The next morning as I stood at the bathroom vanity applying my makeup Davey came in and sat the gift bag on the corner of the counter.
“Hey babe, didn’t you open this last night? I found it on the kitchen counter.” I didn’t look at him but I continued applying my mascara.
“Nope,” I wasn’t sure exactly how to handle this. Didn’t I deserve something more romantic? Was I asking too much? Davey knew my history with Nicky; didn’t he understand how important this would have been to me? I was wishing at this moment that it had just been a pair of earrings.
“What’s the matter, babe?” he wrapped his arms around my waist; his chest pressed against my back, his chin on my shoulder and looked at us in the mirror.
I gently pulled free from his grip and walked over to the linen closet and pulled out a clean towel. I washed my hands, dried them and after I hung the towel on the towel rack, I turned to him with a look of exasperation. I shook my head, walked in the bedroom and sat on the corner of the bed. Davey followed with the gift bag and sat down next to me.
“You know when I was a little I used to dream that I was peasant girl, like Cinderella, and that a prince would see me and instantly fall in love with me. He would jump off his white horse, get down on one knee, hold out a beautiful ring, ask me to be his princess and spend the rest of my life with him living happily ever after,” he said nothing and let me continue, “he never once handed me a bag and said, ‘Get to it when you can’”
“So you did open it?” He smiled and looked down at the bag in his hand. Had he heard me at all?
“Yes, Davey, I opened it. Then I put it back.” I wasn’t sure if I should be mad or not, and I certainly didn’t want to fight him if I was, especially over something that should have been a romantic gift. We had never really had an argument; the only thing that we ever had a truly heated conversation about was his son Justin. Not really about Justin, but about his mother, Janie who would consistently send Justin to us filthy and practically starving.
Justin would behave like a wild animal at the dinner table standing on his chair and reaching for food with his bare hands. It was almost as if he was grabbing for food before anyone else could; it was if he believed that if he didn’t grab for his share right then he would go hungry. Davey explained that Justin’s mother usually chose buying cigarettes over groceries. That left her with buying cheap macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. That kind of meal didn’t go far between five children, Justin had four additional half brothers and sister at home, all from different fathers.
Justin would grab for food not even caring what he was grabbing for and then complain he didn’t like what he had. He wasn’t used to eating nutritious food and was always requesting items such as ice cream and chips for supper. Addison would complain to me that Justin’s mom let him eat ice cream for supper and began turning away food that she had always loved before. It was becoming a common weekend occurrence this battle over meals. We couldn’t even take him to a restaurant, where he didn’t crawl under tables and scream that he didn’t like what his father ordered for him. At home Davey began having Justin sit at the table in front of his dinner until he at least tried what was in front of him. He was stubborn and many evening sat there until bedtime with his arms crossed and his lip puckered out, refusing to eat.
“Didn’t you like it?” He just realized that if I put it back and didn’t put in on my finger that it was a possibility that I was turning him down, “Why didn’t you put it on?”
“Gee, I don’t know. Maybe it sounds cliché, but I kind of imagined that the man I loved would propose marriage to me in a romantic way,” I stared down at my folded hands in my lap, “You know how it went with Nicky and me; I guess I thought you would put a little more thought into it than just handing me a bag.”
“Babe, I’m sorry. I mean we’ve talked about it so much, like we had it already decided. I didn’t think you wanted something silly like me getting down on one knee,” he didn’t even seem to notice that this was important to me. We had talked about it, it was assumed, but woman like romance, I like romance. I was beginning to think I was over reacting, but then decided I deserved the romance.
“It isn’t silly to me,” I said sadly under my breath, low enough that he didn’t hear me.
“Did you say something?” He slid his jacket on.
“No.” I stood up and started to make the bed. He walked over and gave me a quick kiss goodbye.
“I hope to see that ring on your finger when I get home,” he smiled hopefully at me and headed off to work.
Maybe I am just being silly? I mean, we have been talking about marriage practically since we started dating. Davey just wasn’t the romantic minded type and I knew that from the beginning. This shouldn’t surprise me, he was simple and he was good me. I wasn’t giving him enough credit.
As I drove Addison and myself to the school that morning those thoughts ran through my mind over and over. I kept making excuses for Davey and telling myself to not expect so much of people. I got Addy dropped off at her classroom and headed towards the music room. After I left the store I was able to be a stay-at-home mom thanks to Kip. He thought it was important that Addison have me around full-time since she was going to be raised in a one-parent home. They had already purchased the house for Nicky and I when we were married; I had the car that Paula and my mom bought me and the Grand Am. Fannie never understood why Kip wanted to help me and they had many fights over Kip’s insistence on helping to raise Addison. He had to remind her that I was the mother of their only grandchild and he said Addison deserved the best.
