The ring was nowhere to be found. Lisa had searched every logical place, and after an hour it occurred to her that Glen might have taken it. Which would have been fine since he bought it, but what she really wanted was to give it back to him. A kind of token ceremony representing their sham of a relationship.
Lisa had stood at the window as he drove away, wondering if she had meant anything at all to him. He had rarely told her he loved her, and because of this Lisa realized that over time she had responded in kind. Yet there were instances when Glen did seem to care, and the best example was when she had suffered with pneumonia a year ago. During the three weeks Lisa had been sick, he had made sure she took her medications on time and that she was comfortable. He even read the Sunday comics to her, even though she had never so much as scanned them. And when he had tucked her in one especially miserable night, Lisa told him. The three words that seldom left her lips were floating in the air between them, and she could not take them back. She thought he had said something in reply–had he returned the endearment?–but Lisa had not been sure.
As Lisa watched him leave that night, she was amazed at how someone she lived with for four years could slip out of her life with so little fanfare.
“Thank God we weren’t married,” Lisa said, standing in the living room, hands on hips, angry at herself for not putting the ring in a safe place – at least until she could return it on her terms.
Just then Lisa remembered. She rushed to the window and pulled back the curtains. It was there, on the ledge, where she had taken it off as Glen drove away.
She suddenly squealed with delight, causing Phoebe to stop chewing for five seconds. Lisa stared at the ring for a moment, and as she turned away from the window she noticed dark clouds approaching from the west. They were in for a colossal storm.
They were in for a colossal storm.
IT TOOK LISA ABOUT HALF an hour to find her portable CD player, the one Glen had relegated to the basement the very day he moved in. Next to it was a box of CDs, all from the eighties. Two trips up the stairs later the CD player was plugged in and her selection was made.
Lisa pushed “play.”
And at that moment, Bryan Adams never sounded so good.
So, she closed all her windows and put on the air conditioner. And then she cranked up the boom box.
She was dancing her way through Journey’s greatest hits when a deafening clap of thunder brought all merriment to an end. Phoebe yelped and darted under the dining table, and when Lisa turned off the music, she could hear knocking at the side door. It had grown quite dark, and she had to turn on several lights to make her way to the kitchen. Someone was standing on the small porch, and when she stepped closer she recognized Glen.
Lisa sighed and opened the door.
“Can I come in?” he asked. “It’s kind of wet out here.”
Lisa opened the door another foot, and Glen stepped inside. In one short week she had forgotten how tall he was.
“I’ve come to get my stuff,” he explained. “I’m not far away. I’m staying at that new hotel by the expressway. You know, one of those rooms with a kitchen.”
“Why?” Lisa asked, confused. “I thought you moved in with her.”
Glen frowned, which caused Lisa to scowl. Dammit, he was still handsome.
“I did,” he began. “Isn’t that the dog from across the street?” he asked, pointing to Phoebe, who was now calmly drinking from her red plastic dish.
“She’s definitely not a watch dog,” Lisa thought.
“Yes,” Lisa answered. She was curious as to why he was staying at a hotel. But there was no way she was going to ask him. “Your boxes are in the dining room.”
Glen gazed at Lisa and smiled. “You look good.”
“Thanks,” she mumbled.
HE WAS CARRYING THE LAST BOX to the door when the hail started, hitting the windows so hard it seemed as if someone was standing in the backyard peppering the glass with stones.
“Hope it passes soon,” he remarked. “I’ve got to get these boxes over to the storage shed before it closes.”
Lisa nodded. He was just standing there. Looking at her.
“Look…Diane and I…actually Diane…thought it would be better if we have separate living arrangements for awhile,” he explained.
“Oh,” Lisa said. “Okay.”
He suddenly looked sheepish. “She seems to think I was out with someone from work…it was just a drink…you know….”
“Yeah…I know,” Lisa told him firmly. “But I think you’re confusing me with Diane.”
Glen set the box on the floor.
“Look, Lisa…,” he started, but she had already retrieved a tiny box from the counter and was holding it out to him.
“What’s this?” he asked suspiciously.
“Open it,” she commanded. “Don’t worry. It won’t explode.”
Glen hesitated slightly, then pulled off the top of the tiny container to reveal the ring resting on a cushion of toilet paper.
“Lisa, you don’t have to…”
“I will control myself…I will control myself…I will…”
“I would just have to sell it and we both know I could get more money for my collection of paper clips.”
Glen sighed, put the lid back on the container and tucked it in his pocket. He picked up the box and started for the door, and when he turned back to speak to Lisa again, he frowned when he noticed Phoebe.
“Good God,” he shouted. “Are those my new tennis shorts?”
“Hmmm? Where?” she asked with fake innocence.
“The dog. That dog. You’re letting it chew my clothes?” he asked incredulously, nodding his head toward Phoebe.
Lisa hesitated. “Yes,” she answered. “I am.”
“I’ve been replaced by a dog,” he murmured.
Glen started again for the door, and Lisa was right behind him. He touched the doorknob and turned quickly, causing them to collide.
“Sorry,” he said. “I just…Lisa…”
Lisa stepped back and waited expectantly, searching his clouded face.
“When I left…last week….”
“When you left last week…” Lisa repeated.
Lisa wasn’t sure if he meant it as a statement or a question. “Of course not.”
“Why not?” he asked earnestly.
“Why didn’t I cry,” Lisa said slowly, as if trying to understand each word.
Had Glen been to some form of counseling this week? They had just traveled beyond his self-imposed comfort zone. A zone so microscopic that during their years together any sentence that Lisa began with “How do you feel about” was sternly interrupted with a vehement “Can’t go there!”, thus proving a soul-stirring, sensitive layer lie just outside that emotional-free territory. Lisa had no desire to dwell in the unexplored area any longer than she had to.
“I knew…well…you were doing the right thing…by going,” she told him. “I knew we were temporary. That’s why I never pushed to get married. I decided I’d rather be alone than with someone who didn’t respect our relationship.”
“Respect,” Glen repeated.
“It may just be a title of a song to you, but to me it’s necessary…like breathing.”
Another thunderclap detonated. This one reverberated throughout the house, rattling the windows and sending Phoebe under the open dishwasher door.
“Um…I guess I should go,” he mumbled, shifting the box under his left arm and opening the door.
She peered through the side-door window and watched him run toward his car. Satisfied that he was really leaving, Lisa walked to the living room and pulled open the curtain, just in time to see Glen throw the box in the rear seat and slide behind the steering wheel.
It was only when he backed out of the driveway and made his way down the street that she allowed herself to smile.
Feature image by Tumisu from Pixabay (typography added by kathleenjae.com)
Ring Image by Fine Mayer from Pixabay
Storm video by Max Berube from Pixabay
Boom box image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
Wet floor image by BedexpStock from Pixabay
Puppy photo by Curology on Unsplash
Moving box image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay (typography added by kathleenjae.com)
Puppy under table: clipart.email
© 1999-2020 kathleenjae.com (Kathleen Jae). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.