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Inspired by a Melody: “I Messed Up,” Ed Sheeran (SPOILERS THROUGH THE EX)

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Bronwyn Green • Jenny Trout • Kellie St. James • Gwendolyn Cease • Jessica De La Rosa
Jessica Jarman • Kris Norris • Kayleigh Jones

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.

13 Comments

  1. “I’d make time!”

    “But not for me!”

    And now, I’m gutted. Thanks, Trout.

    As heartbreaking as this is, it’s also amazing. And beautiful in the way that truly honest things are.

    January 19, 2015
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  2. Gwen Cease
    Gwen Cease

    Wow! So powerful and sadly so real. You’re an awesome writer.

    January 19, 2015
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  3. I’m starting to question is my love for Ed Sheeran is a wise one? So many sad stories, lol… loved it Jenny. So real!

    January 19, 2015
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  4. Jessica De La Rosa
    Jessica De La Rosa

    Yup. I’m just going to sit here and pretend I have allergies. “Oh no, no. I’m okay. I’m not sad at all it’s just…dust.”

    January 19, 2015
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  5. I love Ian. I’m just going to go cry now. Bron broke my heart and you have shattered it further. *sniffle*

    January 19, 2015
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  6. Alison
    Alison

    Well. That was sad. Interesting to find out more about their break up, though.

    January 19, 2015
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  7. Ellen
    Ellen

    Really good. On a side note: (SPOILER) I can’t see why Sophie thinks Ian and her admin would make a good couple. The age difference is even more extreme than it is in her case and the admin is a virgin, while Ian is a swinger. What makes Sophie thing this would work?

    January 20, 2015
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    • Heather
      Heather

      I’m glad someone else said this… I’m halfway through The Ex and I really do love Jenny’s writing. It’s what spurs me on through reading it. I also have some issues with the Sophie/Neil relationship, though I’m apparently in the minority. [SPOILERS, below]:

      I’ve held back from criticizing because Jenny can write whatever she wants, clearly. But she also promotes that we should examine the entertainment that we enjoy, so…

      1. Neil and Sophie are cute together. They’re cute. I’m not totally in love with them as a couple though. The 24 year age gap seems excessive. What do they talk about? What do they do? They talk about how the other is so hot, they engage in lots and lots of sex and BDSM (don’t even get me started on how often Sophie orgasms – and we thought Ana was bad), and Neil regales Sophie with his wealth. He’s not necessarily obscene, but the wealth disparity between the classes just personally rankles me, so I find myself rolling my eyes a lot.

      2. While I “get” that the billionaire boyfriend is a thing in romance right now, it does tend to roll into that old trope about (older) men with resources and their much younger women partners. Because women go for wealth and men go for beauty and youth, as they say. It’s sad to see this continually perpetrated.
      As an aside, are there ANY major characters of the supporting cast other than Valerie who are on par in age with Neil, Ian and their wealthy friends? The nearest I could think of was Deja at 32. Holli and Emma and Penny and Sophie are all in their twenties, that golden age. There WAS Gena, mentioned in the above scene, but it looks like she’s on her way out. Pity. It would be nice to have some representation by older women who aren’t the “villain” (Valerie).

      3. I don’t really like Sophie. She had more personality in the early books, but it seems diluted now. While each book has its own emergency – cancer, an unexpected pregnancy, a tell-all book – Sophie seems to be transforming more and more into a superficial, appearance-obsessed trophy wife. She jokingly calls herself that, but it’s not really such a joke. I don’t even see her down-home modest roots anymore. Holli was right – Sophie has just been consumed endless wealth and an obsession with Neil. Also, Sophie WROTE A BEST-SELLING BOOK and then was all “meh” about it. Sure, the book was only that popular because she is Neil’s girlfriend, but still. As an aspiring author, I wanted to slap her for shrugging off those easy opportunities and sudden success.

      Whew. Okay, so… that all being said, I love Jenny’s writing which is why I’ve continued through the series where I normally wouldn’t read about billionaires. As a Childfree woman, I appreciate that not every woman in the series is interested in having children. That’s refreshing.

      I suspect that The Baby will have to do with Olivia. But if Sophie does an about-face to give Neil another child – I may just throw my iPad across the room. More likely, Penny will hook up with Ian and give HIM the children that we did not know until now he desperately wanted. And then it will be just another case of a 50-something man impregnating a 20-something young woman.

      January 22, 2015
      |Reply
      • Ellesse
        Ellesse

        I have a different theory about “The Baby.” Rebecca gets pregnant! Sophie gets herself a little sister (maybe a brother). Think what a great scene Sophie walking with a toddler Olivia and pushing an infant sibling in the pram would be – everyone exclaiming about her children that are really her grandchild and sister (or brother). Rebecca’s only 44 I think. She could def have another kid. Looking forward to finding out! Love the books. Love the anti-50 Shades themes. Thanks, Jenny! I’m a fan.

        March 27, 2015
        |Reply

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