Written for the prompt(s): Things got out of hand that night.
|Word count: 3,200
“. . . and things got outta hand that night, Vic . . . I’m so sorry,” Kelly whispered, tears rolling down her pale cheeks. My own cheeks were as dry as my eyes. I hadn’t felt like crying since Kelly came clean. Hadn’t felt sad or surprised or much of anything in the wake of her confession.
And why should I feel anything? It was simply a tawdry infidelity. A one-time—per Kelly—mistake with a woman neither of us knew socially and whom Kelly would never see again. That was all. It was nothing to get . . . emotional over.
“Victoria?” The sound of my name startled me into looking at Kelly. A mistake I quickly rectified by glancing at the spot beyond her right shoulder. I had a lovely view of that section of wall and wondered in passing if it was time to get the new wallpaper. “Please, Vic . . . say something! Anything!”
I spread my hands almost in apology. I had nothing to say. “What do you want hear? I don’t know what you want me to say.”
Kelly ran a hand through her short, spiky blonde hair, which was shot through with silver and had been since well before we’d met two years ago, at one of Ekaterina’s parties. At the end of a month together I’d already moved in to her place. I’d wondered if I was making a mistake, leaping without looking when there’d been so far to fall . . . but caught up as I was in the headiness of new love, that wonderment had only been in passing.
“I want you to say what you feel!” Kelly stepped into my line of sight so that our eyes met, and when I glanced down, she got in my face, looking up into my eyes, her grey ones wet and wide. She was a few inches shorter than me, built squat and muscular, like a rugby player (and she had played in high school and college, and until badly injuring her knee and back six years ago). “Tell me what you’re thinking and feeling right now.”
I opened my mouth, uncertain what would come out. “I don’t really feel like cooking tonight. Perhaps we should order in.”
Kelly blinked in surprise, more tears running down her face as she did, and I’ve never seen a person look so shocked and hurt in my life. If I hadn’t been so numb, perhaps I would have felt sympathy, or even empathy. As it was, I only registered that Kelly was now very upset and that I should probably be, too. Only I wasn’t.
“Is that it?” she demanded, her voice cracking as she laughed, jagged and incredulous. “I cheat on you with some girl I met at freaking Comicon, and your response is to want take-out?!”
I opened my mouth then closed it. I could only suppose that whatever I said next would only upset or infuriate. So I bit my lip and shrugged, still unable to meet her eyes. I didn’t know what was in my eyes to be seen, only that I didn’t want Kelly to see it. Because if she did, then I’d have to feel it.
So I backed away from Kelly till the backs of my legs hit the sofa, and I collapsed into the sofa, rather than sat. “Sorry,” I whispered, and Kelly turned away from me, pacing to the living room window, then back toward me, stopping a foot shy of the couch. She looked down at me, her eyes welling with some emotion or emotions I couldn’t read and didn’t want to, so I looked down at my hands, folded neatly in my lap on my blue denim skirt. At the engagement ring on my finger . . . diamonds in the shape of a heart.
“You’re not the one who’s got anything to be sorry for, baby, don’t you understand that?” Kelly closed the distance between us and squatted so she was looking up into my eyes again. “You’ve gotta be feeling something besides –fucking hungry. Angry, hurt, sad, mad—something. I mean, you’re not a robot.”
“Of course I’m not.” I glued my eyes to my engagement ring and focused on the sparkle. I remember how I’d felt when Kelly had given it to me—had proposed in front of a restaurant full of people who’d applauded for us when I said yes.
I’d felt so full of happiness and love, I thought that if one more wonderful thing happened to me for the rest of ever, I might just explode from it. And I was perfectly fine with that. I could have died happy, that night. Happier than I’d ever allowed myself to be. . . .
“Vic, baby . . . please talk to me,” Kelly pleaded, taking my hand and pulling it to her cheek. She kissed the palm and lingered until I pulled my hand away. “Tell me how to atone . . . if I can atone.”
“I don’t need you to atone. I don’t want to punish you.”
“Then what do you call what you’re doing now?” Kelly wiped her eyes and tried to take my hand again, but I wouldn’t let her. I evaded her hand until finally she gave up. “You’re shutting me out, not letting me see you, and it’s killing me.”
Good, a soft, cold voice sighed in my heart and I focused on the ring again. On what it’d felt like to be, for once, happy, and secure that that happiness wouldn’t be snatched from me. That I could for once trust something that seemed practically perfect.
Trust Kelly, and her love for me.
“There’s nothing to see, Kelly, but what you’re seeing now. I’m not hiding anything from you. You’re projecting what you think I should feel on me.”
“And does that make you angry?” Kelly asked intently, staring at me hard enough that her gaze felt like a heat-lamp on my face. I blushed and clenched my hand into a fist, so that she couldn’t take it again.
“It’s . . . confuses me.”
I shrugged again. “Because you should be glad that I’m not angry or mad or any of the other stuff you said. I’m okay.”
