Folklore is more than just stories. They are carriers of ancient tales no longer believed and long forgotten. Stephanie finds herself a part of one of those old tales as she admits the truth to both herself and her partner.
Stephanie couldn’t stop crying as she followed Chuck’s car back to his place. Every hope and dream she’d ever had in connection with her husband was now dead. Worse yet, he’d trampled over the grave with his infidelity. All those times she’d wanted to make love and he was too tired, or she’d found presents that were for her, those were all lies. He’d no longer found her fulfilling enough for his needs and he’d used the money she’d made with her own hard work to buy that slut gifts.
“Damn it,” she muttered through her tears. She wiped them away so she could see the road. “Just damn it.”
They reached Chuck’s home and he parked around the side so she could have the prime spot out front. Chuck hopped out and strode over to the entrance as she drove up to the porch. His expression was one of worry and apprehension. He came up beside her car window before she could get out.
“You sure you want to be here?” he asked.
The question surprised and frightened her. She thought maybe he didn’t trust her to stay around him after she’d shown such fury at one man.
“Are you going to be kicking me out now?” she countered. Her tone was tired, exhausted. She couldn’t manage even a bitter smile.
“No, but I just want you to slow down and think about things,” he insisted. “You sure you want to be doing any of this? Leaving him and staying here with me?”
“Right now I’m not sure about anything,” Stephanie replied with a shake of her head. “I just need somewhere where I don’t have to see that…that man’s face.” She couldn’t bring herself to even speak Bob’s name, it disgusted her so much. She wiped at her cheeks. Those damn tears were falling again. “If you don’t want me here I suppose I can understand, but don’t keep me around if you don’t want me here.”
“I already said no to that question,” Chuck scolded. He stepped back and opened the door for her to get out. “Now how about some chocolate?”
“That’s really sexist of you,” she shot back. There was some of her old playfulness in her voice.
“So you don’t want any?”
“I didn’t say that, I just said it was sexist.”
“I’ll be careful not to piss you off any further,” Chuck promised. He went around the side of the vehicle and grabbed her bag from the passenger side. They rejoined at the bottom of the porch steps. “I have to admit you were pretty scary when you were standing over Bob.”
“Don’t mention him for a while, all right?” Stephanie requested. “I just don’t want to hear that name for a while.”
“All right,” he agreed, but only with some trepidation. He didn’t want her to just push all these troubles to the back of her mind and forget they even existed. They stepped inside and he nodded toward the kitchen. “The chocolate’s in the cupboard beside the fridge. Feel free to help yourself while I take your bag up.”
Stephanie did just that and a little more. When Chuck came back down he found a pile of potato chip bags and two cans of pop on the kitchen counter. He glanced over the heart-attack inducing pile and turned to Stephanie.
“Hoping to eat me out of house and home in a matter of days?” he teased. He would’ve warned her about getting fat, but he’d seen how scary she looked when she was angry. Mentioning the ‘f’ word might have tipped the scales out of his favor.
“I figured I deserved a little snack,” she replied as she poked her head out of the fridge. There was some worry on her face as she glanced at the pile and then at the man who had actually bought all the food. She realized she didn’t really have any right to pork out without first asking the owner of the food. “You don’t mind, do you?”
“You know, I don’t think I’m going to want us to go tiptoeing around each other when it comes to this whole sharing food business,” Chuck admitted as he leaned over the counter.
“Then you’re going to have to let me share the food bill,” Stephanie retorted. She snatched her purse off the counter and dug inside. “I know there was some twenties in here somewhere.” Chuck had a bad feeling she was going to be disappointed, and she was after a short, fruitless search. She frowned, and then a light came on in her head and she tossed the purse aside. “I should have expected that from him.”
“I’m guessing no twenties, but are all your cards there?” he asked.
“I think so,” she replied as she rubbed the space between her eyes. “I’ll probably just end up cutting up the cards I have and closing all those accounts.”
“So no debts on them?” he wondered, and she shook her head. Then she gave a bitter laugh and sighed.
“At least that’ll make the divorce easier,” she mused. She eyed one of the pops and clicked open the cap. “He won’t try to put any of his debt on me because none of us have any.”
“And you said the house is all in your name?” Chuck wondered.
“Yeah, but I don’t really wanna talk about any of this right now, okay?” she pleaded.
