contingent

She woke up in her cold bed and immediately glanced at her side to make sure he was still there. He was facing away, just like he was when they went to sleep the previous night. She touched his shoulder blade to assure herself that he was really there, smiled slightly and crawled out of the covers.

It had been a couple of days since he’d been staying with her and she knew she was taking time to get used to having him around. She put on her robe and tip-toed to the kitchen to prepare some eggs for breakfast. He needed to be nourished a lot more than she did now. While she pressed fresh juice, her mother called her cell phone. Noy answered and talked softly; she didn’t want to wake him up just yet. He was tired from their little fight two days ago, and she’d called her mother in a state of hysteria because she was so afraid of her relationship taking a turn for the worse. But it was okay now, he was here and they were okay. They were better than okay: they were in love.

She assured Mother that she wasn’t mad at him anymore and that she was fine. She glanced back at the double bed and saw that he hadn’t even started stirring. She told her mom she’d call later, and gently shook him to wake him up. She helped him walk to the table and cut his omelette into little bites for him and sat across him so she could watch the flawless skin on his jawline while she absent-mindedly nibbled on some toast.

“We haven’t got the newspapers yet, but I guess that’s okay. I don’t know how I’d feel about all the horrid things they print these days,” she said.

She put the plates away, slightly affected by his silence, but decided not to pay attention to it. He remained at the table while she showered and dressed, humming to herself.

“I have to leave now. Don’t open the door for anyone, okay? Hopefully I’ll save up enough to get us out of this nasty neighbourhood soon,” she remarked, only to be acknowledged by more silence.

She spent the rest of the day keeping her mind off him and decided she’d get some takeout Chinese food for dinner. He loved Asian cuisine and she wanted to make it up to him for losing her mind the other day. He hadn’t spoken to her since but continued to cooperate, so she knew he was willing to make this work, and she had to be careful this time.

Noy turned the key in the keyhole, heard the lock click open and the door let go of the frame. She gingerly pushed the handle and was greeted by him still at the table. He looked fatigued and his skin was somehow greyer than it had been in the morning. She rushed forward, carelessly placing the takeout bags on the table and cupped her hands around his face and kissed him. He was cold, and he was starting to smell funny.

“Oh God, Jake, please don’t go. Please. I’m sorry. I’ll run you a warm bath, please don’t leave me,” she blubbered. She could feel her tear ducts prickling. He didn’t answer.

She hurried to the bathroom and poured soap into the tub and let the water run till the tub was frothing with suds. She guided him inside and scrubbed his reluctant body clean. He was still upset, and she was losing her composure. When he refused to respond to her constant cooing and apologies, she started to sob. After she had fixed the plates for dinner, she saw that he hadn’t touched his food. He hadn’t eaten all day, and continued to do so, as if it were some sort of protest.

Noy watched him look at her blankly and started to panic. He looked so dazed, like there was no one behind those eyes.

“Jake, honey, please talk to me. I’m sorry, I really am. You know I am… I didn’t mean to lose my temper that way. I can’t bear the thought of you leaving me. I know I get a little crazy sometimes but I’ve known Molly for years and I know she had her eyes on you. I’m sorry I acted out but I can’t live without you. Just please talk to me… What have I done, oh my God. Look at me. Eat your food. Why won’t you eat, Jake?… Here, take this. Have you forgotten how to chew? Should I just make you a smoothie instead? It’s okay, I don’t mind… Please look at me, I’m talking to you. I haven’t heard your voice in two days. I love you. Why won’t you talk to me, Jake? Why won’t you pull up the covers when you’re feeling cold? Why won’t you come out with me and buy some new clothes? Why won’t you smile for me, just once?”

She couldn’t bring herself to talk anymore and wept. He didn’t even try to console her. She stopped crying and realized he probably didn’t even care about her. Maybe he’d been talking to Molly while Noy was out and had planned to run away instead. Maybe that’s what the plan was all along, to make her feel like she had a say in this when he told her he couldn’t be with her anymore and wanted a mutual divorce.

All of this clouded her mind so thoroughly that she didn’t realize she’d picked up a knife from the drawers and stood right beside him. He hadn’t even bothered to put on a shirt after the bath and she saw a thick gash at his chest. The blood had formed a rigid edge around the wound. The wound she had made.

“Why won’t you blink, Jake?”

The knife slipped from her hands and fell to the floor, and she slid to the ground and leaned against his chair, unable to fully comprehend her reality. She held on to his ankles and cried and apologized repeatedly for having lost her mind in a petty argument and getting so violent. She begged him to talk to her but she knew she’d never hear his voice again.

After spending the next fifteen minutes mourning her impulsive, irrational actions, she brought out his soft cotton t-shirt and dressed him for bed. She carried his dead weight to the bedroom and rested his head on his pillow, facing away from where she would sleep. He was still upset with her, and he wouldn’t want to wake up to her face tomorrow. She pulled the covers over his legs and cleaned out the kitchen. She tied up her hair, changed into a night gown and got into bed.

Noy looked dotingly at the back of the head of her dead husband and whispered, “Please don’t leave me. I love you.”

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