Lucy sat at the kitchen table, Patsy Cline singing on the radio, her hands wrapped around a mug of coffee, she stared at the refrigerator door, a picture Tom drew held on by a Minions magnet, the little yellow thing with one eye that both Andrea and Tom both loved, they had sat and watched those movies a million times Minion times, she counted herself lucky in that respect that she had not had to endure the snowman and the princesses, that thing got on her nerves and she had had to have taken both Andrea and Tom to at least six Frozen themed parties, that catchy damn song on loop at every birthday. She brought her eyes down to look at the picture, it was four people, discernible by their size and hair colour but also the names underneath each wobbly shape,
MOMMY, DADDY, ANDREA, ME.
She stared at the picture, what looked like one big happy family. She could see Vic out the corner of her eye starting to say something at the opposite side of the table and then falling quiet, like the words had fallen out of his mouth without sound. They both sat in silence for what felt like hours but was probably only a few seconds. Vic started to speak and this time there was sound with the words.
“Sorry doesn’t seem good enough” he said this quietly almost zombie like.
“What good is sorry? How long has it been?” she said this knowing she didn’t want to know but that she needed to know at the same time.
“This was the first and it was going to be the only, I promise you, it just didn’t feel right”
“Well I’m sorry that it was such a bad experience for you”
“Lucy I’m glad you know”
“Why otherwise you would have carried on?” she interrupted him
“No I told you it was just going to be one time” he tried to not shout knowing that it would not only worsen his situation but also knew Lucy wouldn’t stick around if his voice became even close to a shout “now that you know it makes things easier, I wanted to tell you myself, I always did, I just didn’t know how to tell you and the last thing I wanted was for someone else to somehow find out and tell you first”.
She continued to look away from him, she knew he was begging for eye contact, wanting her to see those eyes, the same eyes she had fallen in love with all those years ago. She denied his eyes and continued to stare at the picture, one happy family. Vic sat, with his hands in his lap and his fingers interlocking, he looked down at his hands knowing that Lucy wouldn’t, couldn’t look at him and quite frankly he didn’t blame her. He sat and thought of what else to say if there was anything else he could, should say. He looked up at her once more
“I don’t want you to forget any of this, I just want you to find it in your heart to look past this, so that we can carry on for Andrea and Tommy, I’m not asking you to like me, but can we at least stay together for them and try and make this work? Hell, me, I will try and make this work, please babylove”.
She winced at the nickname, it hurt her that this person, this now hurtful stranger would use this name, that’s what Vic felt like to her, a stranger, she didn’t know this man, the man she married would never do this to her, would never be capable of inflicting so much pain. Her eyes fell onto the picture, one happy family, tears started to roll down her cheeks, she saw Vic instinctually move to comfort her but stopped himself realising the current situation, she settled herself not allowing herself to sob, not now, she breathed and finally found what she had to say
“Vic you need to understand this, I will never forgive you, I will never forget, you have hurt me more than anyone ever could and you are someone who shouldn’t have that privilege, we will stay together, you get one more chance, not for you but for Tom and Andrea, you have one year and if I feel you haven’t done enough in that time then I am taking them and I am leaving here, is that clear to you?”
He looked at her, tears in his own eyes now, he swallowed feeling a huge lump in his throat. “Lucy, I accept that, I understand that, if in one year you are not happy I will pack your bags myself as they say”
He stopped and took a deep breath
“Thank you. I know this isn’t for me, but thank you” he paused once more, he looked at the clock spying it to be 2:30 am, he was exhausted and all he wanted to do was sleep and start his new life fresh in the morning, breakfast, coffee and to kiss and cuddle his kids like everyday from now on was the last he would spend with them. Lucy continued to sit, unmoving since her proposition, she just continued staring at the fridge.
“I’ll make up a bed on the couch and get to sleep, let you have the bed to yourself”
he got up to leave
“No, sleep in our room, if the kids see you on the couch it will be unusual to them, even if they don’t understand it”
There was an awkward silence between them which Vic broke
“I’m going to head upstairs”
Lucy said nothing. Vic walked out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Lucy sat silent for a few more seconds, stood up and walked towards the kitchen door, she closed it and collapsed against it, sobbing and sliding against the wood until she curled up on the floor and led there and wept, looking up at the picture on the fridge, one happy family, through her blur of tears.
Vic led in bed, far over onto his own side, he faced the wall away from the door, he looked at the clock on his nightstand and saw that more than forty minutes had passed, but he didn’t dare go to check on Lucy, he knew that she needed her own space. A few more minutes passed and he heard Lucy come through the door, he heard the click of the latch, heard her disrobe putting it on the hook on the door and then felt her weight as she got into the bed. She lay identically to Vic facing the door, their backs to each other and so much space in between them, they both lay awake, unmoving for hours, eventually they both slept. When Lucy woke up the next morning, Vic was not there.