Don't Look Back
The evening sky was pitch dark by now, with only a few stars beginning to dot the heavens. Jordan carefully placed Katy in the car, then turned back toward the house to see Sara staring idly off into space.
"Sara! Hellooooooo! You coming or what?" he called while waving a hand at her.
"Oh, yeah, I'm coming!" she said, snapping out of the daze.
Jordan laughed. "Ah yes, t'was my poison kiss that put you in a trance!" he said, developing a Dracula-like accent. "MWAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Oh be quiet!" Sara stammered, turning red in the face.
"And the maiden blushes even as I speak!"
"Oh just drive!" she laughed, pushing him into the car.
"As you wish." Jordan replied.
A knock resounded throughout the small riverside apartment. A young woman paused amid her cooking and turned the heat down on the stove so as not to burn the chili she was making for dinner. She pulled her raven locks out of her face and strolled toward the door to answer it.
"Hey Vanessa." said the man on the doorstep.
Anger flared within Vanessa and she moved to slam the door in his face, but he was too quick. Jordan wedged his foot in the door and looked pleadingly at Vanessa.
"What do you want?" she snarled.
"We need to talk 'Nessa." He implored, "Aren't you tired of all this fighting and crap? I mean come on, it's been six months!"
She stared somberly past him, avoiding eye contact.
"Fine." She said exasperatedly.
She opened the apartment door and let him in, making it clear she was not happy to be doing so. The door shut, she turned, arms folded, to face him.
"Hey, what smells so good?" Jordan questioned, desperately trying to ease the tension in the room.
"I'm making chili for dinner." she answered, beginning to soften up.
'My favorite…' Jordan thought. Boy was he hungry. The feeling in his stomach reminded him that he had neglected to eat dinner, but he wasn't about to impose on his soon to be ex-wife even if it was his favorite dish.
"So what'd ya want to talk about?" she questioned again.
"I got a new job." he stated, not really sure how to begin the conversation.
"Really? You mean with a new practice, or at a new hospital or something? Are you gonna let me move back in so we can fix all this stuff, cause I've really missed you."
Jordan swallowed hard. "Not exactly… The job is in Dallas."
"Dallas?" she said in disbelief, "But that means you're-"
"Moving, yeah." He finished.
Vanessa collapsed on the living room couch in shock. "When?"
"Tonight…" came the tentative reply.
"Oh my god…"
Jordan tried to ease her pain. He knew it must be hard to hear. "Katy's coming with me, and we've got an apartment all set up. Movers are coming by the house tomorrow to get the rest of my stuff, so you can move back in by the end of the week." he finished, but the look on her face told him she hadn't heard a thing.
"And hear I thought you were coming over to fix things, not completely destroy them!" she said, anger rising again. "How can you do this to me?"
Jordan was getting frustrated. No way was she going to lay all the blame for their broken relationship on him.
"Newsflash Vanessa! There was nothing left to destroy! Our marriage has been over for the past two years!"
The look on Vanessa's face made him immediately regret what he'd said.
"No, you're right, it's all my fault." she said in tears. "I'm the one that walked away! I'm sorry but I couldn't help it!"
"Don't try to put me on some guilt trip here! You're the one that cheated on me!"
She stared crying harder. "But you were never around! You were always busy and you never had any time for me!"
"That's because I was busy taking care of our daughter!"
"I've been an awful mother, haven't I?" she said, suddenly changing the subject.
"No, you weren't…"
"Yeah I was, you can say it. My god I don't even know her birthday…" Vanessa said softly.
Jordan remained silent, unsure of what to say to comfort her.
"Are we getting a divorce?" she asked quietly.
"Um, yeah. I had my lawyer draw up papers a week ago, and you should get them any day now… I'm really sorry, but I can't live like this anymore; not when I have a kid to raise."
He sat down on the brown couch next to her. Vanessa just looked at him, then collapsed crying on his arm. Jordan put his arms around her, trying to console her. She calmed down a bit, then turned to him again.
"So where do I go from here?"
"I'll still be around, I mean, I'll give you money and all. It's not like I'm going to disappear."
"But what about "us'?" she questioned. "What happened to us?"
"I don't think there is an "us" anymore, to tell ya the truth." he said, trying not to upset her again.
Tears filled her eyes once more. "Is there anything I could have done to stop this from happening?"
"You know, it's not even the fact that you cheated on me." he said. "It's the fact that I found out from the babysitter. If you had just told me, it wouldn't have been so bad. I'm sorry, but that's the truth. You really hurt me, Vanessa. And I don't think anything can take that away."
She nodded regretfully, realizing nothing she could say would repair what used to be a wonderful marriage.
"I gotta go now; I have a plane to catch. I'm really sorry. Goodbye." Jordan got up from the couch and turned to leave.
"Wait." Vanessa stopped him. "There's something I've gotta know. I loved you. I still love you. Did you ever love me, even for the slightest fraction of a second?"
Jordan kept walking out the door, knowing he couldn't stand to look at her anymore. He could already here her crying again, and he knew he was going to break down too. He closed the door behind him, then stopped to stare at a night sky that look so much like the one mirrored in their wedding picture.
"I did." He whispered as a tear slid down his cheek.
'I loved you so much...'
Wow. I actually finished a story for the first time in my life. You have no idea how many unfinished stories sit in the depths of my room.... shudders
Anyway, when I started this story, I was really rooting for Jordan, because he had the toughest time starting over and moving on. I hope I made that clear. But now that I finish the story, I feel really bad for Vanessa. I mean, sure she messed up, but everyone messes up. I'm still not even sure why Jordan wouldn't take her back, but he just couldn't get over what she did. It scares me how much Vanessa is like me, now that I think about it. I was in the same situation as her, minus the marriage and the kid. Except in the end, my guy forgave me. Maybe Jordan will eventually forgive her.
Well, thanks for sticking with me to the end. I really appriciate it.
-Aslan Leigh Israel