Rated NC-17 for language and sexual descriptions
Author's Note: Based on spumors, spec, and my own wishful thinking, this story centers around a conjugal visit from an amnesic Nicholas.
Like any uncharted territory
I must seem greatly intriguing
You speak of my love like
You have experienced love like mine before
But this is not allowed
An unfortunate slight
We fucked in a jail cell before you even knew me.
You took me from behind—we've always been backwards.
Lest not we forget the couch.
"But the cell, Mrs. Newman."
Oh, right. I was talking about the cell, wasn't I?
The room was gray. It reminded me of New York City in May—teasing you with hints of warmth, but the bed was still a metal box spring mattress, and you were just my visitor. It's been six weeks, a long six weeks, and you're standing there looking at me like the last two years never happened.
You smile, pleasantly enough, but still I see a man who wants nothing to do with me. You put down a black leather briefcase next to the (our?) bed. It's a strange place to do business, but you didn't want to wait until February when I will be released. (Remember when you couldn't wait to marry me? No judge could get in our way, right? Remember?)
"You look…" You see the orange jumper, and if you were my Nicholas, you would have been all over me. Instead, you struggle for words.
"I know. You don't have to say it," I laugh, despite myself. I've cried enough over you.
"They gave me a bar of soap. A towel." You shake the towel and wave the bar of soap in the air like a flag. I wait for your eyes to sparkle. I long for a joke.
"They got you too, huh? I actually got to cut my nails." I display my bare hands to you, like you care about my cuticles and sanitary habits. "No more clippin' in the bed."
"Huh?" Your startle startles me, but then I realize, it's only confusion.
"Nevermind. You want to sit?" I do when you don't. The mattress is loud and says more real things to me than you have in months.
You go straight to the briefcase. Even when things were bad before, and before I mean, when Cassie died and you hated me, you were never uncomfortable around me like you are now. You got in my face. It wasn't love yet, but you were right there with me. "I brought the papers for you to look over."
"Oh. Great. That's great. Thanks." I take the legal document in my hand. (For the record, I have seen and signed more legal documents in the last eight weeks than I ever have in my whole life. I will never touch a blue ball point pen ever again. I will use Summer's crayons from now on.)
You sit down next to me and flip the page to section 4.5. I see our little girl's name on every line. "Right now I've got full custody, but when you get out—"
"Yeah, yeah." I wave the document away. I can't think about everything I'm missing. If you only knew what a gift she was. "Of course. I'm glad she's with you. Nicholas."
I think that's when you started listening to me. Maybe you heard the nails in my voice, I don't know, but you visibly softened. "She's, um, she's talking all the time now. 'Dada this and dada that.'"
"Daddy's little girl," I say it like it's my mantra, but it's layered with jealousy. There's no way she'll be able to remember who I am. She will be yours completely.
"She said 'Mama.'"
I want to hit something, I want to yell, breakdown. I want you to hold me and tell me it'll be alright.
I stand up.
You're staring at me, like you did something right.
There is nothing I can say to you that will convey how I feel right now. And what's worse, you won't understand. I take a deep breath and walk away from you. "So how's Noah?"
You don't answer right away. I'm not sure what you were expecting, but I look at you, and you finally say, "He's fine—"
"Your mom? Dad? Sharon?" I pop their names out like firecrackers. I could care less.
You remind me of Noah right now. Your boyish, confused stare follows me across the cell and you look guilty and frustrated. Believe me, I know frustration. "They're all fine, Phyllis."
"Great!" My voice is borderline-shrill. (Okay, so it is shrill, but we're not judging me right now. This is all about you.) "So where do I sign?"
"You want to sign now?" Off-guard doesn't become you, Nicholas. It was what you came for, what you wanted.
I shrug and stalk around him on the bed. I don't care what you think anymore; I'm done with begging. "Why not? With the stroke of a pen, I can rip you off like a band aid."
"Hey." You grab my hand. Just like that. You reach out and take it in yours. I want to believe you knew I was at the end, but it's probably more accurate that you wanted to placate me. Calm me. Leave things on "good" terms.
