Scars on our Hearts
Matt wasn't sure when it started. At Halloween, they were fine. But since then, some invisible force had began to rip them apart. Jamie had been... nagging more. She started dropping hints about their future together, buying a house, possibly adopting Luke, marriage. Matt had started having nightmares of crib bars and giving up his dreams and being married before he was even twenty-one.
They had spent Thanksgiving together, hoping against hope that it would make things between them okay again, but it had only made things worse. Jamie seemed to know as well as he did that their relationship was deteriorating, but there was a reason they stuck it out.
Matt loved Luke. He loved the way his little face would light up whenever Matt came around, he liked being called 'daddy', he liked reading and playing with him, and overall he liked pretending being his dad.
But Jamie was talking about potty training and preschool and the future, and those were the moments that made Matt's lungs feel like they were shriveling. She talked about family night and 'We can't, Luke might hear us' and 'Luke has a cold, let's just stay in tonight'.
Matt felt smothered, trapped, and he wanted out. At first he felt like a terrible person because of what it would do to Luke, but then as the weeks went by, he started to care less and less. He wanted out, and he wanted out badly.
It was a week before Christmas that things between them reached a boiling point.
"You promised you'd take him to see Santa Claus!"
"I never promised anything! I said I would try to take him if I could get off work on time!"
"But you picked up an extra shift!"
"I need the money, Jamie. What was I supposed to say?"
"You're unbelievable." She kicked a toy car away and stormed into the adjoining kitchen. Matt followed.
"Why is it that whenever I ask a legitimate question, you fucking blow me off?"
Jamie spun around, long brown hair smacking him in the face. "Watch how you talk in front of him!"
"He's watching some stupid kid show!" Matt gestured to the toddler . His eyes were glued to the TV, completely dead to the world.
Jamie started at him incredulously. "Why are you acting like this?" She asked quietly.
"All you do is nag," he said tiredly, rubbing his eyelids. "It's like I can never do anything fuc- freaking right anymore."
"Because you're not serious!" she countered, slapping her hand on the counter. "You
"Mommy?" Luke asked, tearing his eyes away from the television. He walked over and tugged on her pants. Jamie tore her eyes away from the source of her anger and looked down at her son.
"Not now," she said gently, caressing his hair. "Mommy and daddy are talking."
Matt shuddered angrily. There was that word again. Daddy. It wasn't the first time Jamie had referred to him as 'Daddy'. But this time, it was different. It was different because he looked at the small child clinging to his mother's leg and he didn't see his son, he saw a child. A child he cared about, but a child that wasn't his. A child he didn't want to be his.
"Jamie," he said again. "Can you not do that?"
Jamie looked up. "Do what?"
"That... thing. Don't group us together like that."
Jamie stared at him. "You know what, just... leave." she waved her hand at the door.
"Leave." Her voice was very calm, and suddenly Matt felt like a small child being scolded by his mother.
"So that's it, we're done talking about this?"
"Not if you're going to act like this, no."
"You know," Matt stepped closer. She crossed her arms and didn't so much as blink at the action. "You could try cutting me a little slack. I've been better to you than most guys would."
Her face darkened. "So I should be grateful that you're my boyfriend, is that what you're saying?"
"I'm saying it wouldn't kill you to be a little less of..." he waved a hand in her direction. "Whatever this is."
"I am so sick of your selfishnes-"
"My selfishness?" He asked disbelievingly. He took another step closer until they were a foot apart and lowered his voice. "I don't know if you've noticed, Jamie, but I'm putting a lot of time and effort into taking care of a kid that isn't even mine."
"If I leave, I'm not coming back."
Matt stormed across the apartment and slammed the door behind him so hard the walls shook.
It was three hours later that a knock at the door caught Jamie's attention. She shut Luke's bedroom door behind her and looked through the peephole.
"Jamie, let me in."
"Go away before I call the cops."
"Please, I just want to talk."
Jamie pressed her forehead against the splintering wood and sighed. Curse that voice that she had come to love so much over the last nine months.
She twisted the deadbolt and opened the door. Upon opening it, she frown. "What on earth are you covered in?"
"Is that... whipped cream?"
"Yeah... it's not what you think, though. I got into a... food fight with my sisters."
"You have flour all over your shirt," she deadpanned.
"I'm sure I do." He held out a bouquet of calla lilies.
Jamie's tongue instinctively curled in a thank you and her hands almost reached out to take them, but she held them back.
"What are those?" she asked coolly.
"I don't want them."
Matt's shoulders slumped in defeat. "Look, Jamie..." he said sadly. "I didn't mean what I said earlier."
Jamie blinked back at the pressure of welling tears. "Really?" she asked skeptically.
"No, I didn't. I'm just, I don't know, scared, you know?" He held the flowers out again and she took them this time. "I'm scared of what being with you really means. But... Mira told me something that made me realize that I don't want things to end between us."
Jamie hugged the flowers to her chest and stared at him with a small smile. "You wanna come inside and talk?"
"Yeah, that'd be great."
Jamie walked into the kitchen with Matt close behind her. She set the flowers on the counter and turned to face her ingredients-covered boyfriend. He was smiling and his face was full of hope.
"I think it's over," she spoke.
His arms dropped down to his sides as he stared at her in shock. "It's- what?"
Jamie bit her bottom lip and took his hand. "What we're doing, you're not happy. I can tell."
"That's why I'm here, so we can work things out." Matt cupped her cheek with his free hand. "I love you."
Jamie choked back a sob, wrapping her fingers around his wrist and pulling his hand away from her face and holding it in front of them. "And I love you," she assured him. "I love you... more than I ever thought I could love any man."
"Because it's not what you want," Jamie explained tearfully. "You love me, but I don't think that's enough for us. I don't think this is right for us." She wiped her eye, not looking at him. One look at that devastated face and she knew it would be all over. "You're a good man, Matt. And one day you're going to meet someone and completely fall in love with her, but that's not me." She turned her head to look at the closed bedroom door where her son was sleeping.
"I can't just leave," he said weakly.
"No, I can't leave." It was a weak attempt at a joke, but it worked because he gave her a watery smile. "I'm always going to be his mother and he's always going to need me. But you can leave."
Matt pulled her closer and pressed his lips to her for a moment. "I'm sorry." He whispered when they broke apart.
"I know," Jamie whispered back, wiping a dab of whipped cream away from eyebrow.
Matt took a couple steps away, still holding her hands. "Can you tell the little guy I'm sorry?"
"I will. He won't hate you for it, I promise."
"I should probably... go." He nodded toward the door, but paused, thinking of something. "Don't let this affect your friendship with Mira, okay?"
Jamie walked him to the door, holding it open for him. He smiled as best he could.
"Um, take care of yourself, Jamie."
"You too, Matt."
Jamie shut the door behind him and pressed her forehead against it again, sniffling.
"Mommy?" Luke called from his room. "Mommy!"
Jamie pushed away from the door and quickly headed into Luke's room where the toddler was sitting up in his little bed. Jamie tried not to think of how Matt had helped her set the bed up.
"What's wrong, my angel?"
Luke didn't answer; he just scooted closer and wrapped his little arms around her. "Mommy stay here. Mommy stay."
Jamie laid across his bed and let him snuggle up to her, holding him closely. "Mommy's not gonna leave, baby. Mommy's right here."
The end of Matt and Jamie has come. Before I get any hate mail, I just want to let you know that there IS a reason for them breaking up. But it will come much, much later. Let's see if anyone can guess.
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