As Michael lay in the hospital bed, drifting in and out of consciousness, Rebecca paced back and forth, praying to whoever might be listening. She had never been a religious woman, but Michael needed all the help he could get. The doctor’s had managed to get him stabilized, but the damage had been done. He would need a pacemaker for his heart as soon as he was well enough for surgery. Rebecca sat down in the chair the nurse had brought in and drifted off into a fitful sleep.
It would be three weeks before Michael could return home, and his doctors said he could not return to work for another 3 months, and that was pushing it. As Rebecca helped Michael up the steps to their home, Michael began to wonder what the next 3 months would be like. It had been years since he’d spent this much time in the same place as Rebecca, and he wasn’t sure how to handle it.
Rebecca helped him up the stairs to their bedroom and helped him into bed. She said something about going to make lunch, but he grabbed her hand before she could get away, pulling her towards him in a tight embrace. Their lips met, but Michael could feel the coldness in her embrace. He let her go in time to see the tears fall down her face, but she ran out the door before he could stop her. It would be six hours before she ventured back into their room again.
“I’m going to sleep on the couch tonight so you can rest,” Rebecca said as she started to grab her night gown and some extra pillows, avoiding eye contact with him.
“Please stay in here,” Michael begged. “I won’t be able to sleep without you.”
Rebecca mumbled something under her breath and headed into the bathroom to brush her teeth. When she came back out she climbed into bed, but stayed on her side of the king size bed with her back turned to him. He could feel the coldness emanating off her back, but he moved towards her anyways. She tensed up as she felt him move towards her, hoping he would take the hint and stay away from her. She didn’t want him to see her crying again, but it felt as though he was moving right up behind her. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed that she didn’t look like she’d been crying.
“Rebecca, please,” Michael pleaded with her, “I need to talk to you.”
She rolled over, but the look in her eyes said she wasn’t in the mood to talk.
“What?” Rebecca said as she tried to mask the pain and terror in her voice.
“Why are you being so cold?’ Michael could see she was thinking, trying to formulate the best words to use in her head. She was smart, and had a way with words. Michael regretted asking the question almost as soon as the words left his mouth. He opened his mouth to speak, to stop what she was about to say, but it was too late.
“Why am I being cold? You almost died, and all I could think was how convenient it would be if you actually did. I love you Michael, but I’m not happy anymore and part of me wishes you had died in that accident. When the doctor told me that you would be home for the next three months, all I could think about was how awkward it was going to be. We’ve been married for 15 years Michael and I can’t think of a single thing to say to you, and that terrifies me. I saw what my parents went through, and I refuse to fall into that. I refuse to make you that unhappy and me that miserable, but I don’t see how to stop it short of getting a divorce.”
Her words sent Michael reeling. He didn’t realize just how miserable she was, and he wasn’t sure how to fix it, or if he even could. He was too much like his boss in that he wanted everything to be perfect, and if it wasn’t he needed a definitive plan to fix it. He had considered divorcing her once he found out about Nancy, but decided to stay with her because he knew it was partially his fault for driving her to Nancy. The fact that she thought divorce was their only option terrified him more than anything.
“Is there anything we can do, other than separate?”
Rebecca opened her mouth to speak, but shut it again. She looked him in the eyes, begging him to see what she needed. She needed to feel loved, like he needed her. She couldn’t pin point what had been making her so unhappy those past few years until she realized he could live without her, and that terrified her. She wanted to feel like his world would fall apart if she left.
He stared back at her, searching for that spark, the fire that initially attracted him to her. He reached out for her hand, wanting nothing more than to make everything better. As Michael’s hand made contact with Rebecca’s arm her heart began to race and her cheeks flushed with color. He pulled her towards him frantically, wanting nothing more than to feel her skin against his. She resisted, though she was surprised by his strength. She thought he would be much more frail than he was.
“The doctor said you need to take it slow,” she said, trembling, “And I’m not sure that is how we’re going to fix whatever is wrong.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, all I want to do is hold you, to get back what we had before,” he said, trying to beg her with the look in his eyes, “Please?”
Rebecca looked him in the eyes and saw that he needed her. She curled up in his arms, falling asleep within minutes.