After Addison started school I needed something to do, so I took a teacher’s aide position with the school’s music department. My job was to help Mrs. Jewel with anything she needed, from grading papers, to keeping the students in order during practice sessions. Mrs. Jewel had turned the school’s music department into a national award winning show choir. Every school knew how good our students were and dreaded when they had to face them in competition. Mrs. Jewel’s responsibilities grew every day and I was there to make her life a little easier.
“How are you today Tess?” Clara Jewel came into her office shuffling music sheets around, her glasses propped at the end of her nose. Every student loved her and every graduate that had ever had her as a teacher always came back just to see her. She loved them all like her own.
“I am good. How are you?” I scrolled through the computer spread sheet double checking the number of deposits made by parents for the upcoming choral competition.
“Trying to get the music down for this competition is going to be the death of me,” she laughed, “I have no idea if these kids are going to pull it together in time.” I stopped typing in numbers and turned to give her my attention.
“They always do,” I laughed with her, “it’s like magic.”
She plopped down in her chair and flung the music sheets across her desk. She opened her drawer and pulled out a stack of CDs.
“I know I have an instrumental of ‘It’s a Small World’ in here somewhere,” She continued to sift through the CDs.
“Clara?” I reached for the spreadsheet I had sent to the printer.
“Mhmm?” She responded not looking up.
“Davey proposed,” I waited for a response. Clara stopped her sifting and looked at me, her mouth hanging open slightly.
“Are you serious?” She looked at me over the rim of her glasses, a strand of her silver white hair hanging down in her face.
“Well, kind of,” I explained the bag and the conversation this morning.
“I guess congratulations are in order then?” I wished she sounded more excited, I needed the encouragement.
“Yeah,” I don’t think I was too convincing. I really needed her encouragement.
“Listen, I can’t tell if you are happy about this or not. Do you want to be married?” She took her glasses off, sat them on her desk then leaned back in her chair.
“Well sure. I mean we get along great, he’s good with Addison. I really love him and I’m not getting any younger; I would like to have another baby before the gap between a baby and Addy gets too big.”
“A baby? You want another baby?” Clara smiled at this. She and her husband never had children and I liked to think this is why she had so much love for her students. They were her substitute children.
I smiled to myself at the thought of another baby. I had never wanted another one with Nicky, but the older Addy got the more I thought about it. It seemed I always saw pregnant women or couples with new babies everywhere we went, I couldn’t seem to escape it. It totally made my biological clock tick louder and louder.
“Yeah, I would love to have another baby,” the thought comforted me and I knew that I would accept his proposal; but I had a condition.
Davey came into the kitchen as I was cooking dinner. He walked over and kissed my offered check. I purposely kept my hands busy so he would have to look for the ring. He just smiled at me and grabbed my left hand to inspect my ring finger. The diamond clad band glinted back at him and he looked pleased.
“So this is a ‘yes’?” He wrapped his arms around me and smiled. I smiled a small smile and started to say something but hesitated. His smiled faded too, “What? You’re wearing the ring right? So that means yes, right?”
“Yeah,” I grabbed his hand and lead him to the table, “but we need to talk about something first.”
“I’m getting worried,” he laughed nervously, “what do we have to talk about?”
“I will marry you,” his smiled returned, “but there is something I want before I agree totally.”
“Okay?” his look encouraged me to continue.
“I want a baby.” His smile faded. He stared down at the table still holding my hand and running his finger over the ring. What was he thinking? I hated his silence.
“Yeah, not right away of course. I mean I want to enjoy being married to you for a while at least…wait that came out wrong. What I mean to say is I want another baby before the gap gets too big between a baby and Addy. Maybe start planning on it by the end of the year.” I looked at him hopefully.
He continued to stare at the ring, but he had let go of my hand. He stood up and walked over to the refrigerator and grabbed a can of soda. After he opened it he leaned against the island and took a drink.
“A baby. You want to have a baby with me?” I was wondering if this was a good idea, “This is what you want? For me to say we’ll have a baby. Then you will agree to marry me?”
“I guess that is what I am saying,” was I asking too much of him? I was having a hard time reading him.
“Really?” I smiled at him and jumped up from my chair ready to hug him. He put his hand up to stop me and then spoke.
“I have a term too,” his hand slid down my arm and he took my ringed hand again, “I will agree that we can try to have a baby, but after being married for six months. No sooner and that we get married in October.”
“That’s only a month away.” That was sooner than I had expected. I married Nicky too soon and I had hoped for a longer engagement with Davey. But then again, I was asking for a baby right away and being married before I had a baby would probably not be a bad idea, “I can agree to that, but nothing fancy. Actually, how about we just go to the court house?”
