Disclaimers: You have to read the two previous stories to know what’s going on. (A Season of Loss and A Season of Change)
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A Season of Renewal
“Inconsiderate assholes!” hissed Mac as she walked into her kitchen and slammed the door behind her. She dropped her briefcase and purse onto the table and kicked her heels off, allowing them to skid across the tile and bump into the door to the laundry room. The house was empty; Alejandro and Emily were both at a church picnic that she was supposed to go to until she cancelled at the last minute. She got a call from a couple that wanted to look at a house that she’d had on the market for a while now. Hoping she would be able to make a sale, Mac cancelled her plans and made the appointment. An appointment that the couple decided wasn’t important enough to show up at and after an hour of waiting, Mac left for home.
The angry woman wrenched the phone from its cradle and dialed her mother’s number while she unbuttoned her suit jacket. On the forth or fifth ring her mother picked up. “Hey mom.”
“Hello child,” said Kathy further extending a long running joke between the two of them.
“How’s your Saturday so far?” asked Mac as she passed the phone from one ear to the other, removing her jacket.
“Good actually, Mama and I went yard salin’ this morning and got a couple of cute things.” Mac smiled at the mention of her grandmother’s given nickname. Everyone in the family called her Mama, all except for Mac’s kids who called her Great Mama as not to get Mac and her grandmother confused. “How about you?” asked Kathy.
“My day has sucked so far, that’s why I was calling actually.”
“That’s a nice thing to say.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” explained Mac as she made her way into her bedroom. “I actually wanted to know if you would like to come over for lunch. You can bring Mama with you and we’ll have a girl’s day.”
“That’s sounds fun. When do you want us over and should I bring anything?”
Mac could hear Mama asking the question in the back round, forcing Kathy to relay the message. “Nothin’ but yourselves,” said Mac with a smile.
“Okay, we’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.”
“Okay, see you then, bye.” Fifteen minutes in Kathy speak really meant about forty-five so Mac knew she had plenty of time to get some things together. She changed into a pair of jeans and an old t-shirt and then walked back into the kitchen. Her bare feet hit the cool tile of the floor and she reveled in the feeling of being rid of her pantyhose.
About forty minutes later there was a quick knock on the kitchen door and then it opened to reveal her mother toting a couple of shopping bags with Mama trailing behind her. “We stopped on the way over and got gas and then I had to stop at Food Lion and pick up some drinks because I know you don’t keep soda in the house and I just had a horrible taste for my Code Red.” Both women walked through the door and collapsed into a chair at the kitchen table.
Mac just shook her head and grabbed a couple of glasses, filling them with ice. “Well Kathy, it wouldn’t hurt you to drink water ever now a then,” said Mama accepting a glass from Mac.
“Yes it would. I would be giving up a piece of happiness, and lord knows I don’t have too many of them left,” said Kathy with a huff.
“Don’t be so dramatic,” scoffed Mama as she accepted a kiss on her cheek from Mac. “How’re you honey?”
“I’m doin’ fine Mama, just had a rough day is all.”
“Why, what happened?”
“I got stood up by a perspective client this morning. And after I rearranged my schedule so I could make the appointment too.”
“Assholes,” hissed Mac’s grandmother.
“Mama!” exclaimed Kathy.
“Well they are,” said Mama with an innocent look.
“Where are the kids?” asked Kathy.
“Church,” said Mac taking a seat with her own drink. “They won’t be home until later tonight so we have all afternoon to gossip. Fill me in on everyone.”
“Let’s see, your father is gone today to one of his meetings…”
“He’s still drinking the grape Kool-Aid?”
“McKenzie, you know it’s not like that,” said Kathy as Mama snickered.
“It’s a pyramid scheme Mom, only one step above a cult.”
“Stop it, your father works hard and he has actually started to turn a profit from this.”
Mac raised her hands in supplication. She and her mother had this particular conversation more than once and it never changed. “What about Grandfather?” she asked turning her attention to Mama.
“He’s out on the road again. Won’t be back until Wednesday, which is good because your uncle Gary is over stripping the back porch. Hopefully he’ll have it done before Larry gets back and has an opportunity to get in his way.”
“How is Gary?” Mac asked after taking a sip of her Coke.
“Good. I’m surprised I was able to tear him away from his new daughter though. But someone had to take pity on Susan and get her husband out of her hair. She says she swears he’s more trouble that the baby.”
