Lucy is awoken from a wonderful dream by the cacophony of the alarm beeping and the baby crying all at once. She wonders if the new day will bring anything better than the last ones have, but doesn’t have time to worry about that. So it is up and dressed, wake up the kids, dress them and take the oldest to school. Every morning there is a moment where she considers just driving till the gas runs out, but that is not what a responsible adult would do, so it is back home to the empty house and the empty feelings that greet her every day.
Got to feed the baby and play till nap time. Once the baby is asleep, it is the hardest time of the day, the time when the loneliness feels like it is going to completely crush her. So she cleans, surfs the internet and watches TV, but none of those replace what is missing. 3 hours goes by at a crawl. When the baby finally wakes up Lucy is grateful to at least have something to do; lunch time, play time, then the drive to pick up the oldest from school. Then she has to come home again. She doesn’t know when coming home became the dreadful activity it has become, but she knows it is her fault. No time to wallow though, make dinner, bathe the kids, clean the kitchen, and maybe watch some more TV counting down the minutes till 6 when Mike will be home.
This is the moment that Lucy dreams and hopes about all day. That he will walk through the door, smile on his face, and kiss her like he used to. Will today be different; the same question crosses her mind each day. Instead she gets a half smile, a quick hello, maybe a peck and then it is over. Again no time to wallow, kids need to be put to bed. By the time that is done it is 9 and she hopes that he might want to do something with her, she craves it, needs it.
Lucy wishes she could take back all those nights spent watching TV, when she was exhausted from work. “If I had only known then what is so very clear now.” The friendship she once shared with her husband was easily replaced by others, and now that Lucy has no one, he has plenty. While she is wishing and hoping for anything, crying while listening to love songs, he is laughing and talking to someone who has filled the role she so desperately wants to occupy. When did it get so far that she had no idea how to get it back? Maybe when they make love tonight, she will see the same longing in his eyes that she feels every day. Every once in awhile Lucy still catches a glimpse of the passion that used to be there, but then it seems to fade away as quickly as it came. Lucy is scared that one day the glimpses will no longer come and they will be like two people passing on the street.
It wasn’t always this way. From the day Lucy and Mike met everyone could feel the electricity between them. After a week of dating they became completely enveloped in each other. Moved in together after 4 months and were engaged after 6. Lucy knew from the first week that Mike was the one, the one she would spend the rest of her life with. The night he proposed was perfect, sunset on the beach. A year later they were married in a beautiful ceremony, and then went on a glorious honeymoon. The first three years of marriage passed just as beautifully as their courtship. Mike couldn’t keep his hands off of his new wife, and Lucy could not stop staring at her gorgeous husband. Then one morning came the moment that changed their lives forever.
Lucy woke up early, excited to go and sign the papers on her new sports car. A few minutes after getting up Lucy is hit with the nausea. After the feeling passes Lucy sits on the edge of the bathtub trying to remember when her last period was. She decides the fact that she cannot remember is a bad sign and heads out to buy a pregnancy test. When the plus sign shows up, there is excitement and fear in her heart. They had not planned on having children yet. Lucy was worried that Mike would not be as happy as she was becoming about this bit of news. Mike walks through the door to find his bride sitting on the couch wringing her hands.
“What’s wrong sweetie?”
Lucy pats the couch, signaling her husband to sit next to her. “I have something to tell you.”
“Okay, well make it quick we have to be at the dealership at 1.”
“Well, I can’t get the Mustang.”
Lucy could not make the words come out. Instead she got up and went to the bathroom. When Lucy returned to the living room she handed the test to her husband. She sat down waiting for his reaction. When Mike’s gaze met hers she saw the tears in his eyes and began crying too. They fell into each other’s arms. They stayed up all night talking about the great things and the changes to come.
Now two children later, Lucy would give anything for a night like that. That is what she missed most, the nights spent talking. They used to talk all of the time, now she did good just to get two words. Today would be different though, Lucy had a plan. When Mike comes home tonight he will be greeted by a clean and quiet house and a wife with a little love on her mind. She worked as hard as she could on the house all day long, making sure to clean in places that usually go untouched. The girls were fed and settled before six and Lucy was dressed to kill. While she stood watching the door she went over her plan again.
