Haley saw her fraternal twins, Cole and Calvin, off to prom earlier that evening. She rented them each a luxury sports car while Kevin, her husband, gave them $500 each. Aware that the gifts would be used as ammunition to conduct mischief, she couldn’t help but smile. She was proud of them. Each scored academic and sports scholarships to their first-choice universities, and they were on their way down the well-traveled road to success.
Haley turned from the table to deliver the dishes to the kitchen sink and found Kevin standing there. He shot her a frustrated glare.
“Are you ready?” he asked, placing both hands in his khaki pants pockets.
She knew for what. The talk. The talk they had promised to save until their sons were graduating from high school, had driver’s licenses, and college scholarships. When the boys were on their way out into the world.
“Yeah,” Haley groaned as she dried her hands with a dishtowel. She slammed it down on the counter in a huff.
Kevin led the way to the kitchen table. He pulled out a chair for her. She sat. And he sat across from her.
A thin layer of sweat glossed Kevin’s face and his fingers tapped at the table. Haley, however, took stable and soft breaths, sat motionless, and met Kevin’s piercing gray eyes with a discerning glare.
Kevin opened his mouth to speak but stopped. He dropped his head and his eyes conducted a frantic search on the honey oak surface for the words he wanted to say.
“We raised two wonderful kids,” Haley said in her attempt to initiate dialogue.
Kevin’s eyes were waterlogged, and his lips shuddered. She’d never seen him so weak.
“I know. You are a wonderful mother,” he finally said.
“You are a beautiful father. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Kevin opened his mouth to speak once more but quickly rejected his words by hanging his head again.
“Kevin, what do you want to say to me?” Haley asked softly. She maintained her posture eager to start and end this much-anticipated conversation.
Kevin wiped the falling tears from his eyes. “We planned this ten years ago, remember?”
She did. The weight was placed on top of the crumbling marriage when they fought and argued over who the boys would spend that summer with: Kevin’s parents or hers. That fight marked the official end. They had been fighting over everything, hating one another since her affair. They’d tried therapy, retreats, and even going on dates every Friday. The results made them resent one another even more.
But the twins had no idea of their family’s fate. Haley nor Kevin wanted to raise children under such circumstances. So they argued in private, fought when the chance was presented (like soccer practice), and kept their marital problems among themselves.
It’s finally over, she praised.
“I hate you so much that I love you,” Kevin spat through his now gritting teeth. “I never thought I could feel this way about anyone before. I could kiss you or strangle you right now, Haley. You get under my skin, make me hate myself, just… forcing out the worst of me. Making me weak!” He slammed his fist on the table top. ” I genuinely hate you. I feel like you were sent here to make me suffer. My feelings are never clear when it comes to you. To be so confused about whether I love you or not kills me!” His face went scarlet as tears trickled down his cheeks. His glare begged for answers that she couldn’t provide.
“What do you want me to say?” Haley replied, refusing to be excitable.
“You don’t owe me anything, Haley. You’ve given me the best thing I could ever have, my boys. You are a great mother, but you are the worse type of person. I gave you everything, and you betrayed me!” His bloodshot eyes leaked onto the table. “I thought I could forgive you, but I don’t think I can.” He shook his head. “I want to forgive you. I wish I could. I… I wish we could get along better. I really wish, but I can’t.”
No one spoke. The only sound was Kevin’s sobbing.
Haley smiled and finally responded to the crumbling man across from her. “I’m happy you’re leaving. I’m repulsed by you. Your voice, your scent, just your presence puts me on edge. You’re boring. I mean, really,” Haley chuckled, still holding his eyes in hers, not breaking her stance for a second. “I’m just happy that this is over and I can move on with my life. Just promise you will be there for the boys.” Haley’s nonchalant glare turned cynical.
Kevin stopped sobbing. She knew he got the depth of her message, but she pressed on to be sure.
“You see, Kevin, you don’t know how you feel about me. Right? I know exactly how I feel. I feel nothing for you. I want you gone.” Haley rose from the table. “Are we done here?” There was no use in continuing the conversation. The years of arguing, fighting and infidelity spoke volumes; their marriage was nothing more than a sheet a paper that needed to be shredded.
Kevin stood and wiped the stray tears from his face and underneath his chin. “Yeah,” he said, clearing his throat. “So, uh, tomorrow, we tell the boys, and I’m going to move in with―”
“I don’t care where you’re going. That’s none of my concern and hasn’t been for a long time,” Haley interrupted.
Kevin scoffed and stormed out the kitchen, leaving remnants of his ferocity behind.
Haley went back to cleaning. She’d start packing soon. Her ocean side condo in Southern Florida that she’d scrimped and saved for was ready and waiting.
Soon. Very soon.
She smiled and drifted off as optimism took over her dreams offering the unlimited possibilities of where life would drag her next.