Chapter Thirteen: Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand
No matter how right the decision, parting ways turned out to be more difficult than Ginny had anticipated. As the hour of departure approached, they spent lengths of time together without speaking, just lingering over heavy thoughts and half-finished cups of coffee. When the time came, too quickly, as these things always do, they stood in the noisy, busy terminal, barely noticing the crush of passengers milling around them.
Ginny spoke first. “I want to thank you, Eric.” The words were heavy in her throat, and sounded more formal than she had intended.
“What for, darling?”
“I can’t tell you how important you’ve been. These past couple of weeks – I don’t know. I just know I’m different now. This time has changed me. You’ve changed me.” It had all sounded far more eloquent in her head, and now she tripped over her words. How could she explain to him that she loved him for teaching her how to really live? Even though she wasn’t in love with him?
Eric laughed. “Is that a good thing?”
Ginny grinned. “I don’t know yet. I think so.” She gave a half-shrug.
“Listen. You know that place we saw? That fabulous house? I think you should go for it.”
She scoffed. “You do realize it’s in Romania? I have a life in the States. A job, friends…family. What am I gonna’ do with a place in Romania?”
“Well, you could vacation there, for a start. But really, you kept going on about opening up a B&B. Why don’t you do that? Sounds like you’d like it far more than your current job.”
A blush rose to her cheeks. “I mentioned that, did I?”
“Oh, once or twice. Or maybe a dozen times. But seriously, what’s for you in the States? You’ve only complained about your life there. This is an opportunity some people only ever dream about. And here it’s at your fingertips.”
“But I have family in the States. Some. I see them occasionally.” Repeating it only made her claim sound weaker. She positively squirmed under his line of questions.
A voice called over the loud speaker, announcing the departure of Eric’s bus.
“Listen, Red. I gotta go. But just promise me you’ll think about it, okay?”
“But it’s such a ridic—“
“Just think about it. Promise me.”
She folded her arms across her chest, bit her lip and nodded. “All right. I’ll think about it.”
“Good.” Eric embraced her warmly. “Take care of yourself now, Red.”
She nodded into his shoulder, not trusting herself to speak. He pulled away, sliding his hand down to give hers a final squeeze. Then he turned and hopped on the bus as it was shutting its doors, and thus left without a backward glance.
But in her hand, he had left a note.
With trembling finders and piqued curiosity, Ginny unfolded the scrap of paper, wondering, half hoping – and feeling foolish for doing so – if it was his phone number or address, or a promise to meet.
When she opened it up, it said:
Go for it Red. You deserve a slice of happiness.
There was a name and phone number on it, but not his. It was the name and number of the realtor managing the property.
* * * * *
Ginny did think about it. Obsessively. Finally, sick of her own thoughts crowding her head, she decided she needed a distraction. It was the evening before she would leave for Bucharest, after all. After all the debacles, she would finally arrive in Bucharest! She would finally make it! She couldn’t wait.
It’s about time I checked my email, she thought, realizing it had been weeks since she was last online. She was amazed at how difficult it could be to mentally disconnect from the rest of world, but how easy it was to forget all about it once you did.
She dropped into an internet café and logged in. A hundred and fifty emails. She groaned. Filtering through spam, she found one from her mother and a couple from work colleagues. She laughed at the eight emails from Dee demanding to know what happened after their last phone call, and put them aside to respond to later. Explaining all that had happened over the past couple of weeks would take a lot of time!
And then her heart stopped.
There sat one seemingly innocent little email. From Michael. Their first piece of communication since the divorce proceedings began, she knew it would be anything but innocent. Her palms leaked sweat as she clicked over his name.Dearest Virginia (God, he always insisted on being so uptight!), I have missed you more than I could ever express. How did we let things go so wrong? (Probably it began when you let your trousers down, thought Ginny angrily.) The relationship with Trixie is over. It ended the minute I realized what it meant to lose you. (Ginny snorted.) I can’t think without you. I can’t focus. Work is a nightmare. Nights alone…they’re unbearable. Obviously, we have some issues to work through. Maybe we can see a counselor, and she can help you work through your problems of jealousy and control. I need to have some personal space to enjoy life and I don’t think it’s fair, for example, that I should have to call you when I come home late. I’m a husband, not a child, after all. I think maybe it would help you to talk to someone about where your issues stem from. Perhaps you did not receive enough attention from your parents as a child? Maybe a counselor would also have some advice to spice things up in the bedroom a bit. But anyway. That’s all beside the point, and they are relatively small issues I think we can resolve easily. The point is, I love you and miss you terribly. I’m sure you must feel the same. I wonder how you must be able to cope so far away from home, without me. We had a beautiful life together. Don’t throw it all away. Love,
The email ended with his full name and title and work address. Ginny fumed. She was so livid, she didn’t even know where to begin spewing vitriol. Mostly, she was angry at herself. How could she not have seen what kind of person Michael was sooner? Had she really put up with this for this long? Well, it was about time she grew a spine. Plenty of choice phrases came to mind to describe the precise way in which she would like to dispatch him from her life. ‘Screw you’ should be succinct enough, but Michael seemed so clueless, he probably wouldn’t even get that much. How long ago had he sent the email?
She checked the date. Six days ago…she pulled out her organizer and looked at the calendar. Wow, so much has happened in just a few weeks, she thought. Wait a minute…weeks…
She flipped through the calendar, struggling to remember for sure. Yes, definitely, right, she was sure. A small P marked the beginning of the last one.
Oh Holy God. A flush filled her entire body, her mouth went dry, and her stomach dropped to her knees and splattered on the floor.
She was four days late. She was never late.(to be continued…)