He woke up the same as he did every morning. Rolled out of bed and away from the body that had been keeping him company overnight. He looked at her without seeing her, a wealth of blond hair strewn across his pillows. Normally he didn't let them stay the night but she had been an exception. This girl had reminded him of her. The her that he had refused to see for over six months, the she that was the mother of his child, the she that he was married to. Even in his thoughts, he couldn't quite bring himself to say her name. That was a problem. One of the few things that he really needed to consider. He hadn't looked at her in ages. Standing in front of his bathroom mirror, he looked at his eyes in the mirror and tried to make himself not imagine the way that she would sometimes come in and put her chin on his shoulder her body tight up against his. There was something about that which was so perfect.
The girl in the bed was still in his bed after he washed up. He let her stay there until he had puled his pants on and started to button his shirt. Kicking the bed, he growled at her to get up. She rolled over and looked at him. Her eyes were blue. He wanted those eyes to be the purple haze that he was used to seeing. They weren't going to be, but he wanted them to be just the same. He stood there and buttoned his shirt, not really looking at her as she pulled her clothes on. He didn't notice that she had left as he was tying on his tie. He didn't care that she left. He couldn't even remember her name. He was never going to see her again.
If he was lucky he was never going to see her again. Josh had a tendency to have bad luck when it came to women. His wife would probably be considered case in point by many normal people. Granted, he didn't care what normal people thought about her. She wasn't normal and therefore she wasn't subject to ideas of normalcy that they were. All in all, he liked her as an oddity. Or at least, he was realizing he liked her as an oddity the more time he spent away from her. Stark white shirt, black pants, black tie, black suit jacket. All a study in precision. Shoes polished to a mirrored shine. He picked up his cigarettes off of the marble countertop. One was in his mouth before he made it out the door of his apartment. A person could call Josh a chain smoker, they wouldn't be far wrong. He did have a tendency to smoke cigarettes back to back.
There was a thought about how her lips felt when he was slipping a cigarette between them. He was a chainsmoker, she smoked like a damn chimney. He found it attractive, the way the smoke curled upward along beside her eye and smelling the scent of her overlaid by the smell of the Marlboros that she seemed to like so much. He had a number of things that he needed to do, but he had a thought in his head and he refused to let it go. Slipping into the driverside of his car, he pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and flipped it open. "Hey Jade," he had let the phone dial itself. "I'm gonna be a little late."
8 in the morning, that was the time when he pulled in the parking area in front of the apartment building where she lived, his wife. Did he know that she was going to be upstairs in her bed at this hour? Oh yes, because she worked at night so she would be sleeping her day away. He was about to get cursed out, his darling liked her sleep. The journey up the stairs was practically run. The urgency in his veins becoming stronger as he took each step. He needed to see her. To smell her skin. To show her all the love that she had been missing since they had parted ways six months earlier.
His key still worked when he reached the apartment door. Stopping, he looked around just inside the door. Things were different than he remembered. There were toys strewn across her floor. The ashtray was still in the window leading out onto the fire escape. Of course, that would still be there. She had taken up smoking again after Julius was born. Their little conqueror. It had been one of those marked moments when she put a cigarette back between those beautiful lips and she sucked in the smoke to blow a smoke ring across the table at him.
I fucking missed this. The low throaty voice that she had, so beautiful, so exotic. The rain had been thrumming its way past outside of the window and the baby had been asleep wrapped in his little blue blanket over in the chair. They had been alone together for the first time in ages. His fingers across her face and the soft scent of the smoke as it was slowly sucked out the window by the breeze. It had always been her thing to smoke with the window open, but since it was a little cold, she didn't want it open all the way with the new baby there. No use in making him sick so early in his life. No matter what they said about her, she did care about her baby. Giving up smoking had been one of the hardest things she had ever done. Yet she had done it for the baby, for his son, for their son. And he had walked out of her life not long afterward, choosing instead to simply allow his own desires to take over. Looking at the little cars on the floor of the living room, he could only remember when the baby hadn't even been able to move around on his own. Now, six months later, there were toys on the floor that said otherwise. Closing the door quietly, he moved through the living room and down the hall. Her bedroom door was closed, that had been another one of her things, she had always slept with the door shut and even locked it on occasion. Putting his hands against it, he pressed on it carefully waiting to see if it would stop. It swung open, she had shut it but not locked it, probably because getting up in the middle of the night for the baby made locking and unlocking the door unwieldly. His first sight of her in six months was her curled up around their little baby boy. She was lying there, fetal position, their son with his hand tangled in her hair, one thumb in his mouth. Though he would be eating his own heart, he almost turned around and walked away then.
