written by Kristen
Malorie caught her breath and held it, laying frozen on the scratchy bedspread, feeling the warmth of Evan beside her. Parts of his body touched hers at various points along her shoulder, her hip and calves, creating pinpoints of static and heat. She could feel the drumming of his heart against her back and felt its pace quicken. She wanted to turn right over, dig herself in against him, bury her head in his neck and cry. But she didn’t. She was afraid to see his face.
They lay there for what felt like forever to Malorie. The room was dark except for the stripes of sun cutting through the old vinyl blinds. Malorie watched dust particles swirl in and out of the streams of light and unconsciously covered her nose and mouth so as not to breathe them in. It wasn’t the worst motel room she’d ever been in but it was a close second. The wallpaper was a dated, dizzying floral with mustard and orange day lilies. It reminded her of some short story she’d read in high school about some woman who went crazy staring at her bedroom’s wallpaper for too long, thinking she’d seen a woman running through its pattern. She shifted her focus out the window, watching cars pass in the lot, wondering if she should say something or wait for him to speak first. Slowly and deliberately, Evan pulled himself away from her. Malorie felt the air slip in and draw away the warmth that had been there a moment before. She didn’t look at him but she could tell by the shifting of his weight on the bed that he was on his back now, probably staring up at the ceiling. He did that sometimes when they hung out at the apartment, talking late into the night. He’d recline in his chair, lace his fingers behind his head, elbows straight out and look upward, smiling as he spoke. She imagined he was not smiling now.
“Okay. So now I’m just waiting.” Evan’s voice was calm and measured. She couldn’t tell at all how he was feeling. Malorie breathed in deeply, quietly.
“For what?” She whispered.
“I’m waiting for some celebrity asshole with a video camera to step out of the closet and announce that I’ve ‘just been hosed’.”
Malorie’s eyes teared up. She wasn’t sure if she was about to laugh or cry. “I think you mean ‘punk’d’.”
“Yeah, well, whatever. Mal…” Her name trailed weakly off his lips. She felt him sit up abruptly then take her by the arms, turning her over on her back. He stared down into her face, now wet with tears. She brushed at her cheeks, trying to cover her eyes, not wanting to look at him. He kept a firm hold on her arms, bracing her there so she couldn’t roll away. She let her head fall against the pillow, turning her face away from Evan’s.
“Mal, look at me, would you? Look, you can’t run away from this now. You want to talk, right? So talk. Tell me all about your marriage. Let me guess who the lucky groom is. Could it be…Jack? Because that would be perfect. That would really make my year.” Evan let go of Malorie and slid off the edge of the bed and slumped to the floor. He sat with one knee bent, the other leg sprawled in front of him and wrapped both his arms over the back of his head.
“You’re mad, I know, and I don’t blame you a bit. I meant to tell you so many times, Evan. There just…there just never seemed a good time and I wanted to that night after you saw me with him, I wanted to tell you everything, but I never got the chance.” She dried her face with her shirt sleeve and slowly slid down off the bed to sit next to him. She looked at him, his forehead against his knee, eyes squeezed tightly shut. His button-down shirt had come untucked all around the waist of his jeans and his usually kempt hair was sticking out over various points on his head. He was the most beautiful mess she had ever seen.
“I’m not mad, Mal. I’m just really tired. This has been the single most insane month of my life and I would just like to go to sleep for a year and start over. I don’t care a bit about Jack or whatever you had with him in the past. Just tell me one thing. No, wait. Two things. I need to know two things, Mal, okay?” He faced her now, his own eyes raw and wet.
“Anything, Evan. What do you want to know?”
He looked down and picked nervously at a bare spot in the carpet. “Do you mean to divorce him? I mean, please tell me that you’ve been meaning to, and that you just haven’t gotten around to it yet.” He laughed nervously and shook his head at his own question. “That sounded stupid. You know what I mean, though.”
Malorie quickly nodded her head. “Of course I do. We were legally separated two years ago and I just…we just never went through with the paperwork because we were living so far away from each other and I just couldn’t deal with him at the time and he had been so angry. It was enough to be apart, away from him. That’s all I wanted then. I know now it’s stupid that I just didn’t get it over with, but it didn’t matter so much. Until now.”
“Okay. That’s good.” He nodded slowly, looking thoughtful, still not meeting her eyes. “I had a feeling about you two. I knew there was still something between you but I didn’t know what. I’m almost relieved to hear this, because I think I get it now.”
“What else?” Malorie prompted. She wanted to hold him now. She resisted the urge to reach out and touch him.
Evan looked up at her and searched her face. He smiled weakly, as though the effort were killing him. “Do you love him at all anymore?” His voice was dry, hoarse.
Malorie stared at him for a moment, then without a word, cupped her hand over the back of his head, pulling his face toward hers. She covered his mouth with her lips, kissing him gently at first, then harder, more intensely as Evan responded in kind. He took her face carefully in his hands, tilted her chin upward then let his lips trail down the slope of her neck to her collarbone where he stopped and asked, “Is that a no, then? I mean, unless I’m reading you wrong…”
“That’s a definite ‘no’. How could I love him?” Malorie smiled at Evan, outlining his lower lip with her finger. She put her mouth to his neck, kissing it, then spoke softly in his ear. “And how in the hell could I not love you?”
Evan pulled back and looked at Malorie, the tension in his face now gone, the light in his eyes returned. He smiled slowly, sweetly and shook his head. “See, that wasn’t so hard now was it?” he teased. “Oh my God, Mal. You don’t know how long I…” He paused, his eyes darting toward the window behind her. His brows furrowed as he squinted. “Now what in the hell is that?”