Now She's Gone: A Novel (18 page)

BOOK: Now She's Gone: A Novel
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“I did! I do!”

“Then why didn’t you at least leave a note? One phone call to let me know you was okay.”

“Because I wanted to leave. No matter how great our life was, there was always this feeling that it was going to end! I couldn’t take it anymore! I had to find out if I could make it on my own, without you!”

“You could have talked to me! We couldn’t have worked this out!”

She looked away and muttered, “Whatever. I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

“I wouldn’t understand?!”
I yelled, getting angry. “I wouldn’t understand! How dare you say that to me?!”

She cringed. I’d backed her into a corner. She muttered, “I just felt so bad, Bruce. I felt like I should be doing something, not just letting you do it all. That’s all.”

She was too much, too confused. I was getting tired. “Listen, this is bullshit and you know it. I’m just here to get my papers signed. Then I’ll leave you to your fabulous life.”

She wiped her nose off with the back of hand and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate what I had more.”

“Well, I appreciate you saying that,” I said. “I appreciate you recognizing the fact that I was out working like a dog to give you everything so you could hate it! It was never good enough for you!”

“It was good enough! You don’t understand! I didn’t hate it! You don’t understand!”

“What! What the fuck don’t I understand!”

“That’s not what I’m saying! What I’m saying is I had to know! I didn’t know!”

I was suddenly so angry at her. There are varying degrees of love. Sometimes I felt so much I thought I’d burst. Other times, less, maybe a slight annoyance. Right now I felt none. No love for her. She was just another woman in the world. Another person. Nothing to me. Just someone pissing me off.

I said, “No, what you’re saying and you can pussyfoot around on this all you like, but what you’re saying is that our life wasn’t good enough for you. What you’re saying is that a simple divorce wouldn’t do. You had to disappear.”

“I didn’t want a divorce.”

“What?”

“I just wanted to try, Bruce. It was stupid, I know, but I thought if we didn’t divorce and I had a little time to make it here, then we could get back together.”

I stared at her. “That’s the most fucked-up thing I’ve ever heard.”

“It’s the truth. I knew you’d never let me come here on my own if we were still married and I didn’t really want to lose you.”

“Then why not leave a note?”

“I don’t know! I wasn’t thinking! I just had this vision and I thought once I got here and got settled I’d call and we could talk and then nothing worked out how it was supposed to and I was ashamed! I was so ashamed and I couldn’t stand to hear one more ‘I told you so’ from you.”

And there she was, ladies and gentlemen, turning it right back around on me. It was somehow all my fault. But then she surprised me.

“I was stupid. Dumb. I didn’t appreciate what I had and I knew you wouldn’t want me back after I did all this. And I just couldn’t force myself to deal with it. And the longer I waited, the harder it was to call or write. And I couldn’t face you. Knowing I hurt you and knowing how awful I’d been, I couldn’t face you.”

The house was silent. I could hear the nearby ocean.

She muttered, “I’ve always loved you and I know you don’t believe me, but I always have.”

I suddenly felt all the anger drain out of my body and all the love I had for her fill it back up. I knew then and there I’d never stop loving her. She could sign the damned divorce papers and walk out of my life for good, but she’d always be close to me. I was nobody until I met her and she made me somebody. She made me love and I had never loved before her, not really.

I turned and stared at her. What was it about
her
? Her? What was so special? Wasn’t she just a woman, another human being? She was so screwed up in so many ways. She had to have things her way. Her way or the highway.

I couldn’t figure her out and I never would. That’s why I could never stop loving her. She was a mystery. She kept me guessing. Holding on to see what she’d do next. If she had started acting like everyone else once we’d married, I would have been bored with her and we’d probably already have been divorced. She made me think. She made me guess her next move and I’d always,
always
be wrong. And then she’d laugh at me for trying.

“I tried every way I knew to get you to see, Bruce,” she mumbled. “I dropped hints, I even asked you once about us separating for a little while. And you just laughed it off, thinking I was joking.”

