A couple times a month (but I’ll probably miss a few), I’ll be posting fiction inspired by either a song or a picture. I’m doing this in conjunction with some of the Wednesday Bloggers listed above (if their names are links, they’re participating in the prompt). I thought I would kick it off with something from the Bossverse. This isn’t necessarily anything that will show up in anything published. And it hasn’t been edited or beta read, either, so this gives you a chance to see what my writing looks like before my wizard friends throw their editing magic at it.
This month’s song was Ed Sheeran’s “I Messed Up.” Which I hadn’t heard before, and I don’t really “get” it, so I just went with the mopey vibe of thing.
BEFORE YOU GO FURTHER: spoilers through The Ex!
Gena packed a bag on a Friday night.
“I don’t know why you think you have to be here for this,” she snapped, the irritation as plain in her voice as in her body. Her back was rigid, her arms trembling as she rolled her clothes.
I took a swallow of my scotch and soda, far to drunk to be in the situation I was in, watching my wife walk out. “Well, I don’t know why you think you have to do this.”
She shook her head, bending over her suitcase. Our suitcase, from the luggage set we’d gotten as a wedding present. We’d always meant to travel. Before we have kids, we’d say. But we’d never gotten around to it, somehow, and that “before” had gotten too far away.
“I’m not doing anything.” Her low ponytail fell over her shoulder, a slash of bright copper against her unusually drab clothing. My Gena didn’t dress in beaten up olive denim and tan corduroy. The Gena I’d seen in photos from before we’d met looked more like the woman standing in front of me in our dark bedroom. The full moon and city glow flooded through the long, angled windows we’d put in when she’d told me how much she loved waking up to see the sky.
“You’re the one leaving. Because–”
“Because I don’t want to lose my life to hormone injections and egg harvesting?” she threw down some article of clothing or another. “We tried.”
“Oh, we didn’t try!” There it was, the anger that had driven us to this point. Locked us in a fucking car boot and driven us out to the desert. We were going to dig a grave for our shared history and lay down in it and die. “You gave it a year!”
“A year, Ian!” she shouted at me. We’d had this fight so often in the past two months, it didn’t seem like we could wring anymore resentment out of it. But Gena’s voice dripped with it. “Do you think I’m not disappointed?”
“I think you’re very disappointed. I think you were waiting it out–”
“That’s not fair!”
“No it’s not!” And there was the shouting. Right on time. “You said you wanted a child, you wanted a family. But you were waiting me out, until I would say, ‘oh, too much time has gone by, I’m getting too old.’ It’s all bullshit and you know it. You never wanted a baby–”
“I wanted a baby! When I was thirty-two. When I was thirty-five. I’m about to be forty, Ian! You’re fifty-two.” She turned back to her packing. “We had plans. All of these… amazing adventures we were going to go off and do. You’re not going to have time to do that in twenty years.”
“We don’t have time now. We have our lives here. I have a fucking job! I can’t just run off to ‘find myself’ or whatever spiritual bullshit you’ve latched onto this week–”
“Oh, but you would have time to parent? You can’t take a couple weeks off a year to go somewhere that’s not Brooklyn?” She shook her hand at the window, damning everything beyond. “You don’t have time for your wife, how would you have time for your kid?”
“I’d make time!”
“But not for me!”
We stood staring at each other in the same silence that had fallen between us in this argument before. Rehearsal hadn’t made it easier to stand there and realizing that we loved ourselves and our own plans more than we loved each other. And no matter how much we’d practiced ignoring the differences in our wants and needs, we’d never perfected the art of totally banishing them.
Gena crossed her arms over her middle, not in a gesture of exasperation but as a donning of armor. In the past I would have gone to her, to comfort the woman I loved. She wasn’t that woman anymore. “I don’t want this to be any uglier than it already is, okay?”
“Okay,” I agreed, though both of us knew it was only bound to get uglier. Some part of me believed that this could all be done cooperatively, despite the fact that our stubbornness was driving us apart.
I sat on the edge of our bed–or my bed, as of six days ago–and rested my elbows on my knees. I rubbed my forehead, far too exhausted to be anything other than practical. “I’ll call my lawyer in the morning. Are we going to court for this?”
“No. I don’t want anything.” The resignation in her voice matched mine. “Well, I do want some things. But let’s try to do this without a legal hassle. Divorce is a big enough hassle as it is.”
“Well, I’m not the expert in the room on that one.” It was a cheap shot, and it felt good. I took another swallow of my drink.
“I’ve only got one life, Ian,” she said with quiet reproach. “So do you. You can have a life with me, or you can have a life with your hypothetical children.”
“I would have rather had both. But that wasn’t ever an option, was it?” I willed my voice to stay even. Shouting hadn’t solved anything so far.
It took her a long time to answer, and that confirmed what I already knew before she said it. “No. If I’m being honest… it never was.”
The finality of the moment was almost a relief; it was a point of no return. There was no question, now, that things could ever be fixed. We’d entered into the relationship under false pretenses, and now we would part bitter and unhappy. Knowing the course didn’t make the heading any easier.
Two weeks ago, all I’d wanted in life was to be with her. Now, I couldn’t get away from her fast enough. I pushed up from the bed and walked away, unable to hold back my bitterness as I said, “Oh. Now we’re telling the truth.”
“I’ll be at Cindy’s,” she called after me as I took the stairs down from the loft.
I knew I should care where she went. But at the moment, I just wanted her gone.