Archive for July 15th, 2008

15
Jul
08

foodie, chapter 9

written by Heather

“Mal, I need to apologize to you for the way things ended,” Jack began, obviously searching for exactly the right words even though he’d rehearsed this for weeks prior. “I hate to use the phrase ‘it wasn’t you, it was me’ –“

“Then don’t.” Malorie cut him off. She wanted to stop him before he went any further.

“No, Mal, I need to. I need to tell you this. I need to talk to you about this. It’s important to me,” he continued.

“What about what is important to ME!? You walked out and left a message on my answering machine. You threw away everything and didn’t even have the decency to tell me to my face that you didn’t want to be with me. The CDs that you left really made up for just walking away… going to London for some business trip and never returning. It took me a long time to move on and just when I start to rebuild my life – just when I am finally HAPPY again, you waltz in and want to “talk”. Well you know what, Jack, I don’t want to know what you have to say. I don’t want to know why you left. I don’t want to know why all you cared about were your stupid books, so if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back home and help my roommate.” She pushed her chair back ready to stand and make her dramatic exit when Jack grabbed her hand.

“Mal. Please. Please sit down and let me explain.” He pleaded. “Please?”

And there it was. With one simple word, Jack had managed to evoke memories that she had worked so hard to repress. It was the way he looked the first day they met outside the laundromat when he asked her to tell him when she would be back to do more laundry. When she refused, he looked at her and uttered, “Please?”

It was the same look that he gave her when they again ran into each other once again and he asked her to attend the benefit dinner his company was hosting to which he needed a date. When she refused to be “arm candy” for a complete stranger, the look in his eyes kicked in when he again spoke just that one simple word… please.

She couldn’t resist it then and it was apparent that she couldn’t resist it now, all these years later.

Malorie, be strong. Don’t give in. You’ve come so far. Evan is at home and he needs you. Don’t risk everything to get sucked back in by someone who only cared about books, someone who didn’t have the decency to say goodbye.

Losing to the inner struggle, she again took her seat. “What, Jack? What is it that you have to tell me? And so help me, if you tell me that you want that Ulysses book…”

He laughed, his dimples appearing. “No, Mal. This has nothing to do with the Ulysses book. Can I just ask you to listen to me, without interrupting? Please?”

There it was again. She nodded, as the server appeared to take their order.

Jack ordered for her as he typically did. Prime rib, medium rare, hollandaise sauce on the side, asparagus as a side, grilled, of course, and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jack looked at Malorie as if to seek her approval for taking the liberty of ordering for her and she nodded slightly, appreciating his selection.

Jack always did know how to pick a restaurant and my meals on dates… Date? That’s not what this is, right? No, it’s not a date. A date would be if I wanted to be here with him and not at home with Evan…. Is Evan okay? Did I leave the remote on the end table next to the chair so that he didn’t have to hobble over to get it himself? Evan…

“Mal?” Jack interrupted her thoughts of Evan. “May I continue?”

Malorie nodded and Jack began, “Mal…when I left, I never meant to hurt you. I really didn’t. I know that you don’t believe that, but it’s the truth. Things weren’t right for a long time –“

“What?” she interrupted him with a look of shock and disbelief. Surely he was not sitting across from her telling her that the demise of their relationship was apparent and she was too dumb to see it.

“Malorie. Let me finish. You promised that you wouldn’t interrupt.” Malorie slouched back in her chair, crossed her arms, and let him continue. “When I say that things weren’t right for a long time, I’m not talking about between us – I’m talking about with me. I wasn’t honest with you. I hid things from you. I took a lot of “business trips” and you were just so trusting. You would help me pack my clothes, often packing little notes into the sleeves of my suit coats, or pants pockets when I wasn’t looking so that I would find them and think of you while I was gone.”

“You were always so thoughtful, caring, and all I could do for you was pick up some cheap trinket in the airport gift shop to make up for the fact that I didn’t call while I was gone. And you? You accepted that. You were so happy to see me when I got home and it was easy to use the excuse that between the time zones and all the meetings that I was in, that I wasn’t able to call.”

“I kept doing it. I kept going on these trips; I looked for trips to volunteer to go on and sought out the promotions that would allow me the most travel time. I wanted to be on the road and not for the reasons that you might think. It was not because I didn’t want to be with you or that there was someone else.”

He paused and took a deep breath.

“Mal, I wanted to take these trips, I could be me. And by me, I mean I could use.” He stopped.

Malorie stared at him waiting for him to continue, waiting for him to explain what he was talking about. When he didn’t say anything, she asked, “Use?”

“Well mostly cocaine, but sometimes there were other drugs involved…some weed, ‘shrooms…” He explained.

“Drugs?”

“Yeah and a lot of them.” He looked down, not able to look her in the face.

Malorie didn’t move. She didn’t speak. Did he use drugs when he was with her, when he was at home? How often had he used and she not known? How could she not have known? Was she that stupid? She had so many questions, none of which she was sure she wanted an answer to. She wasn’t sure what to say, how to respond and after several minutes Malorie broke the silence. “Do you have more to say? I’m sorry. I’m not following where this is all going, why you needed to talk to me now.”

“I’m clean now. I’m working a 12 Step program and I’m up to step 9 – making amends. Actually, I half assed worked the steps a few times, but I never truly made the amends that I needed to. I always thought of you whenever I heard step 8 but when it actually came to making the amends, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face you. I couldn’t look in eyes and tell you why I left the way that I did.”

“Jack. You still haven’t told me.” She explained to him, still in shock that she was even having this conversation.

After their meal arrived, Jack proceeded to detail the events leading up to the trip to London and the last time that Malorie would see him before that fateful answering machine message. He told her about arriving in London and his brother meeting him there. He described what it was like when his brother found out that he was using again, and by again, he explained that he had been through rehab and the program when he was 18. Jack continued by telling her that his brother checked him into rehab and the phone call he placed to her, the message that he left, was all he could muster. He knew that he couldn’t explain to her in a message everything that had happened and left it at that. He wasn’t coming back.

Malorie asked the questions that she had over dessert and Jack answered them honestly. When the check was delivered, Jack paid, got up from the table and crossed over to Malorie extending his hand.

She took it and rose from the table. As they began to walk toward the entrance of the now almost empty restaurant, Jack squeezed her hand and smiled at her.

Once outside, Jack turned to Malorie, took both of her hands in his, looked into her eyes and asked her forgiveness.

“Mal, I don’t know how I can make it up to you. I need you to know that I loved you with all my heart and I hate that I hurt you. But I felt that to cause the least amount of pain would be to do what I did, to simply make something up. If you want to never see me again, I’ll respect that.”

He reached for her to embrace her and as he did, she remembered how warm and comforting his hugs were. As they lingered there, arms around one another, he whispered in her ear, “I’d really like to see you again, though.”

For a brief moment, she forgot all about Evan, home, in a cast until she heard someone call her name.

As she pulled away from Jack and turned around she felt her heart drop past her stomach and onto the sidewalk below.

It was Evan.




July 2008
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