"What?" Your touch is jarring to me. I know these hands well; you just don't remember what to do with them.
Your thumb skims across the base of my pointer finger. I hate myself for reacting, letting my fingers thread together with yours—especially when you prove me right about your intentions. "I'm sorry."
I take my hand back. You could have hit me. It would have hurt less. "I'm not. We had a good life. We had the best. I don't regret that even if you do. It's funny though. It was an accident, a tragedy, but I feel like I've caused you the most harm just by loving you. Maybe it was too much. Maybe we were too much."
"When I woke up, everything hurt. My head, my arms—I could still taste salt in my mouth from the lake. Then there was nothing. Just blackness. But someone was there—I thought it was Cassie, and that's when I remembered I had a home." I can hear the miracle in your voice, but the miracle isn't me. You don't see me at all. "I had a family."
"With Sharon." The pain is locked in my jaw, but I can feel it gaining strength. My arm tingles with a thousand tiny knives.
"Yes." You're simple, honest, cutting. I asked for it.
"Still nothing." It's beyond me, the science of it, how you can forget a portion of your life. And why that portion, Nick? Was it too painful? Too horrible? Was I the worst part of your life?
It's almost easier to believe. If I can blame you for leaving me, then I can be mad at something, someone. I can't be mad at what I don't know.
"We looked happy. In the pictures." You give a little bit more; God, I can feel your effort. "And Summer—"
I almost yell at you. My hands are working overtime as I pace back and forth, back and forth around and around you. "I can't talk about her, Nick."
You get up. You follow my circles, trying to keep up with me. "You call her daddy's girl…but I think you're wrong. I know she loves you."
"Stop!" I scream, so loud and so long that both of us have to gasp for air. I've treated you like a fragile glass ornament until this moment. I don't care if you're repulsed by me; I get right in your face. "You don't get to do that, Nick! You can't give me bits and pieces of my daughter's life and ask me for a divorce in the same day! You either love me or you don't! But you are not, you are not allowed to pity me, you bastard!"
The slap stings the air around us as my palm makes contact with you cheek. It was a hard hit—I feel your cheekbone concave and your mandible crackle. And I want to do it again. I can feel my blood running through my body now. I raise my hand, but you're poised to defend yourself.
Our hands collide like Trojan warriors. "This is why I never liked you, Phyllis! You impulsive, manipulative—"
You twist me under your arm; we wrestle like school children. "You kissed me first, you ass! Don't you dare get self-righteous on me, Newman!"
"—irritating, reckless player—" Your arm's around my waist; I'm your captive.
I stomp on your foot and wrap my thigh around yours. "I can't believe I felt sorry for you—"
We bang against the wall; we scramble for ownership of my wrists. You shake me; I'm awake. "Why would I kiss you, huh?! WHY?"
I refuse to let you take one more moment from me. I scream, jumping, holding everything I loved about us far away from you and your destruction. "Because you love me, you idiot, you loved me!"
"I wouldn't do that to Sharon." Your words are cold; emotionally void of the present, of me.
"SHUT UP!" I will not apologize for loving you. I will not feel guilty. I am not your albatross.
"I wouldn't do that to my family—" You're desperate to hold on to something, anything. I don't think you realize that you're bruising me.
But I know what I'm doing. I hit you again. I hope it leaves a mark. I hope you feel it. "You are my family! What do you think you're doing to me?"
You have no idea. I know that look in your eyes. I've seen it before. Your eyes are dark, deliberating. "Letting you go. I need to let you go."
"Then let me go."
You kiss me instead.
"So. Mr. Newman. Can you tell your wife how this makes you feel?"
Feel? I don't feel anything. You're Phyllis.
"But you slept with her."
Yes. I slept with her.
"Not me, Mr. Newman. I want you to talk to your wife."
Yes, I slept with you. And that was…
It was your skin and body and lips on mine in overdrive. This was not my intention; I didn't come here to fondle or squeeze or grind my body against yours. But you—just like everyone else—stood there, opposite me and tried to tell me what to do and how to think.
