Category: Snapshots

The Aftermath ~ 1/1

The Aftermath

1/1

The light had never felt so bright as it did the morning after she’d left.

Denise stood quietly outside the door of her apartment, key clenched in her palm for over fifteen minutes now, continually weighing the options on whether to face reality or live in denial. Denial had been working perfectly for her in the past few months, but perhaps she could also admit that it had led to the shambles her life was in now. While reality was a scary, unknown place to delve into, Denise Williams exhaled once deeply before placing the key into her door, turning the knob, and entering the rest of her life.

Part of her wanted to find Eddie sprawled out on the couch with Kim in his arms, stoned and breathless from lovemaking with another woman. She wanted to see the worst of him, the bottom of the barrel…..For she knew it was the only way that she could convince herself to run as fast and as far as she could from this life.

And what she found was everything she wanted and nothing at all.

The man who had once taught her to love was sprawled out on the couch. Pills were scattered on the floor. His mistress was nowhere in sight, but she wouldn’t have noticed anyway. Her eyes were glued to the shell of the man she saw. He was at rock bottom. Disheveled, broken, sad. It was the saddest she ever saw him.

He wore the same clothes she had left him in the night before, only now they were wrinkled and torn. He sat crouched over, his elbows resting hard against his upper thighs. His eyes were bloodshot and weary, his face tearstained and puffy. His left hand, that still held their shining symbol of honor, sat underneath his chin, holding up his head which begged to fall. In the other hand, he held a portrait.

It was a snapshot in time of the happy Williams family. A rather candid shot actually of lil Teddy making snow angels as Eddie held onto Denise in the far corner, laughing, still, happy.

It was a little moment……and what should have been every day.

And at his feet, next to a puddle of tears and pills, lay Eddie’s gun.

“We haven’t done the family thing in a while. Have we?”

His small voice sent shivers down Denise’s spine as she closed the door behind her and never attempted to move any further toward him.

“No, we haven’t.”

He nodded knowingly, hearing the mixture of anger and pity in her voice. But his eyes never left the small picture in his grasp. “The three of us…..it used to be so perfect.”

Her shoulders tensed, her eyes blurred with sparkling tears as the overwhelming feeling to run out the door or into his arms began to churn inside.

“Things change.”

And her voice had become small too.

For the first time since she arrived, he lifted his eyes, not directly at her, but in her direction. She could only tell then that he was no longer high off the pills and that knowledge gave her immediate relief. He dropped the picture to the sofa and swiped at his misty eyes.

“I never stopped loving you. Not even for a minute.”

More than anything else he might have said, she believed those words.

“Doesn’t that.…mean something?”

But she wasn’t sure if she could ever believe in him again.

She hesistantly took one small step forward. “I don’t know what it means anymore. Not after….”

As he began to stand from the sofa, the words she wanted to say never found her lips. For it was his turn to speak. “I’ve made mistakes. I know I have. A ton of them. And I…..I have given you every reason in the world to leave me.”

Though his words sounded like a way out, his actions betrayed them as he crossed the invisible boundary that had been separating them since she had arrived. He didn’t hesitate, didn’t move slowly, he came at her, pained and aching. His hands cupped her face, his forehead rested lightly against hers. Trying to keep her strength and sanity intact, she did her best to ignore the rapid beating of his heart against hers. Promising herself to keep a cool head and not fall back onto easy denial street, Denise shut her eyes tightly and couldn’t move a muscle.

Yet, he couldn’t see the anguish she felt inside. He poured out his heart to her, knowing that this was his only chance to salvage what he had wrecked.

“But I still want our marriage…more than ever, Denise. Do you?”

And the agony of the past few months hit her hard, too hard. She roughly pushed his hands away from her, brushing past him, and across the living room. She needed space, she wanted time, she was asking for room to breathe. And his declarations, his touch, it was only sending her over the edge. She blew out a breath, her cheeks flushed with a cupful of emotions overtaking her. “You……” She turned to face him, letting her anger finally become her predominant feeling. “YOU accused me of cheating on you every chance you got. You lied to my face about taking these pills. You…..you’re sleeping with a…. I….”

“Do you still love me?”

For to him, that was all the mattered now.

She sighed, not knowing what else to do. “Love….Love is not all the matters in a marriage, Eddie. There’s trust, honesty, loyalty, faith. You abandoned me and you never even left the house. You couldn’t confide in me about what you were feeling with the pain and your job. You turned to another woman repeatedly. Love doesn’t erase all of that. Loving you isn’t the problem, Eddie. But that doesn’t mean there are no problems.”

“It’s the pills.”

Her eyes snapped up and met his for the first time that night. And she knew it would prove to be her undoing.

“The pills…..they changed me. I’m not this man. I’m not the guy who makes you cry. You know that. I was in so much pain and they…..they numbed me. But I’m done with them. I am. I swear it this time. I’ll get into a program. Whatever you want. Whatever it takes.”

An undescribable emotion overcame her then. All along she had wanted to for him to be able to admit that he had a problem with the pills. She knew admitting would be the first step to recovery. Now, here they were, he was admitting, he was asking for help, he was broken and desperate like she had been many, many times before. This was the start to save their marriage and she couldn’t somehow find the will to want it.

“And Kim?”

Eddie shook his head at her, lowering his eyes in shame. “That’s over. That was a huge mistake. But You….God, you are the only woman I want. And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for what I’ve put you through and how you made you for. I have the world to make up to you, but I promise I will. I’m willing to try here, really try. Will you try with me, Denise? Will you give our marriage, our love…….will you give me one more chance?”

For an instant, she was a teenager again, on her knees silent in a locked closet as the screams of her father, the cries of her mother, and slamming of a door echoed against stone cold walls, when hours later…. a young boy opened the door, reached out his hand to her, and told her it was okay to cry.

So long ago, Eddie had saved her that night in every way that mattered and now the tables were turned.

And when she reached out her hand to him on this bright morning, offering herself one more time to him, she hoped she could lead him out of the darkness and into the light.