Mark lay in bed with his freshly cleaned, white comforter pulled to his chest. His arms over his head, he stared at the ceiling, sighing as he willed himself for the thousandth day in a row to stop crying.
At least it felt like the thousandth day to him. In actuality, it’d only been nine months since the love of his life, Emilee walked out on him. Day in and day out it seemed as if his mind would only focus on her. From the way her long, curly and natural hair bounced as she walked, to the way she smiled anytime he made mention of her stunning, mocha skin tone. He loved Emilee, from the very bottom of his soul to the very top of his heart, and no matter how many days passed he’d always love her.
He wiped away the cold tears as a few managed to slide down his face and hit the part of his pillow where his cheeks would normally rest. Mark took one deep breath and sat up, squinting his eyes as he tried to adjust to the brightness of the sun that shone through his window.
He couldn’t even remember leaving it open, and no amount of sunlight would cheer him up. Of that he was convinced. On his dressers and night stand, there still sat pictures of the two together when they were happy and in love. Their very first photo together, pictures from tiny photo booths, vacation pictures, engagement photos, their wedding photos.
Each morning Mark would stare at them, trying to decide if he wanted to smash and break the frames of every last picture, cut the photos with the broken shards that matched his broken heart. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Doing so would mean that he’d have to face getting over Emilee, and he simply wasn’t ready.
There was so much more convincing that he had to do. He had to win her back, make her see that they were meant to stick it out through thick and thin.
And Lord knows, things had gotten thin for the two of them just months before she called it quits.
Why had she called it quits? That was all he could think of as he played the old heart break songs that Frankie Beverly would croon over his speakers. He was barely in his thirties, but somehow the songs his own parents enjoyed in their youth seemed to sooth him and his aching heart.
He was hurting, deeply. Mark wanted nothing more than to wake up from this nightmare that had suddenly become his life. Why had Emilee called it quits? There was no one else, not for either of them, yet she was so willing to walk away as if the last seven years of their lives had meant nothing.
Mark had heard a week ago, through the grapevine that was his best friend, that Emilee had moved on. Though it disheartened him, he couldn’t deny the fact that he’d tried to move on himself. He tried once, and only once. Talking to, flirting with, fawning over another woman just didn’t sit right with him.
He couldn’t imagine himself falling for someone else, it just didn’t seem right. His heart belonged to her, their bond and ties still strong even though she’d cut them abruptly. He didn’t know what to do with himself, or his feelings.
To his boys, he was approaching this situation like a bitch, crying and sniveling behind a woman who obviously never gave a damn. Only with you for your money. I bet she ran off with one of her so called ‘bros’. She gave off lesbian vibes anyway, I bet she ran off with her best friend.
All ignorant responses from dudes who couldn’t even keep a woman in their lives for longer than five minutes. True, Mark was a rich man, a self-made millionaire. But Emilee had been there for him when he was dirt poor, standing by his side and encouraging him when everybody else told him his ideas and dreams were foolish.
Deciding to get out of the house, he threw on a dark pair of jeans, his vans, and a white t-shirt. Opting not to shave, as he normally would once a week, he grabbed a hat and his keys before walking out the door. Wanting to avoid attention from the true gold diggers who could spot him from a mile away, Mark hopped into his black Chevy pick-up and drove around downtown Los Angeles. Though he had money, very seldom did he splurge. Anything of luxury that he owned was a gift to himself for some large amount of hard work he’d done over a long period of time. He had a simple, comfy little home in a decent part of Los Angeles and he made the choice of keeping three different cars in his garage, one for each of his usual temperaments.
Since it would be closing soon, Mark decided to pop into B.B. King’s blues club for one final listen. Surprisingly, as he walked in, he couldn’t spot anyone that he knew or recognized. It was an older crowd, around his parents’ ages but that suited him just fine. He was certain that the rest of the twenty-somethings, mainly his own friends, would piss him off before the evening was over and he’d be right back in his bed. Crying again.
Three drinks ordered, enjoying the sounds of Rose Royce’s I’m Goin’ Down, he sat quietly as he lost himself in thought.
Of course, Emilee popped into his mind and for the first time in nine months, he asked himself what had he done wrong.
He was faithful, he provided well, he never worked late, was never afraid to show his affection, and treated her with the utmost respect. She was his queen and everyone knew that.
They’d met in high school, started off as friends because her father didn’t allow her to date, and most of all, he didn’t allow her to date Hispanic men. Once she turned eighteen they took their friendship to another level, falling in love as quickly as they’d become a couple. At least Mark thought they were in love with one another.
