They Always Come Back For More
The lights flickered.
“Damn storm.” John quickly pulled out a red tie and put it on. He was the type of man who had no trouble tying his own tie and prided himself on being able to do it in under thirty seconds.
It would be just his luck, the power going out. Then he’d have to light a candle or hunt down a flashlight, look for his keys in semi-darkness and end up being late for work. John finished getting dressed and sat down to drink a cup of coffee as a loud explosion of thunder startled him.
“Shit!” he yelled, hot decaf spilling onto his suit. Now he really was going to be late, and he had an important meeting in half an hour. Not that any of his meetings were unimportant, but this one was particularly important.
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“Everything okay?” asked a drowsy voice from the other end of the apartment.
“Um, yeah honey. Are you awake?”
“I mean awake awake?”
“Then could you please get me a clean shirt and tie?” he asked.
She didn’t answer, but a moment later John heard Sarah going through his closet. She came in with a crisp white shirt and a striped tie.
“Yeah, thanks babe,” John kissed her on the cheek, not even bothering to direct his eyes towards her. He changed, conscious that she was watching him, aware of every movement he made.
Ashamed, he stepped closer and kissed her on the lips.
“Good morning,” she said.
She’d been doing that lately. Not pulling away exactly, but acting a bit indifferent. John wasn’t sure if he was hurt by her distance or not. He wasn’t sure if he even loved her. But he liked having her there, liked the way she made the apartment seem less empty. He liked the way she looked at him with wide and innocent eyes. Briefly, John wondered if it was time for him to propose but he didn’t want to rush things and besides-there’s always tomorrow.
“Do you love me?” Sarah asked abruptly.
“Do you love me?”
“Sweetheart, I’m on my way to work. What is this about?”
“Nothing, really. It’s just that we’ve been living together for what, a year? I’m just wondering where this is going.”
John was not a confrontational man. If a neighbor borrowed a screwdriver and didn’t return it, he let them keep it. He never fired employees himself-he had his secretary do it. “Sarah, honey, haven’t I told you I love you? Didn’t I tell you just last night how nice it is having you to come home to?”
“I need more than that, John! I can’t just be the woman you come home to because what does that leave for me? What is there for me to come home to?”
Her voice was calm but her eyes weren’t.
John was starting to get a little bit irritated. He was late for work and it was raining outside and now he was in the middle of an unwanted and unexpected argument. “Well then what do you want?” he asked. “Have I done anything wrong? Are you unhappy?”
“No, you idiot. I’m not unhappy. But I’m not happy either. How can you not know what I want?” Sarah was starting to cry, just a little. Not sad tears, but the tears of anger and betrayal.
“Well what then? You want a house? A car? A baby? Do you want to get married?”
“Is that what you think this is about John?” Sarah laughed. “You think this about your precious suburban dream? You think you can solve all our problems with a two car garage and a fence and a diamond ring?”
John tried to work an arm around her. “Let’s talk about this when I get home from work, okay babe?” He kissed her forehead.
“Don’t you dare patronize me John! I am sick of this. I am sick of you working and talking about work. I honestly think you would do paper work while we made love if you thought you could get away with it. I just want to know one thing right now: If I left, if I walked out that door, would you follow me?”
“Stop being so dramatic, Sarah! There’s a thunderstorm and you’re not even dressed and I have got to get to work. Can we just act like civilized adults and sort this out later?”
Sarah looked at him. For a moment, John thought she was going to slap him but she just stared. Finally she walked past him and out the door.
He watched her for a moment, certain that once she felt the cold rain on her bare feet she’d come back, but she stubbornly walked down the sidewalk, nightgown and all.
The lights went out. John sighed, and grabbed his suitcase. He couldn’t really be any later for work and anyway, she’d come back.
She always did.