“That’s a deal!” He pulled me into a hug.
We stood in front of the county clerk and were married Friday, October 8th. Davey’s best friend Caleb stood up with him and my friend Lorene stood up with me. I borrowed Lorene’s bouquet from her wedding and I wore a simple blue flowered dress with a light blue vest; Davey wore a brown and tan striped button up shirt and dark slacks. We decided that going on a honeymoon was not convenient at the time, the kids were still in school and neither of us was in a place to take off from work. We scheduled our reception for the weekend after we were married and themed it around the season, an autumn cookout. All of our friends and relatives came, bringing lots of food and their camp chairs. We built a huge bonfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Davey’s dad, Carl, hooked a trailer to his tractor and we took the kids on a hayride around the neighborhood. The kids played Frisbee and tag and the adults started a lively Euchre tournament; everyone was enjoying themselves so much that the last of the guest didn’t leave until after 2 a.m. Addy and Justin had fallen asleep in lawn chairs around 11 p.m. and Davey carried them in and put them to bed in their clothes. We both agreed that the evening had gone very well and we discussed having another cookout before it got too cold outside to enjoy the cool fall weather.
“I am worn out.” I yawned loudly and pulled back the covers, “Are you coming to bed?”
“Yeah, in a bit, I think I will play some online poker for a while. I am kind of keyed up from all the soda I drank tonight,” He had changed into his sweatpants, kissed the top of my head, “You want this light out?”
“Yes, please, “I answered drowsily, he reached over and switched the light off next to my bed, “Good night.”
“Love you too.”
“Happy Birthday Dad!” everyone at the table raised their glasses to wish Davey’s dad a happy birthday. The waitress’ at the restaurant had come to the table and sang to him, making him turn fifty shades of red.
“Aww, you kids are too good to me,” he said picking up the box of ratchets that Davey had picked out for him. Davey’s mom, Jeanne had bought her husband a solid oak display box for his military uniform and medals he had earned while in the service; and Davey’s only brother Josh and his wife Rachel gave him a family portrait of them with their daughter, Monica and new son, Jacob.
Carl picked his favorite steak house to have dinner at and we sat in the center of the restaurant surrounded by other families enjoying a Saturday night out. The walls were covered in western themed décor and with the holiday season in full gear, red and green garland and white lights were mixed in. It was rustic and charming, and very loud.
Carl and Addison had really taken to one another and she insisted on sitting next to her “Poppy Carl”. The chatter across the table was animated with the two girls talking Barbie dolls and all three kids were arguing about who was going to get the best gift from Santa this year. Jeanne complained to Carl that he had gotten steak sauce on his new shirt and Rachel who was rocking baby Jacob asked Davey when we were planning on having a baby of our own. Davey laughed louder than necessary.
“Never!” He continued to cut his meat. I stopped eating and looked at him but said nothing.
“Never? Oh come on Dave you don’t want just one more?” Josh leaned over and kissed the top of his new born son’s head.
“Babies are too much work, I mean look at all the crap you have to carry around with you,” he emphasized this by using his fork to point at the diaper bag, carrier, toys and bottles that surrounded their end of the table, “pooping every five minutes, peeing, eating, crying all of the time. Dude, I am a working man, I don’t have time to get up and take care of a baby in the middle of the night!”
I wiped my mouth with my napkin and asked to be excused. I weaved my way through the waitresses taking orders, bus boys clearing tables and people looking for empty seats. I was heading for the restrooms and prayed that no one would be there when I finally reached it. I stood in front of the mirror trying to will the tears from escaping my eyes.
How could I have been so stupid to believe that any man could ever keep a promise? I only had one condition to marrying him and he had no intentions of keeping it. I mean seriously? I could have put a ton of conditions with that proposal. My mind was racing and I was counting on my hands all of the things about Davey that really ticked me off. The door to the restroom opened and I quickly wiped my eyes.
“Are you okay?” Rachel asked in her tender voice, she knew when I left the table there was something wrong.
“No,” I checked my makeup in the mirror but it was too late. My face was red, my nose was running and my mascara was smeared. I wasn’t planning on saying anything but it just poured out and told her everything about the weak proposal, the stupid silver bag and the condition that I wanted a baby. She was very sympathetic and I thought she would stick up for her brother-in-law. I assumed since she had known him longer she would automatically be on his side. I hated that I felt there were sides at all.
She reached over and hugged me which caused me to start crying all over again. I didn’t want to go back to the table and face everyone knowing that I had been crying and I didn’t want to have to explain what had caused my tears. I was so angry deep down and I was afraid that if I went back to the table I would have rip into their son, brother and father right in front of their eyes. I didn’t want to cause that kind of embarrassment for him or me.