“I told you Lauren’s pregnant again right?” asked Kathy.
“No,” said Mac in surprise. “Last I heard she a Kenny were getting a divorce.”
“Yeah, that’s on hold now. Your aunt Debbie thinks she knew about the divorce papers he drew up and is faking the whole thing to keep him.”
“How can she think that of her own daughter?” asked Mac.
“Well this is Lauren we’re talking about. She’s done worse,” said Mama.
“True,” conceded Mac.
“What about you and Jess, she treating you any better?” asked Kathy.
Mac’s smile faded as she thought of her ex. It had been two weeks since the incident in the driveway and Jess had been treating her cordially at best. They never spoke about anything besides the children or scheduling or the occasional request that Jess fix something around the house. All of the headway they'd made towards reconciliation was forgotten, leaving Mac feeling awkward towards the other woman. “Nothing’s changed. She still refuses to talk to me.”
“I still don’t understand what right she has to treat you this way,” vented Kathy.
Mac felt somewhat guilty for not telling her mother the whole story but when she had needed someone to talk to it had only been hypothetically. After the first few questions, her mother figured out that she was talking about Jess and drew her own conclusions. Mac didn’t feel the need to correct her.
“Something tells me you don’t know the whole story,” said Mama giving Mac a knowing look.
“What do you mean?” asked Kathy.
Mac gave her grandmother a pleading look, begging her not to delve into this particular subject any further. “Well for one you don’t know Jess’ side of the story…” said Mama before Kathy interrupted her.
“I don’t need to know her side. McKenzie’s side is the only one I care about.”
“Mom, can we not get into this now please? I’ve had a crappy enough day as it is.”
Just as Mac finished talking, everyone’s attention was drawn to the kitchen door as Jess, with great effort, opened it and backed her way into the room carrying a couple of boxes. The new arrival didn’t notice the women sitting there until she turned around to kick the door closed. The slam of the door was loud in the now silent room.
“Speak of the devil,” murmured Mama.
“Ladies,” said Jess with a nod and then turned her attention to Mac. “I didn’t think anyone was supposed to be here.”
“My appointment fell through. What are you doing here?” asked Mac with a hint of irritation in her voice.
“You left a message that the dryer was busted. I figured since everyone was going to be out today, it would be a good time to stop by and take a look at it.”
“Oh, I completely forgot,” said Mac dropping her head into her hands.
After a couple of seconds of everyone waiting to see what would happen, Mama spoke up, “Well, we’re not in your way are we?”
“No ma’am,” said Jess sparing a small smile.
“Then get to work.”
“Yes ma’am,” answered Jess on her way across to the laundry room.
The two women had gotten along easily when Mac’s grandmother had finally conceded to meet Jess. When she and Mac’s relationship first began, Mac’s family hadn’t wanted anything to do with them. Jess always said it was because they were all too southern, too Christian, and too idiotic. But everything changed once the couple began the adoption process. Mac tried to explain it one time, saying that babies made everything different, but Jess thought it was all ludicrous. She told Mac early on that if they couldn’t have a relationship with them, then they weren’t going to have a relationship with any of their children either. That little wakeup call, after being oh so happily received, had virtually proven Mac’s point. When it came to babies, in her family, everything was different.
They were invited over to Mama’s house and from there the rest of the family fell like a house of cards. What Mama says goes, and no other questions needed to be asked. She wasn’t missing out on any of her great grandbabies.
Jess pulled the dryer out from the wall and began removing the back panel as she listened to the gossip start up again between the three women, all be it slowly at first. Of course, they made a point not to speak about anything regarding her and Mac’s relationship, which based on the silence when she entered; Jess could tell had been their topic of conversation before her arrival. Truth be told, she was passed being angry and only felt defeated where her ex was concerned. Trying not to think about her problems, Jess focused on her task at hand, figuring out why the dryer wasn’t doing its job.
After about thirty minutes of poking around, she was able to find the problem. Unfortunately, it wasn’t something she could fix and a new dryer was going to need to be purchased. She stepped out of the laundry room, wiping her hands on a towel, and waiting for Mac to acknowledge her. The three women were now done with lunch and were cleaning the kitchen as they continued talking. A couple of minutes went by and Jess was still waiting to see if anyone noticed she was now in the room.
Evidently, she was too far off the gossip radar to warrant acknowledgement, “Mac.” Jess’ ex wife looked up from the dishwasher as she laughed at something her mother just said.
