Annoyance was palpable. She let out a huff of air as she interchangeably rang the doorbell and pounded on the front door. She could see the dog inside by the door through the frosted glass. Something seemed off. Why else would his brother call? A night meant for relaxation completely shot to hell.
She tried the door handle…it was unlocked. Odd, he never disabled the automatic lock on the door. She hated that she knew that.
Instantly she knew something was wrong. The kitchen high top chairs were up on table and the dog wouldn’t stop whining. She called out his name but there was no response. Then she saw him sprawled on his back on the floor dressed in a suit.
His lips were blue and his pallor a porridge gray. Barely a pulse. She looked up at the sound of his phone buzzing on the counter – 8 missed calls. The counter was littered with pills and mostly empty liquor bottles. A roast was in the oven.
Nothing prepared her for having to respond to a situation like this. The paramedics were called and came within ten minutes. After forcing him to vomit several times, she tried not to watch him sway shakily on his hands and knees and nearly slip into his vomit. She ran to go find towels. She called his co-worker and pretended this wasn’t happening.
-TWO DAYS PRIOR-
She internally groaned. Why was she doing this? She didn’t want to be here…and especially not with him. Her patience was gone and they had only just arrived at the hotel in National Harbor. He called her the “other woman” over pizza and drinks. She couldn’t believe it. He was blaming her for the separation from his wife. She let herself get sucked into his nonsense because she was lonely. She was ceremoniously dumped and cheated on…and she had wanted a friend. Unfortunately, she let a manipulative, stage-5 clinger keep her company. True…the Harry Potter Snitch donuts were delicious…but those morsels weren’t worth this mess.
Why can’t people own their shit? she thought.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) she made a goal for herself to drink the entire 4 liter jug of table wine by the time they checked out in 36 hours. This meant going out on New Year’s Eve well inebriated and with a lack of filter. She shamed him in front of the bartender. Not her finest moment but she was too mad at him and herself to care.
Back at the hotel, she stumbled into bed as he took the dogs outside.
Blearily she woke up the next morning to see him sleeping on the couch. He was mad at her for falling asleep while he was outside. The fact that she had gotten really drunk was no excuse to make him watch the fireworks alone, especially after he walked the dogs in the cold.
What a baby. Immature, asshole, useless, baby.
She was done. This getaway helped her see through crystal clear lenses that this person is not someone she should associate with. When they got back up north from the Harbor and they parted ways, she told him she wasn’t going to be spending time with him anymore.
January 2nd (early evening)
Work was great, her planned workout at the gym was killer in the best way, and she happily settled onto her couch thinking, This year is my year. Then the phone rang.
-BACK TO PRESENT—
January 2nd (night)
She took his dog back to her apartment. She couldn’t just leave the puppy alone, not knowing when he would be released from the hospital. The pup curled up with her dog for comfort. She couldn’t sleep. She was shaking. His brother called to tell her it was her fault that he tried to kill himself. His mother called to thank her for saving his life and to come to the hospital. He tried calling her 5 times. She didn’t answer. She felt sick. She kept seeing him lying on the ground, looking dead.
Was it her fault?
Is that why she was asked to go check on him?
The door was unlocked…maybe he wanted her to find him.
Work was a blur. She barely registered anything she was supposed to be working on. She had to be interviewed. She found out that they were going to cover up the fact that he took pills. She was disgusted. It was time to move on. The next day, she requested her company to move her to different contract.
-TWO MONTHS LATER-
Her apartment office called. There was package to be picked up. She saw a medium sized U-Haul box that looked like Ace Ventura transported it. The return address filled her with dread. It was from him. Almost immediately that familiar pit of dread filled her and spiked her anxiety.
What the fuck?
The box was full of items wrapped in layers of packing paper. T-shirts, a vase, a Minion balloon, Legos.
Could this get any weirder?
Of course, she spoke too soon.
Star Wars Columbia Princess Leia jacket, a New Years card, a five dollar bill. Empty wine bottles and loose corks. Used coffee grounds in a Ziploc bag. A sketchbook. A letter. A ring.
Her hands were shaking when she unfurled the letter that detailed why he tried to kill himself and the role he felt she played in it all. It detailed the state of his marriage. It relayed that the ring was for her…in hopes that she would wait for him. The ring also had the sticker from the store on it – Wal-Mart. Twenty dollars. What luck she had fallen asleep New Years Eve to prevent him from handing that to her. What would she have said or done?
The letter also stated there was a drawing of his vision of their future. With trepidation, she opened the sketchbook. After thumbing past pages of fruit bowls and feathers, she came across what could only be described as a nightmare.
It was a rough outline of a woman with a monster baby in her lap. The baby’s arm was around the woman’s neck suggesting the longest arm to be on a human. The baby was almost larger than the woman. The woman had sporadic hair, mostly bald, and had eyes that looked like a cloth doll’s if sewn shut.
She sat in stunned disbelief. When would the hits stop coming?
He seemed so friendly. A welcoming presence of support and friendship. Underneath it all, he was someone who blamed her for mistakes he made. He was someone who was illogical and dangerous.
She got out just in time.