She was right. I had. I laughed because she had shocked me with it and I didn’t want to give her any ideas that something like that would be okay with me. I couldn’t believe she’d even brought it up. And when she didn’t mention it again, I made myself forget about it. The thought of her leaving, even then, scared me. I wanted her with me at all times. I was selfish like that.

“Then why didn’t you just tell me?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I guess I was a coward.”

“You got that one right.”

She blanched.

“So let me get this straight,” I said. “You left me to be on your own for a little while. Did you ever plan on coming home?”

“I’ve wanted to come home every day since I got here.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

“I couldn’t face you.”

“Oh,” I said and sighed.

“I just…” she began then stopped and took a breath. “I mean, I don’t know how to explain it. I wanted something else, Bruce, I had to have it. It was driving me crazy.”

“What did you want?”

She stared me dead in the eye and said, “I wanted to see if I could do it.”

“If you could do what?”

“Live without you.”

I felt like a bowling ball hit me in the stomach.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “It didn’t have anything to do with me not loving you or you not loving me. It was just… I felt suffocated and, at the same time, I felt powerless to do anything about it.”

“You weren’t looking to hook up with Frank?”

Her head snapped up and her eyes narrowed. “How do you know about Frank?”

“I just do.”

“No, you tell me.”

“I just do. He didn’t want you, did he?”

She looked away and hissed, “No, it’s not that. It’s hard to get in contact with someone like him. I just haven’t been able to get in touch yet.”

“Yet?”

“Yet.”

“So are you looking for him? Hoping to rekindle that flame?”

Her eyes narrowed. “You’ve been reading my journals. I knew I should have hidden them better.”

My face flushed. It suddenly dawned on me. Oh, God. Oh, no. No. She
had
left her journals.
I should have hidden them better.
Not,
I should have taken them with me
, but
I should have hidden them bette
r
, like she would be back to get them sometime. Why? Maybe she had intended on coming home. Maybe she had been out just looking for herself or whatever the fuck she called it. You just don’t leave a journal if you don’t intend on coming back. But why take
Gone with the Wind
but not your personal journals?

Because, she could have sold
Gone with the Wind
if she had to, that’s why. I bet she wanted me to find the journals. It would be just like her to do something like that.

He never looked for me.
How many times was that written in her journals? Good God! That was her game all along. A little drama. And when I hadn’t “looked” for her, it had, more than likely, killed her.
He doesn’t love me, just like the others, he doesn’t love me! Just like my father.
Then a dramatic fall to the floor, a sob and a soft fade.

But then again, I could have been wrong.

“You called Eric,” I said.

Her head jerked up and her eyes narrowed at me.

“He came by the house. He told me you called him.”

“Yeah, so?” she hissed.

“So why call Eric and not me?”

“I told you. I couldn’t face you. And I wanted to see how you were.”

No. No, no, no. She called Eric because she wanted
me
to find her. She wanted to
be
found. She needed that. Just like she had needed to find her father, she needed someone to find her.

“Sure you weren’t calling to see how miserable I was?” I asked. “Or that I might be seeing someone else?”

Her head snapped up. “What the hell does that mean?”

She knew what it meant. I was figuring this whole thing out and it would kill her to know I was onto her.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You shouldn’t have read my journals.”

So we were back on that game again? Fine. “How else was I supposed to find out where you were?” I asked. “And all these secrets you had. You never told me about your father!”

“Sorry! I should have but…” She stopped and shook her head. “Listen, I don’t know how to explain any of this. Okay? I just don’t.”

I cleared my throat but didn’t answer her.

“I had them hid very well, Bruce.”

They weren’t hidden that well. But I never went into the guest bathroom. She knew that. Maybe I was wrong. See? This was the exact reason I loved her. Keep Bruce guessing! Drive him completely and utterly insane.

“Did you go through my stuff or something?” she asked.

“Your stuff! Give me a break! You made me do this! Don’t you dare try to turn it around!”

“For all I know you’ve got some private detective following me around!”

It was my turn to blanch.

She stared at me and nodded. “I should have known! You always stick your nose into other people’s business!”

“You’re my wife! You disappeared! What was I supposed to do?”

