I’m a selfish fucking bastard, and I wanted you both.
I want to say I regret it, but I can’t because loving you made me, but loving her completed me.
I hope that in time you can forgive me, that you can tell the kids the good about me, that you can protect them when the bad comes. You’re stronger than you think you are.
The letter slips from my hands as does the envelope, but the pictures that are inside slip out, showing me who this woman is. Showing me who Hailey is. It’s a picture of them on their wedding day. The wail that comes through me fills the house, and if the windows were open, I’m sure someone would have called 911.
I fall sideways as my body curls into the fetal position. I cry for the man I met, I cry for the man I fell in love with, I cry for the man who married me, I cry for the man who gave me two children, and I cry for myself because with one letter, he has left me more broken than I was before.
That one letter has shown me what was right in front of me the whole time; he loved me, but I wasn’t good enough for him.
I lie in the spot as I hear the phone ring and ignore it. I only get up when it’s time to get the girls, and no matter how hard I try to hide it, the kids notice.
“Are you sick, Mommy?” Daisy asks when we walk in the door, and I take off my sunglasses, the redness in my eyes giving me away.
“I’m just sad today,” I tell her as Lizzie gives me a hug.
“I can make us nuggets in the toaster oven,” she says and then turns to Daisy. “Get your homework, I’ll help you.”
I lie on the couch motionless as I blink and look at the picture that I still haven’t hung back up. The picture I won’t hang up. When it’s bedtime, I roll off the couch and tuck the girls in and then come back to my room. The brown envelope is out of sight tucked under my clothes in the first drawer.
I close my eyes and rock myself, hoping that the darkness takes me, but it doesn’t, no matter how hard I squeeze my eyes. When the phone rings again, this time, I reach out and answer it.
“Hello?” I say, my eyes closed as tears pour out onto the pillow.
“What’s the matter?” Blake says right away. “Are you hurt?”
“Not that you can see,” I tell him.
“Where are you?” I hear him moving around.
“I’m in bed,” I tell him.
“Are you sick?” His voice is trying to be calm, but he’s failing.
“No,” I answer, and then I tell him, “I cleaned out Eric’s closet today.”
“Oh, shit,” he says. “Why?”
“Because I thought today was a good day, because I thought I was strong enough, because I thought I would be okay.”
“Where are the girls?” he asks, and I cry out a little bit because he doesn’t even know them; he’s never fucking met them, yet he cares more than their actual family does.
“In bed. Lizzie made dinner,” I tell him. “He left me a letter,” I finally say. “A confession of sorts. He told me all about Hailey. Also left me a nice picture of the two of them on their wedding day.”
“Prick.” I hear him hiss. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“Because it happened so fast. I didn’t even know what it was till I opened it. He loved her,” I say with a sob. “Loving me made him but loving her completed him.”
“I can’t fucking believe this,” he says. “I have to go.”
“Okay,” I say, hanging up as I look at the wall. I don’t know how long I lie here; I don’t know how much times goes by. The phone ringing snaps me out of it. “Hello?” I say quietly, seeing it’s now a little past eleven.
“Open the door,” he says and disconnects. I sit up in bed, shocked and surprised. I go to the front door and open it, my eyes taking him in. His green eyes shining in the moonlight, his blue shirt fitting him like a glove.
“What are you doing here?” I ask him, shocked that he is standing on my doorstep.
“I figured you needed a friend,” he says, and I crush my face into his chest and cry out while he holds me.
I didn’t even know what I was doing, but the only thing on my mind was getting to her. To her soft voice, her silent sobs, her broken spirit.
Gone was the woman who fought so hard and took so much pride in painting her house, and in her place was the woman who was left behind to feel she wasn’t worth it.