I’m in bed, laptop propped on a pillow, transcribing an interview for a friend’s blog. I’m tempted to call Bill to come over after work, but I decide to have at least half of the interview completed before doing so. The week before saw my birthday come and go, and it felt like a time of renewal. Things seemed to be heading on a good path with Bill, my workload at the office was lightening up a bit, and Nej decided to relocate back to the South to breathe new life into her career.
Around 10 p.m. my phone vibrates and I immediately grab it hoping its him, but its my friend Nancy. She tells me she is at Simpson’s and saw Bill. We chat for a while — she seems to be on a date from hell — and I soon get back to work. Around midnight, my phone rings and I smile seeing his name pop up. I answer and I hear him draw a deep breath in and exhale.
“Val, what happened that night you, Rolf and Nej went to the pool hall?”
My heart sinks into the pit of my stomach. I feel a lump forming in my throat and I send up a quick prayer. This is not how I wanted him to find out. I quickly blurt out that Rolf and I kissed.
I hear him take in another breath and something tells me that this —whatever we were gunning for — whatever I was hoping for — has died before its even truly begun.
“What didn’t you tell me? We’ve — You’ve talked about so many things with me, and you never told me?”
I keep trying to find the right answer, but nothing that escapes my lips can truly emote what I am feeling and what I mean. We go back and forth on the phone — and I wish I could replay the whole conversation for you but I think my mind has blacked it out. I do know that we stay on the phone for about 15 minutes and he abruptly ends the conversation saying he needs to get back to work.
I quickly run to the bathroom and take a hot shower. I can’t breathe. I keep gasping but it seems as if I cannot get enough air into my lungs. I wanted to tell him. But I couldn’t find the words. I was scared. I hated myself. How could I make him understand? Did I even understand?
I stay in the tub for what seems hours, fighting back tears and rage. I start bargaining with God. I am doing my best to grasp and hold on, but I’m already freefalling. I finally work enough energy to step out of the bathroom and walk back to my room. I slip on an over sized t-shirt, throw the comforter over me and call him. The phone rings for what seems like hours, but he picks up. I ask him how he’s feeling, and again I hear the heaviness of his breathing.
My heart sinks even lower upon hearing this and I start babbling. I just need him to understand. But it seems he doesn’t want to. He says he asked Rolf and he affirmed it did happen. It hits me that it was the white woman — the one who’d been after Bill for weeks — who has told. I want to throw up.
Silence follows a long back and forth, and I muster up enough courage to ask him “do you want to end this?”
“Yeah, I’m good.”
I sit up right because I can’t believe what he’s saying. The tears I had been fighting for the past 2 hours finally break through and I am sobbing heavily. I can’t manage to say anything but “Bill….please…” repeatedly. I start bouncing up and down out of fear, and my breasts are feeling wet from my tears. I need to find the words. Please Lord let me find the words.
“You’re not my girl, Val!” …and he hits me with this coup de grace. I break down completely. The dam — my last ounce of will has been overpowered and I just give up and release it all right there with him on the other line. All that can be heard is my sobbing. I am choking and gasping on air. I want to say something, but I cannot. If one listens closely, I am sure they can hear my heart cracking under the heaviness of the situation.
His voice grows softer but the same uncertainty I heard before finds its way back and he says, “well…take care of yourself. Bye.” I drop the phone and scream out “I’M SORRY!” But he cannot hear it just like I cannot undo what I have done. I spend the rest of the night crying. I cannot sit still. I pace. I lay on the floor. I get on my knees. I sit on the bed. But no position brings me peace. At 7 am, I take another shower, dress and go to work.
I sit in my cubicle and try my best to fight back the tears that are demanding to rage on. I finish my box of kleenex by noon. I call a good friend of mine, Dave, to meet me for lunch. I need a friend and Nej is too far. I check my face in the mirror and I look as if I haven’t slept in days. I don’t recognize myself.
At lunch, Dave holds my hands as I openly weep at our table. People pass by throwing me quick glances filled with confusion and worry, but I’m too deep in my pain to pay them much mind. Dave doesn’t know how to console me. “Hun, I’ve NEVER seen you like this…give it time…he will come around.” But, Dave didn’t hear Bill’s voice. He didn’t hear the anger, the hurt, the confusion.
At work, a firestorm is brewing. My co-worker announces her resignation and our only intern quits. My boss goes into micro-management overload and I feel as if I’m suffocating. This has to be hell.
When the weekend comes, I pull in the curtains climb into bed and stay there. Besides work, that is the only place that I allow myself to occupy. Nej comes back to NY and is worried about me. She is trying everything to get me to talk, but my tears won’r five way. I’d be lying if I said I remember those 2 weeks I stayed locked away. It all seems to be erased from my memory.
One day in May, I hop onto gchat and find myself in a convo with my friend, Marie. She lets it slip that her friend who works at Simpson’s, Bambi, told her that Bill has been dating her co-worker for 2 months.
I have enough adrenaline to run a marathon…