Needless to say, Kelly and I didn’t stick around for the whole weekend. I was incapable of carrying on conversation and I wasn’t about to subject Kel to that kind of crap for 48 hours. So she drove us home.
The convertible top stayed up this time.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“No,” I snapped. I realized how shitty I sounded as soon as it came out of my mouth. Kelly didn’t deserve that. “Sorry.”
Staring out the window, I had never felt so low. Normal people didn’t behave like this. Nothing made any sense to me anymore and I didn’t know what to do to make it better.
“God, I’ve made such a mess out of everything. This isn’t what I wanted.”
She didn’t look at me, but I caught a little side-eye before Kelly responded. “Isn’t it?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know. Forget I said anything.”
Under no circumstance was I going to let that go. “Nope. Talk.”
There was a long pause before she answered. “Maybe deep down you wanted to break things off with Jamie but were too afraid to.” She shrugged.
“Are you suggesting that there’s some subconscious ulterior motive behind all of this?”
Kelly rolled her eyes. “Maybe. What do I know? I’m no head-shrinker. I just think…I don’t know.”
Wondering if she could feel the anger rolling off me, I faced her. “No, please, continue. Why would I do something like that?”
We pulled up to a red light and Kelly finally looked at me. “Jamie is a great guy. Maybe you don’t think you deserve him. Or you’re so afraid he’s going to leave that you’re making him leave.”
The light changed and her attention returned to the street. “Or maybe you really want to be with Chris.”
There wasn’t a quick response to that. I started gnawing on a fingernail, a nervous habit I’d fallen back into recently. My anger drained away, but it was replaced with a burst of panic. Could she be right?
I stared out the window at the passing scenery, not seeing any of it. Partially because I was preoccupied with the ideas Kelly had presented – and partially because of the tears in my eyes.
What was supposed to be a relaxing, four-day weekend ended up being a very uncomfortable Friday night crying in a B&B. Kelly dropped me off after the deep-dive conversation on the drive home Saturday morning and I promptly went back to bed. I stayed there for the rest of the day, not quite sleeping but not fully conscious, either.
There was a lot of emotional self-flagellation. I was a horrible human being. Nothing would ever be good again. Everything was ruined and everyone hated me. The hole I had buried myself in was so deep I couldn’t think of how to dig myself out. There was no universe in which Jamie would still want to marry me.
So where did that leave me?
Late in the afternoon I hauled my sorry carcass from the bedroom to the couch so I could gorge myself on trashy television. It was imperative that I find others whose live were worse than mine, if they existed. I was only two episodes into some show where were into fake online relationships when I got a text from Chris.
Hey! What’re you up to?
Staring at the phone, I wondered if he’d notice if I simply didn’t respond.
What do you say to mini golf and pizza?
“Damn it, Chris,” I cursed him.
I finally typed out a reply: I don’t think that’s a good idea.
He didn’t answer right away, and I thought maybe he got the hint. Or that I hurt his feelings.
Instead, he called me.
“Chris, what are you doing? This can’t happen.” I didn’t even say hello, just launched into rebuffing him. My tone must have come across as bad as I felt.
“Hey, are you okay? You don’t sound so good.”
He chuckled and I heard him shift the phone. “Listen, I know I said I wouldn’t push, but I’d really like to get together. It doesn’t have to be anything – we can go grocery shopping if that’s all you can do. I just…” He took a deep breath and continued, “Can I see you?”
Tremendously bad idea. In my state of mind, lost and guilty and vulnerable, I felt like I had nothing to lose at this point. That meant I was capable of making some appalling decisions that would only send me spiraling deeper into a hole of self-loathing. I had been there once in the past and I didn’t know if I could claw my way out of there again. But before I could answer, there was a knock at my door. I told Chris to hold on and checked the peep hole.
Jamie was in the hallway.
Both Chris and Jamie heard my expletive.
“Alexis? Can we talk?” Jamie called from the other side of the door.
I heard Chris through the phone asking, “Lexi? What’s wrong?”
Making a quick decision, I hissed into the phone, “Everything’s fine, I have to go!” I ended the call and ran my fingers through my hair the best I could, knowing my curls were likely twisted and terrifying. There was no point in looking in the mirror first – I could imagine how gross I looked. Jamie already knew I was home so hiding was no longer an option. Best to just get the official break-up over so I could mourn it and return to hating myself in solitude.
Taking a deep breath, I opened the door a little and was surprised by how disheveled Jamie looked. Normally so very put-together with perfectly coiffed hair and a close shave, he looked like he hadn’t slept or seen a mirror recently, either. His hands were jammed deep in his pockets and he looked miserable.
And I was the reason.
“Hey. Can I come in?”
My throat closed up, threatening to unleash an ocean of tears, so I just nodded and pulled the door open farther. Once inside, he looked around and I caught a slight grin.
“What the hell are you watching?”
I snatched up the remote and clicked the tv off, blushing. “Shut up.”
He chuckled and turned to face me. There was so much pain and sadness in his eyes I wanted to gather him in my arms and make it all go away. But I was the reason it was there so how, exactly, would that work? We stood awkwardly glancing at each other and fidgeting. I finally pointed to one of the chairs.
“Can I make you some coffee or something?” He shook his head and sat, clasping his hands in front of him. I lowered myself to the edge of the couch and waited.
Jamie cleared his throat and said to the floor, “Alexis, you know I’d never want to hurt you.”
My stomach clenched and I seriously thought I was going to vomit. This was it.
“Normally, that is. In our normal life together, I would never want to hurt you.” He looked up then with fire in his eyes. “But yesterday, that was exactly what I wanted more than anything.”