Kelly shook her head. “See, I don’t think you are, Vic. I think you’re telling yourself you’re okay so hard you almost believe it. But underneath that, you’re feeling something so big it scares you. Maybe it’s rage. Maybe it’s heart-break. Maybe it’s even hatred . . . I don’t know. I won’t know unless you let me in.”
“Maybe you don’t have the right to come in, anymore,” I said quietly, without knowing ahead of time that I was going to. I looked Kelly in the eyes briefly and saw the desperate hope in her eyes gutter like a candle about to go out. It made something in me, maybe the same something that’d whispered in my heart, hum with cruel satisfaction. “Maybe you locked yourself out when you fucked some random skank then decided to tell me about it six months later because you’re too weak to bear up under your own guilt. Maybe you should’ve tried a little harder to keep your goddamn mouth shut and spare us both this soap opera bullshit, Kel.”
Kelly rocked back on her heels, clearly surprised, though probably not as surprised as I was. I could feel my eyes growing wider as I spoke, and continuing to do so after I fell silent, staring down at my hands, clenched into fists on my thighs.
Then Kelly was leaning forward, her hands settling on my fists and squeezing gently. “Sweetheart, I—I didn’t tell you not because I couldn’t handle my guilt. I’d decided almost immediately afterward that I’d live with what I did, rather than tell you and make you unhappy, it’s just . . . the wrongness of keeping a secret from you began to eat at me.” Her eyes were willing me to meet them, but I resisted. “I’ve never lied to you once, or kept anything from you, until that. And it felt wrong. Like I was sullying the most beautiful, perfect thing I’d ever had just by keeping my mouth shut. And even though you may not have known it, what I did was coming between us in ways I didn’t anticipate. I couldn’t even look at you, some days without feeling that wrongness, and knowing it was all my fault. I couldn’t touch you . . . God, you dunno how bad I wanted to touch you and taste you until everything was right again. But I knew that’d only make things worse. That’s why we haven’t been . . . intimate as often as we used to. It was torture to touch you knowing what I’d done. You were so innocent and clean . . . and I wanted—I want you so much. . . .”
I felt my mouth purse and my nostrils flare. I’d thought the reason we’d stopped having sex was lesbian bed death, plain and simple. I’d resigned myself to a relatively sexless, but ultimately loving marriage, and considered myself lucky, because when it came down to it, it was the companionship that I valued more . . . the companionship was the rare commodity that I prized above everything. I’d trusted it without reservation.
Kelly’s hands moved up to my wrists, then up my arms, rubbing and squeezing. “I know not to expect or even hope for anything from you, after what I did. But I’m asking, anyway: Please, Victoria, try to forgive me. To trust me. To trust that I will never do anything like that ever again.” She stood up, her injured right knee popping loudly in the silence, and pulled me to my feet, too, then into her arms. My entire body felt stiff and clammy and cold, as if I was getting the flu.
Kelly kissed my collarbone and looked up into my face, that desperate hope back stronger than before. “Please, Vic? At least keep an open heart? I’m willing to spend the rest of my life proving to you that you can trust me. I love you more than anyone in the world, and I . . . I think I’d die if I lost you.”
“You couldn’t have realized that before you cheated?” I asked, with a cynical laugh. That hope in Kelly’s eyes guttered once more but Kelly’s arms tightened around my waist. “You don’t love me.”
“I do, baby—”
“No, you don’t, or it wouldn’t have taken you someone else’s arms to realize it.” I try to pull out of her embrace, but Kelly’s stronger than me, almost entirely muscle, and when she wanted to hold on, there was no getting away. “Let go of me.”
“Not until you calm down, Vic—Jesus, you’re shivering!”
“I’ll calm down when you let me go!” I seethed, struggling some more, futilely, then finally giving up and glaring at the air behind Kelly’s left shoulder. The mantle and all the photos on it were slightly dusty. “You wanted to know what I’m feeling? Right now, I’m feeling disgust. For you. I don’t want to see you, hear you, or have you touch me. You’re making my skin crawl, right now. That’s why I’m shivering! Let. Me. Go!”
The hope in her eyes was guttering . . . guttering . . . gone.
“Baby, you don’t mean that,” she said, more tears rolling down her still-pale cheeks. “You don’t.”
“Don’t I?” I laughed again then met her eyes squarely. “Let go of me, Kelly.”
“I’ll let you go, but I’m not givin’ up.” Kelly promised, and I snorted, waiting for her arms to unwind themselves from around me. When they didn’t, after a few seconds, I looked into Kelly’s eyes again and she smiled—not her usual cocky grin, but a trembling, weak thing that looked like it’d be more at home at a wake. “I’m never givin’ up on you, baby. Because we’re meant to be.”
And with that, she darted in and stole a kiss, moaning and deepening it when I gasped, then vacillated over whether or not to pull away. One arm finally left my waist and Kelly’s left hand inched uncertainly up my side, thence to cup my right breast tenderly, her thumb seeking out my nipple through the cotton of shirt and bra. The contact made me gasp again, and Kelly’s tongue stroked across mine, her other hand dropping to my ass to squeeze.
