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I spent the next few weeks in Mabrary Springs after Pop’s funeral, and I relished my time at home. Mom was about 90% recovered from the accident. My siblings enjoyed having me home. The best part was spending time with the boys. I would pick them up from school, help with their homework, fix dinner, and get them ready for bed.
Renny and I also spent time together. Pop’s death was devastating, and I tried to support him in any way. We spent time as a family as well as alone. Since the night Pop’s funeral, my nights were spent in Renny’s bed, and I returned to Mom’s house before dawn.
Then things started to change.
“Does he know you don’t plan on going back?” Momma asked as I ended my call with Javier and joined her in the kitchen. She put away the grocery while I unloaded the dishwasher. He hoped that a couple of weeks in the Springs would be enough to convince me to reconsider my resignation and return to both Arenas Construction and his bed. My time home had the opposite effect.
“Javier does; he just doesn’t want to accept it. If you mean Renny, we haven’t discussed it yet,” I admitted. Momma just nodded.
“Why not? What are you waiting on?”
I sighed. “I think he hates me.”
“Who hates you, baby? Renny or Javier?”
I laughed. “Probably both, but right now, I mean Renny.”
“Renny doesn’t hate you, Lainey. Far from it. He still loves you, and he misses you.”
I offered a humorless laugh, but I didn’t respond.
“You know I hated your father for a long time.”
I was shocked. “You hated Daddy?”
Momma nodded her head. “After the accident, when I was going to therapy and rehab. I hated your father because he died and abandoned me. I was broken, mentally and physically, and he was gone.”
I sat silently, waiting for her to continue. “After I got over the anger, I realized that I didn’t hate him at all. I just missed him. Same thing for Courtney. He doesn’t hate you, baby. He misses you.”
“I don’t know, Momma. The first few days were nice, but lately, he’s been distant.”
“Yeah, I noticed you’ve been coming home at night.” Momma added with a smirk.
“Yeah, well. He wanted me there at first, but now…”
“He’s worried that you’ll be leaving again soon, and he doesn’t want to get hurt again. Courtney is grieving. You left him, his father just died.”
“He filed for divorce, Momma. I told him, begged him not to – ”
“Elaine, you had already left your marriage, all Courtney did was make it official,” she admonished. “And if I recall, he begged you not to leave, but you refused.”
“But I begged him to not file for divorce, Momma. I flew home and begged him to reconsider.”
“Reconsider what, Elaine? You didn’t want a divorce, but you didn’t give the man a reason not to either. Seems to me like you want your cake and want to eat it, too. Baby, you can’t always have everything you want at the same time. You wanted to live the life you had before you got married and started a family. We all have to sacrifice sometimes. You think Courtney planned to stay here in Mabrary Springs?”
I knew the answer to that. After an injury ended his professional basketball career, he returned to Mabrary Springs to start his coaching career. He planned to move up the ranks and eventually return to the pros as a coach. After we got pregnant with CJ, he decided to stay here and coach at the high school, eventually becoming the athletics director. He enjoyed coaching at the high school, but I know that wasn’t his dream.
“Courtney got offers to coach ball all over, even some colleges. He turned them down because of CJ and Cam.”
This was news to me. Renny never mentioned offers to coach collegiately. “He never told me that,” I admitted. Ashamed because I never asked, never even considered what he wanted.
Momma sat down at the table directly across from me. “He didn’t want you to know, Elaine. Courtney asked me not to tell you about it. And I’m not telling you this to go and repeat it either. I just want you to see where his head is right now. You gave up a lot when y’all got pregnant with CJ and Cam followed so soon after. That boy knows you never wanted to live here. So when you were so excited about that job, he knew what that meant to you. Even when you were home less and less, Courtney tried to accept it until he couldn’t any more.”
“And so he moved on,” I whispered.
“But he didn’t want to. He had to, baby.”
And that is what hurt the most, that Renny moved on after our divorce, but I did not. I could not, not in a meaningful way.
Javier was a distraction at best, a convenience at worst. I respected and admired him, and there was an undeniable physical attraction between us. Twelve years my senior, Javier was still a very attractive man even though he sported a head full of salt and pepper hair. His eyes were the color of dark coal, the most dominant feature on his angular face. He had a runner’s body, a slim but firm build.
We looked good together on paper, but that was it. There was no depth or substance to what we shared, and this was our preference. A twice divorced Catholic, Javier’s focus was expanding Arenas Holdings, and I fit nicely into that plan. I worked hard and asked for little beyond our professional obligations. Most of our intimacies usually followed some kind of business affair. We both met a physical need for the other, but I needed so much more.
Javier was a generous man who spared no expense: expensive dinners, shopping sprees, and extravagant vacations. As a young girl growing up in Mabrary Springs, Georgia, these were the things of my dreams. I got a taste of that lifestyle after I completed my Master’s, only to have it snatched away by the accident. Javier gave it back to me, and I eagerly accepted with little to no regard for anyone. Like any good addict, I reached rock bottom before realizing all that I’d abandoned.
I thought about everything my mom said. Am I that selfish? Both times I was in such a hurry to leave Mabrary Springs that didn’t stop to consider who it affected, and results were catastrophic. Daddy died and Momma almost didn’t survive the accident that claimed his life. I left again, and this time, I lost my family. The man I love and my children. For all that I accomplished in the world, the things that really mattered were here in Mabrary Springs.
I craved the intimate connection I once shared with my husband. Our relationship was so richly simplistic. Hours spent talking about anything and nothing. Sunday dinner at Momma’s house with my entire family. Falling asleep with two rambunctious boys in our bed, and being awakened by an elbow to the eye or a kick to the stomach. These are the things that I missed the most. My biggest fear is that Renny would share that with someone else.
I stood and walked around the table to my Momma. I bent down and lay head in her lap as the tears started to flow. She stroked my hair just like she did when I was little girl. The hands were a bit slower and a little older, but they comforted just the same. I cried for everything I’d loved and lost. Daddy. Pop. Renny. CJ and Cam.
“Hush, child. No need for tears. You didn’t mean no harm.” That made me cry harder. Once my tears were spent, we remained in that position.
“What do I do now?” I asked between sniffles.
“Decide what it is you want, Elaine.”
I nodded my head. “Yes, ma’am.”
Copyright 2016 Kay Morris Writes