I let out a sigh as I looked around the empty house that I have called mine for more than a decade. It seemed unusually big without the accompanying clatter; its bland, white walls mocking me in their simplicity, as a strong urge to run outside to that moving truck that was about to start its way toward my new home and get my painting supplies almost overpowered me.
I wanted to pick up a brush, run it across those walls; paint, draw, do something, anything that would leave a mark, that will tell the ones who will come after, that someone had lived here, that it had been real.
I closed my eyes and let the memories come unbidden, and I was sure, for just a moment, that I could see us all together again, our laughter echoing in the silence of the room.
The first dinner that I had made for him, which the two of us had to throw away to avoid food poisoning, and order pizza. We were still pretending that we were just friends, then.
The first time we made love as my future husband shivered from nerves; his eyes wide and unblinking as he stared at me while clutching my hand the whole time.
The first 'I love you', softly spoken after yet another passionate night and the first fight.
The 'Will you marry me?', and the 'I will' that followed.
The day that call came in, as we sat side by side gripping each other's hand like a lifeline before the voice from the other side proclaimed that the two of us were indeed the ones that she would give her baby to, despite the fact that we were both men.
A thousand dirty diapers and sleepless nights.
The first tooth.
The first 'daddy'.
The first time Brady walked from my arms and into his and the tears of joy the two of us shed afterward.
The laughter, the love, the happiness.
The years of good times and sharing everything.
Then the silence.
The resentment and anger.
The never-ending fights and silent treatments.
I kept trying to understand where it all went wrong. I was absolutely sure that we were happy, once. I loved him as much as I possibly could and I was faithful and honest. So why?
Why did he stop loving me?
When I had asked that, once the shock had ebbed away and I had found my voice, that day when I had walked in on my husband and his lover, the man actually had the gall to start laughing. It was a hollow laugh, though, not the one of joy I was so used to, but cruel and cold, void of any real emotion, and almost painful in its raw honesty.
"You never loved me, George, at least not the way I needed you to.", he said after calming down, his previously discarded shirt clutched in his hands, and the words finally managed to snap my attention from the big bluish mark blossoming over his right nipple, a mark I felt unable to get my eyes away from until that moment.
"You loved the idea of us, of a family, but always maintaining a distance. You've had this wall built up around your heart from before we even met, the one I was foolish and hopeful enough to think that I could get through. And every time I thought that I was close, that I had made a crack in it and that I will finally be able to sneak a peek on the other side you would draw away and I would be, yet again, left to start over."
"Well,", he said as he finally pulled the shirt on, "I am done with starting over."
He left after that, climbed into his lover's car, and was gone in a blink of an eye before I had the time to even process what had actually happened.
The anger came first, of course, coursing through my veins like liquid fire; scorching everything in its wake as my vision turned red and I found myself unable to stop it.
My eyes fell on the still unmade bed, the proof of my husband's betrayal pulling me in like a beacon, taunting me with its undeniable truth as I ripped the spoiled sheets from it, tearing them apart with loud growls escaping my throat.
I was no longer myself, no longer human, but a wild animal as I moved on from the sheets to the bed itself, pulling the mattress out and flipping it across the room.
When I eventually got to the bed frame I was forced to abort, as it proved too unyielding for a guy of my stature. The moment was enough to snap me out of it, so I closed my eyes, taking in a deep breath.
Soon, my body was shaking, the breaths coming out more quickly, and it was a matter of seconds before I was on the ground, clutching the ripped material in my hands as sobs wracked through my body.
It was the first time I cried in almost twenty years, and I'm not talking about the occasional wet eye you get when you are extremely happy, or when you are watching a movie that pulls just a bit too tight on your heartstrings. No, not like that, but harsh, ugly cries, that escape your soul without permission, as your heart hurts so much that you actually have to clutch your chest, completely sure that you are about to die. But you won't, and you know that you won't somewhere deep inside your mind and that fact hurts perhaps even more because that's when you realize that you are going to have to live through it.
I stayed on that floor for a long time, long after the tears have dried up and the night had fallen, the only light coming through the open window, as I stared at nothing, my mind completely numb.
I had thought about that night a lot in the coming months, going over my husband's words over and over again until they'd eventually started to blur together and I wasn't sure anymore what was real and what was not.
But the one thing that he said had stayed with me until this day, as I kept asking myself if he was right.
Was there a wall around my heart?
I thought about all the years we have spent together, and I knew that I did love him. After all, how could I not? My husband was a good man, a good father, and a good partner if I chose to disregard the whole 'lover' thing, and I was sure that that we had a good life together. But, that's when I realized, as clear as a day that it was a good life, yes, but nothing more.
When you are a kid and you think about what your life is going to be, when you imagine who you'll become and the person you are going to marry, you don't wish for just good, no, you wish for more. And, sure, you don't always get that, after all, you grow up and find that nothing, not even 'just good' comes as easily as you have expected it to. But still, that one person, that 'the one' should make you feel extraordinary, even if your life is anything but.
So when, five months after the ordeal, the papers came through with the words 'divorce' written boldly at the top, I had taken a pen, signed my name on that little dotted line, and sent them back. Because no matter what my husband thought, I did love him once, and even though I disagreed with his way of ending things, I still wanted him to be happy, to get his extraordinary, and maybe, one day, I will get mine.