XVII: The Importance of Listening

"You're cheating on me, I know you are." I stare into my wife's hard, blue eyes. At this moment, they're staring back at me the same, cold, calculating way my father's did whenever I told him I failed an exam. There's no guilt, no fear of any consequences, or even sadness for having destroyed our marriage. I swallow a painful lump that has formed in my throat during these past 15 minutes of nothing, but listening to the kitchen clock tick, tick, tick me towards a mental break down. I want to look away from her, almost as much as I wish she would look away from me, but it doesn't happen. We both sit there, staring at each other. "You can admit it now, Kairi." I'm finished with this. All I need is for her to just admit it, and it'll all be over.

"It's not that simple," She says quietly and chews on her chapped bottom lip. She hasn't worn any make-up in weeks, in fact, she seems to have given up because it's not just the make-up, its bathing, eating, caring...like I have given up.

There's a better part of a beard growing on my face, and another few inches lost around the waist. I forget to eat, though what occupies my time, I couldn't say. All I've done recently is go to work, and come back home again. I sit in the darkness of my living room, listening to my kitchen clock tick. I wait for it to stop. When it does, I can expect another visit from Axel. He has stopped caring too it seems, because if I compare the timing of his visits now to before, I can see that before the devil had been courteous. He appears whenever he pleases, freezing time to come and torment me with the memory of my dead brother. Every visit leaves me drained but seems to fuel him. If I'm honest, I can say I think about him when I sit in silence for hours in the dark. It seems I've almost come to want for him to appear. I haven't had a single real conversation with another being in months. At least the interactions sometimes bring visions of my brother, his arm finally sprouted a hand, and he seems much more content. It's these glimpses of Roxas that I live for.

Why Kairi has stayed these last months is a mystery to me, she could have left me long ago. She's been angry at me every day, shouting every time she comes through the door, turning on all the lights and making me pray for this all to stop. I can see the hatred in her eyes when we fight. I can see the hatred in her eyes when I enter the room. I don't have to do anything anymore. She hates me and there are times when I think I hate her too.

So, what's stopping her?

"And why not? I don't see how you fucking some other man is very difficult for me to understand. All I want is for you to say it. Tell me you were having sex with someone else while I was here, waiting for you to come home." My eyes water, but stop before any real tears form. I'm finished crying, I'm drained of all my tears. No one on earth cries for me anymore. Not since Roxas killed himself. Axel tells me my brother spent months in deep, withering depression with no one at his side. Feeling nothing but a miserable hatred for himself...for not being like me. It kills me, makes me feel worse than anything Kairi could ever do to me. Though it doesn't make the things my wife has done any less painful.

"You're going to leave me..." I try and concentrate on my wife because she is almost mumbling now and I lean away from her, furrowing my eyebrows while I think of a way to word all my thoughts. I can't tell her she's stupid, I can't tell her she's destroyed my heart and has ripped away so much from me. She was my chance at finding happiness through all this darkness. I had wanted to spend the rest of my life with this woman, and she had told me the same. She met my whole family, we've been through so much together. I can't tell her how it should be obvious that I'm going to leave her because she wouldn't understand. She left our marriage every night to spend it with someone else. Kairi stopped loving me.

"Of course I am," My voice is even, though I can feel a tremble forming slowly underneath my tongue. "How could I possibly stay with a woman who chose to ruin our marriage? You could have talked to me...told me you were feeling something, we could have worked it out...we could have done something...Anything would have been better than this!" I feel anger towards her, so much anger that I cannot even imagine a healthy way to express myself. I can already feel it, curdling in my stomach like spoiled milk. This rage will consume me if I let it.

"If you're worried I'm going to leave you out on the streets...don't be. I'll be the one to leave. You can figure out the rest." I stand up, because if I stay seated here, I'll be tempted to take back everything I've said and try to pretend there's still hope left. It's my faith in the work of God that makes me think this way, when I know there isn't. I know it so well because this entire time, the look on my wife's face has said it all. She doesn't care. She wants me to leave her alone, she wants to stop talking about this and move on without me. Nothing God could ever do would change that.

