Chapter 10 - Epilogue: Mann and (Ex-Wife)
Hal walked back to his car trying to come to terms with the last month of his life. His college lover Blair showed up in Greenville twenty-two years after they last saw each other and it only took a few days before she was out of the guest room and into his bed.
The divorced Hal didn't question the ethics of the situation because Blair's return made Hal realize how incredibly lonely he had been and it was a fantasy come true to have Blair back in his life, however briefly.
But now she was gone - almost as oddly as she had arrived - and Hal felt even lonelier than he did before she arrived. He returned to his dumpy rented house where he could still smell the scent of Blair in the air, especially in his bedroom. He sat on the bed and felt the mattress where she slept the previous night and he knew she was gone forever.
Hal went through the motions during the next several days, surprised at how depressed and listless he felt in the aftermath of his fling with Blair, the first woman he ever loved. She left much too soon after their wonderfully exciting reunion full of sex and memories. In the emptiness of the house, Hal realized that Rosie had been serving as his surrogate partner since their divorce. They didn't have sex and they didn't live together but they still shared their thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.
Did Blair's arrival in Greenville change what Hal had with Rosie now that Blair was gone?
More than a week passed since Blair returned to her former life. Hal had washed the linen and all traces of her were gone except for his memories. He hadn't seen Rosie since Blair's departure but it wasn't unusual for that much time to pass between her visits. Hal was seated at his kitchen table reading the paper when the front door bell rang. He was slightly surprised as he didn't get a lot of visitors and in the back of his mind he was almost hoping it was The Return of Blair who had somehow changed her mind and had coming running back to be with him forever.
Hal opened the door to find his ex-wife Rosie standing on the front stoop. She always looked good, well dressed and fashionable for her job, her red hair always styled and attractive. She worked out at the gym and Hal was surprised she wasn't with anybody given her intelligence, success, and beauty.
"Since when do you knock?" He asked with surprise. "Usually you come storming in like a Police SWAT Team."
"Yes, and I realized that was rather rude of me," Rosie replied honestly. "I don't live here. Who am I to barge in uninvited all the time?"
Hal was about to reply with his usual sarcasm but something stopped him. "Would you like to come in?" He asked instead, sounding unusually friendly and polite.
"Thanks," she said with a smile as she followed him into the living room.
"Anything wrong?" Hal wanted to know as they took seats on opposite ends of the living room couch.
"No, I just wanted to see how you were doing," she replied.
"How are you doing?" Hal asked with interest.
"Actually, I've been doing a lot of thinking," Rosie let him know.
"Me too," Hal confessed, still feeling raw in his post-Blair existence.
"How did we let ourselves screw things up so badly, Hal?" Rosie asked with a sigh.
"I don't know," Hal admitted. "But I guess it doesn't matter now," he added with a shrug. "I'm not interested in drudging up blame or old hurtful accusations."
"Thank you," she said with relief. "Anyway," she said. "I've been thinking about how stupid we've both been."
"We don't have to talk about this, Rosie," Hal said.
"I want to," Rosie replied. "I share the blame for our divorce. I did a lot of things wrong and I feel guilty about it. I'm truly sorry."
"Me too," Hal said gently.
"Can we agree that I will never bring up Blair again if you stop mentioning Jack?"
"Yes," Hal answered right away.
She let out a breath and looked at him for a long moment. "Do you feel this gravitational pull?" She wanted to know.
"Strange how it takes divorce for us to finally figure out this reincarnated version of what we wanted to be all along."
"We've gotten to know each other in a different way in the strange wreckage of our failed marriage," Rosie agreed.
"Too bad we drive each other crazy," Hal sighed.
"Maybe we just shouldn't live together," Rosie acknowledged. "But that doesn't mean we can't still love each other.
"Maybe," Hal said tentatively.
"I won't tell my parents that I'm seeing you," she announced. "I only spend the entire night when it's late. If either of us meet someone else we're free to move on….again."
"What are you saying?" Hal asked with confusion.
"Let's date," she said. "Or at least spend time together. Here's fine."
"You want to re-establish our relationship?" Hal asked with surprise.
"I'd like to try," Rosie said. "Isn't that what we've sort of kind of weirdly been doing these past few years anyway? Me barging in here all the time? Neither of us with anybody else. What have we been waiting for?"
"Would you like to spend some time together with me here now?" Hal proposed.
"Do you remember the first time we had sex?" Rosie asked.
"How could I forget?"
"I'll start the bath and you get the crackers and cheese," Rosie said, standing. "Let's do it again."
She headed for the bathroom and a dazed Hal headed for the kitchen. Mann and (Ex) Wife – together again?