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Authors: Christine Zolendz,Angelisa Stone

Tags: #Contemporary

#TripleX (8 page)

BOOK: #TripleX
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After our trip to STAT CARE and getting the boys to bed, Christine and I busted open my wine coolers and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Sitting on the small couch in my sunroom, Christine said, “I still cannot believe your son really stuck a sock all the way up his ass. I mean, who does that?”

“Evan. Evan does that. Well, stuff like that… a lot. Do you know how many things have been surgically removed from his nose? Well, not surgically, but in the ER?” I asked, full-out chugging my black cherry wine cooler as I pretended to be a 15-year-old again at the lake with my friends.

“But Ang, it was all the way up there… all the way… we couldn’t even
see
it,” Christine marveled.

“That’s Evan. Whatever he’s told he can’t do or shouldn’t do, he finds a way to prove everyone wrong. God help me. We’re only half-way to his move-out date too. Nine more years with that little son-of-a-bitch. All the Xanax in the world isn’t going get me through the next 81 months,” I groaned, laying my head back on the couch.

“81? What’s 81?”

“The number of months until he gets the heck out of here and moves into some dorm,” I explained, rubbing my eyes with the heels of my palms.

“How’d you come up with 81?”

“Dude, nine years times nine months is 81,” I explained, exasperatedly.

“Jesus Ang, you really are mathematically challenged like you say you are. There are 12 months in a year. So, nine years multiplied by 12 is 108,” she laughed.

“Holy fuck! Seriously. Oh my God, I cannot do this for another 108 months—crap, he isn’t even my youngest! I’m going to need to be committed,” I whined.

“I know, right? I’d kill to be committed, locked up in some asylum somewhere, where people have to wait on you hand and foot, and you don’t have one responsibility.”

 

 

“Are you ladies telling me that you orchestrated this arrest and incarceration to shirk the responsibilities of motherhood? That is the most irresponsible—”

“No way, your Honor,” I state, shaking my head. “Christine and I didn’t plan this at all. We were just talking about how nice a little stay away from home would be.”

“What Angelisa means,” Christine interrupts, “is that we were just fantasizing about easier, less complicated lives. Remember, we’d just returned from the hospital to get a wool sock extricated from her son’s rectum?”

“I’m going to let you two carry on with this absurd tale, but let me warn you, I am not impressed or even remotely amused with your immaturity and childish antics. So tread lightly, ladies, if you want to see the outside of this courthouse any time soon.”

“Yes Ma’am,” we state in sing-songy unison.

 

 

“So what time will Matt get home? I thought he’d be home from work by now,” Christine asked, looking behind her at the clock on the wall.

I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t really told anyone about the true state of our marriage. I supposed if I was planning to spend the entire summer traveling the States with her, then I should probably come clean.

So I did.

Christine listened. She listened like a good, no, not good, like a great friend would.

“So, what now?” she asked after I finished.

“I don’t know. I’ll see him in the morning—for the first time since he left. He’s taking the kids until August 18
th
. I suppose when the kids get back here, we’ll all have to sit down and explain that Mom and Dad just don’t love each other anymore,” I said, taking a giant breath and shaking my head.

“Is that true though?” Christine pried.

“Did you not just listen to me? He left. Matt left. A man doesn’t walk out on his three sons and wife if he’s—”

“A man doesn’t take his wife on surprise vacations and build her libraries if he’s not,” Christine argued.

“You’ve never met him. Hell, you just met me,” I countered. “You have no idea. He’s gone… but truthfully, I lost him a long time before he actually left.”

 

 

“But why?” Bryce whined. “Dad won’t care. He never cares about stuff like that.”

“Bryce Richard, we are not talking about this again. You
ARE
taking your toothbrush, and you’re brushing your teeth every single day. This is not up for debate,” I said, my patience waning. Hell, who am I kidding? My patience was out the door the second the boys tried to convince me to let them take their air hockey table by strapping it into the bed of Matt’s truck.

Just as I started walking down the steps to the first floor, the sound of the garage door going up stopped me dead in my tracks. Kevin screamed from the kitchen, “Dad’s here.” Christine barreled up the steps, nearly knocking me over.

“Matt’s here. Oh my God, you look like you’re going to hurl. Are you going to hurl?” she asked, leading me back to my bedroom. I nodded and sat down on my bed. “Ang, are you sure this is what you want? I can go today—just head to Nevada on my own. You’re already packed. Go with your husband and kids. Fix your marriage.”

I shook my head, eyes pooling with tears. “You can’t fix something that’s gone. It’s not like there’s one little thing that needs patched up. There’s nothing there anymore… nothing… but it still hurts like Hell.”

“But look at you, you’re hurting… you obviously love him,” Christine argued.

“He’s the father of my boys. Of course, I love him. But it’s… it’s not… it’s just over, okay?” I said, sighing and standing up to face my husband.

Walking back down the stairs, I felt like I was walking to my execution, ready to face the firing squad that would inevitably end my life and stop my heart from ever beating again. Turning the corner into the kitchen, my breath caught, and my anger boiled.

Mother Suck a Cat!

He looked incredible—so freaking incredible. Where were his Coke bottle glasses? Where the Hell was the gray hair that sprinkled the sides of his head? Were those Polo Jeans? He was slightly tanner, too—sun-kissed and golden. He must be golfing more. Staring longer, I realized he was definitely thinner. He looked about twenty pounds lighter. Christ, it’d only been three weeks since I’d seen him. How could he lose twenty pounds in three weeks? The only thing I’d lost in the last three weeks was my dignity, self-esteem, and sanity.

What in God’s name was that all about?

Matt met someone.

Another woman was the only reason a middle-aged man would start looking this good, this irresistibly good. My husband was boning some young skank on the side. He had to be.

