Incomplete. Defective. Imperfect. The words are bouncing around in my mind like ping pong balls. All words I’ve used more in the last few years than I’d like to admit. I was never perfect to begin with. I never thought I was, I knew to her though, that I was. Even at our worst, at my worst, I was perfect to her, until that one moment when I became defective. It isn’t the moment it should have been either it was a moment I caused, well planned and eventually followed through with. But, even as we stared down the face of uncertainty she believed that I was. As I pushed her away, as I did everything with the distinct purpose of giving her an out, she didn’t see those imperfections like I did. It wasn’t until I figured out how to gut her, what would break the rose colored lenses that I succeeded.
“It isn’t always going to be so hard Jack,” the trainer rattled on.
“No, but it will never be easy again…” I spit back through clenched teeth.
I didn’t want different, I wanted my life, back then. Now though, I want my perfectly imperfect life back and I want it right away. I don’t want to waste another minute apart from the only person I’ve ever felt like myself around, the only person who I would lay down my life for. I know the odds of anything coming out of this scheme are slim to none, but I’m going to freaking try anyways. I have to. Still, in the back of my mind, I can’t believe that anyone would ever want to dive right into this with me, even her. Why should I push my limitations on anyone, my negative nancy of a brain tries to remind me.
As the voice comes over the Bluetooth to tell me there is an incoming call I can’t help but groan, “Hi mom…”
“Jack, we haven’t seen you in a month… is everything okay?” her voice booms over the speakers.
“Yeah, Ma. I’ve just been really busy with work and helping JJ with the wedding,” I lie.
“Can you come this Sunday for dinner?” she asks.
“Sure ma, I’ll be there,” I answer, already wondering what I can find to get out of it.
“Come a little early, your sister has some news she said and she wants to do it before dinner…” she says, sounding nervous.
“Is Rob coming?” I ask, really not looking forward to seeing her current boyfriend.
“I really don’t know Jack, besides what does it matter,” she states, completely oblivious of the fact that the guy can’t look me in the eye.
“Nevermind, you wouldn’t understand… listen, I’m driving but I’ll see you Sunday, okay?” I say, quickly trying to get her to hang up.
“Okay, honey, have a good day,” she says before it clicks off.
Going through the things I could possibly use as an excuse I realize that I’ve pretty much used them all before and I’m going to be stuck sitting across from Rob. He looks at me with a terrified expression every time he sees me like I’m contagious or something. I can’t believe that I’m the only one who notices it, his complete avoidance of me or anything having to do with me is extreme. I know he looks at me with the thought that this could be me that he fears the same fate as I have.
I partly can’t fault the guy I guess. I think I’d be the same way. I’d like to think I wouldn’t but in all honesty, I don’t know if I could, given the situation was reversed. It isn’t something I think about really until I watch Rob and see his unease. For the most part, now, everyone around me is less awkward, but it wasn’t always that way.
“What the fuck are you staring at?” I seethed.
“Uh nothing…” my cousin Elijah said, turning his eyes away.
“Bull shit nothing you’re staring at me like I’ve got four heads,” I nearly spit out.
He struggled to look me in the eye for almost a year after that particular outburst.
It took a really long time for the people around me to see anything but what I wasn’t anymore. With the exception of Logan and Lucy. She never once shied away from me, constantly making sure to touch me, even when it became too much and I would jerk away from her, she still made the attempt. I’d wake up with her arm draped across my chest, her legs tangled with mine and cringe, didn’t she know that I was trying to distance myself from her despite the need for that touch. I’d give anything to wake up like that again. Smell her shampoo as I lay next to her, listen to her soft breathing while I take in her features beside me.
Coming home to her after a trip was always the best feeling. Not only was she always excited to see me after a few days but the way she made me feel, it was indescribable. As if the sun came out after days of rain and you were just soaking it all in.
I didn’t always sit behind a desk, I think as I head into the building. I used to travel two or three times a month hocking pharmaceuticals to docs around the country. Now, and since the accident I’ve been running a crew of ten reps doing what I used to. I was lucky in some ways that my company could bump me into this position after I got hurt but I miss it. I don’t do well sitting still, pretty ironic I know. In the early days, it nearly drove me bonkers being stuck behind a desk but I’m used to it now, used to the routine that work has become.
“I don’t want to be chained to a desk Luce, I want the spontaneity of MY job, coming and going as I please,” I argued after I’d spoken to my then boss.
“For right now though maybe we should just be glad they found a position to suit your needs at this point. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever be able to travel or have that job again…” she tried.
