“So, you’re not attending the signing tomorrow, right? You’d better tell me if you are, Jesse. I’d like to be there with her if you plan to go,” Alicia’s tone is stern and unconvinced.
“I’ve got a day trip to Macau all planned out and I can’t miss it, so no, I won’t be there. Don’t worry,” I say reassuringly. Another lie I have to make in addition to ten years of false pretenses. I have to do it. Isabel never liked surprises. She won’t want to be alone with me. She’s going to be guarded and defensive and that’s the last thing I want her to be.
It’s the morning of the signing and I’m staring blankly at the street from the glass window of my office on the 60th floor. Cars and trucks look like ants on the ground. She’s in the building. I can sense her, I can feel her presence. I’m breathless and excited and nervous as hell. For a moment I’m lost in painful thought as I remember that night. Her wedding. She was the most beautiful bride I had ever seen. I do take refuge in the fact that she looked devastated and sad even as she said goodbye to me. Her empty eyes give me hope.
“Run away with me, Issy. I still love you.”
When I saw her a few weeks ago at her mother’s funeral, all I could think about was my need to grab hold of her hand, to touch her delicate fingers, those fingers that were mine once. She hadn’t aged a single day in ten years. In fact, she exuded a self confidence that made her all the more desirable to me. I’ve missed her so much. If she only knew. Ten years and I’m still broken. Ten years and I’m still dead.
Lord knows how much I tried to forget. Success is a funny thing. You can’t really enjoy it when you’re empty. Your heart is a bottomless sinkhole that swallows up everything and anything that it ingests and yet nothing can fill it. There’s no sense of accomplishment, everything is meaningless. Only her love can seal the drain in my heart. She’s filled his life for almost ten years. It’s my turn now. Why should I care about what the fuck it will do to him, when he stole her away from me? He didn’t even give her time to catch her breath. He didn’t even give her a chance to forgive me.
The night of her wedding, I prayed with all my might that a natural disaster would reduce everything to rubble. That the end of the world would come and devastate everything in its path. The church, the country, Him. Instead, the universe destroyed me. My desperate pleas were never answered. The unimportant things were thrown at me to make up for the loss of my life.
Jesus. Didn’t I tell her not to transfer any calls to me? I walk over to my desk to pick up the phone.
“Hi, it’s me, Victoria.”
“Hey.” Sucks that this woman’s intuition is right on. All the time.
“Just calling to make sure you’re okay, Jesse. I know you’re seeing her today.”
“In a few minutes, as a matter of fact. I’m just going over the last minute details to make sure I don’t have any concerns –“
“No, you’re not.” There is a long pause on the phone. Silence. From her and from me.
“No, I’m not. You’re right.”
“Jesse, I hope you’re okay. Just remember what the doctor said. You’re really just getting better from the accident and your heart –“
“I know about my heart, Vic,” I snap. “I’ll be fine. I don’t want to be late for this meeting, so let me call you later.” I hang up the phone, slightly irritated. I wonder if this was how Alex Ailey was with her. Patient, kind, understanding. Knowing full well that her heart once fully belonged to someone else.
But all that doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. I’m going to beg her to save me. I need her to save me. That sneaky bastard has had his time with her.
I’m ready for this. I’m going to walk into that meeting and tell her everything. I’m going to look for my soul in her eyes. I’m going to touch her and hold her and tell her that nothing’s changed. I’m going to tell her what the past ten years have been like. That she’s still the light of my life, my only hope for happiness. That I would leave all this today for her and never look back.
What will I do if she tells me that she’s happy? What do I say if she asks me to walk away?