Putting in my resignation before the three months was up was probably the easiest part of this whole process. David rested his eyes on me quizzically, as if I did the unthinkable and spat on his face. He asked me questions like, “Do you think this is the right thing?” or “You’re so close to getting what you’ve always wanted you just have to work that bit harder.” Nothing in him sounded like he was desperate to have me. And why should he? There are millions of people out there who can fit my position; this isn’t brain surgery (though some may contest it’s like heart surgery) so I figured the neither of us were missing out. Well, he wasn’t missing out. I may have decided the biggest mistake of my life that will set a course of events unknown to me now, but at least the future was of my choosing, even if the northern star was barely visible.
So after I quit my job and began unbuttoning the top button my blouse in the street as I walked, I was numb to the movement of my legs, pounding on the pavement. I was pulled towards home by a common decency. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t cry in front of Daniel, I didn’t want him feeling more shit than he already was, so embarrassingly, I started tearing up on the street. I tried keeping my eyes on my feet as the trudged forward one dragging for at a time. And if I needed to, I’d use my back hand to scratch the tears off my cheek. I just needed to walk. I craved the walk despite my embarrassing display, and kept on going on. Until my feet hurt enough that I needed a cab ride the rest of the way.
Daniel got home later that night. He usually came after me but this time, I’d allowed myself enough time to compose myself and pack my bags. A thought scratch at the back of my mind, but before I could remember what it was that I was missing, Daniel came through the front door, and my heart blasted my mind into submission.
“Hey,” I said shakily, smiling as I rounded the cubed shelves of our bedroom.
“Oh, hey, what’s up?” He headed straight for the fridge. “I am dying of thirst.”
He clutched the glass of water as he rounded Kitchen Island, but stopped before me. His head lowering to take my expression in. “Everything okay?” His eyes flickered down to my hand and then did a double take. He placed the cup on the island and breathed in through his nostrils. “Where’s the ring?” I opened my other hand up in the palm of which was the platinum and diamond.
I gulped loudly. You could hear a pin drop. Then Daniel turned, placed both hands over the island and held himself up. From behind him, I stroked my hands down his shoulders. “We need to talk.”
My skin moulded a clammy residue onto his skin as he tensed his muscles for a minute, before swiftly sliding his hand against the glass and smashing it against the kitchen sink and back wall. I staggered back as the glass exploded like fireworks into little irregular shape pieces, the water nowhere to be found except dripping off the sink in droplets.
He turned around, fuming. “I knew this would happen. I did everything in my power to prevent this from happening!”
“No! Fuck it! I don’t want to hear it!”
“We have to talk about this—”
“Why!? It’s apparent you’ve already made a decision.”
“I just want you to know why,” I squeaked.
“This is so fucking stupid. Back together, then apart, then together, then apart. We’re a fucking circus! A joke! A couple of pretenders.”
“I wasn’t pretending.”
“No, I wasn’t pretending!” he yelled louder. His throat veins popping. “I was happy. I still am. Why are you doing this again?”
“Do you think I want to? Do you think this makes me happy?”
“Then don’t!” he said. I shook my head, confused. “Don’t do this. Be with me. Through thick and thin.”
“This is more than just thick and thin, Daniel.”
“Psht…I thought you wouldn’t do this. That putting on that ring would…” he faded out.
My wet eyes focused on him. “Would what?”
He shook his head, looking down. “I didn’t think you would want to deal with the embarrassment of going back on your word.”
So you trapped me? Better keep that to myself. “This is wrong. This is so wrong.”
“What is this about? Really. What is it about?”
“Daniel…you want children, I don’t—”
“Ohh, see, I knew I shouldn’t have told you. I was working on it.”
“This isn’t something you should be working on. It isn’t something you should sacrifice.”
“I love you, goddammit! There is no sacrifice!”
“Yes there is.” And I could see the agreement in his eyes, no matter how he was trying to hide it by gazing elsewhere. “I love you, too, but—”
“No buts—” he held my face in his palms and turned my lips up onto his. Our tongues melted with each other; he curled his fingers underneath and around my ass until his fingertips were peeking out from in between my legs. I yelped when he picked me up that way and placed me on the island stool, fumbling for my pants with one hand while using the other to rip his shirt off before moving onto mine. He got sick of unbuttoning one button at a time and just tore it open. He stopped there. I wasn’t reacting so much, but I wasn’t exactly fighting him either.
His panting breath fluffed my hair from my face. He stroked the rest back as he took me in. “I can work through this. Don’t worry about me,” he whispered.
“Daniel,” I breathed.
“Be honest with me.”
“I am honest.”
“You love me, right?”
He smiled. “Of course I do.”
“So you know I’m only doing this because I love you, too.”
He remained silent, his smile dropping. Then, barely uttered, “Anna…” before I cut him off.
“Do you want to be with someone than doesn’t want to have children?”
“Don’t do this,” he tried, one final time.
“Do you?” I pressed.
His jaw ticked, his brows angled, his eyes swarming in pain. “No. I don’t.”
I’d hate to think of myself as the key that forced and broke his chain, but immediately I saw a change in him. A definitive resolution in his marvelling eyes. His northern star as brightly lit as the sun shimmering along the length of broken glass.
“You want this too,” I said, flicking his hair away, “even if you’re still denying it to yourself.”
He looked at me, and then leaned in. this time, I returned the kisses, returned the clawing and grasping, returned the love as he carried my into the bedroom.
“So, what are you going to do now?” Daniel asked me as he stroked my arm where my finger lightly tapped his chest.
I sighed. “I’m moving back to California.”
He shifted. I looked up to find him staring down at me with surprise. “You’re leaving New York?”
“Yeah, I miss L.A.”
“New York’s better. Why would you go back?”
I chuckled. “Excuse me, sir. When did you convert?”
He laughed. “Damn. So—” he lifted his shoulders— “I’m not going to be able to just drop in and see you?” I rolled my eyes and tilted my head Daniel’s way. He nodded. “No I know we need our space. I was just joking. Sort of.”
“You still matter to me, Daniel.”
“You do, too. Always.”
I sighed. “I’ll leave you with the ring—”
“No,” he interjected, “you keep it. Hold on to it. For me. I’ll come back for it someday.”
I rested my head back on his bare chest. “When will that be?”