"I never said that I was perfect. I think I made a genuine effort to make a point to say that I wasn't." Cora's voice held the conviction that she had been trying to dredge up ever since she started to practice what she wanted to say so many days ago in front of her bathroom mirror. "I can't do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. I don't know who I am when I'm with you. I follow a script of what I should say instead of what I want to say."
It had taken her longer than she wanted to realize what it was she was feeling inside. Once she did recognize it though, she wanted to ignore it. She wanted to pretend and push away her own personal truth. Cora hadn't been willing to give up something, someone, the familiar for a future that meant insecurities and loneliness. Eventually she figured out that insecurity and loneliness would make her happier than her something, her someone, and her familiar.
Her family told her that they just wanted her to be happy. Her friends told her the same. The people that meant something to her wanted her to have the life she wanted to have not one she felt she should have, but she read the magazine articles about finding love after thirty. She watched the television shows about 'those' women who were so desperate to find a man that they put themselves through ridiculous hoops and hurdles to impress a man they didn't know and didn't have any emotional attachment to.
Cora didn't want to be like them, and as long as she left her life alone then she would have no reason to be. She would have no reason to be desperate and pathetic. She wouldn't have to fear appearing on some television show or in some magazine article about how great she was and how much she needed a mate for life or just someone to have some fun with. Her life was settled.
But she wasn't happy. She couldn't force herself to be happy even after thinking of all the great things she had in her life and all the great people that surrounded her. He had originally thought that Cora was having an affair and had asked her to be honest with him about it. Cora told him that he was being silly. She could never have an affair. She said she wasn't adventurous enough for that type of thing, and he instantly believed her because he knew she wasn't adventurous enough. He knew that she wasn't one to take risks. He knew that she always played things safe.
"It's like I'm untouchable in this relationship," her hands tightened around her coffee cup. "No matter what you say or how hard you try to make me happy, I'm just not. I never feel like this, us, is right. And I wanted to talk to you about it because I didn't want to do anything behind your back."
When she was younger she had made out her life plan. She had set her goals and she hadn't failed to reach any of them. She was financially secure. She was reasonably content with her job. She had a house with a garden. The house was in a good neighborhood in an area that had good public schools. Her little boy was growing up in a safe place with lots of friends.
But Cora had already decided that she couldn't live in the house anymore. She would leave the house to her husband. She would even give him the option to keep their son with him. She didn't want to rattle his life too much. She didn't want to rattle anyone's life, but it was time that things became rattled because she had already tried to keep the status quo and it wasn't working.
She was becoming angry at the little things that happened in life. She was starting to cry over seeing other people happy while she was miserable. She wanted to yell at them and ask them why they were entitled to their happiness but she wasn't entitled to her own. She wanted to ask them what made them special and who gave them the right to something she felt she could never have.
It was unfortunate, but even her son was starting to feel her wrath. She pushed him to do better in school, even though he was doing well already. She yelled at him for simple things and he was starting to fear her. He didn't want to approach her with his personal problems in case she might call him a failure and judge him more harshly than even his peers could.
She saw what her words and attitude were doing to her son. She saw him fall away from her, and talk to her less and less. She recognized the distance she was forcing to exist between them, and she knew she had to find a way to fix it. Cora knew, that for her to brush the bitterness off her shoulders that she needed to change her life.
"I know that when we got married we both decided that we would do everything we could to make sure that our marriage lasted forever, and we've already been able to survive together after so much, but I?we can't get through this and stay together. I wanted to believe in us, that somehow the idea of 'us' would make everything okay but it doesn't. It almost makes things worse, because thinking of us makes me feel so guilty. I feel guilty that I let there be an us when somehow I must have already known that it wasn't right, that I wasn't?right."
Cora had heard that talking about things would make her feel better, but she doubted that. She felt bad and she didn't see a whole lot that could happen that would make her feel better. Talking didn't solve problems it only shoved it into everyone's awareness instead of letting it exist in the peripheral.
Her body was falling apart from the stress. She was constantly ill with a sinus infection, cold, flu, or mysterious ailment. She couldn't remember the last time she had been able to sleep for longer than four hours. She even swore she was starting to lose her hair.
This was the change she needed to make so that life could be better. This was the step she needed to make so that everyone involved could start trying to make their lives happy again. This was it. This was what would give her, her freedom.
"Hey Sweetie, I'm sorry I'm late." He walked up to her and kissed her on the cheek before sitting across from her at the table she had picked out in the corner of a Starbucks. "Things got crazy at work."
Cora looked up from the cup of coffee she had been quietly talking to and forced a smile onto her face. "Don't worry about it. I was a little late myself. I just got here." That was a lie. She had showed up half an hour early hoping that somehow the extra time to prepare would give her the courage she needed, but she could already feel the courage slipping away.
"Well I'm still sorry. Being with you should be more important than work. Unfortunately my boss doesn't see things the same way I do." He smiled his imperfectly perfect smile.
She swallowed the lump in her throat. "That is unfortunate."
"So when you asked me here you said you wanted to talk about something?" He reached out and took a sip of her coffee. "This isn't about the car is it?"
"Car?" Her voice broke.
"I know you think he's a little young to get one, but I think this will be a good father-son thing. We can work on restoring the Mustang together. I think he could learn a lot about responsibility and about getting a job done."
"He's only ten," this wasn't what she wanted to talk about, but obviously it was on his mind. This needed to be settled first so that there was nothing to distract them. "It won't take you six years to restore the car. Are you going to just tell him he can't drive it for, at best, three years?"
"Yes," he said with his own brand of conviction. "If it becomes a problem we can sell the one we restore and buy another one that we can work on together. We can make that one better than the first."
"Can't you find another way to spend time with our son?" She started to reach out for her coffee again but stopped herself. She no longer felt comfortable with the intimacy sharing a simple cup of coffee offered.
"This is what we want to do." He offered the cup to her, having seen that she was reaching for it. Cora took it because she didn't want him to feel rejected.
"You mean it's what you want to do. He's only ten. He doesn't know what he wants." She took a sip of the coffee, but only a small one.
"He does though. He's told you himself it's what he wants and I wouldn't influence him to ever lie to you about that." He reached out and she thought he was reaching for the cup of coffee again, but instead he captured her right hand. "Just say yes. It'll make us both happy and you know you want us to be happy."
He thought he was being charming, and most people would say that he was, but she didn't feel that way. His charm made her feel sick inside. "Of course I want you to be happy."
He gently squeezed her hand. "And that's why we love you so much." He lifted their hands and brought his lips to her soft skin. "That's why we could never live without you."
She swallowed the bile that was rising in her throat. "You'll never have to."
"Does that mean I can get the Mustang?"
She nodded. "Get the Mustang."
"You're the best." He released her hand and stood up. "I have to get back to work. We'll talk more when we get home." He leaned down and gave her another kiss on her cheek then walked away.
"I just wanted to tell you that I'm not happy," she told the glass pane that allowed her to watch her husband as he got back into his car.