All sound was muffled by the patter of rain falling, hitting the roof, and escaping down the drain pipe. But I could still hear myself sobbing, my cries loud in my ears as I tried not to think about him. Tried not to think about what could have been, the home we could have had together. Our home. The things he never really wanted for us.
I hoped the storm was loud enough to hide me. I wanted to cry louder, but I didn’t want Mark and Zeke to know. They’d be concerned and try to comfort me, but all I wanted was to drown in the storm and let it wash over me. I wanted to feel the cool water coast over my eyes and lips, reminding me where I was. Wanted it to wake me from my stupid dream.
It was nighttime, too. So maybe I shouldn’t have decided to go outside with nothing to protect me. But I did anyway.
I didn’t put on shoes, just krept to the front door and stepped out onto the porch. The roof wasn’t as sturdy as it could have been, so water escaped through scattered holes and splashed on the wood. I shuffled across it, slid my feet into little puddles of water, and hoped I didn’t get splinters.
When my feet finally slid off the edge and hit soil, I sank in immediately. Mud squelched between my toes as I walked across their yard. I should have stayed inside, but the rain drenching my clothing was refreshing. It was cold, electrifying, like a shiver of lightning was going through my body.
I spread my arms and stared at the sky.
I wasn’t dreaming of perfection anymore.
I was looking at reality. Cold, sad reality, where my husband was back home in his warm penthouse and I was standing in the middle of a storm, alone. Thunder cracked around me, rumbling through the town. The sound thrummed, echoed through the forest, and ended with me.
I stood there until the clouds began to lighten as the sun rose. The rain turned to a drizzle.
Mark found me there when he was taking out the trash. He did a little double-take, stared at me, then stepped around so he could free his hands of the bag he carried.
“How long have you been out here?” he asked, though the question could have been answered by looking at my clothes.
“A while,” I said.
“Uh…” he tilted his head. “Let’s go inside.”
“No,” I said. It took a moment for the word to register in my brain, that I hadn’t agreed with him. I quickly continued before he could protest. “I like the rain.”
“OK, but you’re drenched,” he said, looking me up and down. He folded his arms. “I don’t want you to get sick. Or, like, slip and fall or something. It gets slippery here, it’s dangerous. Plus… Breakfast soon! Zeke’s making pancakes.” Mark flashed me a grin, then turned to head inside.
I shook my head. As tempting as breakfast was, the smell of fresh rain was better. “I’ll join you in a bit,” I called. Mark gave a thumbs up before disappearing back into the house.
The drizzle had dissipated into a fine mist, which lingered on the earth like morning dew. The air smelled refreshed like the earth had just taken a bath. I took a deep breath, let it all fill my lungs, then pulled out my pack of cigarettes. I’d wanted to smoke all day yesterday, so now was a prime opportunity.
I sat on the front step, not particularly worried about my already-drenched clothes getting wetter. I thumbed through the rest of my pockets, but came up with no lighter. At least I’d left the packaging on, so the contents of the box weren’t soaked through. I peeled it off and stuck one in my mouth, then took it out. I sighed and leaned back, then finally stood and shuffled back into the house.
The house was quiet when I came inside. I expected to hear something, like maybe talking, or cooking, but it was silent. I didn’t think I was out there long enough for cooking to be done, but I guess I was. I slipped into the kitchen and found no one except a small pile of pancakes. I ate it with my hands, stood there for a moment, then wandered to the living room.
The silence was eerie. The house felt like there should be something. A creak, a door, a rattle somewhere. It wasn’t a new house–nothing out here was new–so all its parts should groan. But they didn’t. At least, not while I walked through it. Just silence.
I peered into the living room, immediately took a step back.
Mark and Zeke were on the couch. Zeke’s hand was on Mark’s cheek and their foreheads were pressed together. Mark broke the haunting silence by whispering something too quiet for me to pick up, but Zeke laughed, pulled back, then kissed him. He tugged Mark’s face to his, whispered something back, thumbed his fingers over his cheeks and kissed him again. They lingered together, lips barely touching, both smiling into each other. Mark took Zeke’s bottom lip in his teeth, pulled.
I backed out of there. They were together? I felt like I’d seen something I wasn’t supposed to, and the embarrassment went straight to a blush on my face. I rushed back to the kitchen to shove another pancake into my mouth so I could pretend I hadn’t seen anything. That I was being respectful and not wandering around someone else’s home.
The way Zeke had held him was so tender. I pressed a hand to my cheek and pretended it was his for a moment, how nice that would feel. When my husband cupped my face like that, I always tensed.
I was jealous, I think.
My husband kissed me. A lot. Often when he got home from work he wanted to keep his mind off life for a bit. But it wasn’t like their kiss. My husband wasn’t slow. He was desperate, needy, and I needed to be there for him, to be what he needed.
I wanted him to kiss me slowly like he did yesterday, because their kiss looked like that. Slow, deliberate, tender. Loving. I could see the love in it. I could feel the love trapped between their lips.
I was jealous.
I shoved another pancake in my mouth to forget.
Mark walked in on me trying to wolf it down and I ended up nearly choking. “You scared me!” I managed after I swallowed most of the pancake glob.
“Sorry, dude,” he stifled a laugh. “I didn’t hear you come in, so I thought you were still outside. And… I was hoping I could sneak a pancake before you came back.” He looked hopeful.
I handed him a pancake. “They aren’t mine,” I replied. “You can just take them.”
“But I saved these for you, so I’d feel bad if I just ate them! Plus, it looked like you were enjoying yourself.”
“They’re good, I guess.”
“Good! I’m glad,” he grinned. “Zeke and I are going on a date later, but we can hang out after, if you want.”
Oh. They really were together… I wondered if I looked shocked because Mark raised a questioning brow. “Yeah,” I said. “Sure, whatever.”
I liked when my husband took me out. It was the only time he didn’t get snippy or agitated with me. He wasn’t one for public affection, but he would be sweet. I could almost get away with anything.
I was jealous.