An excerpt from chapter 18 of Waiting For Spring.
“Well,” he said at last. “I’d better get going.”
I only nodded, because there was only one word left to say, and I couldn’t bring myself to say it. So he nodded back. Then he took a long look at me; at my face, my eyes. One more time. One last time. And his eyes were filled with something that was deeper than sorrow.
Then he turned away. Opened the screen door, walked down the four porch steps. And he left. Just like that. Leaving nothing behind. Just like he’d never been there at all. I sent up a quick prayer:
God, please help him to be happy…
Because he deserved it. And it wasn’t until the sound of his car died away that I finally remembered what it had felt like when we were happy. When we were in love. I closed my eyes and it was almost real. For just a moment I loved him again. And in that moment I was his. I was still Mrs. Dyer. Jason’s wife.
I used to love those words, especially the way he said them. Two little words and they sounded like a song, like a poem. Because they meant that he loved me. It seemed like so long ago since I’d heard them, but it really wasn’t. Just a year, and what was one year compared with all the years that had gone before? And yet here we were, months after the ink had dried on the divorce papers, and we were still bitter enough to resort to yelling. To playing mind games with each other.
I climbed the fourteen stairs to Brian so I could start the repair work. He had turned off the music and was leaning back against the counter, drinking melted strawberry ice cream from a glass. I kissed him gently and told him why Jason had come. Told him that the tears were about the painting. About Alice. And it wasn’t a lie, because some of them had been. I told him about the money, too, and he shook his head. Told me that I was an idiot not to take it, that the money really was mine. It wasn’t, of course, but I didn’t say so. And I didn’t tell him about any of the anger and bitterness between Jason and me, or about the sadness, because none of that mattered. I did tell him that I loved him and that I was over Jason, for real. Because I was. And because those were the things that did matter.
Then I waited for him to speak, to tell me what it was Jason had said to him; but he didn’t. And he looked exhausted. So we went downstairs to his bedroom and lay down on his bed, naked underneath the fan. It was too hot for sex so we just lay there, silently immersed in our own thoughts. I didn’t know exactly what his were, although I could guess. And as for me…I was trying to push away bleak images of what the future had in store for Brian and me.
Because even though I loved him, more than anything, it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time. There would be a day, there really would be, when there was no more Brian-and-Tess. There was nothing I could do to stop it either. But right now I couldn’t think about it; couldn’t bear to imagine what it would feel like when we moved onto the next step. The one that came after the love ran out.
Instead I reached over and grabbed hold of his hand, held onto it all afternoon. Concentrated hard on how it felt in mine so I’d always remember it. Rough, warm, calloused palm; long thick fingers. I held it tight as he drifted off to sleep, as I drifted off, too. Even in my dreams I was holding his hand. And even there I knew.
I couldn’t hold onto it forever.