That Ship Sailed
“You’ve let him walk all over you” my mother argued leaning back against her favorite plush beigh chair in the livingroom. The cheering from my fathers football was loud, almost over powering my mother’s voice as she spoke to me.
Our Saturday night dinners with the families had turned into Sunday night dinner with just us. Seeing as this was our second Sunday without the rest of the families and without Alec as he had left for London two days ago, my mother was a mess. Her usual routine of saturday night dinners, gossip and wine with the other wives was now interrupted and turned upside down.
Now, here she sits, slumped in her favorite chair, her eyes focused solely on me as my life was providing the drama and gossip she was missing.
“No I didn’t, I told him-”
“Cassandra Elizabeth Joy!” She scolded sternly. I knew I was in big trouble when my mother used my whole name. Her nose scrunched up and she glared at me in disapproval “You may have thought you stood up for yourself but you didn’t. Sure you pointed out the things he did that you didn’t like but in the end did he say he would fix that? That he’d try and do better next time? No, he didn’t. You said what you had to say and didn’t even hold a grudge.”
“Mom, it’s not like I’m not still mad at him, because I am” I said shifting on the long plush dark leather couch “I just...” I trailed off running my hand across the smooth furnishing, “I don’t know. I lose myself and the ground I stand on when he’s around. I know how that may sound-”
My mother scoffed, after our last conversation a week ago in her kitchen, her happiness at Alecs and i’s relationship took a nose dive. “You have to learn to show him that you’re not a push over” she said.
Was I really a push over?
“Lay off of her” my father said walking back into the room with a snack tray. “She’ll learn and grow on her own, she’s a grown woman who needs to make her own decisions. Whether they’re bad or good, they’ll mold her into who she’s supposed to be” he argued earning a withering glare from my mother. I tried not to laugh, really I did, it was so much more amusing when my mothers anger was directed at anyone but myself.
As my father took a seat in his favorite dark brown leather chair I couldn’t help but notice how relaxed and at ease he seemed to be. He was happier. My father wasn’t really a people person, so the Saturday night dinners had been my moms idea and I knew despite him being friends with the two other husbands, he preferred to be alone, eating dinner in his chair with his wife and daughter by his side and nobody else.
My mother rolled her eyes but didn’t make a remake back.
I understood what my mother was saying. I had let Alec off to easy, I had let him walk all over me, but I also had been doing a little better at confronting him.
Snagging a piece of cheese and cracker from the tray I sat back and watched the football game with my parents. By the end I was exhausted, practically falling asleep in my spot.
“Are you going to be ok driving home?” My father asked giving me a lung breaking hug. I squeezed my eyes shut and hugged him back just as hard. The smell of his aftershave clung to his clothes and I almost felt like crying. He smelt of home, safety and love. Sometimes I hated that I had moved out so soon after high school.
I nodded against his dark blue sweater, the rough fibers scratching my skin. “I’ll be fine”
My mother gave me a quick hug and kiss while reminding me not to be foolish and they sent me on my way.
The drive home felt longer than usual and I had to fight to really stay awake. My dinner clothes, blue jeans and my favorite pink blouse with flowy sleeves, felt to tight and I was desperate to get out of them.
When I pulled up to my house I was surprised to find Sarah’s little sleek dark blue car in the driveway.
A heavy sense of panic washed over me. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of her but the Sarah I had once known was gone and I had no idea what this new Sarah would do. Licking my suddenly dry lips I pulled up next to her and drug myself out of the car.
Sarah’s door opened and she stepped out. Her once shoulder length black hair was now an inch or two longer and was crimped. Her small form was covered in an expensive jade green silk blouse and a short black skirt, a pair of scrappy heels adding four inches to her height. She easily towered over me in my black flats.
With my keys clutched tightly in my hand I stood firm on my two feet and faced off with her.
Her eyes held remnants of disdain, disgust and anger. “How are you liking the city life?” She asked crossing her arms across her chest.
“It’s great” I lied.
Her serpent eyes surveyed me, scrutinizing “I guess I was wrong. I suppose you can survive the city life after all, including all of Alecs flings” she said and I clenched my fists, “What about Trish? Have you met her yet?”
The irritation and suprise that I felt must have presented itself well across my face because she laughed, her painted lips tilting up “Yeah I know all about Trish and if you thought I was a bitch to get around, just wait until she steps in”
Great, just what I needed.
“How do you know Trish?” I asked.
Sarah scoffed before rolling her eyes in agitation, “That bitch tried to scare me away, little did she know I already knew all about Alecs past as well as his constant one night stands and sometimes even the occasional ménage between him, Trish and his friend Michael”
Again, I stood completely surprised. Michael had been that guy at the party that had labeled me an extra.
Sarah giggled, “Oh I guess you didn’t know about that. Well once you’re done with Alec, which I’m sure you will be, send him my way”
The thought had crossed my mind, especially as of late but I wasn’t going to give Sarah the satisfaction of having her be right. “Why would I be done with him? I love him” I said and even as I said it I wasn’t quite sure if I believed it anymore. That couldn’t be right though, just a few weeks ago I was madly in love with my best friend and now... I still was, wasn’t I?
