I open my eyes. Holy shit. I can breathe! I can move! I don't feel like I'm dying!
"Benji?" I call.
"I'm coming," he stumbles in, very flushed. "You look better!"
I frown. "You look worse."
"Well, the doctor put you on fluids, and tested you. You didn't have the virus, but you did have some type of viral infection."
"Have you been on fluids? What about antibiotics?"
"Oh, I-I've been busy. With the company, and you, and making sure Henry has what he needs. But I'll get checked out, in just a few days, don't worry."
I frown. "You obviously have what I had. You need to rest, and take some medicine—"
"No, I'm fine," he assured me. "Put this on," he hands me a mask. He puts one on. "I don't want to give you the virus back, so when I'm in the room, put the mask on, okay?"
He starts straightening up the room.
He keeps moving.
"Benjamin!" I shout.
He pauses. "Huh? Are you hungry? Thirsty?"
"Sit down." I stand, my head spinning a bit.
"I have some things to do after—"
"Sit down. You need to get better now." I instruct him, forcing him to sit down. He doesn't have much strength.
"I'll disinfect the room. You're on bed rest now," I state sighing. How did this get so fucked up anyway?
"Honey I'm busy—"
I shoot him a look. He slumps down with a sigh. "Right. Right."
I sigh. I actually have to take care of him? This is kinda ridiculous.
It takes a few weeks to nurse him back to health. Our trip is over. It fucking sucked, because I couldn't even breathe most of the time.
"We'll Try again next summer," He assures me.
I roll my eyes. "Yeah sure,"
He puts his arms around me. "It'll be alright, honey." He kissed me gently.
Who the fuck said he could do that?
"Um?" I start.
He looks away. "Let's get home. It's been a long time."
• • •
Henry is back in school and I'm home alone. I started working from home. It was a mistake. I hate it.
I roll my eyes. "Shouldn't you be at work,"
He hands me some flowers. "Yes. I just came to...check in."
I nod. "I'm alive."
His lips quirks up. "Honey I was thinking..."
"Uh-oh," I muse, "Now we know that's dangerous for you."
He rolls his eyes this time. "I want to make our marriage work, Honey."
I pause. Then I keep clicking. "What?"
"I want us to work on our relationship. I want us to...be closer."
I say nothing. He sits beside me. "Is that...something you're amendable to?"
"What? Being your wife?"
"You are my wife. I mean having an actual relationship. I know that you said you would never forgive me—"
I wish we weren't having this conversation right now. I think I would...no, yeah I would much rather walk in front of fucking bus right now.
I swallow, continuing to do my work in silence.
He sighs. "Will you talk to me?"
I've done what I should do right? I was strong. Was I? I don't want to do this—
"Jess? Jessie? Jessica! Say something, please."
Why is he doing this now? I don't understand. I don't want to think of any of this.
He says nothing for a while. "I would rather you just say no, than nothing."
I would rather not confront any feelings I do or don't have for him.
"Just...take your flowers and go," I mutter.
He looks down. "Okay," he stands.
I keep clicking.
"I–there's...food in the fridge. Can you eat it?" I ask him.
He frowns. "Huh?"
"I would say to take it with you but you always forget to return my container so—just eat it here."
How childish. But I don't want him to leave. And I don't want him to stay. I just want him to sit here quietly for a little while.
I think I feel...lonely.
Comfortable as I am right now, as he sits in silence, I know he needs me to say that I...want him around.
But if I say that. If I walk back into that trap—if I trust him again? That's just a fucking disaster waiting to happen.
I can't. I won't. Never again.
"Stop calling me that!" I blurt, words spewing from my mouth. "I don't understand your obsession with being with me anyway! All you are to me is pain! What do you even fucking want!" I scream.
"I want to be with you!"
"Why? Why would you want to be with me? You liar. What do you really want? Why can't you just have sex with me and be satisfied with that like you used to be!"
"Damnit Jessica, I already explained everything to you. Why is so hard for you to understand?"
I throw my hands up. "Fuck you!"
He scoffs. "I do Jessica. That's why I'm not sure why you're so frustrated,"
I snort. "Wow. You just think you are so smart don't you?"
He shakes his head. "You do this all the time. You shut down. And then you explode in anger."
"What are you my fucking therapist?"
He's not wrong.
"I'm sorry, Jessica. But what you really want is for me to be here when you want. To be some type of tool so you don't have to open your heart again—"
"And why would I? Especially to you? Explain that to me?"
He shrugs. "Then do it all the way Jessica. Take our son and you divorce me, and you leave. Don't think my guilt is gonna keep me on your string forever."
I pause. "Heh. Oh? Is that why you want a relationship? Your guilt?"
"That's not what I said," he sighs.
"Fuck you. And your fucking guilt. And this marriage—"
"You're in the will, Jessica. We're marrieds the attorney was present. You have access to the funds. What's keeping you?"
I snort. "So you want a relationship but you also want to divorce? Make up your tucking mind."
He stands. "No. You make up your mind. If this is about money, you have it. Hell, I'll give you more. We didn't get a prenup you can take half of what I have. If that's what you want. But this..emotionally unavailable game you like to play? It's gotta come to an end."
"Game?" I'm getting angry now. "Fuck you."
He steps closer to me. "No, fuck you Jessica. I've done all I can do. There's nothing else at my disposal, okay? You put me through hell. It's up to you. Make a decision."
"Are we going to work on having a relationship or not?" He says slowly. "If not; let's divorce, let's coparent and move on. If so, the. Let's work on it. But choose, Jessica."
I can't choose. I don't want either of those things. But he seems serious. Then again we've had this fight like four times at different decibles. This is just the loudest we've gotten.
He rolls his eyes. "I...can not continue to offer penance for my 16 year self, Jessica. If that's what you want from me? To suffer—"
"Don't you owe to me, Benjamin?"
He swallows looking away.
I continue. "Would you agree if you felt you didn't!"
"At what point have I suffered enough?" He asked quietly.
I swallow. I hate this cramped feeling in my chest. I just...I just want him to be here and keep loving me silently. That's all I want.
I can't say that. Shit. Even I know that's wrong.
"How long?" He whispers, stepping closer. I step back.
He sighs. "Ask me why this scares me. Do you want to know why I'm angry? Jessica I...I don't feel good."
I swallow. He can't leave me. Ever. I—
He raises his hand, I flinch away. He blinks, putting his hand down.
He smiles. "I'm sorry for putting so much pressure on you, Ho—Jessica. Give it some thought? Alright? I gotta go."
"You didn't finish eating,"
He pauses. "Oh Jessica. You're stuck aren't you? You're the same timid 16 year old. And I'm sorry. I know that I...I helped create this issue for you. But I—I'm not capable. I can't fix it. Hurting me and hurting you isn't going to make you feel less lonely."
How the fuck would he know?
"Look outside," I whisper.
He does so. "So?"
"Is the world ending?" I ask.
He scoffs. "Jess—"
"Is it?" I demand.
"No," he whispers.
"Then finish the pasta."
He starts to eat the left over pasta. I get back on my computer.
It starts raining gently. I remember something. From that morning. After I saw what I saw. I called him.
I said, "Baby...I feel stupid to call you, but I'm lonely. And I know you didn't mean it when you said you didn't love me."
And he...he said something. He said so softly. "I'm sorry."
I begged him. I said, why can't you love me? I'll change for you. I will.
And all he did was he was sorry.
He whispers, bringing me back to the present. "I'm sorry. So sorry."