“Did you fix it?”
“No, it’s a lost cause. It needs to be replaced.”
“Damn it,” Mac cursed running her hands through her hair. She didn’t have the money to go buy a new dryer.
Jess’ cell phone rang and she stepped back into the laundry room to answer it. Sensing her daughter’s distress, Kathy put her hand on Mac’s shoulder, “Your father and I could loan you the money.”
“I can’t ask you to do that Mom, but thank you,” said Mac as Jess walked back in the room flipping her phone closed.
Jess looked at the three women looking at her, “Client,” she said in explanation.
“Oh is that what you’re calling them now?” said Kathy snidely.
A look of shock crossed Jess’ face as Mac rounded on her mother, “Mom!”
“No! I have stayed out of this long enough. Someone needs to make her realize what a fool she’s made out of you and this family. You wouldn’t believe the looks I get from friends when I mention the two of you, and it’s not just because you’re lesbians!”
“Here we go,” said Jess crossing her arms. “I wondered how long it would take for you to turn this into something about you.”
“Jessica, don’t do this,” warned Mac.
“Why not? She insists on putting herself in the middle of everything without even knowing what’s really going on.”
“I know enough,” yelled Kathy. “I know you cheated on my daughter, and that for the last few weeks you’ve been treating her like crap. I know you’ve embarrassed this family and your children. I know…”
“No, you don’t know. And until you do I advise you to watch what you say before you can’t take it back.” The words were quiet but strong when Jess said them. Mac could tell by the way her eyes were clouding over that she was truly angry. There was no hurt, or guilt in her eyes like when the two of them argued about things. It was only anger. Mac stepped in between the two women to try to run interference.
“How dare you,” Kathy said throwing her shoulders back and raising her head.
“Stop it,” said Mama. “Kathy you have no right. This is not your marriage, or lack there of.”
Mac’s mother backed up a bit at Mama’s words, suddenly feeling unsure of herself. Jess pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath, calming herself, and decided to change the subject. “What about the dryer?”
Mac cautiously stepped from in between her mother and Jess, hoping that Mama’s word had put an end to the argument. “I can’t buy a new dryer right now,” she said lowly. “At least not until my next commission check comes in.”
“Which is when?” asked Jess.
“Fine,” Jess said exhaling heavily. She reached into her back pocket and pulled out her checkbook. She quickly struck a check for five hundred dollars and ripped it free from the book, “Use this. If anything’s left over spend it on the kids.”
“That’s it?” asked Mac surprised as she took the check.
“What?” Jess asked getting defensive and checking the amount, “there’s plenty…”
“No, I mean no big argument?”
Jess sighed, “I’m tired of arguing and defending myself,” she said with a pointed look at Mac’s mother. “We fight about the same things over and over again and never get anywhere. I just…I give up.” Jess walked back into the laundry room and retrieved her toolbox, slowly making her way out of the house passed the three silent women. “Let me know if they charge you too much for delivery and instillation, I’ll do it myself.” Then she was gone as the door shut behind her.
Mac watched the other woman exit the driveway and then turned to face her mother. “What did you do that for?”
“It needed to be said,” explained Kathy as if her reasons were evident. “I still don’t know why you keep her in your life to begin with. It has to be hard on the kids, and Lord knows you’ve called me more than one time in tears over something that bitch has said.”
“Don’t call her that!” warned Mac. “You have no business yelling at my wife…”
“EX-wife,” interrupted Kathy.
The argument pulled up short as Mac realized what she’d just said. It felt so natural to refer to Jess as her wife. It felt…right. “You don’t know everything mom,” said Mac in a more subdued voice.
“Perhaps,” ventured Mama as she guided her granddaughter to a chair, “you should explain it to us.”
“Something tells me there are certain minds that aren’t open to listening right now,” Mac said with a pointed look at her mother.
“I’m sure we are all willing to hear you out,” said Mama.
“I’m not going…” began Kathy.
“Yes. You. Are,” said Mama locking eyes with her daughter. Kathy relented and crossed the kitchen to settle into the chair across from her own daughter. “Now what’s going on?”
Mac took a moment to breathe. Did she really want to get into this with her family? Did she want to suffer the humiliation that she was sure would ensue after she tells them about the reconciliation? “Jess and I…well…for a little while we were trying to get back together.”
“What!” yelled Kathy.
