Wednesday, June 1, 2011
He turned the engine off and exhaled quietly. The day has been painfully long. He closed his eyes but couldn't get the faces out of his mind, some of them tearful. He rubbed his temples in futile attempt to ease the tension he felt all day.
They worked there just as long as, if not longer than, he did. Some asked him, "What am I going to do? This is the only income we have, and we have a house, the kids are still in school..." He lowered his head and said he was very sorry. They understood he was only performing his duty. The company wasn't profitable and this was the necessary next step. The despair in their eyes will haunt him for a very long time. It's hard to choose which side of the desk he'd rather be sitting.
But the day wasn't finished, and he wasn't sure if he was ready to go in and face a despair of his own.
He heard music, not the sound of TV, when he walked into the house. Is she back in the fog land, or did she just want something different tonight? He wasn't sure. He couldn't tell after the illness--not like before.
"Hi honey." He checked her face before kissing her. Was the short hesitation a sign of the onset of regression, or was it merely his imagination?
"Hi, how was your day?" She smiled her angelic smile and asked. He wondered if she remembered what he did for a living.
"It was unbelievably horrific. The layoff finally happened, and all day I had to tell people they didn't have a job anymore. You shoud've seen their faces." He poured a glass of Jack Daniel. Something stronger than wine was needed tonight.
"Layoff? Why?" She asked and immediately looked guilty bouncing back her glance at him. How could she recall? It has been two weeks since he told her about the state of the company and what could happen, but it might as well be a hundred years for her. It wasn't her fault, he wanted to tell her. It was the cursed bacteria that destroyed her brain a year ago. He didn't blame her, but he couldn't deal with it either. Not after a day like today. It's time.
He put the glass down and held her shoulders gently.
"Honey, I'm tired and I can't do this anymore. I tried, but I have my limits. And I hate to be the source of your unhappiness, or guilt. They eat me up inside. I think I need to spend the night at my parents'."
Her lips trembled, but not a word came out. How she begged heaven and earth to reverse the damages, but they both knew it was impossible. She couldn't blame him for leaving, and couldn't ask him if he would ever come back. She could see the weight on his back as he ascended the stairs, and feel the pain as deep as her own. The sad part is, by tomorrow, or day after that, she will be happy as can be. None of these will remain with her for long.
Her eternal bliss came with the price of his never ending Ground Hog Day.
The duffel bag sat on the bed and he next to it. He imagined this moment a few times before, when things became too happy and all so temporary, when he had to repeat things to her that he shouldn't have to--his favorite brand of cereal, TV show, or restaurant. At first it felt like a new romance that was fresh and exciting. It soon got old and tiresome. He held on for the love for her. He will forever love and remember her. He's not sure, though, how long she will remember him.
Remember him? He stood up suddenly. The doctor said she would have no short-term memory. Things and people that have been in her life for long period of time, such as since childhood, should be fine. So how could she still know who he was? Theirs was not a long-term love affair, and yet, she never forgot him, however doubtful he was at times. Did his effort finally pay off? Could it be that her love for him had found a way? He had taken it for granted that she would remember him, and she did. Maybe it's not his charm, but her love for him was stronger than he had realized.
The duffel bag went back to the closet, items emptied out. It won't be easy, he knew, but he loves her and she loves him. That's more than enough for him. If love can find its way to stay, so can he.