I wake up alone. My eyes open to the sounds of nothing. I no longer sleep with the windows open. It was never my job to open them, that’s what Rachel did. I have to remember to open them at night. I listen out for the sounds of Janie. Nothing. I glance at the clock on my bedside table. 5:02. Right now, I should smell coffee. I'm married to a teacher; her day starts at five.
No, I’m not married to a teacher, I’m married to a writer. I wonder if a writer wakes up at five. No, wait, she’s not a writer. Not anymore. Sean told me that Rachel’s given up the writing life and decided to go back to teaching. She wants an ordered life, I hear. She wants the life that I’ve always tried to give her. She doesn’t want to hear music thumping in her ears. She doesn’t want to rub shoulders with DJs and journalists. She wants a normal life where she wakes up at five in the morning and starts her day with Starbucks coffee.
Coffee. Right now, she’d be brewing me Trader’s Joe’s coffee. The dark roast. I’m a Cali boy to the bone, don’t give me a Seattle Starbucks brew when I can get the best coffee ever offered, right here in my own town. Rachel, however, is a Starbucks girl. I can always tell what kind of person you are if you don't walk around each morning with a Starbucks cup in your hands, she always says. One day, I ended up losing a bet: the Lakers beat the Clippers. And so, Rachel dared me to walk around with a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cup all day. As silly as that sounds, we laughed about that for days. She swore people were probably wondering what kind of person I was. But on an ordinary morning, she made me my favorite Trader Joe’s dark roast. Strange how I never considered that, even though she made Trader Joe’s coffee every morning, she never drank it. I’d feel her climb out of bed. There’d be a long pause, which would be her giving a long stretch. I’d open my eyes and see a navy-blue t-shirt from behind. She has a collection of Berkeley tees she likes to sleep in. She’d get up and head to the bathroom, the tee barely covering her ass. That always woke me up. Watching Rachel walk away. And now here I am, at five in the morning, awoke, because Rachel walked away.
If she knew the things I did at work, she would've killed me. She wouldn't have left me, though. Rachel would have never left me. That's how I used to feel. I felt secure in her commitment to me. I thought she felt confident in my allegiance to her. And then I read her book.
I naturally assumed that I didn't have to read Rachel's book. Her book is just her diary, fictionalized. I assumed that whatever she wrote in there, I already knew because I lived through those entries with her. It wasn't until that interview with Kevin, last week, that I bought a copy of her book.
I can see why she left me.
I sit up in bed. My cellphone is blinking on my bedside table. I know who I want it to be—Rachel—but who will it be? I grab my phone, and it unlocks in the palm of my hand. Trev has texted me, asking if I'm good. He knows this shit with Rachel is killing me. I haven't said a word about it, but he already knows. He knows how he'd feel if Barbie left him. He's loved Barbie since they were in high school and she was the daughter of a high-ranking dope man. Her mother dressed her in designer clothes and furs, back when everyone was wearing Dickeys and North Face. Trev thought he'd never pull a girl like Barbie. And then he did. He'd die inside if she left him; she's the only girl he's ever really wanted.
That story sounds familiar.
I know Trev feels responsible. He hasn't said it, but I know he does. If he didn't need the software and if I wasn't the only person he trusted to create it…
Listen, I'm not in the drug game. That's what Sean assures me. I own a private company that produces software for a man by the name of Trevor Isles, who happens to be my brother. Whatever Trevor Isles does with the software that I create and then sell to him, is up to him. All I do is make it. I don't go through the database for anything. Trev's the only one who uses it. I create the software; I make sure it's hack proof, I update it with better security measures regularly, my job is done.
But I get a lot of fucking money for it. That’s why I have the other legitimate companies on my roster. That’s why I have my brother’s business off my roster.
I’m not doing anything wrong. My brother is smart; he runs a dope business just like those boys in Colorado who own marijuana farms. The only difference is that Trev doesn’t pay taxes. That’s it. That’s what I tell myself.
Trev runs his business better than a CEO runs a Fortune 500 Company. But the problem of running a dope business better than a CEO runs a Fortune 500 company is that you get angry opposition. Everyone wants to know who your supplier is because word around town is that your goods are better than everyone else’s. Everyone wants to know who’s on your payroll because you to sell so much dope, you’d got to have good sales guys. Everyone wants to know how much money you make because they want to measure their success off yours. The big-time dope game—not these nickel and dime businesses, but big-time business—is run just like a tax-paying, 401k-giving, put in your vacation days before you lose them, corporation. So yes, I make big money, but I lost my wife.
How did I fuck this up? Just like Trev, I’m married to a girl everybody said would never want me.