“You’ve got to talk about it some time,” her partner pointed out. He just couldn’t bring himself to let her try to take the easy way out by forgetting what had happened and what was in store for her in this separation. “How about we go have a seat over there?” he suggested with a nod toward the couches and chairs in front his entertainment system.
Chuck led her over to the living room and they plopped down there with their treats and drinks. He glanced at her as she broke off bits of the chocolate bar and popped them into her mouth like they were popcorn. Then she’d pick up her pop and down some of that contents, and he was distinctly reminded of an alcoholic double-fisting a drink. It was easy to tell she was pouting over his refusal to stop talking about her troubles.
“So why’d you give him so much time?” he suddenly asked, hoping to throw her out of her dark mood. It worked, as she stopped gobbling down the chocolate and stared at him in bewilderment.
“Hunh?” She didn’t quite understand to what he was referring.
“You said Who-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named could stay at the house for another few weeks. Why?” She frowned and shrugged.
“That ass doesn’t really have any other place to go, except maybe with that slut,” she bitingly pointed out. “I’d give him that last favor, and after that I could be as mean as I want to be to him.”
“Aren’t you afraid he’s going to steal you blind?”
“Even if he takes the ice trays in the freezer that just means I don’t have to split that stuff up with him,” she pointed out. “Besides, I took everything I wanted in my suitcase like my mom’s jewels and stuff.”
“That explains why it was so heavy,” he teased, and she rolled her eyes.
“I didn’t pack the bathroom sink,” she countered, but then a ghost of a smile spread across her lips. “But it would’ve been pretty funny for him to go in there after I left and find the whole place getting flooded from the pipes.”
“Yeah, the look on his face would have been worth quite a bit of money,” Chuck agreed with a chuckle of his own. Then his face slipped back into seriousness and he sighed. “I know I’ve said this before-”
“Than don’t say it again,” Stephanie interrupted him. She put down her chocolate and her pop, and stared at him with a firm, unwavering frown. “I know we have to talk about who’s going to pay for what and if we’re going to be carpooling to work now or going alone, but please don’t talk about that mess anymore, at least not today.”
“So you want a day to get your thoughts together and see how you feel?” he suggested, and she nodded.
“I just don’t think I need to rush any of this right now. I know everything I shouted at him and I know what this is going to do to me financially and emotionally,” she insisted as she leaned back in her chair. “I’m not a lost little girl, you know.” With her legs crossed up on the chair and a small smear of chocolate on her face, Chuck had a hard time believing that statement.
“I’ll give you a day to figure out what you want to do, but only a day,” Chuck agreed. This was going to be a long, hard day to try to avoid seeing and talking about the elephant in the room. It wasn’t like his boss was just staying here for a short sleepover, either. They had at least three weeks to think about, and even then it was a question of whether Bob would still be in the house or not. A nasty thought crossed his mind that Bob would even make the house unlivable before he left just out of spite.
“Good, so what movies you got around here?” Stephanie asked. Before he could answer she’d slid off her chair and knelt down on the ground in front of a wide, squat book shelf beside the television. There were movies lined up neatly and in alphabetical order. She wondered why someone so neat and tidy could have such a wild-looking bed, but she couldn’t exactly ask him about that. At least, not without revealing a little too much about what she’d done earlier.
“You know we still have a business to run, right?” Chuck reminded her. He expected it to be closed today, but tomorrow was up in the air until she decided what she wanted to do. Stephanie paused and leaned back on her haunches as she thought about his question.
“Did you send off those drafts to everybody?” she asked him as she half turned to her partner.
“Yeah, and a few of them got back to us already with a few changes they wanted,” he replied. She sighed and tapped her chin for a moment.
“Well, I suppose we should get back to work tomorrow. I can’t exactly work on anything from here,” she pointed out.
“Actually, I have internet,” he revealed with a mischievous smile on his face. She didn’t like where he was going with this conversation. “It’s just satellite, but it’s connected to the server I set up at the office.” Stephanie’s frown deepened the more he spoke. “So there’s no reason you can’t work on some of the stuff you’ve made today.”
“You really want to drive me to an early grave of stress, don’t you?” she glumly questioned.
“I’m just thinking up things to distract you,” he defended himself as he held up his hands.
“Well, can I just watch one movie, and then get to work, oh master slave driver?” she pleaded. Chuck sighed and nodded. He hated being the adult in this relationship. It would have been much more preferable for him if they were on equal footing, but he couldn’t help but be envious of her innocence and naivety. It was too cute to hate, too.