I'm on the phone with my mom and, “Are you afraid those L.A. girls will beat you up tonight?” she asks me. I sit on my bed and slide on a Louboutin. “Because I'm thinking you may need security. Xavier!” Mom screams (in my ear) to my father. “Do you think Rachel needs security tonight? You read the last email, right? I printed it out for you!”
“She’s fine!” I hear my dad yell back. “God willing.”
“Yes, thank you, Mom,” I tell her. “But I’m not worried. After those women saw what I did to Marc, I doubt they’ll want to fool with me.”
“Oh, Marc doesn't count,” Mom says. “Xavier! She thinks that since she beat Marc up, everyone else will be afraid of her!”
“No, that’s not how it works!” Dad, the psychiatrist says. “Tell her not to give into false assumptions! People will still try to beat her up!”
“Okay, I gotta go,” I say, sliding on my other shoe. “Marc’s outside and—”
“Oh, he’s probably so handsome!” My mom yells at me. “Oh sorry, I’m still yelling. He always looks nice in a tux.”
“Who?!” Dad yells.
“Oh, yes. Marc cleans up well. Ask him if he’s making his chili this year in Aspen!”
“What don’t you two understand,” I say to my mom. “Marc and I are over. He won’t be coming to Aspen with Janie and me this year.”
“Oh, you are not over,” Mom says. “You're having an issue. We all have issues. You'll go through therapy, and you'll move past it.”
“No, mom, we won’t. He cheated on me.”
“Oh Rachel, like Marc told me, there’s more—”
“Wait, you’ve talked to Marc?”
“Sure. He called last night after you attacked him. He said that Janie might need to spend a few extra days with your father and me since you were acting like a nutcase. He wants to spend some time with you alone to work through—”
“A nutcase? He said I’m acting like a nutcase?”
“Well, no, that was what your father said.”
“And Marc just agreed.” I stand up. I've had enough of Mom and Dad for one night. I have had zero sleep since the moment Adam, and I left Marc's penthouse. I've been holed up in my townhome all day with a tub of One Love Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and my computer, googling Marc and my name nonstop. I've been pouring my heart out to Vivian all day… I'm too exhausted to do this with Mom and Dad tonight.
“Okay, ma. Marc's waiting outside for me; I've gotta go to this book party. I'll call Janie in the morning.”
“Sounds good, darling. Talk to you then. Love you.”
“Love you too.” I end the call with Mom and walk out of my bedroom into the living room.
My living room. Unlike Marc, I have a normal living room: a fireplace that uses real wood to keep people warm and oversized couches used explicitly as trampolines for my two-year-old to jump around on. The tables in here are all round so that Janie won't poke an eye out as she drinks from her sippy cup and forgets the world around her. I have an area rug so that people can throw some oversized pillows—from the oversized couches—on the floor and watch a movie, while eating popcorn, by the real fireplace. So, as beautiful as Marc's penthouse is, I could never consider it a home. It's a perfect place for getaways. But it's not the place I have in mind when I think of being married with a child. And maybe that's where Marc and I went wrong: he wants to live a Jetsons life, and I want to live a Berenstain Bears' life.
I want a cozy home with a warm fire and plenty of neighbors around so that there's plenty of gossip. I want to walk from door to door and talk to people, without having to call them. I want my kids to trick-or-treat on my street and feel safe eating all the candy. I want to drink cocktails outside during summers nights, to the sounds of crickets and Motown, while the kids are asleep in their beds. I want the life that I had as a child. Marc now has the existence that he wanted as a child. He and Karla probably want the same thing.
I swipe my clutch off an end table as I head to the front door. The nerve of Marc to extend Janie’s babysitting services on account of my mental health. Janie is spending this weekend with my parents because I knew I’d be busy with interviews and networking, and this was my weekend to have Janie. How dare Marc call my parents about Janie’s well-being on my weekend! I reach my hand out to open the front door, and my cellphone rings. It's Vivian. Good. I need an emotional boost before I head out here to Marc.
“I still feel like poo,” I answer. “Can you believe Marc hasn’t even called me today? Sure, he knew he’d see me tonight, but don’t you think this dickhead could have called me?”
“Rachel, remember what we talked about today,” Vivian says. “We're not going to call Marc names like ‘dickhead.' It's counterproductive. We're going to be nice.”
“No promises,” I say as I open my front door.
“You do remember that everyone’s going to be at this book party, tonight? And I’ll be there blogging about it, live. Do not act ethnic.”
“Are you giving me an Amy-Winehouse-meets-Diana-Ross look tonight? Sixties trashy and classy? I need trashy and classy tonight for my blog, Rachel.”
“Yes, now leave me alone.”
“Love you too.” I end the call.
I’m heading out of my townhome now, wearing my Givenchy party dress and Louboutin heels and I’m walking out with an attitude. I want everyone to know, before I lay a finger on the door of that limo, that Rachel is pissed and everybody better watch out. My goal is to put the fear of whatever God everyone in that limo believes in, into them.
Here I come!
And then one of my heels gets stuck in a crack of the pavement. It falls off my foot.
I turn around to slide it back on. The limo driver rushes out to help me. Why the hell wasn't he out the limo before I stepped a foot outside my door? I attempt to slide back into my shoe but of course, it's doing that thing where it turns in a circle, so you can't.
“Here,” Limo Guy says, “let me—”
“I'm fine,” I tell him. “The door, please.” I point to the back door, and he rushes to open it. Finally, I get my shoe on my foot, so I head to the door.
