One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six.
Sixth ring. Hello?
It stings to know that the only reason he picks up my call is because the number I’m calling with is unfamiliar to him. Is there ever a time to thank God for a lost phone? Because if there was, wouldn’t this occasion where my husband picks a call from me only because he doesn’t know it’s a call from me, warrant a thank you?
“David, I need my purse.”
“Who is this?”
What do you think? Isn’t eight months sufficient time to get attuned to your wife’s voice? After eight months of conversation, should she really have to introduce herself when she calls? Well, apparently, she does.
“I hit you with my purse yesterday. I want it back.”
“Oh, it’s you. What do you want, Emma?”
“I just told you. I need my purse.”
“Come for it yourself.”
“What do you mean, you can’t?”
“Because I’m the girl at the reception desk.”
“I’m going to hung up now.”
“I’m the girl who has a hotel bill to settle and no money to settle it with. The girl at the reception desk.”
I’m sitting at the lobby when David shows up with my purse.
He looks good. He always looks good. He’s wearing his grey t-shirt that’s inscribed “Lit happens” across the chest. It’s a sunny day. So no jackets today, just broad shoulders to show off.
He walks into the hotel and the lobby turns to face him and to curtsy. He looks around and spots my waving hand which he lets lead him to me. The receptionist follows him with her eyes. Es tu?
He dumps my purse on the table and sits across from me.
His finger points to the cup of coffee in my hands.
“I thought you had no money.”
“I do now,” I say, rummaging through my purse for my credit card.
I take the credit card to the receptionist and come back to occupy my seat. He leans forward.
“So, what happened?”
“Long long story.”
“Are you okay?”
“Do you see blood?”
He leans back against the couch. He looks around. I follow his eyes. Men and women are still checking in and out. Some are still heading to the restaurant. Others are still at the bar chatting and drinking and laughing as if there is anything to laugh about. The smell of food fills the air. I’ve been sitting here for one hour watching the same activities on replay.
“You spent the night here?”
“Why? Are you really okay?”
“You know I’m not.”
What’s the point? I mean, I threw my purse at him. Just because he sees no blood, doesn’t mean there’s no wound, right?
“I know. The ink hasn’t dried on the divorce papers yet. I know. But I’m not ready. I tried last night. I tried– but–”
He does shut up. So do I.
“You shut me up and you won’t speak?”
“You know what, never mind.”
“Never mind? You’re the one who came over yesterday.”
“So, no. There’s no, never mind. There’s many things but not never mind.”
“I’m sorry about yesterday.”
“I didn’t come here for an apology.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“Anything that will make me understand what this is about. What was that yesterday? And what is this?”
“Yesterday? That was me allowing myself to bleed.”
“Why are you bleeding?”
“Because I’m not done yet.”
“Done with what?”
I think I can feel his heart beating from where I’m seated. He looks straight at me. My eyes focus ahead, at the hotel entrance.
“Loving you, I guess.”
He brings his hands to his face. I see his right hand massage his forehead. I see it, but I don’t see it.
“You are done, but I’m not. So I have these feelings that I don’t know what to do with.”
He takes his hands off his face and looks at me like he’s reading a book that just blew him away.
My eyes remain focused ahead.
“This is the band-aid.”
He is thinking. He is looking around. He is leaning back. He is leaning forward.
“Is it helping? Is it holding?”
“It ripped apart last night. The bleeding was too much and the band-aid was soaked in blood and it came off and I was bleeding and I couldn’t stop I tried but I couldn’t stop and blood just kept pouring out of my mouth and my eyes through words and tears and and the colour of blood is not always red you know sometimes it’s colourless and sometimes it’s not even tangible sometimes it’s just words that you hear bleeding words that you hear and they’re sharp those words and they hurt and sometimes silence is what you hear and and and it hurts too and it hurts so so bad–”
I breathe in.
“No. The band aid was useless. A jackass.”
I breathe out.
I can feel the eyes around us. The receptionist is sticking her head around the counter, almost breaking her neck. The concierge is pretending not to stare at me while staring at me. The couple sitting at the bar keeps turning to look at us, murmuring under their breath. The waiter with a tray holding a plate of steak and french fries slows down on his way to deliver an order.
I think I was loud.
David opens his mouth to speak, then decides against it.
He opens it again. “I know.” He says.
“Sorry about yesterday. I didn’t mean–”
“Shut up,” he barks.
He then stays quiet.
“You shut me up and you won’t speak?”
The receptionist comes to me with my credit card and my receipt. I thank her for her patience. She pretends to not see my teary eyes. I offer her a smile. See? We can all pretend if we put our mind to it.
The stares are wilting. People around us are going back to their drinks, their food, and their people.
“I’m sorry,” I say, “for yesterday. I’m sorry.”
I reach into my purse for the house key and I hand it to him.
“Here. I should have given it back sooner.”
He doesn’t take it.
He’s not saying anything.
I put the key on the table.
“Do I need to apologize to your girlfriend? Because I will if–”
“She’s not my girlfriend.”
“Will you shut up?”
We sit quietly for a while. “She was my band aid.”
I nod. “We’re messed up.”
I see him. I see his sad eyes. I see his stooped shoulders. I see his tired face. And I see his blood.
I was the girl at the reception desk.
Now, I’m the girl at the lobby looking at a key that sits on the table. To you, this is just a key. To me, it’s the final link connecting a man who wants children and a woman who doesn’t want children.
Funny, because this key is also the fork in the road for both our journeys.
Did I say funny? I meant sad.