Tomorrow, I’ll wake up earlier. Before bed, I’ll set out my tennis shoes and sports bra. I’ll have the coffee accouterments set out on the counter. I won’t hit snooze. I won’t give in to the temptation of nine more minutes. I’ll dig deep down inside and find my willpower.
And tomorrow, I will listen to her.
Tonight, however, I fully intend on pouring a second glass of wine. Perhaps a third. I’ll hold the stainless steel spoon in my hand and wrap a paper towel around the pint of Half Baked so my skin won’t freeze to the side.
Tonight I’ll indulge in whatever rom-com Netflix recommends. I won’t ignore the tears as they tickle my eyes. I will let them do their thing. Slide down my cheek and roll across my nose. A sob or ten may escape, but the sound of the spoon hitting my teeth will drown it out.
Because tonight I will put it all behind me. Tomorrow, I’ll detox.
Settling into the worn corner of the couch—the spot I always sit in—I pull the weighted blanket over my lap. My wine glass sits on the end table to my right and the ice cream rests on my knee. Balance. I reach for the remote and click on the television. Netflix is the first app, making it easy and quick to access. The algorithm knows me well. Every suggestion is something light and humorous. Occasionally, it gets quirky and recommends a documentary. Not tonight, though. The Netflix bots appear to have a direct line of sight to my living room. They recognize the ice cream, wine and blotchy face as signs of desperation.
Tiff needs to remember that true love exists. Oh, let’s make her laugh too.
“Thank you, Netflix,” I say as I shove a spoonful of brownie and cookie dough into my mouth. I select the first option presenting. A nice, adorable movie about a girl that wins a dilapidated bed and breakfast. I’m certain I’ve seen this one before, or one just like it. Either way, I’m craving the predictability. I need it after today.
I force my eyes to remain open while I stare at the screen. I can’t blink. The back of my eyelids won’t let go of the replay of this evening’s disaster. It’s stuck on a loop of the most humiliating and devastating night of my life. Neither sleep nor blinking are options tonight.
The day started like the others. I woke up and kissed my fiance good morning. We went for a nice, casual walk around the neighborhood with our dog (technically, his dog, as he reminded later in the day). Carson made coffee while I scrambled eggs and threw bagels in the toaster. We went our separate ways. I headed downtown for work, while he headed to the suburbs to teach his newest charge of unruly kindergartners.
The rest of the day was as boring and predictable as any other Friday. The detour didn’t hit until after lunch when the power went out at work. Along with it, the internet. The powers that be sent us all home to work. I packed up my laptop and hit the road. Carson wouldn’t home until later, so I didn’t see any reason to text him the change in plans. We’d still meet up at home before heading out for our Friday night dinner. Our standing reservation at our favorite Italian restaurant was the highlight of my week. Lasagna for Carson and eggplant parmesan for me. We’d share a bottle of pinot noir and, maybe, we’d indulge and split a tiramisu.
Carson and I craved routine, or so I thought. Our life had a rhythm and neither of us stepped outside of it. We knew the beat and it pushed us forward.
I should have detected the change in tempo the instant I pulled into the garage to find Carson’s car parked, but I didn’t. Perhaps I’d simply forgotten to write down an early dismissal day. Or, the sniffles he had the night before had morphed into a full-blown cold. He did work with small children, after all.
If the car didn’t tip me off, the low lights and candles should have. Had I missed those, the open bottle of Moscato definitely should have. But I missed it all. Or ignored it.
I climbed the stairs towards my tiny office—the room that would one day have become a nursery—and then plopped myself at my desk. It was then that I noticed something different. Voices. One in particular. Well, two. Carson’s, of course, and hers. They weren’t talking. Well, he was. She was giggling that high pitched prissy giggle that makes my ears cringe. It was unmistakable.
My heart raced as I left my office and walked towards or bedroom, and it leaped clear out of my chest when I opened the door.
The signs had been there for far longer than I care to admit. I knew she was more than a friend. I knew his buddies didn’t go fishing and hunting every other weekend. I followed them on Instagram, too. They posted plenty of shots of them on the boats. For the last few months, Carson hadn’t been in a single shot. They hadn’t tagged him either.
I’d been so focused on our routine and plans, I’d missed the moment he fell off course. His bags were packed long before I kicked him out. It’s not the betrayal that stung the most, but the ease with which he walked out. A simple shrug and a mumbled, “you’re right” was all he offered. Without a single ounce of regard for me or the three years we spent together, he wrapped his arm around her waist and they walked out of the house he and I used to share. Just like that, everything was gone.
For the first Friday in two years, I didn’t have eggplant parmesan for dinner. I did have my bottle of wine, though I stole the Moscato she left behind. The sweetness did little to soothe the bitter rage that had taken over my body, but I drank it anyway.
I tuck my feet under me and rest my head in my hand. My fingers twist through my blonde hair wrapping a chunk between my thumb and index finger. I snake my way up the hair until I reach the top of my head and then start over. The rhythm lulls me back to the moment. I allow my brown eyes a single blink. This time I do it slowly and let the images of the day play one final time. When I open my eyes, I draw in a deep breath and let it go slowly.
Today was a hiccup. A blip. A tiny, insignificant moment. Three years is a long time to waste on someone who turns out not to be who you thought they were. The silence of the room creeps in around me. I strain my ears to see if I can still hear Carson. The clomp of his boots on the stairs or the whine of the country music he insisted on playing day and night. But there is nothing but quiet.
A smile spreads across my face. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed the sound of nothing. With Carson, there was always some noise whether it was his music or a University of Tennessee football game on the TV, he couldn’t stand silence. He also couldn’t sit still. He’d have hated watching me sit on the couch and watch a lame-ass chick flick.
I revel in the lack of man in the house. When he moved in, his things started taking over. Guns & Ammo magazines on the coffee table and his music on the iPod. Mud and dirty boots on my cream carpets. Throws and blankets replaced with dog hair and camo jackets. Though, I did miss Ruby’s dog hair and Ruby herself.
As I watched the young woman in the movie learn her dream of owning a quaint bed and breakfast would require years of work and renovation by the only (annoying and handsome) carpenter in town, I realized I didn’t actually miss Carson. I missed the idea of Carson. The imagined life for us I’d created is what I missed.
I sink further into my comfy spot on the couch. This time when my eyes close, my smile widens.