Back to Him? Ch. 04-05byvictoriawhita©
She enjoyed the flowers until she read the card, "Roses are red, My heart is blue, I don't want to get divorced, because I love you." It was nine days until the divorce would be final. He'd given her space to heal and hate him for almost a year. Now he wanted her forgiveness. Wasn't it too much to ask?
She was confused but couldn't help but smile at the sweet thought. She didn't want to get divorced, but she also hadn't wanted there to be another woman. Every action has a equal and opposite reaction. She felt she'd acted equally. Could he really love her? Here she had been thinking that he had smoothly moved on, but maybe he was sorry. Maybe he could be trusted again. Maybe she could trust herself to be a better wife.
The next morning was stalks of white lilies. "I know you can never forget, but can you forgive?" the message said. The purity of the white blooms spoke to her, making her think she could wipe the slate clean and start again.
The next morning a bouquet of forget-me-nots. The message read, "Purple is the color of royalty, and of forget-me-nots. My kingdom means nothing without its queen."
Frank hadn't understood after the evening of enjoyable kisses that things could end so quickly. He was now almost forgotten. Joanie didn't know what would happen with Lawrence, but she did know Frank would not be taking his place.
Six days to the divorce but she knew she didn't want it. She loved Lawrence. She had married him, and promised to love him forever. Was their love strong enough to survive this gigantic pot-hole in the road? She needed to test it. The flowers that arrived were a bouquet of all colors mixed together. The card read, "Our life together was colorful once. I know it can be again."
She went hunting for her own flowers to deliver in return. She showed up at the door to his house unannounced. She wanted to see his life in action without her. She wanted to throw him a curve ball. She knocked and couldn't help but smiling when she saw the handsome man smiling at her. This wasn't just any man. This was her husband. She handed him the flowers, and his smile grew. They were grinning at each other as if they were teen-agers on their first date.
He read out loud, "For each flower, I get to ask one question. And you have to tell the truth. That sounds fair. Jo, Please come in. I think you already know your way around." She had come for a serious discussion but she relaxed in the presence of her charming husband. They walked into the living room, and he picked up some things that were out of place. He sat on the couch but she didn't want to sit too close and so chose the chair catty-corner.
He handed her a flower, to let her know he welcomed her questions. Now that she was here she didn't know where to start.
Joanie pulled her legs up to her chest. She felt more protected. "Are you seeing anyone?"
The answer was a simple, "No."
Another flower and the question, "Who was the woman at the park?"
"Peter's new girlfriend. If you would have looked behind you, you would have seen Peter carrying drinks for the others in our group. I was coming to help him." She believed his answer, and he handed another flower.
"Why are you up running in the morning?"
"How do you know I'm running?" He asked.
"Nope," she was quick to cut him off and stay in control. "You're breaking the rules. Only I get to ask questions."
"Without my wife to 'exercise' with every night, I haven't been sleeping well, so I started running a few months ago. I also want to look good if my wife ever comes back." She couldn't look at him but the words felt like a drink of cool water to her parched emotions. She willed the tears to stay away.
"Do you want us to get back together?"
"Most definitely!" She looked up to see his eyes matched his words.
With the next flower she asked, "What do you miss about 'us'?"
"I miss the way we fit together laying in bed. I miss the way we shared our food at restaurants. I miss the talking. I miss brushing our teeth in the bathroom while trying to talk. I miss you cooking supper and me doing the dishes. I miss the way we'd email back and forth at work so I knew you thought about me during the day." He seemed he could continue but she took another flower and he was quiet.
"How has your life changed in the last year?" She knew she herself had changed. She was harder, more skeptical. She had trouble finding peace. She had switched jobs. How could their relationship be the same?
"I wonder what hasn't changed. I have trouble sleeping at night without you. Everyday I'm reminded how stupid I was and plan grandiose plans to win you back. I started running on weekdays. I got a cat - but he doesn't have to stay if you don't like him.