She only wants you because you don’t come from shit.
Something about a man who doesn't come from shit excites a woman who does come from something.
Her interest in you is a phase.
She’ll marry a senator’s son.
She’ll marry a future senator.
She’ll marry someone who can put her in a condo, on a hill, in San Francisco.
She’ll marry someone who dines with the president of his company.
Don't get too attached to this girl.
She’s fascinated by your story, but she doesn’t want your last name.
She’s in love with the thought of you.
And so, I kept my distance from her. And so, I remained distance from her.
But then she married me. Rachel married me.
I loved her the way I felt a woman like her should be loved: I kept striving to be better in my field, so her interests in me wouldn't fade. I got close to her father because he's the man around San Fran. Being close to him, meant being close to his contacts. I gave Rachel the chance to dine among the set she was accustomed to. I called up Rachel's mother, a prime real estate agent. I had Rachel pick out a condo, on a hill, in San Fran. I spent time with Rachel's parents. I became attached to them before I became attached to Rachel. But soon, I became attached to Rachel as well. I honored her above all else when she conceived our child. I did all the things everyone said she wanted.
I let my brother’s dope business take over my life, once I discovered the opposition was trying to tap into Rachel’s operating system. They were getting desperate; they were attempting to infiltrate the wives. Maybe Barbie or Rachel had something in their email or on their operating system the Lock family could use.
The moment I received an alert that someone was trying to tap into the software I created for Rachel's operating system, I panicked. A failure in my software could lead to the exposure of my brother's files. That could lead to a trickle-down effect for me. It could expose me as the guy who created software for his kingpin brother to operate his dope business. There would be no way Rachel would stay married to someone in the dope game because that's exactly how she'd see it. That's how the senators and CEOs whose Christmas parties we attended would see it. That's how Rachel's psychiatrist father and real estate mother would see it. The life I created would be over. I'd be just a nigga from the hood, to them.
I didn’t go to Seattle, but I did have to move from San Francisco to create this code. Me leaving kept Rachel in the lifestyle that she was accustomed to. But she still wasn’t fucking happy! I didn’t get it. Why the hell wasn’t this woman happy with me?
And then I read her book. Sure, she wanted the life she and I had, but she also wanted other things that I didn't consider. She wanted a quiet home life, free of senators and CEOs, and dinner parties guests, some nights. She wanted to bake cookies during the winter and make ice cream sundaes during the summer and just have Janie and me around. She wanted me to work a little less so that she, Janie, and I could drive through the city together, at night, listening to music, and taking in the sights. She didn't just want a child; she wanted multiple children. She wanted a full-blown family.
Rachel wanted normal shit.
I lost my wife because I didn't give her the normal things that women want: time, attention, togetherness. I was so concerned about reaching the horizon that I ignored the life right before my eyes.
I’m paying for that shit now.
She's officially divorcing me. Adam let Sean know last night. She's ordered Adam to arrange it all, without her needing to be at any of the meetings. She wants joint custody of Janie. She's declined court-ordered child support. She wants the townhome in L.A., and she'll give me the penthouse I just bought. She wants me to purchase a 5.6-million-dollar home in Calabasas for her and Janie that her mother found them. (She's looking to create a home, without me?) She wants to sell the condo in San Francisco and keep the profits. That's the home where we have all our memories, and she wants to sell them to the highest bidder. She wants to gift our family pictures, wedding album, wedding rings, and dinnerware to Janie. She wants me to get her and Janie a new Porsche truck, while I keep my Range, Challenger, and our Benz. She wants me to update her Porsche truck every three years until Janie turns eighteen. If you think about it, this divorce can be simple. In fact, Rachel's requests are a soon-to-be-divorced man's dream come true.
She doesn't know that I had it all wrong and that's the reason why I failed her. I thought she wanted one thing and, yes, she wanted that, but she also wanted other things. And this is the kicker: I could have given her those other things because they're normal things: time, attention, and memories. I just didn't know that's what she wanted.
Rachel, I was trying to give you the life that I imagined you wanted because I wanted you to want me. I wanted you to keep wanting me.
I wonder, if I explain this to her, would she end the divorce proceedings? Will she understand that this was all the biggest misunderstanding of our lives, and try this again with me? Because I don’t want to divorce Rachel and it has nothing to do with appearances. No, I take that back. Do I want to walk around divorced? Hell, no. No sane man wants to go through a divorce. People would rather not have married at all than to be divorced. So, yes, I’m guilty of not wanting to tell people that I no longer have a wife. But it’s more than that. This is about Rachel.
I don’t want to do this without you.
I look at my dresser and see my laptop.