Simon’s Turn (Simon talks back)

Chapter 21

“Yes you are, Niki.  You’re wrecking our home.”

Simon, seated across from me in the family room hadn’t moved a muscle, but the power of his words hit me like a punch to the stomach: breathless, and unable to speak. My bravado was gone. Defeated, I crumpled into the chair, fighting back tears.

“I don’t have the strength to do this,” it occurred to me.

Before I recovered, Simon’s shoulders dropped. His energy changed. He looked down at his hands in his lap before looking into my eyes, and said,

“I’m not angry at you for wanting a divorce Niki.  I’m angry that you gave up on us before I did.”

Puzzled, I stared at him.

“Our marriage hasn’t worked for me for a long time. I don’t know when the magic stopped, but you’re different now Nik.

You used to be fun. We used to go to games together. You were as big a fan as me. Now you don’t want to be in the crowd in the bleachers anymore. You’re not interested in watching on TV either.

You take everything so literally. You used to have a sense of humor and laugh. Now I have to explain, ‘I’m just kidding,’ so you know it’s a joke.

When we go to movies or concerts, the first thing you do is locate all the emergency exits. Everything is always worst-case scenario with you. You’re too intense. When was the last time we laughed?”

I couldn’t think of an answer to this. Simon used my pause to continue.

“When you talk about work, and the drugs you give to those kids, all I can think about is, “Jesus, she knows how to kill someone!”

“I like to think I know how to save lives, Simon.”

“The point is Niki, I don’t know you anymore. You’re not the fun girl I met in college. It’s like saving the world is your only concern. I married a wife, not a super hero.”

Simon bit his lip then clenched his jaw. His eyes were red-rimmed, and moist. Then he pulled his finger out of the dike, and it burst open, changing the landscape of our lives forever.

“Niki, I want a divorce too. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You’re a good person, and I’m glad we share Maddie, but I don’t love you anymore.”

Small and Scattered (Niki makes another decision)

Chapter 20

The next day was Saturday. Simon and a buddy drove the rig with the jet skis back to the dealer.

I hadn’t slept well.

I kept telling myself:

  • It’s no big deal; anyone can have a lapse in judgment.
  • People spend more money than they make all the time. I shouldn’t get so upset.
  • Simon had good intentions. The gift was meant to bring us closer together. Isn’t that what celebrating an anniversary is all about?

Then why am I so angry?

***

I made coffee. In the family room, Maddie sat on the floor watching TV with her chin resting on  the coffee table, intermittently scooping spoonfuls of cereal and milk up and over the edge of a bowl into her mouth.  Her backpack leaned against the sofa beside her. She’s spending the day with her friend Kaylee, and staying overnight. Kaylee’s mom will pick her up soon.

After Maddie left, I went for a bike ride, took a shower, and thought about lunch.

Simon returned without the rig. He smiled sheepishly.

“The dealer agreed to resell the rig for us. It was already a great deal, but now that it’s priced as used, he says it will go fast. We’ll probably only make one, maybe two payments before it sells.”

“How much of a loss will we take?”

“Less than $10,000, I figure.”

I had nothing to say.

“Okay, Niki, I get it. I was wrong to buy the jet skis, and cancel the Coronado trip without talking to you first. I get it. I won’t do it again. Can you just get over it, and let’s move on?”

I felt anger rising like a pot boiling over. I steeled myself to say the words I’d rehearsed,

“Simon, I want a divorce.”

“WHAT! Over jet skis? What’s wrong with you, Niki?

That’s right Simon, it’s me not you,” sarcasm escaped my mouth.

“Damn right it’s you! How can you break apart a family? Our family? Over jet skis!”

I paused before blurting out, “A family? Yeah, a single parent family! You’re impulsive, Simon. It’s like being married to a child. You’re a crisis about to happen. You only think about your needs, your wants. Putting us in debt without talking to me about it is just a part of our problems.

I take care of people all night long at work, then I come home and take care of you. The kitchen sink is always full of dirty dishes from the night before, and the garbage overflows. I get up, clean house, and go back to work, while you watch sports on TV.

If I go on like this, I’m going to shatter, Simon, and the pieces will be so small and scattered, I’ll never gather them up and put myself back together. I need a partner Simon, not another child. For all I do around here, I may as well be a single parent. It can’t be any harder than this already is.”

Well, it’s not like you work five days a week like I do, Niki.”

I hissed at him, “I want a divorce, Simon. I want to be happy.”

“Is this about that ER nurse, what’s his name? Are you sleeping with him?”

“No I’m not sleeping with him. Corey’s married. I’m not a home wrecker!”

“Yes you are, Niki.  You’re wrecking our home.”

Different Sides of The Family Room (Niki talks to Simon)

Chapter 19

I fumed in the car while Simon loaded Maddie into his. He knows me well enough to realize how furious I am, but neither of us wants to have an argument in front of our daughter, or in the driveway where the neighbors will hear. So I smiled with gritted teeth while waving to Maddie as they drove off to school. In the kitchen, I ignored the dirty dishes in the sink and the piled up garbage in the wastebasket. Throwing my tote bag on the table, I grabbed my cell phone from it, texted SOS! and waited for Raquel to call.

***

“Oh no, he did not!” was the first thing out of Raquel’s mouth after telling her about the near collision with the trailer, truck, and jet skis.

“Oh yes he did,” I chimed.

“And Simon cancelled the Coronado trip? We made all kinds of plans anticipating having Maddie for the weekend. Our kids will be so disappointed that she’s not coming.  Niki, what are you going to do?”

“He must have put us nearly $40,000 in debt. I still can’t believe he’d spend that kind of money without talking to me first.  He can’t keep them. I think we have twenty-four hours to change our minds about the purchase contract.”

Silence.

What, Raquel?”

“Niki, I’m sorry, but there’s no grace period on new automobile contracts once you drive off the lot. I don’t know about the jet skis, but I’m pretty sure the truck is yours.”

I could feel panic coming on.

“Don’t panic Niki. I’ll talk to Grant. He’s a sharp lawyer. Maybe he knows a way out of this.”

***

At dinner, the only words Simon and I speak are in response to Maddie’s chattering. The tension frizzles through the air, dispersing the aroma of meatloaf and potatoes. After clearing the table, I put a brownie and a small scoop of ice cream in a bowl, handing it to Maddie to take to her room along with a DVD movie. I explained to her that Daddy and I have some grown up business to talk about.

***

Simon and I face each other from different sides of the family room. He starts.

“So, I get it. The jet skis were a bad idea. I’ll drive the rig back tomorrow and return it.”

“It’s a bigger problem than that, Simon. There’s no return policy for trucks or the jet skis. They belong to us. And so does the debt.”

“Niki, the dealer said …”

“Simon, I talked with Grant this afternoon. Once they left the lot, they became ours. That’s the law.”

Simon contemplated this news silently. “Well, I’ll drive them back tomorrow, and see what the dealer says.”

“Grant suggests asking the dealer to consider keeping them on the lot, and reselling them for us. We’d take a loss, but not the entire amount,” I instructed.

“You’re sure you don’t want to see if we like them first, Niki?”

“No, Simon. I don’t,” my voice was icy. I couldn’t bring myself to say the rest of the words.

Just then, Maddie came into the room. “Are you guys fighting?”

“No, honey, Mom and Dad are having a discussion. Go back to your room.”

“Can we keep the jet skis?”

“No honey, they’re going back.” You need to go back to your room and get ready for bed.”

“I hate it when you fight,” she grumbled, and rolled her eyes at me before trudging to her room.

Why am I the bad guy?