Mama shot her a quick look that could have peeled wallpaper and she shut her mouth with an audible click. “Go ahead honey.”
“After everything that’s happened, we still love each other. I feel safe with her, which is ironic I know because she was the only person to ever truly break my heart.”
Mama smiled sweetly, “How did things get to the way they are now?”
“We were doing so well but I didn’t want to make it public knowledge…”
“Because you were ashamed that’s why,” said Kathy crossing her arms.
It took a moment before Mac continued, “Yes, ashamed and embarrassed. I didn’t want everyone to know that I’d taken her back. She asked me a couple of times if we could let a few people know but I refused.” Mac leaned her elbows on the table and settled her face into the palms of both her hands.
“I thought I raised you better than that. You should have at least known better from my experiences.”
Mac’s anger reared it’s ugly head, “Just because you couldn’t hack it until you married for the third time doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t capable of having a perfectly good relationship.”
Shock and then hurt flashed across Kathy’s face before she looked away. “At least I still have a marriage,” she mumbled.
“If you want to keep deluding yourself mom, that’s your business. But don’t sit here and pretend that your life is all fine a fabulous when you and I both know you’re lying through your teeth. What you have, mother, is a roommate that you just happen to be legally married to.”
“Stop it, both of you. Neither one of you have any room to talk so drop it,” said Mama, trying to squelch the fire before it raged out of control.
Mother and daughter stared at each other for a moment before Mac looked away. “Mama’s right, I’m sorry. Nevertheless, could you please quit trying to make this about you? This is about me and Jess.” Kathy began to say something but Mac held up a hand, “I don’t care what you think people are saying about you. As far as I’m concerned, they can all go to hell.”
“Well why can’t you feel that away about you and Jess getting back together?” asked Mama.
“Because…because it’s more complicated then that.” Mac proceeded to tell them the whole story. She told them how she and Jess maintained an intimate relationship even after the breakup and how she realized that she still loved the other woman. Mac told them about how she came to jess the night of their anniversary and how they agreed to try again. She told them everything and as she spoke she allowed herself to realized how hard things had been on Jess. Through everything, Mac had let her righteous indignation rule her deeper emotions and prevent her from seeing things through the eyes of the woman she loved.
“You put that girl through the ringer,” said Mama when her granddaughter finished talking. “No wonder she doesn’t have any fight left in her.”
“If you ask me she deserved every bit of it,” said Kathy.
“She still says that she didn’t sleep with that other woman?” asked Mama ignoring her daughter.
Mac nodded, “Always has.”
“Well either it’s the truth or she’s lied to herself enough to think it is,” said Mama shaking her head. The trio sat in silence for a few moments until the matriarch spoke again. “I guess the only question that you need to answer is, do you love her enough to forgive her? And if not, is the sex good enough to overlook that?”
“Mama!” exclaimed the two younger women.
“What do you think kept me and your grandfather together all these years?”
“Oh my God! I do not want to hear this,” cried Kathy getting up from the table.
Mac looked at her grandmother in shock. “Honey,” said Mama placing a hand over Mac’s. “Nobody is perfect. But everyone also has a limit to how much and what they are willing to forgive. You and I both know that the line will bend depending on how much you love the person that made the mistake.”
“I know I still love her, but I don’t know if I can deal with compromising myself in order to have her back.”
Mama leaned over and hugged her granddaughter, “Unfortunately no one can answer that question but you.”
“Where are you going for Thanksgiving?” asked Terri over the phone.
“I guess nowhere. Mac is taking the kids to her mother’s for family dinner so I’m on my own.” Jess shifted the phone from one ear to the other as she folded towels.
“It’s not too late to get a flight up here. Your own family wouldn’t mind being able to see you for a holiday you know.”
Jess thought about it. She hadn’t been home in about a year, which was a long time for her. “Are you sure I’d be welcome even though I’m not bringing your grandbabies?”
“Yeah, besides, I have five other ones to play with,” Terri said teasingly.
Jess laughed, “Thanks a lot. It sounds like a good idea to me. Let me go so I can call and get a ticket.”
“Just let me know when I need to pick you up and don’t forget your long underwear. You’re not used to the cold anymore.”
“Ha-ha, bye and I love you.”
“Love you too homo.”
