Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 29

Jack

I call Ben; it hit me today that I haven’t talked to my brother all week. Mom is staying at his house, and per my sweet, beautiful, has too much free time on a cell phone, niece informed me last night on our nightly texting catch up, that my brother has hardly been home at all this week. Mom’s running Sophie everywhere, shopping, activities, and last night Soph, Sarah Jane, and my mom all went out and got mani-pedis. Ben’s text has been short, vague bullshit about finals and department meetings. He thinks I’m to busy to notice that something is going on with him. The asshole doesn’t answer my call.

Marybeth walks into the conference room, which is where I choose to work because of the light when I’m here in the office. I nod my head, “I know, two o’clock. Mick already stopped by.” I sit back and raise my brows when she closes the door and walks inside.

I scowl. I’m more aware of my scowl nowadays because Annie giggles, and she calls me out on it. I’m aware of the scowl currently on my face.

“There’s the Jack we all know and love. You’ve had us concerned lately. I’ve seen you smile more the first two months of this project then I did all three years working on The Spalding. Your happiness about Silvia is visible, your second major accomplishment. I’m glad you’re back, Jack.”

“Thanks. Yes, I’m happy about this opportunity, among other things.”

“Ah, yes, Annie, she a house painter, right? No, that’s not correct, I remember now what Hannah said over lunch last week. She’s a waitress with a tragic, sad story. For someone who hates any attention paid to emotions, Jack, I have to admit I was rather surprised when Hannah filled me in on her life. I told her I bet you find it refreshing that she didn’t know her dress at the party was a known designer’s label. Hannah went on and on about how sweet she is, which makes me think again, that seems to be the opposite of our Jack.”

“I’m still a mean bastard, Marybeth. But I’m a lucky son of a bitch that happiness found me. You’re right; it is refreshing to meet someone real.” I make a point to look at her fake tits.

She puts her hands on her hips, “Were you ever curious about the end of our relationship? Do you know or even ever cared or wondered why I turned to Mick, Jack? Mick paid attention to me, he asks me about my day and knew we had made it, all of us together. You worked, came home, and wanted to lock yourself away. You didn’t even try to go out and celebrate your success, our success. I became successful in my own right, and you never gave a shit about me and what I’d accomplished.”

“Some of that is bullshit, and you know it, Marybeth. I’m not going to argue about the past. I am who I am, you accepted me once, but then you wanted something different. You went out and celebrated enough for both of us if I remember correctly. We ended us, both wanting different things. There’s no need to discuss it. There never was, it certainly doesn’t matter now.” I take my glasses off and rub my eyes. I sleep like crap now without Annie beside me.

“Oh, excuse me. Is expressing my emotions about the ending of our ten relationships, and a friendship of three people that spanned over thirteen years, upsetting you? Am I wearing on your fragile nerves and pissing you off? Did you ever love me as I loved you, Jack? It’s a question I need to be answered, even after all of these years. I deserve to have this conversation; I’m not going to let you push me aside again like I don’t matter.”

I turn my chair and look out the window overlooking New York. “Marybeth, I loved you as much as I could at the time. We were young, ambitious, and different people. I couldn’t wait to be a part of this city when I was a younger man. It wasn’t for me, it didn’t take me long to realize it, but you loved and embraced it. I’ll take the blame for being selfish if you need me to Marybeth, I was in many ways. It was selfish for me to stay in our relationship for as long as I did when I knew we were going to end up in different places. We work so well together, and it was a life-changing moment for me, for all of us. I’ll apologize for that.”

“You’re sorry that you dragged me along when you knew you wanted out? Are you sorry you never truly loved or respected me?”

I turn back to look at her. She’s tall, pencil-thin, and blond, and she’s clinging to her youth. She was more attractive before she put whatever the hell she has put into her face. “I’m sorry about the past, but that’s what it is, and we are here now, and this project needs to be our lives for a while. We have a great working relationship. We did then, and we do now. Dragging up the past doesn’t change anything in the present.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Jack. I won’t let anyone down on this project like I didn’t the last time. You’re right; we work great together.” She laughs and walks to the door. Turning around, she sneers at me. I used to find her attractive, but that was long ago when her face could move on its own free will. She became precisely what she wanted to be. A wealthy New York woman who shoots shit into her face and pays thousand trying to stay young and keep up with every vapid socialite.

“We work so well together, and I’m so professional in my work life, Jack, that we continued for the last year of The Spalding. Even after you humiliated me, disrespected me, and broke my heart. My God, we wouldn’t have dared to have shown any emotions about ending a ten-year relationship. You didn’t even care enough to confront me or Mick, one of your closest friends for years, about what the hell was going on with us. I told you I was leaving, and you said okay. You didn’t even miss a beat, a step after I left like I didn’t matter to you at all. We were together for ten fucking years, Jack, and I wasn’t even worth a fucking conversation. Fuck you, Jack Phillips!”

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