He came in from another late night at work and walked over to me lying on the couch. I curled my legs underneath me so my lap could form a pillow for his head. He laid down.
“I’m sorry I’m late again, honey. This stupid case is keeping us there through all hours of the night.”
Apparently, his law firm was working on some big case involving some multimillion dollar scandal. I mentioned that I thought I would have read about it in the newspaper by now. He said that people have been paid a lot of money to keep it from the public. No one can keep quiet for this long.
“It’s alright. I wish you were here more though. Maybe after this we’ll take a long vacation?”
I leaned down to kiss him when an unfamiliar smell caught my attention. It was perfume.
It was a perfume I never used but knew very well since working at perfume boutique two years ago. It was expensive and sexy, the kind a husband would give to his mistress.
I scratched his neck gently, pretending to give a loving massage while moving his collar around to see if I could find any traces of something that shouldn’t have been there.
A make-up smudge.
I was only a little girl when my mom accused my father of cheating. I remember the night clearly. My mom and I had just put Dexter to bed and I had gone out into the living room to make pretend sand castles in the kitchen at the edge where our blue carpet and hardwood floors matched. The ocean meeting the sand.
Mom had gone to put away laundry and my father was making chocolate chip pancakes, my favorite. I haven’t eaten them since. It was a simple, Saturday night, the only night my family was ever all together as Mom usually worked late to support the family. She was gone a lot, but she was doing it to bring in income. My bastard father could never hold down a job, getting fired for showing up drunk or not passing the drug tests.
Apparently, the job searches were actually an affair. My mom found the lacy red panties bunched up in a pair of his pants that she was folding. He never could finish the job completely.
I remember when she rushed him asking him about the underwear and I had no idea what was going on. To me, they were only underwear. Now, they’re the symbol of my family’s downfall, the beginning of a violent divorce to terminate a violent marriage, the ending of my fantasy world of nuclear perfection and sand castles.
It still bothers me that as a six-year-old I knew when my parents fought that I needed to get my brother and I safely into their locked bedroom, that we were in danger inside our own home, that we weren’t safe in the security of our own parents. I cannot count how many nights I went through that routine with Dexter. I would have to wake him up and he would cry and I would cuddle with him on the bed, telling him stories to get him to go to sleep. Sometimes there are nights when he can’t fall asleep, he’ll call me and ask for me to simply talk until he falls asleep. He was one when my parents divorced. He doesn’t know why my voice is soothing to him. I pretend I don’t know either.
When my mom woke us up, she told me to get a jacket and that we were leaving. She didn’t know where. I knew we weren’t coming back. I grabbed this huge, overstuffed jacket that didn’t even fit me and tried to get out to the car. I tripped in the living room on the way out, falling into that deep blue carpet. I remember it was my ocean carpet. I remember finally understanding what the drowning my father had told me about felt like. He warned me about it and then showed me what it was like too.
Before I even got married to Blake, I told him about this. I told him how hard it has been for me to trust men, how I have always gotten hurt by those I bring my walls down enough to love. I told him to truly know me and to truly love me, he would have to break down those years of abandonment that my father left me with. I told him it would be the end of everything if he ever put me through what my father put my mom through.
He told me I was beyond perfection. He told me that he would prove himself to me. He told me I could trust him no matter what. And he held me through those nights where I sobbed, trying to let him in, thinking I was the one who was destroying this relationship with all the shit baggage that ass had left me with. He told me he would never, ever cheat on me.
Tonight happened though the way it did. I quietly twisted his collar around so he could see the make-up for himself. I pushed him off of me and walked to the bed room. I grabbed my jacket and knew I was leaving. I didn’t know where, but I knew I wasn’t coming back.