Ache

Anger. For six months it had been forming inside of her, nurtured by slights, both real and perceived, fed by betrayal, and frozen by secrets. She could feel the anger inside of her, as a physical presence. As if, she had generated a new organ. One she had formed from each tiny cell of resentment, and became a sustaining life source. Filling the space where her heart used to be. The heart that had been repeatedly bruised and battered for months.

Anger. Not hot and bubbling, but cold and hard. For it to warm, she would have to drench it in tears, and tears were not something that Emily Gilmore found acceptable. She wasn't the kind of woman to take to her bathtub for a good cry when she needed release. There were no drenched pillowcases stuffed with soggy tissues in Emily's world. Bloodshot eyes and puffy lids were not something she chose to show the world. It was easier to be angry, to let the ball of ice forming inside of her grow like a snowball careening downhill, picking up everything in it's path and adding to it.

Jason Stiles. Digger, she thought derisively. At first, she was happy that Richard took him on, hoping that by adding a partner, Richard's workload would ease up, allowing him more time at home. I couldn't have been more wrong about that, Emily thought to herself with a snort as she walked into the living room and poured herself a glass of scotch, neat. Taking on Jason, had imbued Richard with new enthusiasm. It had fueled his legendary competitiveness. It had been the first crack in the four decade long fortress of their marriage. Jason was young, had his finger on the pulse, and knew who Moby was. Who cares? Why would anyone want to be named after a whale? Emily thought with a mental sneer. Her husband was so swept up in the tide, that he hardly even noticed the gap widening between them. They had always been a formidable partnership, one that her friends envied and his business associates admired. Richard had respected her social acumen, especially when it benefited him professionally, and Emily always made sure it did in the long run. And now he's slipping away, Emily thought as she bit her lip. He's out with clients, he's preparing for a meeting, he's waiting on an important call, he's having lunch with Pennilyn Lott, the final thought stopped the speeding locomotive of her brain dead in its tracks. She shook her head decisively as she ran her finger around the rim of her glass. Jason wined and dined their clients at hip clubs in TriBeCa. Jason thought elegant cocktail parties with canapés were passé. Jason didn't need her help, and by extension, neither did Richard. And so, Emily Gilmore found herself virtually unemployed. Sure, she still had the household to run, but there wasn't much to that. Even less, now that Richard was gone most nights, like tonight. Entertaining clients with Floyd now, instead of Jason. The grandfather clock in the foyer ticked off the seconds as she sat alone in her beautiful house. She took a deep breath, mustering the anger, welcoming its soothing coolness. He probably took them to that coyote bar where they dance on the bar in cowboy hats, Emily thought with a snort as she took a sip of her drink.

Pennilyn Lott. Insipid, vapid woman, she thought derisively as she stared into her glass of scotch, seeing Pennilyn's face reflected back at her. How could he do that? The questioned ricocheted through her mind, bouncing off of her skull and echoing back endlessly. Richard knew better than anyone how she felt about that woman. How could he meet her, behind my back, knowing that it would hurt me? she asked herself. He didn't care. The thought shook her to the core. He couldn't have cared. There is no way on Earth that Richard could have possibly thought that she would understand his need to keep up the connection with the woman he had almost chosen so long ago. He still wanted that connection. He must feel that something is missing, she thought morosely. The thought fueled her anger even more as she polished off her drink and got up to pour another. What more could he possibly have wanted? she thought angrily as she slammed the crystal stopper to the bar and sloshed more scotch into her glass. "Everything," she whispered aloud. "I gave him everything. I did everything. All of it, for him," she said to the empty room. "For forty years my life has been his life," she said in a dazed whisper. She looked around the room she had decorated with such care, and realized how cold it felt. Emily took a deep breath and consoled herself with the thought that she was sure that he hadn't slept with her. She had seen enough of the philandering antics of her friends' husbands over the years to know. Richard Gilmore was not a man to cheat, at least not physically. But he had cheated her. He's betrayed her trust. He had crushed her absolute faith in them. "What could Pennilyn Lott have possibly given him that I couldn't?" she wondered aloud. Did Richard really yearn for one of those mousy women who do nothing but look on with adoration as their titian husbands conquered the world? Did he really want a wife who would ask him what her opinion should be before she opened her mouth? He should have married her then, she thought as she stalked back to her chair. "His mother would have been so happy," she murmured as she sank down into the cushion. She closed her eyes and tried to squelch the sorrow long enough for the anger to take over again. She regulated her breathing to the metronome of the clock, slipping back under the protective cover of her icy anger.

