I turn on the switch located just inside the front door. By the time we rolled into town, got to the storage unit to exchange our bus for personal vehicles, it was late afternoon. After being on the road for the last six months, I'm tired but excited actually to be in my own house. After the sleazy motels where I'd been confused for a hooker and the slightly better trucker hotels, where I was still confused for a hooker, being able to say that I'm home is better than just about anything I can remember right now.
I want my bed. I want my man. I want a home-cooked meal and not necessarily in that order. I lug the large duffle bag behind me, closing the door with a loud snap.
"Jake?" I yell out once again into our small bungalow style home. I venture into the living room bewildered because something is off. I frown when I don't notice anything significantly different. The furniture is all in the same position. Hell, even the throw is where I left it over the arm of the sofa. When the band first started traveling, I asked Jake to keep things like they were so when I came home I wouldn't feel like a stranger in my own house.
Nothing but silence comes back to me. I know Jake's home. His white A4 is parked outside along the curb behind a sleek silver car, and his leather coat is hanging on a bar stool. I walk down the hallway toward our bedroom, shedding my clothes as I go. It's been a long time, too long. I don't even need sex right now. Well, I don't just need sex right now. I want him. I need to be skin to skin, heartbeat to heartbeat. I need his scent in me-on me.
Butterflies move through my belly, and I glance down at the tattoo that grazes my hipbone. I've lost another ten pounds this tour, being a vegan, mixed with the late nights, and lack of sleep, make eating hard while I'm on the road. We play in craptastic bars, and smoke-filled lounges, whose menus consist of overly sauced chicken and fried monstrosities. That equates to me surviving on diet cola, celery sticks, and the occasional breadstick.
The door to our bedroom is wide open, and I see him laid on his side, his light brown skin dark against the white sheets. He's dead asleep his chest rising and falling in a steady rhythm. God, he's even more beautiful than I remember. Can a man be beautiful? I let out a girly sigh. I hook a finger under the string on my panties ready to pull them down when he flops on his back, his semi-hard erection lying on his stomach and Tina my best friend lying at his side.
At first, I stand there slow blinking a couple of times, expecting each time my eyes open that he'll be in bed by himself and the naked blond next to him is a twisted figment of my overactive imagination. Each time my eyes open she's still there. As reality beings to sink in, my throat starts to ache with the need to howl and scream at the pain over-taking my nervous system.
My. Heart. Breaks.
I feel it struggling in my chest to keep me alive. I drop to my hands and knees my breath coming in gasps around the broken shards of my heart. Please don't let it be true. I pray. I say those words over and over until I can pick up my head enough to look at the bed again. They are both still there. Now she has a leg draped over his. Her arms curled around his waist. Her blonde hair spread over his chest.
A low wounded sound escapes from my soul and tears start to flow in earnest. I stumble to my feet and back out of the room. I trip again, over the clothes that I left in the hallway. I can't find the energy to get up. I just can't. So I crawl toward the living room. The carpet is making my knees raw. The tears are blinding me, and the runny nose is making it harder and harder to breathe. The sofa is a beacon of comfort. I rest my back against the soft brown leather and give in to the raw, unfiltered pain.
I'm not sure how long I sit there but twilight has passed, and the full moon is shining pale light through the window. I stand on shaky legs. Looking around my home and I see all the things that are different now. Like the navy blue bra balled up in the corner of the sofa or the sky-high heels next to the breakfast bar. And stupid me, I realize I helped Tina pick out the silver BMW she drove to my house to fuck my man. I'm stripped bare both literally and figuratively.
The first thing I need, is put on some damn clothes. There is no way in hell I'm confronting them in my bra and panties. I scramble for my clothes, and it takes me back down the hallway. I peak through the door. They have changed positions again, and in their new pose, Tina has wrapped herself around him like poison ivy. His back is to her arms crossed over his chest.
I whip out of the room, and my head hits the wall with a thud. I pant and my mouth waters. Vomit is pushing up my throat, and I run to the hall bathroom. I bend over the toilet, but nothing comes out. My stomach cramps over and over, trying to purge disgust, grief, disbelief, and maybe even a little guilt from nonexistent contents.
Maybe this is all me? Perhaps I drove him to her?
I've been chasing this music thing so hard and for so long maybe….
I look in the mirror and the eyes staring back at me are red and bloodshot. Dried tears stain my cheeks. Snot has crusted on my nose, and my ordinarily warm sienna skin is ashy. The death-like pallor makes me look like something out of a B-grade horror film.
The longer I stand in the mirror, the stronger the urge to get out of this house.
To leave this house, this man, and this life.
That message moves through my body with every beat of my struggling heart. My eyes land on a tube of lipstick that doesn't belong to me. It's a bright red color that Tina refers to as her signature look.
I open the tube and write the only words I know to be real.
You broke us!
I drop the lipstick tube in the sink and slip out of the bathroom. I'd be lying if I said my shoulders are back and righteous indignation mars my every step. I'm not brave. I'm not strong. I'm not numb. I feel like the walking wounded. Every breath hurts.
I grab the handle of the duffle bag I left at the front door and kick the heavy bag onto its wheels as I walk out the same way I came in. I don't look back. I've lost …everything, but I've gained something I never thought I was missing.
The door slams behind me. The sound must have woken someone up because I see the lights come on. With shaking hands, I start my car but before I can pull all the way out the front door opens. Jake is standing in the doorway. His sleep warmed features frantic. Our eyes meet, and I immediately tear back up. He takes a step out of the door on bare feet, and that's all I see before I back entirely out and speed down the street. I check my review mirror, a slice of light from the doorway dominates my view, but Jake is nothing more than a shadow blending into the night.