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It's 12:45 p.m. As I wake up, through blurred vision, I see the shadow of that wretch I call my wife. Her loathing eyes are watching me and the time. Her expression reads “You lazy, pathetic, worthless man.” Once she knows I see her, she continues, whatever it is she does on her day off.
This doesn't happen often. She's a big shot lawyer on Wall Street. She repeats the same monotonous routine everyday; Up at 5:00, 45 minute jog, protein shake, fifteen minute shower at 6:30, out the door by 7:30. And about one year ago I noticed, right before she leaves, she looks at me laying in bed for five seconds then vanishes until her work day is complete.
I stayed in the bed for an extra five minutes, just to spite her. She grunts under her breath, as I roll out from underneath the covers. She steps outside the room pretending to look for something, while I stroll in the bathroom. Once I close the door, she shuffles back in the room, rips the sheets off the bed, and begins cleaning and organizing. She works quickly, for she only has thirty minutes before I'm done.
The shower turns on with a sort of “light- switch motion,” which creates a loud “Thump” sound. The warm trickles down my spine and soothes my body. I shut my eyes and step back further under the shower head. Tension withers away, as the water beats down on me.
I remembered the beginning of Jasmine and I’s relationship. We met in Law School. We began as friends but by 2nd year it turned into something intimate. At the time, we were both infatuated with politics and loved to have debates on past and currents events. We challenged and pushed each other throughout School, and that summer we got married.
I stepped out of the shower feeling ready to confront the day ahead, or should I say afternoon. My towel is clenched to my waist, as I brush my teeth and wash my face. It had only been 26 minutes, but I was finished. I exited the bathroom, to find Jasmine scrambling around the room. She paused and looked down at the growing puddle underneath me. The time I spent out of the shower was not enough, for water was still rolling off my limbs onto the hardwood floor. I could see the invisible fumes going off inside her. Smoke protruding out of her ears, like in those cartoons. I was winning today. Ready to strut in my “superiority,” I slipped. “Smack!” My back kisses the floor. I hear a familiar voice. It’s Jasmine.
“Are you okay?” I remember how soft and beautiful her voice is. Still lying on the ground I turned my head to look at her. Trying hard to conceal her amusement of the “jocular moment,” she repeats,
“Are you okay?”
With a callous tone, I say…
The cool breeze hits my face as I walk outside the house. I can breathe. Driving to Dr. Greene always gives me an equable feeling, but being in his excessively opulent office makes me feel microscopic and incredibly vulnerable.
“How are you today?” - Dr. Greene
“Okay, I guess.”
“Mhmm…” Readjusting his position in his thrown he continues…
“Alright let's get into this,… Last time we spoke, you were beginning to tell me when and how the dynamic between you and your wife changed.”
Taking a moment to swallow my annoyance towards the word wife, I begin…
“ Yes, well ah… Two years after the marriage is when it began. Right out of school we got jobs at two well known law firms in the city. She excelled at every thing she did, moving at a faster pace than the rest of us. As she fell more I love with her work, I feel out of it.”
I take a breath and continue.“Practicing law is nothing like law school. They don't prepare you for the deceptive people, nor the competitive aura.
One day two years ago, I was sitting at my desk feeling utter insouciance towards the work I had yet to complete. That same day I marched into my boss's office and gave her a two week notice. My last day was the happiest I had ever been on the job, but my good spirits were short lived.”
“He says, for the umpteenth time.” I grumble
“Did you say something?”
I ignored him and continued on. “ I was no longer a puppet. My strings were detached, and I, free. But as soon as I arrived home, the wave of reality came back to remind me that I had to tell Jasmine.
In all two years I never told her how I was feeling and she never noticed that I was slowly drowning; She was consumed in her own work. Everyday she came home, she would proceed tell me about an exciting thing that happened at work or the non-specific details of this amazing case she’s working on. When it was my turn to talk about the day, she would listen to me vent, and say, “You just have to push through. This is what we went to school for,” and that was the end of the conversation. This routine response she would give, eventually lead me to stop confiding in her. And on bad days, she expected to be consoled and therapeutically talked to, and I always was always there to help.”
“Usually I got to the house an hour before Jasmine, using that time to catch up on the highlights of yesterdays football game. But that day, I used the hour I had pacing around the ottoman in the living room, trying to figure out what I would say to her.
I heard the keys jangling in the door knob and instantly I got nervous. But as soon as I saw her, I blurted it out. Of course we got into and argument because she had no clue how I've felt for the past couple years. Then towards the end of the quarrel she adds,
“So what are you going to do now! Sit on the couch and watch football all day?”
I stop the story to get out my frustration...
