This is a short story inspired by current events. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here, if you want to follow along. This is a six-part story (possibly five if I combine two parts). For anyone following A New Beginning, the last three chapters will be on the blog Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
“It’s going to be okay, Maddie. We’ll try again.”
Liam’s voice had been warm, comforting, reassuring. His arms around her made her feel like her world wasn’t crumbling under her feet when she knew it actually was. He gave her hope, hope that one day they’d carry a pregnancy to term and they’d have a child of their own. But that had been four years ago, after their second miscarriage, and now, with a divorce looming like a dark specter on the horizon, Maddie had lost all hope of ever having children. She was 32, almost 33. Soon she’d be too old for children. The mere thought of dating again, of finding someone she wanted to have children with exhausted her.
Liam had been the only one she’d ever wanted to have children with.
Walking slowly around the culdesac, her head down, she knew that Liam was still the only one she wanted to have children with. Despite all the anger, all the hurt, all the ways he’d rejected her over the years, she wanted nothing more than for him to want her again. She knew that wasn’t going to happen, though. He’d barely flinched when she’d told him she wanted a divorce six months ago.
“Fine,” he’d said, jaw tight, looking away from her. “If that’s what you want, I’ll call Pete in the morning and he can start drawing up the paperwork.”
“It is what I want,” she’d responded.
It had been a lie. She hadn’t wanted a divorce. She’d wanted to shake him out of his complacency, to force him into realizing how much he’d neglected her for the past four years. Her plan had failed miserably. Instead of begging her to stay, he’d practically packed her bags. He’d called his lawyer, suggested a lawyer for her and told her they would need to decide who got what in terms of possessions, property, money.
“Of course you can have the house and I’ll provide alimony for you if you wish,” he’d told her, a stoic expression on his face, his voice practically monotone. “And I’m sure the process will be easier since . . .” He’d glanced up at her then, looking at her for a few moments. He’d swallowed hard and cleared his throat. “Since there aren’t any children involved.”
That’s right, Liam, she had wanted to scream. There aren’t any children involved because you practically abandoned me for your career after my last miscarriage. You pushed me off for years when I asked when we could start trying again. You replaced me with conference calls and press conferences and political prestige within your brother’s crooked political circle of influence.
Maddie kicked at a rock on the sidewalk and felt tears clutching at her throat. “You replaced me, Liam,” she whispered as she walked. “The girl you said you’d always love because I’m the only one who ever made you feel like you were loved unconditionally.”
The tears came suddenly and she wiped at them furiously, afraid someone would see her and think she knew something they all didn’t because of who she was married to. She dreaded going back to the house, back to the husband who was shut up inside, not only inside the house, but inside himself.
Still, she couldn’t walk out here all day. She was actually tired. It had been a long week and she was feeling run down. She needed to rest, to keep her strength up in case she really did catch something from Liam. She walked slowly back to the house, making sure to wipe the tears from her face before she went back inside. The last thing she needed was Liam seeing her tears and asking her what was wrong, pretending he cared, when she knew he didn’t and hadn’t for a very long time.
It was quiet back inside the house. She breathed a sigh of relief and tossed her coat onto the couch. Finally some peace and quiet. Liam had probably locked himself in his office to start working on press releases with John and Matt. She glanced at the office door as she sat down and saw it was open. She couldn’t hear Liam talking or typing away on his computer.
She groaned softly as she stood, a sharp pain shooting down her upper back. She stood and waited for the pain to subside, knowing it was stress-induced. She hunched her shoulders and clenched her jaw when she was angry or upset and she knew it was putting a strain on her back. She walked gingerly down the hallway toward Liam’s office and out of the corner of her eye she saw him in the spare room, asleep on his back, a pillow hugged to his chest. She paused and leaned against the doorway. She remembered her friend Annie telling her how peaceful her children looked asleep, how easy it was to forget their misdeeds from that day when she saw them vulnerable and relaxed in their bed.
Liam looked peaceful.
The lines she was so used to seeing stretch across his forehead were smooth, barely noticeable. His mouth was slightly open, but he wasn’t snoring, something he’d never done, and she was grateful for. His eyelashes had always been unusually long for a man, but not too long to be unbecoming. Strands of dark brown hair laid across his forehead, the rest of it swept back due to his supine position.
A small smile pulled at Maddie’s mouth. Memories pushed their way into her thoughts, against her will. Hands clutching, mouths touching, soft gasps, clothes on the floor, a long, contented sight and then a loud crash as the boards that held the bed up at their first apartment broke and sent the bed, and them, crashing down. They’d laid there, the bed at an angle, their heads down, their feet up, startled expressions on their faces, their naked bodies intertwined. Then they’d burst into laughter and held each other, laughing even as they dragged themselves from the wreckage of the bed.
“The couch doesn’t have wooden slats,” he’d said, eyes flashing with a mischievous glint.
He’d taken her hand and they’d rushed to the room that served both as a kitchen and a living room and resumed their undressed rendezvous.
He sure knew how to touch her back then. How to caress her, where to kiss her, how to hold her and just what to say to make her feel safe and loved. That first year of marriage. It all seemed like a lifetime ago. She touched her fingers to her throat, realizing her heart was pounding fast and she’d flushed warm at the memories. Her gaze drifted over his form on the bed, his strong shoulders, long legs, perfectly shaped mouth. She couldn’t deny he still did something to her insides; that he still lit a fire of passion within her that made her head feel a little funny, her stomach flip flop.
Her eyelids were even heavier now. She yawned, walking back to the couch for a much-needed nap and maybe later a Cary Grant movie and a cup of hot chocolate.