A/N: Thanks to einfach_mich for the pictspiration.
Two years earlier...
I lean back in the Adirondack chair I am perched on in the backyard with a half-empty glass in one hand and a bottle of whiskey next to me in the grass. Somewhere in the distance I can hear the sirens. The heat from the fire blazing in front of me reaches my face and it is the first bit of warmth that has touched me in years. I watch in amazement as my shiny black baby grand is consumed by fire. The flames seem to be engulfing the inside, the lid, and the legs, but I watch as the keys seem to remain untouched by the fiery fingers of the blaze. It is almost as if the fire itself is mocking me. I can't touch the keys, so neither will it. My face is beginning to prickle from the heat, but I remain stoic and unblinking...empty.
I start thinking back to the day that I came home to find it sitting in our living room. I had an old upright for years, but I thought that her buying the grand for me meant she was ready to begin the next phase of our lives. That my dreams were finally going to get their day in the sun. I laugh humorlessly to myself, drain my glass, and chuck it into the fire.
We had met as undergrads. She was studying poly sci and I was double majoring in engineering and music. My parents agreed that I should pursue my passion, but balance it with practicality. It made for a heavy work load, but the music side of things didn't feel like work at all. I loved it. We had met in a general curriculum astronomy class that we were both taking to fulfill a requirement. I asked her out on our first date halfway through the semester, and that was it for me. For her too, so I thought.
We married shortly after receiving our degrees. She was diving into law school and I went to work for a government contracted company as an electrical engineer. I was going to work while she finished her degree, and then we would try to start a family. I agreed to stop working because the idea of being a stay-at-home dad really appealed to me. Also, being at home would give me time to play with composing. This was our plan. This is what made the agonizing years as an engineer worth it to me. These images of softly playing through an idea while a baby slept in a swing next to my piano, and a toddler played happily on the floor.
As she entered her second year of law school, my superiors encouraged me to get my MBA. They even offered to help pay for it. She encouraged me to pursue it at night. She told me even if I didn't end up using it, it would still be an accomplishment to have. And so, I received my MBA just around the time she was finishing up law school. I enjoyed those years, actually. The nights we both would be sitting at the dining room table with laptops, books, and papers scattered around us. Or the nights we would curl up in front of the fire of our town home each reading something and taking notes for class. Yet always in the back of my mind, as she lay with her head on my lap and book in hand, my mind would imagine not the flat stomach that peaked out from under shirt, but a belly swollen with our child.
Finally, graduation came and went for both of us, and the excuses began. There always seemed to be an excuse. At first, it was that she wanted to get at least a year under her belt before needing to take any leave for a pregnancy. I agreed with her logic. She had just finished school. So, I continued on with my engineering job, being promoted to management with the help of my degree. With both of us working, money was suddenly in abundance, so we decided to buy our house. I liked the homes that were more secluded. That had a bit more yard for the kids we would eventually have. She insisted on a fancy house in a fancy neighborhood. We were modern day yuppies, and she loved it. Nice house with a manicured yard and the fancy sports car in the driveway to boot. She glowed in her tailored suits and designer heels. My closet began to fill with suits with Armani tags, and I sighed missing the days when I wore polos and khakis to work.
We attended galas and fundraisers. She gave to charities in cash, but never in service. After one particular event, five years after her graduation, for a children's hospital, I told her I was ready to have children of our own. She smiled and said we could start trying, and I scooped her up in my arms and raced her to our room. We made passionate love that night and I remember the smile still frozen on my face as I drifted to sleep with my hand over her stomach. Yet it didn't happen that night. Nor the next few months. She kept telling me to be patient, and I started wondering if we should be tested. After a year of trying, I went to see my doctor, and then to a specialist. I came back with a report of everything in order. She refused to go to the doctor stating she didn't have time right now because of the case she was working on.
So we continued. Her thriving in her life, and me sinking into hopelessness. She didn't even seem to notice.
One day, I came home with a raging headache. The stress of the situation was becoming too much, and this job that I had now been in for over a decade was wearing me thin. I hated the work. I had done it, because it provided well for us, but I hated it now. I opened my medicine cabinet in search of my bottle of Advil to find it empty. I walked over to hers then, pushing around the rows of nail polish and creams looking for any type of asprin. It was when I moved a row of lotions aside that I saw it. A packet of birth control pills. I froze wondering why she kept it all this time. Reaching in, I looked down at the rows of pills, and then at the embossed expiration date on the package. 2014? How long do these things last? Curious, I walked over and fired up my laptop. Soon I was Googling the life span of a birth control pill. Four years. These were new. My heart sank as I realized that I had been lied to for the last three years.
When she got home that night, I had the dining room set for dinner with candlelight. I had made her favorite dinner. When she asked what was the occasion, I slid the birth control packet slowly over to her, not saying a word.
"What the hell, Edward? Why were you snooping through my stuff?"
"I was looking for asprin, not deception," I said softly, and my next words barely made it through the hurt that was constricting my throat. "Why did you lie to me?"
"I just wasn't ready at first, but over time I've realized that I will never be ready. I don't want kids. I like our life how it is. Don't you?"
"No. I don't. I'm miserable! I have been killing myself, because we were working towards a life. A life that included children. I want that life, not this one." I put my head down into my hands.
"Well, I don't."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that we don't want the same things anymore. We are not the same people."
"I'm still the God damn same!" I yelled, slamming my fist down on the table. "I've never lied about what I wanted."
Her voice was dead calm. "Then maybe it is time we said goodbye."
Icy panic set into the pit of my stomach. "Let's not be rash. Maybe with some more time..."
"No, Edward. Time is not going to change my mind. I know a couple lawyers. I'll give you their numbers."
With that she cleared her dishes and went to bed.
The next few weeks were a blur. She moved out. I was served with papers. I didn't fight her on anything. She decided to split the assets 50/50, and I didn't object. To object would mean that I felt something. I felt nothing. With there being no fight, and no...children, she was able to expedite things through her connections.
So that is where I found myself this evening. Sitting in a house full of mostly empty rooms and boxes of my things. The "SOLD" sign had just been placed on our front lawn two days ago. I walked into the room that housed my piano. It was surrounded by windows, including a set of french doors that lead out to the backyard. The only illumination was from the full moon that floated in the sky. I had come home three hours ago, and commenced drinking my dinner. I was halfway through the Johnny Walker watching my previously happy images of my future blow away like wisps of clouds that I set the bottle down on the lid of the piano, and walked over throwing the french doors open wide.
That was about an hour ago. An hour ago that unlocked the wheels on my grand, rolled her out into the yard, gave her a good drink of my JW Black, and lit the fucker. I pulled up a chair and watched as my dreams went up in flames. My happiness burning to the ground.