“Why would she say something like? She completely disregards the way I feel, and goes straight to be condescending!”
Dr. Greene butts in and says, “Why do you feel she said that?”
My insides begin to boil more. This “Doctor” has done nothing but say “Mhmm” and “Interesting” since we began.
“Here we go with the shrink jargon! I ask a question, you respond with a question. I vent, you listen. It’s the same thing with you every session! Where in this process do you begin to do your job?”
My arms and legs take a mind of its own, as I feel my self charging towards the exit. Today will be the last day I ever step foot in his office.
Three hours before my shift at The Lounge, I usually hangout in the social area, (where the couches are), with Jason and Trevor (fellow bartenders). The most prominent subject of our conversations, recently has been about me and Jasmine.
We all order shots and collectively toss it down.
“How’s the wife Joe?” They both snicker.
“Miserable. I caught her staring at me today, again!”
Trevor chimes in, “I swear man, she's either planning your murder, or she’s gonna Gone Girl you.”
We laugh uncontrollably until tears come out of our eyes. Jason orders four more rounds and as time goes on everything becomes much more comical. We drank copiously, forgetting our shift starts in one and a half hours.
From the corner of my eye I see the silhouette of a woman. She's tall, slim and walks with a swagger that demands attention. Something sways back and forth behind her nearly touching her mid-back, most likely her hair. “Click, Clack,” goes the heels she wear, as she comes into my clear line of vision. I sit up right, out of my relaxed position on the couch, wanting to get a better view. I watch as she walks towards the bar. She is wearing a light pink dress that flows with her movement. Her hair is jet black and slicked back in a high ponytail; there is something so familiar about her. She turns her head to the side and shows off her defined cheek bones. Once at the bar, she looks toward the entrance, as if expecting someone.
The mysterious woman is Jasmine.
Trevor blurts out, “Hey bro, isn't that the wifey,” while sniggering with Jason.
I was too focused on her to answer them. Since I have known Jasmine, I have never seen her conform to this modish fashion until now. “What is she doing here?” I thought. “Doesn't she know I work here?”
She glances around the room, still searching for something, then spots me. All of the built up resentment and neglect comes flooding back into my memory. Suddenly I was apoplectic with rage that burgeoned throughout my body, making my fingers twitch. Was this anger or the alcohol taking control?
Six seconds later I was standing face to face with her. Had I levitated all the way across the room? I couldn't remember getting off the couch nor walking to her.
Looking at me in unmitigated shock, she’s speechless. However, I am ready to rumble.
“Why are you here?” Why do you pop up in every aspect of my life!” I began to raise my voice beyond the level appropriate for inside.
“Stop creating a scene,” she said firmly but through clenched teeth. She continues,
“Are your drunk? Your shift starts in one hour and your wasted!”
“When since do you care what I do? All you talk about is work and your imperious boss Dave!... Wait, is that who you're waiting for?”
Now everyone in the room is focusing their attention on us; the “show.”
Completely disregarding my last question she says, “At least Dave works and doesn't get drunk in the middle of the day or sleep till noon! At least he has a real purpose in life!”
Instantly, all the heat from indignation, isolated itself in the palm of my right hand. I reached up and slapped her vehemently across the face.
The audience gasps, and remains in shock while someone is pulling me back away from her.
She holds her left cheek but doesn't dare show one drop off agony. She is a woman with immense pride.
“Why would you do that?” she finally responds.
Knowing Jasmine, she is hurt by what I did, but she conceals it well; So I use this to my advantage.
I jump on the bar tabletop and sing from the top of my lungs,
“Cry me a river, cry me a river, cry me river, cry me river, baby.”
Slurring my words, I continue, “That's gotta be one of my favorite songs. Who's it by again? Is it Timberlake or Bieber? Well… it's one of the Justin's.” I laugh until my stomach hurts.
Her eyes pierce through me, as if she has some sort of superhuman power. But of course she doesn't say anything, so I can look like the bad guy. Everyone collectively shakes their head at me, whispering in the ear of the person next to them, probably saying “Look at that foolish drunk guy,” or “I can't believe he hit a woman.”
She looks at crowd with sad eyes, and says “I'm okay everyone,” and pops out a kind smile. They all clap for her, as she walks towards the exit.
Now I look like the big bad wolf, standing on top of a damn counter. But she can not win.
I follow her outside, while Jason and Trevor follow me. She runs down the wide grey marble steps, into the arms of Dave. He looks at me as if he won a prize.
I rush after them down the steps, but on the third step, my ankle gives way and I tumble to the bottom. By the time I lift my head, all I see is a beam of red light and a fuzzy license plate moving further and further away.