"You always said the kitchen and dining room would look better if we opened it up into one room, and so I did it. I went through the boxes of photographs we never had time to organize and attempted to put them into albums. They're on the shelf. I saw a beautiful wedding photo album that I couldn't resist buying for all the pictures that didn't go in our formal album. But anything can be changed. I missed you and felt closer to you by looking at our pictures." This time it was it was Lawrence's turn to shyly stare at his hands. Joanie enjoyed watching his nervousness. The words washing over her emotions, healing the open cuts she hadn't allowed to heal.
"I made your Mom promise not to tell you that I've been talking to her. I just needed to know how you've been doing since you wouldn't talk to me. So your Mom and I are friends now. I'm still at the same job, but I guess you know that. I've been a workaholic most of the time, taking on any extra jobs. If you go through with this divorce I will be looking for other work, far away."
The room was quiet. "Did you ever see her again?" It was time for the questions to get more serious and not get caught up in his smooth words.
He knew what she was talking about, "No." It was a simple and powerful answer, and he handed the next flower.
Talking about the other woman brought images into her mind of her husband making love to a faceless body. She had replayed the images over and over in the last year. She started forgetting the sweet man who met her at the door, and her emotions turned raw with thoughts of his lips kissing the lips of another woman. Getting angry she asked, "How can I believe it will never happen again. How can I trust you again?"
He was silent and she started twisting the stem of the flower around her finger nervously. Tears brimming her eyelids. "Jo, I betrayed you, so looking at my track record you shouldn't trust me again. But I'm asking you to believe that I never stopped loving you, and that it won't happen again. Maybe it will take more time, but I want you to at least consider not going through with the divorce."
She was here to ask questions, and wouldn't acknowledge how his words made her feel. "Who was she?" He didn't answer right away and she decided she didn't really want to know. "I take the question back. Don't answer it." She didn't want him to describe her as blonde, and then spend the rest of her life wondering if every blonde woman she passed was 'the' one.
Joanie unfolded her body from the chair and sat on the edge. She noted her escape route and wasn't sure she could handle the answer to her next question. She raised her eyes to him as if raising a gun. "Why? Why did you do it?" The question fired out like a bullet. Her voice was angry and hurt. The tears flowed freely out of her now. She grabbed the flowers that had formed a pile in front of her and threw them at him.
He moved towards her, but she jumped up and stood behind her chair. The chair was a visible representation that despite his smooth words an even bigger barrier still stood between them. He stood still for a moment, deciding whether or not to pursue. But then slumped down into his own seat. His body showed the defeat he felt. He leaned forward with his head in his hands and started crying. She longed to go to him, but her year of hate and unanswered questions kept her at bay.
The tears turned into sobs for a time before easing. He seemed almost surprised to look up and see her still there. "Jo, I don't know why any more. At the time I justified it, but there is no justification. We were going through a rough spot. Jeff had a crush on this woman, and asked me if I could go in first and talk about how great he was. Then he was supposed to come in and I would leave. Jeff and I had been casually getting to know this woman. I was only doing it for Jeff. Then one night you were going to go out somewhere, so Jeff asked me to join him because he wanted to ask her out that night.
"So a group of us went to a bar including her, we all drank too much. She started giving me attention and I didn't back away at first because I was just trying to get her and Jeff together. Then it became obvious that she wasn't interested in Jeff, but in me. My ego just got too big. I liked that she was interested in me. Jeff stormed off after swearing at me, and I was alone with this woman. We were both drunk, and...." The words got softer and softer and then stopped.
Joanie's knees gave way under her, and she slipped to the ground. She sat on the ground with her knees pulled up to her chin listening to his words wishing herself to another time and another place.
"I let myself get into something that was pleasurable for a moment, and was bolstered my ego. I told myself that you would never find out. I told myself it didn't matter. I told myself that you weren't treating me the way I deserved to be treated, and so I deserved this. It wasn't true but I believed it in that moment, and I gave into her.
