Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Chapter 17: What If You're Over My Sh*t?


I bombed the hell out of that interview!
Tonight, was so exhausting, I can't imagine this being my life. Right now, I just want to open my front door, throw these heels in the garbage, and dive into my bed, without washing my face. Oh, Lord! I so don’t feel like washing my face! I cannot imagine being the Beyoncé of the indie book world one more day. (And to hell with anyone who doesn’t think I’m a Beyoncé.)
I enter the limo and see Marc already inside, looking down at his cellphone, his eyes scanning the screen. All that means is that the cellphone thief has likely released another email, or the other random guy has submitted another exposé to Views Magazine. I'm sure Breanne rushed another exposé to press. But at this point, I'm so tired; I don't care.
It’s four in the morning. I’ve been in heels all night. I’ve given a total of sixteen interviews. Christmas rap has been blaring in my ears. I had to kick a journalist out of the party. And, I was basically told that I’m the lowest piece of trash Pop-Korner Kevin has ever read about.
The chauffeur shuts the door, and I rest my head against the headrest. No more. I'm done. I'm not even sure if I want this life anymore. The thought of publishing this book was more exciting then promoting it. In fact, I no longer want to push this book. I'm happy with what I've done so far: I put it out there, the right people read it, they told other people, and it's become a hit. Story over. I wasn't built for this four-a.m. lifestyle. I'd rather wake up early then go to bed late; I’m a teacher for heaven’s sake. I'd rather be home with Janie than be out with the Kevins and the Breannes of the world. I'm done. I don't have the thick skin for this. I don't have the temperament for this. I want out.
I’m ready to restart my life… again.
Maybe it’s the exhaustion talking, but, perhaps I’ll go back to teaching. I published my book; I carried out my dream. I can feel a sense of accomplishment from doing that, right? I have that feeling of self-satisfaction and the satisfaction that comes when you create something, and people like it. Not only do I have self-satisfaction, but I have gratification. But after Kevin’s interview, I also have humiliation.
I’m not the one Marc should have ended up with.
The chauffeur pulls away, and I see Marc slide his cellphone into his pocket. I guess I'll have to read the latest email or exposé, but not tonight. Tonight, I go home to my townhouse, alone, and rest. Tomorrow, I'll wake up, run to Starbucks, catch a flight to San Fran, get Janie, come back to L.A., and call some contacts for teaching positions in the Calabasas area. Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll move to Calabasas with Janie; Marc can have his penthouse in the city. I'll be the parent that makes sure Janie has a normal childhood filled with front lawns and backyards.
Tomorrow I start my life over. Again. But will I be able to afford it? Without my book career, I’ll be living off a teacher’s salary. I’ll be broke as hell. Great… I have no choice but to write, now that Marc and I are over. I can’t afford not to.
“Einstein,” Marc says out of nowhere. I look at him. “Einstein said, A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” Damn, is Marc reading my mind? That was weird as hell. “Do you believe this?” He looks me in the eyes. I don't see exhaustion on his face; I see unfulfillment. How is that possible? Marc was the man of the hour tonight. Everyone loves Marc. Breanne showed it, DJ Diaz said it, Kevin implied it. “Weren't we happy before I went to Seattle and you were just a teacher bringing home purple orchids from your kids?”
“Yeah, I was happy in San Fran living a normal life. But I’m making a lot of money living an author’s life. It’s a catch-22.”
“I’m making more money now too but, is it worth it?”
“For me it is. We’re not together. I’m a teacher by trade. If I don’t write, my standard of living goes down to nothing.”
“We’re not leaving each other, Rachel. Whatever my standard of living is, that’s your standard of living. You haven’t paid a bill since the moment we married—even these past three months—and you never will. You never have to worry about money.” Oh, thank God, but…
“Listen, you can't go back, Marc. The government has your software; they're paying you millions for it every year. You can't just ask for it back and return to a normal life. You can't return to a normal tech firm with nine employees and a home office. There's no turning back for you now.
“I'm a different story. I just may turn back to the life I had before: Janie and me, teaching and parent conferences. Friday night ice cream stops, and early morning Starbucks runs; the life I had while you were in Seattle.” I complained so much, while living the life that I wanted, all because Marc wasn't there to live it with me. Why did I need his participation? I was already in my dream life, in a nice condo, in a great neighborhood, with phenomenal views. I worked in a prime school district where kiss-ass parents treated me like I taught William and Kate’s kids. I drove a brand-new truck and drank fresh venti cups of Starbucks. “That life in San Francisco was the life I wanted. After that interview with Kevin, I wonder why I gave it all up because of you. Kevin was right. All I am is the infatuated girl who chases the guy around. Because the fact is that she's chasing the guy around because he’s running away. You ran all the way to Seattle, from San Francisco, and I was still chasing you.”
He didn’t want to be there, Rachel. But that doesn’t mean you had to leave.
“And then you ran to L.A., found the girl you wanted, and I was still chasing you. I just have to realize that you’ve got the girl that you want. Kevin is right, Karla’s the girl you should’ve ended up with, from the very beginning.” The words are almost too much for me to hear, let alone say. My throat has a piercing pain in it, the pain that always comes as you’re trying to hold in a sob.
