The Quiet Storm

As he laid on the couch, he could hear her crying in the other room.  He kicked off his muddy boots in disgust.  Sam had always thought himself an understanding and compassionate man, but after 5 years of tears almost every night, he was at the breaking point. 

It all started a few weeks after their honeymoon.  She cried all night one night, saying nothing was wrong.  He was sick with worry.  The next morning he made coffee and tried to be a good husband.  He caressed her back and asked her what had been wrong the night before. 

“I miss my mom”, she said quietly.  “I know you cannot understand because you and your mom don’t get along.  My mom was not like your mom.”

Melody’s mother had been killed in a car accident a few years before we met.  It hit her hard.  As she grieved her mother she spun out of control.  She met a guy who said all the right things and meant none of them.  A few months later they went to the Justice of the Peace and got married.  They were together a year when he committed suicide.  I don’t think Melody ever grieved for him.  In a way, I think she hated him.  He brought out the worst in her.  When we met at the coffee shop that afternoon, my smile was met with disgust.  She wanted no part of me – that was obvious.  I had been given the cold shoulder before and I wasn’t going to give up that easily.  After a few chance meetings, we started to date.  Movies and popcorn.  Dinner and dancing.  Walks under the stars.  It was so romantic and effortless.  We were married a year to the day from that chance meeting in the coffee shop.  It was a breath of fresh air for both of us.

The church was beautiful.  Everything perfect.  We flew to the Bahamas for our honeymoon.  It was a fairytale romance in every way.  Five weeks of bliss, then the other shoe dropped.  For the next two years, Melody would cry herself to sleep almost every night.  I could never console her – she wouldn’t let me in.  All she ever said was that I just could not possibly understand.

Then one night we went to dinner and actually laughed.  We danced our way back to the car and went home and made love on the couch.  This couch.  That was the first time in two years she didn’t cry herself to sleep.  She curled up in my arms and slept like a baby.  It stayed that way for almost six months.  Then, one night she locked me out of the bedroom and cried herself to sleep.  To this day I still have no idea why.  Another two and a half years had passed and the tears came every night.  A year ago, I just couldn’t take it any more.  I started sleeping on the couch. 

It was fortunate that we never had children.  It makes me sick to think about such an emotionally unstable woman raising a child.  After all, I was a bit of an expert on that subject.  I learned how to tiptoe through my childhood at a very early age.  My mother never cared about anyone but herself.  No, Melody was right about one thing.  I would never shed a tear for my mother, nor could I understand crying for anyone for years on end.

My mind spun almost out of control.  I started to think about the possibility that Melody would finally lose herself.  I thought about being tied to a woman I didn’t really know for the rest of my life.  I had said the words, ‘for better or for worse’…but I had no idea at the time just how frightening that promise could be.  I knew I wanted out.  Tonight I wanted to scream and run.  Instead I went to the kitchen and opened a beer.  I watched the head form as I poured it into the frosted glass.   I took a sip.  Oh my God.  That tasted good.  Too good.  I walked across the kitchen and poured the rest down the drain.  No, I would not do this to myself. 

I clicked off the light, walked back to the living room and laid down again.  I pulled the afghan over my shoulder and closed my eyes.  The crying hadn’t stopped.  I reached over my head and pulled my iPod off the end table.  I turned the wheel to my favorite play list – Songs of Escape.  I put the ear buds in my ears and drifted off to sleep.  Finally the crying had been vanquished.

Saturday morning I slept much longer than I anticipated.  All the worry and thinking were exhausting.  I walked into the kitchen about 9:00 am.  Melody was singing and smiled brightly when I came into the kitchen.

“Pancakes?”  she winked and spun back around to the stove. 

We ate pancakes and drank coffee as Melody laughed and acted as if life was normal.  It was all I could do not to stand up and scream at the top of my lungs.  She talked and laughed and didn’t even notice I wasn’t engaged in any conversation with her.  She was living life with me without me.

“Melody?”  I said as she stopped and turned toward me.  “Melody, I’m leaving.  Today.  I won’t be coming back.”

Suddenly she stopped and sat in the chair opposite of me.  “Why?”  She acted as if she honestly did not know why.

“Melody, you need professional help.  I cannot live this way any more.  I’m a married man who has slept on the couch for over a year now.  It’s not right.”

“Sam, just move back into the bedroom.  I never knew why you left in the first place.”   She smiled and walked back to the stove.  “Oh, by the way, did I tell you my mom is coming by tonight?”

I didn’t know what to say or how to react.  I just kept saying the words over and over in my mind “……for better or for worse…….”    I was trapped and I knew it.  I had nowhere to turn.

I stood up from the table and walked toward the pantry. 

“Where are you going?” Melody asked in her upbeat tone.

“Just checking to make sure we have beer.  I feel like having a few tonight.”

Melody chuckled.  “Don’t worry, honey.  I’ll pick some up at the store.  Now what would you like for dinner?”

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