"When are you going then?" It hits me the way I imagine a bullet to the head would. Quick, with a sudden burst of sharp pain until nothing. I feel nothing at all. My heart isn't beating, my lungs aren't taking in air, my eyes remain open and vacant. In that moment, if I am blinking or breathing I do not feel it.

In the corner of the room, dark clouds begin to curl from between the floor and baseboards and this is when I realize everything has stopped. The ticking of the kitchen clock has vanished, and there is nothing but dead silence. Kairi is frozen on the couch, her mouth caught closing, her fiddling hands finally still. I'm oddly calm, and I think it's mostly because I know that for awhile, I won't have to deal with her.

My own body feels strange and stiff, but the darkness in the corner grows with frightening speed. It consumes the living room like cancer, until a form begins to appear. The sensation of the heart in my chest comes back suddenly, pounding harshly against my rib cage and when I try to breathe, I notice I've been holding my breath. I know Axel is the only thing appearing from the hell fog.

"Jeeze kid, someone die or something?" His smirk is always the first thing I notice about him when he appears, then his eyes. Sometimes, it's hard to see them because they are pitch black, other times, I see their poisonous green glow before his flesh-eating smirk. "Oh, I think I've come at a bad time...perfect." He's fully in the room now, and I can feel his presence settling over everything, replacing the suffocating black clouds. Every step he takes, softly vibrates through the floorboards and the fear I felt for him in the beginning, sits quietly in the back of my mind, awake but told to shut its mouth.

"I'm leaving my wife tonight." There is so much finality in saying it aloud.

"Where will you go, sweet baby beaaar?" Axel makes a strange, lips-pouting face. He's changing his voice to sound like my mother and it makes my skin crawl. I hate when he does things like that. He knows every thing about my life, and yet I know nothing about how. He refuses to speak of who opened the gateway to let him into our lives. Who was selfish enough to betray the entire family this way.

"You already know Axel...I can end this once and for all. I want to be able to sleep tonight," I feel very tired all at once. All the exhaustion from every missed nights rest comes crashing down into my body and all I want is to sleep. I want it more than anything else.

"You know, that's how Roxas felt before he killed himself. All he did was sleep. He didn't go to work, didn't eat, didn't go outside...All he did was piss, shit and sleep. Until the night time rolled around, and he would think-"

The thought of Roxas makes me feel worse, because it just reminds me that he's gone and if I would have been a better person, my brother might still be alive.

"Shut up! I don't need to hear this right now. Go away, I cast you out!" I turn away from him, and find that it's easier than I thought it would be.

"I'm leaving because I have better things to do. Like fuck your brother. Not because you 'Cast me out.' What the fuck is that, anyway?"

I whip back around quickly, my eyes wide and wildly searching for him as soon as I notice he's left the room, but I don't know what I would do if he were still here. The clock begins to tick once again, and I hear Kairi's hands rubbing against each other. I can hear her speak, resuming the previous conversation like there hadn't been the lapse in time but I know she didn't feel it. So, I don't know why I expect her to act different, or to even show a slight knowledge of what just took place.

I can hear her speak, but I'm not listening. I'm searching frantically for Axel. What could he mean? Surely...No. I don't want to imagine things like that happening to my brother.

It's bad enough he's in hell, being attacked by demons. He doesn't need to be raped by the devil.

"Sora? Are you even listening to me? This is important." I hear that, and it makes me laugh. A crazed, uncontrollable laughter that brings tears to my eyes. Kairi sits in awkward silence as I finish the last of my hearty chuckles, and I wipe the moistness away before sending her a wobbly smile.

"Everything you say to me is no longer important." I feel proud of myself, because I've never been able to stand up for myself. I would have let the entire world walk all over me, and then do it again if they needed to...or at least I thought so. Having the strength to leave my cheating wife makes me feel better in a twisted way, that most likely makes no sense to anyone but me. It could be the fact that I've finally realized I need to be rid of the people who harm you in life...or this could all be some lame cover up for the truth.

I just want to be left alone now. I'm done being hurt.

"Me telling you, you might have AIDS is important."

A/N: I'm using Sora to show passing of time, capisce?
Sorry, I just really wanted to use that word. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this tiny upload.
It sure does pack a punch though.

Hey, you should all know by now...I didn't choose the Cliff Hanger life. The Cliff Hanger life chose me.

-Sharmander the Commander.