Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Last Dance (Part 3)

The Last Dance (Part 3 of 4)
an original short story by Amber Lea Easton
(a story about what ifs, longing and regret.)  



      “A note is supposed to fix everything?” I asked.  “We spent ten days in the Bahamas trying to communicate and you write this on the plane ride home?  Just this morning at the airport you were flirting with that woman while the kids stood right there—"
“I'm not denying it.”  He braced his hands on the top of the dryer.  “I'm an ass.”
“You got that right.”  I twisted the note into a ball and tossed it at him.  “What did you tell me just an hour ago?  That you owe how much money to Joe?  Why?  For what?  Have you graduated from booze to drugs?  That would explain the mood swings on our trip…you looked like a man going through withdrawal.”
“You don’t want to know.”
“I do want to know.”  I poked him in the chest. “Damn it, Marshall, you’re standing here asking me for another chance---again---but you're still not telling me the truth.  Tell me what the hell is wrong with you.”
“I can’t.”  He pushed my hand away.  “I can never tell you.  I know I have really messed us up financially—"
“And I want to know why, where has the money gone?  And why did I just find out about it this morning after a luxury vacation?”  Anger rolled through me so fast I didn't know how to stop it from overtaking me.  “Is there another woman or is it drugs?  Thousands of dollars, Marshall…thousands of unexplained, unaccounted for dollars.  Tell me.  You are standing here wanting me to give you the benefit of the doubt—"
“I know I've messed up.  I know it.”  He shoved his hands through his hair.  “What more do you need?  Just tell me that there is hope.  That’s all I need to know.”
“I need the truth.”
“I can never tell you the truth, don’t you see?”  He grabbed my wrists and pulled me toward him. “If I tell you the truth, I know that will be the end of us.”
“But, Marshall, without the truth there is no saving us.” Oh God, the pain in his eyes…I had never seen such sorrow.  I looked anywhere except his face.
“Don’t say that. “
“You’ve been scaring the hell out of us for the past six months.”  I broke free and tossed laundry into the washing machine.  “I wake up in the middle of the night with you standing over the bed watching me.  You come home from work and sit in the dark.  You talk about things that don’t make sense…trucks being flipped over on construction sites, people following you.”  I smacked my palms against my forehead.  “Damn it, Marshall, what am I supposed to do?  What am I supposed to think? I have kids to protect, damn it.”
“Don’t you think I see how the kids are scared of me?  Do you have any idea how much that kills me to see them flinch away from me?  And I have never hurt any of you—"
“Maybe not physically, no.”  I wiped tears away with the back of my hand.  “I'm so sick of crying over you, Marshall Bryant.  So damn tired of all these tears and all of these arguments and of never knowing if the man I married is walking through the door or if it’s some altered version. “
“I know I’m out of control, don’t you hear me?  I hate that my wife and kids are scared of me in our own home.”
“Then do something about it.” Love, anger, hate, frustration, fear and regret swirled through me like a tornado. “Be a man and do something about it.”
He pushed past me, but stopped in the doorway.  Again, I fought the urge to reach out, hold him and beg him to do whatever he needs to do to get better.  I've done that so many times in the past and we always end up in this same place.  The cycle needed to end.  
“So what you’re telling me is that there is no hope?”  he asked without turning around. 
“That’s what I’m telling you.   I need to do what’s best for the kids.”
He looked at me over his shoulder, those blue eyes of his full of regret.  “And you know how much I love you?  Will you give me that much?”
“I know how much you love me,” I said even though I doubted it.  I doubted most things these days.
“Then I’ll go.”  He nodded and grinned at me.  “Tell me to go and I’ll go.”
“I need you to go.”
“Then I'll go.”  His grin faded.  “I don’t want to leave you, but I’ll go if that’s what you really want.”
“That’s what I want.  You just need to go.”  Defeat torpedoed my heart.  
We stared at each other, both tan from our vacation, both full of regret, both wanting impossible things.  
(continued with Part 4 tomorrow) 

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