She sighed in annoyance and turned to head back to her car, her plan of planting doubts in my head successful. Although if I was being truthful, those doubts had already been lingering. “Because you’re to good for him Cassandra and once you figure that out you’ll be better off. Alec may have once been the boy next door but that shipped sailed long ago as did mine, were two fucked up people who don’t deserve happiness because we’ve screwed people over one to many times where as you’re to... innocent for that life, for his life”
I watched as Sarah climbed into her car, swiftly pulling out with ease before driving away as the darkness of the night settled across the sky.
I wasn’t innocent though. How could she think that? Even the whole town knew I wasn’t. I was forever labeled a home wrecker.
I stood in the driveway staring down the street longer than necessary and when I finally pulled myself out of my stupor I grabbed my purse from the car and headed inside.
The house was quiet and calm, something I desperately needed.
I made my way through the livingroom, down the hall and into my bedroom. I wasted no time in tugging off my clothes, slightly embarrassed at the red irritated lines the lip of my pants had made across my lower stomach and near my hips. I rubbed lotion over the irritated area hoping to help soothe it, before sliding on my pajamas.
The rest of my night was spent eating out of a tub of ice scream and watching Friends.
“You look exhausted Cassandra, do you need to go home?” Mr. Schultz asked as he eyed me from across my prepping table. Today was one of the days he’d decided to make one of his random pop in days. Sometimes I felt as if he avoided this place like the plague and I had a feeling that I was be right seeing as Peter, his son, had been actively running around the shop everyday while his mother and father ran their business.
As I tied the red bow around the white rose bouquet I looked up at him, his salt and pepper hair was shorter than the last time I’d seen him and his skin had seemed to have lost a lot of its natural tan color. He himself looked tired as his dull blue eyes were shadowed with dark circles, almost looking sunken in. “I didn’t sleep very well last night, tossing and turning but I’ll be ok” I replied.
He nodded and stuffed his hands deep into his black trousers, “Well if it becomes to much you just let myself or Mrs. Schultz know. You’re like family Cassandra and we worry about you” He said before looking away slightly embarrassed. Before I could reply he cleared his throat and shifted awkwardly, “Well I better get going” then he left.
Mr. Schultz had always been a nice and caring man but never had he opened up as he just had. It warmed my heart and thanks to the pregnancy hormones it made me want to cry.
“Did my dad freak you out?”
I jumped, completely startled. What was with everyone sneaking up on me? I turned my back on Brian and huffed before grabbing another armful of roses and dropping them gently on my wooden prep table, ” Not really. What he said was actually sweet, I just wasn’t expecting it” I said .
Brian reached up and rubbed at the back of his neck, “Yeah nobody ever does. Not even my mother, whenever he says something nice or halfway romantic she just about falls over. Dad just hasn’t been the same since peters death, I mean nobody has but it really seemed to hit him the hardest”
“Why’s that?” I asked as I trimmed the stems.
“Because Peter was the baby in the family, he was the youngest and I don’t really know, he and my dad just bonded better than my father and I did” Brian explained coming to stand beside me.
Instantly I felt bad. This had to be a sore topic and here I was pushing him for answers, making him talk about his dead brother. “I-I’m sorry I shouldn’t have-”
He shook his head a soft sad smile drifting across his face, “Don’t apologize. I’m actually glad you asked, nobody ever talks about him anymore. Everyone around here is afraid of what it’ll do to us if he’s mentioned”
I returned his smile with one of my own, our eyes locked together and I had to admit I missed my best friend. “Can I ask you another question?” I asked.
“Of course” he answered back immediately.
I shifted on my feet, nervous about what I was about to ask. But I wanted to know. Taking a deep breath I turned towards him, my nails tapped lightly against the wooden table “I want to ask about you and Sarah”
An adorable red blush stained his cheeks but he didn’t look away from me, he was being bold, “Ok, what do you want to know”
“When did your affair start?”
Brian smirked, “Affair? No there was no “affair” we had sex, pure and simple. There were no feelings involved. And to answer your question, it had started about a week or two before I asked you out” he sounded so emotionless, so uncaring. So unlike the Brian I knew.
“Why?” I found myself asking.
The air around him changed. A thick air of sadness and depression seemed to surround him “Why did I have sex with her?”
His eyes darkened and he lowered his gaze to the floor, “I was lonely. I hate to admit it, but I was very, very lonely.”
“You could have had anyone, Why her?”
He looked up from the floor, his eyes sharp, piercing through my flesh “I couldn’t have the one I wanted” I licked my lips nervously and was the first to break eye contact quickly rearranging the roses. Doing anything to keep my hands busy and to keep my eyes away from his. “Sarah was easy. I was at the bar watching the baseball game when she strolled in. She looked defeated and sad, so I bought her a drink and that bought me a night in her bed and after that it became a reaccurring thing between us.”
“So why did you end it?”
He left out a harsh breath and stepped a little closer, his front brushing against my back. I swallowed thickly and pressed myself further into the table, the wooden edge digging into my front. “Because I hurt the person I cared about the most”
After a few moments he moved away, taking the heat from his body with him.
I wanted to pull him back, to enjoy the warmth from him just a little longer but I knew I couldn’t.
Brian’s eyes were blazing with passion as if he’d read my thoughts and I suddenly felt guilty. The change of emotion must have been evident because he masked himself and his emotions quickly. “I better get back to work” he said before striding away to the front of the store.
After he left I sagged back against the table. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty and all I wanted to do was call him back to me.
This couldn’t be happening.