...Tonight, I’m going to tell her.
Yeah right. Just like I was going to tell her every night for the past several months. Probably creeping up on a year at this point. A year of these long evenings of pacing back and forth across the living room or the kitchen, gesturing with my drink and talking to myself as I rehearsed the words that I had, to date, never been able to say in her presence. A year of psyching myself up and telling myself tonight was the night, only to lose my nerve the second she came through the front door.
Pacing back and forth across the living room, I sipped the double Seagram’s in my sweaty hand.
I can do this. I can do this. God, I have to do this.
It didn’t help that she was late. Sure, it was more time for me to drink a little liquid courage and convince myself I could do this, but it was also more time for those ever-present doubts to get up on their respective soapboxes and tell me why I shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t.
“Do you really want to hurt her like that?”
“After this long, you’re an asshole for telling her now.”
“You’re a jerk, you know that?”
I stopped pacing and rubbed my eyes with my thumb and forefinger.
Come on, Jay. She deserves the truth.
She deserved the truth a long time ago. And every time I passed up an opportunity to tell her, the guilt just burned deeper. One more day of leading her on. One more day of pretending the problems plaguing our marriage could be resolved with just a little more time and patience.
I cursed under my breath, then took another long drink. I put the glass on a coaster on the coffee table—Misty hated rings on the table—and kept pacing along that path I’d worn into the carpet in front of the mantle.
I glanced at my watch. It was well after nine, and she was always home by eight-thirty.
Maybe her class ran late. Her professor’s lectures were always precisely two hours long, so if class started late, it ended late. There’d been a massive car accident on the freeway earlier this evening—a multiple fatality, from what the traffic reporter said—so maybe that held things up. But an hour or more late? Even that prof wouldn’t hold his class that long.
Her study group wasn’t meeting tonight, was it? They always got together after class and sometimes didn’t finish up until ten or eleven. I picked up my drink again and closed my eyes as I held my ice-cold glass to my forehead, wracking my brain as I tried to remember if they were meeting on Wednesdays or Thursdays this quarter. She probably told me earlier. Might have even e-mailed me at work to remind me. I was just too far into this bottle of Seagram’s and a night of undoubtedly futile self-pep-talks to remember.
Better check with her, then, since I wasn’t going to find the answer in my own nervous, slightly intoxicated mind, so I speed-dialed her cell. It rang several times, then kicked over to voice mail.
“Hey, this is Misty. I’m probably at work, in class, or just plain not answering, so leave a message and I’ll call you back.”
I cleared my throat. “Hey, it’s me. I can’t remember if you’ve got study group tonight or not, so I wasn’t sure when you’d be home, but give me a call when you’re on your way. Talk to you soon. Love you.”
I winced at the last two words. Sighing, I hung up the phone and set it beside my coaster on the coffee table. It wasn’t a lie. I did love her. I would love her until the day I died, and never questioned that for a second.
But was I in love with her?
No. No, I wasn’t.
And the longer I dragged this out, the more she’d hate me when she finally learned the truth that I had owed her for a long, long time...