“Kevin doesn't know shit about me,” Marc says, with a hint of anger. Anger? Marc's showing emotions? “He ended up with his wife, and he never regretted his decision. I'm happy for him. But I'm married to the woman I've always wanted. And I have no regrets. There are no what-ifs.
 “And I don’t want to be famous, Rachel. Whether it’s hood famous or not. I want San Francisco, a year ago, with you talking my head off about those badass kids in your class and me flying Janie in the air as we head into the truck every morning.” He leans his head against the seat. He’s tired too. “I wasn’t ready to give up that life. But I did, and I lost my family in the process.” He looks at me.
“I need you to know that you didn't lose your family because you were pursuing your goals or because you were trying to be the best at what you do. You lost your family because you slept with Karla Watts. We need to put a name on what you did. We can't have San Francisco, not because you moved to Seattle, but because you slept with Karla.”
“Rachel, I thought we were over. I got that last email from you, and I thought, this is it. We're done. It's final. I came to San Francisco to talk to you; you had the locks changed and had moved to L.A. I got on the next flight out of San Fran, to L.A., and came to the townhome. You had the locks changed. You told me you'd go through the courts if I tried to come in. I knew you were mad at me but damn… I didn't think there was anything left for us to do. I read your words, I saw what you did, and I thought, Rachel's gone. She's left me. I went ahead and surrendered; I didn't need the bad press, I just closed the deal with the government. I was exhausted, Rachel. I gave up. And then I did the worse thing I could do.”
“Slept with another woman.”
“Went to another human being for affirmation. I had Pentagon guys slapping me on the back, telling me ‘well done.' I had the vice president of the United States personally calling me, thanking me for my software. I have a letter from the president, thanking me for my contribution to American society, calling me a Good American. But none of that shit came close to you. None of it came close to seeing you happy with me, because your opinion matters. When I gassed up your truck on Sundays, went to Starbucks to grab you your morning cup of coffee, or put Janie to bed after you had a long night of parent-teacher conferences, you gave me your own pat on my back. I value your praise, more than anybody on Capitol Hill. Because, when you think that I’m not shit, that’s exactly how I feel, no matter what everyone else is saying.”
At this point, I want to ask if he thinks this is all my fault. But I'm not a jerk. I understand what he's trying to say. I know that he was looking for something that I wasn't giving him. But…
             “So out of all the things I gave you—taking care of your daughter, checking in with you to see how your day was coming along, conversation, making us homemade pizzas, and hot cocoa from scratch—the one thing I failed to give you, made everything else null and void?”
He drops his eyes from me as though he’s thinking about what I’ve said. He’s thinking about the rationality of my argument. He’s trying to figure out what he can say that will help his case.
             “I hate to say this,” he finally says, “but yes.” He looks back at me. “I wasn’t thinking about all the other things that you do, I was thinking about the one thing that you stopped doing.”
             “And that would be feed your ego?”
Mm-hmm, just what I thought.
“Ya know, Marc, that's what pisses me off. For years, I was the naïve San Fran girl, and you were the experienced guy from the hood. For years, I was the one who cooed over you. You were the one who treated me like I was disposable like I was cute but not a full-fledged woman.”
             “Rachel, if I treated you like that—”
             “Yes, you did. And the one time I say, No, I won’t be your cheerleader, you end up with a woman who will be.” He runs a hand over his face. “Listen, I won’t live like this, Marc. I won’t feel pressured to chase after you with pom-poms like I did when I was a kid.”
             “I’m not asking you to, baby.”
             “Then what are you asking, Marc?”
“For us to listen to the prenup. It says that we can't divorce without going through six months of marriage counseling. I'm asking that we talk to a counselor and try to make us work.”
             “Marc, you and I both know that the only thing I stand to lose with this prenup is money. It was created by my father before you were the Marc Isles. It was financial protection for my trust fund. But now that you’ve sold your software, your check is bigger than my trust fund. So even if I am obligated to give you half of it, I’ll earn it back with half of your income, belongings, and the child support that California will reward me. What incentive do I have to go through with the specifications of this prenup?”
             “Because I’m begging you to.” He leans forward. “I’m not giving us up, Rachel. And I’ve got six months to make this right. Please let me try to make this right.”
No. Kevin was right. Marc doesn't want me; he wants the image of me. He wants the perks of being married to me. But I'm unsatisfying. Who he really wants is Karla.
             The limo stops, and I look out the window. I’m already home. I steal a look at Marc. He’s looking at me hopefully, expectantly.
             Kevin was right. Marc doesn’t want me. I’m not the best fit for him. I’m annoying. I’m a light-weight. Karla’s the bottom-bitch.
             “I’m done, Marc,” I tell him. “I always thought that you didn’t love me and after tonight, I see that I’m not the only person who can see it. I’m going back to the life I had before. No more book parties and no more us.”

             And then I get out.

Pre-order What If You're Over My Sh*t? Here!

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