be able to win.
What Sam didn’t understand, though, is that he’d already lost. In a big way.
I kept folding my clothes and taking great care to put them in the suitcases. For some bizarre reason, Sam stood and watched me. I could almost hear the gears turning in his head, trying to figure out a way he could explain all this without looking like a total dipwad in the process. Because no matter what he said, all of our conversations led us back to the same place. Sam had cheated and then he’d lied. Multiple times.
When we first began talking about making our relationship exclusive, I told him I could stand by him through any sort of problem—money troubles; job losses; even the possibility of not being able to have kids—but I wouldn’t tolerate lies, and infidelity was a dealbreaker. He took my hands in his and nodded and listened. He flashed those amazing eyes at me, and in them I saw sincerity and a real desire to make this relationship last forever.
Maybe all I saw was desire. Maybe that desire was meant for something else. I stopped folding when I realized the shirt in my hand was one he’d bought me and how I’d never liked the cut of it; I’d never liked how low the neckline was or how short the hem.
That one I balled up and threw back on the bed.
“I spent a lot of money on that.”
I picked it up and threw it at him. He caught it from a reflex.
“Good,” I said. “You can give it to your new special friend. I’m sure she’ll look better in it.”
“Laurie, please. Can’t we just talk about this?”
The timbre of his voice made me pause. My throat burned with tears that I didn’t want to shed in front of him. If I did, my resolve would crack, and he’d find a way to slip his excuses into those cracks and fill them with his lies again. He’d keep lying to me if I didn’t take a stand.
I risked taking a look at his face, and his eyes nearly undid me. They shined with the tears I forced myself to ignore, and for a crazy second I wanted him to kiss me. I wanted him to tell me that I’d misunderstood and he could prove it or shake me awake and reassure me in the muted light of early morning that I was having a bad dream.
I wanted all of the hurt to go away.
“We can make this work,” he said. “We can find a way to get past it all.”
Which, after 15 years with him, I knew was his code for, “We can forget everything and go back to the status quo.”
My throat continued to burn, but now it burned with anger and the effort it took not to scream.
“You go ahead and forget,” I told him, turning back to my clothes. “I don’t plan to. Like I said, I’ll be out of here in a couple of hours. It’s best if you leave and don’t come back until then.”
He raised his hands in disbelief, but I turned my back on him.