It was almost two in the morning and Mac was standing in her kitchen drinking tea, trying to relax enough to go to sleep. For the last few nights she’d been plagued with bad dreams or weird dreams that left her unsettled. They all centered on the same theme; death. In some of them she would die, in others it was Jess. The worst ones, the ones that kept her up at night, were the ones that involved the kids. She leaned her hip against the island and opened a box of her secret stash cookies. As she nibbled, she heard the telltale sound of small feet coming down the stairs. Mac could tell by the weight of the stride that it was Alejandro about to make an appearance. A few seconds later the boy stuck his head around the corner from the hall.
“What is it honey?”
“Um…nothing. I just wanted a drink of water.” Even though Mac couldn’t see the rest of his body she new he was shuffling from foot to foot.
“Would you like a little bit of tea instead?” she asked holding up her mug.
“Sure,” he answered with a slight smile and entered the kitchen. Mac took a moment to study her sun as he stood on the other side of the island and drank from her mug. He was going to be a handsome man one day. She could already see signs of broad shoulders in him along with a prominent chin and square jaw. Mac reeled at the thought of how fast he was going to grow when he hit his growth spurt.
“So are you going to tell me why you’re really up?” she asked taking her tea back.
The boy frowned slightly and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I…had a bad dream.”
“I’m sorry honey. Come here,” said Mac as she opened her arms to her son. He hastily made his way over to cling to his mother’s waist. “Do you remember what it was about?” she asked as she wrapped him in a hug.
After a pause Al shook his head, “Not really, it was just bad.”
Mac sensed there was more to the story. “Yeah, I know what those are like. Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?”
Alejandro struggled, “Well…no, not really.”
Mac could see tears beginning to form in his eyes. “Can I call Ma?”
She wasn’t hurt by his request. Al had always been more attached to Jess that he was to her. Jess was the one he ran to when he wanted to talk about ‘boy’ things, or about when he was afraid but didn’t want anyone else to know. “Sure honey. It’s really late though so I don’t know if she’ll pick up.”
“Can we try?” he asked as he tried to covertly wipe his face on his sleeve.
Mac didn’t even bother to answer as she picked up the phone and dialed Jess’ cell phone number. I rang three times before a very groggy voice picked up on the other line.
“Hey it’s me. I’m sorry to wake you but Al needed to talk to you.”
“I’m up…up,” said Jess as she turned on the light in the hotel room.
“Here you go,” said Mac and handed the phone to Alejandro.
“What’s going on Corazon?” Jess asked using his nickname.
“Nothin’,” he said eying Mac. She took that as her cue to leave and shuffled off into the living room to give him a little privacy.
“Is your mama gone now?”
“So what’s wrong?”
“I had a bad dream…really bad. The worst one I’ve ever had,” he said seriously.
“Even worse then the one were you were a sandwich and that bully at school Walter was eating you for lunch?”
“Ma,” he whined in a sing -song voice.
Jess smiled, “Okay, I’m sorry, go ahead.”
“Something bad happened to you and Mama, something really bad.”
“You both died,” Al said with a hitch in his voice.
Jess could tell he was on the verge of tears. “Honey, it’s okay. It was just a dream and your mama and I are fine.”
Alejandro shook his head forgetting that he was on the phone. “It felt real.”
“Dreams sometimes can. But then you wake up and you realize that everything is fine…”
“But this could happen. This dream could come true and then me and Em would be all alone and…”
“Hold on, hold on.” Jess’ mind raced as she tried to calm her son down. What could she tell him? He was right. For all she knew she could be hit by a bus the next day and she would never see him again. What do you tell a ten year old that is just now discovering mortality? She sat up in bed and ran a hand through her disheveled hair. “I’m not going to lie to you Al, you’re right, it could happen. But your mother and I take extra precaution to make sure that the chances of something happening to us are very small. We are always extra careful in everything we do.” An idea came to Jess as she spoke, “You know how we always make you wear your helmet when you ride your bike? Or when we remind you constantly not to run around the pool?”
“We watch out for and your sister all the time. Do you think we do a good job?”
Al scoffed at the thought of how many times he’d been “reminded” not to run on the deck, “Yeah.”
“Well we do that for each other too. Your Mama and I always look out for each other and make sure that the other is being extra careful all the time.”
“Cross my heart,” and Jess did so.
“Hope to die?” Alejandro continued.
“Stick a needle in my eye,” said Jess finishing the ritual.
“Okay, but just in case you need to pinky swear when you get home.”
“Yes sir. It’ll be the first thing I do,” she said with a smile. “Now it is late and you need to get back to bed.”