She didn’t see the issue with the raise or promotion like I did. I saw it as a restraint. Just another check on a long laundry list of things that changed. It added to the ease with which I was able to stage the affair. It made it easy for me to set it up in a way that she could see it. I would never have cheated on her. It wasn’t in my soul to do it and even kissing Jennifer was torture. It broke my heart to do that to Luce but at the same time, I didn’t know what to do to get her to leave. I spent a year and a half after getting hurt trying to show her just how horrible life would be with me and still she persevered.
I didn’t know what to do with myself back then let alone her. Unable to see past what was my new reality I just threw it all away. Now, now I wish I could go back and change it but I can’t. I can’t take that image or those actions from her. I did that. I kicked her when she was down and I regret it more than anything. More than the accident and my choice to drive that night and that’s saying something.
“Are you absolutely sure Jack?” JJ asked me for the thousandth time.
“There isn’t any other way. I’ve tried everything…” I answered.
“Maybe you quit trying to ruin it? Maybe you figure it out with her instead of against her?” he tried to reason with me.
“I don’t know how,” I answered him honestly.
I didn’t know how. It wasn’t a lie. It was the sad truth. And I hate myself for it every day. Now though, in less than three weeks I’m going to try and make it a point to tell her what I did and why. I don’t think she’ll change her mind but I won’t be able to move on if I don’t. I don’t want to move on, she will always be my wife, despite what that stupid decree says. I need to attempt to make it right, need to show her that I am the biggest idiot who ever lived to throw our life away.
The bachelor party is tonight and as much as I need a night out, I can’t get myself in the mood to go. I know the limo driver will be at my house at eight so I’ll have plenty of time to decompress after work and get ready. Secretly I’m thanking all things holy that Matt has planned everything. First, we are going to eat and then to what Matt described as an adult version of Chucky cheese. I know we will have a good time, we usually do when we are all together but I’m worried about Logan. He’s been quiet lately and I don’t know why. He won’t talk to me about whatever it is and he has only been over once in the last few weeks.
As much as I want to call him out I don’t want to push him away completely so I’m really surprised when I pull into my driveway next to his truck. I scan the porch and sure enough, he’s sprawled out on my patio furniture.
“A little late for a nap, don’t you think?” I ask as I approach him.
“Not napping, just waiting on you,” he answers shifting from laying to sitting.
“Driver won’t be here for almost three hours, did you get the time wrong?” I ask.
“Nope. Can I crash here tonight?” he asks nonchalantly.
“Sure, but why?” I ask, hoping he’ll let me in on whatever is going on.
“I thought this summer would be different, ya know, with the wedding and all that goes with it. Well, it hasn’t been. She treats me like I’m a freaking kid. I can’t go to work without her even breathing down my neck about it. Coming tonight, you would have thought I was going to ransack a 7-11 or something…” he says with a huff.
“Is that why you’ve been MIA lately?” I ask, feeling like there is more to this.
“Partly, I transferred to state,” he drops a bomb on me with those words.
“Why?” I ask before I can stop myself.
“I kind of switched my major too…” he continues to throw me for a loop.
“You realize you had two semesters left right? I mean you just decided this over the summer?” I ask.
“I’m not an idiot Jack. I transferred before last semester was over, I’ve been doing online classes all summer to try and gain some ground. If I take two extra classes this semester and one the second half, I’ll still graduate on time,” he spews out.
“Well, at least you didn’t just throw three years down the drain, Loge,” I answer.
“I thought her head was going to explode. She screamed at me for over an hour last night, followed me around at five this morning going on and on about it too, I didn’t even stop back after work. I’m an adult Jack. I don’t want to be stuck doing something I hate for the rest of my life, she just doesn’t get that…” he says letting his head drop into his hands.
“Yes, Logan, you are an adult, but maybe you should have said something sooner? I mean she is your mom and she had a right to know, they are helping you pay for school so letting them in on it would probably have eased the tension a little…” I try.
“Jack, I took sixteen credits this summer and worked a full time plus hour job, I think a few extra classes through the year are not that big of a deal. Besides state is cheaper,” he says softly.
I had no idea he was working and taking classes. I can’t believe he didn’t say anything. Instantly my mind travels to where is he staying. He won’t last another month at his parent’s house. I know what that’s like, I’ve seen Luce go through it and watched him the last few years. No matter how much their dad tries, it’s not enough to make up for what their mom puts them through.
“Logan, where are you going to live, campus? Apartment?” I ask, hoping for his sake he doesn’t say at home.
“I was actually going to talk to you about that tonight…” he says not looking at me.
“Logan,” I start, and stop.
“Listen, just till I can find an apartment… I can’t stay with them, especially not now,” he says with those eyes, you know the ones, you have a hard time saying no.
“How long? Have you told Luce?” I ask, immediately knowing the answer to my own question.