"I came home to you early in the morning. Jeff and I had a fight the next day when he realized how far I had gone. He was angry for himself, and also for you. He defended you, and made me realize that my justifications had been all lies. We were both angry, and he told me he was going to tell you what had happened. The intensity of what I had done hit me then, and I told him that I would tell you myself. A couple days later I did."
The silence fell heavy on them. They didn't look at each other. They didn't move. Time seemed to stand still as her thoughts tried to take in everything that he said. All she could picture was her husband with the facless woman, kissing, their bodies naked together.
Lawrence stood, and approached her but didn't try to touch her this time. He held out his hand, giving her the option of using his hand to help her stand when she was ready. She reached up and enjoyed feeling her hand in his. Now it was time for her tears to start flowing down her already tear-streaked face. He reached for her and she didn't push him away. His arms enfolded her even though her arms were wrapped around herself. The tears flowed freely wetting his shirt
As the tears slowed she forced herself to remove herself from his comforting arms. How could the same arms that bring such pain also bring such comfort? He handed her the box of tissue and she blew her nose loudly.
"I need to go," she took the box of tissue with her, and he didn't try to stop her. It needed to be her decision to come back.
She slept better that night then she had for weeks. Her emotions were deplete and she had the security of Lawrence's love. She didn't know if she could trust him again with her love, but the freedom that comes from knowing the truth held her through the night and awakened with her the next day.
Five days left. What was she going to do? Her newly found freedom outshined the confusion and she enjoyed her day. She loved Lawrence and Lawrence loved her. The thought kept pushing itself through the surface of her consciousness, bringing a smile to her face.
She asked Lori to meet with her that evening. She told her what Lawrence had said and how they'd cried. "You still love him don't you," Lori asked.
"Yes, and he says he loves me."
"Then maybe that's enough. Maybe you can go back to him?"
"Is it that simple? He asked me to forgive him. Forgiving him means I can't always be picturing him with that other woman. I love him but I don't know if I can trust him again with my heart."
"Isn't it at least worth cancelling the divorce so you can work on it together." Lori asked.
"I'm afraid without holding the divorce over his head, things will go back to how they were."
"Then your obviously not trusting him yet." Lori answered. No, and she wasn't trusting herself either. She didn't trust that she could always be the wife Lawrence needed.
Joanie tried to ask Lori about her life and to listen, but it was difficult and the evening ended. She drove home, and saw new flowers on her doorstep. The flowers didn't appear to be purchased from a flower shop like the others. They were wild flowers tied together in a wreath. They had started to wilt, and a flower fell off as she picked it up. She waited to get upstairs to read the card.
"Like a circle that has no end, I made these flowers into a circle to show you my love." She placed the flowers on her head and looked in the mirror. He had lost her trust once, but he was proving himself faithful. She wanted to be with him forever too.
Leaving the flowers on her head, she headed back out the door, and drove to their house to see Lawrence. Lawrence must have thought she was never coming back because the relief on his face at seeing her was like a weight being taken off his shoulders. Then he noticed she was wearing his wreath, and he moved to her, and took her into his arms and she let him. They both had tears in their eyes when they looked into each others faces. She lifted her hand to his face stroking it, raising her lips to his. Their lips found each other, and he gently kissed her, softly with promises of more to come.
"I love you," she whispered the words to him. He swooped her up in his arms and into the house smiling grandly. He placed her down in the living room. Neither one was sure of what to do next. "I'm here because I love you and because you're my husband. But I'm not ready to share your bed yet."
"I understand!" He looked disappointed. She was surprised that she also felt disappointed. He was a gentleman and would honor her request. "Can you stay tonight? We can make up the guest bed together."
"I don't have any of my things but I'd like to stay." His emotions showed on his face at her words, and he went to get the sheets. They made the bed together in the guest room in silence, both glad just to be together. Lawrence disappeared then, and she just sat on the bed. Lawrence returned with some of the things she'd left behind that she'd never bothered to pick up. Lori had picked up a few of her things after she'd walked out but the other things she tried to forget about.
