JUST BECAUSE I’M telling you this story doesn’t mean we made it out alive at the end. I could be telling you this from the great beyond or some equally crazy shit. Regardless of how it ends, I’m going back to the beginning, back to where it all started.
This isn’t your typical love story.
Okay, maybe it is. Boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after. The things is, my happily ever after didn’t go as planned.
Thank God for second chances.
It all happened in the blink of an eye and, for me, nothing had ever felt more right. Maybe you’ll think it happened too fast, that falling in love again doesn’t happen like this.
I’m here to tell you it absolutely does.
It happens when you least expect it, when you realize that a part of your heart and soul always remained in the hands of another.
It happens when your past collides with your present and shapes your future.
We found our way back to one another, so it was easy to fool ourselves into believing that time was on our side.
Time to get to know one another again.
Time to fall in love.
Time to grow old together.
The thing about time is, it moves achingly slow when you’re doing something you hate and it flies faster than the speed of light when you’re doing something you love. Time is a fickle bitch.
I wish I could tell you that this story has a happy ending, but I don’t know the answer to that right now. So much has happened so quickly that it all kind of feels like a dream. Maybe it is. Maybe I dreamed every single second of it—the good and the bad.
God, I hope it wasn’t a dream. There’s nothing I’ve ever wanted more than forever with him.
I pray we make it out alive in the end, but even if we don’t…
Those seventeen days…
Those last seventeen breaths…
Hell, even those seventeen miserable years…
I wouldn’t change any of it for the world if the endgame is him.
Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes you don’t know what that reason is until it’s too late.
Please don’t let it be too late.
Chapter 1—Set Fire to the Rain
AS I LISTEN to the sound of dresser drawers slamming upstairs in our bedroom, I wonder why I can’t find it in myself to care about what’s happening. A few years ago, hell, a few months ago, I would probably have been sitting here at the kitchen table sobbing and rethinking my decision. I might have even run up the stairs, grabbed onto him and told him not to go.
I hear a muttered curse as he stomps down the stairs and I don’t even flinch. I listen to him angrily snatch up his keys from the bowl on the table in the foyer and all I can do is count the minutes until he walks out the door, the seconds until I can let out the breath I’ve been holding since I told him I’ve had enough. Five years of dating followed by twelve years of marriage means I’ve spent over half my life loving this man.
In just a few moments, he will walk out the door and life as I know it will forever change.
I’ve lost track of how many times over the years I’ve threatened to leave him, how many times I told him as tears streamed down my cheeks that I couldn’t take it anymore. He had all of me—my heart, my soul, my body and my life. I’ve given it all to him and, time after time, he violated my trust. Month after month, year after year, he looked me right in the eye and lied to my face. I’ve never lied to him, not once in seventeen years, but he played me for a fool each and every time. He knew I was never serious when I made all of those threats, that I needed him and loved him unconditionally. He was my family, my best friend¸ my soul mate. He knew that no matter what, I would always forgive him. Over and over again, he sucked me right back in with apologies and promises as he begged me not to leave him. His heartbreaking tears always made me forget my anger and disappointment. I think deep down I was always scared about being alone. I haven’t been alone since I was fifteen years old.
I hear the shuffle of his shoes and an irritated breath as he hovers in the kitchen doorway behind me.
“I’m leaving, if you even care.”
That right there, that sarcastic comment, reminds me that I’m doing the right thing. He honestly believes that making me feel guilty will change my mind. He thinks he can make me feel bad about the fact that I just don’t care what he does anymore, but he has officially pushed me past my breaking point. He doesn’t even realize that it’s his actions that have brought us here. His conscious choice to allow addictions and bad decisions to rule his life without a second thought to our marriage has turned me into this person I don’t even recognize anymore.
I’d like to say that I’m sad about seventeen years of my life going down the drain, that it hurts to let go of the man I vowed to love forever, but the truth is, I don’t care. I don’t care if he walks out that door, I don’t care if I never speak to him again, I don’t care if I’m alone and I don’t care if he’s pissed at me.
When I cross my arms in front of me and continue to stare at clock hanging on the wall above the kitchen window, refusing to turn around and look at him, he huffs again.
“Fine. I’m out of here,” he mumbles.
I count his footsteps as he makes his way to the front door.
The silence in the house engulfs me. I close my eyes and breathe for the first time in months.