I climb into the back of the limo, and the driver closes the door behind me. Here sit Marc and Adam. By the look on his face, I can tell Adam's reading the latest email leak. Marc's dressed in his Tom Ford finest, sipping dark liquor like he's an English baron. They're both listening to Christmas jazz.
“You look nice,” Marc says in a deep and low voice. I open the door again and slam it closed. He lets out a deep breath and takes a thoughtful sip of his liquor. “And here we go.”
“Have you read the last email?” I ask him. The limo pulls away from the townhome that he and I used to share before I kicked his cheating ass out on the curb, and he landed in a penthouse.
“Of course, I’ve read it.”
“Well, my position still stands.”
“I’m not arguing with you tonight, Rachel. I’m here to help you celebrate your book. I’m not here to fight.”
“Good, because you’d lose.” He looks at me as though he’s bored, gives me a lazy blink, and then looks away. “When did I begin to warrant such a blasé attitude, Marc? Tell me, when exactly did you stop pretending to care? Because I was happy when you pretended to love me.”
“Just because I don’t beat your ass and slam doors, I’m uncaring?”
“Exactly.” He shakes his head at me and takes a sip of his dark liquor. And there's something about the casual way that he's enjoying his spirits that pisses me off. How dare he take tiny sips of strong liquor? How dare he have four ice cubes floating around in the glass? How dare he take his drink on the rocks. People get a little bit of money and all of a sudden they stop drinking Hpnotiq and start drinking the expensive shit. “Ya know, when I met you, Marc, you were drinking Colt 45 out of a brown paper bag.” He gives me a stern look to let me know how he feels about the lie I've just told. But he certainly gets the point. Don't sit here in my face and drink on dark liquor like you're some goddamn gentleman.
“The good thing is,” Adam says cheerily, as though he’s enclosed in a glass bubble and can’t hear a word of what Marc and I are saying, “is that there hasn’t been another exposé. It’s those exposés that I’m worried about. The public believes other people’s opinions more than they believe the opinions of people like… you.”
“I’m close to finding out who this guy is,” Marc says before taking another sip of his drink.
“How do you know it’s a guy?” I ask.
“Because the emails that he’s posting are bent towards making you look completely unreasonable for becoming angry with a man who’s just trying to give you the world.”
“Oh okay, is that what these emails are alluding to?”
“I’d say so.” He shrugs. He takes another sip of his drink. And, I’m sorry. I can’t. I just can’t. As if a spirit has entered the earthly plane and just jumped into my body, I launch for Marc’s dark liquor glass. Instinctively, he attempts to move it away so that it won’t spill all over him. And so, it spills on Adam and his swanky looking suit with the hankie stuffed inside the jacket’s pocket.
“This is not happening!” Adam screams.
“Enough with the fucking sipping of the drink!” I yell at Marc.
“Why is this bothering you?” Marc says back, calmly. “Why is it that everything I do bothers you?”
“Because nothing bothers you!” I settle back in my seat and fluff through my hair. “When will something start to bother you? Someone had access to my emails. They copied every message I ever wrote before I shut my account down. I have personal things in there that I wrote to you. Things that I don't want the world to know. I look like a fucking idiot! I look desperate and lonely and pathetic! So, you can sit here and sip on dark liquor like you don't have a care in the world, but I can't. Because I'm scared to death about what else this guy might release and what else I have to read that makes me look like a psycho!” I put my head in my hands and will myself not to cry. I will not cry. I will not cry over this. Women go through this kind of stuff every day. Right? Everyone has had their innermost thoughts revealed to the whole world, for others to judge them, right? Isn't that the purpose of Facebook?
“Rachel—” Marc begins, his voice soft. But…
“Marc, I don't want to hear it.” I look up at him. “Because for everyone to know that I married a man that doesn't and never did love me is humiliating. So, you can walk around and sip on drinks, but I have to walk around knowing that people believe these emails, no matter what you and I say. They believe that I'm a desperate, and unloved wife. So, this leak may not be a big deal for you, but it's a huge deal for me. And I'd like you to take this to heart a little more. Pretend like you care about my feelings. Pretend, for once in your life, that you care about me. Because I've always shown you that I loved you.” He places his drink inside of a drink holder.
“I do care about you, Rachel.” And there you have it. I love him, and he cares about me. I look at Adam, and even he loosens the anger from his face to give me a sympathetic look. I’m with a man who doesn’t love me. I’m with a man who has never loved me.
Marc has never loved me.
He was with me for what I could do for him. He was with me for how I made him look. But he was never with me because I was the girl he wanted. The one he wanted was a girl named Karla. But she was from the hood. Marc couldn't marry a girl from the hood. He had to marry the daughter of a psychiatrist for a father and a real estate agent for a mother. He had to marry into San Franciscan society because he had plans. He had goals. And he had to make sure he was with a woman who could handle the weight of those goals. He had to make sure he was with a woman whom he could take to fancy dinners and present to senators. He couldn't take Karla's ratchet ass. No, a secretary to a councilman just wouldn't do. He couldn't take a woman who plops a wig on top of her head and sets about her day as though it's not there. He couldn't take a woman with nails shaped like coffins, with ring fingers that are always a different color than the rest. He couldn't take a woman whom no one has ever seen without a set of thick, black, fake, babydoll lashes on. No, he had to marry someone who has some fucking sense. That would be me.
I look out of the window beside me.
“What did I say wrong, now?” Marc whispers. He says this authentically as if he actually doesn't know.
“It’s showtime,” I say to him. We’re approaching the party.“Rachel. What did I say, now?”