Laughing at some absurd joke Evan told him, Matt’s face lit up and his laughter filled the room. My heart fluttered and sunk. Christine shoved me into the kitchen. Matt turned and looked at me. Our eyes met, and a boyish grin splayed across my husband’s face.

“Angelisa, my God, you… you… you look beautiful,” he said, walking toward me. Opening his arms, he tried to hug me, at which point, I backed up, and said, “This is Christine; Christine Zolendz, my critique partner and friend from New York. Remember, I said she’d be here?” I sputtered, organizing all the papers on the island and handing him a manila folder. “Here is everything you need to know about the kids. I have all their insurance information, medical forms, everything that you might—”

“Ang, I’m their father—not some babysitter. I know what they need,” he said, walking over to me. “I know their allergies, their likes, dislikes, hopes, fears—everything. I’m their Dad. Not only do I know everything about them… I know it about you too, Lou.”

Ignoring the tug on my heartstrings at the sound of my nickname, I said, “Speaking of that, I still have you as my emergency contact on my forms. I haven’t gotten around to changing any of my paperwork yet. But once I get back from Vegas—”

“So, you two are really doing this?” he asked, looking between Christine and me for confirmation.

“Of course, do you never listen to me… can you ever take me seriously? For God’s sake, Matt—”

“Lou, I just asked. I knew you wanted to go. I told you that I thought it would be good for you—for both of you,” he nodded toward Christine. “You just never told me that you guys had actually decided to go. That’s all. I think you should go. You need this. People need to see just how wonderful and talented and perfect you really are.”

Every time I hear Matt call me “Lou,” I’m a teenager again, and my heart flutters like the first time. The first time Matt ever called me “Lou,” we’d been drinking in his backyard after I snuck out to meet him one night. He’d drunk a lot that night, and he told me that he loved me for the first time ever.

Sort of.

It was a storybook tale.

Sort of.

The stars were out. Fireflies were lighting up the trees that we were tucked under while crickets chirped somewhere in the distance. There was a cool breeze that left a chill on my arms in the warm, humid air. Matt brushed the hair out of my eyes, and said, “Ang, I love Lou. I mean, I yove lou.”

It was the most perfectly ridiculous and romantic thing he’d ever said to me. He’d called me “Lou” ever since, trying desperately to hide the fact that he hadn’t just screwed up my name and ruined the first time a boy ever told me he loved me.

“Boys, let’s get your stuff in your dad’s truck,” Christine said, walking toward the piles of luggage. “If I stay in here any longer, I’m going to stab your mom in the throat,” she mumbled so only I could hear her.

“Yeah Matt, let’s get the car packed. Christine and I have a long day and night of driving before our first stop,” I said, not wanting to be left alone with him.

I had no idea why I was so afraid to be alone with my husband, but I most certainly was. I was afraid of how I felt about him. But more importantly, I was afraid of how he didn’t feel about me.

After the truck was loaded and each boy ran back into the house for a charger or a forgotten iPod or to take “another wazz,” all the kids crammed into Matt’s truck and immediately started fighting and punching one another.

Christine was pretending to ignore us and grab something out of her van, but she was absolutely watching Matt’s every move and listening to his every word.

Grabbing my hand, Matt pulled me closer to him, until our bodies were only inches apart. Trapping my hand against his chest, I could feel the pound of his heart thudding against my hand. “Lou, listen to me, just say the word, tell me to stay, and I’ll stay. Tell me that you want to come with us, and Kevin can crawl in the back, and we can spend all summer in Michigan as a family—our family,” he pleaded, running his free hand through my hair. “Just say it—tell me you still want me—still want to be with me. Hell Lou, say the word, and I’ll even drop everything and make this trip to Vegas with you. Anything. Just say the word.”

“Make sure Evan takes his allergy medicine… and don’t let Kevin spend too much time on his phone,” I said, backing away from him and out of his reach.

“Angelisa please—”

“Oh and make sure they all get their sports physicals somewhere up in Michigan by the August 5
th
deadline. They need to be done some time between June 30
th
and August 5
th
to count for this upcoming school year,” I reminded him, still stepping backward out of his reach.

Matt’s head dropped. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Looking back up at me, he nodded his head, and the corners of his mouth turned downward. “Okay Lou… okay.” He shook his head twice, looked at the boys in the car, and then back at me. “Okay then, you win. See you in August. It was nice to meet you, Christine. Take care of her this summer.”

Matt got into his truck, clicked on his seatbelt, and started the engine. He sat in the driveway for a few moments before he backed out and slowly drove away. I stood paralyzed in fear watching his car turn the corner at the end of our road—my road.

“Our” was gone.

It was only me.

Walking up behind me, Christine wrapped a single arm around me and said, “Where is the closest optometrist’s office?”

“About seven miles away,” I answered still staring at the empty street corner.

“Why? Do you need something there?”

“Because I think we need to stop there before we take this road trip. Otherwise, I’m not sure if I can let you drive,” she explained.

“What do you mean? My eyes are fine. I don’t wear glasses or anything like that.”

“Well you need some, because you, my dear, are blind as a freaking bat,” she said, shaking her head at me. “If you can’t see how in love that man is with you, then you are dumber than a box of freaking doorknobs.”

“Don’t. Don’t. I’m not ready to talk about this,” I explained, stepping away from the confrontation.

“Fine. I got you. You won’t hear another word from me about it, then,”

Christine said, walking toward my brother’s car.

“Ang, whose sports car is this, anyway?”

“My brother’s. He’s in Atlanta for work. Since I live so close to the airport, he parks it here, and I drive him to the airport. He’s getting a cab here at the end of the week when he gets back. It’s cheaper than parking in the lot at the airport.”

“I thought your brother was freaking loaded?” she asked, peeking into the windows.

BOOK: #TripleX
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