Mike pulled up in front of the house he and his wife had shared for five years. As he did every day, he sat in the car for a moment enjoying the last few moments of silence. He loved his family but it was just a little overwhelming sometimes. As he walked up the steps, it seemed quieter than usual. To his surprise he opened the door to a sparkling and quiet house.
“Lucy, where are the kids?”
Lucy did not answer; instead she grabbed her husband and kissed him. This was not just any kiss, it was a kiss like he used to get, full of passion and desire. Mike let himself get lost in the kiss for a moment, wanting to feel the same feelings Lucy was. Mike could not place when he lost that passion but he desperately wanted it back. When Lucy pulled away he could see in her eyes that she knew what he was thinking. Not wanting to see her hurt anymore, he turned and went to their bedroom.
Lucy stood frozen in the middle of the kitchen, heart breaking. She had been sure it would work, why didn’t it work? She could feel the tears welling up inside of her, instead of give in she hurriedly looked for something, anything to clean. Her concentration was broken by a small voice.
“Mommy, why do you look so sad?”
Lucy turned to see her beautiful daughter standing there, looking up at her with those big blue eyes.
“I am not sad sweetie, I was just concentrating. I love you.”
There was nothing better than hearing that little voice say “I love you too Mommy”. Her children are what kept Lucy going. Through everything they are the reason she has not just given up. Once her daughter was gone Lucy sat down at the table and tried as hard as possible not to cry. “What am I going to do?” she thought. Too bad she didn’t have the answer.
Mike was sitting at his computer wondering what was up with his wife. He did not understand why she was suddenly trying so hard. For months now they had been going their separate ways in the evenings. He felt like he needed to go and talk to her but truthfully, Mike had no idea what to say. So instead he loaded up the forum that has become his favorite pass time and started answering posts. These people were his friends, Lucy had always been the jealous sort but lately she had not seemed interested in his friendship, so he found what he needed elsewhere. He kept trying to just forget and loose himself in the conversations, but his mind kept wandering back to Lucy and the look on her face as she stood there in the kitchen.
When it was time for bed Lucy told Mike she loved him and kissed him goodnight, just like every other night. Then she turned over and snuggled in for the good two hours she would lay there thinking about the past. Every night Lucy tortured herself with memories of how it used to be, scouring the past for the exact moment they took the wrong turn. She thought if she could pinpoint that precise moment, there might be hope for getting back on track. But just as it happened last night and the night before, sleep won out before she was able to find it. Now lost in dreams Lucy’s mind and heart can finally rest, until either the alarm, or the baby, or both wakes her up in the morning.
Life has a funny way of continuing on around those that feel frozen in time. This realization came to Lucy as she was driving home from dropping Missy off at school. Her phone beeped in her pocket. A reminder that was set months ago, in a different life almost. The reminder was about a party for Mike’s birthday party this weekend. Lucy had been so absorbed in the problems she was facing that she had not realized that it was that close. Lucy wondered if it was even a good idea to still have the party, given the current state of her marriage. But behind all of the hurt there was love, the same love that had made Lucy plan the party. So as they say “The show must go on.” Lucy turned around and headed back to the store to get all the supplies for the party and on the way called Mike.
“Hi honey I was just calling to remind you about the party this weekend, and to ask if there was anything special you wanted me to make.”
“No whatever you want to do is fine.” Lucy could hear the surprise in his voice. Had he forgotten too?
“Okay, well if you think of anything just call and let me know.”
“Okay, love you.”
“Love you too.”
When Lucy pulled up in front of the store she just sat there for a minute. She enjoyed throwing parties, enjoyed having her home full of family and friends. Friends, she hadn’t even thought about that. “What if he invited “just friends”? Lucy wanted to call back and ask, but she had no idea how.