Then she was pulling up the back of my skirt roughly, her hand sliding down the back of my panties as she hauled me closer against her. Fingers and tongue teased me and for long minutes I forgot . . . everything.
It was bliss . . . pure, dirty-bad-wrong bliss.
Until that voice whispered in my ear again: Is this what she did with that whore at Comicon? Is this what they were doing in Kelly’s hotel room while you were at home watching chick-flicks and trying not to focus on how much you missed her? Is it?
Breathing hard with the effort, I pulled out of Kelly’s embrace and stumbled backward, falling into the sofa again. Wide-eyed with accusation I glared up at her. She looked surprised and flushed—unusually flustered, too.
“I’m sorry,” she said lowly, hands help up in placation. “I wasn’t thinking, I just—want you so much—”
“And as you’ve proven, you can’t control yourself when you want something. No matter how bad it is for you,” I noted with unfamiliar cynicism and sarcasm. Kelly flinched and hung her head.
“I’m willing to work to save us, baby. To atone for what I’ve done. But you have to want to save us, too. And you can’t throw my mistake back in my face every time we fight or have a disagreement. We’ll never get past it if you do,” she said pleadingly—another thing Kelly never did: plead—and I edged down the sofa, away from her. She watched me go with a morose look. “Are you willing to at least try to save what we have?”
I shook my head. “I don’t see that there’s anything worth saving. I can’t trust you and you obviously want something I’m not giving you—so badly that you feel the need to seek it out in other people.” I shrugged again, though inside, that awful voice that had been moving through my heart was laughing so loud, now, I could barely hear my own thoughts above it. I reached up to pinch the bridge of my nose and rub my temples. “What’s to save?”
Kelly looked down now, sniffling and nodding. “It’s gonna take time . . . I understand that. Time for you to feel like I’ve suffered enough for betraying you. Time for you to heal. Time for you to realize that I meant what I said about loving you more than anyone in the world. Time for you to trust me again. But I’m willing to wait for as long as it takes.” Glancing up at me, Kelly suddenly straightened and squared her shoulders, meeting my eyes. That gone-out hope was still, indeed, out, but it’d been replaced by determination of the kind Kelly usually only brought to bear on all things sports-related. And seeing that determination shut down that strange, awful laughter that’d been filling my head and my heart. I could hear myself think, once more, only . . . there was nothing left to think. Just the biter words that came tumbling from my lips without stopping for approval from the rest of me.
“I don’t want you to wait. I don’t want your understanding or your patience. I don’t want your suffering or atonement. There’s nothing left of yours that I want,” I told Kelly, through lips that were numb, once more. My heart felt like it was skipping beats, and not in a good way, and that laughter came back so loud and so awful, it made me want to cry.
But I fought the urge. Once, I wouldn’t have hid my tears from Kelly, but now . . . now, I couldn’t be that vulnerable around her. I wasn’t safe around her, anymore. She couldn’t be trusted not to hurt me. To break me.
I stood up shakily, and edged past sofa and coffee table on legs that didn’t want to work like they were supposed to.
“Where’re you going?” Kelly asked, sounding alarmed.
“To lay down, if that’s alright with you. I have a headache.”
It wasn’t until I was halfway to our bedroom, that I realized that Kelly had followed me.
Sighing, I stepped into the bedroom, without flicking the light switch or closing the door behind me. It didn’t have a lock, so there was no keeping her out if she wanted in.
I found my unerring way to bed and sat heavily. I could barely breathe for holding back tears and hitches. I could see Kelly’s silhouette in the doorway, lingering, waiting for me to lie down. I hated to give her what she wanted, but lay down, I did. I lay on my back, rigid and tense until she lay down next to me. Then I turned on my side away from her and curled into fetal position. Soon, tears were leaking out of my eyes to soak my pillow, and I kept hitching, and trying to make the hitches sound like normal breaths.
After an eternity like that, of misery and despair so deep and enveloping, I could barely breathe, let alone think, Kelly shifted next to me until I could feel her warm, humid breath on my neck.
“Can I hold you?” she whispered tentatively.
“Don’t touch me,” I husked around a throat full of unending tears.
And she didn’t. And I cried until my eyes, already sore, grew gritty and tired. I finally buried my face in my soggy pillow and fell into a thin, restless slumber. I don’t remember what I dreamed, only that it was bright—head-achingly so—and Kelly was there and we were arguing.
When I woke up, I did, indeed, have a headache. The clock on my night table said 2:37 a.m., and Kelly had spooned up behind me, as usual, one arm draped over my waist. She was snoring in my ear.
I didn’t have the energy to shove her arm away—or so I told myself—and quickly forced myself back to sleep, not wanting to think about the decisions morning would bring with it.
This time, when I slept it was deep and dark, and there were no dreams.