“Buenos noches mi Corazon.” Jess listened as he handed the phone over to Mac saying good night.
“What was that all about?” asked Mac bringing the phone to her ear.
Mac shook her head. “I’m sorry for waking you. He was really upset.”
“No problem, I’m sorry he woke you to call me.”
“Oh I was already up.”
“Bad dreams too?”
“Like mother, like son. Chamomile tea with a little honey.”
Deciding to overlook the suggestion, because said tea was sitting in her cup as she spoke, Mac asked, “How’s Chicago?”
“Cold,” came Jess’ answer with a yawn.
“How is everyone?”
“Just fine. Madison even made it into town. I swear the kid’s a foot taller every time I see her.”
“That’s great.” Mac took a deep breath.
“Do you want to talk about the dream? That usually helps you.”
Mac definitely knew she didn’t, “No.”
“But you’re sure everything is okay?” Jess asked once more.
“No…I mean yes…I mean, hell I don’t know what I mean.” That got a genuine laugh from her ex. “Thanks for being so helpful.”
“Well I can’t fix it if I don’t know what’s wrong,” said Jess as her laugh petered out.
“Who says I want you to fix it?” asked Mac a little irritated. What made Jess think that she required her help at all?
“Because you always do; because that’s my job; because, until recently, I used to be good at it.”
Mac hated that she was telling the truth. She wanted Jess to just swoop in and make everything better. She would die before she let her know it though. “Looks like you’re loosing your touch,” she said a tad viciously.
“Come one Mac. I have tried, but you refuse to meet me halfway. You insist on breaking down any progress we make.”
“Why should I help you? I’m not the one who messed up?” Mac could feel herself slipping into familiar territory now. She inwardly breathed a sigh of relief that this fight would be like all the others.
“Because you want this as much as I do, I can see it in your eyes. I can hear it in your voice when you talk to me, even when you’re angry. I can feel it when I stand near you.”
The answer floored Mac. It was not the response she was used to. Jess wasn’t following the rules. A long silence stretched on as Mac considered her feelings. “Even if I do, it’s not possible.”
“Why not?” asked Jess a little irritated.
“Because I don’t want to be the laughing stock of my entire family, not to mention my friends and co-workers.”
“So you care about what they think more than you care about us now? More then you care about the kids?”
“The kids have nothing to do with this. Don’t you dare bring them into this,” Mac hissed.
“Okay, you’re right…I’m sorry. But honey, all we ever needed before was each other. Why isn’t that enough anymore?”
“Because it got me nothing but heartache when US didn’t exist anymore.”
“We still exist. We are here, right now, together. Mac, no matter what happens; you and the kids are my life. You may eventually move on with your life and leave me behind but I will never leave you. I will always be here for you. I would do anything for you and you know that.”
Mac took another deep breath, “Would you turn back time for me?”
“Anything except that,” said Jess after a pause.
Mac was intrigued, “Why not?”
“Because I…because...I’d forgotten how much you meant…you mean to me. It took this situation to remind me of that. A reminder that unfortunately cost me my marriage.” A silence stretched out between them until Jess said, “I’ve always belonged to you sweetheart, I always will.”
“Why do you keep doing this?”
Mac was getting frustrated, “Trying to get us back together. Why can’t you just let things be?”
“Because this can’t be it. This can’t be the end of us Mac; we’ve been through too much to just throw it away.”
“I didn’t throw anything away. You did this all on your own.”
“Oh for cr…look, instead of blaming everything on me could you at least admit that we were having trouble before the whole thing with Rachel.”
Mac thought. “Fine,” she relented.
“Have you thought about why that is?”
“Maybe,” answered Mac in that tone of voice that told Jess she was pushing it.
Treading carefully, “I think it was because we forgot how to be in love with each other.”
“That’s such a cop-out! You’re either in love or your not, there is no forgetting.” Mac was beyond frustrated and working her way into angry now.
“Could you please just listen to me for a minute before you decide to invalidate my feelings?” Jess waited for a retort. When there was none forthcoming, she plowed ahead, afraid that if she stopped then Mac would hang up. Somehow she knew that this was her last chance to get her family back and she wasn’t going to watch it sail by without a fight. “I really wish I was doing this face to face but I guess this is better than nothing.
