As I settle in for five interrupted days with Evelyn, the uncertainty descends around my house like a dense fog.
This morning, Law came around like he’s been doing for the past week. He avoided me while I got ready. As the day progresses, a sense of unease forms in my gut.
He walked in with a basket full of Evelyn’s sheets while I was doing breakfast dishes. He’d been doing them all week, keeping her bedding fresh. The minute he hit the entrance to the kitchen and saw me, I watched through the reflection in the window as he dropped the basket on the floor and left without a word. I ended up washing her sheets.
At lunchtime, instead of preparing her something to eat from the kitchen, he left and bought deli sandwiches simply to avoid me.
I join them in the living room late afternoon, and the second my ass hit the recliner beside his he announces he won’t be around until I return to work. He requests to speak with me in private, and a challenge forms in my head. Not wanting to fight in front of my daughter, I pop out of the chair and return to the kitchen.
“Why?” I ask, lowering my voice to keep Evelyn from eavesdropping. The two have formed a bond while I’ve been working, and I feel guilty being the reason he doesn’t want to stick around.
If I feel guilty, I’m certain she’ll hate me for his absence.
“You know why. I can’t be stuck in this house with you right now. Not for an hour, not for five days.”
His words hurt, but they’re true. I deserve every one of them.
I wonder if this is what custody feels like between divorced parents. Fighting over time with the kids, while trying to see the other parent as little as possible.
“Don’t hurt her to get away from me. We can work something out. I can leave to give you two time. Do some grocery shopping or something.”
Law drops his head and studies his boots. “Fuck that.”
I think about throwing it in his face that the groceries I buy feed Evelyn too, but knowing Law, he’d storm out and buy her a personalized stash of food that I wasn’t allowed to touch.
“Okay, so what do I tell her? When she asks why you’re suddenly gone after sitting at her bedside for the past month?”
“She knows where I’m going.” He jabs a finger in my direction. “You don’t need to know.”
My mouth drops open. I quickly snap it shut, speechless.
Yes, I hurt us beyond repair. I can only imagine how disgusted he is with me, but he’s not about to disrespect me in my home.
“Fine,” I bite out. I hate that he brings out this side of me. I hate we can’t get along for her sake and instead act like two children fighting over a favorite toy. “Get out. Enjoy your time alone. But when you get back, you better bring a different attitude because I will not stand here and let you disrespect me in my own damn house.”
I fume. He fumes right back.
He glares. I glare right back.
“Fine,” he grunts, and thunders down the hall.
“Fine!” I shout at his retreating back.
The front door shuts. Not with a bang, but there’s force behind it.
Crap. The weight of it all nearly brings me to my knees. My head droops, and I grip the hair at the sides in frustration.
Emotion toys with me. I feel the gamut. Anger, sadness, hurt, guilt, shame, regret. If I hadn’t told him, we could enjoy a different reality right now. One where we both spending time with Evelyn together as if we’re a family. We had that one glorious weekend a month ago that lined up the possibility of that future so perfectly.
And I shattered it.
The truth had to come out. I know that. Who am I to move us forward without giving him the one piece of the puzzle he’s been desperate to have for so long? What’s done is done. I can’t dwell now, just like I couldn’t dwell fourteen years ago.
The trajectory of my future is forever altered.