“I am so sick of your shit, Debbie,” Rick said.
“Well, I’m sick of yours,” Debbie strongly retorted. “I am so sick of yours! You never take responsibility for anything and then you turn around and blame me for you crap. It’s getting very old, so grow the hell up!”
“Me, grow the hell up? I’m not the one still fantasizing about taking useless, expensive trips around the world so I can ‘expand my way of thinking.’ Why won’t you just try meeting new people, huh? And stop being so damn closed-minded. It won’t hurt if you just try it!”
“Just try? It won’t hurt if I just try,” Debbie asked with remorseful tears welling up in her eyes.
There was a painful stillness in the room. Rain was pounding the roof of their apartment as lightning flashed and thunder roared outside. They stood quietly facing each other, nearly at their wits end. They were both tired, frustrated, angry, confused but mostly wondering how they strayed so far away from loving each other over the past year.
“Being with you is my first and biggest step at trying and being more open minded, so don’t give me that bullshit. Just don’t! And you should know by now how hard it is for me to trust people. Even fully trusting you is scary every time I think about it and this fight surely isn’t helping to build trust! This entire last year has been from hell to be honest. You know what happened to me and you know why it is so hard for me to trust people. Hell, you’re the only one that knows, Rick. Only you. Can I get any credit for that?”
“G-g-g-g-g, D-d-d-d-d,” Rick beginning to stutter on words.
The rain began pouring harder, making it more difficult for the couple to hear one another. A few of the lights in the room flickered a bit after a large lightning flash swept over the area but the stillness remained. He was so scared, more scared than he had ever been in his life. Guilt and fear was gripping his vocal chords and trembling his entire body, affecting his power to talk clearly and stay still. His inability to be completely honest with his wife of three years had taken a volatile toll on their marriage.
She remained standing there quiet, waiting for him to say something else other than those stuttered letters, until she took the intiative to slice the silence.
“Rick, stop shaking and say something, please! Say anything.”
His body continued to tremble from all the bottled guilt and fear.
“Got Dammit! Why is it raining so hard right now? Lights flickering and crap,” he said looking up at the ceiling and around the room. “I-I-I-I-I-I-I don’t think I’m cut out for this whole marriage stuff.”
The rain and thunder slowly started to back off in intensity. Each individual droplet could be heard when it smacked the roof or the windows. Even the lights became still and more silent. Debbie didn’t say anything but just looked as her expression asked, “Is that all you have to say to me?” Rick, staring at the carpet stain on the floor, finally got control of his bodily jitters and his vocal chords. Everything was strangely calmer.
With a deep breathe, still staring at the stain on the carpet, he repeated, “Deb, I don’t think I’m cut out for this marriage stuff.” Hearing it a second time engendered more uneasiness in her. “I can’t be the husband you need. After I lost that job, the one thing that helped me feel like some kind of a provider for you, I knew I wouldn’t be able to really care for you like you deserved. Fuck Deb, I can’t do this and you know I can’t.”
The rain had come to a complete cease and the thunder left no more growls in the sky. Clouds began saying their final goodbyes as they dissipated from the atmosphere. Her attention stayed fixated on his every word. This was new for the both of them.
“And as you know, I haven’t been able to land a steady job this past year, only pickup gigs from here to there,” Rick continued, now looking up in her direction but not at her, for he was still timidly nervous. “That’s it. That’s all I’ve been able to bring to the table. I messed up a lot. I’m not sick of you; I’m sick of me and my shit. All the stuff I expect you to deal with and fix. That’s what I’m sick of. And I’m sick of feeling like I can’t protect you knowing about the abusive past your step-dad gave you. I can’t fight. I can’t brawl. I can’t,” he paused to gather the remainder of his thoughts.
Debbie stayed attentive, but her attention slowly changed into an adoring and tearful gaze as she continued to listen.
“I can’t do any of those macho things for you, Deb,” he restarted. “I’m sorry for not undoing the emotional scars caused by his pissy insecurities and thirsts for power. I’m sorry for drowning your dreams out because I couldn’t offer you a safe place to swim with them. And I’m sorry for snapping at you when I was the damn problem. I’m sorry but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this to you anymore.”
He looked up at his wife for a split second, saw the serenity in her eyes, and turned around to exit the room and leave the apartment. Without hesitation, she removed the distance between her and her husband, paced quickly after him before he left the room, and hugged him from behind. As she continued holding him, she moved in front of him to lay her head on his left shoulder. He reluctantly raised his arms to embrace his wife, only to finally squeeze her back with gratitude.
As they stood there hugging one another, she reminded him, “Honey, I love you and I still believe in you, okay? We are gonna get through this, even if we have to trudge through it together. Stay here, with me, by my side. Please.”
Rick mustered up the strength to momentarily ignore the self-blame and shame to look into his wife’s convinced eyes. Taking a long, deep breath and releasing an equally long, deep sigh, he replied, “Okay, Deb. Okay.”