He remembered that she like to read at night and brought in her lamp, with a couple books. Her stuffed goose, and some of her clothes came on the second trip. She enjoyed just sitting and watching him take care of her. Her framed picture of them, happy together taken during better times was placed on the night stand. He looked at her, asking with his eyes if it was okay. She nodded and smiled and so it stayed. She felt more at home now, and felt cared for.
"How about some ice cream to celebrate?" Lawrence asked.
"Sounds good." They walked to the kitchen, and Joanie was amazed at the renovating work he had done. It was just as she pictured it in her eye, just like she'd described to him so long ago. He'd never taken time before, and life had been so busy.
"The room looks great. You did a lot of work here."
"Thanks, I was thinking of you the whole time." They had never had the same taste in ice cream flavors, and she was surprised to see that Lawrence still kept the freezer stocked with her favorite flavors as well as his.
They settled down with spoons and containers of ice cream, not bothering to scoop it into bowls. They put their feet up on the kitchen chairs and talked and laughed. They talked about unemotional topics, like the kitchen renovation, work and family, pretending they'd just been apart for a day rather then a year. Each laugh they shared together was like a stitch mending her heart. She met his cat named 'Meddling', and was surprised at how comfortable he was around cats he had despised before.
She kissed him before heading to bed. Another slow soft kiss as they separated. She slept well but surprised herself at the intensity with with she wished she had Lawrence beside her.
In the morning she watched out the window as Lawrence went for his jog. She slipped into the hall bathroom, to make herself presentable without her usual brush and cosmetics. She didn't know what else to do, and didn't come out until she heard him puttering in the kitchen. She came into the kitchen and smelled breakfast. She stood beside him at the stove, smiling at him, wanting a morning kiss. She received it and instructions to sit at the table so he could wait on her. She enjoyed breakfast, being spoiled and sitting across from her husband. Breakfast passed quickly and Lawrence needed to go. She rose as well, needing to get home, and get her car out of the way. They walked out of the house together.
Before walking to their cars he asked, "Can I stop by your house after work and help you pack your things to bring here?"
She wanted everything to be okay again, but there was still some hesitation in her heart. It was too fast, she felt fear overtake her again. "I need more time," her fear was speaking.
"What?" It sounded like anger but she knew it was disappointment when he brushed a tear away from his eye. "Fine, whatever. Will I see you tonight?" His voice calmed down.
"Yes." He walked to his car and they drove their separate ways without saying good-bye. How could she be so sure, and then filled with fear.
She wanted to be with him, but didn't know how they could rebuild. Wouldn't they just sit at home staring at each other without anything to say. Even if they made it work today and tomorrow, what about a year from now, or ten years from now?
While she was at home she crossed out another day on her calendar. Four more days. She brought some more things from home to make her stay more comfortable at 'their' house. It still felt like it was just a vacation, not really permanent.
She arrived at the house and Lawrence wasn't home yet. She walked to the back yard and looked around. She was impressed that he'd kept the house looking so good, and she hadn't even been around to nag him to do it. She sat in the lawn chair soaking up the beauty that Lawrence had created, and fell asleep. A kiss interupted her nap, and she smiled when she saw Lawrence.
"I'm sorry I rushed things this morning. I have trouble being patient." He blurted out.
"No, I'm sorry I let my fears turn things between us sour. I'm sorry we didn't say good bye properly." They both apologized the way they used to when they were first married.
She stood and kissed him. He dropped his briefcase and took her into his arms. Their kiss was more urgent this time. Both wanting more, but not letting themselves get lost in the kiss. He asked if he could take her out for dinner and movie. She thought that would be safer than facing each other across the table and running out of things to say. They checked the newspaper and then went to their separate rooms to get ready. When she met him in the living room he was ready, and handed her her old key. "Here's your key to your house, please use it."
He was trying every smooth move to try to win her back, and the evening was pefect. They held hands as they walked, feeling themselves falling back in love. Joanie felt the love soaking into the places she had filled with hate.
Their bodies starting finding each other again when they kissed good night at her door. She wanted it to last forever but it was just too fast, and she pulled away. He was a gentleman and walked away to his own room.