They had been fighting lately. So many pressures of daily life crushing down upon them individually, that the tense time they spent together just seemed to add even more to the weight. There had been fights before, they got through them. But this time…it was different.
He’d lost his job, and with it, his identity as the head of the house. It had been months now and he’d had no luck even securing an interview. As the bills fell further and further behind, the tension just increased with each passing month until finally, they broke under the strain.
It had to happen, it seemed. She just wished it hadn’t happened in front of the children during dinner. The slamming hands of their father on the table shocked the children to tears and their mother screamed at them to go upstairs. As the kids huddled together upstairs, they listened to their parents say things to each other.
A door slams, and silence. The oldest made his way to the stairs and could see his mother sitting on the sofa in the living room, her head in her hands. He stepped on a squeaky step and the tear-filled eyes of his mother sought him out in the dark. She ordered him to go back upstairs and get ready for bed.
The next day, after dropping the children off at school, she headed to work in quiet. Silently thinking about the night before, the bills, the things they said to each other. She was at a stop light when her phone chimed. An email from him. She looked around and pulled over into a parking lot next to the road.
I drove all night last night. I didn’t stop. I left the house last night so angry at you, I almost hit you. That’s why I left. I had promised you that I would never do that, never be like the others. I drove around trying to understand why I would even think that. And I couldn’t, until it dawned on me it wasn’t you I was mad at, it’s me.
It came to me that I’ve failed you because when we were fighting, I saw it in your eyes. And for that instant, I hated that I had caused that look. I hated it because you’re the one person I cannot let down. Ever.
And last night, I did. By leaving.
I need you to understand something. I left because that look of disappointment was more than I could stand. And understand this, too. It’s just you. It’ll always be just you. I ran and I’m sorry, but I can’t think of anything else right now except holding you. I’m at home.
All my love
She sat for a minute, the tears wetting her cheeks. She wiped her eyes and called work. She wasn’t feeling well and would see them tomorrow. As she pulled out of the parking lot, headed in the opposite direction from before, she heard the ringing of the home line and his voice quietly saying “Hello”.
At the sound of that quiet voice, she knew that he had coffee made and was waiting.