You tried to control me.
You're trying now—your hands are working across my body and around my neck. Your fingers are in my hair, pulling at the nape of my neck, and then you say it. You say, "Baby," in a bare, intimate way that demands a response.
Just like before, I see your eyes, telling me this is "transient," this is just an "illness," a "disease." But then we heard the word "retrograde" and you broke down.
I didn't know what to do then. I don't know what to do now. You're so much bigger than me. Your emotions are like tidal waves drowning me.
You frighten me, Phyllis.
I open my eyes and see the concentration across your forehead as you kiss me kissing you. I want to feel something, even if only to make sense of you, of us. I'm kissing you, my wife, but it feels like I'm killing you.
The worst part is my body wants this stranger.
I should push you away, but I don't—or maybe I can't.
You know my body and it terrifies me as your hands caress and scratch places I thought no one else knew.
Suddenly, you take my bottom lip into your mouth. It feels too good, like a dream I had when I was a boy. But it can't be you. It was never meant to be you.
"Don't do that." I stumble away from you. No, I push you away.
We're heated, messy. My suit jacket is on the floor. You've managed to get my shirt unbuttoned.
And orange has never looked better. I'd stop if it wasn't for the jumper.
"Nicholas," you say. There it is again, that questioning, pleading look in your eyes. I just want it to stop. I want it to go away.
"Turn around," I say, my voice ragged, not my own.
For a moment, I think you might cry. But instead, a slow, seductive grin spreads across your face and you turn slowly. I come to the fall of your neck, I press my body against the curve of your back, and I wrap my arms around you, finding the smacking Velcro that keeps you inside the jumper.
I cup your breasts fully in my hands. They're soft, larger than I imagined. I let your hands run over mine. I never thought I would do this to you. Make you sigh and react and say things that lovers say.
It feels too good—and that's when I remember why I could never be with you. What we did to Sharon and Noah. How could I be with you again and again and not think of them?
I want this over now. My hands are demanding, rough, and I wait for you to pull away, to slap me.
Instead, you grind your body into mine, your head falls back, and your lips reach for my skin. I want to punish you—no—I want to punish myself. I won't react to your body. I won't make love to you. I can control this. I can control this.
I rip your jumper past your arms, and it hangs limply at your waist. Your body is magnificent, but I won't appreciate it.
I won't come inside you. I won't.
But I hear my zipper and I feel your walls and you hit the concrete as I pull in and out, in and out.
You're addictive as drugs, and somewhere through my euphoric haze, I think about getting you pregnant again. That's when you start to come. Your hands cover mine; you want my fingers in between yours. I give them to you.
"Phyllis," I call out to you once. I don't know what's happening; my heart and head and boy ache with you. I'm exploding with anger, and it's all inside of you. I give you all of it because I can't take it anymore. We fall to the floor.
I hear the word again, "retrograde," and I can't decide if this retreat, this backwards motion is good or bad.
"Still nothing?" You're holding the wall and your breath is ragged.
I could hurt you right now. I could say the wrong thing.
You look at me, waiting for…something.
A red curl falls in front of your eye. My arm aches. Your hair is naturally curly. I think I knew that. I did.
"What do…what would we do now?" I ask, knotting my hand into a ball.
"You would hold me…and we would talk about…about nothing," you answer softly, crying gently.
There's a bed, but we don't use it.
I stay awake all night, watching you. Just watching you. Destroyed, naked, and God, beautiful in my arms.
I hold you not because I know you or love you. I do it because you asked. Because my arms ache.
I wonder what we have done; I don't have the answers—they're not in any subparagraphs of the divorce papers.
I take them unsigned and leave you in the morning.
"Eight months without a word." I raise my eyebrows at the young couple. I've never seen a case quite like it. "Quite frankly, Mr. and Mrs. Newman, I'm not here to judge you. I see many couples struggle with their feelings and ability to communicate. I want you to look at each other and tell me what you really see."