“I’ll tell them that you aren’t feeling well and went to the car,” she said soothingly, “Josh is ready to leave anyway and I left him with the baby.” She smiled at that last part.
“Thanks,” I hugged her and walked out the front door and sat in the car until Davey and the kids came out. He helped them strap in and slid into the driver’s seat.
“Do you feel sick Mommy?” Addison asked from the back seat.
“Yeah, just a little tummy ache is all,” I looked back and smiled at both of the kids. Justin asked if his dad could turn the radio on. I didn’t look at Davey and he said nothing in return. He didn’t have to ask what had caused my sudden illness.
It seemed from that day on I looked at him differently. Everything he did annoyed me. From the way he brushed his teeth to how he chewed his food. I would be mad at him if he fixed a sandwich and left bread crumbs on the counter. I would be upset if ate his dinner sitting at the coffee table in front of the television, which he was doing more often than not lately. I always wanted to have dinner at the table as a family, but he parked himself in front of the television from the time he got home until I went to bed. Then after I went to bed he would get online and play online poker. He didn’t use real money so I wasn’t concerned about his playing, but there would be times I would wake up at 3 a.m. and he would still be online. If I asked him if he was ready to come to bed, he would quickly turn the computer off and come to bed.
As soon as he crawled in he would want to start messing around. When we were dating and when first got married the sex was amazing but lately it was a chore for me. I was still so upset by the whole baby issue and I felt like he was using my body just to get his rocks off. I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy something I very much wanted to do with my husband. I was afraid to kiss or hug him, fearing it would bring on some sexual advance from him. He never forced himself on me the way that Nicky had, but I had to force myself to be with him some nights. I would be at the sink doing up a few dishes and he would come up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. I thought, ‘how sweet,’ and smiled at the romance of his hug.
“How about a blow job?” He whispered in my ear.
“What?” I turned my head in his direction. He reached up and placed his hands over my breasts and started to caress them. I pushed them away with my soapy hands.
“Jeez, Davey,” I couldn’t believe that he couldn’t even give me a hug without expecting to get laid right there in the kitchen. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t every single time he got near me. I loved sex the same as any woman, but I didn’t like to feel as though it was being forced on me. He was making it sound so dirty and his advances repulsed me.
When he was home and not in front of the television, he was working on a project in the garage. Even when Justin was here for a visit he would head to the garage or out in the yard. If he was in front of the television and Justin tried to speak to him he would tell him to go play and never look away from the screen. Of course when it was time for bed he would head to the office and get on the computer. This became his normal routine.
Four more months went by and it only seemed to get worse. He started bringing home black bags from the adult book store in town and suggested that we try something “new” every week. One night he would bring home a porn movie, another night it would be a tiny vibrator that he asked if he could use on me.
He was making a trip to that store two or three times a week. He brought home x-rated movies most of the time, but occasionally he would ask me if I would try this or try that and then the next week he would bring home some sexual toy and show it to me, asking me if it scared me and if I would try it at least once.
His behavior was really stressing me out and during sex I would start crying uncontrollably for no apparent reason. It would take me well over an hour to stop the episodes and I couldn’t explain to him why they happened.
“Did I hurt you?” He seemed truly concerned, but I could tell his ego was severely bruised. Any man’s ego would be deflated if a woman cried every time they got near her with their penis.
“No, sweetie, no. I don’t know what’s happening. I just get this feeling deep down here,” I said pressing into my stomach. It was the truth, the feeling did come from my stomach and it would work its way up into my throat until I couldn’t breathe and pushed out a steady stream of tears from my eyes. After the tears came, I had no control over any part of my body.
I tried to assure him that it wasn’t him. But it was. The box in the bottom of his closet was the source of those tears. The box full of movies, toys and magazines was just too much for me to handle. But what truly pushed me over the edge was what I discovered on our computer.
The week before Easter I took Addy to my mom’s to play after she got out of school. I decided to take advantage of the warming weather and went home to do some spring cleaning. While I was dusting the office I noticed the light to the computer was flashing, which meant that it hadn’t been shut down from the night before. I sat down in front of it and turned on the screen. What was in front of me were pictures of naked people in various sexual poses; poses of women with men, women with women, two women and one man, two men and one woman, two men. As badly as I wanted to look away, I couldn’t. I saw the chat box at the bottom of the screen and scrolled at the conversation that was left unattended by my loving husband.
Touching Trees by T L Lady is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://touchingtrees.wordpress.com.wouldn’t have her. So I stayed, I would make it to the year if it killed me. And it just might.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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