One Ring:Suncoast SocietyBy: Tymber Dalton
Just the way he liked it.
He’d hesitated to ask Carl to move in with him at first, and for that he now felt guilty. Carl had proven himself to be an excellent roommate. He did his chores, paid his share on time every month, and was a good friend.
Now if Don could just help boost his friend’s morale, that’d be a win, in his mind.
Amelia wasn’t sure what she’d face when she got home. She left her car parked in the driveway and went in through the front door instead of popping the garage door.
Sure enough, Mike lay sprawled in his chair, eyes closed, TV on one of the ESPN channels. A hockey game from what looked like the 1980s was playing on TV.
Yep, there was the banner, saying the game was from 1987.
He started awake. “You just getting home?”
“Yeah. For a few minutes. Marcia invited me to come over tonight, go out to dinner with her, and spend the night. A bunch of her friends are going to brunch in the morning.”
“Oh. Okay. Have fun.” He leaned over to see past her, where she was blocking his view of the TV.
She didn’t even know how he hadn’t turned into a puddle of lard yet. He didn’t hit the gym. Yes, he carried a couple extra pounds more than he did when they’d first met, but so did she.
“Thanks.” She headed back to the bedroom, struggling not to cry as she quickened her pace down the hallway.
Apparently he hadn’t even noticed that she wasn’t wearing her wedding or engagement rings. They were now tucked into a zippered pocket in her wallet.
She didn’t feel right wearing them any longer. It felt like a lie.
She grabbed an overnight bag from under the bed and quickly packed, grabbing her travel kit from the bathroom. She was a systems troubleshooter for a local tech company who dealt with custom retail software packages. Sometimes she had to travel out of town to do site visits, for installs, or for when a client had issues that couldn’t be corrected from their end by remotely logging into the system.
That was about the only travel she ever did, and then only for business. Maybe once or twice a month, if that, and usually only one or two days at a time.
She and Mike never traveled. She’d asked him plenty of times in the past, even to do something like drive over to the east coast and spend a weekend in a hotel there, or down to the Keys, or…something. Anything.
They had perfectly good beaches here, and a house to sleep in. Why spend the money? Why drive a couple of hours?
Why give a rat’s ass about his wife being miserable?
She sank onto the bed and pressed one hand over her mouth to stifle her sobs.
That was why she didn’t even notice Mike until he was standing in the bedroom doorway.
“You okay?” he gruffly asked.
She shook her head.
“Look, I don’t understand what your problem is. Maybe you need a night away with your girlfriends to shake some sense into you. Marcia and Derrick have been married longer than we have. They’ll tell you the truth, that this is what it’s supposed to be. Not some stupid garbage book that’s fantasy. They make that escapist shit up for a reason. It’s not real life. It’s so people who are miserable can read that shit and get out of their heads for a while. It’s not meant to be a blueprint for life, Amy.”
Strangely enough, it was his last word that snapped her out of her mood.
She reached over to the bedside table and grabbed a handful of tissues to blow her nose. “You’re right,” she quietly said. “It’s not real life.” She stood and grabbed her overnight bag, afraid for a second that he might not get out of her way when she headed for the doorway.
But he did.
“Have fun,” he said as she headed down the hall. “I’ll see you sometime tomorrow. Hope you feel better when you get home.”
“Yeah,” she said. “Sometime tomorrow.” She grabbed her laptop bag from where she’d left it last night on the dining room table when she’d returned home from work and headed out the front door.
I damn sure won’t feel better when I get back here. Not until I’m out of this situation and finally living life again.
* * * *
She made it to Marcia and Derrick’s five minutes before the worst of the rain moved in. Standing there in the front hallway, she sobbed in Marcia’s arms for a good five minutes before her friend got her maneuvered into the living room and sitting on the couch.
Mel related what happened to her friend. “It’s like he’s completely oblivious. He thinks everything’s fine, so I should think so, too.”
“That’s exactly what he thinks,” Marcia said. “So the question is, what are you going to do about it?”
Mel took a deep, hitching breath. “I’m going to set up an appointment with Ed for next week and get started filing for divorce.”
“We’ll need to move your stuff out of the house before that,” Marcia said. “You don’t know what he might do. While he probably won’t react like an asshole, you never know. Better to get your stuff before the papers hit.”
“I can take a couple of days off next week. My workload is flexible right now. After next week, we’ve got a new client that will keep me wrapped up for a while.”