I crept quietly into the bedroom. Jamie was dozed in one of the armchairs next to the bedroom's windows.
It was hardly five o'clock when I got home from the stormy day. The rain was one of the primary reasons I came home, so I could change.
Against my better judgment to just get in and out, I stopped for awhile to watch her. Her hair was a sharp contrast to the crisp, white of the pillow she slept on and her rosy lips were just parted with only the soft sound of her breaths escaping.
It wasn't as if her looks had faded on me, she was still as lovely as the day I met her but I had still managed to stray from her. I had still gone to Elizabeth.
I didn't want to think on any of it much longer so I hastily opened the closet only to have a hanger drop to the floor. Jamie stirred and blinked dazedly at me.
Her blue eyes were bloodshot and there were slight black smudges beneath her eyes. I knew she'd been crying.
I paused before I replied from where I stood.
Her dark hair was straight as it had been a lot more these days, she didn't really seem to want it wavy anymore. She sat up and held her knees as she watched me.
"What are you doing here so…early?"
I knew the question was coming. She already knew the answer. We both knew I'd lie.
"I'm meeting with some people from work tonight to talk about the presentation on the Benchley portfolio next week. Thought I'd get myself cleaned up."
I had buttoned on a new shirt and was just about through changing into a pair of trousers.
Jamie gave the same weak, insincere smile she gave every time I made a new excuse.
"Okay," she said, humoring me, "Do you know when you'll be back?"
It was a whole script Jamie and I went through every few days, as if adultery was a theatrical performance.
"I don't know, late…"
I picked out a random tie from the rack and began tying it when Jamie did something she'd never done before. She stood and softly walked over to me, like she was walking on air.
She untied the tie I had just put on and hung in back on the rack before handing me another one. It was one of my nicer silk ties, striped with dark green, mint, and white primarily but with thin strips of black and navy blended in to compliment the main colors.
"What's this?" I asked quietly, more to myself than to her.
She gave me a real smile this time as I ran the tie through all of its loops, "It brings out more of your eyes. You should at least look nice."
That was it; she took her first steps in destroying us. It wasn't just a case of the husband who cheated on his wife, the victim, anymore. Victims didn't participate.
In one of the characteristic acts of kindness I loved so much, she did to me one of the cruelest things she could have. She gave me a pang of guilt I couldn't just swallow and I couldn't help but hate her a little for it.
"Jamie." I murmured with frustration, "What are you doing?"
She knew. I knew.
She didn't reply, she just gave me my coat and walked with me to the front. I felt her jump slightly when I found myself taking her hand. Maybe in desperation. Maybe not but truth be told, I was shocked myself.
"Well… have fun." She stammered at the door.
I put a hand on her shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. Her eyes were watery again and I knew she couldn't take it anymore, to feel so burdened against me.
"How can I have fun?" I whispered, continuing our act, "It's just work."
She gave a choked laugh and bit her lip, "Yeah… it is…"
Elizabeth wasn't better in any way than Jamie but I always found myself choosing her over.
"I love you." Jamie said as loudly as she could in a state like hers. A state of absolute disdain. Misery. Love.
I wanted her to cry so badly because maybe for those split seconds when I would wipe them, I would be the person she needed so badly. A person who wouldn't be hurting her for once.
But I couldn't be him, it was too late and by the way she said the words, Jamie knew too.
It was a final curtain call. It was more of a goodbye than a profession of how she felt, and suddenly I never wanted her to love me again, it wasn't worth it. I wasn't worth it.
"I love you too," I replied as I stepped out her door, what used to be our door. "I'll see you Jamie."
She finally let out a sob and even after she had slammed the door shut I could hear her crying through the door.
I walked like a ghost to the elevator and let it all sink in. I could have stopped the elevator and gone back to Jamie. I could have gone right up to the door and kissed her until she stopped crying. Until I could finally tell her that I was sorry. That I still loved her. That she was my world. But then I was interrupted by a phone call. I looked at the screen. Elizabeth.
It kept ringing and ringing in my hand even as I slumped onto the floor of the elevator. I could have ignored it. I could have dropped it. I could have crushed it. But I didn't. I couldn't. So I opened the phone and answered it.