I can’t sleep a wink this night. Constant visions fleeing in my eyes as soon as I close them to try to get some sleep make it impossible to rest. Of Reggie cheating on me. Of never seeing Candy again. Of getting divorced. Is there no way out, I wonder. Can no relationship in my family work out? Was this heading towards a disaster right from the very start? Would my every choice not be a good one? Is a catastrophe getting closer each day? Then my train of thought leads me to my children. What if they have to grow up without a father? Reggie never changes his ways and there we go, suffering while he’s simply having fun.
I suddenly raise to sit on the bed. No. It can’t happen. I will not allow it to happen.
I turn to look at my husband. He’s so innocent when he sleeps, as if he was a little boy. Is that who he said he wanted to be forever? This conservation seems to have taken place eons ago. We were in a better place, then, Reggie and I. A freshly married couple with nothing to worry about. Look at us now. If that’s what we are after such a short period of time being a couple, then what will happen in the future? Are we headed towards a divorce? What if we’re not meant to be? But Reggie looks so innocent, so sweet and inviting… I push away the urge to kiss the rest of sleep off his face. I know what would happen then. But I will not let this happen. Not this time.
I touch Reggie’s arm and gently shake it to wake him up.
“Wake up, Reggie. We need to talk.” He slowly moves his eyelids upwards until his eyes are opened, then he reaches out to kiss me. I avoid the kiss, turning away from him with a frown.
“Talk, not kiss,” I protest and get up from the bed. My eyes land on a box on his nightstand with tablets scattered around it. It doesn’t take long to proceed this newfound information. I am now facing the bed with Reggie sitting there, looking lost.
“You don’t have to take these, you know? That doesn’t make you a better husband.”
“Wh-what do you mean?” Clearly, he doesn’t get where I’m coming from. Or he does know and is just embarrassed.
“You know exactly what I mean, Reggie. I… I didn’t marry you for sex,” I let the words slip, suddenly realizing that all my past behavior must have hinted at something completely opposite. God, why was I so dumb? I didn’t know a thing about what real life is like. Still not over the frisky teenager thing, clearly basing the value of life on having good hook-ups.
“I’ve never said you did.”
“Don’t you understand, Reggie? All of this… You’re not helping. That’s not what I would ever want in a husband. Not a sex freak. What is sex even? Is it just a way for people to feel less lonely for a few minutes? To feel the closure they wouldn’t get in any other way? Then why do people get married to one another? What is this all for? To have your own 24/7 prostitute? A good ass to bang? I don’t want to… I don’t want to be the other woman, Reggie. Not anymore.” Before he’s able to proceed what I’m talking about, I fall into his arms, spasms of cries overtaking me.
This was not how I imagined this conversation to go in my head. “Please, Reggie, please… I just want you to promise to be around. If not for me, then for our children. They need a father more than anything else right now,” I continue, my head buried in his shoulder, my words barely comprehensible as I’m being strangled by his arm pressed against my nose and mouth.
Only muffled, quiet sounds come out. I bury my nose in his shoulder next to his armpit. Familiar scent of his perfume which is now quickly washing off, ever-present gasoline, all wrapped up in the most beautiful smell I’ve ever encountered. Smell of the man I love. I start to sob even more now, but I’m slowly recovering from what has overtaken me before. Reggie has always had a soothing effect on me.
“I had no idea this was how you felt, Hailey. This is true that I’m rarely present at home, but my job demands all the attention…” His deep green eyes are searching for mine, but I avoid looking at him, focusing my gaze on his feet instead. I can’t shake the thoughts that now trouble my head…
“Is your job all that really matters to you? Do I or your own children hold no meaning? Tell me, Reggie. What did you even marry me for?”
“Don’t you dare assume I don’t love you, Hailey, because you know that I do!”
“These are just words. Everyone can say them. Like actors in a movie. Learnt lines that they recite. Holding no meaning to them, it’s just a role. You can claim you’re a good husband and father as much as you want, but in the end it’s your actions that really matter. And deep down you also know you’re not. Show me. Show me that Reginald Calloway isn’t just all about big words.”
“No. Cut it, Reggie. I don’t want to hear these words anymore because I am not able to believe in them anymore.”
Surprisingly, my outburst seems to be already coming of effect. Reggie started making sure that he spends at least each evening with us and he started taking care of the kids. I even think he’s overexaggerating and trying too hard with the number of toys he’s bought for the twins recently. I mean, it’s nice at all, but my life is definitely lacking in something.
I’ve never been to Candy’s house before, but she told me her address ages ago and I found it saved on my phone. Just in case you ever needed to save me from the serial killer or something. Know where to find me if I don’t answer my phone, she said jokingly. I look at my phone to check the time. Late afternoon, soon evening. She must be home from work by now. Work? Where does Candy work? How is it I don’t even know as much about her? I feel guilt washing all over me as I start to realize how selfish I’ve been in this relationship with Candy, always bombarding her with my own problems, never even trying to think about what her life is actually like. I need to fix it. If she ever forgives me, that is.
I swallow my saliva and take a good look at the house in front me. Goodness, it’s so tiny. Or maybe it is decent and I’ve gotten too accustomed to my ‘villa’ as she put it? Anyway… I knock on the door. Candy is there right away.
“Hailey… I guess we have a lot to talk about,” she notes as she sees me. “Please come in.”
As I enter the house, I take in the surroundings. It’s even more crumbled inside than it looked like on the outside. Sharicka sits in the middle of the room, playing with a tiny horse. Is that the only toy she owns? I quickly push away those thought as Candy turns to look at me expectantly.
“Candy, I came to apologize. I don’t know what I’ve been thinking when I said all of those nasty things to you, but I am sorry. I guess this whole Reggie situation has taken a toll on me and I have been an awful friend to you.”
“Look, Hailey, you’ve really hurt me when you said all this about Darryll. You know how he left me after finding out about the pregnancy, and although I think I might have gone overboard with my criticism of you – I should know best that being a mom is no easy task on its own – I have more added up to the stress with trying to make it all work.” She throws her hands in the air, gesturing at the room we stand in.
“Actually, that’s why I came here. To make an offer. Candy… I want you to move in with me, Reggie and the kids. To the grand villa.” She looks at me as if I completely lost my mind.
“No, I’m not. Let’s be honest for a minute – it’s been like you were living there anyway. And you deserve better than all this, you know.”
“I don’t have enough money to pay to live there.”
“You don’t have to pay anything.”
“Then I’m afraid I won’t take that offer. It’s unfair.”
“Please, Candy. My kids miss Sharicka a great deal. You’ve already become part of our family, a loved member, equal to us in every quality that matters. We love you and need you there. Plus, I and Reggie have just been getting back onto the right track. Who will be there to kick his ass if he ever thinks about leaving us again? Come on, Candy, you can’t turn it down. You’re my only and beloved friend.” Tears have welled up in Candy’s eyes before I even finished talking. A huge smile is now plastered on her face.
“Then I’m afraid I will have to agree. But… We’ll have to discuss my living conditions again.”
“Oh, sure.” Candy throws her arms around my neck and hugs me tightly.
Things seems to be looking up at the very last.