Note: Dark honesty is hard to read and harder still to write.
You don't have to comment. You don't have to sympathize or make excuses for us. It's an ugly post and we were ugly people. Hell, it only gets worse from here. I won't ask you not to judge. I won't even ask you to read it. I just thank you for letting me write it.
Regularly scheduled ridiculosity will resume in a week.
And thank you. Sincerely. From both of us.
We put ourselves to bed and stared at the ceiling. There was nothing left. Only waiting.
We considered the outcomes over and over, talking out each city, speaking in circles. Like some twisted Pandora's box, the door cracked and the pestilences of uncertainty poured in. There was doubt. There was dread. There was worry, mistrust, wariness, harshness, cynicism, there were cracks and there were faultlines, and with every tick of the clock we became more snappish, more irritable, more defensive... until finally we weren't Nicki and Derick anymore, we weren't the young doctor and the writer, the pair of dog-loving, vinyl-collecting, dry-humored foodies and borderline alcoholics.We were circling animals, poised to attack.
I have to hand it to Derrick. Through it all, he remained honest to a fault.
Me? I lied. I lied like hell.
Derrick paced. I soothed. Derrick ranted. I listened. Derrick was a caged animal with haunted eyes. I was the silver-tongued siren. I'd cover his hand, tell him not to worry. I'd tell him that we'd make it through anything. I'd tell him that wherever he landed, we'd be fine. Shit, if he hated it that much, we'd transfer after a year. I kept one eye on Derrick. I kept one eye on the clock. I kept one hand on Derrick's shoulder...but I had one hand on the door.
And Derrick knew it.
While I soothed and supported and reassured like my life depended on it, my mind was working frantically. You said you'd never let a man rule your life, the voice hissed. You don't need him. You're independent. You're strong. Why are you attaching yourself to him? Go to Boston or Baltimore on your own. Don't follow him to hell. Go there yourself.
Forge your own trail. Don't let him blaze it for you.
I can tell you every bump, every paint swirl on our ceiling. I can tell you exactly how many burnt matches were on my night stand (three). I can tell you how many times my dog shook his collar in the night (five). I can tell you how many different bird calls I heard as light slowly filtered in the room (twelve). I can tell you this because for three nights in a row, we didn't sleep.
We tried. We counted sheep. We tried nightcaps. We tried medication. Then we tried sleeping pill-and-alcohol cocktails. Nothing worked.
We were awake.
And we were haunted.