Trix. What a stupid nickname, she thought with a snort as she took a fortifying sip of scotch. The bitter old biddy never wanted her precious Richard to marry me. She thought I wasn't strong enough. She thought I didn't have what it took, she though derisively. Logically, Emily knew that there was nothing she had done, or hadn't done for that matter, to earn Richard's mother's low opinion of her. Her family was just as well bred as the Gilmore's; she was educated, well read, articulate, immaculately groomed and socially adept. And yet, Trix had managed to find fault in everything she did. And even after forty years, Emily had been baffled by her enmity. And Richard stood by, mildly amused, as his mother belittled her. When she broached the subject with him, he brushed it off, attributing Trix's abuse to a rapier sharp sense of humor, steadfastly refusing to see the derision with which his mother treated his wife. There was no pleasing that woman, Emily thought with a frown. Even after she died. Of course, it had been left to Emily to handle the arrangements, Richard was completely bereft, and Trix had left very specific instructions. Emily had willingly jumped through every hoop, placed every call, tracked down the last living descendant of each and every person or proprietor that she had requested, and still it wasn't enough. Who writes a letter like that? Emily asked herself. Worse yet, who writes a letter like that, and then, saves the carbon copy of it for forty years? Who makes carbon copies of letters? she asked herself incredulously. She felt the pain coursing through her veins. Lorelai had seen it. Lorelai had heard what her grandmother had written. Her daughter had borne witness to the most humiliating moment of her mother's life. Emily knew deep down that Richard's mother had known she would find the letter. She had to know that Richard would not be the one to go through her files, to organize her estate, to protect the precious bar glasses from his cousin Marilyn. Why? What could I have done to deserve that? What have I ever done but cater to her whims, and cater to Richard's needs. She knew I'd find it. Vicious, spiteful, vindictive bitch, Emily thought angrily, her face hot with fresh humiliation. She glanced over at the fireplace and smirked coolly. She lifted her glass in salute and said, "At least you're not on my mantle."

She looked down at the nearly empty glass in her hand and thought, What are you doing? Sitting alone. Drinking alone. She stood up decisively and walked into the kitchen, rinsing the crystal tumbler and placing it beside the sink for the maid to wash the following day. She glanced around the empty kitchen and caught sight of the phone. She wanted to talk to someone, anyone. She wanted to silence the doubts in her mind with mindless chatter about teas and luncheons. She wanted someone to come over and admire and envy the beautiful Venetian glass apples gracing her dining room table. She wanted someone to cluck their tongue and marvel at her razor sharp wit. She wanted someone to care. She thought long and hard, trying to think of one friend that she could confide in. "Sweetie," she whispered softly. "I miss you so," she said as she blinked back a sudden rush of tears.

Her mind flashed to an afternoon a few years ago. She had been cutting lilies in the garden, when Lorelai 'stopped by' while she was in Hartford for her class. Emily was as mystified by her sudden appearance as she was by her daughter's offer to listen if she needed to talk. It wasn't that she didn't want to. It was just that the idea of it was so foreign to her. As she told Lorelai later, she envied her daughter's relationship with her own daughter. She yearned to be able to pick up the phone and say, 'Lorelai, I need to talk,' but she couldn't. It wasn't appropriate. I can't call Lorelai, she realized as she took a deep breath, steeling herself against the emptiness of the house and the emptiness in her heart.

The house was so still that she could still hear the ticking of the grandfather clock in the foyer even in the kitchen. She remembered the last time she had noticed the noise. It was in the deathly silence after Floyd had announced his plan to ruin his son and Richard, and dropped the bomb that Lorelai and Jason had been involved for months and kept it hidden from them. Jason had run after his parents, and Richard had fled to the study, leaving Emily alone in the foyer with Lorelai. 'Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock,' the sound mocked her then as it mocked her now.

Lorelai. The last time Emily had felt this empty was eighteen years ago, when her daughter had taken that precious baby and fled the safety of home for a world of her own choosing. Lorelai thought that Emily didn't understand her, but Lorelai was wrong, Emily understood her too well. Lorelai protected Rory just as fiercely as she had tried to protect Lorelai. Lorelai wanted as much for Rory as she had wanted for Lorelai. What Lorelai didn't understand was that Emily had hopes and dreams too. She had hoped that she and her daughter could bridge the gap between them. She had dreamed of a day when Lorelai would turn to her for counsel and advice. That night, that horrible night just a few days ago, Emily realized that no matter what she had hoped for, Lorelai was no closer to coming home to her than she had ever been. She had fooled herself into thinking that Lorelai and Rory's physical presence in their home once a week would be enough. She had bullied her way into their lives, forcing open the door and squeezing herself bodily into the crack. But that night, Emily realized that Lorelai would never willingly let her in. That her daughter would rather hide her life, than let Emily be a part of it. Lorelai would slam that door on her again and again, crushing every bone in her body, and squeezing the air from her lungs.

Emily clutched the counter behind her, squeezing it so hard that her knuckles whitened with effort. But this time, the anger wasn't enough. She took a breath and called on it, pleading with it to wash over her, and cleanse her with righteous indignation. "Oh please," she whispered softly as she felt the ball of ice melting. "Please," she said, choking back a sob. She finally closed her eyes and gave in to it, tears flowing silently down her cheeks as she felt the anger ebb from her. She glanced blindly around the empty room and knew in her heart that she would be left behind in her big beautiful empty house, with nothing but the ache that the anger left behind.