After three years of dating they married, living every day to the fullest as he built a mini empire by working in real-estate, selling the best homes in California to everyone from young couples just starting out to some of Hollywood’s top celebrities. Since he’d always kept side jobs and dabbled a bit in his families different businesses for quick paychecks, he was able to earn and save his commission from each sale over the years, eventually making him the third man in his family, after his father and grandfather, to make a huge success of himself. Just eleven months earlier, he’d opened his own real-estate office and things were perfect in his world.
Focusing back on the present, Mark cleared his throat and took a sip of the crown royal he’d ordered once he realized all three glasses had been placed in front of him. If he was going to drown out his problems, it would be with liquor. “Maybe I was too needy, too pushy, and too emotional. Perhaps I needed to toughen up, be more of a man. Or maybe I just didn’t show my love enough, maybe I did work too much.” He drank more as he contemplated where he could have gone wrong.
It had to have been all his fault, no one else was to blame. Not even Emilee. She wouldn’t have walked away if he hadn’t done something to make her unhappy. Yeah, that was it. I made her unhappy, he thought to himself as he drank more.
Once again the sounds of Maze feat. Frankie Beverly filled his ears. Mark pushed the three glasses away and put his head down, taking deep breaths to stop himself from crying right here and now in a club full of strangers. Not that drinking alcohol would aid in keeping his emotions at bay. If anything, he’d be a blubbering fool by the time he was halfway done with the second glass.
He probably sat there for a good hour, looking like a poor and pitiful fool. A handsome man that could get any and every woman he wanted with a small smile, his deep voice, and something sexy spoken in Spanish for good measure. Yet, there was only one woman he wanted.
And unless his mind was suddenly playing tricks on him, or the alcohol had him going crazy, he’d heard Emilee’s voice. Her laugh; it was unique, cute, and unmistakable.
“Lee-Lee, I refuse to deal with you.”
Looking towards the door, Mark saw as Emilee stood there talking to a woman he’d never seen before. Throwing caution to the wind, he took quick strides, catching her off guard as he gently grabbed and pulled her to the side.
“Say Dude, who do you think you are grabbing on her like that?”
Mark looked the woman up and down before ignoring her, turning back to his wife. Yes, she was still his wife.
“It’s okay Morgan, I know him.” Morgan, a woman with manly features rolled her eyes before stating that she was going to go and find a seat near the stage. Emilee simply nodded as she finally pulled away from Mark’s loose grip and rubbed her arm. Unsure of what to do, or say. She hadn’t seen him since the day she walked out of his life, and truth be told, he still looked as depressed as he did nine months before.
It wasn’t something she ever planned to do, leaving a man she’d spent most of her adult life with. Someone she did love dearly, but things happened. Her needed to leave happened and if he was stopping her for an apology, he just might not get it.
“I miss you Emilee, so much it hurts.”
“That’s, that is … I don’t know what to say to that, to be honest.”
“Don’t you miss me too? I know you do. I know that you think of me every day, just like I think of you.”
She didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Truth was, in her new life and enjoying her freedom, Mark hadn’t crossed her mind once since about a week after she walked away. “Sometimes Mark. Only a few times.”
“Baby, why won’t you just come home? Whatever I did wrong, I’m sorry, and I will make up for whatever it was. If there’s something you want me to change about myself, I will change it. I just want you back.”
“Mark, I promise there was nothing that you did wrong. You don’t need to change because you’re the perfect guy.”
“Then, why’d you walk away.”
Emilee looked down at her feet, trying to think of a decent lie Mark might believe. But then how much more hurt would she cause if he found out from someone else. “I wasn’t happy anymore.”
“What’d I do to make you unhappy?”
“It’s not what you did Mark. It’s what I did.” Her voice was dry, monotone, and lacked the emotion he was hoping for. He was looking for any sign that she still cared. “I cheated and while I felt guilty, it also made me realize that I’d been living a lie our entire marriage. Yes, I loved you and I fell in love with you but… it was never enough for me to suppress my true feelings.”
“True feelings for what? For who? It doesn’t matter, we can work through this. I will work on myself for you.”
She held her small hands against his chest, smiling as she gave him a tight hug, hoping that would eventually find closure after what she had to say next. “I’m not coming back Mark. I would say that I hope we can be friends someday, but I know that won’t happen. You’ll probably hate me after what I have to confess.”
What else could there be, he thought to himself as he stared into her doe like eyes. “I’m with a woman now. I’m with the woman you just saw me with, Morgan. I uh, I like women and I want to explore this side of things. I’m sorry for hurting you but I’m not sorry for wanting to be happy.”
Emilee gently kissed Mark’s cheeks as she turned on her heels and headed towards the table where Morgan was sitting and waiting. Ironically, the song playing over the clubs speakers spoke volumes for the way he felt, and would probably always feel.
Even though he knew he had to, he’d never be able to get over Emilee.