“I tell you what you were supposed to do. You were supposed to leave me alone and let me deal with this!”

“Oh, yeah, look at you. You’re dealing so well, too, Sandy! So well!”

She gritted her teeth.

“I mean, who wouldn’t want a house like this? Living like a bum! You’d rather live like a bum than live with me!”

“You better shut up.”

“I mean, come on. Who would want someone to actually care about them? Actually give a shit if they’re okay? Not you! You even throw this in my face!”

“Shut up.”

“No, you shut up and you listen. I don’t give a fuck anymore. I got my answers.”

“What are they?” she asked.

“That you never gave two shits about me. You’re egotistical and selfish. I don’t mean shit to you and I never did.”

Now I was testing her. See how she liked it when the shoe was on the other foot. She didn’t bite. I should have known better.

“You’re full of shit,” she said and lit another cigarette.

“No, you’re full of shit, Sandy.”

She sighed. “I know I am. Bruce.” She looked up at me and tears rolled down her cheeks. I wanted to lean over and wipe them away. As much as she had hurt me, I couldn’t stand to see her cry. She said, “I did it because you love me so much. I did it because I knew you’d understand.”

“No you didn’t. You did it because you’re selfish.”

“That too.”

“Whatever, Sandy.”

“I just had to try, Bruce. For me. And I did it. It’s not on your level, we’re not all like you, you know? Some of us don’t succeed like you and that’s okay.”

“Is that right?”

She nodded.

I rolled my eyes. “What do you want, Sandy?”

She stared at me and burst into tears. “I want to come home.”

I was over to her in a second flat. She fell apart in my arms. Years of frustration came out of her. Years of hurt, of pain. She cried like a baby, cried her little heart out and held onto me for dear life.

“I love you,” she sobbed. “Even if you divorce me, and I deserve it, I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone. But you got lost in your job and I didn’t think I meant anything to you anymore and it scared me.”

That’s why she had run away. It was obvious, apparent. I was the selfish one thinking she’d always be around. That wasn’t Sandy. She didn’t kowtow to anyone. Least of all me. She did this to make me pay attention. She had taken it too far, though. Another week or so, I would have told the private detective to forget it. As much as it would have killed me, I would have. I would have stopped looking for answers. She shoul
d have
known one thing about me was that when I move on, I move on. Even if it killed me, I would have done it.

“And I waited until the building was done. I waited because I didn’t want to fuck that up for you. I waited because I really didn’t want to leave.”

She waited because she knew I’d have time to look for her then. If she had done this while I was working on the building, I would have still fallen apart. I would have looked for her. She should’ve known that. I would be willing to bet that when I saw her earlier she had been pissed off that it had taken me so long to find her. That’s why she had been so angry. Also why she walked around the divorce issue. She didn’t want a divorce. She wanted a little drama. She wanted me to pay for ignoring her for all those months. Well, years.

“Then why did you?” I asked.

“I just had to see, Bruce,” she muttered and put her head on my shoulder. “I just had to. It was in me. Every once in a while, I’d just feel like I was going to break in two. I don’t know what it was, but it just told me to leave and one day, I just listened to it and it sounded like the right thing to do. And I had cheated on you and it was eating me up inside. I couldn’t face you anymore. I couldn’t lie anymore.”

I cleared my throat and said, “I cheated too.”

She pulled away from me. Her eyes took on a look of shock, disbelief, which was soon replaced by a,
“I knew it!”

“I cheated,” I said. “But I never had an affair.”

She swallowed hard and nodded.

“They didn’t mean anything. I did it a lot of times when we were fighting. I did it a couple of times when you left.”

“I haven’t slept with anyone since I left,” she said and scoffed. “I’ve had plenty of opportunity. I just…didn’t want to.” She paused and wiped her face with the back of her hand. “I don’t care,” she said. “I don’t care and I don’t want to know anything about those other women. It doesn’t matter anymore. If you had told me a year ago, it would have killed me. But now it seems insignificant.”

BOOK: Now She's Gone: A Novel
6.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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