Mike hung up the phone with his wife, how had he forgotten about his own birthday party. He was actually surprised that Lucy was going through with it. No matter how many times he assured her that there was nothing going on, she still had all of this anger and animosity for her. Mike had always been a social guy, had always had a big group of friends, he did not understand why Lucy had gotten so crazy about this one. The thought hit Mike like a ton of bricks, “Did I invite her?” He couldn’t remember. Now Mike had a whole new problem to consider. He couldn’t uninvited her, but he did not think it would be a good idea for her to be there. This was going to take some smooth moves to figure out.
Lucy threw herself into planning this party. Somewhere in the baking isle the idea had hit her. She was going to throw the best party ever, be the best wife ever. Maybe if he saw how much she loved him and how great things could be, she could stop this walk of death her marriage was taking. There was so much to be done that Lucy, for the first time in weeks, did not have time to think about the problems. She had two days to put together a party she should have been working on for months. Cleaning, cooking, and all of the other chores keep Lucy busy all day. When she finally sat down she realized she was late to pick up Missy. Lucy grabbed the baby and rushed to the school.
“Mommy, I was worried about you.”
“I am so sorry sweetie; I was working on the stuff for daddy’s birthday party tomorrow and totally lost track of the time.”
“It’s ok. Is it going to be a surprise party, are there going to be decorations…”
The questions continued the whole way home.
When they got home Lucy showed her daughter all of the preparations she had made for the party. They spent the rest of the evening discussing what needed to be done the next day. When Mike walked through the door Lucy could not believe that she had not even realized it was six. For the second time today Lucy was hit with the fact that even if she felt frozen the world continued on. Lucy decided that for her children’s and her own sake she was going to start living life again instead of watching it go by.
Mike walked in to an unfamiliar scene, his wife and daughter laughing and talking. He hadn’t heard Lucy laugh in weeks; he didn’t realize how much he had missed it until now. “What are you to conspiring about?”
“I can’t tell you daddy, it is about your surprise birthday party.”
“Okay, well then you just don’t tell me anything.”
“Okay.” With that she wrapped her little arms around his legs. When Mike looked down at his daughter he saw those blue eyes, just like Lucy’s and smiled. Mike turned to his wife, she smiled and said hello. He waited for the kiss, but it didn’t come, so he went to change out of his work clothes. After the kids were bathed and in bed Lucy came in and put her arms around him, he looked up at her and smiled. “What’s up honey?”
“Well I was just wondering if you invited…” Lucy didn’t get to finish because Mike interrupted her.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t remember, and even if I did what does it matter. I have told you a million times we are just friends.”
“Listen I wasn’t trying to start a fight, I just wanted to know.”
“Well I will find out tomorrow ok.”
With that Lucy walked away. Mike did not understand why they could not go one single night without fighting about her. He was here, in the same house as Lucy. He wasn’t running around, or staying out all night. “What is she so worried about?” Mike could just not understand what the problem was, and was beginning to think he never would.
Lucy came in to go to bed. Mike was still doing stuff on the computer, so she put on her pajamas and laid down. When Mike joined her she could not help herself. “Mike, you know that she is falling in love with you.”
“Lucy, please, every night it is the same thing. I don’t know how more plainly I can say it. We are just friends”
“I know that is what you think, but I can see it, I can hear it in her voice. She is falling in love with you, and I am scared you are falling in love with her.
“You are being ridiculous, where am I now? Am I with her? Whose bed do I sleep in?”
“I know, I just can’t help but feel like…” again Mike interrupted her
“Well stop, I am not going anywhere unless you tell me to. So come here and snuggle up so we can go to sleep”
Lucy laid her head on Mike’s chest, within moments he was asleep and Lucy was left with just her thoughts. Sleep would not come easy for Lucy tonight, but lately that was an every night occurrence. At least she had a party to look forward to tomorrow.
Susan opened her eyes, she looked at her husband lying next to her and wondered when she stopped loving him. Lately her life had felt like it was in a tailspin. The very chore of getting out of bed in the morning felt like too much to bear. Everyday, without fail, she got up and went to work, and everday she came home to play the good wife. Somewhere through the years the anger and resentment had built to a toxic level. She worried that there was no going back. Things change so much when you are not looking, and five years down the road you find yourself miles from where you thought this road was going. Everything started out great with Adam, but slowly he began to change. It wasn’t until it was too late that Susan realized that he had begun to control every aspect of their lives. Now Susan felt stuck, trapped in a place she never wanted to be.