Their eyes invade each other's space, and I hope I've done the right thing. They look scared to death of each other.
"Nicholas, can you honestly look at your wife and say you feel nothing?" I hit the word nothing, magnifying the word, its usage. Nick flinches; I knew he was lying. I knew it.
I'm more careful with Phyllis, perhaps because I am a woman too. I find myself sympathizing with her situation. I can tell she is strong though; she has made it this far with only hope on her side. "Phyllis, do you see the man you fell in love with, or do you see a man who only reminds of you husband?"
Truth resonates in their eyes.
Tears come from both of them; their reactions shock me.
"So. Nicholas, Phyllis. Clearly, this is an emotional, passionate relationship. I want you to recognize that. Do you?" I watch them nod numbly at me. Poor Phyllis' face is ashen white—I should offer her some water.
"And first and foremost, I want you to know that you have my sympathy. What happened to you was a tragedy. Nicholas, I need you to see that this relationship is not a tragedy. No matter what happens, this relationship, this time centers around a point in your life where you lost and gained a child, where you lost and gained a wife. To look back on it and judge it without knowing it is a disservice to you and Phyllis. It's a disservice to your other family as well." Nicholas stares ahead; I hope he's heard my words.
"But now, you have to make a choice. The way you're living now is not healthy. It certainly isn't good for you or your children." I watch Phyllis nod; her arms circle her body protectively.
It just stopped raining. I wonder why two attractive people are sitting here with me instead of making love on a deserted beach somewhere. "I'll be happy to continue meeting with you, helping you through this. But I think it's time you sit down and really decide how you want to live the rest of your lives." Our session has concluded. I replace the cap of my pen.
"Doctor?" Phyllis stops me first.
"What would you do?" Nick asks for her. I'm surprised.
I want to tell Nicholas my beach idea; I don't. "I can't tell you that. This is your decision. I'll leave you alone. Oh, there's a pen on my desk. Just in case." I leave the room because I'm supposed to, because it's my job as a professional to give them adequate time and space to make this decision. But God help me, I can't help peering through the glass window, watching them sit so still together on my sofa. My breath catches as I see Nicholas move towards her—his head bent, his hands gesturing emphatically.
He touches her.
I can't see her face—oh! Why doesn't he move?
A cell phone rings. Nicholas pulls back. I'm mortified; it's mine.
I push up against the wall so they don't know that I was watching.
My cell rings once, twice, three times. Thank God it goes to voicemail.
I take this opportunity to check back on my couple. I run smack into dark green eyes.
"Oh! Mr. Newman, you startled me!" We nearly butt heads at the door. "Is everything squared away?"
"We're definitely not square, but I think we found a solution," Nicholas answers cryptically. I smile patiently—he has to be the most frustrating man I've ever met. I look for Phyllis' eyes—I can read her like a book. If he's going back to her, it'll be blatantly written on her face.
"Wonderful. Shall we schedule another appointment?" My voice rises hopefully. Nick and Phyllis look at each other.
"Can we get back to you on that?" Nick asks suddenly. I feel like the biggest decision of my life was made without me.
"Of course." I am disappointed. I want to know what will happen next week, and I need it in my day planner.
"Thanks so much," Phyllis skirts past me, not lifting her eyes.
I watch them walk down the hall together; I wonder where they're going. Will they split when they get to the parking lot? Or will she invite him to the tack house for spaghetti and meatballs with their daughter?
I sigh and return to my office. I'll probably never see them again. I plop down on the sofa and stare ahead at my messy coffee table.
And then I see it. They left the divorce papers.
I should run after them. These are highly confidential, legal documents, and as a certified employee of this state, I am required to hold up the law where I see fit.
I pick them up and slowly flip to the last page where the "sign here" tabs are.
Then, I throw the papers up in the air, laughing. They scatter around me; scrapped. I kick off my heels and fall back on the couch.
I need a drink.
Something with pineapples and kiwi and oranges and lots of umbrellas….