“Before the thing with…Rachel,” said Jess in disgust, “we were spending less and less time together. We were putting everyone else but each other first, the kids, the business, everything. Not even two years prior we acted like newlyweds. Sending each other notes and flowers or rushing home in the middle of the day for a quickie. I began to miss that, to miss us. I forgot to tell you how important you were to me. I stopped kissing you goodbye when I left for work in the morning or before you left for the store. I neglected to hold your hand while we watched TV or when we went to the movies. I stopped holding doors open for you. I took way too many little things for granted, things that I now miss so much.
“I have to stop myself before leaving work to remember that there is no one waiting at home to share my day with. There’s no one to laugh at my stories like you used to. There’s no one to chat excitedly to me about their day while I unpack book bags. I miss being able to hold you on the couch while we watch TV. I miss walking into a cloud of your freshly sprayed perfume. I sit on my couch at night at close my eyes, trying to recall all of the smiles you’ve given me. I think about the shade your eyes turn when you’re happy. I remember the sound of your laughter and the tone your voice takes when you scold the kids. I miss the smell of your skin when you come to bed after a hot shower. When I think that I used to have all of these things…”
“Yeah, you did. But then you decided that none of that was worth a thing when you had your little evening romp with…”
“Have I ever lied to you?” asked Jess in a rush. The question stopped Mac dead. “Really think about it Mac. Can you recall any time in our history that I ever lied to you?”
Mac did think about it. She had always thought it was a little hypocritical of her ex to have lied about sleeping with Rachel considering Jess always thought lying was the worst of all sins. “Not that I know of.”
“That night when I came home you didn’t even give me a chance to talk. You asked me if I had sex with her and I said no. Then you asked me if I kissed her and I said yes. Why would I lie about sleeping with her just to turn around and tell you the truth about kissing her? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just lie about the whole thing? Then it would have been my word against hers. I’m sure I wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that you would have taken my side.”
The silence was thick between them as Mac considered the question. “Then why did you admit to the kiss?”
“Because that’s what I was guilty of. That’s what I’d done wrong. For a split second, I forgot all of the things I love about you, I forgot our history, I forgot all of the good times and focused on the bad. For a second I let my heart fill with self-pity and disappointment and let all of my love for you fade into the back round. That second was enough time for me to make the biggest mistake of my life.”
“If it was such a big mistake, then why did you do it? Why did you break my heart like that? Why did you rip our family apart?” asked Mac in tears.
“Because…I thought you didn’t love me anymore,” Jess almost whispered.
“What…why would you think a thing like that?” asked Mac flabbergasted.
“Because the last time you told me you loved me was on my birthday over two years ago.”
“That’s bullshit and you know it.”
“No it isn’t. Trust me, I waited for days, and then weeks, and then months for anything, but it never came. I woke up every day thinking that today would be the day. I would tell you I loved you on the way out the door and all I would get was ‘Okay honey’ or ‘Have a nice day’.”
“Well you could have asked.”
“Oh sure, I can see that going over well at the dinner table. Bye the way honey, do you still love me? Actually no, I despise your very presence, could you please pass the peas.” Jess let the comment hang in the air.
Mac’s heart was breaking all over again. “Why didn’t you fight to get my love back then, if you thought you’d lost it?”
“For the same reason I’ve stopped fighting this time. I can’t make you feel something you don’t. I can’t force your heart to love me again,” said Jess with defeat evident in her voice. “And neither can you.” Mac broke down and sobbed. “I have never stopped loving you McKenzie, but I can understand if I’m not enough anymore.”
Mac couldn’t believe what she was hearing. How could her ex think that she didn’t love her? She thought about the last few years of their marriage, trying to come up with things she’d done to prove to Jess that she was still in love with her. Then she began to realize that there wasn’t any grand gesture. There was no heartfelt letter or card; no gift big or small. There weren’t even any conversations or offhanded sentiments directed toward Jess that would make her think she was still in love with her. Then she realized that Jess was right, they’d forgotten how to be in love with each other. She was guilty of everything that Jess was up until the incident that made her decide to throw the other woman out.
“I never, ever, stopped loving you,” said Mac with undeniable sincerity.
“Then please, let’s move past this and put our family back together.”
“It’s going to take a lot more than one conversation…”
“I can be on a flight back in three hours.”
Mac chuckled, “I don’t think that’s necessary. But we do need to talk when you get back.”
“And it’s going to take a lot of effort and time.”
“I have both in abundance.”
Mac took a deep breath, “Then I think it’s time for you to come home.”
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