I park outside the house after my shift and sit in my car, looking up at the dark windows. The old days of rushing in when Jeremy was home are long gone. Now I can’t help but sit here and prepare myself for what’s about to happen, wondering what kind of mood he’s in. Day after day, I’ve almost pulled back out so many times I can’t even keep track of the number. Today’s probably the worst, though. After everything with Dr. Greening, I don’t even know if I can look at Jeremy now. Before this last year, I would have bet a million dollars that he’s not a man that would cheat. But now, and I can’t believe I’m thinking it, but I’m not sure. He won’t touch me, he won’t even look at me. But I shake my head, not wanting my thoughts to go that way. Surely not. Jeremy took our vows seriously. I know he did. It’s just been a devastating year. I want a break, just a small one, so I can collect myself. But knowing that my kids are inside probably being quiet and just trying to stay out of the way and Jeremy’s probably in his chair watching TV, I feel the demand to go in and offer some kind of normalcy to my family.
I take a deep breath, gather my things, and walk to the front door. As soon as I walk in, I’m taken aback by the laughter I hear from the kitchen. Still clutching my bag and purse, I go cautiously toward the unfamiliar sound. Both the kids are sitting at the table, and Jeremy is too. The sink is full of dishes, no doubt from Josie and Jaxon’s meal prep, but I can’t even be upset by it. It looks like they just finished their meal and they’re just talking.... and laughing.
“Mom! We both passed!” Josie screams and jumps up, running to me. I hug her, and my son reaches back to give me a fist bump.
“Congratulations. That’s exciting news! I’ll have to take you out driving this weekend.”
They both nod and go on and on about their test and how hard it was. Jeremy is just staring at them, still not meeting my eyes.
When they finally stop for a breath, I interrupt them. “So I’m so proud of you both, but have you finished your homework?”
“Done,” they say at the same time, and we all start laughing.
“Can I go call Emma?” Josie asks at the same time Jaxon asks, “Can I go play video games?”
I nod my head and start clearing the table. “Sure, you guys cooked. I got clean-up.”
They both are gone in an instant after they thank their dad for taking them.
Now, with the kids gone, Jeremy only has me to look at, and I can tell that’s hard for him. I do my best to put aside the angst I’ve been feeling since seeing the gorgeous young therapist leaning in and squeezing my husband’s hand. I thought about it all night at work and told myself that I’m going to keep it together and just let it pass. But now, seeing Jeremy and his refusal to look at me, I can’t keep my mouth shut.
I carry the dirty dishes to the sink and with my back to him, I ask, “Is that woman why you don’t want me to go with you to your therapy appointments?”
Jeremy makes a sound in his throat like I’m being completely ridiculous, but he doesn’t answer, and I can’t disregard how I’m feeling.
I turn with my hand on my hip. “Are you attracted to her?”
He’s shaking his head. “How can you ask me that? I go to therapy to try to get better, to be better. Dr. Greening is my therapist, and that’s it. Who cares what she looks like? Don’t you want me to get better?”
I cross my arms over my chest. “You know what, Jeremy? In all of that, you didn’t deny that you’re attracted to her. She touched you. I stood there and watched another woman comfort you, hold your hand when you haven’t allowed me to touch you in months. You’re into her, aren’t you? I can’t believe I’ve listened to you and stayed away. This whole time you’re going and having private sessions—”
“Peggy, stop it. I’m not into Dr. Greening. I’m not attracted to her. I’m not there to have some secret meeting. You know what I’m doing.”
“Right,” I mutter and shake my head. I have so many emotions running through me right now. Guilt, rage, jealousy, it’s all built up inside me until I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong anymore. “I’ll clean this up later.”
I have to get away.
She’s walking away, and it’s so hard to see her do it. Over the past year it’s been me pushing her away. Over and over, I’ve done everything I could to keep my distance from my wife. I didn’t want her to see me like this, weak and vulnerable, disabled, lost. Fuck, the list goes on and on. I was pushing her away because I knew I couldn’t stand it if she walked away from me. If she didn’t want me anymore.