It had been his choice to walk away previously. It could be his choice to walk away again. Stay out of their life, keep away from this little bit of paradise that she had built for herself. He had nothing he could offer them. Did he? She was sleeping so peacefully. That by itself was enough to almost make him go back. She rarely slept all that peacefully, at least she never had when she stayed in bed with him. Granted, she had always gotten up and left before the end of the night as if she were afraid of what staying the night would bring for them.
Why can't you ever stay, the words echoed in his head as he watched the slow rise and fall of her chest. Why? She had chosen not to answer him. Chosen to simply walk away from the question as if it hadn't been asked at all. He'd never brought it up again. Like so many things in their relationship, this was something that seemed to be agreed on by general acclimation. Like the fact that they didn't live together. Or that they never showed up at each other's place of business. Those things that were never talked about, just accepted. Except for the day that she had shown up at his job and sat on the edge of his desk, slowly tapping the heels of her boots against the dark wood. Their eyes had met. Then she just walked away. Six months later, Julius was born. Apparently she had caught the pregnancy late and only told him when she found out. That little boy with his blue eyes had been the most wonderful thing he had ever seen. Yet he had walked away.
Josh stepped away from the door, walking as softly as he could, trying to keep from waking her before he was ready. No, he wasn't going to leave this time. No instead he was going to do what he should have done ages ago.
Leaning over the bed, he kissed her forehead and pulled back as her eyes opened and rolled to take him in. Then she shut them again, choosing to ignore his presence it seemed.
"Go away," she finally said, her breathing still in the rhythm of sleep. Then she groaned bringing on arm up to hide her face.
"Marry me." He leaned down again to whisper it in her ear. "Marry me again." He kissed her shoulder and then along her arm.
"What part of go away did you not understand?" First that confused tone. Then she rolled over abruptly and smacked him in the nose without meaning to. Josh sat back with pissed growl, landing on the floor next to the bed. "What did you say?" Now she was sitting up, looking at him with the kind of gaze that said she was probably going to kill him.
Still holding his face, he said it again. "Marry me." They were already married. The two had, in a drunken escapade that he only remembered in fits and starts, been married by Elvis one night. It was an action that they had both decided was stupid but made no attempt to undo. It wouldn't have taken anything to get the stupid thing annulled. After all, he had a law degree. He knew exactly what paperwork would be required in order to do it. "Well?"
The confusion was plain across her face. Her husband had let himself into her apartment after not speaking to her for six months while she raised their baby and the first words out of his mouth were: Marry me. They were already married. What the hell was he going on about?
"Well what," she snapped at him, getting up and offering him a hand. She was wearing nothing but an old Hard Rock t-shirt from Hollywood, CA and her underwear. Not exactly the skimpiest that he'd ever seen her in, but he still couldn't help staring just a little. No matter how much he had tried to fight it, she was perfection. The list of women that he had slept with over the preceding months was not insubstantial; however, each and everyone of them had one intrinsic flaw. They were not her.
The one thing that he had been missing: her. Everything about her. Even the way she glowered at him as she dragged him up face to face. She had never been an weak woman, well there had been one time, but he wouldn't speak of that ever again. Not to her or anyone else. The one other person who knew about it certainly wasn't going to talk about it either.
The fact that she had come out of the bed made the baby fussy. He whimpered and opened his eyes, feeling for her despite the fact that she was no longer there. Unthinking, she turned around and crawled back onto the bed to give their baby a kiss.
"Shush, sweetie," a murmured admonition. "No need to cry. I'm right here." She laid out there next to him, turning over to look up at Josh who stood over the bed. "Josh," she said his name with a strange slowness that he hadn't heard in a long time.
He'd missed that too.
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah, baby, I am serious." With that, he dropped to one knee. "Marry me again."
"As serious as I was the first time I asked. You want to do this today or maybe we should call your mother this time?" He would never get over the need to joke. However, they were both smiling, so what difference did it make?