The Last Dance (Part 1 of 4)
an original short story by Amber Lea Easton
(a story about what ifs, longing and regret.)
Too bad it was a fucking holiday weekend…if this were any other Monday, I'd file for divorce as soon as humanly possible. I only needed one more day…one more day until I could end this roller-coaster hell ride we called a marriage. One more day. We were all out of second-chances.
I ripped a napkin to shreds as I watched Marshall unload luggage from the back of the SUV. Despite the anger I felt, the sight of him still took my breath away. And therein dwelt the fundamental problem: I knew that I would always love him, divorced or not. Marshall defined the term 'handsome devil'.
“Dad said we can plant trees this afternoon,” Sam said with a grin on his 7-year old face. “I already have some places picked out in the yard.”
“Good, sweetie,” I answered, mind swirling with decisions yet to be made.
“Mommy, can I keep my braids in until school starts again?” Vanessa asked, her blonde head streaming with Caribbean braids that dance along her shoulders as she bounced around the kitchen.
I tried to grin back at him when he walked into the house carrying our bags. I tried…but from the look in his eyes, he knew I faked it. Our trip to the Bahamas had been awkward, to say the least. So much for trying to save our family at an all-inclusive beach resort.
“Can you help me with these?” he asked, blue eyes full of sadness.
I hated seeing him so sad all of the time. It didn't matter what I did, what I said, how I looked, how the kids behaved, how much money he made…sadness clung to him and sucked the energy from every room he entered. I hated the sadness and resented him for not snapping out of it.
I grabbed a bag and followed him to the laundry room. God, he’s handsome. The width of his shoulders, the long legs, the blond hair, the way he walked…he oozed sexiness. Yet we hadn’t kissed…hadn’t really kissed in months. I missed being kissed until I couldn't breathe, missed feeling safe in his arms, missed knowing what the hell was going inside his head.
He dropped the bags in front of the dryer. I leaned against the doorframe, effectively blocking him from exiting.
“You didn’t say much on the plane ride home,” I said.
“There’s not much more to say, is there?” Blue eyes met mine. “I love you, Alyssa…but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
And I melted like I always did when he looked at me like a lost puppy needing rescue. I wanted to reach out and hold him but…been there done that too many times with no result. Just more sorrow. I was so tired of trying to fix him. Ten years of in and out of rehab, of him falling down and me picking him up, of walking on egg shells, of loving him so desperately I no longer knew who I'd been before meeting him.
“You need help, Marshall.” I busied myself with unloading the kids’ bags, laundry falling around my feet, grains of white sand mixed in to the bundles. I ignored the shaking of my hands.
“I know I do. I need you.”
His hands were on my shoulders.
His breath caressed the back of my head.
I want…I wish…
“You need professional help, Marshall.” I didn't give in. I didn't lean back.
Good for me. I'm strong. Immune.
Good for me. I'm strong. Immune.
“C’mon…I love you so much.” And there it was, the knowledge that he loved me as best as he knew how. I understood that, but it wasn't good enough. “I'm sorry. Just tell me that there's hope. I need to know there's hope.”
“I can’t tell you that.” I moved away form his touch. Some things are simply too difficult to bear.
I know what I need to do. Laundry, lunch…
“I need you to know how much I love you.” He turned me in his arms and held me.
And then we danced like we used to dance. We moved in a circle to no music. Our feet tangled in discarded swim suits and shorts that still smelled like the ocean. I held him because I liked holding him, relished feeling small against his chest, enjoyed the hardness of him beneath my cheek. I wanted to keep dancing like this. It was easier to pretend that we were happy when we were dancing, especially when we danced to no music at all.
(continued with Part 2 tomorrow)