He sat his keys down on the table with the same stillness one would take if confronting a wild doe. He wasn’t sure if the slowness of his movements were so much to not make her feel threatened or because he was the one whow had been shocked.
It wasn’t every day a man caught his wife, luggage in hand and heading for the door. She was leaving him.
They stared, wide-eyed at each other until he could no longer stand it. Breaking free from her trance was akin to being stung by a wasp. “Well,” he said past the cottony dryness that had overtaken his mouth. “I suppose this needs no explanation.” He tipped his head towards her luggage. Odd that he would use that phrase to broach the subject at hand. He didn’t understand what was happening and yes he did need an explanation.
The only thought that came to mind was that she was young, too young to be shackled to a dry rooted man like himself. He had her by twelve years, almost thirteen, but life had rolled him so tight with its disappointments that the age gap might as well have been twenty-five.
He didn’t understand her and she certainly didn’t understand him. But he had been good and fair to her. He hadn’t raised his voice, never even thought to raise his hand to her. Truth was, he never really touched her at all. That was the problem with a marriage based upon a contract and not a covenant. Contracts were all about the “if you do, then I will,” clause while a covenant was a full-hearted promise.
They didn’t have that. What they had at that moment was a room thick with tension and now flooding with tears as they streamed down her golden face.
He quickly pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. She slowly pulled it from his grasp. After several awkward moments of silence and weeping, she finally spoke, “I wanted to be gone before you got home. Maybe I doddled a little knowing I’d run into you,” She looked up at him and sniffled.
Again he felt stung. “Why would you do that? Were you hoping to hurt me?” He didn’t know if he should be angry or just sink even deeper into confusion. Confusion one the battle with the scowl that masked her tear-soaked face.
“You don’t want me here!” She yelled, throwing balling up the handkerchief as if she intended to launch it at him. “We’ve been married six months, you hardly talk to me or even look at me,”
That wasn’t true. He looked at her he just happened to look away before she caught on. He felt his face flush. What man was scared to look at his wife?
She continued, “You don’t even want me here! You don’t want me. I was ho-,” Her voice hitched but she choked down the tears that strangled in her throat. “I was hoping maybe you’d care enough to stop me. Stupid ole’ me!” She sent the kerchief sailing where it landed at his feet.
His heart had suddenly begun to pound quite loudly in his ears. He’d never been a passionate one, living on spontaneous whims, but if he stood there and let her walk out the door-which he did not want her to-he would never be able to repair what was broken.
Rather than scoop up what she’d thrown he scooped her into his arms instead. Romantics would have urged him to kiss her lips soundly by logic ruled out. Instead, he kissed her forehead and seemed to when her for that moment. He felt her rigid frame ease into his and so he continued to hold her.
“It isn’t that I didn’t want you here, or even want you. I do.” She snuggled closer to him. He felt himself smile as his insides warmed. “I just wanted to give you time, allow you the ability to acclimate to our situation and to me. I just wanted to give you time.”
He didn’t know what else to say and was grateful that she was the one to speak. He felt her hand cup his face, forcing him to look at her. “I’ve had enough time,” She said with a finality that made his chest constrict. He waited for her to push away from him and run for the door with her bags in hand, just like she was doing in his imagination. He lost his breath when she settled again in his arms, her cheek against his chest. “I’d like for us to make better use of our time from now on.”
Swallowing down the knot in his throat he nodded his head in agreement and sealed his promise with a kiss. “Agreed.”