While walking into work, Susan found the one thing that made her smile every morning, his car. If it were not for getting to see him she probably would have given up long ago. Susan walked into her office and sat down, waiting for him to go to the brerakroom and get his cup of coffee. For two months now, she had made it a point to wait until he went to get his, to go herself. It used to be the first thing she did every morning, but now she waited so that she could bump into him. Over the past few months they had really developed a friendship, she even got invited out to the bar with him and his friends a few times. Susan was not sure when she fell in love with him, but she knew that he was all she could think about. So she sat there lost in thoughts of the man she loved but could not have, when he walked into her office. “Mike, good morning.”
“Hey Susan, this may sound like a weird question, but did I invite you to a party tonight?”
“Yes you did.”
“Oh, well it starts at seven, will Adam be coming.”
“Yep, can’t imagine he would let me leave the house without him.”
Mike smiled at her comment then turned and walked out. Susan had often wondered about Mike’s life with his wife. During their talks she had told him all about her problems with Adam, but Mike had never really talked about Lucy. If she felt like there was a chance that Mike would leave Lucy, Susan just might tell him how she felt.
Adam sat at his desk, consumed with thoughts about his wife. Somewhere along the way she had become an obsession, and not in a good way. Maybe it was because he had always felt like she was too good for him, but all he could think was how to keep her. The thought of Susan out there talking to anyone else drove him mad. Over the years he had slowly taken away all of her freedom, Adam was trying to keep her from seeing that there is a better person out there for her. He thought that once there son was born they would be closer. It did make the bond between them stronger for a time but then the resentment started to creep back in. Adam caved and let her get a job, thinking that little bit of rope would give her the space she needed. About two months ago she made a new friend, a male friend. Adam could see in her eyes that emotionally she was checking out of their marriage. Physically she was there, everyday playing the good wife. Emotionally however, her heart was with him. Adam had never seen this “awesome guy” but he new that he had to stop it. Tonight they were going to a party for “awesome guy’s” birthday. Now he would see the enemy, and get to know him. Adam had resolved a long time ago to do whatever it took to keep Susan. The thoughts running through Adams head at that moment scared him, so he returned his focus to his work.
Today was the day that Susan and Mike would pitch there latest baby to the client. Mike had done the writing, and she had done the artwork, it was the best part of both of them. Susan was so nervous. This would be her first major client since returning to work. The butterflies in her stomach had kept her from eating all morning, and now that she was sitting this close to Mike they only got worse. Every one in the office had been a buzz, talking about how Mike and Susan were the new dream team. It was like they were just on the same wavelength. They both had exactly what the other one needed. The office talk only fueled the fire in Susan. She wondered if they could be so good together in one area, if it would bleed over into others as well. Focus Susan, she thought, this is not the time for fantasies. The client walked in and sat on the other side of the table. It was show time.
Adam was finishing up at work, trying to get out early to go home and get ready for the party. He had to look his best tonight. Maybe if Susan saw them side by side she would realize that Adam is the better choice. He jumped in the car and raced home. Susan was not there to meet him though. The flashing light on the answering machine caught his eye. Adam walked over and pushed the button. He was greeted by Susan’s voice saying she would meet him at the party. He hurriedly scribbled down the address and went to change clothes. He had to be there when Susan got there. She could not have anymore time alone with him then she already gets. As Adam dressed his mind kept going, what was “awesome guy” like? Tonight he would finally know his enemy, and how to beat him.
Susan was lost in thought as she followed Mike to his house. She wondered how things would go tonight, and how she could not let her love for him show. At this point Susan was beginning to realize that Mike seemed to be the only one still blind to her feelings. As they pulled up Susan said a little prayer, tapping every bit of strength she opened the door of her car and walked to join up with Mike on his porch. Susan was so absorbed in thoughts of Mike that she did not see Adams car across the street.